Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good Bye 2011

One of my favorite bloggers, Audrey McClelland from Mom Generations, says at the end of the year she likes to look back at three things: health, happiness, and family.  I really like this idea...to me these are some of the most important things in my life, with the addition of faith.

I struggled with my health this year.  In light of my Dad's death at only 58 from genetic heart issues, I am hyper aware of my health.  I know that what I do now can greatly affect how much time I get to spend on earth with my precious family.  My PCOS is getting worse, and I know this can also impact my heart health.  I feel great that my new diet, which is really more of a lifestyle change, is helping this.  I've already lost 10% of my body weight.  I have an appointment scheduled with a new specialist next week, and I going to be picking the brain of a very wise friend who also has PCOS to hopefully get more of my symptoms under control.  It's my goal in 2012 to do everything I can to get healthier.

There isn't a day that goes by that I am not thankful for my family.  We have had our challenges this year with both Evan and Charlie, but Jeff and I took positive steps in helping our children to improve in their academics and their behavior.  It's been hard, but I am so proud of us for working hard on these things.  Parenting...no one can prepare you for how HARD it can be!!  This year, I want to be more purposeful and present in my actions as a Mom.  Too many days I am just trying to get by and get through.  I don't want to waste my time with them.

And my husband...my wonderful husband.  Jeff is the greatest gift I will every receive from the Lord.  Having this man to walk next to in this journey is a blessing I am thankful for EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.  I try not to ever take him for granted.  I fall more in love with him every day I have the honor of being his wife.

Happiness and faith have been so intertwined for me since September 28, 2010, the day my Daddy went to heaven.  In 2011, we continued to heal.  We are learning to be happy again.  But I have learned you never ever stop grieving, and the hole in our family will always be there.  You just learn how to cope with it...which for me is through faith.  It brings me such comfort to know that my Dad's life and death, and how it intertwines with my own, was known by God and in His hands long ago.  It brings me comfort to know that God is working great things in my heart through this experience, and that He has never left my side as we move through this new life without my Dad.  And above all, I take joy in knowing I WILL be with my Dad again, and I want him to be proud of how I carried on and the life I lead after he had to leave.  It's my goal in 2012 to make choices that both my Heavenly Father and my Dad will be proud of.

I'm looking forward to 2012.  I am hoping to have a year of growth.  I want to be a blessing to those around me. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Company Girl Coffee AND a Long Overdue Update




It's been forever since I've done two things...

1.  Post something new on my blog
2.  Participate in Company Girl Coffee

SO, I am going to try starting off 2012 the right way by doing both.  Welcome to all of you Company Girls!  Please take some coffee (mine is Starbucks, fresh out of my coffee maker~wish I could send you some!) and relax with me for awhile.

So much has been happening here!  Charlie is LOVING Kindergarten.  So much so that he wanted to go back to school the Monday after Christmas.  Crazy, right?  He is doing a great job with learning to read, which is such a relief to me.  Evan, our oldest, was diagnosed with a learning disability when he was in Kindergarten.  School has been such a struggle for him, and it breaks my heart!  I have been praying hard for Charlie and Sammy that they will not have this hardship in their lives.

I have finally started to achieve one of my New Year's Resolutions for 2011, even though it happened late in the year.  I went to my doctor at the end of October, and told him how extremely frustrated I was with dieting.  I had been running 3 miles, 5 days a week and doing Weight Watchers for months and I was GAINING weight!!  Can you believe it?  I was ready to give up completely.  My thought was if dieting makes me gain weight, I'm going back to eating whatever I want!  Dr. A put me on a low glycemic index/Atkins type diet, and suddenly the weight started melting away.  Since November 6th, I have lost 21 pounds.  Such a relief!!  Since my Dad died, I've really been trying to get my health and weight under control, and I am so glad to finally be on the right track.  (Also, it's been lots of fun to get new SMALLER clothes for Christmas!)

So, with one of my long time goals on the right track, I am recommitting to making Sanctuary in my home in 2012.  This is an area I really let slide this year...as usual I am having a hard time balancing work (I am a teacher and always have lots of work to do at home, as well as at school), being a wife and mom, and somehow keeping my house clean.  I am looking forward to working with Rachel Ann and the other Company Girls at Home Sanctuary to achieve this!! 

Happy 2012 everyone!  My prayer for my family and yours is that it's a GREAT one!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

One Year

One year ago today, at 10:45 AM, I said good bye to my hero...my Dad.



I miss him.  Every single day.  I think about him all the time, I pray for him all the time.

The thing I've learned about grief this year is that it doesn't really go away or get better.  You just learn to live with it, and it becomes your new normal.  I hate having to have a normal that doesn't include my dad.

I love you Daddy.  You will always be my hero.  I love you to the moon and back.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Hello FALL!

It is the most glorious of fall days here in Nebraska.  Yesterday morning dawned hot and muggy, much like the rest of the summer here in the midwest.  Around 3:00, a cold front blew through with some pretty strong winds, and a few raindrops.  When it had past, miracles of miracles, the humidity was gone, the sun came out, and it was beautiful!

We left our windows open over night, and it was so nice to air the house out and turn off the A/C.  Today, as I type this, my windows are still open and there is a beautiful cool breeze blowing in.  I did some fall deep cleaning yesterday, and when I was finished, I treated myself by getting out my fall decorations.  Here is my mantel...


