Thursday, January 23, 2014

2013: The Year of Lessons


It has been 7 months since I was last here. That seems so unreal to me. I think Facebook has allowed me to keep the extended family updated on our lives, so I forget to record things here. I use my blog as a journaling tool for future reference for myself, and my children. I need to be better about updating.

2013 was a crazy-busy year. So much happened, both good and bad. We learned many lessons, both painful and not-so-painful. Here are the top 10 Lessons of 2013:

Lesson One: Most people are "looking out for #1". It does not matter how long you've known a person, worked with (or for) someone, or are related through blood or marriage, their word is worth the paper on which it is written. Trust no one. We have been misled, lied to, and treated with complete disregard by several people we had trusted this past year. It was a painful lesson to us, but one that brought much needed awareness that not everyone has the same values and morals.

Lesson Two: Do not delay doing fun things with your children. I spent the entire summer postponing activities because Mr. C was busy. He assured me things would ease up the next week, or the next month. They did not. I missed my nephew's wedding (it involved travel and I wasn't comfortable doing that alone). I put off a trip to Utah to see the older boys and our grandson because Mr. C wanted to go, but ultimately was unable due to work. I barely saw him at all this past summer. He has been swamped for the last year and a half. My life has been on hold during this entire time. I need to just make plans and follow through, even if he can't join us.

Lesson Three: When you have adversity, you find out who your friends are (and those who are not). We have always been surprised by the curve balls life throws at us, but we have been even more stunned at the response of those around us. The people we thought would be there, were not. The people we didn't expect to be there, were.

Lesson Four: Stop living for everyone else. We mothers, especially, need to remember that we had a life before marriage and children. We need to feed our own spirits, or we have nothing left to share with those around us. This is one I really need to work on. I know I need to change, but am not sure HOW to change.

Lesson Five: Do not put your job ahead of your family. Honestly, the sad fact is that your employer does not put any value on the extra time you spend at work. They don't care if you sacrifice holidays, evenings, weekends, vacations, family events, or your health - they just don't. While you are sweating it out after-hours, your employers are home relaxing and having fun with their families. Your sacrifice will not necessarily be rewarded with promotions, good bonuses, or big raises. The more you are willing to work, the more they will expect you to work. Period. I learned this several years ago, and I always swore I'd never again put my career first. Mr. C isn't such a quick learner. I'm hoping this one sinks in soon. After last year, he promised he was going to change, but in the two weeks since returning home from vacation, he has worked several late nights. Some lessons take longer to sink in, I guess.

Lesson Six: When you have people in your life who are amazing, dynamic, and worthy of admiration, let them know. Tell them how much you respect them, appreciate them, and value the relationship. One day it will be too late, and you will regret that you didn't share your feelings.

Lesson Seven: Say thank you! Those two little words can mean so much to someone. We all need to feel appreciated - it rejuvenates the soul.

Lesson Eight:  If your employer is looking to hire an employee, DO NOT recruit one of your friends to become a co-worker. Let your employer find employees, and let your friends find their own jobs.There is one caveat to this: If there is a financial incentive, it may be worth it. Mr. C once worked for a great company which offered a $1000 recruiting bonus for bringing in good workers. It was a great opportunity. But if there is no monetary incentive, it isn't worth putting your position or friendship at risk, in fact it may be detrimental to both.

Lesson Nine: Take care of yourself physically. Drink your water every day, sweat every day, and make wise food choices.

Lesson Ten: Cultivate friendships. This one is where I struggle the most. It isn't that I don't have friends, or that I don't value friendships, it is that I have a very difficult time opening myself up and trusting people (see Lesson One, above). I have been working on this during the past year though. I have been trying to be more deliberate in my relationships. I still have a long way to go, but I am taking baby steps.

The best thing to happen in 2013: We did get to spend Christmas with family this year! We drove out to Santa Barbara and spent Christmas with some of my favorite people on earth. I will post pictures soon.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

1st Day of Summer

Wow. I just looked at the last post I wrote - three months ago! What happened? I have no idea where the time went.

Well, I do. Life. We were living life. Crazy, busy, stressful, wonderful life.

We also got a dog.She was a rescue dog. Her name is Bella and I love her more than I love my kids. Not really. Maybe. Well, almost.

