Instagram Me

I did it.

I expanded my horizons.  Shocking, I know.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 6.54.46 PMI’ve decided to put Frozen Coke Fridays out on Instagram.  There are a million things I want to write about on here, and there just isn’t enough time to do it all.  I see things all day – every day – that inspire me, make me laugh, upset me, and force me to rethink my opinions on life.  They aren’t all blog-worthy in and of themselves, but they are an extension of my thoughts.  Since I have no intention of writing a lengthy post on them all, I think Instagram can be a fun way to document them instead.

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This is all the advertising I plan to do: up at the top of my blog there’s a green button with a heart on it.  If you click on that you’ll see the Instagram icon that will take you to my frozencokefridays Instagram wall.  (My Pinterest boards are linked there up there under the green heart too, but that’s been linked from the start… it was easier for me as I referenced things while writing here).  Follow me, don’t follow me; comment, don’t comment.  There is no pressure here, since, as always, this is just an outlet for me. And who knows?  Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to add Facebook and – gasp – Twitter!

PS – Thanks to Leanette of Teach Me 2 Save for the encouragement! <3

 

I’ve Been Re-Kindled!

When I was a kid I devoured books (that’s me in the photo below). I had a hard time fitting in with my peers, and books became everything to me – an escape from reality that I so desperately needed. I was also a stubborn and thick-headed kid, and needed discipline often. The worst consequence I remember receiving from my parents was the time I was grounded from books. It was horrible. I don’t remember what I did, but I’m pretty confident I never did it again.

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I continued to read throughout my middle and high school years, although required reading lists meant that most of my reading time was taken up by books I was told to read instead of books of my choosing. And some of them I hated – I thought I was going to die trying to finish A Tale of Two Cities. College kept me busy earning a degree, and then it was marriage, teaching, and kids, all of which ate up any free time I had for reading. Although, unsurprisingly, I did become quite an expert in the world of Children’s Literature. :)

photoJay bought a Kindle for me as a Mother’s Day gift one year, and, corny as it sounds, a spark was lit again.  I started reading again, although very sporadically. My reading list at the time included:

  • anything by Mary Higgins Clark
  • The Complete Sherlock Holmes
  • The Sword of Shannara Trilogy
  • The Voyage of the Jerle Shanarra Trilogy
  • Imponderables
  • UR (A Stephen King novella about a Kindle)

Screen Shot 2014-04-11 at 1.01.01 PMThe problem was, everything I was reading (with the exception of Mary Higgins Clark) was put-downable. I still didn’t have the constant urge to read… to see what happens next… or even just to get to the end. After a few pages I’d just pass out. I’ve been reading the Sherlock Holmes collection for the past few years, and at this rate I’ll probably still be working through it 20 years from now.

And then, The Hunger Games. Ahhhhhh, Peeta. <3 Swoon. <3 My best friend Sanne (also a Peeta junkie) and I hit the theater to check out the movie, neither of us aware that it was based off of a book trilogy. We were instantly intrigued, bought all 3 books immediately, and finished reading the entire trilogy in less than a week. Thus began our complete obsession for the series, but that’s another post for another day.

1238092_10200472529767780_1814813094_nAnd just like that, it was back! My love for reading had been refueled.  Reignited.  Re-kindled. I seriously could not put those books down – it was ridiculous how eager I was to keep going. Julia was just a few months old, so I’d lie on the floor with her and read while she sucked on a toy or my toe or something.  I read at stop lights.  In the bathroom.  In the car while Jay drove us the whole 5 minutes to church.  I’d found the un-put-downable book!  And the release of Catching Fire in the theaters last November prompted me to read the whole series over – something I plan to do again when Mockingjay Part 1 comes out later this year.

I’m currently in the last book of the Divergent Series, Allegiant. While it’s nowhere near as good as The Hunger Games series (in my opinion), it’s definitely got me hooked. And once again I’m having a hard time putting down my Kindle.  I still fall asleep if I read before bed, but at least I can usually make it through a chapter now instead of just a few pages. I’ve even got a lineup of books I’m ready to read once I finish this one!

