Name that tune…

A few days ago, a friend mentioned how listening to a certain song could easily take her back to a few decades ago and bring with it some pretty intense emotions. I was quick to agree with the concept that music has some very powerful qualities and the ability to connect us to others and ourselves a bit more. I instantly had a few songs in mind that I could share that impacted me the same way.  Hearing certain words can bring emotions, smells, familiar faces and rapid heart beats. It can remind us of pain, exhilaration and hope. I don’t think that musicians can truly understand the way their songs can change our moods, our moments, and our memories. In both good times and bad, events in my past are often linked with a song or artist that will forever be a part of that crisis or celebration for me.

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I sat down and started a list – a list which I simply named “Soundtrack of my life”. I wanted to see how many songs came to mind when I recalled an important episode, experience, or season of my life. This was really a fun list to make, and I can’t wait to compile all of my special songs onto a list on spotify so that I can add to it as new ones pop up!

My eyes are closed and as I think about growing up – I am transported back to my childhood home on Geneva Street. The stereo is blasting Lionel Richie. He fills a a huge part of my musical memory bank. His earlier music with the Commodores was introduced to me by my Mom who only listens to one kind of music…LOUD. Bless her, but she is not a quiet lady – ahem, the apple does not fall far from that tree. We would dance around our house jamming out to Lionel Richie, Pat Benatar, Al Jarreau, John Lennon, James Taylor and Michael Jackson. The radio was always turned on immediately in the car, too. As my high school years approached – I was constantly listening to Maria Carey, Janet Jackson and Boys 2 Men . Upon graduation, I had listened to their song “It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye To Yesterday” so many times that my mom would say “Just say goodbye already!!!”. Good times. College days were lived listening to just about every kind of music – new friends brought new music genres and I found out what I preferred and didn’t like at all (sorry – I’m just not a fan of hard rock or rap … shocking, I know). We listened to music when we studied, when we exercised, when we cooked, and when we hung out discussing how we would conquer the world.

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Our wedding song still holds such a sweet place in my heart. My husband is a huge Elvis fan, and I have liked his music since childhood as well. Fools Rush In was an easy choice for us and we even have a picture hanging up in our front hallway with some of the words to our special song “Take my hand, take my whole life, too”. Whenever we hear it – we smile.

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Another song that will forever be extra special to me is “Not for a Moment – After All” by Meredith Andrews. This song was released around the same time my dad suffered a stroke. My world was turned upside down but when I heard the words to this song, it brought me a deep sensation of hope, love, and comfort from above. To this day, when I hear this song, it brings tears to my eyes.

I am grateful for the impact that music has had on my life. It makes me smile to see how much my own children love their music and how it enhances their own lives.  What are some of your favorite songs, and how have they added to your life?

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ABC’s of Kelly Jean

I wanted to change things up a bit. I found this and thought it would be fun to complete. Let me know if you learn anything new about me 🙂

A – Age – 44

B – BIGGEST FEAR – Losing a loved one

C – CLOCK – 2:50 P.M.

D – DRINK YOU HAD LAST – ice water with lemon slice

E – EASIEST PERSON TO TALK TO – I am lucky to have a whole list – but at the top are my husband and Mom

F – Favorite song – ooooh – so tough – right now, it’s “Rise” by Danny Goakey – speaks to my heart

G – GROSSEST MEMORY – any of the many times my babes had the flu and didn’t even make it *close* to the bathroom… EWWWWWWWWWWW!

H – HOMETOWN – Toledo, Ohio – good old “Glass city”

I – IN LOVE WITH – My God, my Prince of a husband, our 4 crazy kids

J – JEALOUS OF – people with hair they can control, people who don’t swear like a drunken sailor when they are mad, people with personal chefs

K – KINDEST PERSON YOU KNOW – Amy Dillingham (hey, girl!) Someone once nicknamed her “Angel Amy”, and it totally fits her sweet, generous personality

L – LONGEST RELATIONSHIP – Married to my Prince of a hubby for 21 years, 1 month and 12 days… there are days he probably counts the hours, too :/ I also have friendships that are older than 31 years (Lauri Lyn – what’s up?!)

