For My Grandpa


Last Monday, I flew to Illinois to attend my grandpa's funeral. He was 96 and had been declining for several years, so although not unexpected, the reality and finality of death is sad. And yet, there was a peace and joy in it too, because my grandpa loved Jesus and had longed for heaven since my grandma passed away ten years ago.

There was a family service at the gravesite on a sunny and breezy Tuesday morning. The forecast predicted rain, which held off until we were having lunch at my uncle's house, and even then it was barely a sprinkle. My grandpa served our country as part of the United States Army in World War II. A flag was draped over the casket; there was a gun salute, and a member of the military played Taps.

On Monday night, the night before the funeral, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren gathered in the house my grandma and grandpa built over half a century ago. We told stories and looked at pictures, and enjoyed being together.

It was bittersweet, saying goodbye to my grandparents' house. It is a large house, with original shag carpet and a long hallway in the basement that I always remember being afraid of. I walked slowly down the curved staircase with the purple carpet, into the back sitting room where we had our Christmas gift exchanges, the porch where the "kid table" always was and the dining room, with the long table that seated the adults. The bathroom upstairs with a long sink and carpeted stairs that led up to a bathtub, and the half bathroom downstairs where my dad would sit with me when I was a toddler having a meltdown. 

The kitchen table, where I last saw my grandpa.

The last time I saw my grandpa in person was December 2019. He was by that point a little confused about who people were; he was talking slower and taking longer pauses. But he sang for us and quoted Scripture, and those two things he wasn't confused about. 

My brother and sister and I were there at the table, and he asked us, "When is the last time you shared with someone about Jesus?" My grandpa wasn't perfect, and he wasn't always easy to have a conversation with, but one thing I remember about him is that he was always talking to anyone, anywhere, about Jesus. 

"Do you know for certain where you would go if you died tonight?" he would ask the waitress at the restaurant we were eating at. "Do you know Jesus?" he would ask the lady at the checkout counter of the store. As a kid, it was embarrassing how often he talked to strangers. 

When my grandma was alive, it was not at all uncommon for her to come out of the bathroom at a hotel and tell us that she had just led someone to Jesus. "You did what?" we would say. And my grandma would have gotten the person's name and phone number and told them that she was praying for them and would follow up.

I admit that I'm not the best at talking to people about Jesus. No, scratch that. I'm pretty terrible at talking to people about Jesus. Underneath my embarrassment for how long my grandpa took to pray before our meal when we ate out or how much he talked to people he didn't know, I was also in awe of how easy he made it seem. And maybe some of that is just getting older and not caring anymore what people think (I do think that was part of it).

In honor of my grandpa, I decided that on my flights to and from Chicago I would ask the person who sat next to me on the airplane if they had a prayer request. It's not quite as bold as straight up asking them if they know Jesus, but it felt like a big step for me.

I stood in line to walk into the plane toward Chicago, psyching myself up to talk to my seat mate, and no one sat next to me! I couldn't believe it. I guess God decided he didn't have a divine appointment for me that day. I got my chance on the way home. I felt super nervous and blurted out the speech I'd practiced in my head almost as soon as the person sat down. 

His name was Benjamin, and he seemed surprised and confused (I also think he had a hard time hearing me with the sound of plane engine and the mask and the fact that I was nervous and talking fast), but he said that I could pray for success in what he was doing. I honestly have no idea what he is doing or what he meant by success, and for all I know he just said the first thing he thought of to get the crazy lady to be quiet. But I was proud of myself for doing it, even if "it" wasn't really that big.

It felt like a lot, and really it shouldn't. Just like typing this out shouldn't feel like a lot either. I don't even have to see anyone face-to-face, and still it feels scary sometimes to talk about faith.

But as I sit here, writing about my grandma and grandpa, that's what I'm left with: their passion for sharing Jesus. An uncounted number of people greeting them in heaven because of their work here on earth.

This post is for my grandpa Bernie. 
I know for an undeniable fact that he is, indeed, now at rest, and at peace.

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy and thieves break in and steal, but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." - Matthew 6:19-21

Hobbies and Things


I'm going to try to write a "newsletter" of sorts on here once a month for the rest of the year and see how that goes. Obviously I fell hard off the blogging wagon and haven't been able to catch back up, but I really miss sitting down to write, and I still feel like this is a friendly place, waiting for me whenever I want to come back.