  • The Giver (one of my all-time favs, about to be released as a film later this year)
  • The Fault in Our Stars (recommended by my bestie)
  • The Maze Runner Series (super excited about these – also coming out on film)!
  • Gone Series (If the first one is any good)

I love being a reader again, and I love that my Kindle is finally being used daily – although sometimes in lieu of things like laundry… or dusting… or eating.  But who cares about those things when you’ve got an addicting novel? :)

Barfy Beans

A few months ago Jay and I decided that Emily was ready to read the Harry Potter book series. So, for Christmas, The Sorcerer’s Stone was waiting for her beneath the tree. And man, was she psyched. She’s not the kind of kid who would ever ask to read the books, thinking we’d never say yes (although we have no idea why she thought that), so she was thrilled to know that we were cool with it.   The deal was that every time she finished reading a book in the series, she’d be allowed to watch the movie.

Disclaimer – Yes, we know that she’s 7, and that some of the movies are dark and scary. Emily has a tendency to read up to 5 books at a time, taking at least 2-3 months to finish all of them. Our thinking was that due to the size of the books, at that rate, she’d take a good 4 months to finish each one, making her almost 9 or 10 years old by the time she finished the 7th book (which is HUGE). Little did we know that she’d be so excited to dive into them that she’d decide to read nothing else until she’d finished them all.  Best laid plans, right?

photo-1When she finished the first book she was beyond excited to finally see the movie. I decided to make it extra special and headed to a local candy store to pick up some Harry Potter treats for the movie: a chocolate frog (complete with a wizard trading card, proudly hanging on her desk whiteboard), and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. She ate the frog that night, but decided to save the beans to share with her friends on an upcoming playdate.

1926834_10201552750652627_1252503895_nLet me just tell you, if you’ve never tried the beans, don’t. I fully intend to never eat one after seeing the expressions on the kids’ faces. The beans come in a variety of flavors, both yummy and… well… not so yummy.  Yes, one of them is rotten egg.

IMG_6439It was absolutely hysterical to watch their faces as they tried the nastier varieties!

IMG_6422At some point they didn’t want to eat anymore themselves and started daring each other to try eating earthworm… and soap… and dirt.

IMG_6426Emily gave Julia a vomit-flavored bean, and she was not happy about it. Out of curiosity I gave her another vomit-flavored bean, and she immediately took it back out of her mouth, put it on the table, and told me it was “dicutting” (disgusting). Congratulations, Bertie Bott’s.  I’ve never seen that kid reject candy.

IMG_6436I’m not really sure why the Jelly Belly company keeps making these beans – they can’t possibly have too many repeat customers.  In any case, I’m sure glad they still do though, because it made for an entertaining afternoon!

Earring Drama – Who Knew?

Conversations about getting Emily’s ears pierced were always happening in our house when she was younger.  Jay and I agreed when she was born that they were her ears, and therefore getting them pierced would have to be her decision.  We didn’t care if she wanted them when she was 2 years old or 50 (like Oprah), we wouldn’t take her until she wanted to.  We didn’t care one way or the other, but whenever we were at the mall we’d ask her if she was ready since the piercing place was right there.  She consistently stated every time that she would get them pierced when she was 10.  Then one day, right before she started Kindergarten, we asked her again and she said that yes, she was ready.  She was 6.  And I cried and she cried and then we bought ice cream.

IMAG0161She’s had her ears pierced for almost 3 years now, and although she’s amassed an impressive collection of earrings she doesn’t like to change them out too often.  It’s pretty normal for her to wear the same pair for as long as 4 weeks at a time before moving on to something else. Obviously it makes no difference to me how long she wears them, but I’ve become a little more enlightened to the dangers of leaving them unattended for so long thanks to the craziness we went through this week.

Last Sunday morning, Emily asked me to change her earrings before church.  I went to take them out – and while the first ear looked normal, like this…

IMG_6767…the second ear definitely did not:

IMG_6765The edges of the back of her earring had somehow gotten themselves tucked into her earring hole to the point that it was stuck.  I tried wiggling it out and pulling gently on her ear to stretch the hole a bit, but it was really hurting her.  We also tried putting ice on it to numb it first, but that didn’t work either.  I talked to a few mom friends, and although I’d never heard of this before it had actually happened to a couple of their daughters too, but they were able to successfully wiggle theirs out.  We weren’t getting anywhere, so I made an appointment at her pediatrician’s office, thinking at least they could numb it properly first.

