Tuesday, March 24, 2015

defining moments

I believe in defining moments, those points in life where events and decisions - good and bad - bring a person to a crossroads.  I believe that these are the times when true character is built...for better or worse. 

It's cliché.  Cheesy even.  I know this, but I don't think it makes it any less true.  Here's what I think about it:

Defining moments are divided into two categories:  things that happen to you and choices you make.

Things that happen to you are things completely out of your control.  Death, for instance.  And these things don't have to all be bad things either...good things happen all of the time, too.  Like a new sibling (I guarantee you that I had no control in the matter when my parents presented me with a brother and then a sister, but they were good things that happened, and they played a part in defining my character).

The second category is the choices we make.  Choices, of course, are good and bad.  There are the obvious bad ones:  drugs and stealing and lying, etc.  And there are the obvious good ones:  college and marriage and family, etc. 

But categorizing defining moments is just the beginning.  After all, things happen to each and everyone of us every day.  And we make choices every single day.  Not all are deeply impactful.  No, those moments are fewer and farther between.

And its not just about what happens or what choices were made or how impactful it was, it's about what we do with those things once they are sitting in our laps and staring us in the face.  Do we let it beat us down or do we pick ourselves up?  Do we learn from it or do we keep repeating the same things again and again?  What kind of character do we display in these moments and how does it shape our future moments?  

I believe in defining moments.

And lately, I've been thinking about defining moments a lot.  My moments.

I'm in that place right now, at my very own crossroads once again.  I've been sitting on the fence for too long, just waiting for someone else to take action, to force me to fall off on one side or the other.  It's like I'd rather react than take on the responsibility of action.  Action is scary.  It requires making a change.

But I did it.  I got off the fence.  It wasn't graceful, and it's not going down in history as my shiniest moment.  And now I'm standing at another crossroads created by another one of my defining moments.

I believe in defining moments.

And I believe in marriage and family.

I choose my marriage and my family. 


For better or worse.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Remember memes?  Yeah, I don't.  By the time I ever figured out what they heck they were, the were already "so yesterday!"  So...in honor of all the memes I never did, here's one I stole from one of my favorite bloggers!

A – Are you single?
Nope!  Married 8+ years!

B – Birthday?
June 28th.  And I'm officially well into my 30s now...

C – Crush?
Adam Levine...I'm so glad The Voice is back again!

D – Drink you last had?
Water.  In fact, all I have had today is water and coffee.  Actually, that's pretty much all I ever drink...

E – Easiest person to talk to?
Hmmm...tough one.  Depends on what I want to talk about!

F – Favorite song?
Right now...Ed Sheeran's "I See Fire."  Just got off a huge Lord of the Rings/Hobbit kick with my family!

G – Good at?
Reading books.  I really, really like reading books!

H – Hair color?
Dark brown with lots of blond highlights - I have an excellent hair stylist!

I – In love with?
Snuggling with Justin, big squeeze hugs from my boys, kitties, laundry fresh from the dryer, sunshine, long walks, good books, pizza  :-)

J – Jealous of?

K – Known as?
Mom, Mommy, Kass, Kassie, Mrs.

L  – Longest relationship?
Justin and I will have been together 14 years in October!

M – Middle name?
Kaye.  My mom says she always knew she'd name her first daughter Kassandra Kaye.

N – Number?
I don't have a number.  I've never understood the concept of a "favorite number."  Maybe because I never played sports????

O – One wish?
Good health and safety and love for all of my favorite people forever!

P – Person last texted?
Justin.  I had to tell him my back tire had an audible leak so he would offer to take care of it for me tomorrow morning...  :-D

Q – Question always asked?
What's for dinner?  Or...Why do I have to go to bed?!  (This one involves much wailing and carrying on.)

T – Time you woke up?
6:00 a.m.  But normally I try to get up earlier and work out. 

U – Underwear color?
I think they're black and white today...but I don't remember for sure.

