Monday, February 27, 2017

#mandastrong

This is the post I was never supposed to have to write.   It wasn't supposed to be like this.

Two kids weren't supposed to be left without a mom.  A husband wasn't supposed to be left without a wife.  Parents weren't supposed to lose their child.  Fight Club (our self-professed Girl Gang of awesome) wasn't supposed to lose a member.

What was supposed to happen was that we all rallied, prayed and Manda got better and lived a long and happy life.  If we stuck through it long enough she'd come out on the other side.  Scathed? Sure.  But she'd come out of it with an incredible addition to her testimony.  We'd shout praises, she'd "go tell it on the mountain" and we'd carry on as normal.  

Friends, that's not what happened - and I'm wrecked.  Our sweet, loyal, loving, kind, STRONG Manda has lived her last moments here on earth and the only thing that's giving me any peace is knowing that she's free from pain, suffering and the chains that bound her and her body here on earth.  And while I know that she's living fully restored in Heaven, those of us left behind are shattered. 

I've been reading "When God Doesn't Fix It" and the author references Psalm 43:3...

"Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live."

... and the great news that it provides.  "The psalmist is saying that God's presence isn't something we have to work for.  We don't have to seek it, search for it, or earn it.  Instead, God sends his light to us and all we have to do is follow it back to him.  When I am limp and lifeless and can barely speak, my simple prayer is, "Lead me".  And when I ask, God is faithful to usher me into his presence.  In my weakest moments, he brings his truths to mind, his light to my dark and weary soul, and care and refreshment to my worn-out body."

When things look dark God isn't gone... this is when His light has a chance to shine the brightest.

God's light has poured out of Manda from the moment I met her (over 10 years ago, before either of us had kids and before her second diagnosis).  Through every trial, every disruption, every setback and bump in the road she radiated the love and joy found in her relationship with Christ and I find myself going back to Manda's own words from this post she wrote for me...
God is Ever Present
When the dark and devastating trials came, initially feeling God’s presence was difficult for me. I turned to His word and dug deeply into his wisdom and comfort. The words I found there became my rock in the storm as well as my strength for the day. I used hymns and songs of praise as a channel for hearing God’s voice, as well as lifting my voice and feelings to Him and the Lord sent special friends to minister to me through meals, groceries, house cleaning, monetary support and lots and lots of prayers. As terrible as the time was, it was also filled with irrefutable evidence of the presence and grace of God. I now have a certainty that whatever the outcome, the Lord will be with me and His strength will be enough. Isaiah 41:13 says “For I am the Lord your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear, for I am with you.”

So, as the next chapter of Manda's story unfolds - and really the next chapter in mine as well - my prayer is that though it's going to be a dark time - that God's light is able to shine brightly, boldly and powerfully.  That those who had the privilege of knowing and loving our Manda up close and those who fell in love with her strength and courage through her story can just pray "lead me" and we can find ourselves in His presence.  Because that's where Manda is.


PS - I won't be blogging this week so Show and Tell Tuesday will be put on hold until further notice and there won't be Friday Favorites this week.  Details on how you can support her family will be coming in the next several days.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday Favorites - Board Bar Edition

This week was short and sweet.  Spring Break is coming FAST and we're counting down the days!

Per the usual, Erika, Narci and I are sharing our FAVORITES from the week and inviting y'all to join us!  Grab our graphic, link back to one (or all!) of us and share your FAVORITES from the week at the end of the post.



My FAVORITE part of the day?  Me not sorting socks :)  I let them watch TV while they match and pair and they actually enjoy the task.


Her FAVORITE little activity is playing with kitchen tools at the counter.  She makes pies, cookies and cakes and serves them to me, Dave and her brothers.


Monday night we wrapped up the birthday celebrating at dinner with Dave's family.


This girl and her love for matching!!! FAVORITES!!!


She loves wearing the same color as me, carrying the same bag as me and doing the things I do.  Not sure how long this is going to last but I'm soaking it up as long as I can.  It's so cute, but also such a great reminder about the example I'm setting. 



She requested princess unicorn hair.  So I obliged. hahaha


I saw this earlier in the week on Facebook and laughed SO HARD!  A college kid thought he was getting a care package - but instead it was trash he was supposed to take out while he was home for winter break.  #momwin ;)



When you love Beauty and the Beast and are wearing Mrs. Potts and Chip shoes and can't stop staring :)  I mean... this age is my FAVORITE!!!




I've gotten the Julep box for over a year and every month get a couple of new polishes and a few beauty products to try.  I got the Charissa polish in my box last month and it's a new FAVORITE.



This week Mason has been all about his Goobi set that we got him for Christmas.  It's been his FAVORITE toy all week and I've loved watching him build and create.  I've also enjoyed getting to talk to him about angles, polygon names, etc.  