On Monday her doctor took one look at it and immediately sat down and wrote a referral to a local pediatric surgeon, saying there was nothing he could do about it without the proper tools and not to worry because there was another little girl who came in a month earlier with the same thing.  What?  How have I never heard of this problem?  Emily wasn’t in any pain as long as no one was messing with her ear, so we made an appointment for Tuesday after school.

IMG_6771The pediatric surgeon took one look at it and decided he was just going to yank it out with clamps.  I’m not one to question doctors, but I could see panic spread over poor Emily’s face so I spoke up and insisted on some sort of numbing agent, even convincing him that it was worse than he originally thought.  In the end he agreed to use some sort of freezing spray and a local anesthetic (via a shot right in her ear), and although she was shaking and quietly crying during the whole procedure, she later admitted she didn’t feel a thing.  He also decided to make a small incision on her ear to make a larger opening for the earring back to slide out.  No yanking needed – whew!

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I don’t know if it was the warm room, the fact that I wasn’t feeling well already, or watching someone cut into my daughter, but near the end of the procedure I felt lightheaded and dizzy and began to fear that I was barf.  I must have been wearing the feeling all over my face, because the doctor told me to sit down and the nurse opened the door, turned down the air conditioner, and brought me some water.  It killed me, but I had to let go of Emily’s hand.  Hashtag mommyfail.

Then she got a Bandaid (at which point Julia started jealously pointing to 400 invisible boo-boos on her body), and we were on our way.  We cleaned it with alcohol over the next 24 hours, then cautiously stuck a new earring in the hole, unsure if it had closed up.  Thankfully, it hadn’t, although I was shook up enough over the whole experience to make sure the next earring backs would NEVER get swallowed up by her ears!  Can you blame me?

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Less is More

This is NOT an easy mantra to live by if you are a lover of many things like I am – or if you feel a need to display every single trinket or momento or souvenir that someone gives you for your birthday… or Christmas… or from their last vacation.  I love knowing that someone was thinking of me, and I try my best to give any tchochkes I receive a place of honor… somewhere.

The problem is, I don’t have all that many places to display things.  Our home isn’t large enough for me to display everything, and having kids makes it more difficult to give “classier” items a place of honor.  This is how it usually goes down in our house: “Hey Mommy!  I made this (beautiful-yet-hideous tissue-paper vase) for YOU!  Let’s put it HERE!”  And then proudly places said hideous object directly in front of a fancy candle or vase.  And naturally, I fall in love with whatever crazy project was brought home because, well, I’m a Momma.  We do that.

But my poor house pays the price.  Specifically, these bookshelves.

IMG_6447Originally the idea was to get thick, open bookshelves that were large enough to hold the giant scrapbooks I’ve been completing since high school.  Then the idea of storage for Emily’s toys came into play, so cupboards were necessary.  Anyway, as we thought about our needs these bookshelves seemed to fit the bill well.  I staggered the shelves to create interest (I think in the end it added to the visual chaos).  And of course we filled the drawers and cabinets with junk.  And then the stuff on the shelves started to accumulate.  And accumulate.  And accumulate.

Photos and my beloved Lenox collection went up first, then other doodads we’d been given.  Then a green bin for Jay’s video game cords.  Then giant baskets for our movies, which we had to hide because Julia was chewing them up like a teething puppy.  (See evidence below).  And for some CRAZY reason any gaps that were left looked sad and lonely and naked to me, so I went to yard sales to actually find things to fill those spaces.  All you minimalists can feel free to bonk me on the head now.

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 5.59.37 PMThen I go to my friend Crystal’s house for Bible Study.  She’s got these amazingly tall bookshelves, and each shelf only has one or two things on it: a book or photo here, an award or decorative item there.  And another friend Melissa steps in and says, “Less is more.”  Dude, I can’t even tell you how my over-filled bookshelves popped in my head and would not go away.  I think I dreamed about them.  Maybe had a nightmare.  It was such a “duh” moment for me.  Why did I have all these things?  Yes, almost all of them meant something to me, almost all of them had some value to me.  But I realized right then that all that stuff was making me feel cluttered… and I hate feeling cluttered.  Just knowing that I’d bought things just to fill the space kinda icked me out.