M – MIDDLE NAME – Jean, after my Great Aunt Jeanne who was the sweetest and called everyone “Lovie” (I do that, too – but mostly because I’m awful at remembering names)

N- NUMBER OF SIBLINGS – one – my favorite sister in the world, Tonya – who laughs at my jokes, buys me gifts on Christmas Eve and loves my kiddos like her own!

O – ONE WISH – I hope and pray that Steve and I can live long enough to be an active part of our Grandchildren’s lives – attending their sports events and dance recitals, having sleepovers and sugaring them up before sending them back home!

P – PERSON I LAST TEXTED – Steve. I tend to send him entirely too many short messages and  pictures of the cats during the day.

Q – QUESTION YOU’RE ALWAYS ASKED – “Are you writing another book?” The answer is YES – hopefully many more 🙂 Now for the ACTUAL question I get asked all the time “What’s for dinner?” Answer : “Chicken stir-fry, go wash your hands and set the table, please.”

R – RIGHT OR LEFT HANDED – Right, but my 3rd child is a leftie 🙂

S – SONG THAT MAKES YOU WANT TO DANCE – “CAN’T STOP THE FEELING” Justin Timberlake  There is something about this song – I hear it and just have to dance …. my kids LOVE this, by the way.

T – TIME I WOKE UP – 5, when Steve got our of bed, but then I rolled over and fell back asleep until 6:30 ….. Where. Is . The . Coffee?!

U – UNEXPECTED FOOD FAVORITES – Salt and vinegar chips, fritos and cream cheese,  bagels with cream cheese and capers –  basically anything with salt on it is a friend of mine.

V – VACATION DESTINATION – Italy. I have been there twice now and it is my favorite … the sites, the pasta, the wine. Did I mention the pasta and wine? Countless beautiful things to take pictures of all day and night long.

W – WORST HABIT – swearing. Who knew a former pre-school teacher and children’s author had this MOUTH ?!

Y – YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY – I couldn’t possibly choose a favorite – Vacations, holidays and decorating for them, playing with our cats, singing at the top of our lungs to Lionel Richie, taking turns driving (under age) at the apple orchard in the fall, making applesauce with those apples and heating it up and dumping cinnamon on it for breakfast …. and MORE!

ZOO OR SAFARI?  Drive through safari – except when the animals drool on you or won’t leave you alone after you give them a carrot through your window.

So that’s it for today, friends – hope this change of pace was interesting for you to read 🙂

 

 

 

“Just” a mom…

I have been a stay at home mom since the birth of my first child – 18 years, 4 months and 9 days – to be exact. Believe it or not – raising children and being a wife was always my dream as a child. Whether or not girls in this day and age have this dream, it isn’t talked about much in our society… and it definitively isn’t encouraged. Let me explain. If a young girl voices that she’d like to be a mommy when she gets older, a typical response is “That’s nice, what else do you want to be?”. What ELSE? In my mind, that implies that being a mommy isn’t enough, there needs to BE more, you deserve to WANT more. You can’t JUST want to be a mommy.

That being said, in all my time at home, I have never once regretted that choice.  There were days, mind you, that being at home and doing all that it involves with 4 needy babes and 2 lazy cats was not my idea of “fun”. On occasion, the job itself was exhausting and I felt all but invisible. Yet, I had a strong sense that being at home was my ministry. It was my chance to have a great effect on 4 future adults, citizens, husbands and wives, voters – and more. I got to feed them, clothe them, teach them, pray for them, build their confidence and encourage their generosity. I also got to change diapers, fish things out of the toilet, prepare meals that weren’t eaten and live my life to the soundtrack of the constant background noise of the washer and dryer. The ups and downs were staggering and daily – if not hourly. I would feel a crazy combination of  confidence and bewilderment  as I maneuvered my way through each day. The needs of young children are  mental, physical and emotional – which spells out F-A-T-I-G-U-E for their caregivers. Tired, but not disgruntled (hopefully).

