Category Archives: Holidays

Running With Dogs

I’m seriously not trying to draw pictures when I run, but this map looks like the profile of a dog. Do you see it? The pointy little ears and turned up nose?

But! What’s even cooler is that this was my fastest 3 miles, and that was even while running with Piper for the first mile. I’ve been secretly hoping to run a PR at the Turkey Trot on Thursday and I’m starting to really believe it’s possible! My current 5k PR is 38:24 and I would LOVE to come in under that and then go home and chow down on Grandma’s homemade stuffing and corn casserole.

What are you doing for Thanksgiving?

I’ve been crocheting

I’ve been busy, but not really busy. What I’ve been busy NOT really doing, is all the things I want to do, like taking care of our home and writing my book. What I’ve been doing instead is playing Farmville. And crocheting. But at least the crocheting serves a good purpose. See, I’m making hats with all the leftover yarn in my possession, and I plan to give them to the cancer center where I get my monthly infusions. I noticed this last infusion that they had a bunch laid out for people to take and when I asked about them they said they were from volunteers, and they can always use more so they would be happy to have me donate. Hats are fun because you can play around with different patterns and if you don’t like it, you know quick enough and you can just undo and start again with a different pattern. And I’m so thrilled I found a place to make them for. I love crocheting, it’s like therapy for me, and even better if it’s going toward a good cause.

I went for a run yesterday after a sort of long hiatus and it felt really good. I need to get better at running on a regular basis. A friend and I are planning to run a half marathon together next fall so I have something to work towards. I think she’s been a lot more disciplined than I am at the training, and she has five kids! So I have literally zero valid excuses. Unless you count the MS, but I don’t ever like to give it that much credit. There may be some day down the road MS decides to take away my ability to run, but until then, I need to do it. Because I can. And because it’s good for my physical and mental health.

As for the book, I am still writing it and I suppose you could say I’ve made good progress, but I kind of got stuck. I don’t know where to go next. So I’m giving it time and praying that I get some more inspiration to write more. There’s no question I have a lot to say, and the story I’m ultimately trying to tell has lots of details. It’s just that my mind doesn’t work as well as it used to and it’s hard to make connections. Disjointed, I suppose is the best description of my cache of memories. I’ll get there though. I’m persistent and stubborn and I refuse to give up.

So we are in December, folks! Did you know? Which means Christmas and time with family, and snow. We’ve purchased all our gifts for the kids via mail order (hello Amazon Prime!), and I believe most of them have arrived, so I think I might wrap them up early so I don’t feel like I have to rush to do it at the last minute. Plus I love the look of wrapped presents. We tried not to go overboard with the kids this year, but I’m still excited for Christmas morning. We all understand and recognize that Christmas is all about celebrating Jesus, but we are still human and enjoy seeing our kids light up when they open their presents. I kind of feel like God has a similar sense of joy when He gives us good gifts. Maybe. I’ll have to ask Him some day.

What else? I’ve still been baking cookies. It’s been a lot of fun to get that love back, and I have a lot of people around who love cookies and can appreciate them. I’m a one trick pony with the chocolate chip though. I tried to make something else and it totally flopped. Tasted fine, but didn’t set up like they were supposed to. So, kind of a literal flop. But I suppose cookies don’t really have to look good as long as they taste amazing, right? It’s all about the flavor. I’ve got that awesome vanilla from Mexico and dark chocolate chips so I’m due for another batch or three in the next few days. Come on over! I’ll make cookies and coffee!

Victories over anxiety

I’ve struggled with extreme anxiety for the last several years but I had a breakthrough and I thought I would share it here. Yesterday was Halloween, so we had a couple families from church joining us for trick-or-treating. They live out in the country just a few miles west of us, and we are in your typical neighborhood with lots of kids and plenty of free candy to be grabbed. So around 5:30, a half hour before go-time, I was putting out snacks for our guests and grilling cheese sandwiches for the family. Our friends and their kids started showing up while I was cooking, and here’s where I noticed the difference. In hindsight, of course. After it was all over, I realized that through all that noise and chaos I remained calm, without even having to tell myself to. And not just calm, but actually enjoying having everyone there! The kids had a fantastic time, the weather was perfect, and the night felt like a true success all around.

