It’s a Monday but Tuesday is Coming.

It is Monday, we woke up to a Monday, and we started our Monday, just like she likes.  I have decided Monday is a girl, actually she is the mean girl in your 8th grade gym class.  You know the one, and just thinking about her makes you want to groan.  She is sneaky and mean, and she knows just how to frustrate you.

Monday give us, morning stomach aches, knots in our shoes, and forgotten gym clothes.   Monday give us, forgotten breakfast drinks and dried on spilled cereal milk.  She gives us ruined paintbrushes, scratchy pencils, and lost pens, Monday gives us red lights, slow traffic and big changes.  Monday gives us 2 different glasses of spilled milk at dinner, and just before bed, she gives us forgotten homework.  Monday gave us fights between sisters, and bits of trash on the floor.  Monday gave us ruined plans, and difficult tasks.

Monday gave us a chance to see God’s grace from the knots in our shoes to spilled milk.

Monday might have been that mean girl from gym class, but Tuesday, she is coming, she is your best friend in 8th grade, you found her after crying in the locker room because of Mean girl Monday.

I can’t wait for Tuesday.  Tuesday is a new day, and a new chance to see God’s mercies, and to experience His faithfulness.

go hug your kids, they just had Monday too, and they need your love and comfort
jen

 

 

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The Doctor is in. Just not THAT kind of doctor.

Many, Many, years ago, our alma mater contacted alumni explaining their new masters program, with an option to do it traditionally, online, or over the summers.  Looking into it, Keith decided it was the right time for him to earn his masters degree.  The university, (college, at the time) had a plan, a perfect plan for a family man.  (or woman, it just rhymed) It would be 3 summers of intensive classes, with the bonus that the students could bring their families along.  With their dorm suites, families could be together for the 4 week classes, still working on their degree with the bonus of having family close. They would house the family, offer a meal plan, kids programs, the pool was open from noon until 9 at night.  It was perfect.  Our greatest friendship was formed those summers, and it is something we look back with great joy and fond memories.  He finished his masters degree, with highest honors, 2 new children were born during those summers of classes, at graduation time I snuggled a new baby E, sitting next to the former college (at the time) president.  I was so proud of him!  He had worked hard, was again proven to be a great learner, and an excellent student.  We were able to visit with some of our closest friends during graduation, as a bonus the family he lived with for 3 months of student teaching, came down to celebrate his accomplishments with us.

Keith discovered that he was not yet finished learning, with encouragement, he began looking into doctorate programs.  It all started because UofM (University of Michigan) sent him a some mail about their doctorate programs.  He looked into getting his degree from there, which would have been a dream come true.  He was encouraged by our school headmaster to keep searching, and to keep learning.

Early in 2013 He made a decision to earn his doctorate from a University out west.  Starting the program the same time it was discovered I had 2 small spots in my breast, and a tumor on my brain was going to challenge us.  Those spots, now gone, and the tumor still there, just shrunken, were not what ended up slowing him down, nope it was the surprise of #7.  She slowed him down, you remember the pregnancy was risky, and she was too early.  He took some time off from the program, while we waited for things to calm down.  in 2014, as he was getting ready to resume their classes another University (a local one) came to him asking him to be in the first Education Doctorate graduating class.  This opportunity came at the right time, he resumed classes at the local university.  They had a few intense summer classes, which was perfect, he would still be home at night, albeit super late at night, but he came home.  What seems like forever and a minute later, he began his dissertation, and the process of research, writing, editing, research, writing, editing, began.  It took him months of planning, research, writing and editing to complete his paper (book) and plan to defend his work.  He scheduled his defense and began planning, spending hours with his computer, and meeting with his advisor (the blessing of his University being local, not out west.)  Until he came out of the back of the house with a declaration, “I know what I am going to say”   He had a plan, he had a small book, and an appointment to defend his dissertation.  We were invited to listen to him defend his research.  It was on project based learning.  It was interesting and fascinating.  After he was finished we were led outside while he met with his team.  His fan club included most of our family, A and PS were not included, they would not have been interested, C was actually in Paris, for work at the time, and unable to make it.  His parents and sister, my mom, a few of his doctorate classmates and a few of his professors.  They discussed and questioned, asked for more information, encouraged him and he passed.  I knew he would.  I am so proudThe new Doctor, could not even celebrate, he had to go back to work.  (just in time for a medical emergency)