At this point in mom-ing, my oldest is a Senior and preparing to leave for college in August. My conversations with him span from my favorite part of cafeteria style eating to how long I went in between washing my bed sheets (GAH!) to how desperately I’m going to miss him on any given Tuesday. I fill my spare time learning how to send cookies in future care packages and how to “fill” his part of my soon to be emptying nest. I have been blessed to spend my years focused on raising my tribe and even more blessed to have a husband that felt it equally important that I did so. I have no answers for those who ask me “What do you do all day?” because my answers will never be enough for them. I love my life and will continue to serve my family for years to come. As the children grow into teenagers and begin to need me for different things, I am allowing myself to seek new hobbies and volunteer opportunities. I am also hoping to get this whole book gig up and running again. I have a heart for all moms out there who continue each day to give all that they have and then do it all over again tomorrow. Keep up the good work – it is noticed and  you ARE making a difference.

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It’s worth it …

    

    Hallmark and hershey’s commercials, jewelry and bubble baths, red hearts and glitter – yep, February is here ❤️ The talk of love and romance and all things mushy is everywhere. Now- let me be clear, it’s my favorite – I love red, lace, sparkles, sweet notes and sweeter treats. The month of February is also my birthday month, win/win! That being said, it got me thinking about all the awesome parts of my life that I cherish, but also require a lot of work. In fact, MOST of the things that I love most in my life did NOT come easily. They were not handed to me. They came after great effort on my part. It’s the “rain is necessary for the rainbow” and the “harder the battle, the sweeter the victory” mentality. Life isn’t always the “best day ever”.  Sometimes, we have days months that are a bit dark or filled with craziness ands expectations that simply can’t be met. It’s hard for us to imagine these conflicts/situations ever improving. But they do. They always do.

    It’s important for me to teach my children that hard work pays off. Effort is important. There is immense value in both patience and perseverance and working daily towards your goals. Our fast paced world is so hyper focused on instant, faster and immediate results. Expecting our children to have to participate in life – what a concept! The things that we contribute to bring us so much more happiness and satisfaction. I’d much rather see my children earn their smiles and dreams. They will feel ownership of their emotions – now that’s a reward! Her’s a quick list of things that I LOVE which require effort on my part…  The bold words are my non-favorite part 🙂

  1. Cleaning the house – but it results in an organized and more peaceful home
  2. Applying make up & doing my hair – but it allows me to look presentable and less like a homeless person
  3. Changing closets our each season – but we then have weather appropriate clothes that fit us (hopefully)
  4. Yard work & cutting the grass – but it’s super fun to come home to a beautiful yard
  5. Disciplining the kids – having respectful, responsible kids is definitely worth it!
  6. Grocery shopping/meal planning – feeding my family food that they love and not panicking at 5 because I don’t have a plan for dinner
  7. Saving money –  having money set aside for vacations and fun stuff (like movies and the random Tuesday ice cream treats)
  8. Doing cat pans – cuddling fat kitties and having something in your house that doesn’t talk back
  9. Plans changing at the last minute – people knowing that they can depend on me (no matter what)
  10. Sibling fights – watching them form a bond that will last forever 

Take a look at your life – what things/people/situations that you love and are always worth the work that they require?

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! How sweet it is to be loved by you!

BOOK UPDATE – A PLOT TWIST, INDEED

  

I have done my very best to avoid writing this post. My closets have been organized, books have been read, laundry has been done.  I can’t wait any longer – it’s time to share with you what has been weighing so very heavy on my heart. This chapter is one that I sincerely wish could have been avoided. But it has become part of my story, and I must embrace it and find a way to move forward. I appreciate your willingness to walk this crazy road with me. There is no way that I would continue down this path alone. 