V – Violent moment?
I'll go with a recent one:  I got an email informing me that I had to make ANOTHER change to a curriculum I was writing by THAT DAY in order for it to go before the school board.  I wanted to kick the poor, unsuspecting, just trying to be helpful person in the face, because I didn't want to look at that curriculum every again at that point!  (I didn't though.  Instead I made the change, and my curriculum WAS school board approved though - WOOHOO!)

W – Worst fear?
Snakes.  They make me scream and cry like a child.  Oh, and I have a small child who thinks they are SO! COOL!  Lord help me!

X – Ex you never stopped loving?
I never loved any of my exes.  Not like that anyway.  Seriously, they were all perfectly nice guys, I just was never there. 

Y – Your last hug?
Hmmm...I think the last person to give me a hug was Justin this morning.  Seems my oldest is now "too cool" to do hugs at the 2nd grade drop off, and Gavin was so transfixed by the TV at day care this morning that I'm not sure he saw me leave...

Z – Zodiac sign?

Now! If you're still out there and read this much neglected blog, answer one (or more!) of these about yourself in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

loosing steam

I am someone who...
  1. ...starts out each school year vowing to keep up on grading...and a month later is two weeks behind.
  2. ...starts a new workout "program" that's supposed to last X number of days...and then looses steam and quits completely.
  3. ...gets really into a six week Bible study with my small group...and then stops doing the homework and going to the meetings around week 3 or 4.
  4. ...is determined to deep clean every corner of the house at the beginning of the summer...but never gets past the kitchen (or which ever room I started in).
  5. ...schedules out every minute of my day with productive and necessary activities...but chucks it out the window to watch Netflix because I've gotten "off schedule" by 10:00 am.
I could go on and on like this.  I'm a starter.  A GREAT starter in fact!  Everything I do, I do all out...at first.  I am, however, not a finisher.  I burn out easily, loose steam.  I rarely make it to the end of any goal I set.


Well, I definitely suffer from a serious case of "perfection-it is."  Meaning, if I'm not doing it perfectly, then I'm not doing it at all.  For instance, I've lost track of how many times I have started some version of the Couch 2 5K program.  I do really well, and then for some reason (sometimes even legitimate reasons!) I miss a day.  And then I get mad at myself and quit all the while promising myself I'll do it right the next time.

I also suffer from burn out.  This is, of course, due to the perfectionist.  See, being a perfectionist means that everything must be done just right.  Doing everything "just right" takes twice as long (or longer) than just doing a great job.  This happens with the majority of studies my small group has done together.  I go all out....not just the extra mile, but the extra mile and then some.  I read the book, I read the lesson, I answer the questions in well thought out, complete sentences.  Then I show up to group and watch the video and do the discussion and get irked off at everyone who hasn't bothered to work as hard as me!  A few weeks into the study, I'm burned out and can't find the energy to do half of what I was doing (you know, the same amount normal people do all along), and...you guessed it!  I quit.  I have so many study guides filled in...except for the last two to three sections.

I always tell myself that I just need to be more disciplined!  And then I turn around and tell myself that I just need to find a better balance.  And then I turn around and tell myself that I could find a better balance if I would just be more disciplined.  And then I get mad at myself, eat ice cream, and take out my frustration on everyone around me. 

It's not pretty.  My husband will testify to this.

This is something that ebbs and flows.  When things are tracking, everything is great for awhile.  And then the descent begins and burn out sets in and I quit.

