Gratitude Journal

January 2019

Day 1: I am thankful for re-directions. January is one of my big times of the year to do a blind-spot check to make sure I’m on the path I need to be, I get to set goals based on what the check says (I actually invite close friends to answer questions about the goals I set last year), I pick my word for the year, and I have planned out my blog! There are so many new things I’m excited to try out — It’s going to be a great year!

Day 2: I am thankful for family game time. For Christmas we got several new games: Utah-opoly, Oregon Trail Card game, Dos, 2 Escape Room Games, Family Fued, Jenga, What do you Meme?, Dominoes, and a few others we haven’t played yet. I know I mentioned this last month, but I love when the kids bring a game and ask me to play it with them, and I love when the siblings jump in and ask if they can play along. Baby likes to be on someone’s team, and he has his own set of rules no matter what the game. I love the laughter, the inside jokes, the way they help each other, and they love that I legitimately am not able to beat them most of the time. Looking forward to planning a game night with the kids and friends in the near future.

Day 3: I am thankful for visions and people willing to help me build them. This Harry Potter Themed classroom has been fun to imagine, and not so easy to put up while planning curriculum, putting together Christmas parties, and figuring out what the heck I’m supposed to be doing to help get 5th grade ready for a performance in January. The kids have been really good about doing strange projects with and for me as I get things going. B came to school with me today to make and put up my Quidditch Goals — I’ll have to put the standards up next week once I’ve got 3rd term planned out. C and I are already making revisions on the houses for next year. I’ve still got to get my rules up (looking for a vintage suitcase I can attach to the wall . . . ) and a better way to display student work. It’s coming along, just not quite as quickly as I had hoped.

Day 4: I am thankful for alone time. I get up an hour before everyone else to read my Bible, pray and get ready for the day, and I often go to bed after everyone so I can read for half an hour (or more depending on how sucked into the book I get). Today all the kids were back at school, and I had the house to myself and my big plans. What I got done was Health and English lesson plans for the next few weeks, in class Book Club rules/procedures/projects put together, started to update my blog (just realized I still have a December picture up), and took an hour to read. I checked the littles out of school since they will start with me on Monday! It was a productive day even if I didn’t get to the million things I was planning to accomplish today.

Day 5: I am thankful for friends who help and support me. The book for this month has sparked changes in my life twice — the first time I read it and now in my re-read. The author and I have become friends, and I’m so excited to be planning a new adventure with her cheering me on! I have an amazing core of girlfriends who are praying for me, who listen when I fangirl over my new obsessions, hold me in check when I ask for the last 10% (Read the book this month — chapter 5), and laugh with me when I get carried away and ahead of myself. I have amazing co-workers (past and present) who I enjoy spending time with, who build me up professionally and personally. I’m surrounded by people who are my heroes, and they happen to like me back!

Day 6: I am thankful for snow days. When we got up, there wasn’t enough time to shovel the an out and make it to church on time, so we deemed it a pj day. The littles picked a movie to watch, I read a few chapters in my book before starting on my de-clutter challenge (Master Bedroom this week), made comfort food for lunch and dinner, and everyone got to take a long bath before bed.

Day 7: I am thankful the littles get to go to school with me! Today was their first day, and they were a bit nervous and a bit excited. It’s always difficult to change, especially when it is in the middle of the school year. But they both did amazing and made new friends. After school, they were both smiling and neither one could get enough attention to tell me all about their day. Made my mom heart happy!

Day 8: I am thankful my friend got to adopt her son today. They have been fostering him for about a year now, and today they got to legally claim him as theirs. I slipped out of school, took the littles with me, picked up Baby and C and rushed like a mad person to the courthouse for the ceremony — we were late, but got to hang out with our friends for a few minutes before we had to head back to school.

Day 9: I am thankful for “accidental” stumbling upon books I need that speak to my situation right now. I got one of my book club books in the mail today — a book about the book of Titus in the Bible. I wasn’t anticipating starting it today because I have other books that are in line before it, but I felt drawn to it, and opened it. It started speaking to my situation right away, and I’ve shuffled my reading list to put this one first.

Day 10: I am thankful for friends who are willing to help me out. One of my PE teacher friends from the junior high had the day off, so she came to my class to run the PE activity for the day. With the way our school has to schedule specials, my 5th grade students were only getting PE every other week, so when I came I decided that I would offer something in my classroom the weeks they didn’t have anything officially scheduled — they really need to be active each week. I have been picking her brain for the past month, and today she volunteered to come in and work with them. I have a better appreciation for her and what she does in PE! She had them warm up in a fun way, played a game, then did a team building activity. My kids keep asking me when she can come back to play.

Day 11: I am thankful for good face moisturizer. If you know me in real life, you know I don’t wear make-up or do fancy things with my hair. It’s funny, because I worried about how I looked for so many years, and now I don’t even have a mirror in my bathroom — not really by choice; the mirror I bought doesn’t match the rest of the vanity I bought and I keep forgetting to take it back to exchange. I tangent (the only time in my adult life I can use this fabulous math phrase that gave me great anxiety in high school! Today I start to wonder if I have ADD . . . ). I found a fabulous face wash and moisturizer a few years back, and am running low — like I won’t be able to make it through the rest of the month low — so I went to order more since it comes from one of those exclusive party companies. The product has been discontinued! Now I’m going to have to order some samples or host a party to try some new things. I’m a bit sad, but also a bit excited to break out of my routine — have girls friends over to do girl stuff, try new products, make some memories. And all of this because I need another fabulous face moisturizer!

Day 12: I am thankful the littles have good friends. Last night and today K and R each were invited to a birthday party for a good friend. I like these two friends because they uplift my kids, they can play for hours without fighting, they use their imaginations and build things together, and I don’t have to worry about negative influences. A few months ago, K came home after playing with a different friend, and she told me that the friends wanted to pretend they were on drugs. I was floored — they are only in second grade! I’m thankful there are friends who have the same values we do who enjoy being around my kids.

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Day 14: I am thankful for K. Eight years ago this cute girl decided to break the pattern of my kids being born in the afternoon, and she arrived at 7 something in the morning — still in her designated time (B came at 4:45, C was born at 5:54, R was 6 something). The anesthesiologist had just finished cleaning his things up (he was still in my room) when the doctor came in to check and realized that she had already crowned. Three pushes later, my dark haired girl was in my arms with her siblings gathered around hoping to hold her first. Ironically, her name means “dark-haired mischievous one” and she was born with dark hair — it turned blond later on. I am thankful for her laughter, her strong will (even though it does cause her and I to have some issues at times), and her passion for everything she does.

Day 15: I am thankful for doughnuts. We swung by Krispy Kreme for K’s birthday treat at school. Love the warm smell of yeast and sugar in the morning! After school, we were supposed to bake cupcakes until she realized that two doughnuts makes an 8, and she is 8! After dinner, Grandma and Grandpa came over to open presents, and she got to hand out doughnuts again. Super Yum!

Day 16: I am thankful for friends who read my blog and give me gentle reminders to double check my spelling. I just wish I could catch all my errors BEFORE I hit the “publish” button. Let’s not tell people I teach English, shall we . . .

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Day 19: I am thankful for birthday parties! We got to have K’s party tonight. She invited both boys and girls, kids from both schools and church. What a fun group we had! It was a pj party, so we HAD to eat chocolate chip waffles with whipped cream (yes, they were homemade). She got a bunch of LOL dolls and B freaked out over how they color changed — I think we might have to buy her one even though she is 18! I like when the kids have their friends come over so we can build relationships with them as well. I hope our home is a safe place where they know they are loved and where they want to be.

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Day 23: I am thankful K’s surgery went well. She has trigger finger in her thumb which means it doesn’t straighten out and is permanently bent at the top knuckle. Today we took her in for surgery to release it. Surgery and recovery took a lot less time than we anticipated. In a few hours she was up and eating and trying to go play — we had to keep reminding her that she needed to stay down all day. Hoping that the rest of her recovery goes as smoothly!

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Day 26: I’m thankful for lunch dates with my brother. I totally forgot to mention it on the day he came, and I’m doing a bit of catch-up on my journal (this month flew by and I missed my writing! I’m in trouble with my students for not doing my daily journal like I require them to have). so I’m making sure I mention him now. He just works up the road from me now, so he brought me lunch and we got to sit in my classroom and catch up on each other’s lives. He was by best friend and worst enemy growing up — I remember playing cowboys on the swings, space man from random objects he put together, breaking the decorative plate on the bathroom wall, trying to make a secret passage between our bedrooms. He makes me smile, and I’m glad he, his wife, and their four boys live close. Now that I know he works so close, we may have to schedule a few more lunches!

Day 27: I am thankful for hand-me-downs. I have some amazing friends — I’m sure I’ve already established this fact. I get blessed with so much from them. Books for all, movies for the kids, toys, clothes. They always seem to know just when we are in need of clothes, and magically we have bags to go through. I am also thankful that my kids are grateful when we receive things. They all get excited for what is given to us. They also like to pass on what they have outgrown to others who might be in need.

Day 28: I am thankful for lotion. I get eczema on my hands pretty bad. Especially in the winter and especially when I haven’t been eating well (time to pull out my notes from last year’s goals). The 5th grade aide noticed how bad they are looking, and gave me some powerful lotion that calms the itch and smells delicious. I’m so thankful for her and this lotion while I get back on my good eating habits and get my hands cleared up.

Day 29: I am thankful for the fundraiser we did last year with MPact Clubs. We decided that we didn’t want to do any food items to raise money, so we partnered with a local flower shop who made punch cards for us. The owner of the card can present it each month and get a nice bouquet for free. I ended up buying two, and we love going to pick them up each month. I’ve found lots of people to give them too, and I’m so excited to get some bud vases for the littles’s new teachers so we can give them some each month. I also realized that we are almost to the end of the cards, so I have them on order so we can sell them again next month. It’s just fun to have fresh flowers sitting on the table each day.

Day 30: I thankful for the de-junking challenge I am trying to stay on top of. This past week we were supposed to be working on the kitchen — due to circumstances, I haven’t gotten around to it fully, yet. I did pull out part of my mug collection and re-discovered a mug I forgot about. It holds the exact amount of coffee I can drink before it gets cold and I have to microwave it a million times and is the perfect weight. Thanks to one of my book club books, the challenge I’m in, and being in a transition phase, I’m motivated to simplify and reduce. Jumping in for real this weekend!

Day 31: I am thankful for the change in my van. Today was one of those days — not a bad day, but just where I felt like I was bumping along. At lunch, I took a break from the building and ran next door to the gas station for a cup of coffee (and a few drinks for others who were having the same kind of day). I came back to school refreshed by the amazingly cold wind, and with a bit of perspective mixed into my drink. It’s okay to not have it all together all the time. Reminds me of a song (You thought I was going to say book, didn’t you?) Maybe It’s Okay

February 2019

Day 1: I am thankful for a new month! I missed a few days of my journal, am a bit behind on where I want to be with my posts, and haven’t read the book I need to for school. But it is a new month with a lot of new possibilities, and a fresh start to do better and be better than I was last month!

Day 2: I am thankful the kids get involved in things. Today was busy: C had rehearsal for her play, R was at the church for an overnight activity, K went to a birthday party, and Baby went with Grandma and Grandpa to play at a local kid’s museum. I spent lots of the day trying to coordinate schedules and when to pick up and drop off who in between grocery shopping, but at the end of the day everyone was back home and tired from doing things.

Day 3: I am thankful for the ladies I lead MPact Clubs with. WE have some changes coming up in the structure of our clubs, and without blinking, they all agreed to do what needed to be done. No arguing, no complaining, just support and love. I’ve dropped the ball on a few of the things we wanted to do this year, and they offer me grace and encouragement — next year will be better.

Day 4: I am thankful for outdoor recesses! Because of the weather, we have been inside so much of the time. We have discovered Just Dance hat I can project to the screen, so the kids come hang out and dance and sing or play games. But it does make for a long day with no breaks. Today it was finally warm enough for them to go out all three recesses! R came down the hall to give me a hug before he went out. That warms my heart. I am thankful for this job that allows me to be with them more.

Day 5: I am thankful K’s thumb has healed quickly! We had the follow-up appointment today where her stitches came out and she was pronounced healed. She needs to work on exercising it and get the muscles used to stretching out, but that is easy. She finally gets to take a bath by herself since she can now submerge her hands again. Modern medicine amazes me!