Bella (she was already named) is a Border Collie / Lab mix, although several people have told me she is a Flat Coat Retriever. I am not a dog expert. All I know is she has black hair, weighs 50 lbs., and is of the canine species. She loves me more than anyone else, which is why she eats only my shoes (6 prs. so far). I take her out running at the dog park every morning, which has helped with her energy level, and assists with her making good little doggie decisions at home for the rest of the day. Some of you may be shocked that we have a new furry family member. Mr. C has long maintained that we could get a dog "over his dead body". I'm so happy he is still around to enjoy Miss Bella. She loves to catch, fetch, shake, give high-5's, lay down, chew (usually on a hoof or a raw hide), and be cuddled (but she only likes cuddling in the mornings when she is lazy and tired). She also enjoys herding Katie in the back yard, chasing birds and grasshoppers at the dog park, and splashing in any available water.

The kidlets went to their last day of school yesterday. It was a half-day, and a total waste of everyone's time. They didn't do a thing except sign autographs, play, clean, etc. I'm glad the school year is over. We were all getting run down and tired of it.

We held Katie's Birthday party last night. Those of you who know her Birthday was in March will be confused. It was like this: she wanted to have an outside pool party for her Birthday, and it is too freaking cold for that in Wyoming until summer (we had two blizzards in May!). Usually she is more of an "instant gratification" type of girl, but I was proud of her for delaying the fun for three months.

Which brings us to today. Our first day of summer break. Usually my favorite day of the year! Guess what! It sucked! I can't even tell you exactly why, it just did. Mr. C is working a lot (don't I always say this?), so I'm not getting much sleep. The month of June is going to be brutal for him. Lots of deadlines and stress. I am praying July will be better, but I'm not holding out much hope. So, I began the day tired, because I don't sleep well when he is working long hours. I hit snooze until 7:30 this morning, then was scrambling to get everyone out the door. Mr. C had work. Bren had golf at 9. Katie had Religious Ed at 9, then golf at 11.

So, my day went like this: Get Mr. C out the door. Get kids ready and out the door by 8:30. Take Bren to golf. Take Katie across town to the church. Take Bella north to the dog park to run. Come home and shower. Pick Katie up at 10:40 and deliver her to the golf course. Bren was supposed to be waiting for her at noon to play a couple of holes of golf, then I was supposed to pick them up for lunch and room cleaning. Well, fortunately, I had a feeling I should wait for Katie, so I spent a delightful hour catching up with one of my sweet friends whilst our children had their lesson. Brendan never showed up (he was out on the course golfing). So I took Katie home for lunch, then had to go back to get Brendan 45 minutes later. He ate lunch, then they both cleaned their rooms, then I had to take them back to the pool (because it was 96 degrees!), then I ran two errands. I came home with major plans to get some stuff done, then Brendan called and wanted to be picked up. Apparently Katie was being mean to him so he wanted to leave the pool. This meant Katie also had to leave the pool. That was not a popular plan with Katie, and she apparently became upset. I got them home, cooled her off (literally and figuratively), and thought I could maybe get a couple of things done. No. Katie wanted the day care kids from next door to come play, and the little darlings went into the back yard and opened the gate, but forgot to shut it. When we let Miss Bella outside, she got out, and she had a blast frolicking through the neighborhood before we realized she was out. We got her back in, and I gave up with trying to get anything done.

So it is now 6:00 at night, and I haven't accomplished anything I needed to, and I am worn out from being hot and tired. I figured while I am sitting here being all grumpy, I might as well write a post for my sorely neglected blog.

I am hoping tomorrow is better (and cooler). Did I mention it was 96 degrees today? 96! We live in Wyoming and have NO AIR CONDITIONING! My house is a balmy 85 degrees right at this moment. The only thing saving us right now is that fabulous Wyoming wind. It is blowing from the west at 12 mph, but gusting a bit higher. I also think we'll be eating out tonight, as I have no desire to turn on the stove or oven and heat up my house any further.

On a happy note: We signed up for the summer reading program at The Laramie County Library. I have read 5 of my 25 books already. Katie has read for 7 of her 25 hours, and Brendan has read 8 of his 25 hours. They love doing the reading program. It is always a fun activity for us to share during the summertime. Mr. C signed up once, but didn't finish anything. He doesn't read for enjoyment very often. I think it is because he is always working and doesn't have the time. Maybe when he retires he'll be able to read more often.

So, our summer schedule has begun: lots of golf, pool days, and grilling outside. I love summertime in Wyoming. We have beautiful summers and falls here. The evenings are especially gorgeous, with brilliant colorful sunsets, and temps that are "just right" for sitting on the patio.