At our school, during the graduation ceremony, the faculty and staff march in first during the ceremony.  He and the headmaster lead the way.  I was too far from him to get the entrance picture, but my friend (the friendship that was formed during the masters classes so many years ago) sent me this pictures.  She said he looked like a preacher in this one, it might be one of my favorites from that night.

Dr Keith Overholt.
DOCTORATE OF EDUCATION AND ORGANIZATIONAL ADMINISTRATION
We are so proud.  We celebrated him just a few days ago with an open house.  It was a small party, with the friends and family who encouraged him along the way.

We have been discussing the end of his education, when he mentioned he might want to go farther, I was excited from him, he just is that smart, but I am ready for a little break.  I think I convinced him to give it a year or so before he goes for more.

GO hug your kids, they need the love and tell someone you love them
jen

Valentine Hearts, and Paper Valentines

img_6266Today is Valentines day.
Happy I love someone day!
Tomorrow is Happy 50%off candy at Target day.

Towards the end of January one of my friends posted a picture on Facebook, it was a door covered in hearts, each heart had something written on it.  It was cute and home-made, and full of kindness, all things I love.  So I decided to take it and make it mine.  I was going to cut hearts, but after doing the mental math I decided I was just too lazy to make 84 different hearts, so instead, I bought a few packs of pre-made hearts from my favorite store ever.  Hobby Lobby, I lose all restraint when I go into Hob’lob, and much like Oprah, “you get a car, and you get a car…”  I walk through the store, “you get in my cart, and you get in my cart.”  Seriously I cannot contain myself!

When I got home from my rather small spending spree I sat down and wrote out things I love about my family.  I was afraid it would be difficult and time-consuming but once I sat down the traits and ideas just came out.  I could not write fast enough.
I love your new smile
You are an excellent reader
You are an extraordinary dishwasher loader
You make me laugh
You work very hard on your grades
You play your instrument well, your practice shows
You have very pretty hair
You are becoming a Godly leader
I love to listen to your stories
You pick up shoes like a big girl
You seek justice
I love you
will you be my valentine…
You get the idea, some things were big things, character and other things were appearance, and appreciation.  It was fun to do.    I contemplated doing the big kids, (more on those changes later) but I would have to mail them, and I did not know if they would want all those paper hearts… (if they read this let me know I can send them to you)  I was going to put a heart on each night, I often ended up doing 2 at a time, simply because I would remember when I was already snuggled into my bed.img_6274R’s Door,  img_6275J’s door img_6276E and A’s stairway
(notice the things at the top of the stairs, the JBF sale is coming soon!)img_6264Keith’s hearts made it to our closet, because I put PS’s hearts on our bedroom door.img_6267Each set of hearts was ended with Be My Valentine.  I want my family to know they will forever have my heart.