Right now...I'm loosing steam.
  1. I decided to stop making excuses and get back into the gym...and what happens a week in?  My husband has to be out of town for three days and I have after school meetings on those same days making morning and afternoon workouts impossible.  I already feel the desire to chuck it all.
  2. I gave up soda and fast food for Lent.  It's been going so well...I'm to the point that I don't even really crave it, but then I have a crazy morning and forget to eat breakfast and leave my lunch at home and all I wanted was food!  I found my way around it all, but I'm pretty sure stopping at Casey's for coffee and breakfast is barely one step above fast food.  I practically had myself convinced that I'm going to screw this up anyway, so I might as well chuck it along with the gym.
  3. And that new study we were doing in small group?  Well, I haven't gotten my homework done for this week and just didn't want to go.  It was easy to just loose track of time outside with the boys this afternoon and skip it.  After all, it wasn't done perfectly (or at all in this case) so why bother?
  4. Then there's work.  I'm so tired.  Tired of re-writing curriculum and PD plans and committee meetings and grading.  The one thing I have going for me about work is that I won't quit.  I like my job, and I like my paycheck.  All of this just tends to affect my attitude, and I don't relish becoming a terrible person two months before the end of the year.
So, I feel the crash coming.  That point when I just quit everything and make everyone around me miserable right along with me.  And that's the one positive I have right now, because once upon a time, I couldn't see it coming.  It would just blindside me completely.  I seem to have developed a warning system over the past few years (see, having a good counselor pays!).

Now the question is...what do I do to stop this now? 

I'm still working that part out.....

Thursday, February 26, 2015

What I Read ~ 2014

I don't really know why I keep lists of the books I read other than the fact that I like lists...  And this list is coming pretty late since 2014 ended like two months ago, but better late then never, right?  Well, at least if you actually care what I read last year!

Stand out author for me this year would probably be Jojo Moyes.  I really, really enjoyed the two books I read by her this past fall.  I love that they take place in England and enjoy reading all the British-isms.  To top it off, the story lines were intriguing - all that human condition stuff I like - and the characters were believable.  Both books had me in tears...especially Me Before You.  I am looking forward to reading more by her this year!

As for a favorite book that I would recommend to anyone...that's a tough one!  I got a kick out of An Abundance of Katherines, and I loved Conversion because of the history tied into the storyline.

On my "least favorite" list would be the entire Beautiful Creatures series.  It's far from the worst thing I've ever read (and I've endured a lot of bad), but I didn't love it.  If I hadn't received the books as a Christmas gift, I probably wouldn't have bothered to finish the series.  Turns out I just don't have a lot of patience for the "tortured teenage love story" anymore. 

I didn't read a lot of nonfiction this year, but what I did read, I enjoyed.  Killing Lincoln appealed to the history buff in me, and Jennie Allen, Jen Hatmaker, and Rob Bell kept me thinking about God and life. 

Probably my biggest accomplishment (in my opinion anyway) would be how much of the Bible I read.  I actually started this project about a year and a half ago when I realized how little of the Bible I had ever read.  I was supposed to finish up in July, but of course I have gotten off "schedule," but I still knocked quite a bit of it out!  The Old Testament about did me in at a couple of points (laws and more laws!), but there were bright spots in there.  Loved the book of Esther!

Anyway, enough rambling.  If you're looking for a good book, here's a list of things that I read in 2014!

Reading List – 2014

Ray Bradbury
Fahrenheit 451

 J.C. Carleson
The Tyrant’s Daughter

 Kiera Cass
The Selection
The Elite
The One

 P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast

Melissa de la Cruz
Witches of East End

Lauren De Stefano

 Janet Evanovich
Twelve Sharp
Plum Lovin’
Lean Mean Thirteen
Plum Lucky

Gayle Forman
If I Stay
Where She Went

 Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Creatures
Beautiful Darkness
Beautiful Chaos
Dream Dark
Beautiful Redemption

 Jane Green
Family Pictures
A Walk in the Park
Another Piece of My Heart

 John Green
An Abundance Katherines
The Fault in Our Stars
Will Grayson, Will Grayson

 Elin Hilderbrand
The Castaways

 Jeff Hirsch
The Eleventh Plague

 Katherine Howe

 Lauren Kate
Fallen in Love

 Wally Lamb
She’s Come Undone

Marie Lu

 Richelle Mead
Shadow Kiss
Blood Promise
Spirit Bound
Last Sacrifice

 Jojo Moyes
Me Before You
One Plus One

 R.J. Palacio

 Tracie Peterson
House of Secrets

 Kathy Reichs
Death Du Jour

Ransom Riggs
Mrs. Peregrine’s House of Peculiar Children
Hallow City

 Rick Riordin
The Lightning Thief

 Veronica Roth

 Neal Shusterman

 Heather Wardell
Go Small or Go Home
Planning to Live

 Jennifer Weiner
In Her Shoes

 Lee Woodruff
Those We Love Most


 Jennie Allen

 Rob Bell
What We Talk About When We Talk About God

 Candance Cameron Bure
Reshaping It All
Balancing It All

 Karen Ehman
Let. It. Go.