Day 6: I am thankful for friends who see needs I don’t recognize, and who then fill those needs. For several months now, I have a dear friend that delivers dinner every Wednesday night so I can focus on getting the kids’s homework done before we have to leave for church. I am a bit independent, so at first it was hard for me to say “yes” when I knew I was perfectly capable of making something. Guess what — even though I’m fully able to make dinner, it has been a blessing and a stress relief to know that I don’t have to get several things done in the matter of an hour. I can stay more present with my kids and have a small breather from all of the mommy duties I have. I also have a goal for when my kids are all grown — bless the life of a mother with children like my friend has done for me.

Day 7: I am thankful for wake-up calls. You know those moments when something happens that makes you realize that you have been living complacent and not really involved in your life? They shake you up and scream for attention. I am thankful for those moments that tell me it is time to make some changes, to start being intentional, to be a better version of who I am.

Day 8: I am thankful for good friends who are supportive and willing to call me on the carpet when I need to be.

Day 9: I am thankful for pasta and salad. We have been working all day on getting the house de-junked — still whittling away at the challenge though I’m not on the correct schedule by this point. The littles have moved all their toys to the play room, all of their laundry is caught up, we took out two large bags of garbage and one of donations. In the playroom, we got rid of two bags of garbage and four bags of donations. I also went though my books and have a box to give to the younger grades at school, a box for my classroom at school, and a basket to take to church and share. Exhausted, I realized it was almost time to make dinner and I wanted to cry. Then the doorbell rang, and I remembered that my amazing friend had volunteered to bring in dinner that morning. She came bearing pasta and salad and encouragement. My heart is full!

Day 10: I am thankful for messages that speak right to my station. The three main points of today’s sermon were as follows:

  1. God calls us. Sometimes that means He moves us to where He can be heard — a desert or a place of separation.
  2. God prepares and equips us for what He has called us. He doesn’t call us into failure.
  3. God calls us in His time — not when we are done with what we want to do.

I’m thinking maybe the reason I feel like Elijah is because I need to pay attention and listen to what God is saying to me.

Day 11: I am thankful my mother-in-law could re-arrange her schedule to be here for this coming week. Trevor is on a medication where he needs supervision 24/7 for a week. She was able to come up from Arizona to be with him so I could go to work and the kids could go to work.

Day 12: I am thankful for this new job I have. In the past two weeks I have had two observations from the administration. I was a bit nervous since my last observations at my old school didn’t go so well. My kids behaved and I was able to get through what I had planned. By the end of the day today I had the results back from both observations. Instead of being told I manage my students poorly and blur the lines between being their friend and their teacher and how awful I am at teaching an managing student behavior, I was thanked by both of them for coming, was told how much the kids love me, told my lessons were well prepared and presented, and was asked if they could borrow the books I’ve been using to discuss possible integration into the whole school next year. I tried to not cry in the office of the assistant principal — it was so nice to be valued! This move was the best thing that has happened to all of us this year. The littles are making friends who build them up, R is excited to go to school and has teachers who are looking for ways to help him improve, and K is going around after school asking how she can help while she waits for me. This huge change has been amazing!

Day 13: I am thankful for snow storms. Especially when I don’t have to drive in them. Normally we would be heading out to church, but the weather had storm warnings so services were canceled. We brewed some coffee and mixed some hot chocolate and worked on Valentine’s things. R made a fabulous tank for his cards with Grandpa T (Baby calls him German — I don’t ask), K worked on getting her cards and candy put together, and Baby tried to convince us all night that he needed to open and eat the cookies he got for his friends.

Day 14: I am thankful for the 5th grade teacher aide I get to work with. I’m not a good party planner. I want to be . . . and I try to make it happen. But I know it is not an area of strength for me. Mrs. L. took on the class Valentine’s Day party – planned it, gathered supplies, organized the stations, and ran it. What a stress relief it was for me! The kids had a fun time stacking conversation hearts or picking them up with chopsticks, building Fruit Loop bracelets, sliding vanilla cookies on their faces, making valentines for family, and eating cupcakes. I got to pass out the treats and wander around to watch them play games. Next year I will find a volunteer to take this all on — or bribe Mrs. L to do the all for me 🙂

Day 15: I am thankful for my Past Tense oil. I had a low grade headache all day, and by the time I got out of my after school meetings, It was almost a full-blown migraine. R and I played a quick game of checkers before we headed home and I set in a hot tub trying to relax. Got out and used the Past Tense, and in about ten minutes, I wasn’t feeling like I was going to puke. The plan is to spend some time in self-care this weekend. Not cleaning. Not doing lesson plans.

Day 16: I am thankful for lazy days. I didn’t wake up to take C to rehersal since she is at her dad’s for the weekend. I read (and finished) my book for school this morning while I waited for the washer to open up in order for me to do my laundry. I took K to a birthday party then came home and took a nap with Baby. The evening is also free from plans, the kids are playing in their bedrooms, so I’m thinking a cup of coffee and more reading are the name of the game!

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Day 19: I am thankful for

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Day 21: I am thankful for parent/teacher conferences. I like to meet the parents of my students — it gives me a bit of insight to their life and helps me connect with them on a different level. I hate how closely they are timed for the elementary, and it will be a bit of an adjustment to get into a good rhythm of how to run them. At the junior high, I didn’t have many parents come, so we had plenty of time to talk about everything. Another thing in my learning curve.

Day 22: I am thankful this week is over. It was a strange week since Monday we had off, Tuesday was a regular day, and the rest of the week was early out for the kids so we could hold conferences. I am also thankful for this new school. I wasn’t dead on my feet at the end of conferences like I have been in the past. I think it is because we have things scheduled differently and keep busy instead of sitting around all night. I am ready for the weekend and a bit of a break.

Day 23: I am thankful for my administration. There are some behaviors in my classroom that have been slowly accelerating. I’ve been doing what I know how, but it has gotten past the point of just me — there are three other teachers talking about how off task they are. Yesterday the 5th grade team and administration sat down and came up with a plan of action that we will put into place on Monday. Here is to positive changes!

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Day 25: I am thankful today went well. I got to address some behaviors I have been seeing that have been getting worse and disrupting my ability to teach. Since my room is a Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts theme, all of my students are in Azkaban until further notice. The administration and other teachers have stopped in a few times to observe what the kids are doing. I have some great data to send to parents, and those kids who are on task and behaving are getting rewarded. We have it narrowed down to my top 5 offenders, and they ratted themselves out. Tomorrow is going to be a better day, and I hope we can keep improving.

Day 26: I am thankful for reading time with Baby. He has a few books memorized; The Very Hungry Caterpillar being his current favorite. After the littles go to bed, he gets to stay up a bit longer and he reads me a story. I love hearing the expression in his voice, and his describing the pictures. I pray this passion for reading continues. A few months ago he broke a drawer in my bedside stand when he stuffed a bunch of books into it and shut it. It was so full that he was unable to open it! I laughed a bit until I realized Hungry Caterpillar was one of the stuck books! It took a bit of finagling, but we got the drawer open and book were rescued.

Trevor Romain and me after the assembly

Day 27: I am thankful for assemblies where my students are engaged, challenged, and moved. Often I feel like assemblies are a waste of time — I spend the time babysitting behaviors that I can better manage in my classroom and they all wish we would have kept to the program as regularly scheduled. Not so today. We met Trevor Romain who spoke to them about bullying and being mindful (we meditated! The kids all kept looking at me like, “Oh, Patchett isn’t as crazy as we thought.” It was awesome!) and other topics as he entertained them with stories and a video. It was exactly the message my students (and R) needed to hear. R got home and hasn’t stopped talking about it to everyone! I’m so thankful for people who make a strong impression on my kids (both at school and home) in a positive way. Now I’m going to work on getting his books into my classroom!

Day 28: I am thankful for the leaders at MPact Clubs. I was running late trying to get C off to her performing arts tour as well as getting us to church with a farewell treat for Baby’s teacher who will be leaving us. Things took too long, but they held down the fort (and the masses) and got things going while I ran like a crazy person. This Saturday I have some time scheduled to do some self-care, and I’m definitely going to take full advantage of it!

March 2019

Day 1: I am thankful for my dad. His birthday is coming up on Sunday, but tonight we stopped by to attempt some fundraising in their neighborhood. The fundraising didn’t go so well, but I had a great conversation with Dad. He is learning how to turn bowls, make wooden pens, and craft magic wands in his spare time. I love listening to him when he is passionate about something that he is learning. He told me about the How to Start a Business class he is taking, about the different places he has visited to talk about selling his products, and what suggestions he has for the others in his class. My dad always amazes me with all that he knows about. I remember back in high school when I was trying to teach myself how to do a flip for the play I was in, and Dad came into the room and taught me — found out he had taken some gymnastics classes! I think my love for adventure comes from him — always learning, growing, trying new things. Being interested in the world around in many different aspects. He knows the scientific and common names for any plants and insects. He used to run sound and light boards for high school plays. He got his English as a Second Language (ESL) endorsement, currently teaches biology and astronomy at the high school my big girls attend, had an aquaculture class where they raised fish (ahh, many adventure stories about acquiring said fish . . . ) and used to run the school’s greenhouse. How blessed I’ve been to have him as my example.

Day 2: I am thankful for curry. Having mom friends is so important, and yet so difficult! My group of five friends have been trying to find a time to go out for dinner and catch up since December, and we finally found a day that worked for all of us! Last minute, two had to drop the appointment due to other things that came up — you know, life happens. We went to a Thai place where we all got curry. I love a good (mild) curry, but I am not one to make it. I have tried several times to make different recipes. It smells delicious, but tastes like cardboard. Not sure what I’m doing, or not doing, so I’ve given it up along with jello and gravy — someone else will have to make those and I will enjoy them when I can. We talked, caught up, ate until we were full, and enjoyed each other’s company. We are starting now to look for another date where we can go bowling — probably in the summer.

Day 3: I am thankful C was able to go on tour with the school. Once a year the orchestra/band/drama kids get to pack up for five days and travel to a destination where they perform, take classes, sight see, and eat as much pizza as the choir teacher is tall — there were pictures taken to prove it this year. Two years ago, B was leaving for her first tour, and C cried the whole time — it was the longest my two girls had ever been separated from each other. A few years later, and I realize that there is only one more tour left for this girly before she heads off to college. Where has the time gone?

Day 4: I am thankful for mom sharing moments. Those times when I’m talking to other moms who are going through similar “parenting-is-hard” times, and you get to see that both of you are normal and can give each other some encouragement and strength to keep on doing what we need to do to raise kids that are happy, healthy, and safe. It bonds us as women, give us a boost, and helps to know that we aren’t the only one who is in the crazy boat. It also is a perspective check for me, and yes, I usually end up sharing a book (or two) that I’ve read on the subjects we have talked about. In case you are needing a recommendation for parenting books, I have two for today: 1. Bringing Up Boys by Dr. James Dobson 2. Bringing Up Girls by Dr. James Dobson.

Day 5: I am thankful for thrift stores. R has a reader’s theater presentation coming up next week (he thinks) and he is in charge of props. We spent an hour looking through a thrift store for pieces of clothing to make two Indian costumes for him and a friend. It was interesting to listen to him talk about the idea he had in his head of what he needed, and I got to spend some time talking to him about other cultures — Indians didn’t wear bowler hats, or sun hats, or cowboy hats. He finally ended up with two good costumes, and we made a new friend of the store manager who was helping us come up with something. Baby even found a Chase from Paw Patrol bucket hat he decided he needed to carry all kinds of things (hard boiled eggs, candy, toys, bell peppers according to him).

Day 6: I am thankful for new opportunities to serve. I mentioned last week that Baby’s Wednesday night teacher had to leave us for a time, so that means I get to take over his class until we can find a teacher. I got to tell stories, sing songs, and play Play-dough with the preschool kids! I’m not sure if I mentioned this before, but I used to teach preschool and nanny, and this past summer I was trying to start up a daycare center with my friend. This is my comfort zone, my happy place! Baby is excited to have me in his class — although he kicked me out of the teacher’s chair so HE could be the teacher. He did a good job of handing out snacks and coloring pages.