So, naturally, I woke up the next morning and jumped right on them.  I pulled everything off and dusted the shelves (it hadn’t been done properly in ages – another reason it’s a bad idea to over-accumulate: more to clean!). Then I leveled all the shelves out to create a more symmetrical and balanced feel. Bringing the shelves down above the black baskets made a HUGE difference all on its own, since we can no longer see the movie craziness going on in them when we walk by.  I also fixed the cabinet door on the top right, as it had somehow come loose and was hanging crooked for who knows how long. After that I arranged my Lenox, put out the larger photos along the top, and sorted my photo albums by size.  MUCH better.

IMG_6457Anything that didn’t make it on was either put up for sale or stored in a cabinet until I can figure out what I want to do with it.  I still want to change the middle frames out along the top for Lenox frames (probably need to wait for my birthday and Christmas for that), and I have plans to make some other major and minor changes down the line.  But for now, I love how open it feels.  I love seeing the things that I love displayed proudly and not crammed in there fighting for attention.  And I love that I have less to dust.

Tralantrulas and the Liberry

Watching the development of language skills in a young toddler is probably one of my favorite parts about having kids.  You can have your chubby baby legs, your sweet baby snuggles, your first giggles – for me, nothing beats a kid trying to figure out how to say something and getting it completely wrong in the process.

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Emily was actually pretty good at speaking articulately, but she had a few words that took forever for her to figure out how to say properly. My favorites were:

  • rhinonocerous
  • hoptocus
  • fravrite
  • Plublix
  • calapiller

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I can still clearly remember the day that she said octopus correctly.  I’m not much of a sentimentalist – while most of my mommy friends cried when their littles starting crawling/walking/whatever-ing, I was dancing happily in the street because it meant that baby phase was finally almost over.  But I’ll admit my heart broke a little that day.  And again and again – every time she “masters” another word she’s been jumbling up for years.

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Julia’s a few months away from 3 years old now, and of course has her own list of mispronounced words.  A few of those favorites are:

  • lobbypop
  • liberry (library)
  • Mana (instead of Nana)
  • Ponpob (Spongebob)
  • Cocka-cocka-doo (what a “wooster” says)

Julia used to say “beebug” instead of ladybug.  She has a pair of ladybug boots, and she would walk around the house talking about her “beebug boots” every time she put them on.  Then one day Emily decided to teach her the right way to say it, and that was it.  Beebug was gone forever.  Admittedly, I think I got a little upset at Emily for it – I felt like she’d erased something that was mine.  Of course I immediately told her the other words that she’s not allowed to correct.  Who wants a well-articulated 3-year old?

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Julia has major problems with her initial s-blends and her digraphs though.  So school is “cool,” spider is “pider,” cholcolate is “socklate,” and chicken is “sicken.”  You get the idea.  It gets pretty funny sometimes, especially when you try to repeat what Julia says the way she said it – she gets really angry because she hears it correctly when she says the word, but incorrectly when we say it exactly the way she just did.

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For example, she can’t say the word Squinkies (a toy she likes to play with), instead it comes out as Kinkies.  A typical conversation goes like this:

Julia: Mommy, I want to play kinkies.  (Squinkies)

Me: Oh, you want to play Kinkies?

Julia: No, I said KINKIES Mommy.

Me: Yes, Kinkies.  We can play with those if you like.

Julia: NO!  Not kinkies… KINKIES!

Me: Yes, Julia, I heard you.  Kinkies.

Julia: Like this Mommy.  Say kink, now say ees.

Me: Squink… ees

Julia: Good job, Mommy.  You did it.

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After we get it out of our system we always echo back the correct way so that she’ll hear it correctly.  I don’t want her to be asking her friends to play Kinkies when she’s older. But for now, this stuff cracks us up.

Patio Planting & Umbrella-ing

IMG_6692I love our backyard.  It’s small, unfenced, and situated on a canal that houses the occasional gator or two, but I love it.  A few years ago Jay finally caved and agreed to have the nook between our neighbor’s home and ours paved, and now I love it even more.  It was no easy task, since we had to have 3 trees and a faux pond removed, and also had to have a new gate & fence built (the gate leads to the driveway, but the rest of the backyard isn’t enclosed at all).  But when all was said and done we were left with an amazing new space to enjoy – and we definitely do!