 Jen Hatmaker
Out of the Spin Cycle

 Bill O’Reilly
Killing Lincoln

1 Kings
2 Kings
1 Chronicles
2 Chronicles

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

an unexpected party

My husband loves The Lord of the Rings.  LOVES.  I know for a fact he saw the second and third movies in the theater when they were first released (dunno about the first one...I didn't know him yet, but I'm guessing he did).  He also own the directors cut extended edition of all three movies - that means over 12 hours of movie!  He was beside himself excited when he heard that they were making the prequel, The Hobbit, into not only one movie, but three, movies as well.  In preparation for the theater release of the very first Hobbit movie, he paid $17 to sit in a movie theater all. day. long. watching each extended edition of LOTR back to back!  And then he turned around and went to the opening night of The Hobbit shortly after thatSince then he has watched the second and the third movies in the theater.  Not to mention, I can't count how many times he's watched them on DVD.  May I repeat:  My husband LOVES everything about The Lord of the Rings.

I, however, do not.  Like may even be too strong a word for my feelings about these movies.  Example:  I remember watching some MTV video award show in high school and the first LOTR movie was up for a bunch of awards like "Best Fight" or whatever, and I thought "Ugh...I don't want to even see that movie."  Indifferent may be the nicest way to describe my feelings at that point.

And then I met Justin.  And I watched the first movie on video with him, because, well, duh!  I wanted to like what he liked cuz I was an infatuated girl like that!  And I went to the theater and saw the second and third movies with him.  And I bought him all of the extended edition DVDs and watched them with him.  And I decided LOTR wasn't so bad, but that was about it.  I even read the books at some point during my college years, but I wouldn't say I enjoyed them much - it was more like an exercise in endurance just so I could say I did it.

So...while my husband was super excited for the release of The Hobbit, I was like...meh.  I sent him to the first movie in the theater alone, endured the second with him, and sent him on his way to the third while I stayed home and watched the kids...and I felt like I had dodged a bullet!

But then one Saturday we were a bit bored and talking about the third movie coming out on DVD and I made some comment about how it'd been so long I'd have to watch the first and second again just to remember what happened, and he had this great idea that we do it RIGHT! NOW! and I said "sure" and we did.

And I liked them.  Like A LOT!

I'm not sure what has changed about me in the last year or so, but....I really, really liked the movies this time around.  So much so that I was - and am still - seriously irritated that I have to wait for the third movie to come out on DVD to see it!  In fact, I liked The Hobbit so much, that I decided that maybe I needed to see all three LOTR again....that maybe I would find that I liked them now too!

So, believe it or not, the following is something that me - the not interested in the LOTR/Hobbit then girlfriend/now wife - suggested...

First came this idea:  let's spend a weekend watching all three extended LOTR movies!

Then out of my mouth came:  "Better yet!  Let's do it all in one day! We can have snacks!"

Then we were out of school for like four days because of "snow" and "ice" and "cold."  I was a bit bored, so I decided to put some thought into the food part of our movie marathon.  I visited Pinterest (Yikes!) and discovered all kinds of themed meal times and recipes and menus.  So, I made plans and lists and came up with this...

An Unexpected Party!  An appropriate title given the party organizer (me)...and stolen straight from the chapter title in one of the books (The Hobbit I believe, but don't quote me...I'm not that big of a fan remember)

First Breakfast kicked off around 8:00.  We all gathered around the table to share French toast, "nice crispy bacon," and sausages.