I am a summer girl at heart, but I do love fall as well. I love the apple orchard and the pumpkin patch, and all of the fun activities that go along with the great weather during this beautiful season.  And after three months of sizzling Nebraska summer heat, we are always ready for a cool down.

I think we are all finally on the mend around here.  Charlie and Sammy are both slowly getting over their bout with croup and high fevers.  Jeff and Evan are feeling better too. Me?  I am marveling over the fact that I am the only one who hasn't gotten sick.  (Knock on wood!)  Maybe after 12 years of teaching my immune system is FINALLY getting better!

My family is coming up on some tough days during the month of September.  September 13th would have been my Dad's 59th birthday.  Our first without him.  On the 28th, it is the one year anniversary of his death.  Both come with an aching sadness over not being with him.  I feel strongly that on both days we need to create some new traditions...traditions that focus on celebrating Dad's life, and not just remembering his death.  Because his life was so much more powerful, positive, and beautiful than the 8 weeks that took him from us.  So, on Dad's birthday I invited my family over to have Dad's favorite meal of fried chicken and cherry pie.  On the 28th, we will meet at the cemetery and hold a prayer service, and then we will go to Dad's favorite restaurant and remember good times and the many reasons why we love him so.  On both days, we will be together, and I am certain beyond certain that Dad will be with us too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sigh

We have only been back in school for two weeks and 2 days, and we are already knee deep in germs here at our house.  Sammy came in and woke me up at 2:00 in the morning, sounding like a cross between a pack a day smoker and a barking seal.  He also had a fever, and raging case of the croup.  (Only 4 kids in his preschool class were well enough to come to school today!)  Jeff stayed home with him, which was nice for Jeff since he is a dealing with a nasty cold himself.

Evan has been falling asleep in the car on the way home from school everyday, as he also has a nasty cold.  So far, only Charlie and I are safe.  Fingers crossed.

I can't believe this is happening in August! I've said it before, and I'll say it again...my kids have the worst immune systems EVER.  And they certainly didn't get that from me! ~cough~

I'm off to stock up on orange juice and chicken noodle soup.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

School Stuff

I have been away from this blog for way too long...but school this is year is making SO.DARN.TIRED!!!

I don't know if it is the added responsibility of having two in school this year, or if I was just way too lazy this summer, but every night has seen me ready for sleep by 9:00.

Charlie, for the most part, is loving Kindergarten.


Here he is with his new teacher this year.  I think he is learning a lot already!  He loves art class, library, and math, but was horrified to discover he has to go to music classes.  After he went to music the first time, he told me "Mom, can you believe this school wants to teach me how to sing?!!"  He is also not a fan of the After School Care program that he goes to for about half an hour after school until I can pick him up.  Hopefully as he gets used to the routine, this will get better.  Evan was a good big brother and went with him to After School Care the whole second week of school just so Charlie could feel more comfortable.  I love it when they love each other!!

My class is awesome this year!  They are already so well behaved and eager to learn that it has been fun to go to work everyday.  I also have a student teacher for the first time, and that has been so much fun!  She is already an outstanding teacher, and I am learning a lot from her.

Evan is not loving Junior High, which makes me sad, but when I think back on it, I don't know many people who do.  I can't think of one person who says "I would do anything to go back to Junior High!"  It is such an awkward stage of life.  I suppose it is something we all just have to get through.  Having him be a grump everyday after school has been a little tiring.

I became an Aunt again this week when my sister had her 4th...little Leo John.  It was exciting to meet him last night.  One of my favorite friends at school had her baby not even 24 hours after my sister, so it has been raining babies this week!  Unfortunately for Jeff, I now have some major baby fever.  Sadly, we are done adding to our family, so I am concentrating on my three awesome boys who keep me hopping...such as when Sammy threw a major fit before school yesterday when he didn't like the clothes I picked out for him for school pictures.  He told me "Mom, you just don't know ANYTHING about good clothes!"  Holy cow!  From my 4 year old BOY!  He is such a fashionista!!  I don't know what we'll do when he has to wear a uniform to school next year!



Monday, August 08, 2011

Back to Work


Today was Sammy's first day back to preschool.  (I can NOT believe this is his last year!  My baby is growing up way too fast!!)  I love, love, love that all of Sammy's back to school pictures have included his faithful stuffed best friend Lammie.  My Mom and Dad brought Lammie back with them from Ireland when Sammy was one.  Lammie has gone EVERYWHERE with us ever since.  Sammy has never been to school without him, he comes on vacation, and rides in the car.  If Sammy is there, so is Lammie.  I think one of the hardest parts of Kindergarten next year will be leaving Lammie behind.

Aspen loves to get in on a good picture too, and usually tries to shove his way in when I am posing the boys.  I love this dog.  He is the perfect addition to our family.

Work was okay.  5:30 came way too early on the alarm, that's for sure.  Charlie wasn't too impressed with the After School Care program, and he managed to loose his glasses by 10:30 in the morning.  After a hunt on the playground, we found them abandoned on a nearby bench.  It will be a miracle if those glasses make it to the first day of Kindergarten.

The worst part of the first day back to school is that you have to get up and do it all again the next day.  Somehow, day 2 is always worse.

I'm already looking forward to the weekend!

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

My Classroom

My awesome husband took Monday and Tuesday off from work so that I could go up to school for two days without the kids to put my classroom back together.  This task is the worst of the whole school year for many teachers.