And Luke has been all about these Brain Flakes.  They're so much fun to play with and all three of my kids can build with them.  Another FAVORITE for sure! (this would be a great birthday gift to keep on hand!  Perfect for boys and girls and lots of different ages)


Her FAVORITE spot :)

  
On Wednesday night I met up with some of my FAVORITE girls (other Kindergarten moms!) at The Board Bar downtown McKinney for a girl's night.  One of the mom's set up our event the week before and we registered online and picked out our design at the same time.  When we got there they had spots marked with our names with our boards and stencils set out for us.  


We distressed, sanded, stained and assembled our boards into our signs...




Then we peeled the backing off our vinyl, stuck it to the sign and started painting.  Once it was all painted we peeled the stencil off and then had to use a little tool to go back through and pick off the teeny tiny pieces of sticker that were left on.  The design I picked out was SUPER detailed (I hadn't really thought about this when I picked it) and it took a long time to get all the detail done, but it was relaxing at the same time.


Once all the stencil was gone we ran a blow dryer over it to make sure it was totally dry...


... and then rubbed it down with wax.


We had 10 moms there and we all brought appetizers and drinks to share, cranked the music up, had the doors open and laughed SO HARD!  


I brought Sheaffer's apple dip and it was a HIT! (this is the after pic - hahaha)


And look what we made!!!


I've done the "painting with a twist" thing several times (where you paint a canvas and everyone paints the same thing), but have never actually hung anything that I painted up in my house.  These turned out SO NICE that I can't wait to go back and make another.



We have no plans this weekend and it's supposed to rain and get cold again and I'm so looking forward to a cozy weekend at home.  

Happy Friday, Friends!!!

PS - This post contained affiliate links which means that if you clicked on a link and made a purchase I may receive a commission. THANK YOU so much for supporting my blog!



Thursday, February 23, 2017

Day in the Life - Wednesday before last Edition

I love a good "Day in the Life" post and so today I'm sharing our very "typical" Wednesday.

I really really wish I was a morning person, but I'm just not.  My mom is an amazing morning person and has walked 3 miles, prepped dinner and done her Bible study before 6 a.m.  I can remember waking up as a kid and always being impressed with how she had accomplished so much before I was even awake.  I've tried to be a morning person several times... but it's just not in me.  I will set my alarm for 5:00.... and then just lay there, willing myself to get up... thinking about all the productive things I could be doing but in the end I end up laying there half asleep for an hour and then am tired the rest of the day.  On the rare occasion that I do will myself out of bed early I'm just bitter and grumpy that everyone else is still all cozy and asleep.  That said, I try to work my shower schedule so that I only HAVE to wash, dry and fix my hair two school mornings a week... buying myself an extra hour of precious time in bed :)  On this particular day I had showered and done my hair the day before so I was good to sleep in as late as possible.  #amen


Rise and shine...


... well... kind of.  Usually I can be suckered into at least another 5 minutes of snuggles :)

The boys have alarm clocks that go off at 6:30 at which point they come down to our room to get dressed.  We keep all the uniform pieces in Dave's closet and at night we just lay them out on the couch in our room and they come down and get changed.  We tried keeping the uniforms in their rooms, but for quick morning prep keeping their uniform pieces in our room just makes life easier.

Please note that even my children are up and at 'em and I'm still in bed.  #thestruggleisreal


Finally up and ready to deal with all of this...


A cup of tea and a piece of peanut butter toast to keep me motivated.


I try to pick out my clothes the night before and on this day I knew I was going to want to sleep in so I went with something super easy.


I blasted on a bit of this magical stuff...


... and helped this girl brush her hair and pull it up #trollhair



I also did the boys hair, but that involved gel on my hands so I don't have a pic :)

I laid out Griffin's clothes for the day (I usually try to do this at night, but forgot Tuesday night because I had friends over and our we weren't in our normal routine)...


... and was out the door with these two around 7:10.


If the boys have cooperative spirits and eat all their breakfast then I reward them with carpool drop-off.  Otherwise I park at middle school and they have to walk all the way down.  Since I started doing this (maybe 2 months ago???) we have had ZERO issues in the morning.  #momwin 
(I was PARKED behind a line of cars still dropping off)



I circled back around and parked...


... and then was ready to start teaching!  I prep everything the day before so I don't have much to mess with in the mornings.  My first class starts at 7:45.



I teach 6 different classes from 7:45 - 1:15.... 2 PreAlgebra, 2 Math 7, an Honors Algebra and and Honors Pre-Algebra.  So this is what the bulk of my day looks like :)





Lunch is a quick 25 mins and twice a week I have lunch duty.  On this particular day I was free and so I enjoyed some peace and quiet along with my linguine and salad (leftovers from what I cooked for having friends over the night before).  This is often when I have my quiet time and read through a devotional email I get and/or just pray.


After lunch I had to run and scan a couple of things, so I swung by the early childhood playground and gave Mason a squeeze before heading to the office.



After 100+ students and 6 hours of teaching this is what my desk area looked like.  OMG.


My planning periods are both together at the end of the day and this is when I prep for the upcoming day, grade papers, get my planner in order, enter attendance, do behavior reports, etc.