Another reason I'd like to try to keep at least a month recap going is because I've gotten super into scrapbooking lately, and my blog has served as a great reference, and I want it to continue to be a reference for future scrapbooking! 

My grandma got me into Creative Memories scrapbooking when I was in junior high, and it's been a passion and hobby of mine ever since. I love photography and editing, and then creating stories with those memories with physical and digital books. I get sad thinking about photos only living on my phone, and I regularly print out photos and make books. The majority of my digital books are created through Shutterfly or Chatbooks, but I also truly love making physical scrapbooks. I know that's not everyone's cup of tea, but for me it's a super calming, fun activity that I do after the kids go to bed.

I won't bore you with the backstory, but basically I started to run out of supplies and ideas, so I hadn't worked on my scrapbook in a while, but I recently discovered the rabbit hole of--not joking--scrapbooking instagrammers. Who knew that was a thing?! I immediately drove deep and am not mad about it. So the past few months I've spent most evenings working on my 2016-2018 and 2020 scrapbook. Unfortunately for 2019, it got skipped somehow, and I think at this point I'll probably just end up making a Chatbook with all my 2019 pictures.

Yes, I am a crazy picture person. I regret nothing.
I just want my photos to live outside of my phone! It's weirdly important to me.

When I'm not scrapbooking, I've also taken on a very labor-intensive project: training for a full marathon. I won't bore you with the backstory on that either, but the long and short of it is, I'm registered to run my third full marathon (26.2 miles) in Chicago in October. I started training at the end of May, and my monthly mileage has pretty quickly been increasing as my runs have gotten longer. In August I ran 115 miles, and September should top that.

It has been harder than I thought, and harder than Jordan thought. My previous two marathons were both in 2013, pre children, when I could leave the house basically whenever I wanted to run as far or as long as I needed. Fitting 1-3 hour runs into my day with 3 kids and a full-time job is a real challenge, and I guess maybe it sounds like, "well duh," but honestly I didn't think it would be quite so demanding on my time and energy. As I often end up saying about things I sign up for, it's possible I didn't fully think this though.

Nevertheless, I'm only just over a month away from the race, and feeling excited and nervous and ready to not run so dang much. In June, July, and August I've run 4x a week except for a few weeks, and that's the most consistently I've run in the past 11 years of my running "career." And it's been I do have a time goal because that's just who I am, but my main goal is truly to enjoy the experience. I doubt I will ever do anything like this again, and I am so excited to be back in my favorite place ever doing one of my favorite things!

The past year has been crazy hard. Everyone has their own different circumstances, their own different challenges, their own opinions and beliefs and thoughts. But the one thing we can all agree on: it's been unanimously hard for everyone. I'm thankful to have had this race as a goal and something to work toward this year--something that's gotten me out of the house now that I'm working from home; something that's kept both my mind and my body active; something that is challenging and hard and something that I can be proud of just for myself.

I hope the summer has treated you well. There are a lot of very scary and sad things going on right now, and I don't want to act like it's all been easy and fun. There have been hard decisions and lots of questions, more questions, and more hard decisions. To be honest, I'm very tired of all the arguing and noise, people shouting at each other with no intention of trying to listen to what the other person is saying or where they are coming from. I read a post recently where the writer said that we need to "posture yourself with charitableness." I love that. Take up a position of grace, of kindness, even when you don't agree.

To anyone reading this, I'm glad you're here! It felt so nice to type out some words in this space again. Happy September, friends.

First Family Trip with Five


Last weekend we took our first family trip as a family of five! We rented a two-bedroom house from Air BnB, and drove the few hours north to Tulsa for a four-day weekend.

I know Tulsa, Oklahoma, is not going to be anyone's first thought of grand vacation destination, but it was actually a really fun time! We visited the Oklahoma Aquarium, a super neat park called The Gathering Place, and a local business called Adventure Avenue that offers indoor play areas with costumes, a play kitchen room, fire engine, and other fun toys.

F was born last February right before the pandemic hit, so that plus the fact that it's difficult to eat out with kids meant that we had never gone to a restaurant with all five of us, and then we did it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the same day! And it actually went as well as I could have hoped.

The kids had a great time, and so did we, but I won't lie. We. were. tired. It takes approximately 800 times longer to do anything with little kids. Exhausting.

We had trouble getting them to bed at night, everyone refused naps during the day, and we ate McDonald's for dinner on Saturday night instead of the local Italian place that Jordan and I wanted to go to because the kids were freaking out about getting chicken nuggets. It wasn't a perfect trip by any means. 