Those who know me best know this is a huge thing for me. I’ve had some pretty big struggles with chaotic situations, leading to crying fits and panic attacks. But for the past year I’ve been on a low dose of medication and I’ve been practicing breathing techniques and really evaluating my thought processes every time anxiety rears its ugly head. And last night showed me that all of this has been working!

So that has me a little bit on cloud nine. The downside – cuz sometimes there has to be a downside – is that I must have overdone it yesterday, because I’m in a lot of pain today. It started last night with my left calf and foot, and today it has spread all the way up my leg and jumped up to my left arm. It’s a dull throbbing deep in the muscle tissue that I can only assume is nerve pain, so I’m praying a good night’s rest will make it go away. If not, I’m hoping a quick morning run will help get all those muscles stretched out and warmed up.

I can’t believe it’s only Thursday. All day I kept thinking it was Friday. Because I’m done with this week. Done, I tell ya. Stick a fork in me, I’m done!

The light in the darkness

It’s Christmas Eve, and we’re all ready for Christmas morning with the kids. Breakfast fixings are ready in the fridge, gifts are surrounding the tree.
We went to church tonight and were reminded that Jesus came to be a light in the darkness. Then we drove around looking at Christmas lights, a tradition we’ve been doing since before the kids were even born.
And do you know, my 9 year old son made the connection between the sermon at church (which I thought he was sleeping through) and the decorative lights everyone puts up at Christmas? I don’t know for certain the origin of Christmas lights, but I think my son might be on to something. The lights we put up at Christmas are a representation, a reminder, that Jesus is the light in the darkness. That just blew my mind, to hear something so wise coming from his mouth. I was pretty impressed. And for sure, I will remember that connection and from now on our annual tradition of driving around looking at lights will hold much greater meaning for me.
Merry Christmas, and may you find the light in the darkness.

Dog demoted

Our dog, Piper, has been really great about not chewing things, generally. We stopped putting her in a crate a long time ago, trusting her to behave while we were gone. As long as we didn’t leave toys or candy out in plain sight, she was doing pretty well. That is, until we brought home this year’s Christmas tree.

I would come home after being gone for a couple hours and she would cower, knowing she had done something wrong. I would quickly look around, and eventually find the remains of a Christmas ornament or decoration. She destroyed ornaments that my kids had each made in preschool, which saddened me, and she came really close to destroying a couple ornaments I spent hours and hours cross-stitching. You have to understand that the ornaments on our tree are not there for decoration. Almost every ornament holds a memory for us. So I was not about to let this dog destroy our memories, one by one. To prevent her from destroying more of our precious memories, we relocated all the ornaments on the bottom of the tree to the top so that she couldn’t knock them down and chew them up.

It worked, in that she didn’t destroy anymore ornaments. However, it wasn’t enough. She was reminded that she really likes chewing stuff, so she found alternatives. One alternative, actually – my shoes. Now these were not expensive shoes, but they were useful to me. I wore them every day, except for that day of course – but that was only because I wore my snow boots – so I guess I’m in the market for a new pair of sneakers.

And, more importantly, Piper has been demoted to the crate when we leave her home alone. The crate we were using before was borrowed, so we had to go and buy a new one, but it’s cheaper than a new pair of shoes, and certainly worth it when you consider all those ornaments holding memories that cannot be replaced. Piper seems to be fine with the change, because she knows it makes us happy. As much as she loves chewing stuff, she really really hates it when we’re mad at her. This way, everybody’s happy. Let Christmas come!

I remember when we were kids (back before the internet) when you would take the Toys R Us ad and circle all the things you wanted for Christmas? Times have changed. Now my kids make lists – very specific lists – or they guide me through finding the exact items on Amazon. “Google it Mom, it’s a real thing. Just pull it up on your phone.” he says, of the bungee chair he wants for Christmas. It’s true, it’s a real thing.