If you have been following over the past year, you are aware that I was very excited to announce my second children’s book. The release date was set for February 7th, 2017. Yes, just days away. Instead of excitement for this day, I am now dreading it. This time around, the publishing experience has been drastically different. Miscommunication, confusion, missed dead lines and conflicting information were only part of what made me continually shake my head over the last 6 months. Publishing my first book in 2013/2014 was relatively simple. Other than my “newbie jitters”, I followed the directions given to me and was very pleased with the support that I received. There was absolutely no indication that anything would be different the second time around. I actually thought it may be a bit easier, since I knew the schedule and what was expected from me during the progress. But life has a way of knocking you back when you least expect it. People get greedy and their choices and actions have an enormous impact on others. I am learning HUGE LESSONS in trust and patience and flexibility through all of this – but that doesn’t stop me from being angry and sad. That being said, I absolutely refuse to go through this mess and not come out stronger on the other side.


After all of the delays and malarkey this time around, I discovered that my publishing company has closed as of January 17, 2017. Yes. CLOSED.  The  authors have not even been officially notified as of yet. I found this out after some extensive online research and articles written in a few Oklahoma newspapers. LONG STORY short, they were not paying their bills. They were not paying the salaries of their employees. They were not sending royalty checks to their authors.  They now have lawsuits against them for over 4 million dollars. They have not responded to calls or emails since before Christmas. On the 18th, we (the authors) received an email that the company was in “transition” and we would be contacted within a few weeks with “options concerning the completion of our projects”. There are a million questions still left to be answered.  At this point, I have filed complaints with several agencies and with Discover in attempts to recoup the money paid for the books I ordered – and was charged for – but will never receive. There are discrepancies regarding what rights I have to my own books – I have a copyright on the words, they may own the cover design and illustrations. I need to be given back my completed files in order to find another company to publish for me – which can be a lengthy and tedious process in itself. 

To say that I am overwhelmed doesn’t begin to describe my emotions.  I am sad, angry, embarrassed, frustrated and disgusted that all the effort I have invested in the last 3 years has been swept away. As I await more news, please pray that I can find the time, energy, strength and motivation to continue this process. Back at square one is not at all where I had imagined I’d be at this point. My book is complete – perfect in every way – but I may never have the chance to hold it in my hands. I truly love to write ~ and this will continue. But there is not a lot else that I am sure about at this point. I have about a hundred copies of my first book in my possession,  so I will be able to do a few more book events, but once they are gone – I don’t know. I just don’t know.  I am hoping by the end of February to have some sort of update so I can determine which direction I will take my first steps. I am tired of being disappointed. I have already started talking to other publishing companies. As of now, I am leaning towards self publishing or going with a much smaller publisher ~ once bitten, twice shy.  I know it feels like a break up and you want to bash my “EX” – and please know that they are at the top of my list of least favorite people as well. But please – if you see me,  simply hug me and remind me that the glass is always half full {refillable, in fact!}.  Please pray  for me – this news is a major mountain that I must climb – and I am already exhausted. I am blessed to have an amazing group of supporters that I thank God for every night. I know He has great plans for me. I will do my best to not fear the future – as I know that God is already there. 

Something in the air…

organizingThe month of January typically brings with it a fresh motivation to get my act together. Now, mind you, I try super hard throughout the year to keep my ducks in a row (or at least in a cute chevron pattern) so this shouldn’t come as a complete surprise to most of you. I am inspired by pinterest, home decor shops and the adorable ads on TV that suggest I try the “out with the old, and in with the new” method of starting my New Year. I vow to pull it all together – and keep it that way.

I feel the “urge to purge” my clutter, extra clothes and pantry chaos about twice a year- usually in January and June. The kids finishing school and being home for 3 months motivates me to have the house in order, since I won’t have much time for cleaning while they are all here 24/7. It’s easy enough to understand my desire to tidy up after the six occupants in this house are spoiled rotten at Christmas and our new belongings all need a “place” to call their own. It becomes a necessity to dig out the house and carve out a landing space for all of our new this and thats. Clothes are donated and food is rearranged in order to be able to close the pantry door safely. This year, I was even inclined to give away 14 bottles of red wine that we had accumulated from house guests and such through the years (we just aren’t red wine drinkers). While cleaning out the pantry, I took a picture of the bottles and posted on Facebook that I wanted to give them away to a good home. I quickly became the most popular girl around and also got a chance to see a few friends as they dropped by to pick up their free bottles. Such fun! I now had a bunch of freed up space in my pantry and my friends could bring in the New Year with a glass in the air – CHEERS!