But I'm so happy we were able to make this happen and get away for a couple of days. R and J still talk about our trip to Arkansas (the same trip as that poop story Jordan likes to remind me of LOL), and they were super excited to go on another family trip... this time we really leveled up the cool factor in our minivan ;)

I did feel a little bad for F. He's not quite old enough to play with the big kids, especially because he can't walk yet. But he's 14 months old, which is old enough to have opinions but not old enough to understand why he can't do what he wants. But he seemed to have a good time for the most part. He loved the aquarium and the fish, even more than the big kids did!

Just a reminder, in case you needed one, that you don't have to plan an expensive, extravagant vacation. A long weekend in a town a short drive away can do the trick just fine!

On Seasons


All week long I've been saying it's the wrong day. On Wednesday I kept thinking tomorrow was Saturday. On Friday I thought tomorrow was Sunday. I don't know why I'm so confused, but I feel like lately every week has felt like one of "those" weeks.

I've been thinking a lot lately about where I was 5 years ago. R was 8 months old, we were just a few months into full-time daycare, full-time me working at the office five days a week, and I was crying. A lot. I don't think I fully realized at the time how traumatic that year was for me because I was just trying so hard to keep one foot in front of the other.

Being away from R for so much of the day was heartbreaking for me, emotionally exhausting, and I was so sensitive to and aware of messages and phrases that I perceived to shaming my ability to be a good mom because I wasn't with her during the weekdays. 

I wasn't a "full-time mom."
I was "letting someone else raise her."
I was not doing The One Thing that Makes The Most Impact in all the world.

The voice was talking to me constantly, telling me that I'd miss her first everything, that she wouldn't be able to bond with me, that I wasn't really a very good mother or I would have found a way to quit my job and stay at home with her.

I won't say the voice is gone completely. But I realize now that it's not telling me the full story, or even part of the story. Or, honestly, any story at all. At least not any story worth listening to.

A few years ago, I was thinking about that first year going back to work after having R, thinking about the angsty blog posts I wrote and the dramatic Instagram captions and the long text messages I sent my friends full of crying faces. I felt a little embarrassed about being so vulnerable, online and in private. And I felt embarrassed about how completely I viewed nearly everything in my life at that point through the lens of "working mom."

It's been 5 and a half years since I dropped R off at daycare for the first time, and now my three kids go to that same daycare five days a week while I work (at home! A pandemic adjustment). I consider myself both a "full-time mom" and an "employed mom," but neither of those phrases hold the weight they used to.

Sometimes, I'll just be honest, I do wish I didn't have a job that required my time, focus, and effort. There's a stressful situation at work that I keep thinking about in the evenings the last week. If I didn't have a job, I could concentrate completely on my family all the time and not also worry about being a good employee, sick leave, vacation days, and fitting in errands and housekeeping somewhere in there too. I would be able to spend more time with my kids. That's just a fact.

But just because it's a fact doesn't mean it's not also true that I'm a good mom. I'm a present mom. I'm an involved mom.

These two things are true at the same time: 
My kids are in daycare five days a week because I work a full-time office job. 
I am a full-time mom. I love them, and they love me.

I think about that me from 5 years ago and want to tell her this, but I don't think she would believe me even if I could. I'm not embarrassed anymore about what I wrote and shared during that time. It was a helpful way for me to process some of my feelings, and I've heard from several people that reading my blog was an encouragement to them during a similar transition.

I don't know quite how to end this post. This wasn't actually what I came on here to write about, but I guess I've just been thinking about that time in my life and wanted to write some closure to that season. R will be starting Kindergarten this fall, and to be honest I'm feeling anxious about that big change coming up for all of our routines.

But if I've learned anything in my 5.5 years of motherhood, it's that everything is a phase, a season. I'm anxious but also excited to see what our new season will look like!

spring forward.


Well we sprung forward. Am I too late, or can we still talk about this?

I feel like at this point the spring time change has no other purpose than to remind us all that no matter what else we may disagree on, we can all get excited about it not getting dark at 4:00 in the evening. BUT. It comes with the price of being tired every day for the next eleventy hundred days. My clock says it's 10:00 and time to go to bed, but my brain lies and tells me it's only 9, so I stay up way past the time I need to be asleep. It's a vicious circle I have so far been unable to climb out of it.

My 3-year-old DID NOT care that it was only 6am when he shouted excitedly in my face, "The sun is up, so I'm up!" Needless to say, the kids are very confused. Jordan and I are tired. It's going well.