At the end of every school year, you are required to take everything off the walls and pile the furniture into a ginormous pile at one end of the room.  Why?  Supposedly so that the custodial staff can clean carpets and do repairs.  All of this means that when I first enter my classroom at the beginning of the year, it looks like this:


Most people assume that teachers are given ample time to put their room together during the week teachers are back but students haven't yet returned to school.  WRONG WRONG WRONG!  That week is so packed full of meetings you can hardly remember your own name as you run around from one thing to another.  I always go up to school for two days the first week in August to get things started.

Lucky me...on Monday when I was there to move this furniture mess the outside temp was 105 degrees...AND THE AIR CONDITIONING WAS BROKEN AT SCHOOL.  Fun times!!  I knew since Jeff had taken the day off I couldn't give up and go home.  So, I shoved and pushed and hauled (and sweated my brains out) until the room looked like this:


Let me tell you...moving filing cabinets and a teachers desk are not easy.  I have no idea how I will do this job when I am 60.

I worked all day on Monday and Tuesday, and am so relieved that my classroom now looks like this:

The math calendar/class meeting area.

This is my desk area.  To the left is the desk my student teacher will use this semester

On the right (with the big table) is my small group area, where I will meet with reading and math groups.  On the left is our cozy book corner, where kids will spend time curled up with a good book.

This is a view of the front of the room.  The thing with the pink sheet over it is our computerized chalkboard called an ActivBoard.  I don't ever use chalk anymore!!


A view of the student desks.  I always have 30 kids in my room, so the desks take up a lot of space.  I am going to start the year with this horse shoe formation, but later I will group them into groups of 5 desks in a pod.










Saturday, July 30, 2011

Back to School Crazies

We have been busy this week.  Busy as in the back to school crazies.  This week we got Charlie and Evan squared away on uniforms and school supplies.  Having two kids to get ready for school this year was a LOT more work that just one.  Charlie is super excited about Kindergarten though, so it was fun to see all of the preparations through his eyes.  He just shone with excitement when he saw himself in his uniform for the first time.  He had a blast picking out every green school supply he could find.  (Apparently green is his new favorite color).

It never fails that every summer around this time I start my back to school nightmares.  Dreams where I am trying to set up my classroom, and my class suddenly appears out of nowhere and the room is a disaster.  Or sometimes I dream I get lost on the way to school the first day.  Or that I make it to school but can't seem to find my classroom.  I think I have anxiety dreams about going back to school because I have such a hard time saying good bye to summer.  I absolutely love being home with my kids.  I love having the time I need to focus on our home and daily chores.  I love not having a frantic schedule.  Besides our financial need for me to work, teaching for me is more than a job.  I truly feel like it is a calling from God.  I know I wouldn't be fulfilling my mission here on earth if I wasn't teaching kids to read.

Monday and Tuesday I will be setting up my classroom, and I know I will feel better after that.  Having that monumental task under my belt always makes me feel better.  I wonder if the students and parents realize that most teachers are just as nervous as the kids on the first day of school ? :)

Friday, July 15, 2011

Splish Splash

I am sad it took me half the summer to accomplish this, but I am so glad this is ready for us to enjoy!


It's just one of those above ground pools, but we have wanted one for years.  It took Evan and I 3 1/2 hours to put it together, and at several points it took all the patience I possessed to not swear a blue streak in front of Evan's young ears.  The pool box boasted it would be "Easy as 1, 2, 3!" to put together.  WRONG!  But I had a bee in my bonnet, and I was determined to do try to complete it myself.  I hate having to wait for other people to help me do things.  Jeff and I aren't the handiest of people with tools and projects, and I have to ask my brother for help quite a bit.  I don't want to overburden him, so I am always tickled with myself when I can do things without help.  I proudly texted this picture to my brother and let him know he was off the hook tomorrow.

The boys took their maiden swim this afternoon and loved it.  We are expecting temps this week over 100 degrees, so hopefully this will help us stay cool.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Finished!

This took me 6 days last week, but I am SO glad that I can cross this off my summer to do list.   I was even more glad I painted when Charlie announced, "This is the best room I have ever seen in my whole entire life!"  Here is the finished product:


I learned that perfectionists like me should not paint stripes.  I could have stood there and fiddled with the tape making these stripes perfect for days!  There are a few places where the edges aren't as crisp as I would like, but as my husband keeps telling me, "It doesn't have to be perfect!"

I got rid of their book case and a toy shelf I didn't like in favor of this shelf shown above.  I love the fabric drawers and how they match the stripes.  It seems to work for the boys too, as it has been a lot easier for them to keep their room clean with this system.

I am taking a break this week, and then on to the master bathroom next week!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wow...

Just popping in for a minute to share this great site with you:

About One

Have you heard of About One?  If there's one thing I love, it's organization, and this offers a new amazing way to help organized your life.  I am IMPRESSED!

Check it out!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Birthday Fun

I had a great day yesterday...I couldn't ask for a better birthday.  We made progress on the patio:


I got three walls painted with a double coat in Charlie and Sammy's room, and (miracle of miracles!) my dryer is fixed and working.  I also got to spend time with my family, which is the best gift of all.  My Mom took Charlie and Sammy to a movie in the afternoon to keep them out of the paint in their bedroom, so I got to visit with her for awhile.  For dinner, I made all my favorites (totally unhealthy): fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, and homemade rolls.


I love making a feast for my crew.  It was a fun dinner.  Jeff brought home an ice cream cake, so we had a great desert as well!