Paper Valentines.
While I don’t agree with every child getting a trophy, or some school systems removing the honor roll for fear of hurt feelings I do embrace the valentine card for everyone.  We can look back on our childhood and either remember being left out of someones lick’em’stick’em tattoo valentine or (wanting to) leaving someone out of our puffy sticker valentines.  And we all know that kindness counts, leaving someone out is just hurtful.  Each weekly folder before valentine comes home with a class list.  Because I had a moment of clear headedness I purchased school valentines in early January (actually when I was taking O back to the University)  Whoo-hoo I was ready, I even knew where they were, yesterday, after wrapping valentine boxes (empty cereal and cracker boxes) I sat down with the girlies, and we made the cute little eraser valentines from Target (Why does my cart get so full there???)  E had bumble bee ones and A had cat ones.  The set included glue dots, you just put the bee or face on the card, sign your name and you are good to go.  Because A is in 1st grade and writes L A R G E like a 1st grader I signed all her cards for her (and honestly if I let her do it I would be spending more time redirecting her than it would take for me to knock them out myself)  The girls left for basketball practice and I cleaned up our mess.  I put all of Little A’s valentines in a large zipper baggie and left them out for her to take in the morning.  Our morning rush to get out the door, R was leading little A along and she paused to admire her cards, she stopped short in her tacks and said, “mom did these wrong,” R asked “in what way?”  A sweetly replied “they are addressed to MY FRIEND, but not all the kids in my class are my friends.”  R warned her “you don’t need to tell them they are not your friend”  She reasoned with him “oh they are going to know”img_6272To:my friend
From: A
p.s. you are not really my friend…

So IF your child is in my little A’s class and she tells your child that they are NOT REALLY ‘my friend’ I am so sorry, we will now be working on telling the truth in love, and not all truths need to be shared.

Happy Valentines day, go hug someone you love, I was once again reminded how short life really is, and if you don’t get that hug in, or that I LOVE YOU in, it might be your last chance.
jen

Senior Night Already?

imageOn Friday, we celebrated Senior Night for the Girls Varsity Basketball team.

We recognized these girls, these seniors, on their final home game.  These girls, who have given up free time, for team time.  They have played together for 7 years now.  (most of them for 7 years and some of them have been playing together for 10 years.)  Seven years to bond, to be together, kind of like sisters, annoying at times but the bond is undeniable.  The IF you mess with 1 sister, you get all the sisters, kind of bond.  (Oh I’m not saying that they hurt anyone, but you don’t mess with family.)  Seven years together, every afternoon, 2 or 3 evenings a week, countless bus rides, summer camps, and bad jokes, you become family.

imageAt our school the parents write a letter to their senior,  the announcer will read the letter as the parents and child walk to center court.  The parents give their girls a bouquet of flowers.  I hinted to O, and outright asked her.  She did NOT want a flower bouquet.  She did not want flowers at all.  After brain storming and chatting up with some of the moms, at the game the night before,  I decided a cookie bouquet would be perfect.  I looked at ordering one, but it was too late.  Ok, so I looked into it at 10pm the night before senior night.  I looked into fruit bouquet too, also not enough time.  After morning drop off, I left the babies with a friend, I decided I could easily make one myself.  Nope I could not, oh sure I have the skill I really could make them, I just needed more time, 1pm the day of the event to be held at 6:30 was not enough time.  When I was buying the cookie stuff I grabbed a few bags of O’s favorite candy bars.  I grabbed skewers too.  I was so glad I had a back up plan.  I made her a dozen “cookie flowers’  and wrapped them like a flower bouquet.  She thought it was great.

imageBecause we are just not big candy eaters, I made a ‘flower’ for each of her teammates, and coaches.  I also made a flower for all her friends, and family who came to honor her with us.

I had a bouquet, I had signs I made, I had 12 balloons (Oh you ask why 12, well because that is how many came in the bag I bought) I had clean matching clothes for the girls, I even had clean clothes for me.  I was all set.

I did okay writing the parent letter to be read as we walk our daughter to half court, oh sure I cried a little but not big ugly cry.

I made it through the candy bouquet without freaking out.

I made it through the balloon pick up when the guy blowing them up asked what they were for.

I made it through dinner, I even got everyone to the car.

I walked into the gym like a boss.  Until I saw one of Keith’s former players, we love her like she is family.  I started to cry, she told me to ‘pull it together mom’ so I did.

My stomach hurt, my eyes stung and I had a lump in my throat.  But I pasted a smile on my face.