I also try my best to update my calendar and clean out my desk at the start of each year. I make appointments that I have been putting off and send notes and thank yous on cute stationery that makes me happy. I restock my pens, notepads, stamps and envelopes and little things that end up missing like rolls of tape and push pins for the bulletin board. I also throw away all of the old notices, invitations and event reminders that have taken over our family control center. A cleaned off bulletin board makes me a bit less frantic when I walk past it in the morning on my way to pour a cup of coffee. Straightening piles – and better yet, eliminating them all together – allows me to focus more on the important stuff in life.

In the end, your environment is just that – YOURS. If you thrive in a neat knick paradise, my hope for you is that you can achieve your organized dream – and keep it that way.  And, if you like your piles, I hope a neat freak doesn’t mess with them! Enjoy the rest of January 🙂

My word for 2017 ….

For several years now, I choose one word that I attempt to focus on throughout the year.I am not one to make resolutions – mostly because I prefer short term goals over long term goals (I get distracted entirely too easily). Having a word or concept to pay particular attention to for the entire year allows me the chance to look at the various ways and areas that the definition of the word works in my life. For me, it works.

In 2016, I chose the word release. I felt that it was time for me to start letting go. Of what, you may wonder? Of lots of things, starting with clutter – stuffed closets, overflowing drawers, unloved knick knacks and more. Once the physical “stuff” was taken care of, I shifted my priorities to feelings, relationships and expectations that needed to be released. This wasn’t as easy as taking a garbage bag into the closet, but it was even more important. Letting go of these things frees us from the heaviness it creates – a heavy heart has trouble finding happiness. I worked hard on paying attention to the things that were causing me stress and attempted to change the way I dealt with these people, issues or situations. At the end of 2016, when my book was delayed – I needed to release all of my anxiety that was created by this overwhelmingly frustrating event. I was forced to let go of my plans and dreams of selling during the Christmas season and change gears for the future. At first, I wondered if my word would serve me well for 12 whole months. In the end, I could have easily used this word for another entire year – but instead decided to build off of it.

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For 2017, I chose the word acceptance. I figured that since I had devoted a year to cleansing my life from negative habits, people and situations that I could not control, I should follow up with a year of learning how to live with what I can not change – and making the best of it. In June of 2017, my first born is graduating from high school. This is something that consumes my thoughts and much of my energy right now as we fill out college application, cap and gown forms, take senior pictures and plan for his graduation party. In the back of my mind, I fully understand (logically) that he is growing up . I hear his deep voice, see his facial hair and watch him drive away in his car as he heads to work. Yet – I haven’t fully accepted it. I think I am still in denial. I need to focus on how proud I am of him and his accomplishments, instead of how sad I am that he is leaving. Time will help, and so will seeing his excitement about his college days ahead of him. It’s all a matter of accepting it, right?  Being a parent is sort of crappy like that.

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Acceptance is also important in regards to how I manage the areas of my life that just aren’t “my favorite”. I think we all have things and people we absolutely must deal with that we wish we could JUST. NOT. The thought alone makes us cringe, but it doesn’t make the issue or relationship go away. So now what? ACCEPTANCE. To be clear – the definition of acceptance is “the action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered” (according to the online dictionary). No where does it state that I have to LIKE it in order to ACCEPT it….right? My goal is to accept a few of the things that I can not control (like my babies growing up and leaving me) and search for the good – something positive – something that will make me smile and not pull my hair out. We can all use a bit more sunshine and a few less clouds. My wish for you is that you find a word that helps you in more ways than one this year. Please let me know what your word is once you know it – I love to hear how my friends are working to improve their lives!

Coffee, anyone?!

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I haven’t always been a coffee lover. In fact, we didn’t even own a coffee pot until we had our 3rd baby in 4 and a half years. At that point, we knew we needed help. A morning cup of coffee brought me back to life after MANY sleepless nights and became a comforting and well loved part of my daily routine. Often, around 1, I would pour myself another cup of energy – especially if I had nap-refusing littles roaming the house. Coffee quickly emerged as one of my closest mommy friends and I looked forward to creating a special place of honor in my kitchen from where I could serve it..