Second Breakfast - biscuits with honey or jam and coffee - was perfectly coordinated with the start of The Fellowship of the Ring shortly after 9:00. 

Gavin thought it'd be funny if I took a picture of him picking his nose....he's such a booger!

The first disk for Fellowship ended just in time for a quick break and the serving of our meal for Elvensies!  We munched on Lembas bread and ten cup ranger cookies served up with hot apple cider!

Gavin didn't stick around to watch very long, but Logan lasted the entire first movie and was ready to start up the second!
The first movie ended, we flipped disks and started up The Two Towers while enjoying our Luncheon.  Justin had picked up some amazing cheeses to go with our deli meats and crackers!

(Then we paused the movie, and Justin ran to Walmart to get me some medicine because it turns out my stomach doesn't like eating like a Hobbit.  Minor set back, but we were quickly back on track!)

Logan refused to do anything but eat and make funny faces for the camera!

Disk #1 wrapped up and we served Afternoon Tea - English Breakfast Tea with blueberry muffins and cinnamon swirl bread - with the start of disk #2.  At this point it was about 3:30 in the afternoon.

At this point, Logan had watched the first two movies with us, and Gavin was back in the game...probably because there was food again!

My boys are so well trained...even though the food was served on the coffee table, they took their plates to the dinner table since they're not typically allowed to eat in the living room!

After The Two Towers ended, we took a longer break.  Justin got the boys ready for bed while I set the table for dinner and dished up crockpot scalloped potatoes and ham.  We all sat down together and ate as a family - something that doesn't normally happen twice in one day! 

Then it was time to begin the last movie:  The Return of the King.  The first disk about two hours into the movie (the director's cut is just shy of four hours long), and we took a break for dessert...pie!  And of course beer since hobbits like beer!

Of course we drink our beer in wine glasses...we're classy like that!

At this point, Logan had been curled up with me on the couch the entire day watching each minute of every movie...and begging for pie!  Yet, when pie time came...he didn't want pie, he just wanted to get on with the movie!

My trooper - settled in and ready to finish this marathon!

We finished our movie marathon around 10:00.  I was exhausted!  And so was Logan who fell asleep with only an hour to go!  I still can't believe he watched all day long with us!  Gavin was in and out, watching at times, mostly playing, but even he had joined us there at the end and fell asleep in Justin's lap.  We carried our kids to bed and called it a success!

How do I feel about LOTR now?  I'm pretty sure I really, really like it.  Justin asked me why the sudden change, and the truth is, I don't know.  I know that I really, really enjoyed all the family time this adventure allowed me to have which would obviously have an effect on my feelings about the activity we did - in this case the LOTR movie marathon.  I also know that I'm not the same person I was in my twenties.  These past three or four years especially have changed me so much, changed how I see everything, and that has had a lot of carry over even in to what I find interesting and enjoyable and meaningful.  It's interesting to see how a few years (and maybe a bit more maturity???) can change my perception of my world and alter how I feel about things...even little things like movies.

One thing is for sure...we are looking forward to our Hobbit movie marathon to be held as soon as that darn third movie comes out on DVD!

Hey!  My name is Lucius and nobody paid any attention to me today, so I'm just going to sleep on this pile of coats.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

about lent

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the kick off for the season of Lent.  I struggle every year with this time.  I have good intentions to form new habits, break old ones, be sacrificial through it all.  I say I'm going to read the Bible each day - for myself and the kiddos...but then one day is missed and another and another, and I give up.  I say I'm going to give something up (like Dr. Pepper or Chocolate - you know something I'll actually miss, but need to learn to live with out anyway), but am back at it two weeks (and that's being generous) later. 

I also tell myself that I'm going to make a big deal out of the season for my boys, teach them about the meaning of Easter and Jesus and his sacrifice - the whole shebang.  I tell myself I will put as much effort into Lent as I do into Advent.  And I don't.  (In my defense I had some success a few years back when we did Love Life Live Lent as a church.)

