Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Final Countdown

We are nearing the end of the school year with only 21 full days and 4 half days left before summer vacation! Of course, for me, summer vacation lasts a few days, then I start working at summer school and then I have a few weeks before school starts up again.

"I have a dream! That one day I will not have to work during the summer!" LOL It could happen.

As the year winds down the activities seem to ramp up with spring concerts, vocal competitions, field trips and weekend events. We have off for Memorial Day, but I have a feeling that will be filled with around the house projects. The backyard really needs a clean out and a dump run. And the pool needs to be repaired. I am praying we can get the pool repaired. It will make this summer more socially enjoyable.

And of course, I would love to swap the kiddos' bedrooms soon. We participated in a yard sale at our church last weekend and we sold some of the kiddos' things - specifically Noah's bedding and d├ęcor, so it would be nice to get their rooms painted and swapped soon. 

The weekend was busy with the yard sale, a PVA event for Kari, a birthday party for Noah and an engagement party for some of our dearest friends. Mother's Day was a slower, calmer day that brought visits from my sister, Janie and her crew and Cody, Brianne and Hayden. Steve and Janie took Hayden's 3 month old pictures and Rick made an awesome dinner. The kiddos' bought me hanging plants for the porch and Cody gave me a really sweet card. Rick did the laundry, so it was an incredible day!

We got the news on Monday that Josh had been cleared of all the charges from last July that he was incarcerated for in November. Completely bogus charges that were proven to be unfounded. Unfortunately, he has not been released due to probation violations that have to be cleared up before he can come home. His attorneys are working hard to get his hearings scheduled, but it still could be a month or more before he is home. Praying for a quick release and that he is able to get a job once he is released.

These cuties had birthdays recently. Kiyah turned 3 on May 3 and Kaysen turned 5 on May 8. We will be celebrating with them in a few weeks. I am trying to decide if we should wait until Josh is home, but we will probably celebrate with them and then party again when Josh is home. How many parties are too many, really??

These two have stolen my heart!!
And this little miss is growing so fast! She came over for Mother's Day and was such a delight! She smiled and cooed and just entertained all of us. Janie and Steve were able to get some great shots of her. Here is one....
She is just an awesome mix of Cody and Brianne! Such a cutie!!
I absolutely love being MoMo to these three amazing miracles! I can not wait until Hayden can stay over at our house as well. It will be one big sleepover party at Granddad and MoMo's house! Rick is certainly smitten with all of the grandkiddos as well. They will certainly be spoiled!
I am at the brink of making a decision about my education. I have to decide this week and even though it will be a hard decision, I think I know what I have to do. I really do not want to redo my undergrad degree, but I can not get anyone to accept my degree. DBU said that they would, but I would have to take a history class, the GRE test and only 6 of the 13 classes I need are offered online. I would need to go to Dallas for summer courses and a few spring courses and I am not sure that would be the best use of my time and money. Although, having to redo my undergrad degree and then get my master's may end being just as expensive. Decisions, decisions. I hate decisions!
And of course, Rick is just a semester away from graduating! I can not wait to see him cross the stage in 2016! He is such an inspiration to me and our children for his determination and perseverance. I am so thankful for him.
And did I mention he did the laundry on Mother's Day? Husband of the Year!   


Thursday, April 16, 2015

He's a Marine! Oorah! June/September 2013

***Just realized that I never posted this entry!!!

Cody was sworn into the U.S. Military as a Marine on June 10. He endured 13 weeks of grueling training, including 54 hours of the Crucible. We are so proud of him and were so honored to be a part of his graduation. Here are pictures from his swearing in and his graduation!

 Ready to take the oath

In the van, waiting to start his 12 hour trek to Parris Island, SC

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Life Goes On

I was looking back at the pictures on the blog and realized that I do not post actual updates much anymore. I have being trying to keep up with my FMF posts, but that has been about it. I feel like I have much to say, but most of my pictures are on my phone and I never upload those to the computer. I really need to do an all picture update soon.

I just totally realized that I never updated the blog when Cody and Brianne had the baby. And the baby - Hayden Michelle - will be 3 months in a few short days. Sigh.

So, since the new year here are a few updates......

Josh still remains incarcerated. He seems to have a go public attorney this time, but has not yet been released. He has another status conference in a few weeks and will hopefully, prayfully be released then, but may still be facing some time  due to a probation violation. One county has the violation pending while the city has a warrant issued. As long as the charges are dropped there should not be an issue, but he may still have to be transferred to the city and wait for a court date to have the violation dropped. It is a shame to think he may miss his children's birthdays again, but hopefully once all of this is cleared up, he will not have any other legal issues. That is my prayer. I went to visit him for the first time this Saturday. He looks good, healthy even, which he hasn't been for a while. He is clean right now and has even stopped smoking. I hope he is able to continue that once he is home. I know it is harder for him when is home. Too many temptations and pull of old ways and old friends. He said he is done with that way of life, but time will tell. He also said he has been attending Thursday night Bible study and will be meeting with the pastor this week. I pray that he is able to mentor Josh now and once he is released. And I am praying he is able to find a job quickly this time. I know if he is able to work and take pride in something it will help with his recovery.