Not a bad start to 34.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Today is my Birthday!

One of my favorite parts about me is that my birthday is 7-7-77.  There just isn't a cooler birthday.  My Mom wanted me to be born on the 4th of July.  Not me!  I LOVE my birthday date.

I am celebrating today with home improvement projects.  A repair man is coming to repair the dryer (thank the Lord!!!), men are digging out my patio in the backyard as we speak, and I am painting the boys room. 

I am going to make some time in the afternoon to make myself a fried chicken dinner...mmmmm!  Hopefully tonight, there will also be time for a glass of wine, and maybe an episode of Big Love (I have become addicted to this silly show!)

Here's to a great year of being 34!

Good-Bye Nursery

In November 2006, just before I delivered Sam, my Dad painted and wall papered the baby's room with adorable little frog princes and a calming light green color.  You can see our newly finished nursery with double cribs here.   (Gosh this brings back memories...seeing those two cribs together.  It was so surreal to tuck in my two tiny babies, only 10 months and 10 days apart.  Having Irish twins is not for the faint of heart.)

A couple of months ago, I noticed a small hole had appeared in the wallpaper.  As the hole got bigger over the coming weeks, I knew it was a sign that it was time to update Charlie and Sammy's room.  It made my heart hurt.  I'm sad to say goodbye to the nursery, small toddler stage.  My boys are growing up, and ready for something a little more "boyish" instead of babyish in their bedroom.  I was also dreading having to redo something in the house that my Dad had done for me.  Having that wallpaper in the room was a visual reminder of his love for me and for his grandchildren.

Yesterday I bit the bullet.  I took pictures beforehand to remember the room by, and then I told myself that my Dad's love wasn't just put on the walls, it was poured into my heart.  And no matter how the walls look, my Dad still loves me.  I also reminded myself that a hole in the wallpaper would have driven him nuts, and he would have wanted me to get this makeover on the road.

Over the years the room has changed a bit...like Charlie's addition of his "art wall".  He loves to color, and insists on decorating our walls with his creations.


We added bunk beds in 2008.  You may notice that on these two walls the border is missing.  Putting Charlie in the top bunk allowed him access to the border as a toddler, and one day while having a temper tantrum, he ripped the whole thing off.  One of the times as a mother I have been most angry.


Yesterday I took down all the wallpaper, scrubbed the glue off the walls, and repaired wall dings.  We are off to get paint today, and soon we will start the transformation.  But there is one thing I won't change.  Whenever my dad would wallpaper or put up a border in a room, he would take a small square and put it on the light switch.  It added a creative touch to the room, and one that said "Dad" to me.  And so, even though it won't match, this will be staying just the way it is in their room.  A little piece of Poppo to hold on to.

 
I'll post some pictures when I'm done.  I hope the boys like it!

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Pine Beach

We spent a beautiful week in the North Woods of Minnesota last week.  It's my favorite place on Earth, and a week of heaven for me.  The weather there is gorgeous, and it usually isn't here in Nebraska.  Omaha summers include many days over 90 with LOTS of high humidity.  Northern Minnesota offers days pleasantly warm enough for swimming, but cool evenings and nights, and rarely any humidity.

We stay at a resort right on the lake called Pine Beach.  This year, we took my Mom and brother, as well as my Aunt Connie and Uncle Dave.  We all stayed in one big cabin, which was really nice.  It was fun to be together in the evenings after dinner.  I love having no electronics.  It makes it easy to spend time as a family.  After dinner each night we played Canasta, and talked and talked.  There is something healing and wonderful about having long talks with the women in your family.  It grounds you, and gives you a perspective of where you came from.

Uncle Dave was the boat captain this year.  He did a great job taking us around the lake, and Charlie and Sammy even got a turn to drive.
Jeff's favorite part is the swimming.  I love that the deck on each cabin leads to your own stretch of beach and the water.

 

On Tuesday, Mom and Connie and I headed out for a girls day.  We visited a winery, had lunch in Park Rapids, and had pedicures.  It was so relaxing.   Even though we have been there four times now, we always find something new to do in the area.

 

Mom brought along her "Sorry!" game (which Sammy and Charlie have just mastered) and they spent time playing with Grandma each afternoon.  It's so important to me that my kids have opportunities to spend extended time with their grandparents.  I am so glad that I made an effort for my kids to be with my Dad before he died.  
 

One thing we didn't do this year was play Shuffleboard.  My Dad and I loved playing this game together last year, and it just didn't feel right to play.  Maybe someday, but  not yet.  In fact, I didn't even walk over to that part of the resort.  I didn't even want to see it.  (Aunt Connie took this picture).


The trip was so relaxing, and healing in many ways.  We had a chance to talk and to remember my Dad.  I'm so glad we went, spent time together, and had fun with the kids. 

**All pictures used in this post were taken by my Aunt Connie Bridges (who is a much better photographer than I am :)

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Brotherly Love

The best part of my 4th of July was this:






Could they be any cuter?!  I love that these two love each other.  They melt my heart!