Day 7: I am thankful for rain. I know it makes for indoor recess again, but I love the sound of it falling, the way it smells, and the memories it brings back. My favorite rain memory is from when the big girls were tiny. We were on a family vacation and had tickets to an outdoor theater when it suddenly began to pour. The show was postpones while they waited to see if the storm would pass. B and I were huddled with everyone when she looked up and asked, “Can i just run in it a little?” We ended up playing tag and getting soaked and making the others around us laugh. C go into the action when I carried her, but she was still tiny and didn’t like being wet unless she had her washcloth on her tummy — I don’t make the rules they have to follow, I just try to record them so we can laugh later. My second favorite memory is being at Grandpa’s cabin and sitting on the front porch reading while it rained. Yes, I love the rain.

Day 8: I am thankful for responsible kids. R and I had our date (long overdue because Mom fell off the responsibility wagon for a bit) where we got to go to a local arcade/bowling/bumper cars/lazer tag. His favorite activity is lazer tag, and I happened to have coupons for bumper cars. While waiting for the bumper cars attendant to come back and start the ride, we watched some boys who were not much older than R jump the line while vaping. When the attendant came back, she had to kick them out. hey they argued with her. R watched all this. Later we talked about what we had watched, and he was appalled that anyone would act that way. We reported the illegal vape to a manager and went on to play lazer tag. While in line, the same boys came back in and started to play fight and make up heavy with the girls they were with. R was embarrassed they would act like that in public. We talked about the importance of picking good friends — people who will build you up and make you a better person. He decided right there that he was going to pick friends who wouldn’t embarrass him like these guys had. Then we got to go play where I barely beat him. He wants to come back soon and bring the whole family.

Day 9: I am thankful for free workshops that help me improve myself. The one I attended today was for school. I wasn’t sure what to expect, and I went mainly because I’m always looking for ways to improve my teaching. I took a class about Whole Body Learning that was specific to kids who have sensory issues. I seem to have quite a few in my class — especially for not being SPED. It was a good review of what I already knew, and confirmation that the meditations and ways I have for kids to take a break when they are overwhelmed are good. I do need to get a few things improved on. I’m thinking about having more brain breaks put into place for the entire class, I need to have a few conversations with some of my students to get them on a five point self-check scale, and I need to work with one student in particular to get a ticket system in place since I realize he has been using hall passes a a way to escape work he doesn’t want to do.

Day 10: I am thankful for new inspiration. This weekend I had some ideas for new things I want to try to promote this blog. My students mentioned that if I had a YouTube channel, they would follow me, and I laughed a bit, but it sparked something. I’m going to have to stretch myself (see how Intentional is popping up again) to learn some new skills and do something I’m not fully comfortable with. Today in church, Pastor talked about taking steps of Faith and not living in the comfort zone — maybe this Blog isn’t quite what he had in mind, but it sure struck me as I was listening to the sermon. This blog has been a small Open Door for me, and I’m willing to take another step through it. C said one of her friends does a lot with video editing, so I’m going to reach out and see if he can help me get started on this new idea.

Day 11: I am thankful for warm winds. I am not usually a wind kind of girl — especially since I teach at the mouth of a canyon where there seems to always be wind. I love rivers, trees, and flowers, appreciate bird songs and seeing animals, and could spend hours hiking. But wind, not something I get excited about. Today, the wind felt just a bit warm as it blew us into the school, and I got a bit excited for warmer weather, for sunshine, for outdoor recess and picnics and upcoming hiking adventures I need to plan! Spring is in the air!

Day 12: I am thankful for students who want to be helpers. I started losing my voice yesterday, and by today it was basically gone. I had a fabulous poetry lesson planned that I had to hurry and change this morning. My students were amazing at settling down to listen to the videos I had, helped each other understand what I was whispering, and took notes. At the end of the day, most of them hugged me good-bye and told me to take it easy and get better for tomorrow. What a lucky teacher I am!

Day 13: I am thankful for Play Dough. Tonight was my second night being the Rainbow’s teacher, and I had no voice! I was a bit nervous at first since I haven’t had to teach preschool voiceless for a hot minute (over eleven years) and wasn’t sure how the kids would respond. Thank goodness we had Play Dough they were really into. They didn’t miss the story because we were too busy making yellow glow-in-the-dark worms, blue noodles, and purple blobs that needed to be cut with the cookie cutters. Got home and made some hot lemonade. Hopefully tomorrow my voice will be found.

Day 14: I am thankful for field trips. We got to go to an AMAZING field trip today! The kids have been preparing for it for several months — learning how to balance a checkbook, write checks, understanding how to get a loan and what interest is, speaking in front of each other, and interviewing for jobs. They were assigned a position in a company about a week ago, and have been filling out the forms necessary for their business licenses and loans. Today they arrived with another school at the pretend city where they put all these skills to use running their businesses. It was fun to watch them present speeches, convince people to come shop at their stores, and work hard to pay off their business loan by the end of the day. I wish I would have had a similar experience before I had to do it in real time! I learned a lot, and am excited to see what we can do to improve our performance next year.

Day 15: I am thankful for long weekends. Yesterday was the last day of the term, so we got today off. I slept in! We got bedrooms cleaned up, and errands run that I’ve been putting off. Took a nap with Baby. Generally just had a rejuvenate day which was desperately needed by all!

Day 16: I am thankful for warmer weather and yard work. We spent the morning cleaning out the side of the house and getting toys cleaned up and ready for outdoor play. I’m realizing how out of shape I am (feeling a new fitness goal coming on) and that I need to put more stock into sunscreen — the poor littles have small sunburns on their ears, noses, and back of necks. But they aren’t complaining. We were all glad to get outside for some sunshine.

Day 17: I am thankful for days where there is no agenda. After church there were no plans, no homework that had to be done, no jobs that were pressing. The kids all took a nap, and I got to read!

Day 18: I am thankful for warm weather! K and I got to go on a date — miniature golfing outside! She is getting to be a good little putter, and she asked if sometime we can go to the big golf course and try that. I told her I think she needs to get a bit bigger, but I’m not sure. I’ll have to dust off my old clubs and we can practice in the backyard. I have to tell about how I got my golf clubs. Several years ago I got set up on a blind date. My friend (who had set up the date) and her husband and his friend from work. They picked me up to go golfing — I had only been once or twice in my life at this point, so I was the least experienced in the bunch. THe guys bought a whole bucket of balls for me, and I was confused. “This way we have enough to get you through the course,” was the answer. I explained that I would only need one ball. They laughed and a bet was made. IF I had the same ball at the end of the course that I started with, they would buy me a set of golf clubs. I signed my ball as proof of ownership and we headed off. Long story short, they used the bucket they had got for me, and a week later my new set of clubs arrived on my front stoop. I wonder if I left that ball in my bag . . .

Day 19: I am thankful for double dates. Baby had his date tonight, so we asked a friend and his mom to come with us to use a coupon I’ve been sitting on that is about to expire. The guys ran around and jumped and did the kids thing while the moms followed behind and caught up on life. After they got tired of jumping we shared a snack and headed home for an earlier bed. His only complaint was we didn’t get a snack AND an ice cream.

Day 20: I am thankful for the talents my kids have and are wiling to share. C had a performance tonight, and B got to come watch and help me with the littles since she is on spring break this week (bummer because we have a few more weeks to go, so we don’t get to do anything special with her). C did her thing on the stage, B took the kids out to play several times, R took care of little brother, K made sure she told the big kids they did well afterwards, and Baby just was happy to run around in the school halls with his socks and shoes off. I’m so proud of how well these people of mine work together and support each other. I’m a blessed mama.

Day 21: I am thankful for the grace of strangers. Today did not go as planned. I’m not sure if it was a full moon, but things were just off. Schedules at school made me improvise, sudden meetings after school made me late after school, issues with kids made me late for a meeting. I walked in 20 minutes late with the only open seat being across the room and I had to pass in front of the person running the show. I was embarrassed and flustered, and then got called to introduce myself. I apologized for being late. “Was it unavoidable?” the leader asked. I said yes, with a short explanation. “Then you are forgiven and we are happy to have you here.” I’ve been thinking about this response all night. How simple, no guilt, full of grace, and end of the conversation. I need to be more like this.

Day 22: I am thankful for new experiences. Tonight I got to take B to a new restaurant I have a coupon for (I’m learning new ways of doing things in my Financial Focus!) so we decided to try it out and get caught up since I haven’t seen her all week! We got a waffle to share as we caught up on life. I sure do miss her, but I’m excited for the experiences she is having at college. I love to hear about her classes, the books they are reading, the activities her Honor’s program goes on, and how she is trying to branch out and meet people.

Day 23: I am thankful B did well at competition. She was he lead in the straight play (meaning not a musical) that ended three weeks ago, turned around and rehearsed for the school’s one act for competition and a scene for competition. Today was the day they performed the scene in front of judges; she came away in 3rd place in region! She continues to amaze me with how much she can do and still keep her grades up.

Day 24: I am thankful for appliances that work. One of our fridges went out this weekend. It has been coming, but I really don’t want to spend the money on a new fridge. When you wake up to everything frozen, it’s time to look into a new appliance. The new one is super nice — it holds almost everything two fridges held!

Day 25: I am thankful I don’t have a concussion. I was trying to finish the last of the Larry McMurtry books last night, and fell asleep. The book hit me in the head, making me aware that I wasn’t reading like I thought and prompting me to put the book down, take my glasses off, and turn out the light. It reminded me of the time I hid a book under my pillow when I was younger, and woke up the following morning with a green stain from the cover on my face. I got busted for reading past bedtime.

Day 26: I am thankful for science experiments. We have been talking about energy transfer, so today we made solar ovens and looked at solar energy transferring to heat energy by making s’mores. How much fun is that?! They were good little scientists taking their data, adjusting the variables to get better results, and then writing a reflection on the whole experiment. Melted chocolate was over everything — hands, faces, clothing, the sidewalk. I have to count this as a success!

Day 27: I am thankful for awards night at church. It is great to watch these kids be called up on the stage while their leader announces the badges they have worked on to earn — they have to do an activity and memorize Bible verses for each one. As a leader and teacher, I know we plant seeds every week and pray they take root. There are many days I feel like we water those seeds with tears and sweat, knowing full well we may not ever see the fruits. It is days like these that I get to see a glimmer of our impact.

Day 28: I am thankful for my oldest boy. Confession: I wasn’t sure what to do with girls, and I panicked a bit when my first two pregnancies resulted in daughters. Growing up with a brother, five boys to the two girls on my childhood street, and teaching a daycare class of 20 boys and 1 girl, I KNEW what to do with boys. Girls freaked me out a bit. I was super happy to have pregnancy #3 be a boy. R was my largest baby — friends used to joke that he was going to come up with shoulder pads on. He laughed at the most random things, said funny things (Jesus ordered the rain because He rains!), and is a defender for those less fortunate. I’m so proud of this boy who is quickly growing into a young man (way too fast, I have to admit).

Day 29: I am thankful for celebrations. Today was busy at school. We started off the day with presenting state reports. After lunch, keyboarding, and art, we said good-bye to our student teacher and got ready for a week of Spring Break. We are so ready for a week of break — I’ve got a huge list of things we want to do that I need to get organized. Goal 1 is to eat strict on my diet because I’ve had way too much sugar today.

Day 30: I am thankful for good friends and local attractions. We celebrated R’s birthday today. We gave him the option of inviting two friends and going to play laxer tag, or inviting nine friends and doing something at home. He picked lazer tag and two friends I didn’t anticipate. They played video games, laxer tag, ate pizza and cake, rode go carts, another round (or two) of lazer tag. On our way home we stopped by a store and got to see baby chicks! This boy of mine is getting grown up so fast!

Day 31: I am thankful for challenges Pastor gives us each week. Today we were reading through 1 Samuel chapter 17 — David and Goliath. The message was about fear and how it can be a good thing since it holds us back (hopefully) from doing stupid things. The problem comes when we allow fear to hold us back from stepping out in faith — the things we know God has called us to do, but we don’t feel qualified to do it, so we make excuses to put it off. God calls us to do things that He will walk through with us after He has prepared the way. The challenge was to identify one thing that we have been called to do (or not do) and to face the underlying fear head on by stepping out in faith. GULP! I’m picking up a book on forgiveness I’ve been putting off and (because I’m an overachiever like that) seriously setting some time aside each day to work on writing I’ve never been able to get around to.