I don’t remember every Christmas in great detail, but there are a few I can recall fondly. I remember the year I got a Cabbage Patch doll. When I woke up Christmas morning and looked under the tree, I knew it was there because they came in these distinctly shaped boxes. So unless you repackaged it, it was a dead giveaway. My best Christmas memories though are the times spent with my family. Waking up to Christmas breakfast, running around my Grandma’s house with all my cousins, knealing around the Christmas tree with my brother and sister. Just being together. That was the biggest gift. And I hope those are the memories our kids hold onto as well. Because that’s the stuff that lasts. Everything else wears out, fades away.

Of course Christmas is not all about the presents. We now, as parents, love to give gifts to our kids, and every year we manage to go a little bit overboard. Hopefully we are not creating spoiled children by doing so. Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth, so we think a lot about God this time of year, when we maybe wouldn’t have otherwise. And I believe God is the biggest gift giver. He loves to give us good things the same way we love to give our kids good things. And maybe He runs the risk of spoiling us, but He does it anyway, doesn’t He? As much as the commercialization of this holiday busts my buttons (lol), I can reconcile it in my spirit by remembering who we are modeling our lives after. It may sound pathetic, but I do feel that by giving to others – our kids, our extended family, friends, neighbors, etc. – we are modeling a bit of Jesus’ character. He gave His life, the ultimate gift. So would it be wrong to say we are honoring Him by giving to others? Maybe? Maybe. I don’t know…



Pre-Thanksgiving Prep

So Thanksgiving is almost here. We host, so that means we have a certain level of preparing that needs to be done. I keep it at a low level though, cuz I fail miserably at hosting if it try too hard.  We roast the turkey, we make the mashed potatoes, the corn, the stuffing, and everybody else brings the rest. I don’t decorate, though I do have a fall themed tablecloth I hope to remember to bring out for the occasion. I don’t even clean the house beyond what I do normally. Anything to minimize my stress and anxiety is worth it if it means everyone has a good time and we can enjoy each other’s company. Planning ahead helps me to both budget my energy and to make sure everything is ready. And if it’s not, I have to decide that’s okay too. Half the battle is changing my perspective. My family all knows this about me, thankfully, so that takes the pressure off. They see what needs to be done and fill in the cracks accordingly.

One thing I am striving for today though, is to clean out the fridge to make room for the turkey day leftovers. Which means I am working on using up our every day leftovers. In other words, I’m eating whatever I can. It’s a slight departure from my daily smoothies but my gut doesn’t seem to be bothered by it, yay! This morning I had scrambled eggs with red onion, red bell pepper, and feta. It was scrumptious, and I was able to rid the fridge of four containers. Still have lots of cleaning out to do but that was a fun way to get it started. Well not as much fun as it was tasty, I guess. You know what I mean, right?

I have a sick kid home with me today so I’ve taken plenty of breaks to tend to her needs, but overall it’s been a relaxing yet productive day so far. The best kind, if you ask me!

Christmas letters

I love getting Christmas cards. Cute pictures of people’s kids and pets, seeing how everyone is growing, I love it. Sometimes – sometimes – we get a letter. And those are my favorite. I’ve been sending out Christmas cards every year for the last few years, the photo cards you can make by uploading your favorite picture(s) from the year, but this year I’m running into some trouble. Thing is, my recipient list has grown longer and prices have gone up. I’m not really excited about spending $100 plus on Christmas cards. So I thought maybe this year I would start sending generic Christmas cards, and just insert a photo and a personalized letter into each one of them. I’m excited about doing this, but I wasted so much time this morning browsing the photo printing sites for cards that I won’t be able to get going on it today. So I’m posting this here to help me remember. It works, really. Oh, and here’s a link I wanted to save with some useful tips:

So I know it’s just barely November, and we are possibly all still reeling from the election results, but I have been thinking about Christmas for weeks! I’ve even made a good head start on my gift shopping. I’m not trying to pressure anyone to get going on holiday planning, because Lord knows holidays can be stressful and I don’t want to stress you out. I just wanted to share my little bit of excitement, and hopefully take your mind off that aforementioned event. Holidays are coming! Tell me, if you enjoy the winter holidays, what’s your favorite thing? What do you look forward to most?

Can we talk about my coffee maker?