The problem, as with most projects, was that I was lacking in time and money to dedicate to my dream of a coffee bar. I had ideas GALORE- and with the creation of Pinterest, I found that many others shared my desire for a space to serve this well loved hot drink. These amazing pictures fueled the fire and helped to convince me that this was a need not a want. I had the best day dreams of a quaint little spot where I could prepare and serve this magical brew for myself, my Prince and any visitor that needed a cup of Joe.

I was on vacation this past summer when the planets all aligned and I was able to (in my mind) relocate my roll top desk that fit perfectly in our kitchen to an equally perfect spot in the living room – thus providing an open space for my coffee bar! Once we returned from the Smokey Mountains, I shared my design plans with my hubby. Before attempting to move the desk, we pulled out the measuring tape to ensure it would, indeed work. VICTORY!!! The perfect fit! So you know me, I am such a spaz, I started to move the desk the very next morning. The process was very Laverne & Shirley-esque, since I had to enlist the help of whatever child was available to help push, pull and lift this monster of a desk to its new location. My heart pounded with excitement and I set up my “new” work space in the living room. My heart then almost stopped when I entered the kitchen and stood looking at the big empty spot I had created before finding something to put there next. Time to go shopping!

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I had something in mind. I wanted the piece to be wood, painted white, with at least one open shelf and I needed it to be at least waist high for easier prep and pouring. How hard would it be to find something that fits my needs? One quick glance on Amazon, right? OH, NO!  The search began to consume me. Too big, too short, too shelf-less, too not white. I looked everywhere – on-line, resale, big box stores, tiny boutiques. My excitement was beginning to wain as my search continued and I truly felt like I would never find something “just right”. I didn’t want to settle on a piece of furniture that I didn’t LOVE – I’d thought about this little oasis for far too long to not be in love with it once it was finished. After snapping pictures at stores, sending links to my honey and debating between a table, bookcase, buffet – we finally decided on a piece from Overstock.com. We placed the order and I waited nervously for it to be delivered.

The day it arrived, I literally clapped my hands (something I do more than any other 43 year old I know). It was entirely too heavy for me to take inside – so I sent a picture to my lovie captioned, “LOOK WHAT’S HERE!”. I was gone the rest of the night running errands and carpooling kiddos, and when I returned…. I found him in the garage almost done putting it together. MAN, DO I LOVE THIS GUY!!! After we put it in its place of honor in the kitchen, I immediately began to add all the fun touches. I bought a white shelf for above it, and several place mats to protect the surface where I would inevitably be spilling coffee. I found a cute little spoon rest for a dollar on clearance (!!!) and I moved my sugar bowl to the prime location next to the Keurig. I happily moved all of my mugs that had pictures of my children on them onto the open shelf. It makes me smile to see the 12 mugs of memories sitting sweetly in my kitchen. I also added a tray and four of my favorite matching mugs to the shelf so they were easily accessible when company comes. Underneath the shelf is a HUGE storage space covered by doors. It is here that I keep the extra sugar, creamer, travel cups/lids and our large crock pot. The additional storage was a bonus that we love!

I’d have to say, that this is one of my very favorite spots of our home. In addition to housing my coffee essentials, it has given me a new area to decorate with seasonal knick-knacks … and who doesn’t love that?! Super happy with my completed coffee bar – if you are ever in the area, be sure to stop by for some coffee 🙂fullsizerender-27

Gratitude

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Gratitude (noun) 1. the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful – synonyms… thankfulness and appreciation.  See also – a requirement during the month of November. You know the drill,as you flip the calendar page from October, you put away your jack o lanterns and pull out your list of blessings. Inhale the sweet smell of cinnamon candles and enjoy the cute turkey memes on facebook, while listing each day what your heart is fond of and what makes your life full. I am all for gratitude, just not limiting its expression to one month a year. I challenge others to show their love, express their gratefulness and share their appreciation each and every day.