April 2019

Day 1: I am thankful for adventures with cousins. The weather is warm enough that we actually got to head out this morning with cousins to do some hiking, look for birds and bugs, and see eagles, owls, snakes, salamanders, and bunnies. We had a picnic, found some memory rocks to keep our favorite memory of the day safe, and even had some time to go back to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s to play — and I wished for a nap. I’m a bit more out of shape than I want to admit. A secondary thing I am thankful for is not being in school on April Fool’s Day. Not sure I’m ready to face 5th grade on the day of tricks, yet.

Day 2: I am thankful for prom rental places. C was asked to prom, and today we realized we HAD to get a dress since the dance is a week and a half away! I’m not sure why new dresses cost so dang much when you are only going to wear it once — seriously, $500 for a low end dress! I’ve been lucky n the past and have been able to pick up a few for the girls at yard sales years before they needed them, but those have all been worn and now hang in closets with no purpose in the near future. We all headed to a home where the mother runs a dress rental business out of her basement, my kids play with her kids, and we get a pretty good deal. C found a beautiful dress (with pockets! I was super surprised!) and we talked about maybe doing an exchange of one of the old dresses in closets at our house for a reduced rental fee. Score for Mom!

Day 3: I am thankful for moment where I’m told I’m enough. As a mother, I often worry that what I’m doing is messing up my kids. Thanks to the OCD and depression, I can blow that up easily. I (kind-of) joke with the kids that I will pay for therapy since I’m the one that messed them up, so they have to be prepared to pay for college. I do see the value in being able to speak to a natural person about what you are going through, especially if they have new tools that can go into the tool box to help you be a better person. And, I have been blessed with some fabulous people who remind me often that I’m enough and that what I’m doing is good enough. Deep down, I know that I’m giving all that I have (some days that is more than others), and it is good to know that there are other people out there who know it as well. “Friends are the ones who sing your heart song back to you when you have forgotten the words.”

Day 4: I am thankful for animals. I have to admit that I’m not a great animal person — we have a dog and have had other pets in the past, but I’m not crazy about holding them and loving on them. This is why the zoo is perfect for me. I can see and appreciate all the animals, but I don’t get to touch them. We met a family friend at the zoo and got to go around seeing animals. This was Baby’s first time, and he was a trooper. We talked about how much the zoo has changed in the past few years, and how drastically it has changed since I was little. Cages have given way to enclosures that look like natural habitat, there are fewer animals, and there are amazing interactive ways to learn information about the animals. After the train ride, we headed out to lunch and then home for dentist appointments. I like seeing these animals through my kids. I KNOW an elephant has a long trunk and I KNOW a giraffe has a long neck, but I SEE them differently when I think about seeing them for the first time. There is so much out there I KNOW of, and so little I have actually experienced. Guess I need to update my Bucket List and add Safari to it!

Day 5: I am thankful for work days. My “office” has been the kitchen table. Makes it convenient when I need a refill on my coffee or a snack, and I’m still in the middle of what is happening with the kids. There are two major problems though: 1. I’m in the middle of what is happening with the kids and 2. My projects bleed over to the counters and the floor a meal times. I’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to clean up part of the downstairs playroom to convert into an office space for me. Today progress was made! I now have a desk and my files moved in, and we are getting rid of a bag of toys that we honest;y don’t play with anymore. The counter in the kitchen is cleared off, and I only misplaced one book in the process (strange that I can lose a book in the move from the kitchen to the basement . . . I’m thinking I had a helper?). Now to get organized and finish de-junking the stuff I have collected.

Day 6: I am thankful for creativity. The Ranger Derby is coming up next week, so today we spent the day cutting and sanding and painting cars. I love watching the kids figure out how they want things to look. Baby decided he wanted an orange fish, so I got to try my hand at painting a clown fish while he took a snooze — I think it turned out great, and he was super happy. R made his into a cheetah, and K made a rainbow (?) one. After they were finished, I started on a project for school. I’m needing more paint so I can finish.

Day 7: I am thankful for a position of work that I love. For several years now I have dreaded going back to work after long breaks, but this year it is different. I love teaching again, and I’m super excited to get back to the kids to do projects. Sure there are some things that irritate me — talking out, not getting along, refusal to try sometimes — but for the most part, I love teaching these kids. I’m sad that the school year is winding down.

Day 8: I am thankful I have been teaching mindfulness activities this year. It has been brought to my attention how hard some of my students struggle with mental health — depression, anxiety, panic attacks — and they are in the 5th grade! I have had a few parents email in about how the meditations and the breathing exercises I have the kids do before and after testing have helped them to not be stressed out — and we are only on day 1 of testing!

Day 9: I am thankful for the expertise of others. We had a few appointments today searching for some answers to behaviors we are seeing. I was given recommendations for some new books to read for new strategies that may help all the kids in my care (at home and at school) thrive better. I like learning and applying what I learn, and I’ve found such value in the many tools I have picked up along the way. Heading off to buy some new books to read!

Day 10: I am thankful I get to be the Rainbows teacher. I sometimes forget how much I like to play — I get too caught up in my head WAY too often. Wednesday nights I get to not be fully adult as I play with play dough and Little People, sing songs and dance, and tell stories to these kids. It has been difficult trying to do my duties as coordinator, and I’m reaching out people to take some of the load off my plate. Guess this is a season of me learning to allow other people to serve me. It is a lesson I have struggled with, but am finally learning.

Day 11: I am thankful for outdoor recess. The kids have been successful in convincing me that I need to go outside and play with them. I love that they all want me to be on their team for Four-Square, or play tag with them, or watch them shoot hoops. I promised that I would bring my tennis shoes next week so I can come play more often — it is difficult to play with heels on.

Day 12: I am thankful for friends who know I need a creative outlet. This month is National Poetry Month. One of my friends invited me to join a group where we are introduced o a form of poetry each day and encouraged to write in that form and share on Facebook. It has been so much fun! I’m learning a lot of new forms, sharing them with my students, and writing again! I sometimes forget how much I like to write just for the pleasure of writing. It’s starting to spark some other ideas (I know, I know. I have enough swirling in my head.). I’m going to be sad when the month is over.

Day 13: I am thankful for kids who are good sports. Today was the Ranger Derby where we got to race their cars. Baby took first in his division, K and R both took second in theirs. They cheered each other and their friends on, and when K found out her friend hadn’t won, she offered to give her the trophy. Super proud of how they handled themselves today!

Day 14: I am thankful this week is math testing. That means I get to work on the ELA and science projects I want to see finished for the year. Book Clubs are winding down — they have a final project and presentation. In Science we have one last standard to cover (not going to happen before the test, but what do you do?) along with a children’s book about electricity to bind. A individual portfolio that shows the writing, reading, science, math, and health we have been studying this year. Six more Mondays of the school year left!

Day 15: I am thankful for year-end testing. No, I’m not thrilled that there is so much resting on the results of the testing required by the state. I’m not thrilled that there are three weeks of testing scheduled for my students. I’m not happy that I’m not allowed to know what they will be tested on and hope that I covered all the standards well enough for them to do well. What I am thankful for is the ability for my students to show off what we have been practicing and learning all year. I am thankful that someone else had to write (and then score) the tests. I’m thankful these kids get to practice facing something they have been working towards for an extended period of time.

Day 16: I am thankful for date nights with the kids. I’m not always good about getting them done and scheduled, but I sure enjoy my time with them — learning about them, listening to what they have to say, asking questions. This month we have some fun plans: dinner with the two oldest, playing video games, painting pottery, and getting a treat with the younger three.

Day 17: I am thankful we are nearing the end of MPact for the season. Over the summer I hope to set some things in place so that next year runs smoother for everyone. I also want to hold a leaders retreat so we can plan out the year and do things better next time. I’m so glad we can continue to improve!

Day 18: I am thankful for reliable people to watch my kids. Thursdays have become meeting night for me, and it is nice to know that there are people willing to help me attend the sessions I need to each week.

Day 19: I am thankful for technology. After going to Jamba Juice for date night with Baby, we ran into the print shop to see what poetry they were able to recover off my jump drive. I wrote poetry since I was in elementary school, but really seriously in high school and up through most of college. In high school, I wrote a poem a day for most of three years, so there is a lot. I’ve decided to focus on putting them into a collection and FINALLY publishing a book! Problem is, I don’t have any hard copies of what I’ve written. I’m hoping to recover enough that I have a start.

Day 20: I am thankful for family and friends who share their talents. My great grandma on Mom’s side crocheted blankets and stockings for each member of the family. My grandma on Dad’s side made quilts. I learned to cross-stitch when I was 8, but I find it is harder and harder to see the squares as I get older. I have several friends who sew or crochet, and I have been blessed with a scarf, a hair schrunchie,and owl gloves from some of them this month. I have also witnessed those who are facing surgery receive blankets.

Day 21: I am thankful for church. I know that today is Easter, and I should be writing about the resurrection and the cross, but you know me and holidays. It feels forced. I am thankful that I get to attend a church of my choosing and not have to fear persecution. I am thankful that I can go here each week to be lifted up, to connect with others, and I can feel safe. This week Notre Dame had a fire and today there were some shootings at churches. My heart breaks for those who entered a place of worship expecting sanctuary from the cares of the rest of the week and ended up not finding that today. I am thankful for the hope the resurrection brings, and for the completion of the Christmas story today.

Day 22: I am thankful the kids are growing. There were several well-child check-ups this month because I’m a bit behind in scheduling appointments. The kids are growing and healthy, and that makes me happy. As frustrating as it can be when it seems like all I do is buy new clothes because the ones I bought a month ago are too small, I’m thankful they are getting the clean food and water they need, and we are able to buy (or get hand-me-downs) to keep them clothed. There are(several) days I feel like a failure as a mother, but when it comes down to the basics, I am doing enough.

Day 23: I am thankful for Starbucks and Frappuccinos. After school I picked up Baby and we headed out to pick up the pottery K and I painted on our date. Not thinking about traffic, I realized too late that we were going be in rush-hour at the wrong time. As we were leaving the parking lot and headed back to the freeway, I spotted a Starbucks, and we swung into the drive through for a treat. The double chocolate chip and strawberries and cream drinks may have ruined appetites for dinner, but they got us through the long car ride. Another memory made with my kids!

Day 24: I am thankful for the new friends I’m making at school. Starting something new is always a bit scary and exhilarating at the same time. Leaving my comfort zone in the middle of the school year was a huge leap — one that I am thankful for — and I was worried about making friends. I know i sounds a bit silly being as old as I am and worried about making friends. But I was leaving some amazing people behind, and I was concerned hat I wouldn’t find people who would be in my tribe quite like the ones I was leaving. This week has helped me to see new friends who are going to be there to build me up, speak encouragement, who I can laugh with and cry with. I’m so blessed to know so many amazing people!

Day 25: I am thankful for daring friends. So, today I did a thing. I ate a cricket with a new friend at school. I’m not sure how it all came about, but she bought crickets at a gas station and I said I would try them with her. After school some of my students, my team teacher, R and K trooped down with me to her classroom where we ate a cricket each. It wasn’t bad — kind of stale tasting. But I get to check it off my bucket list.

Day 26: I am thankful for friends with a sense of humor. I got a piece of vegan chocolate cake today from another friend who saw the video of us eating crickets! She guaranteed that I wouldn’t end up with part of a leg stuck in my back tooth like yesterday. It was delicious, and I’m now asking for cooking lessons (to go along with my crocheting lessons . . . ).

Day 27: I am thankful for forgiveness. Several years ago I told myself that if I think about something more than three times, I need to take notice of it because it is really important. It has served me pretty well so far. This month the idea of forgiveness has come up multiple times — many more than three. I’m taking notice of it, promise. Here is a song for the day: Forgiveness by Matthew West

Day 28: I am thankful for book-worm friends. I have met several people throughout life who like to read, and we get along well. I have also met people who encourage reading, but don’t really read a lot themselves — they have books they mean to read, but never seem to get around to it — and we also get along. I’ve married two guys who don’t enjoy reading, and I have several close friends who are not readers; they don’t always understand me, and I really struggle to help them understand me. Then there are the true bookworms I have met. The ones who have read (or know of) the obscure books I love, who have piles of books to read along side the ones they are currently reading, and who I can have deep, passionate, and meaningful conversations with. They understand me in ways I’m not able to express — it feels like green leaves bursting on trees in the Spring, the first snowfall of Winter, sitting still after a productive day.