Did I mention my husband bought me a Keurig for Christmas? He did. A red one! And it was such a surprise. He also bought me a new set of knives, but that wasn’t so much a secret because he bought it with our shared Amazon Prime account and I get all the notifications. But I digress. I have a Keurig, and I am loving it just as much as I thought I would. It was one of those things you drool over at other people’s houses, but figure you probably wouldn’t love it as much as you think you would, and just chalk the drooling up to good old fashioned envy. Which is why I never went out and bought one for myself.

But don’t you know? I DO love it! Well, as much as you can “love” an inanimate object. When people say they love their Keurigs, you figure it’s just that shiny new car smell that will eventually wear off. And maybe it is, but I’m really enjoying this single cup brewer. And with the reusable K-cup my son bought for me (at the hubby’s suggestion of course), I’m not even spending more money on K-cups or worrying about polluting the planet with the one-time use, non-recyclable cups. Nope. I grind my coffee beans, and fill my own k-cups, and it makes one delicious cup of coffee at a time. So I’m finding that I’m actually drinking less coffee! Quality over quantity, folks. That, and I can switch it up. If it’s too late in the day for leaded, I can brew a cup of decaf. If I’m more in the mood for tea, I can make that. I can even make hot cocoa for the kids. It’s a win all around.

So, I realize it’s only been 3 weeks which is not nearly enough time for the new car smell to wear off, but I really don’t see it happening any time soon. It’s a really wonderful gift. I heart you, red Keurig. Now go make me a cup of coffee 🙂

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Independence Day 2015

wpid-20150704_220508.jpgI had a weekend to remember. Yes, it was the Fourth of July, which has always been a favorite of mine, but this one was my best yet. The kids played, the husband caught up on yard work and relaxed, and I enjoyed being a part of it all.

Saturday we went up to “The Lake” with Grandpa, for dinner and fireworks. The Lake (which probably has a name, but I don’t know it) is actually man-made, with permanent campsites set up all around it. Grandpa’s friends have campers/cabins up there, so we go every year. It’s actually pretty cool. The people travel within the park by walking, biking, or driving golf carts. And you have to be 16 to drive a golf cart, but you are NOT required to have a driver’s license. I think. Anyway, golf carts don’t go very fast so they let me drive one! All the way around the lake! I was too nervous to do it alone so I had Mike riding shotgun, while the kids rode in the back. And it was wonderful. I haven’t driven in close to 2 years, and I really miss the independence of it, so this was a gift to me. To be in the driver’s seat, pushing the pedal, steering the wheel, with the wind in my hair and the sunshine on my face. In short, it made my day.

Actually, that’s not true. Although, if that’s all it was, it would have definitely made my day. But there’s more.

Natalie and I were at the camp playground, swinging on the swings, when Luke came running up to us and shouted, “They accepted it! They accepted our offer!” See, we had just put an offer on a new house and were still waiting to hear from the seller. Yup. We’re buying a new house, y’all. There are still some details to take care of, but my understanding is that it’s all normal stuff and shouldn’t cause any issues. We bought our current home from my mother-in-law, easy peasy, so this home buying process is new to us. However, we have been praying A LOT through every step of the way, and that has really made all the difference.

I’m excited about this house. We all are. It has a beautiful yard, with a deck, gazebo (great for shade!), a shed, and a firepit. The house is two-story, but the bedrooms and laundry are all on the same floor. If I have an MS relapse in the future and have trouble walking, there are bathrooms on every floor, so I’ll always be able to relieve myself. The stairs were definitely an issue we considered. We really thought hard and prayed about the stairs, because I do have MS, and there is always that possibility that one day my legs won’t work. But I really felt God telling me to trust Him, and not to make this decision out of fear. Mike agreed, so we went for it. The house is located in a fantastic school district, a great neighborhood, is still in the range of Spec-Tran (my ride service), and we discovered that some friends I used to volunteer with live just down the road! So I believe all of those positive attributes outweigh the “what-if” factor of my MS. This is going to be a good change for our family. A big change, but a good one.

Now we just need to sell the house we’re in, which will be another new adventure for us!