They called all parents of seniors to the basket end of the court.  They started calling out names, we were last, they read all 6 letters before they got to ours.  These girls have been together with for 7 to 10 years, I cried for them.  Their moms and dads sat in the bleachers for countless games, and camps, we have driven or carpool together, we know the families, we are also a family, because of our time together all these years. We were last on purpose, the other moms knew I would cry, and they said if they saw me cry they would start crying too.  So in order for the families not to all cry they stuck us at the end.

imageOur senior, and her last home game.
Our senior.

O
We are so proud of you and your accomplishments on and off the court.  You have spent more time diving for balls and sacrificing your body to make a save, a rebound, or a steal, I think some games you spent more time on the floor than on your feet.  We are proud of all the heart you put into basketball.  You have put countless hours into your game, years of camps, before you were old enough to play, time hanging out in the gym, and watching games with your dad.
I don’t think I will miss the game you play after every game, the one where we guess how many new bruises you got during the game.
I am pleased to say we ONLY purchased 11 pair of knee pads, for the 7 years you played at school, when I told you the last few pair were supposed to be the best, they would not rip, I think you took that as a challenge.  They ripped.  They ripped by the 2nd game you had them.  Somewhere in some gym there are little hex shaped air pockets laying sad on the gym floor.
Often I would hold my breath as you were thrown to the floor, not sure if I should clap for the effort you put in the play or call the chiropractor because of how hard you bounced.
We are going to miss watching you play.
I am going to miss coaching you, the time we were together was special for me. Watching you grow as a player these last 7 years, getting stronger, working as a team, and listening to instruction has made all that time together enjoyable.  I am going to miss sitting next to you on the bench, listening to you talk, and watching you grow.  
We love you, and will miss watching you play the game that brought you so much joy and pain.  
We are eager to see what God is going to do in and with your life.  
love Mom and Dad
During the reading of the letter we (I) wrote for O, she decided to tell us her college choice.  So not only was I thinking about the ending of her time at her school, I now was thinking about her new beginning.  I think I don’t like this.
One sweet mom said I looked great and smiled so nice, I informed her I can cry while smiling.  I know the big ugly tears will come soon.  I had a few escape on Saturday, while I was alone running errands.  I had some escape earlier this week while Keith and I were talking about the scholarship competition weekends.  Ugly noises escaped from my mouth and tears just burst from my eyes.  I am going to miss that girly!
So please go hug your kids because senior night is just around the corner.
jen
ps: during the ceremony O announced to us her college choice.  Today she paid the fees, and now has an email address to that college.  In two weeks she is going up for the scholarship competition.  I keep crying.

Blessings, and Looking for Them.

I have been very purposeful in showing my children how God blesses us, in both BIG and little things.  That because he loves us, and cherishes us, He blesses us.  In the past few years I have said things to them “look God is showing us his favor, we got a great deal on the shoes we wanted.” or “look how God blesses us, someone gave us a gift card for dinner out.” even “thank you Lord for the parking spot up close and under the shade.” For the big things as well as the small things, “Isn’t it great of God to give us with a cute and fun car?”
I want them to see the blessings He gives us daily.  He did not have to provide the cute shoes we wanted, or the sunny day when we were anxious go to the beach during a rainy weekend, or even another car, we have been 24 years with only 1 we could have gone 24 more with only 1 car.  He did not have to grow the tree that provided the shade for our trip into the store, but He blesses us.

As busy as we are, we really need to stop and look for His blessings.  His favor to His children.  I know that the busier I get the more ‘put out’ I am when things don’t go the way I want.  When the dishwasher soap door does not open, when the soft toilet paper runs out, when the rains threaten our outdoor activity.  I know I get so consumed with me and my little world I forget to look for the blessings I am getting all day long.

Anyway, all that to say today I had a proud mommy moment.  Little A was playing with a magnetic girl, she walked away to get a drink, and in that short minute PS snatched away the magnetic girl’s shoe, just one shoe.  I heard Little A whisper talking as she ran from room to room.  She never called to me so I did not ask, she came running into the dining room, where I was sitting, saw her magnetic shoe picked it up, kissed it and said “thank you Lord for keeping my shoe for me.”  Then she ran off.