Day 29: I am thankful for

Day 30: I am thankful for my new friends at work. For some reason, this week I’ve been having strange dreams that involve the people I work with. One night a student and her family had to come bust me out of a closet on an enemy base because I was a spy who had gotten caught during a mission. Another night the office staff and I were trying to learn how to fly the school spaceship. I had to share with them our crazy adventures! I’m thankful hat I’ve made some good friends who I can laugh with, talk plans over with, and who are happy and passionate about what we do each day. It was difficult to leave my friends at the old school, but I feel like I have a place here, and I’m thankful for that.

May 2019

Day 1: I am thankful for the ability to laugh at myself. Trying to run a preschool class and be the coordinator for the group is not a combination I would recommend. I’m trying to hold meetings with the pastor and other leaders between keeping track of my kiddo who runs, the two who seem to find random things to eat (like ants or play dough) and keeping them from jumping off the doll house. Even though it is frustrating (I like things to be planned in a timely manner), I’ve also come to realize that this is how it needs to be right now. It is easier to laugh at how I must look to those on the other side of the door trying to hold a conversation with me. And, it is worth it when I get nine big hugs at the end of Rainbows.

Day 2: I am thankful for the chance to do some self-reflection. In one of he books I’m reading, it said (and I paraphrase) that we ask for criticism but we really want praise. It struck a cord with me, and I’ve been pondering this statement along with some criticism that I received indirectly. I walk a strange line in my internal world — one side of the line is being super confident (almost prideful) and the other is down and dejected. There is rarely any middle ground and I can jump sides so quick that it makes my head spin. I don’t really have an answer — I’m not positive I know what the question is. I’m just going to put it out there and be thankful for the opportunities to improve myself.

Day 3: I am thankful for school programs. Today we got to see K sing with the rest of the 2nd grade. She has been so excited for this program. Every five minutes it feels like she has been reminding us of it for the past week. Today it finally happened! She sang her heart out, we all clapped loud for her, and she beamed through the whole thing. There were even treats afterwards. I love having a chance to celebrate what she has been working on all year.

Day 4: I am thankful for days when the errands get run. All the little things seem to pile up over the week, and Saturday is the best day to get them all done. Plus there is a bit of sleeping in so we aren’t so grouchy! Took care of most of what needed to be done — didn’t quite make it to the library. The pile of things that need to be taken care of that sits behind my rocking chair in the living room has dwindled. Good thing another Saturday is coming up in a week.

Day 5: I am thankful for sunshine. After church the littles asked to ride bikes. I found myself out on the front porch with a book but distracted by them riding up and down the street. The sunshine felt good on my arms and legs. The tulips are in bloom in my flower garden, birds are chirping in the tree that budded last week, and the kids are laughing and playing outside. Fifteen days of school are left, and I’m thinking of picnics, playgrounds, and pickle ball; of swimming pools, splash pads, and sleepovers; of friends, fire sides, and fishing. Summertime is almost here!

June 2019

Day 1: I am thankful for working weekends. The big guys stayed home to do yard work while the two littlest and I went grocery shopping for the month. With the new menu written up, I had a list of more fresh veggies and fruits and a few items I’m honestly not sure what they are (jicama, anyone?). After shopping, I prepped some meals for the month and got things in the freezer. The kids got to spend some time out on the trampoline and even convinced Dad to get the bounce house up. We even had a small fire before heading in to watch a movie before bed. Big Sigh! It was a good day!

Day 2: I am thankful for my tribe. Those friends who I am surrounded with who just understand me and listen to me without judging. The people I can turn to to pray for me, who I can pray for openly. The ones who hold my hands up when I’m weary, and who aren’t afraid to open up and be honest with me in return.

Day 3: I am thankful for service opportunities. I’m going to be sore tomorrow! Today I got to go see Darcie’s new preschool building and help her during her open registration — I actually played with the kids while she did the work. Then the kids and I headed over to a friend’s house to help her move. I realize that I haven’t done ANY weight lifting exercise for a LONG time. It felt good to help out, chat, and use muscles I have forgotten about. The kids were awesome helpers! R was hauling boxes and figuring how to place things like a pro. All his Lego building must be training for fitting boxes together. After we got home, the littles and I relaxed to a movie and B went to help her friend’s mom who just had surgery. I’m hoping my kids see the value in serving others. I need to do better at finding ways we can serve together as a family.

Day 4: I am thankful for summer traditions. Swimming lessons were a ritual for us when I was growing up. As soon as school ended, I knew we would troop down to the community pool and Mom would sign us up for swimming lessons. I dreaded and enjoyed swimming lessons. I’ve since learned that the tightness I feel in my chest when the water gets to a certain point on my body is called panic, and there are ways to confront it. I learned to swim — never going to be asked to try out for any water sport team or to be a lifeguard, but I won’t drown. For one reason or another, I have put off swimming lessons for the kids. So, today I trooped the kids to the community pool and asked for swimming lessons. “You register online now” was the answer. “Well, I might be able to set it up for you,” she amended. A few minutes later, we had an account and were signed up for summer lessons — all three littles! We just need to get some stay-cation trips agreed on and a few camping excursions on the calendar to call summer officially started!

Day 5: I am thankful Jodi will be at my school with me next year! Six years ago I switched schools mid-year (must be a theme for me . . . ). Starting in the middle of the year is always hard. You aren’t sure what the expectations for you are, how the kids and other teachers will receive you, and trying to set up rules and procedures while also doing curriculum. My first day at the new school, I was hauling in bo!!xes from my car and Jodi happened to be walking up the hall. She greeted me and offered to give me busy work for the kids so I could get unpacked and set up, or even volunteered to take on some of my classes so I could get planned. Over the course of our friendship, she has always given me happy day gifts, been a constant support and an example. When I switched schools this year (in the middle of the year), she was excited for me and heartbroken. Then a math opening at my new school opened, I told her about it. Today the littles and I helped Jodi pack up her classroom and move it to the new school where I will get to see her every day again! As a thanks/celebration we got to go to Chuck-E-Cheese, eat pizza, and play games. Great kick off to our first week of summer!

Day 6: I am thankful for sudden rainstorms. It has been warm and sunny all day, but this evening, dark clouds started to blow in. B had been taking more of her boxes of things out, and I noticed her windows were rolled down. I mentioned that she might want to roll them up since it looked like rain — she declined. Back in the house I stared dinner, the littles were playing, and B was deciding what last box to take when the rainstorm hit. Drops the size of golf balls spattered on the windows. Baby yelled, “Oh, no!” and ran down the stair and out the front door. We all followed, yelling at him to come back in. “I check da windows!” he called. She had rolled them up without us knowing. It is moments like this that make my heart happy to be a mom. We got to make dinner listening to the rain pouring, then cuddled and watched a movie together.

Day 7: I am thankful for un-stubbed toes. The kids and I have been working really hard at getting the house organized – playroom, bedrooms, basement hallway — as part of my “feel better” routine. I desperately need organized rooms to feel calm in, and we haven’t had those in a while. The kids are on board, so we have been dejunking and reorganizing, and the house is to the point where I can walk most of it in the dark and not have to worry about tripping over or stepping on things. I feel so much calmer (enough that the kids have mentioned I’m happier), and they are happier because they can actually find their toys.

Day 8: I am thankful for reliable transportation. I feel like I have been in the van all day long running kids around and errands. I am thankful that I have a vehicle with air conditioning, that runs well, that has space for my entire crew (and sometimes friends as well). I like being able to pack everyone into one vehicle where we can play games or sing songs together as we do normal life stuff. They may get loud, and there are times I’ve had to pull over to rearrange seating, but I am thankful that we are together and learning how to communicate and work together in a vehicle that is reliable.

Day 9: I am thankful for sleepovers with grandparents. I love my kids, and I love snuggling with them. I do. But, it is also just as nice to have an evening where I can watch a movie I like without interruption. Or eating all the food on my plate without having to share. Or sleeping in my own bed without little feet kicking me. I also like that they get to have some memories of Grandma and German (Baby’s name for Grandpa on this side of the family). It’s a win-win for everyone.

Day 10: I am thankful for school conferences. I got to attend a free STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) conference today that BLEW MY MIND! Because I grew up with Dad the science guy (always helping neighbor kids with bug and leaf collections who is currently a science teacher at our High School) and Mom the technology lover (she was the computer lab tech while I was in high school, and she is usually up to date on the latest and greatest) I have grow up interested in both of these subjects. They feel comfortable to me. When I switched to 5th grade, I was excited to take over the science classes — seeing that my theme is Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts, it fits beautifully into my theme. But, there are things I don’t really like about the science part because I’m not comfortable with them. Specifically, the engineering part — like circuits and electricity. Today, my comfort/ability level just changed. I took a class on how to teach circuits, and I’m beyond excited to see what I can do next year! And, I also made some new friends and contacts so I can reach out to get support. Overall, one of my best summer days so far.

Day 11: I am thankful for writing partners. One of my bucket list dreams is to become a published author. This summer I’m being intentional and setting aside some time each day to write — either here on the blog, or in my poetry manuscript, or in my book manuscript. I am out of the habit of writing each day which makes it difficult to get a book finished and ready to start looking into the publication portion. I have a cute friend who mentioned she wants to finish writing a romance novel, and I mentioned we should do it together — finish writing our books. Now I have an accountability partner who is going to check up on me to make sure I’ve been writing, and I will check on her to make sure she has set aside time to do the same. Six weeks before I’m back in school means I need to set a pretty rigorous schedule for myself. Heading in people — wish me luck!

Day 12: I am thankful for strange faces in family pictures. I hate pictures of myself — I think most people over a certain age do, and I’m not sure why. I hate that my eyes are always closed or my smile looks a bit forced. But then I have to remember to be thankful that I have any pictures of me. There are people in my life who have moved on in one form or another, and I wish I had a picture of them — even if their eyes were closed or the picture was out of focus, or it wasn’t perfect in some other way. I’m thankful that there are people (namely my kids) who want pictures of me and who only care is that we are in it together.

Day 13: I am thankful for swimming pools. Today we hung out with cousins at the swimming pool. K asked me to help her learn to float since she will be taking swimming lessons in a few weeks. It was nice that she wanted me. I walked the length of the pool several times with her on her back insisting that I take my hands off and let her do it herself while I counted (she lasted about 4 seconds alone). When she got bored, Baby wanted me to play slippery fish with him. R was the only one who I didn’t get one-on-one time with, but he and I have a swimming date later this month at a local park that has a slide he likes. B and C were both at work. I’m tired, dehydrated, and happy.

Day 14: I. a thankful for allergy pills. This morning has been a rough allergy day already (I’m writing this at 9 am). The cotton in the air makes it look like it is snowing, and every time I turn my head, my nose is running. I’m pretty sure I’ve been through a box of tissues since 6. I’m so thankful for allergy pills that have at least taken the edge off the sneezing and eye itching. I have a feeling that today is going to be an indoor activity day.

Day 15: I am thankful for sticks. I keep telling the Littles that I’m going to replace their toys with rocks and sticks because that is what they mostly play with. If you were to walk out my back door, you would see a small pile of sticks of various sizes laying on the patio table, and another pile in the kid’s wagon. It doesn’t matter where we go, all three of them gather sticks and we have to negotiate how many they get to bring home. Even in the frustration I feel at all the piles of sticks, I am thankful that my kids use their imaginations and can entertain themselves. Their sticks can change from guns to paintbrushes to magic wands. I have see walking sticks become baseball bats or horses depending on what is needed at the moment in their game. Sticks are readily available and inexpensive, yet they provide hours of entertainment.

Day 16: I am thankful for homemade ice cream. When I was little, my grandpa would make homemade ice cream once in a while for family gatherings. I was allergic to milk, so I rarely got any on top of my grandma’s razelberry pie. I’ve outgrown the allergy — I still don’t drink much milk or eat a lot of dairy products — and I enjoy ice cream. Last summer I bought Trevor an ice cream machine for our anniversary, and today he broke it out and made ice cream from scratch. After dinner he cut up strawberries to mix in, and served it. It was delicious!

Day 17: I am thankful for VBS season. If he could declare it a Holiday, R would say that VBS is his favorite holiday! He loves to sing (he is getting to the age where he won’t admit it when non-family members are around), he loves to do activities, and he loves to talk about Jesus. I didn’t grow up with VBS, so it was a new adventure for us six years ago when we timidly entered a church that wasn’t ours to see what had been advertised. Weird Animal was the theme that first year when R was 4 and K was 2. Thursday of that week, we talked about Jesus’s resurrection, and in the final gathering He walked down the aisle giving high fives and hugs. That night, on the way home, R asked how you let Jesus into your life. I watch him each VBS and marvel at how much he has matured and grown. How he draw people in, how he observes the world around him. He honestly prays for those who hurt him and thinks of ways to make life better for others. Each year I volunteer where I can because I see how important VBS is for R. He is going to be sad in two years when he is too old to participate, but I’m pretty sure he will be volunteering to help out. Our church is done for the year, and I promised him I would look up the other churches around us to see who has one going later on this summer.