Monday, July 04, 2011

The View from My Deck

...is not about fireworks this weekend :) Instead, it looks like this:


We returned on Saturday from a wonderful week long vacation at a lake in my favorite state, Minnesota.  We had a fabulous time, and enjoyed scenes like this:


right from our deck.  (More about our trip tomorrow!)  Unfortunately, I came home to a broken dryer, and piles and piles of wet, smelly lake laundry.  I knew I couldn't let it sit, so we've been drying on the deck.  Even more unfortunately, it's a holiday weekend so it will be late in the week before the dryer is fixed, and our neighborhood doesn't allow clothes lines.  So we improvised.  Luckily, our laundry is no match for the hot Nebraska sun and heat.  Clothes are dry in no time!

Also, don't forget, our next session of Bible in 90 Days starts on Monday, July 11th.  Follow this link to sign up!  I would love to have you join me!  I am reading through for the 3rd time, and am also serving as a mentor.

Happy 4th of July!  I hope yours is filled with fireworks and fun, instead of laundry like mine!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer session registration is now OPEN!

I would highly encourage you to do this program!  Registration is now open at Mom's Toolbox for the next session of the Bible in 90 Days program.  I am going to be serving as a mentor for my second time, and I will be reading through the Bible, cover to cover, for the third time.  I can't WAIT to get started!  I hope you will prayerfully choose to join me!

http://www.momstoolbox.com/blog/2011/06/21/bible-in-90-days-sign-up/

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

I am so blessed to call this man my Father.  I miss him every single day.  I wish he was here so that I could tell him in person, but I am sending lots of love and appreciation to heaven today.  I love you to the moon and back Daddy, and I always will.  I am the luckiest girl to be able to say I am your daughter.

Daddy walking me down the aisle at my wedding

Dad with the grand kids on Christmas Eve

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Elusive Weightloss

At the beginning of the summer, I set a goal for myself.  I was really going to amp up my exercise routine, and watch carefully what I ate.  My main goals were to raise my HDL cholesterol level through cardiac exercise, and to slowly start loosing weight.

My plan?  I have been running 3 miles a day, 5 days a week.  I have been doing some light weight lifting.  I have been really limiting my calories and fat intake.

The results?  I have GAINED 3.5 pounds.

That's right.   I GAINED WEIGHT.  It is really difficult to keep up such a strenuous routine when it has absolutely no results.  Do you suppose there is something wrong with me?

The only positive has been that I do feel stronger, and my endurance is getting much better.  However, I really don't want to gain more weight.  I am going to keep it up for a couple more weeks to see if I might be the only person on earth who actually gains weight from exercising.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Rhubarb!

This year we joined a CSA for the first time.  (CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture~for about $20 a week we get to go to a local delivery spot and pickup a huge sack full of eggs, bread, cheese, fruit, and vegetables straight from the farm, all grown organically.)  Yesterday, was our first delivery, and BOY! were we excited!  It was full of delicious things, and one perplexing thing...rhubarb.  I've never been a rhubarb fan.  I've only had it in pie though, and I think it was the texture that bothered me more than the taste.   I was determined to turn our pile of rhubarb into something my family would like.  I searched online and found a recipe for rhubarb muffins. 

These are absolutely delicious...even my boys love them and had 2 apiece for breakfast this morning (and they can be pretty picky!)

Cinnamon Topped Rhubarb Muffins

Ingredients:

1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/4 cup butter
1 (8oz) cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tea baking soda
1/2 tea cinnamon
1 1/2 cups chopped rhubarb
1 tbs sugar
1/2 tea cinnamon

Directions:

Heat oven to 375 F. in large bowl combine brown sugar and butter. beat at medium speed until well mixed (1-2 min). Add sour cream and eggs; continue beating ; scraping bowl often, until well mixed (1-2 min) in medium bowl. stir together flour baking soda and 1/2 tea cinnamon. By hand, stir flour mixture into sour cream mixture just until moistened. Fold in rhubarb. Spoon into greased muffin pans. in small bowl stir together 1 tbs sugar and 1/2 tea cinnamon, sprinkle onto each muffin. bake for 25 to 30 min or until lightly browned. cool 10 min; remove from pans.

Recipe from: http://www.rhubarbinfo.com/recipes

Sunday, May 29, 2011

My Dad's Legacy, in the Form of a Sink

My Dad was always helping people.  He helped his brothers and sisters to paint their houses, move into new houses, and do home/car repair.  He helped his friends with the same.  He helped his department at work build frames for their entry into the Sand in the City competition.  Anything anybody needed, he would do.  He built me shelves in my storage room, painted my living room and kitchen, and he put in our wood floor.  When his parents were still alive, he did their bills and went to their house every Saturday to mow the grass and give my Grandpa a shower.

He taught us through his example.  He taught his children to always serve others, and put others first.

I see so much of my Dad in my brother Creighton.  I saw it this Friday when Creighton and my brother in law Luke came over and installed this beauty in my kitchen:


I am sure I have complained about my old kitchen sink here before...it was only 6 inches deep, and did not include a sprayer.  I lived for FIVE STINKIN' YEARS without a sprayer in my kitchen!!  Have you ever tried to clean up after Thanksgiving dinner with a 6 inch sink and no sprayer?  IT IS NOT FUN.  So now, I am loving doing dishes with my 9 1/2 inch deep sink, and it's beautiful, wonderful sprayer.  Best of all though, I got to see a piece of my Dad when Creighton volunteered to help me with this project after hearing me curse the old one.  I love that my parents worked hard to create a family that loves and helps each other.