This is my chance to thank you. I love to write. I love to talk. I love to share. Having you all with me as I do these things has been just awesome. This second book has presented several  “opportunities” for me to switch gears, try plan B (C&D, too!) and focus on the positive. I have had several days of sweating and swearing, and then – being forced to bounce back – realized that things are still OK… maybe not on schedule, but OK. And sometimes, OK has to be ENOUGH. I cherish those in my life that have helped me to realize that even when my world is upside down, I have plenty of people around to help me put things back into place.

And here’s a little reminder. Being grateful is not ignoring the things in your life that are not going well. Showing gratitude is making the DECISION to focus on the good, despite the bad. We all have days (weeks, moths?) that seem disastrous and frustrating. Life lessons are taught that way – crappy as it seems at the time. Once we learn our lesson – whatever it is at the time – I pray that we share our wisdom with those who are still finding their way. Thank you again for sticking by me – the time to celebrate my second book is just DAYS away! Happy Thanksgiving ! Fill your heart with what is important and forget the rest.

The kitchen – the heart of the home…

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When my love and I were discussing the floor plans of the home we would be building almost 15 years ago, my focus was on the kitchen. No, I am not a master chef, but I am someone that realizes the importance of this room in the house. People navigate towards the kitchen – it’s where we are comfortable, it’s cozy and familiar. No matter how clean or decorated the rest of the house is on a special occasion – the majority of the crowd still ends up in the kitchen – talking, laughing and snacking. I have never regretted the extra time and planning that has gone into this space in our home. This particular rooms holds a treasure of memories for us.

Eating together as a family is important to us and a “no brainer” as a part of our daily schedule. With a husband that leaves at 6 am each work day, I envy those that have the opportunity to share breakfast together. Having dinner as our only family meal makes it that much more special and necessary for me. Now – I am not a fantastic cook. I’m amazed by people that take a bite of a meal and say “This needs …. Name an ingredient. ” If I like something, the best I can offer is “This needs – to get in my belly!” It’s all good. Now that the kids are getting older, they can make a certain meal themselves if they are craving it. Meeting around the table at the end of the day is a casual way for us to stay connected and informed. We discuss schedules, conflicts, high points and low points of the day, and we laugh – a lot. If we have to eat a meal separately, it just doesn’t feel right – and I am having to adjust our schedules quite a bit as these kids get older and their responsibilities hinder them all being home at the same time. The kitchen makes me think of family because it truly is the room that we are all together the most.image

Other than eating, the kitchen represents a place of action. Calls are made, plans are confirmed, the calendar is updated. Homework is completed and projects are finished. The table is usually piled with mail, school fliers, newspapers and magazines waiting to be read. The wood is scratched on the table and if you look closely there are marks from permanent pens and nail polish spills as well. We have a wall that is specified as “command central”. There are 2 oversized cork boards and a hanging file system which we use to organize the chaos created by a family of six. Once again, the kitchen proves essential in allowing this family to succeed. It provides us room to work together – whether  menu planning, preparing Christmas cards, or confirming the details of our next family trip. It is also a space that we enjoy as individuals – blogging, drawing or paying bills and finishing assignments. Win/win.

The walls are painted a soft green and are decorated with memories – pictures, quotes and items we treasure. In one corner, we have a spot to sit and view the backyard – an area coveted by our lazy kitties.  Above it, we have the quote painted “A happy family is but an earlier heaven”. I believe this statement with my whole heart.  Our refrigerator is covered with with magnets that say things like  “My house was clean last week, sorry you missed it”, and “It’s better to have God approve than the world applaud”.  Old school pictures and notes from friends and other things that I hope will make us reflect or smile are also hung up for us to see daily. There is typically a candle lit – my favorite scents are vanilla and cinnamon, but Steve hates to find out that the yummy smell is actually a candle and not a sweet treat for him to enjoy. It is one of my favorite places to be, although it is also the fastest to become a disaster. Clearing the table and counter, doing the dishes and scrubbing the sink and microwave are chores that are forever needing done, yet despised by all. The joy. Regardless- this is the room we always end up in. Together. Did I mention that together is my favorite place to be?image