Happy Summer!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Lost and Found by Ginny L. Yttrup


It appears Jenna Bouvier is losing everything: beauty, family, and wealth. When her controlling and emotionally abusive mother-in-law accuses Jenna of an affair with her spiritual director and threatens to expose them, Jenna also risks losing her reputation as a woman of faith. Will she capitulate to her mother-in-law’s wishes again or fight for what she holds dear? As Jenna loses her life, will she find it?
Andee Bell has found exactly what she wanted: fame, fortune, and respect. There’s also a special man in her life—Jenna’s brother. Despite her success, a secret quells Andee’s contentment. As memories torment, will she find peace in a relationship with God, or will she sabotage herself while also taking down the only person she cares about? As Andee finds her life, will she lose it?
Moving between San Francisco and the Napa Valley, Jenna and Andee form an unlikely relationship that leads them to a crossroad. They can follow familiar inclinations, or risk it all and walk in faith.

Jenna and her husband Gerard live with his mother, who is controlling and manipulative. Nobody stands up to this woman! Where Jenna is sweet and loving, Brigitte is conniving and evil. The story also includes Jenna's father, brother, and her brother's girlfriend, Andee. Andee is focused solely on her career. This drive is fueled by the deep need to overcome a horrific childhood. As she betrays those who trust her, she realizes she needs something deeper from life. Something more.

I wanted to like this book. It was a really GOOD book. This book was filled with incredibly profound thoughts on faith, trust, and belief. The author really made me THINK.  It had interesting characters, and it kept me reading until the very last page. But that is where it lost me. And it is 100% NOT because it was not well-written, nor is it due to a lack of amazing life-lessons woven throughout the story. My problem with the book was that the story wasn't tied up in a sweet little bow at the end. It didn't end with the characters being blissfully happy. And that is MY failure as a reader.

As a girl, I didn't have much stability in my life. My escape from the every-day was reading. I read constantly. I would immerse myself in the stories and the characters. Books allowed me to be someplace else...someplace wonderful...someplace other than where I was. So, since reading was my ticket to another world, why would I choose to make that world sad? 

Unfortunately, this tendency has followed me into adulthood. I don't watch sad movies (I think I'm the only person on earth who has not seen Titanic - you know before you see it that it will end badly), and I avoid reading books from certain authors because they weave sadness into their plots (I have yet to make it all the way through a Danielle Steele novel, and don't even get me started on Nicholas Sparks or Jodi Picoult). Give me a good Debbie Macomber novel any day - that woman knows how to write a light, happy story. I also enjoy Courtney Walsh and Amanda Cabot for the same reason: their stories aren't always light, but they wrap up their books in such an uplifting way. The only sadness comes from the fact that the book isn't longer. 

Now, I KNOW life isn't perfect, nor is it ever tied up in a sweet little bow. And I also realize I am missing out on some really great books because of this. I need to work on getting out of my comfort zone. Do you have a favorite genre of book? Have you thought about why?

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Few Layouts...

I haven't posted any scrapbooking-related projects in a while,
so I thought I'd share a couple.

This is Katie's First Communion.
I used Crate Paper's Portrait Collection.

This is from our trip to Disney World two years ago.
We were selected as Family of the Week at our resort.
This is the photo they took and passed around to the staff
so they would recognize us.
It was pretty darned amazing.
I used some products from one of my Cocoa Daisy kits.

A layout I did of Brendan this fall.
The photo was taken seven years ago.
Again, I used Cocoa Daisy kit products.

This photo was taken the same day as Brendan's above.
Again, I used one of my Cocoa Daisy kits, plus some things
I had on hand.

Have a blessed week!

Friday, February 22, 2013

It arrived!

We had something very exciting arrive in the mail yesterday! Marc's degree! Here it is:

We are so proud of him. His determination and hard work finally paid off.

Monday, February 04, 2013

That'll Teach Me

I just spent a week in Florida without Mr. C and the kidlets. I came home to 60 mph winds on Friday, Bren coming down with some kind of virus (fever, head cold), and a pile of laundry the size of Mt. Everest.

Maybe I should stay home from now on.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Crafty Monday - Christmas Projects

Every year for Christmas, I try to make something for all of Katie's teachers / support staff at school. With so many to make, it is important for me to keep the cost somewhat reasonable while also making sure it is something that will look nice. This year I chose to make chipboard wall hangings. I used the pages from a 5 x 7" chipboard album, and some assorted patterned papers / journal cards from Echo Park and Simple Stories. I chose their Christmas paper packs, which included sticker embellishments. This enabled me to put the plaques together quickly because everything was already coordinated for me.

For Katie's homeroom teacher, I altered a frame so she could insert a Christmas photo after the holidays. I found this frame / matte set at Hobby Lobby, then covered the matting up with paper, decorated it, then reinserted it into the frame. She loved it!

I hope you enjoyed this first installment of Crafty Monday! Happy 2013.