And fittingly for Memorial Day weekend, yesterday at church we saw that this plaque had been installed at the foot of a tree planted in memorial to my dad:

 It's comforting to know there is this piece of comfort at a place that is so important to us.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Charlie: Class of 2011

Yesterday afternoon, my baby Charlie graduated from preschool.  My baby who has somehow morphed into a precocious five and a half year old.


He was adorable and proud as he received his diploma.  But I think occasions and rights of passage such as these are always bitter sweet for us mothers.  I love watching him grow and develop into the person God created him to be.  At the same time, I yearn for the small chubby baby I rocked to sleep in the wee hours of the morning.


There were only 4 graduates in his class.  I am anxious and excited to see how he will make the transition to 90 Kindergarten classmates.


I am beyond thankful for the women who nurtured my baby the past 5 years during the times when I had to be away.  They have been a gift!


And now?  We are off to enjoy the magical days of summer.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Oh blog...how I've missed you!

This spring has been crazy busy for us.  It's meant I have been kept busy keeping my family going, with precious little time to sit at the computer and record my thoughts.  I am excited to see summer at my doorstep (we have our last day of school this Wednesday!!  WOOOHOO!!) when I will have time to catch up here at the Sole Woman, on the house, and with my kids.

April was a month of drastic changes for my family.  On April 2nd, my wonderful Grandma Rose passed away.  She was just short of 90 years young.  She was miserable at the end, and was dealing with congestive heart failure, so in some ways her passing was a blessing.  I am filled with happiness to know she is once again with my Grandpa, her parents, and her brothers and sisters.  After loosing my Dad, I have a different perspective on death.  Death is so hard on those of us left behind, but I have a new respect for the joy they must be feeling in heaven with Jesus.  In many ways, I don't know if I've been truly able to process her death.  I am still feeling pretty numb from Dad's death.  Her funeral and the events around it were a little too much to deal with at the time.

Two weeks later, on April 16th, my little brother Creighton married the love of his life, Lindsey.




It was a perfect day and a perfect ceremony.  I love them both beyond measure, and I am so excited Lindsey is my official sister.  I've felt that she has been for awhile, so it was nice to make it official formally true.

The combined effect of the funeral and wedding plus Easter the next weekend all made us feel like we were a bit bipolar and having massive mood swings.  We are all looking forward to a little down time, and some recovery time.

Looking forward to seeing my blog on a regular basis!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Some news..

Hello everyone! It has been WAY too long since my last post, and I have so much news to tell you!  For now though, I have to tell you about a new project I am working on.

On May 21, I will be walking in the American Heart Associations Heart Walk to honor the life of my Dad, and also for one of my students Abby.  Abby is actually the Heart Child of the year, and will be starting both the children's walk and the adult walk.  Abby has overcome multiple heart defects to become on of the most amazing young ladies I have ever had the pleasure of meeting!

I would be so honored if you would visit here:
http://omahaheartwalk.kintera.org/christykleffman
to help me make my dream a reality, and to help make a difference in the lives of those dealing with heart problems.

It makes me feel happy to know that there is something I can do to honor my father, and to help make sure other families don't have to experience the pain of loosing a loved one to heart disease.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring

I am not usually one who is depressed by winter.  I mean, what teacher doesn't love a good snow day, right?  I don't mind snow much, mostly because I don't often have to drive to work in it.  Instead it usually means cozy days snuggled under blankets, a fire in the fireplace, and baking cookies with my boys.  Most years I don't mind waiting patiently for spring.  As a Nebraskan, this serves me well, as spring can often take it's own sweet time in arriving.

This year feels different.  I am very anxious for warm weather and sunny skies.  The stark snow and barren landscapes of winter have seemed too close to my own emotional outlook this year, and have felt  oppressive.  I think I am hoping that the cheery sound of chirping birds, sunny skies, and warm breezes can help transport me out of this season of grief.

I am learning that grief doesn't go away.  I thought at first it might.  The sharpness of it will dull with time, but it never leaves.  We are all adjusting to our new roles in life, the altered picture of our family.  I don't know if it will ever feel normal, or okay, but it is becoming less "new".  I am learning to deal with it, but it was somewhat of a surprise to me that everyday still brings tears.  Every single day.  I don't know if that will ever change.  And I guess if it doesn't, you just learn to keep going.

I am hoping the arrival of a new season, the season of new life, will help breathe new life into my heart.  I am feeling ready for some happy and some sunshine.  I know my Dad wants that for us to.

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Girls

We had a wedding shower on Saturday for my brother Creighton's fiance Lindsey.  It was so much fun to spoil her and see family and friends!  My Aunt Connie took this awesome picture of my sister Sarah, me, and Lindsey.  I love it!  I also love that Lindsey is now an official member of the family.  I tell Creighton all the time that if I could choose anyone to join our family, it would be Lindsey.  She is wonderful, and we are so lucky.

My niece Brooke is in the corner.  Besides my Mom, we are the ONLY girls in our family!  Can you believe it?  Sarah is currently pregnant with the 6th grandson for my parents. 

I hope Lindsey's future includes some girl babies for us to love!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Cuite Bug

Isn't he just stinkin' adorable?!


When he put them on for the first time at the eye doctor, he looked around for a minute, gasped, and said, "Oh Mommy!  It's beautiful!  I can see so much STUFF!  And hey!  Did you know there's a Taco Bell across the street?  I've never seen that before!"  It was precious.  I am amazed at how well he functioned without them.  It makes me sad that we didn't notice he needed them sooner!