Sometimes the purposeful statements stick, because we all know that one time we slipped and said a ‘bad word’ they don’t ever miss it, they don’t ever forget it, and they do repeat it.

Todays blessings were just that a gift and a favor from the Lord.  I went on a field trip, the sun was shining the sky was beautiful blue, the zippy new car only sipped at the gas tank.  Keith drove the bus for the field trip, we were both able to be with little A at the fire house.  As a bonus, so when we got back to school, he snuck away for some alone time together.  Or as much alone time as we can get with a baby and a 5-year-old at Chick Fil A.

Yesterday afternoon it was hard to look for the blessings from God.  I had some frustrating news, it made me cry, it made me anxious, it made me remind myself to look for the blessings from God.  So I looked, and saw my 17-year-old daughter choose to spend time with me instead of her bff, I looked and saw my husband willing to wash the little girls hair for me so I could run an errand, I looked and saw that my 11-year-old was asking to help his aunt and her little church class.  I need to keep looking for those blessings.

Go hug your kids and look around you at the things God has blessed you with
jen

A Dream Come True or It Could Be Titled I Have The Book!!!

Monday at dinner, before we started to eat, I went back into the kitchen to grab a knife. As I sat in my seat I was pleasantly surprised at what was on my plate.  My heart did a happy jump and I looked at that man I said “I do” some 22 years ago and I smiled. Sitting on my plate was a book voucher.   The very book I have been anticipating, since, well, forever.  image{I know it is upside down I cannot figure out how to rotate the picture…}
Isn’t this the most lovely piece of paper?imageHe knows me so well!

Now one would think that with this anticipation I would be standing in line outside of BAM! Waiting for it to open, I had planned on it.  I mentioned going over with a lawn chair for the midnight opening.  And I might have mentioned wearing costume, but there is no costume for GSAW.  Sadly our BAM! was not going to open at midnight, at least that is what my family told me, I was in my pajamas and laying in bed when I remembered my plans.  I was held captive by my bed, the cool sheets, and the just fluffed pillow with the fan gently blowing was more than enough force to keep me in my bed.

There was always Tuesday to go get the book I thought as I drifted off to sleep.  {Keith makes fun of me, the instant my head touches my pillow, my eyes shut, I am sound asleep.  So asleep, that if he talks to me once I shut my eyes it scares me and I usually jump up like a wild woman.}  Snuggled in my bed I went to sleep thinking about my book voucher and how excited I was to go get the book.

Tuesday…  Was Cow Appreciation Day, you know, at Chick Fil A, my favorite place to eat.  The morning was spent was spent making cow costumes {I’ll blog on that later.}  Costumes, lunch, naps and family time.  By the time we got home Tuesday night and I had enough people in bed that I did not feel guilty about leaving it was just too darn late.

I know at this point my friends, who know how much I love TKAM, are now disappointed in me.  Honestly I was disappointed in myself, but again, not enough to put my clothes back on and go out.

Wednesday a full 24 hours after the book was released, I finally made it to BAM! to pick up my copy.imageI wore my sunglasses into BAM! because I was afraid the clerk would think something was wrong, my eyes were  misty, I did not want to alarm her by crying when she gave me my book!imageIt is the most beautiful cover.
I don’t even know what that means, I can’t wait to find out!imagePlease, notice the glasses, yes it was sunny, but I was so excited I did have tears in my eyes.

I have had the book in my possession for 15 hours, {8 of them sleeping} I have only read the book flap because I am afraid, I am worried that Atticus might die, or that Jem has had something tragic happen.  I am worried that Calpurnia is already dead.  I am afraid to read it.  A college friend send me a message asking if I had finished the book, she was afraid to go on any social media for the spoilers.  She was on chapter 5 and promised not to give anything away to me.  I asked her if she has cried yet, she replied “can’t say yes or no to the crying, it might spoil it for you”.  That is a good friend!  So for now I will just hold the book and wipe finger prints off, I have hidden it because my man-child thinks it is funny to try to grab it and run away with it.