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The girls have a blast out back, mostly with their sand & water table, balls, and sidewalk chalk.  We’ve also had some meals out here, read books, done craft projects, and even laundry gets folded on our table.  Jay’s even hosted some late-night poker games for some of the guys at our church.  But, like everything else in my house, it always seems to be in a constant state of not-quite-done-yet.  So I decided to do something about it.

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One of our outside walls faces the patio (the wall on the right in the second photo), and we haven’t done a thing to it.  It always looks so plain, just begging for some outdoor art or something to bring some color to that side.  (We can’t hang anything on the wall to the left since that’s our neighbor’s house).  I saw a cute planter shelf at IKEA a few weeks ago, and it got me thinking that it would be nice to have a shelf full of smaller plants to bring some life over there and balance things up a bit.

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I shopped around for a bit, but decided to skip a bakers-style rack because a) they tended to cost $50-$250, and  b) I would feel pressure to fill it with plants (and keep them alive).  Since I don’t have the best track record with growing things, I was very excited when I saw this little planter table at Target (yes, it’s Threshold).  It’s big enough to make an impact in our small space and small enough to not break the bank when I have to replace the plants I’ve killed.

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Here’s what I put on it:

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  1. Stonecrop
  2. Cilantro
  3. Rosemary
  4. Kalanchoe
  5. Curled Parsley

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I love it, and I really hope I don’t murder them.  I even bought a bright green watering can to put right outside the side door to hopefully remind me to water them.  I’m not taking responsibility for the little addition Emily stuck in there though – especially if it never becomes an apple tree. :D

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At the other end of our patio we’ve got a pretty wooden table & chair set that overlooks the canal.  Because it’s not directly on the side of the house it sits completely in the sun from about noon until 5p, making it difficult to want to relax out there while the girls play. I’ve wanted an umbrella out there for a while, but finally decided to bite the bullet when I saw this pretty navy & white striped one at Target (again, yes, it’s Threshold.  Yes, I have a problem).  I had the girls help me fill the base with sand – child labor, as my mom said – and stuck the beauty in the hole.

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WHAT A DIFFERENCE!  It really made the whole backyard space look more luxurious, more vacation-y.

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I already loved being out there, but this makes me really love to be out there – especially considering we started with this:

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Looking forward to long, lazy summer days!

 

 

 

The Easiest Dinner EVER

Ready?

Two ingredients.

  • Boneless pork chops (I usually get 5-6)
  • Seasoned Salt

That’s it.

Three steps:

  1. Place the pork chops on a broiler pan.  You can trim the fat if you like.
  2. Sprinkle the seasoned salt over the top of the pork chops.
  3. Broil for 12-14 minutes or until there is no pink inside.

Done!

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It’s probably a common-knowledge type of meal, one that everyone’s already heard of. But since I’m not much of a cook this meal is a bi-weekly salvation for me.  The girls love it, Jay loves it, and I love how easy it is (I think it’s yummy too. :) ).  We usually pair it with yellow rice and green beans.  Yummers!

St. Patty’s Day 10K

On my quest to log more running accomplishments (or maybe just to collect another medal), I recently signed up for and ran my first 10K.  It actually feels a little silly to say that since I’ve already run a half marathon, but it was my first official 10K so I’m still going to consider a milestone achievement!

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The run was organized through a local running club, and I mainly chose it because it fell on a Saturday morning, it was cheap, and the theme sounded like fun.  It was a bit of an impulse decision to register, so I didn’t ask anyone to join me – I even told Jay to just stay home with the girls, both decisions I later regretted.  I’ve discovered that these things (for me anyway) are WAY more fun if I’ve got someone to chat with.  I think in the future I’ll at least make an attempt to invite someone to tag along, even if they aren’t runners and just want to hang with me before and after the event.

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It was scheduled to start at 7a (it actually began at about 7:15a), so I was up at 5:30a to get dressed and make the 30-minute drive.  When I arrived it was the usual – sign in, get your shirt, use the bathroom, and wait for go-time.  Since it was primarily a running club event it seemed everyone knew someone else there, and I was half asleep and cold so I just sat in my car and played Jelly Splash on my phone until I saw everyone migrate to the starting line.