Later that night, Sammy had swimming lessons.  After I had given him a shower in the locker room, I put his glasses back on.  He looked down at the floor and exclaimed, "OH MY GOODNESS!  There is all kinds of yucky dirt on this floor!  Why didn't anybody tell me about this?"  Oh the details you can see with your glasses on!!  Everyday since has brought new discoveries for Sammy, now that he can finally see the world around him,

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Sammy's Getting Glasses!

Sammy and Evan have had a busy 2011.  They've been busy making lots of medical bills! :)

In January, you might remember that Sam had his run in with the toybox and got 7 stitches.  In February, we took him to the eye doctor after he failed his eye check at his 4 year check up.  We found out he is slightly near sighted, but more importantly has a rather severe astigmatism, which makes everything extremely blurry for him.  Ever since, we've been trying to get glasses ordered for him.  My adorable Sammy has the BIGGEST blue eyes you've ever seen.  But apparently they are so big it means that we need to have glasses custom made in order to fit his face.  I think we may finally have a pair we can order this week.

Evan, meanwhile, has been making many trips to the orthodontist so that we could have an evaluation done.  We discovered that his bottom jaw is bigger than the top jaw, making it impossible for him to chew on his molars.  As he begins to grow, the problem is going to get worse, and eventually he won't even be able to chew with his front teeth.  The problem is genetic, and we were lucky enough to have the orthodontist tell us it's the worst case he's ever seen.  Awesome!  So for now, Evan is going to have braces put on for the next year to make a temporary fix that will allow him to chew for the next few years.  When he stops growing at 16 or 17, he will need more orthodontics, and jaw surgery where they will remove a significant portion of the jaw bone and reshape his bite.

I don't know how I managed it, but I think I have passed on the absolute worst of my genetics to my poor kiddos.  Thank goodness we live in a time where there are ways to fix and deal with these things!  Now I just have to pray my poor husband doesn't collapse at the thought of all our medical bills :).

Monday, March 07, 2011

My Kids Ate My Blog

I can't believe I haven't been here since January. 

I love my blog, but my life?  It likes me to stay SUPER busy.  You know the story...work, drive kids around to activities, doctor appointments, homework, drive kids around to more activities, try to keep the house clean.  So I won't bore you with the details.

Today I am home with a sick Sammy Bear.  He has a fever, aches, headache, and a deep wet cough.  My guess is the flu, so we are off to the doctor this morning.  With the boys' asthma, we don't mess around with lung issues/infections.

All of which has left me some time to write while my baby is snuggled up next to me, sweating his way through his fever.  We have some exciting things happening around here I would love to tell you about!

My brother is getting married in 6 short weeks, which has provided us with a flurry of wedding activity!  We've been busy making 600 mints, addressing invitations, picking out dresses, and getting fitted for tuxes.  Speaking of dresses, my bridesmaid dress came in yesterday.  When I tried it on, we discovered it was fine in the waist but would barely zip around my rib cage.  So, I will be getting a few ribs removed so that I can zip my dress and not pass out from lack of oxygen at the ceremony.

Just kidding.  But I do hope the seamstress can work miracles, or I will have to give up breathing for the day.

Charlie is getting geared up for Kindergarten round up on April 1st.  He is SO excited and SO nervous.  Every day he is full of questions like, "What if my teacher is mean?"  "What if I don't like it?"  "What if I don't know everything they teach me?"  I remember feeling the same way.  Poor baby.

I am counting down the days to summer.  I have vowed to NOT sign the kids up for anything other than once a week swim lessons.  We need some healing of hearts and minds around here, and I think some time to slow down and relax is just the thing.

We are in the depths of tax season, which means that my poor Jeff is working so hard.  I am so grateful he is such a good provider for our family.  I love that he has such a wonderful work ethic.  But I do worry about him this time of year.  I am praying he stays healthy, and that the stress doesn't adversely affect him.  And I miss him terribly.  I just can't get my fill of that guy.  Have I mentioned lately that I love my husband?

Me?  I've been getting by.  Every day includes a moment where I am hit by a wave of loneliness and sadness for my Dad.  I've learned to let it wash over me, and to pray pray pray.  I am trying to focus on strengthening my relationship with the Lord to get me through.  My church choir is one of the high points of my week.  The singing helps brighten my week and my soul.  I'm so glad I have music to turn to.  I've also put pictures and sayings about my Dad all over my house.  It helps me to see his face everyday, and to send him a message to heaven that I love him.

Thank goodness spring is on the way!  I am dreaming of birds tweeting, warm sunshine, and planting some flowers in my yard.  Only a few more weeks....

Monday, January 17, 2011

Birthdays and Other News

Boy, did we have a crazy weekend.

On Sunday, the dog got out of the yard, and I ended up having to chase him like the marathon runner I am NOT.  That crafty dog kept looking over his shoulder to make sure I was still behind him.  I think Aspen was having the time of his life, and thought he had invented a grand game for us to play!  He is lucky that I love him, and that I have been running on the treadmill, or there is no way I would have kept up with him.  Luckily for me, he got distracted by a pile of dog "doodoo" that he needed to sniff, or I don't know what I would have done. 