Day 18: I am thankful for the prayers of my friends. I’ve had to have some medical testing done this month due to irregular results of routine tests. This isn’t as scary for me as it might sound — my tests come back irregular on a pretty consistent basis. I happened to mention my appointments to some friends who were trying to plan adventures with us. Immediately they stopped the conversation to have me sit down so they could pray over me. Results come back today — nothing has changed enough to the doctors to be worried, so I’m good.

Day 19: I am thankful the weather has had a hard time deciding what it is doing. Normally in June, we are in the mid to high 80’s, but this year we have been in the mid to high 60’s with lots of rain. It hasn’t been too hot to have to turn on the air conditioner, I haven’t had to pull out swimming suits, or spend money on sunscreen and aloe. I’m sure I need to add a “Yet” on the end of that as the temperature is supposed to jump to the high 80’s next week. But I am going to enjoy the rain and not needing to water the lawn for a few days more.

Day 20: I am thankful for the opportunity to get to know people. I was in charge of picking the book and leading the discussion for Book Club this month. I picked a book that had some . . . questionable . . . parts in it that I had forgotten about. I was embarrassed, and quickly called off the reading. One of the themes that really struck me was how people don’t really know each other. So, I broke out my fabulous UN-GAME cards and took them with me to the meeting. The 12 of us who were able to come sat around and asked and answered questions. Some were “easy” (Tell about a nightmare you’ve had) and some were deep (Why do you think some people are cruel?). We got to know each other better. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. How we all have this need, this desire, to be seen and understood. In this age of information and technology, I don’t think there are deed connections being made like we desperately need. I’ve been realizing how shallowly I’m connected many times, and how I need to change that — when I listen to the kids, I need to be engaged in listening to the kids. R likes to play this game, and I’m thinking I need to do at least one question a day with him — with all of them.

Day 21: I am thankful for a large van so I can comfortably haul six kids to and from VBS. Yes, we picked up the neighbor kids to take them with us this week. Tonight was the last night, and a few of them cried because they didn’t want it to end. I found the songs on YouTube, so we have been playing Even When the Lions Roar continuously since we left home — it is a 25 minute drive from our house to the church.

Day 22:

Day 23: I am thankful for family dinners. One of the things I’m proud of is that we eat dinner together pretty much every night. We set the actual table in the kitchen with real plates, cups, and silverware ( I only mention this because if you come over for Thanksgiving dinner, we are eating off paper plates and drinking out of paper cups) on place mats. We typically make dinner from scratch, and because there are five kids, I have a helper (or I’m the helper) making food with me. There are always the times were someone isn’t there due to rehearsal or work, or the nights we sit in the living room to watch a movie together. Now that B is moved out and C is heading into her last year of high school, having everyone at the table is a rare occasion. I love to hear the kids talking about their day, laughing over inside jokes, explaining things to each other, or breaking out into song .

Day 24: I am thankful for classic books. Books that each generation can read and still connect to and find meaning in. I started reading How to Eat Fried Worms with the littles today. They weren’t very happy that we are doing school stuff over the summer (Didn’t I know that break was meant to be NO WORK?), but once we got into the story a bit, I think they were interested. I’m sure they won’t admit it — yet. I just love how a book that was first published in 1973 is still relevant in 2019. I like how the Nancy Drew stories that were started in 1930 were read by my mom, me, and my kids. I love talking to B who is reading Frankenstein for college and telling her about the time I read it in college — my teacher had us go to the biology building to see real cadavers so we could fully appreciate the book; he was the best English teacher I have EVER had. I love how books speak to me differently each time I read and re-read. How it transports me to different times and places, lets me live a fuller life, and connects me to people I would otherwise never known. Yes, I’m on a bit of a soapbox here. Reading is definitely one of my major passions in life, and has been since I can remember.

Day 25:

Day 26: I am thankful Baby has a friend in the neighborhood. I’m sure it has to be hard to be the littlest of the littles (trying to reference Skippy Jon Jones — if you don’t know these books, you should check them out!). He gets upset when everyone has a friend come over and he is stuck playing with me. He finally has a friend who is his age around the corner, and they got to hang out and play together today! He felt so big! My Baby is growing up and not so little anymore.

Day 27: I am thankful for technology. I was helping a friend in another city revise her resume. We did it in a Google Doc so both of us could be on at the same time. It was slick, and I think the end results were amazing. She was blown away by how quickly it got put together with both of us working on it — she entered the information and I formatted it. I am also thankful for the training I received on some of the available technology. The Certification class I took has made things easier for me, and improved how I help other people. I am hoping to take another class to earn my level 2 Google certification, but not this year. I have other goals I want to see accomplished before I add “Take more classes” to my list.

Day 28: I am thankful for celebrations for new life. I have a few friends who are expecting new babies in the next few months. It was fun shopping for a gift for the new baby — some books, some outfits, diapers. I think back to baby showers when I was expecting and how blessed I felt. I also laugh at how much stuff I thought I needed for a new baby, and how that changed with the other kids. After R, I had pre-cervical cancer and was told no more babies. I was devastated! Slowly I got rid of my maternity clothes and all baby things as he out grew them. Then, surprise! K came along and we had saved nothing! We were also in the process of moving, so we couldn’t have a lot of things. Surprisingly (not really) we survived without a lot of the things I thought we would need. By the time Baby came (another happy surprise after we had gotten rid of all baby things — again) I think I bought a few diapers, a diaper bag, and an outfit to bring him home in. Amazing how much my parenting has morphed as we have added kids.

Day 29:

Day 30:

July 2019

Day 1: I am thankful for picnic in the park. For lunch, we decided to pack some sandwiches and chips and head to the park. We have had the bad luck lately of being there when there are a bunch of kids and that makes it difficult to play and stressful for me who likes to keep an eye on the kids. At lunchtime, there was nobody — it was a ghost town. The kids could play and come back for a bite of energy to go run it off. I didn’t feel the need to keep checking and counting the entire time, so I got to relax and focus on having fun.

Day 2: I am thankful for my sister-in-law. She invited us to go to the splash pad, and the kids were excited to go hang out with cousins. My brother married her just as my first marriage was coming to an end, and I’m sure I was horrible to be around during the planning of their wedding — something I still feel bad about over a decade later. She has been a source of advice and strength. I wish we could get together more, but scheduling around my five and her four kids makes it difficult. I am grateful for the times we can make it work out.

Day 3: I am thankful for ERs. Baby was running around the house tonight with his arms full of pool noodles, Paw Patrol figures, and things he stole from K’s room. In the process of running he tripped and fell into the coffee table. When he finally let us look at his head, his ear was bloody and some cartilage was showing. Dad packed him up and headed to the ER near our house. He came home with it glued up, ready to play again. So thankful it wasn’t worse.

Day 4: I am thankful for horses. It was cold today, and thanks to last night’s adventures, we didn’t get up in time to make it to a parade. Or to BINGO. Then the rain started, so the street fair games packed up and headed home. My friend directed us to a place where they were doing horse rides, so the kids got to do those in between rainstorms. Baby and K loved the real horses and have been begging to get a real one for our house. I’ll put that on the wish list behind B’s llama and K’s goat, baby elephant, and cows.

Day 5: I am thankful for this month’s book. I started it today, and am only a chapter in, but already so excited for what I’m going to learn! I am thankful for reading friends who suggest books to read. I get to know them better through the books we share. I like how it opens discussions and takes the relationship to a deeper level.

Day 6: I am thankful for cleaning days. C realized that in a year she will be moving out of the house to go to college, and her bedroom is nowhere ready to pack up. We spent a few hours cleaning and dejunking things that needed to be looked at, and made a list of projects we need to finish this school year. After her room, we cleaned the kitchen. At bedtime, I realized I was still in my jammies from the night before! Whoops!

Day 7: I am thankful for people who have changed the course of my life. About thirteen years ago I was a single mom of two little girls, working at Starbucks and going back to school. The Fed Ex guy, who was one of my new friends, invited me to listen to him do a program at his church. I went and enjoyed it, meeting a few of my now really good friends. A few months later he invited us to come check out a sign language class that was being offered for free. B was interested even back then in learning sign, so we went. The teacher for the class wasn’t there, but the girls went to something called an MPact Club meeting instead, and by the end of the night they were hooked. Needless to say, this is the same church we now regularly attend. There has been a lot of change in our church. Many of those who were regular attenders when I was first introduced now go somewhere else. Today, my old Fed Ex friend happened to sit behind us while passing through. I was happy to reconnect even briefly with him. How much life has changed since his first invitation to come listen to him and his brother sing.

Day 8: I am thankful my doctor visits for the year are coming to an end. I think I mentioned that I had several tests come back abnormal, so I’ve had what feels like a million appointments to do more testing to see what is going on. Today was the follow up visit where I got the final breakdown — everything is fine and we will do another round of follow-ups in 6 months. I now only have a dentist appointment, and need to schedule an eye appointment before school starts up in a month. Guess I better go do those before offices close for the day . . .

Day 9: I am thankful for stepping outside comfort zones. R started football camp before he begins football in a few weeks. I’m proud of him for trying a new sport, new exercises, and talking to new people. Many times, these three things aren’t comfortable for him to do, and to do them all at once . . . We have been listening to some motivational CDs lately, and one of them titled, “Step Out of You Comfort Zone” has really spoken to him. He signed up to do a speech in front of his peers at the end of school, tries to talk to new people when we go places, and is speaking up to ask for things he needs/wants. I like how he is thinking about himself and is taking the risk to grow.

Day 10: I am thankful for preschool. Baby gets to go to summer camp, and I have the pleasure of helping with carpool. Darcie, his teacher, is moving facilities from her basement to a new building, and we are super excited for her! I love listening to the kids talk about what they did and what they are going to do the next day – it makes my heart happy. I’m glad he gets to hang out with friends and Darcie who love him all day long. It makes it easier when I have to go to work.

Day 11: I am thankful for short moments of me time. This is an area I teeter in — some days I feel like I get enough down tie because I have time to read at least twice a day. But I also know I need time to be alone, or do things with just adults. I was reading up on some gardening books as I work on some writing, and I read something that was very profound — I’m going to paraphrase: the quiet times are necessary for things to grow. Yes, I make time to read (and write), but I also need to make time to be still, to listen, to grow. Takes away some of the Mommy Guilt I feel when I escape to get myself a treat and some down time.

Day 12: I am thankful for 17 years with my second daughter. I’m sure that being the middle daughter is hard. The oldest is the one who goes through things first, the second gets the hand-me-downs — both in clothes and experiences. It is hard to have similar interests, same teachers, and common friends and be compared to the older sister. It is also hard to be the example to the younger kids. C rarely complains, is usually cheerful as she serves the family and her friends, works hard at school and on the stage, and dreams big in ways that help others also excel. I hope her birthday today was amazing.

Day 13: I am thankful for bigger definitions for dreams. Owning a book store has long been a joke in my family, but this past year it has become more of a burning desire. I’ve been working on a business proposal on and off, but it has felt like something was missing. Tonight was my grandma’s 80th birthday party, and while talking to one of my aunts, something clicked! Part of my bigger “Why” became clear. I’m off to do some research so I can make more progress on my business proposal!

Day 14: I am thankful for B’s new roommates. The housing situation at her college baffles me. They have to be moved out of their old apartment by the end of this week, but the move in date isn’t until August. She got permission to move into her new apartment since she is down there working, so C and I helped B load up different things she needed and a dolly to help her move from one apartment to another. I love driving time with my big girls — the conversations, the laughter, the tears. Sometimes I miss it being just the three of us. We spent the morning loading boxes into the van so we could drive across the parking lot to unload them after lunch. Her new roommates are so nice — they came out of their rooms to talk and offer help. This is leaps and bounds above the other roommates who didn’t speak to us even though they were all moving in at the same time. I think this is going to be a better fit for her, and I’m hopeful for good things to some this next school year.