Anyway, the 6.2 miles ran through a huge local park.  Some of the run was near a major highway, so that part wasn’t anything exceptional, but other parts were alongside a lake and on small trails, which was much more enjoyable.  One stretch even ran past an old model ride-on train track that my parents used to take my brother and me to when we were kids.

IMG_6341My friend (& half-marathon partner) Erin suggested podcasts a while back to help the longer runs go by quicker, and she was 100% correct.  During this run I listened to a few from Stuff You Missed in History Class: The Mysterious Disappearance of Agatha Christie, Accused by a Ghost!, and the beginning of Subterranean Cities.  Good stuff.

IMG_6363I didn’t really start with a goal, but at the first mile marker I was exactly at 11 minutes, so I decided to try and maintain that pace.  Gotta love easy math: 2 miles = 22 minutes, 3 miles = 33 minutes, etc.  Happily, I was able to beat that goal!  The 5th mile marker wasn’t working, and since I had no idea how I was doing I started pushing really hard, and at mile 6 I was at 64 minutes.  Wahoo!  I ended up finishing at 1.06:42, which means I came in at just under an 11-minute mile.

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The medal was cute, the run was fun, and I’m happy to say I’ve officially logged a 10K now! :)

My 100th Post!

I decided to celebrate by giving my blog a makeover… yay!

And while this blog is primarily for me and my girls, I just want to say a HUMONGOUS thank you to those of you who read my blog and take the time to comment about my posts, whether it be here or in person.  It’s extremely encouraging, and helps keep me going (mainly because my girls are too young to read any of this yet or even care that I’m writing it). :)

Now, onto that 100th post!

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I started this blog in September 2012.  After being home with Julia for a year I finally went back to teaching.  Unfortunately, things were much more difficult for me than I had anticipated – my new school provided challenges I’d never faced before, and being away from my beauties was absolute torture, which I’m sure made my work situation seem even worse than it really was.

I was depressed.  Eternally bummed.  I started to see myself as a horrible mother, because I couldn’t be there for my girls the way I wanted to.  I felt like a horrible teacher, because my desire to return to being a stay-at-home mom was clearly effecting my attitudes towards my students.  I felt like a horrible friend because all I wanted to do was vent all the time.  And I felt like a horrible wife because I couldn’t seem to be happy no matter what Jay did to try to cheer me up.

I started this blog the at the suggestion of my hubby and my good friend Leanette (of Teach Me 2 Save fame) as a way to dump all the thoughts running through my head.  I was going through a really rough time, and I was having a hard time finding the small joys that I knew were still happening in my life… the things that are always around me, yet were so hard to see through my misery-colored glasses.  I wanted to create a safe place to log all of my thoughts, fears, faults, joys, successes, and failures.  I wanted my beauties to be able read the things going through my head, especially when they feel like they don’t know me at all (which I’m sure they will one day).  I wanted to document my running experiences.  My recipes.  My craft & DIY projects.  The changes I make to my home.  I wanted to write down the things in my head, no matter how random.  Or dumb.  Or long.  Or boring.

I wanted to start noticing the joys in life again.

But noticing the months that I posted after starting this journey I can see that my plan actually didn’t work.  This blog didn’t actually start to become the outlet that I’d hoped it would be until May of last year, which was about a month after we learned that Jay had a new job that would allow me to return to stay-at-home mom status.  To be more clear, I couldn’t write about those everyday happy moments until then – because I couldn’t see them.  At least, not until things were going my way.

It’s easy to find joy when you’re happy.  It’s much more difficult to do when you’re not.  When I’m happy my food tastes better, jokes are funnier, and I feel beautiful.  When I’m depressed the same meals are bland… the same jokes are annoying… and the same outfit makes me feel fat.

I was guilty of forgetting something: that God was in control.  I was so focused on what I wanted and how I wasn’t getting what I wanted that I forgot to let go.  It was easy to trust God when all my little fuzzy duckies were lining up neatly, but as soon as that line got askew I lost faith.  I wasn’t giving my worries and cares to Him, knowing that He cares for me.  I was holding onto all of them myself, and it was eating me up from the inside out.  I definitely tried, but I’m willing to bet that if I’d truly given it all to Him then I wouldn’t have struggled so hard to be happy.

I started this blog for me, but I love that God used it to show me an area of my faith that I need to work on.  He’s cool like that.