Come Easter Sunday I'm a stressed out disaster - every. single. year.  I'm cranky about the kids screaming about chocolate bunnies and baskets and toys instead of Jesus and kicking myself because of course it's my fault - after all I dropped the ball teaching them.  And instead of focusing on my Savior, I'm worried about getting to church on time in the right clothes and the big meal that follows after. 

I don't want to do that this year.  Any of it.  Sure, I want to make this season special, but not in a way that crams it down the throats of my family and leaves me feeling drained and like a failure.  I think my biggest problem with Lent each year is that I overthink the details and forget the big picture:  Jesus' sacrifice for me, for all of us. 

So no details this year.  And no guilt.

We didn't make it to the Ash Wednesday service last night, and that's okay.  Things happen and Jesus gets it - even if other people don't - and his opinion is the one that matters.

I started up with my daily Bible reading again yesterday.  My goal for Lent:  to finish my "read the Bible in a year" project that I started a year and half ago.  I want to start reading through a children's Bible with my boys again, too (We HAVE done this before - SUCCESS!  Time to do it again!)

I'm going to dig out our Love Life Live Lent activity book from a few years back and choose some activities to do as a family on weekends. 

I gave up soda and fast food.  I believe that God wants me to take better care of my body - and teach that to my boys - then I do, and here's a start.  I also believe He wants me to use my money for better causes then the enormous amount of junk foods and drinks my family consumes.

I believe God wants my family to tithe more to our church each month.

I may not get all of those things above right everyday either, but I won't give up this year.  Each day I will see as a new day, another chance.  Lent is going to be special this year, but not because I'm going to make a huge production out of it.  Instead it will be special because it will be about Jesus and family and sacrifice and forgiveness. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

snow day

Our snow day in bullet points:
  • wake up at 4:30, remember there is no going to the gym this morning and hit snooze for the next hour
  • wake up to the phone ringing and the snooze going off again...at the same time.  Turn off alarm, answer phone, find out school is cancelled due to ice.  Return to sleeping.
  • Jump out of bed and fly out the living room to relocate Tony, the elf on a shelf, since I forgot to last night...and we're off to a great start on that little treat...

  • sleep until seven enjoying the fact that for the first time on our Thanksgiving break the boys slept IN instead of RUNNING! SCREAMING! and FIGHTING! (both play fighting and real fighting) at 5:30 in the morning.
  • Climb out of bed, bundle up, drink water, start coffee, all while watching the boys make their own pop tarts.
  • FIRST DAY OF DECEMBER!  Boys check their advent calendar for our activity and discover that they get to open their first Christmas books.

  • Read day one out of each Advent book and hang our first ornament on our Jesse tree

  • boys disappear into spare room to watch Wreck it Ralph.  I drink coffee, eat leftover waffles, and watch ten minutes of some ridiculous show on TV before deciding not to watch TV all day.
  • Finish online Christmas shopping.  Done!  Yay!
  • drink more coffee and catch up on some Bible reading.
  • Text Justin, shower.
  • Decide to catch up on photo books on Snapfish, but find things running too slowly (probably due to cyber Monday??) 
  • Feed the boys left overs for lunch and return to snapfish to do some photo Christmas shopping instead.  Save 55%!  Woohoo!
  • Decide to take this opportunity to upload all of my photos (both camera and phone), edit, organize, and upload them.  This takes hours.  Like three of them.  Finish the pot of coffee and catch up on blog reading while doing all of this.  (P.S.  My children are silently entertaining themselves elsewhere - it seems after spending five straight days with me over Thanksgiving break that they are tired of me and willing to let me do my own thing.  rare!)
  • feed the children again.  they seem to need A LOT of food.
  • Now write a blog post.
And now it is 3:30 and I'm contemplating starting up the over to make frozen pizza because despite having been home all day and having spent most of that time on my butt and on my computer, I still have no desire to cook.  And I'd like to continue this relaxing (some would call lazy) thing I have been doing all day.