Day 15: I am thankful for weeding. We didn’t get a garden planted this year, and part of me was really sad. There is something to be said about getting your hands in the dirt and watching things grow. Today we decided to get some overdue yard work done. R mowed the yard and the rest of us pulled the weeds under the porch. Morning glory runs rampant here. It was satisfying to rip long strands out of the cracks in the cement around the base of the house. I like the peace that comes from sweeping up the dirt and dead spiders that are left behind. A job well done makes me want to stand and look at what was accomplished. I feel calm afterwards. Next year, we are planting a garden!

Day 16: I am thankful for friends who enjoy musical theater. I have never seen Hello, Dolly, and thanks to some friends who invited us over for cookies and treats along with the movie, I can check it off my list! The boys came with me to play with new friends, and enjoyed the movie (R said he didn’t, but has been singing songs from it since). Baby is now planning to go over and watch Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang with them! We are gong to have to break out some of the other musicals we have, and if y kids have a say, make it a standing date.

Day 17: I am thankful for the sound of Legos being dumped out. It means the boys are building some grand creation — usually together. It means there is going to be laughter, epic battles to be fought and won, new inventions for good guys to bring justice to the world. My boys are learning to thin outside the box, to work together, to save others as they fight against the injustices they see. Later on I know there will be fighting over who gets what creation and I will step on several pieces that have made their way to all areas of the house. I know that I will have to check the vacuum for the pieces I accidentally sucked up. But for now, they are busy thinking, laughing, playing and building their relationship.

Day 18: I am thankful for a working air conditioner. Ours went out earlier this week, but with the kids running in and out of the house, I wasn’t sure if it was not working or just not able to keep up with their activity. When it reached 85 degrees INSIDE the house at 9:30 at night, I realized that it was really not working. The kids were not concerned about it because that meant they got to play in the sprinklers longer so they could keep cool. Our poor puppy wandered the house panting. We have a fabulous guy who came out quickly and got us up and running (I’m also thankful for him, his skills, and his ability to work us in quickly) and we are back to normal — with the kids still asking to play in the sprinklers every day!

Day 19: I am thankful for patient gift shop workers. We got to go to the zoo today, and the kids were surprised with a trip to the gift shop. It is hard deciding what is going to best represent the day and the people we are with, and we wandered the store several times, discussing and debating what would be best to bring home. Baby decided to pull an entire row of necklaces off the turn rack in the middle of the girls looking at necklaces. It was a fabulous moment for me to practice taking a deep breath before responding. C took the littles to look at stuffed animals again while I spent a good ten minutes untangling the mess. One of the cashiers walked over to help, and she and I sat on the floor and chatted about kids while we improved our problem solving skills. By the time we were done, gifts were picked out. I realize this could have gone a different direction, but I’m grateful I remembered to breathe and thankful the workers were willing to help me without being upset.

Day 20:

Day 21: I am thankful for an active God who calls me to action. Today our sermon was on Jonah. Veggie Tales songs ran through my head the whole time, and I’m pretty sure I know what movie I’m going to pick for quiet time! What struck me today is that God doesn’t tell us to stop doing things. He calls to to do something else. Jonah ran, but God didn’t tell him to stop. He just put obstacles in his way and then told him again to go to Nineveh. God knows all the things I need to stop doing, yet the Holy Spirit guides me to go a different way or do it better. As a parent, I think I need to rethink how I have been parenting. Instead of telling y kids what to STOP doing, I need to guide them into doing it the right way. I also need to do a better job of listening and taking action instead of over-thinking.

Day 22: I am thankful for water. It was a record high today (no clue what the temperature was, but my black lab refused to go outside longer than absolutely necessary) and the first day of swimming lessons. K did well — she is proud that her and I have already practiced her back float. One of y friends happens to be her swim instructor, so I find that fun, Baby also had his first lesson, and I get to be with him. Poor R didn’t go since he will be doing football for the rest of the lessons. He just sat out and drew or watched a movie on my phone. When we got home, they turned on the sprinklers and jumped on the tramp until dark. Living in a desert state, I’m sure glad we have resources for watering the lawns and for drinking. I’m reminded today of Cape Town, Africa where there is a water crisis. I’ve never had to worry about turning on the tap and there not being water there. I have not had to worry if what I’m drinking is going to make me sick or not. I have never had to walk miles to bring water home to use. All members of my family showered today, and I didn’t think twice about it. I ran the dishwasher and did two loads of laundry without blinking an eye. The sound of the fish tank filtering water is a constant as I sit at the kitchen table and write.

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August 2019

Day 1: I am thankful for the teachers I work with. I’m shocked that summer is over already! Today marked the first day back to school for me. I spent it in meetings talking about a new program we are putting into place to help our kids be more emotionally healthy. There are new health standards that came out over the summer, and there is one standard that focuses on emotional health: recognizing stress and learning how to cope with it, defining mental health in a positive manner, and how to seek help for yourself or others. We have a good plan in place of how to do these things, and I’m excited to see how they play out school wide!

Day 2: I am thankful for alone time in my classroom. Setting up a classroom for a year is actually more involved than many people think. As I’m arranging desks, I’m rethinking my classroom management system to see how I can make things run smoother and give more accountability to the students. As I clean up files and attempt to go through the stacks of papers I’ve inherited, I’m thinking about lesson plans and how to do more without overwhelming the kids. It’s figuring out what I need to do better this year to build the relationships at the beginning so they will follow me into the harder parts later in the school year. It was a blessing to have today without kids or other teachers so I could focus on what I want to do and who I want to be this school year.

Day 3: I am thankful for Darcie who provides amazing daycare for Baby. Today was our city celebration, and we got to ride on a float with the other kids advertising the new preschool she gets to open. I’m so excited for her and the opportunities this will open for her! Baby is excited to be going to school like the big kids. I am completely thankful for the friendship I have with her, how much she loves my kids, and how much they love her (Baby has told me several times that he is going to sleep over at her house).

Day 4: I am thankful for days of rest to recharge. Monday starts the full gamete of being back to school — staff meetings, training videos, scheduling, putting together welcome letters for back-to-school night. It was nice to be able to sit and go through the piles of papers I took out of hiding in the classroom, throw many of them away, and just now worry about tomorrow.

Day 5: I am thankful for

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Day 7: I am thankful for the chance to meet parents and students before school starts. Tonight was Back-To-School night, and even though I didn’t feel prepared (I have to keep reminding myself I’m really still a first year teacher!) it was fun and energizing to meet my students, learn a little about them, and see them get excited to come to school. My room is Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts themed, and it is fun to see them suddenly realize that. It’s a great way for me to have an “in” with the kids and we start building a relationship off that. I think we are all ready for this year to begin!

Day 8: I am thankful for a day without meetings. It seems like my first few weeks of being back at school are filled with meetings. There is a lot of information that is good and I learn a lot, but I also stress out because there isn’t enough time to get my room feeling put together (which is why I come in during the summer to do things) and I need time to plan things with the rest of my team. Today was that day! Got my door put up (forgot to take a picture to post here . . . ) and cleaned out two boxes of hand-me-down worksheets and posters.

Day 9: I am thankful for

Day 10: I am thankful for the opportunity to learn new things. Cooking is not my strong suit. When I was little, my parents tried to get me to cook, but I was more interested in reading and hated my time in the kitchen. I remember trying to make horrible meals so that by Saturday of my week of cooking they would agree to let me order out. It didn’t work often, but I tried. When I went to college, I realized I didn’t have a large repertoire to draw on (mac and cheese out of the box and scrambled eggs were my specialty), and I was in charge of all three meals! Quite the humbling experience. One of my roommates was an amazing cook — we loved when she was trying out new recipes because it meant we all ate well until she perfected the dish. Being the mom, I still have times where I absolutely dread dinner time on my days. Today my friend came over to teach me how to use a pressure cooker to cut down on cook times for quicker meals. I’m super excited to try! I’m hoping that I can get organized enough to put together freezer meals so all I have to do is throw things in the pressure cooker as I head off to football practice, helping with homework, play rehearsals, conferences . . . .

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Day 14: I am thankful for the last day of swimming lessons. K and Baby have done awesome! K has been talking about when she can go back and get her next level. Baby likes to show me how he can blow bubbles in the tub — won’t do them at lessons consistently. We have made some new friends as well as improved our swimming skills. After football is done we will have to come back for a second round.

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Day 17: I am thankful for victory with hard work. R had his first official football game today. Last week they had two short scrimmages that didn’t go well, so they have been working hard all week to make improvements. R has been working with Dad to run plays after practice, and he has grown as a player. Today’s game was a win! It was a completely different team that came out to play this week, and the team was excited to see how much they had improved. Being a first year football mom, I’m learning a lot — mostly how to cheer him on even when I don’t understand what it is he is doing.

Day 18: I am thankful for French Toast. R decided we needed some French Toast for breakfast because they usually have waffles or pancakes on the weekdays. We needed strawberries and bread, so the boys headed to the store while the girls cleaned dishes and cooked bacon. After a LONG wait, I got a call to bring Trevor his boots. There was a horse loose in the road, and he wasn’t going to try to grab it with his flip-flops on. We loaded up in the van, rescued R from the truck while Trevor and another good Samaritan got a hold of the horse. The kids were munching on bread when the police officers finally showed up to see what they could do. we finally got home to make French Toast with powdered sugar and fresh strawberries. Missed church, but we have a fun story to tell!

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Day 24: I am thankful for fun shopping experiences. Those that know me know that shopping is not what I’m known for. I don’t hang out at the mall, avoid stores except for the first weekend of the month when I do most of the grocery shopping, and dread holiday shopping. Today we took B out to get her birthday present since she is at the age where it is easier to just have her with me when buying things. Besides that, her list was strange — a tattoo, ears pierced, a coffee pot, earphone spliter, lunch box. I was honestly not sure where we were going. Went to the mall with the girls while the boys stayed home and watched a movie (or took a nap). She decided to get her ears pierced, and it was a fun experience. We got smoothies and smelled candles and lotions before making our way to the piercing kiosk where we all looked over the cases of earrings, necklaces, and rings (I people watched) while we waited for our turn. I remember why I don’t go shopping at the mall, especially on a Saturday (three hours to get her ears pierced!), but I am thankful for the time I got to hang with my girls.

Day 25: I am thankful for B who made me a mom in the first place. There is a special love for the child that was the first in everything — the first to pull at my heart like I never thought was possible, the first to help me see the world in new ways, the first to be adventurous, the first to break rules and expectations. I know how hard it is to be the example and the trail blazer. I’m thankful that we made it through high school with our relationship in tact, and I’m glad she still calls me late at night just to hear my voice or because she needs someone to proof read her paper. I like to pull out the picture books of this day — the day she was born — and tell her stories about her and how unprepared I really was when I brought her home. Not that I’m prepared for any of the other stages either, but how we work on them together as we come to them. I’m thankful I get to learn how to be a mom of ___________________ (fill in the blank – currently it’s filled in with “an independent college student”) with her.

Day 26: I am thankful for friends and family who bail me out when I drop the ball. R was supposed to be doing a clothing drive all month. We started out strong — went through the closets here and got a few bags; called Grandma to ask her to look through her things; asked a friend if we could take some clothes off her hands that she was going to get rid of anyway. Then we realized last night that we were short the required amount. I made a few calls, took the littles around the block to ask door-to-door, and posted on Social Media. Tonight as we went to drop off what we had gathered, we were over by one bag. I’m so blessed to have people who will stop their busy lives to do random things for me on short notice.

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Day 28: I am thankful for Taco Nights. The ones where I don’t have to cook because the tacos “magically” show up along with drinks and an offer to fill up the gas tank sine it is the end of the month and finances are low. There is some free time for me since I’m not supervising the making of dinner and then the cleaning up afterwards. Tonight I decided that I was long overdue on writing in my journal, so I’m working on catching that up and if there happens to be some free time, I’m going to do some writing for fun!

September 2019

Day 1: I am thankful for impromptu trips. Yes, they stress my OCD out slightly, but heading out this afternoon to go camping is just what I needed. We have a new tent that needs to be broken in, s’mores that need to be cooked, and chairs that needs to be sat in around the campfire while we tell stories and sing songs. Hi-ho and away we go!