Devin had a car accident in the beginning of December. She broke her ankle and required surgery and physical therapy. She is back to work, but is still waiting for the insurance company to pay her settlement, so she can get a new car. She had just purchased a new to her vehicle the day before the accident. She is looking into the possibility of art school. She would do brilliantly if she was able to attend. I think she dreams of being a tattoo artist one day. She recently moved into a new apartment. We need to make time to go visit and spend some time in Lancaster. Devin is planning to attend Kari's Phantom of the Opera PVA trip in a few weeks. Kari is really looking forward to it.

Cody and Brianne got engaged on January 1 and Hayden Michelle made her debut on January 11. She is such a joy and I can not believe that she will be 3 months old already. Cody has taken on the role of Daddy magnificently. It is evident how much he loves Hayden. He is working for a concrete/asphalt/snow removal company and has been working hard since we had a lot of snow during February and March. He is looking forward to rebuilding an older Mustang from the ground up and has been looking for parts. Cody hung out with Noah the other day when we had a date night with some friends. Noah really enjoyed him being there and we made sure there was plenty of pizza.

Kari continues to do well in school and currently has straight A's. Math is her challenging subject, but she takes the time to see her teacher at lunch to be able to make up work or correct tests and quizzes. She really strives to keep straight A's all year long and we are so proud of her. She has one more year of PVA and then will have to decide what she wants to do for high school. We would like to see her audition for vocal, photography or theater, but are waiting to see what she wants to do. The high school she would attend if not attending a PVA HS is right up the street, so she could walk and would be reunited with some of her elementary school friends. I would like to see her attend PVA throughout HS, but would appreciate not having to get her to the bus stop by 6 AM.

She is also working hard to get healthy. We started taking Zumba classes together and she is eating breakfast now and making better food choices. I know she wants to see some positive changes, so I am really trying to encourage her. But, I have not been good about being active and have enjoyed the sedentary lifestyle for too long. Kari and Noah are both more artistic than athletic, so I have not encouraged them to be active. Now, we are having to make some changes.

Noah just finished PARCC testing and seemed to do well. He was a bit anxious about it, but didn't need to be. He continues to practice the saxophone and is currently working on music for the spring concert. I can not believe this will be his last concert in elementary school. He tried out for a solo for chorus, but has not heard back yet whether he got it or not. He is attending the Cherry Blossom Festival this weekend and Rick is chaperoning. He is very excited that they will be on national television. Noah auditioned for PVA Art and the middle school STEM program, but did not make either program. He was very disappointed, but is glad he will still be at the same middle school as Rick. And he continues to draw and research engineering videos and blogs. He is also extremely educated in Japanese culture. He said he would love to study abroad there for high school or college. Our nephew is currently stationed there in the Air Force and Noah hopes that we can visit before his tour is over in a few years. Every time we talk about taking a family vacation, he suggests Japan. Hopefully, we will make it there before Alex's tour is done.

Rick is still enjoying teaching and is a local star among his students. We see his students frequently when we are out and about and he always looks so happy when we run into them. I love seeing him interact with them outside of school. He is also back to playing WTP once a week. He is hoping to win top seat in one of the local bars and is looking forward to Nationals since it will be in Delaware this year versus New Jersey. WSOP is one his bucket list, so it would be awesome if he was able to win a seat to Vegas. And I have never been to Vegas......

I really do enjoy working at MES and with the third grade team and the other staff members I work with right now. Continuing my education seems to be an ongoing saga and I need to make some hard decisions soon. I am just not sure if I am being prideful or what, but I hate that I may have to go back and get the exact same degree that I have now, a degree that allowed me to teach for six years. Like if I go back I am saying it wasn't worth it, those years of teaching were for naught. I guess I may be over dramatizing the whole situation, but I am really struggling with this. I don't want to wait too long though because the longer I wait the longer it will take to get any degree, undergrad or master's.  

And just because they are adorable, here are some pictures of the grandkiddos......

 Kaysen (4) and Kiyah (2) (2014 at Myrtle Beach)
Hayden Michelle (3 mos.) March 2015
If nothing else, I have wonderful kiddos and adorable grandkiddos. So, I've got that going for me!


Tuesday, March 31, 2015

FMF - Break

Today started spring break for me and my family. It was cut a day short by an extra snow day our county had to take in the beginning of March. I enjoyed the snow day then, but wished we didn't have to lose a day of spring break yesterday, especially when I had to sub for one of the more rambunctious classes in the school I work for as a teachers' assistant.