Speaking of J, he will be 4 in June, and I just today finally finished his baby book! I had it mostly filled out but was missing a few of the monthly photos and one photo of his first haircut. I tracked them down and ordered from my favorite online printing shop (not affiliated, but I do love them a lot).

After the first-year baby book, I have a second scrapbook going for each of the kids where I do one spread per year. I'm mostly finished with R's up to age 4. My goal is to finish age 5 by the time she turns 6, so I have a few months still. J's is finished through age 3, and I just ordered my photo album to start on F's!

Speaking of F, we were able to have a little birthday party for him, and it was so much fun! He is perfectly average for weight and height, though his head is in the 90th percentile LOL. He is not interested at all in walking or standing, but he crawls super fast, pulls up on everything, and loves climbing into his little kid chair and sitting. He gets so proud of himself.

Probably his defining characteristic is how loud he is when he eats. He hums and shrieks and laughs and pounds on his tray demanding more food. It's cute but actually quite loud and sometimes I'm like, okay be quiet now.

Okay, I gave myself a certain amount of time to write, and it's almost up, so I'll do a few currently prompts before I go. Trying to get back in the swing of writing. I miss it and feel rusty.

choosing: tile for our bathroom. Jordan and I made a giant list of all the house projects we want to do and narrowed down our top 3 choices to work on this spring. One of them is to tile our bathroom! Did I tell this story on here? Our bathroom used to be carpet (why, previous homeowners? whyyy), but one morning when J was potty training we found him sitting on the floor surrounded by a pile of poop. He was trying to clean it up himself and was rubbing poop into the carpet with an entire package of wet wipes. Good times! So, Jordan ripped up the carpet and we've had concrete floor for over a year. Finally getting around to picking out tile, and I'm so excited.

imagining: how good I will feel when I actually go to bed at a decent time. It's happening tonight, people!

making: sugar cookies. I've gotten into baking and decorating sugar cookies since Christmas. It's a fun little hobby, and I am not a professional by any means, but I definitely think I'm getting better! Every time I learn something new. I'm going to try to make some bunny-shaped cookies for Easter.

wearing: skinny jeans and comfy tops. Basically I'm old and not on trend. I still can't get behind jeans with jagged bottom hems and high-waisted pants with crop tops. I'm sorry! But I'll never say never, because I said that about skinny jeans so I clearly cannot be trusted.

Ah! My time is up. So long until next time. I do sincerely hope spring forward is treating you better than it's treating me ;) 

Birthday Musings


I think I forgot how to write on here. I've opened my computer to blog the last few nights and ended up staring at a blank screen. Easing into it with a quick update, and then maybe I'll be back for more? Who can say. I'm living hour to hour over here, anyone else?

Today (Thursday when I'm writing this) was the first day we left the house since Saturday morning, which if you're counting that's five, yes FIVE days of all five of us trapped in our house due to an epic snowstorm and record-breaking low temperatures that Oklahoma has seen approximately never. We are so thankful to so far not have had any issues with pipes freezing or bursting, because I know several people that's happened to. 

Our street is a solid block of ice, and I'm not sure if I will be able to get out to take the kids to daycare in the morning, but I guess we shall see. You better believe I will try. Anyone who has ever taken care of a child knows this, but it's impossible IMPOSSIBLE, I SAY, to get any actual work done when kids are around. Moving on.

Baby F is a year old! I can't believe it either. This year went so fast and yet somehow was also the eternal year that never ended. Global pandemic, riots, crazy presidential election, impeachment trials, giant ice storm, multiple snowstorms, and what the heck else happened this year?! 

He won't remember a thing about any of it, but I sure will. I had a baby, went on maternity leave, and then just never went fully back to my office. It was weird. 

I have more thoughts about F turning one, but I'm having a hard time putting them into any kind of coherent structure. Maybe later.

I started seeing a counselor last fall. It's actually been something I've always said would probably be helpful for me. I'm a verbal processor, and Jordan is, well, not. So the idea of having a third party to talk to has always appealed to me. Without going into too much detail, I'll just say that the past year and a half have been incredibly difficult with J. I think the pandemic and being with the kids more by myself brought out some feelings that I wanted to talk through, and specifically as it pertained to J. I've gone several times since (about once every 4-6 weeks), and it's been really helpful. I feel thankful to be able to have the opportunity!

Okay, I'll let that be it for now. I hope if you are reading this you are doing well and staying warm!