Day 2: I am thankful for dirt and skunks. Without both of those, we would’t have the funny pictures or the stories to tell about this trip! Baby has never been camping before — I feel like a bad mom because he is almost 4! — so the whole idea of being outside was amazing to him. We hadn’t even got the tent up when he was covered in dirt, and he got dirtier as the trip went on (so did the other two littles, which I’m going to take means it was a successful trip). Around the fire last night while we were roasting marshmallows, our poor puppy (who also had’t been camping before) encountered a skunk — and got sprayed. Not a fun experience as she walked the perimeter of camp gagging and spiting out the spray she took directly in the mouth, but a memory that non of us are likely to forget for a long time. And that was the purpose of the trip — making a memory with the kids.

Day 3: I am thankful for clean air. Over the weekend, there was a fire that started on the mountain near where we live. Getting up and out to school this morning, the air was smokey and difficult to inhale. The kids have been coughing all day, and everyone seems a bit sluggish. I am grateful also for the firefighters who have been out there all weekend keeping people safe and stopping the fire from spreading.

Day 4: I am thankful for air conditioning at my school. It actually got too cold today, and I put a jacket on while I was teaching. After school we had a parent meeting for C (she made the lead in the musical!) and the room was 80 degrees BEFORE they added people. It was miserable. Baby sat on my lap and finally took off the jacket he has been wearing for two days.

Day 5: I am thankful C got asked to Homecoming. Senior year and all, she is hoping to do everything she possibly can. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this being her last year before college. How do I have two kids this old already?!? We got to go look at dresses, and happily stumbled on one of B’s friends who was selling some of her past dance dresses. Got the perfect one for C. Now to get shoes, figure out hair, and order flowers!

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Day 13: I am thankful for science donations! I’m trying a new thing at school this year. Because our schedule is so tight with math push-ins, I have 30 minutes every other day to teach science. I worked with my team and we came up with a 40 minute period on Fridays where we can do science, and those are now our investigation days. In order to be as efficient as we can be, I’m putting together basic science kits where each team has a bin of all the supplies they will need for multiple investigations. Things like measuring cups and spoons, gloves, stop watches, safety glasses, peti dishes, magnifying glasses — you get the picture. I am thankful for the donations that have made this possible. Now to get the experiments planned out . . .

Day 14: I am thankful for the cool air in the mornings. I like summer — the lazy days where I get over an hour of reading in before the kids get up, the adventures we get to go on, the possibility of an open schedule. But, I LOVE autumn! Hot drinks, sweaters, fuzzy socks, fires, upcoming holidays. I love the change in the air, the crispness, the slightly tangy burn as you breathe deep. Being one who likes constancy, I also fully appreciate change. Autumn embraces that. Change, full color, and letting go. All things I need to learn to do with wild abandonment. Some days I feel the freedom of it all the way in my bones, and other days, the world seems to cave me in. I’ve been better at not letting things close in on me the past few weeks. With autumn here, I’m going to set some new goals and move forward.

Day 15: I am thankful for the local coupon book. I bought it from the kids’ school last year when they were doing it for a fundraiser, and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t too happy about the $20 book. But it was for the kids, and school, and playground equipment, so I bought it. Going through it to find new places or experiences for the kids on our date nights has actually been enjoyable. I have “discovered” places I never knew existed and tried out things I wouldn’t normally have. The book ends next month, so I’m frantically trying to get in everything I can and hoping that someone stops at my door to sell me another one next month. I promise my attitude will be better this next time around.

Day 16: I am thankful for baking time. Some of my favorite memories of when I was little are the times when I got to help Mom bake. She ran a day care at home, and bread days were the best. She would line my brother and I up with the daycare kids and everyone would have a turn to add an ingredient to the bowl. After letting the bread rise, we all got a small piece that we kneaded before putting it in out homemade tinfoil pan. Mom would pop our small loaves in the oven with the big loaves, and for snack that day we got warm bread with butter. I don’t make bread (some days I wish I did) but tonight I got to make blueberry loaves with Baby. He got to dump all the ingredients in, he got to stir, and he got to sit in front of the oven with the light on watching the dough rise and brown. He was so proud, and it made my heart happy. He decided everyone’s teachers needed a treat, so tomorrow I will be handing out his special treats.

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November 2019

Day 1: I am thankful for my internet to be up again! It was down most of October, and I got out of the habit of writing every night. I’m thankful that we were able to switch carriers and that I can get back on here. I’m a bit more behind than I realized, and I’m setting some new goals to get me back on track and to schedule “down” time where I’m not the mom each day.

Day 2: I am thankful for help when I de-junk. Going through the stuff in my house speaks to my OCD in a happy way. I like the feeling of a clean area that now has more space and less clutter. I like when everything has a place and everything is in its place. But I don’t always like to get to that point alone. I was lucky enough to have B up from college this weekend, and she helped me go through the kitchen. I have discovered two shelves of space that I get to move items to, mugs I didn’t remember I have, and came up with a plan to (hopefully) make loading and unloading the dishwasher not so stressful. I could have done it all on my own, but it was nice to have someone there to tell me I really didn’t need to keep the five dessert cookbooks that I have never used, or that it wold be fine to throw away the Tupperware that has had a missing lid for who know how many years. Sometimes we just need a little emotional support.

Day 3: I am thankful to be almost to lesson plans I made last year. I love teaching, but I’m not always a fan of making lesson plans. There is a trial and error period that has to happen when you have new curriculum — what do I need to get into the lesson, how can I extend it for those that are ahead, how do I reteach for those that need it, how can I make i interesting and help the students get the best learning possible. After teaching a lesson, I usually end up with lots of notes to myself about what worked and what needs to be improved. I get ideas on how to approach it differently. It take a year of teaching a subject or a program to feel like you understand it enough to change it up. Even as a seasoned teacher, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m really teaching some of this material for the first time, and it will be okay if it doesn’t go fantastically — I will make notes and improve next year. I’m a month away from having notes to myself again, and I’m excited to see how I teach the upcoming lessons better than I did last year!

Day 4: I am thankful for the time change because I get to drive to work when it is light. It is a bit of a struggle to get my body adjusted to the shift, but I am glad that in a few weeks when there is snow and bad weather I will be facing it with more sunshine instead of the dark before the sun rises. I’m also excited because it means the holiday season is fully here! I absolutely love sweater weather, fireplaces, hot drinks, and good food!

Day 5: I am thankful for a change of opportunity. I stepped down from being the MPact coordinator, and although it has been a bit of an adjustment (I feel a bit like I’m not needed) it was the right thing and the right time. I volunteered to help out in the Adult Bible Study class if they needed help. Turns out they didn’t have a teacher scheduled, so I’m it for a while. I haven’t taught adults before, and this is a bit out of my comfort zone. I’m hoping that I will learn and grow here for the next few weeks, but I definately don’t feel like this is where I’m called to be in a long term sense.

Day 6: I am thankful for opportunities to shine. C is the lead in the school play! I’m super excited for her and super proud of how hard she works to be ready and to encourage others to do their best. I often have other parents who thank me for her help with their student’s struggle. I love watching her do what she is passionate about. Tonight she was invited to perform at the school district for the board meeting. Her friend and her did an awesome job, and I am thankful I got to be there to witness it. The show opens in a few weeks, and I can’t wait to see it finished!

Day 7: I am thankful for failure. At school we have been writing Fairy Tales — or supposed to be. I have been working one-on-one with a student who struggles with the physical ac of writing so he can see some success. I’ve found that letting them see that they have something to say opens doors, and they start writing on their own. He has been successful — over 1,000 words! — but as I spot checked the rest of the class, I lost my success . Most have only five sentences, there is no dialogue, and the features of a Fairy Tale that we discussed are not there. I’m not sure what they have been doing for the past two weeks, but writing a Fairy Tale was not on the agenda. I took a deep breath and rewrote some lesson plans for next year. I also have some new things we will be working on in class next week, and I talked to some other teachers to see how to improve my writing workshops. Armed with new ideas, I’m going to muscle through this week and do it better next time.

Day 8: I am thankful for professionals who give new insight and lead us to new understandings. Therapy is something that I think is extremely important, but not always covered by insurance. It is nice to talk to a neutral third party about life happenings, and get some new perspective on what is going on, or think about different solutions that I don’t see because I’m too close to the situation. I’m thankful to the therapist I saw back when I was 22 who helped diagnose m OCD and depression so I could move forward. I’m thankful for the therapists I had in the hospital after my suicide attempt. I’m thankful for the therapists my kids and I see.

Day 9: I am thankful for leaders who put themselves out there. Leaders who seek out opportunities for growth in the people they have stewardship over. Last week in the Wednesday night class I am now leading, we talked about what stewardship is and what it meas in our families. Today, R’s Royal Ranger leader took the boys to see the Harlem Globetrotters. He took most of his Saturday to drive a van full of boys to a basketball game, bought them basketballs they got signed when they got a group picture with the team, and overall just loved on the kids he has a stewardship over. I am thankful for his example to my boy today and every Wednesday and Sunday.

Day 10: I am thankful for time to just play. Emergency substitute was needed in preschool today, and I took over the class. Instead of doing the lesson (I didn’t have my glasses to read the print) we just played. The Little People had a pool dance party to VBS songs, we colored pictures and talked about birthdays, exchanged accessories and took pictures to text to parents. In short, there was no agenda — just time to connect with these kids and let them tell me what was important to them.

Day 11: I am thankful for adventures in the kitchen. I started cooking chicken for dinner, then realized I didn’t have prepackaged rolls for a crust. Started the yeast to make bread before I thought through how to change the recipe so I could use a bread. Adjusted the chicken so it could go over rice and started rice. Decided to make cinnamon rolls for breakfast with the bread dough. By this time, K and Baby have wandered in and want to help. We rolled out the dough (they got their own pieces), covered it butter, cinnamon and sugar, and I went to roll it up. Realized I had not gotten enough flour on the counter to get the dough off. Longer story short, we now have what the kids call Cinnamon Roll Cookies: individual cinnamon rolls the size of a sugar cookie. The kids were proud of the new creation, Baby carried his dough around until I put him in the bath, and we made some memories. I’m thankful they like to create with me.

Day 12: I am thankful Baby likes to snuggle and read with me still. At school, I’m doing a Picture-Book-A-Day challenge, so I have to raid the kids’ bookshelves for material. He likes to go through my bag and have me read all the books I’m taking for the week. Reminds me of when B was little and made me read her all the library books she wanted to check out to “make sure they weren’t stupid first”. I’m remembering how much I love picture books, and discovering new ones. I love the feel of his head tucked under my arm, his little voice asking if it is time to turn the page, his promises that this is the last one he will ask for tonight. I also miss the others being little and asking for stories. I’m glad I still have a bit more time with Baby.

Day 13: I am thankful for the adventures of others. Tonight at church, two of the ladies in my class told us about their recent trip to the Holy Lands. It was amazing to hear their stories, see their pictures, and watch them light up as they told about it all. I miss traveling the world, and plan on doing more of it when the season comes again. Tonight was was fun to just listen.

Day 14: I am thankful for food. Being a parent is harder than I EVER anticipated, and there are days (or months) that don’t work out the way I think they should. Bills are more than expected, kids need new shoes and pants in the same week, paycheck is less than needed. I have had to get creative when it came to meal times often. The older girls and I used to play “war” when they thought we were playing like there were no stores, so we had to figure out ways to use what we had — it grew from reading books like Number the Stars and Boy in the Stripped Pajamas. I don’t think they realized it was really because there was no more money to buy ingredients for a regular recipe, so we made do with what we had. I am thankful none of my kids have gone without food because there was absolutely nothing in the house. I’m grateful that they can complain about new recipes being nasty because it means there was a way for me to experiment in the kitchen. I am thankful that I don’t have to watch them starving. And I’m going to go through my cupboards and find a family to give a meal or two to.

Day 15: I a thankful for headache free nights; tonight was not one of them. Made it home from “Fun Friday” at school which involves 30 minutes for Book Club for each class, and 40 minutes of science labs for each class with a 15 minute break for lunch between the two. Plus, Friday is our early out, which means I usually have meetings while also trying to keep the kids who ride home with me entertained long enough that I don’t come back to a disaster of a room. Got home with a minor migraine and laid down to rest, but work up with a raging one. I hate being out of commission. The kids picked movies to watch while I tried to eat enough to take medicine. I fell asleep in my chair, and woke up this morning in my bed. No after headache, and we are going to take it easy — okay, as easy as I can while also preparing lessons for next week, cleaning the house, Sadies for C, and planning Baby’s birthday party.

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