I have not yet opened the book, so don’t spoil it for me, but are you liking it?  Was it every thing you wanted it to be?  Were you anxious about reading it too?  Maybe one of the reasons I am putting it off, I want to savor every moment?  I know that when I finish this there will be no more Scout, or Atticus, Jem will be just a memory, and Cal, she will not make me smile any more.  I know that when the book is finished, it really will be finished.  Harper Lee has no more for me, her lawyer will not find another manuscript in her papers, it will really be the end.  So forgive me if I want to savor the book a little longer before it is over.

Go hug your kids, and enjoy a great book, life is just too short to read bad literature.

 jen

 

Changes In Our Family (also In Which We See God Is Faithful) part 5

11265629_10205027285494627_176459141662142379_nThrough it all God was and is faithful.  We waited years and years, we went through levels of emotions that we did not expect, we had fears and thoughts that stretched us and drew us to God.  We saw his faithfulness when we took the time to look for it.

G was released from the hospital at 97 days old.  She was released just days before her actual due date.  She came home a whopping 6 lbs and 14 oz.  She was a miracle.  She was not just a miracle she was our miracle!  With every visit back for checks the doctors and nurses are just amazed at her growth, her strength and the things she can do.  Her outcome has surpassed their expectations.

10847876_10203951935211542_4517367397409848396_n4 months old and she has filled a hole in our hearts.
10384521_10204222991467779_5450152127027890138_n5 Months and she smiles for the ones she loves.
11006414_10204415700485384_8430253814648886820_nThis girl is 6 months and is growing both in size and personality.
10985370_10204596255799154_6037183881048190908_nShe is getting stronger and more busy, and a personality all her own.  7 months of love.11165230_10204800086454793_8735431777068825991_n8 months of energy and sweetness.11014272_10204978939886017_3165034530718592800_nCheck out how the princess has grown in her 9 months.  Pink Poodle has not changed, and it is hard to believe that in the beginning pink poodle was bigger than our girl, now she is tossed about, wrestled with, and chewed on.

The whole experience is really more than I can put into words.  It was the hardest, most rewarding thing we have ever experienced.  When I think about the joy of adoption and the words of the judge “as though she came from your body” she is ours.  Everything that we have belongs to her, she has a family history, she has a family name, she has a legacy.  The first few weeks, we held our breath as we learned of the struggle of the bio-mom, and we realized the depth of her gift.  We held our breath as G struggled in the first few days and weeks when she was ours.  We cheered her daily weight measurement as we saw her grow and change. And each new skill is brings our awe and wonder.  She is a mama’s girl, sure she loves her family, but she adores her mama.  She has a bond that will never be unbroken.  Ellen’s adoption journey began 4 years ago, when she presented her idea of adoption to us all.  4 years of uncertainty, 4 years of hoping and praying and waiting.  But G is worth the wait.  We are so in love.11200817_10205028024633105_3352703659022660219_nOne day last month the courts finally recognized what we knew on September 9, or actually on September 5th.  This baby is our baby, this child has our hearts.10982362_10205044258278936_7671181563144385024_nThe Cousins.

The entire court proceedings lasted less than 10 minutes.  GEJ2O had 17 family members at the ceremony.  17 people who have loved her before she was born.  17 people who will be there for her as Beda, and Grandparents,aunts and uncle, and cousins.

I want to encourage you if you are thinking of giving a child up for adoption, that the process is hard, and it is big and it is love.  You are giving a gift to a family that is bigger than imagined.

If you area a family waiting for a baby, know that it really is worth the heart ache, the heart-break.  The love will heal your broken heart.

God has been faithful and we were all given the chance to watch it happen.

Go hug your kids, and wrap your arms around the ones you love!

jen