I enjoy listening to our local Christian radio station on my way to and from work. Sometimes I can keep it on when the whole family is in the car - normally just on the way to Church on Sundays - but, since they prefer mainstream music to all Christian music all the time, the channel normally gets changed.

One song* that comes on regularly has a line in it that reads...... "I won't give you more, more than you can take. And I might let you bend, but I won't let you break."

Every time I sing those lyrics, I think, that is so untrue. So many times in this journey of relationship with Jesus, I have been broken, figuratively and literally. My heart as been broken, my faith has been broken, my dreams have been broken, my will has been broken, my body has been broken. Everything has been so broken.  

But, in that brokenness, every time, without fail God has been there. Sometimes I have had to search extra hard for Him, not because He is not there, but because I have hidden myself away from Him. I have had to sweep past the broken pieces, push away the pride and sin and look beyond my own hurt to find Him, but He is always there.

So, now more than I did before I welcome the broken pieces. They still hurt and are confusing and frustrating and I still, more times that I would like to admit, find myself far away from the One who wants to take those shattered moments and make them beautiful, but when I am broken, there is comfort, peace and freedom.

Link your FMF post to Kate's blog.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

FMF - Real

I try so hard to be real, genuine. To not be fake or pretend. For the most part, I think I do a good job of "keeping it real". Maybe sometimes too real. I think there is a fine line between the two and I sometimes stumbled over that line. Forgetting to use my filter and letting whatever I think, come out of my mouth or whatever I am feeling inside be seen in my actions. Sometimes those things are good and sometimes those things are hurtful to myself and to others. I find it easy to be real around my family ,but sometimes at the cost of being real, I am blunt and to the point. And again, I find myself exposing my true feelings and thoughts at the cost of my husband and children's hearts. So many times, I forget to be real in the face of my Savior and I pretend that I have it all together or I smile and think that I have Him fooled. That everything is okay. That I have it all figured out. But, I don't. I need to be real during my quiet time, letting God see my already exposed heart and allowing Him to work in the places that need tweaking. I long for a real relationship with Him. 

Link up your FMF post to Kate's blog. 5 minutes, unedited and unscripted writing.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

FMF - Plan

I always have a plan. Even if it is not written out, it is in my mind. Sometimes I verbalize my plan to my husband and sometimes I don't. When something does not go according to plan, I get frustrated and then realize I never told him my plan.

So often, in my relationship with Jesus, I make sure I have a plan in place. I mean, it is good to have an idea of where you are going and how you are going to get there. But, more often than not, I forget that God's plan for me is bigger and better than mine. I forget or ignore that I should be leaning into Him to know His plan and purpose for me before I plan things out myself.

If I could remember that, I wouldn't get so frustrated when things happen that seem off plan or not how I wanted them to go. It is so easy to hurry along in life with my agenda before me, forgetting to even check and see if my plans align with God's plan. His should be the one I check first, aligning my dreams, ideas and plans with His. But, I so want to be in control of everything that I push aside what God may have for me. My agenda is so much more important than His at times.

Then, when things change or don't go my way, I am hurt and confused. But, I shouldn't be. I should be focusing on what God has planned and promised.

Jeremiah 29:11..... "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

What an awesome reminder that God has plans for me and that they are good.

Now if I could just get my husband on board with some of my plans ;)

Link up your FMF post on Kate's blog. 5 minutes of writing, unedited, unscripted.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

FMF - Gather

We gather together to ask the Lord's of my favorite hymns to sing in chapel with my students during November.


At the end of the night, I gather up the dirty dishes, the laundry baskets, the school papers...sometimes I put them in their proper places and other times I just put them in one place to distribute later. But, I feel like I can not go to bed until I have gathered the scattered things.

When we moved back to MD, we used to have a monthly family gathering. we would meet at someone's house to eat, fellowship and celebrate. In the beginning, it was healing to be with my people, to laugh and love. Then, it became toxic. Things changed, people changed, people moved. It was more a scattering than a gathering.

We would take walks and the littles would gather treasures. Leaves, rocks, twigs, acorns. Whatever had fallen or been scattered about they would scoop up with their chubby little hands and hold them close until we got home. Then they would lay them out to gaze upon what they had collected. Somethings would be tossed aside, others given as gifts and others set in a special place.


 Right now life feels scattered. Feelings, plans, schedules, dreams strewn about. Some will be tossed aside, some will be used as gifts and others will be set in a special place. God right in the middle of it all.

God takes His arms and gathers me into them when I can not make sense of life, when I feel scattered. When my thoughts are strewn about and I can not make sense of it all.

Gathered. And loved.         

Link up your FMF post to Kate's blog. 5 minutes, unedited and unscripted.