Luke's class was selling Val-O-Grams to raise money for the Collin County Child Advocacy program and so I headed down to the lower school office to buy a few to send to the boys.


Around 3:00 I indulged in a Dr.Pepper (my occasional guilty pleasure) and some trail mix to get ready for kids coming in after school for homework help and tutoring.


About an hour of tutoring and a little bit more prep and I'm ready to pick up the boys and head to get Griffin.


Carrying home a solid 10 pounds of grading and laptop.  #teacherlife


I grabbed the boys from extended school supervision and found Mason playing tea party with some of the girls...



.... and Luke apparently having a written conversation in Spanish with his friends :) 



Time to get GRIFFIN!!!


Whole crew ready to go! And Mason not happy that it was Griffin's turn to pick the music.

We were home around 4:30 and the kids started their after school duties.  Griffin let Jack Bauer outside...


... the boys changed clothes and then threw their dirty clothes in the washer and then it was homework time.


Typically we'd head outside and play, but on this particular night both boys had basketball and so we had to get a few things done first.  (please note Jack Bauer waiting for Mason to be able to play!)

Luke was upstairs getting some of his reading done and Griffin played a bit on ABCya while I got dinner started.


After homework was done Mason decided to hang out at my feet while I cooked :)


Crazy.  Town.


Thank you Trolls movie for a few minutes of peace while I finished dinner prep.






The kids had requested spaghetti pie and so that's what I had been working on for about 25 minutes after we got home.


I popped the pie in the oven and then the kids helped me set the table while I cleaned up in the kitchen.


My dishwasher was full of clean dishes so I opted for hand washing.


Dave got home a little bit after five and we sat down around 5:45 for dinner.


Look how well our devotion was going, y'all! ;)



Both the boys had basketball at 6:30 and they left around 6:15.  Dave was coaching Mason's team, so he took the boys and I stayed home with Griffin.  First up, pink bubble bath.



Once I had Griffin in the tub I took a few minutes to wash my face, put on moisturizer, pull my hair up and get my pjs on.


Then I got a few housecleaning tasks done while she swam.  I was in the bathroom with her so we sang ABC's, practiced counting and discussed the mermaid life while I cleaned :)




After bath time she and I headed upstairs for hair brushing and books.


She performed a few songs and then it was time for tea.



Music on.  Laundry to fold.  GG waiting for her boys to get home.



Boys got home and immediately it was time for showers because Holy SWEATY after basketball.

Dave tucked Griffin in and I started the washer while the boys had some reading time in their beds.


I sprayed down the kitchen counters...



... packed lunches and snacks....


... and made sure backpacks and jackets were ready for the next morning.


All that took about 35 minutes at which point I ran upstairs to tuck in the boys and run through Mason's sight words once before bed.



It was definitely a later night than normal (they didn't get back from basketball until after 8), but lights out before 9 was still a win.



Well... lights out for Mason. This kid wanted to read oooooone more chapter and I couldn't say no to that!



All the kids in bed and time for some New Girl and grading.


Dave was on the couch and I was at the table because I knew if I sat down on the couch I wouldn't be productive at all.


Grading.  Done.


And then it was time for me to finish up a practice test answer key for my first period class on Thursday morning.


Upstairs to check on the kids and put their hearts on their doors for that day...




Jack Bauer is ready for bed :)


We try to pick up before bedtime and typically the kids take their own things upstairs before bed (apparently except for the woody doll on the floor).




Switching the laundry to the dryer...


... and then a little bowl of Lucky Charms before bed #keepinitreal



A few minutes of reading and it was lights out for me around 11:30.

A couple of things... 

I've been trying reeeeally hard to get "ahead" a bit in blogging so that about 3 nights a week (M-F)  I don't get on the computer at all at home.  

I also try to leave school work at school... but as a Math teacher I know how important it is for kids to get feedback on work they complete ASAP (and they're completing at least one assignment... often an in-class task AND a homework page) which means I have 100-200 papers PER DAY to grade and enter in my online grade book.  I try to get it done during my planning periods, but depending on conferences/meetings I have, I can't always get them all done at school.  Getting a couple of days behind means I can have 500+ papers to grade. UGH!!! So sometimes bringing it home is inevitable.

This particular day was busy because the boys had basketball - on nights that they don't have basketball we like to spend that time playing games, going to the park, playing in the yard, etc. and our goal is to have everyone in bed by 8 pm..

I usually cook dinner Sunday - Wednesday nights.  Dave works the other nights of the week and so cooking Sun-Wed leaves me with lots of leftovers to feed the kids on the nights when it's harder for me to get it all together (and clean up after) solo.  We also do Pizza Friday :)

I don't have a set cleaning routine, but do try to do several little tasks every day (cleaning bathrooms, vacuuming stairs, dusting, etc.) and pretty much every single day we wipe the kitchen counters wash/fold/dry a load of laundry (I wash everything together on cold) and pick up at night. 

So... there you have it!  A day in our lives!  
Does your day look similar to mine?  WAAAAY different?  Do tell!

Happy Thursday, friends!