This all happened as we were supposed to be leaving for my nephew Colin's birthday party.  We were late to the party, and had only been there for about an hour when disaster struck again.  Sammy and the other cousins had already finished eating, so they went into the basement to play.  Somehow, Sammy tripped, fell, and face planted right on top of a toy box.  He took a chunk out of his cheek, and we had to take him to the emergency room.  He needed 7 stitches on the top layer, and some underneath.  I have never seen so much blood!  He also severely bit the inside of his cheek, so eating has been a challenge today.  I don't know if you can tell in the picture below, but his cheek is so swollen it looks like he has an apple stuffed in his mouth.


My poor Sammy bear!  He was impressed he got to watch Toy Story at the hospital, and he was so, SO brave.  He didn't make a peep while they were stitching him up, and he held so still.  I am so proud of him!

And today?  Today is my Charlie's birthday.  It was 5 years ago that this 10 pound, 23 1/2 inch bundle of joy was placed in my arms:


 And here is me, shortly before I was ready to push Charlie into the world.  I love how Charlie and I were both so surrounded by love and family and friends that day.  My parents were both in the room to see each of my children enter the world, and I am so thankful.
I love that my Dad is holding my hand in this picture.  I love that I had the most important men in my life holding my hands as I met my new little man for the first time.

Sometimes I miss Daddy so much it steals my breath away.  Today is one of those days.

I am thankful that God has given me Charlie, and that he is 5 today.  He is so spirited, and creative, and amazingly smart.  Sometimes it steals my breath away that I am lucky enough to be his mom.  And today is one of those days.

Despite the craziness, the stitches and blood, the sorrows, and the hard work that goes into my life, I am thankful.  And so blessed.  So very blessed.

Monday, January 10, 2011

SNOW DAY!

Good morning!  It is the happiest of days in a teacher's life this morning!  We are having a SNOW DAY here at the Sole Woman.  It's been snowing since yesterday morning, and we have about 6 inches on the ground-and it is still going strong!  Here's a picture I took this morning with a new photo program I am playing around with on my iPhone (I love the old fashioned feel it gives photos):


I am sitting with my coffee, looking at the snow falling quietly outside the window.  My family is all tucked inside, warm and safe.  Jeff is working from home today, Evan is taking advantage of his day off by sleeping (he is SO 12!!), and Charlie and Sammy are snuggled up on the couch under blankets talking about what they will be doing outside later today. 

Bliss!

Since I have nowhere to go and nothing to do but enjoy my coffee, I thought I would give you an update of life around our house.    I forgot to mention that my darling husband bought me for Christmas the gift I have been dreaming of for the last 8 years....drumroll please....a KitchenAid mixer!!  (And she is a beautiful cherry red too!)  I guess I haven't talked about it a lot here, but I love to bake.  I love to do things homemade.  My go to stress reliever is bread baking, much to the delight of my husband.  I think he secretly loves it when I have a bad day, because he knows there is a loaf of fresh baked bread in his future.  Since I first moved into my own space, I have been using my mom's cast off mixer, which was a gift from her 1974 wedding.  About 6 months ago, he lost a leg, and I had to prop it up on a piece of wood so it wouldn't wobble while I mixed.  The thing drove me bananas.  If the recipe called for more than 3 cups of flour, the batter would climb up the beaters and try and get into the motor.  It was beyond frustrating to try and mix up dough for Christmas cookies.

I will admit that I screamed when I opened it on Christmas morning.  I love it.  Seriously.  I am not one to keep appliance on the kitchen counters, but I love my mixer so much, she has a place of honor on the counter.   (And besides, she's red!  So she coordinates with my kitchen!!)  I have been trying out lots of new recipes, and I have been playing around with made from scratch cakes.  Do any of you have any recipes for homemade cakes?  Or tips?  Mine haven't been the greatest.

This week I had to submit all of Charlie's documents and paperwork for Kindergarten registration.  It's really starting to hit home that he's going to school next year.  I know every mother feels like their kids grow up too fast, but it is UNBELIEVABLE to me how quickly his first 5 years have gone.  In fact, he is turning 5 on the 17th, and he is beyond excited.  I know he's ready for this new adventure, so I am trying to get my heart to accept this.

I am off to bake some bread!  (Not because I am stressed today :)  Just because it sounds nice!)  I hope you are warm and cozy on this January Monday.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Back to the Grind!

I went back to work today, after a lovely and much needed two weeks off.  I needed the sleep, I needed the down time, and I needed the family time.  It's been a long first semester, and I definitely needed the recharge.  Although I wasn't overly excited this morning about returning to work when the alarm went off at 5:30, the day was nice.  No students today, just a work day to get things done in our classrooms, and I feel ready again to tackle some school work. 

Having a routine is good for me and the kids.  I am feeling ready to get started on 2011, and make a fresh go of things.

Now I just have to convince the boys of this!  Charlie had a huge temper tantrum before we left about how much he hates school, how bored his there, and how he absolutely would NOT be getting his shoes on, thank you very much!  Ever since we got home this afternoon, Evan has alternated between moping and wailing about how much he shouldn't be required to go to school, he already knows everything he needs to know in life.  The stubborn/ dramatic gene?  It runs strongly in this family.

As for me, I am going to try and stay positive, stay relaxed, and remember my New Year's goal of realizing I am NOT super mom, and I don't have to be either.  I hope you have a great week!

Saturday, January 01, 2011

It's Not too Late to Sign Up!

The new session of the Bible in 90 Days at Mom's Toolbox begins this Monday!  It's not too late to sign up.  I will be mentoring a group this session and would love to have you join me.

For more information, please click here.

Wouldn't this be a great way to start 2011 off right?  HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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