Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wordless Wednesday


The Boldman Brain Trust at my Graduation Celebration

Wanna get Wordless? Link up HERE with Angrie Julie!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lifestyle Family Fitness Blog Cross-Post

Hi Everyone!

I just thought you'd like to know that waaaay back in August, I was a featured Blogger for Lifestyle Family Fitness, where I teach Body Pump.

Click here to read "Drink the Group Fitness Kool-Aid" by yours truly. It's totally worth your time!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

30 Minutes of Awesome


Last night I had the really cool opportunity through One2One Network, to watch the newest episode of NBC's Community, "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas...BEFORE YOU. Yes, this is the one you've been seeing commercials for; the one that's done in stop-motion claymation, like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.



It. Was. Hilarious. And warm, and touching, and just really really adorable. This is only the second or third time I've watched the show, but my husband is a regular viewer, and through him I know most of the characters. Really, you don't need much background to understand the episode. There are no back-stories or inside jokes. It's just a lot of fun.

I'd describe it as part "Wizard of Oz," part "Willy Wonka," part "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and part "Team America: World Police." Only not as...um...questionable as the latter. And a lot of it is about psychotherapy, which, let's just face it, thrills me like nothing else. I have been sworn to secrecy about the episode's contents and Abed's search, but I can tell you that I really enjoyed watching it. Stop-Motion animation fascinates me. I can just sit there and watch it and think about how long it must have taken to do all those cool things and just get lost in the beauty of it.

I hope you're able to watch it TONIGHT at 8p.m. Eastern/7p.m. Central on NBC. While you're watching, why don't you jump online to the Twitter and chat with some of us from One2One Network, as well as the cast of Community! We can talk about the episode and what Christmas means to us. Some cool prizes, like a Sony Bloggie HD video camera and Community Season 1 DVD's, will be given away to some lucky participants. Click HERE for more details. Please sneak away for 30 minutes--say you have to go to the bathroom, and bring your little bedroom TV in there with you. 30 minutes is TOTALLY reasonable for a bathroom break. You'll want to see this episode, trust me. Even if, like me, you haven't seen the show more than a few times, OR at all! There's music, adventure, and I'm telling you, it's funny and adorable. So please, won't you join us?

*DISCLOSURE* I was provided with an advanced "copy" of this episode streaming to this here computer in exchange for my honest opinion about the show. I was given this fun opportunity because I am a member of One2One Network. This review also enters me into a drawing to win the Season 1 DVD of Community and a Sony Bloggie HD video camera, or one of ten $50.00 gift cards. These opinions are mine and mine alone.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Race Recap

It's taken me a while to get my thoughts together about the OUC Half Marathon last Saturday. It's still hard for me to believe I ran 13.1 miles, let alone process the information that I ran those miles in 2 hours 3 minutes.

I left for the race EXTREMELY early, knowing that I wanted to be at the race site no later than 6:15. I took my chances going toward streets I knew were going to be closed during the race, in order to find parking. I had absolutely no problem getting into the parking garage and found a spot on the third floor! So I braced the cold (it was right around 40 degrees outside!) and left my car, heading in the direction of the starting line. On my way out of the garage a very friendly gentleman from the West Volusia Runners asked me where Lake Eola (where the race was starting) was, and we struck up a conversation all the way to the port-o-potties. We separated there, and I didn't see him again, but I thought about him several times during the race--I hope he did well!

After the port-o-potty stop, I decided I needed to get warm, and praise the Lord...the Panera right by the lake was open! I found a little table, sat down, and just stared into space for a while. I was lucky--because I was there so early I was able to sneak into the bathroom with minimal wait. On my way out of the bathroom I was THRILLED to find my friends Claire and Jen, and Jen's husband Mark, sitting in Panera. I was so relieved--this was a group I wanted to run with, at least for the first several miles, because I knew they'd be going at a fairly quick pace. After a few extra minutes of warmth, we went outside and headed to the starting line. We picked the pace group between 9 and 8 minutes per mile to start out with.

Chatting with my friends kept me calm. That's the only way I can explain it. I am usually SO NERVOUS before a race. But this time, it was like the clock started, and I just casually started running. It was great! It was hard to get into a good pace because of all the people, and trying to stay with the group was a challenge, but we were able to stay together and get into a groove.

The first 1.5 miles was a piece of cake and went by so fast I didn't even realize it. And the miles just kept ticking by. When we passed 3, Claire turned to me and said "Well, now all you have to do is what you did on Thanksgiving, 10 miles." And I smiled, because even at that early stage in the race, I knew I could do it. I had set out with a game plan; I wanted to go at least five miles before taking any water or Gatorade. I had not been training with any water at all, but after last week's 10 miler where I was crazy thirsty by the end, I knew water was going to be necessary. When I hit five miles and realized I had reached my first goal, I was ecstatic. We were having a great time talking and joking around, and the consensus was that we all felt really good. There were many smiles and laughs, and I loved that.

I think it was at that point, or just a little bit before that, that I lost my group. Some of them had slowed down to take water, and I kept going, and just going and going. For a split second, I was scared. I didn't know if I could stay on pace without them, or if I would be able to stay mentally strong without the laughter to distract me. I was going it alone, and I was going fast. I turned up my music, and it felt great to open up on the road. I stuck to my gut feeling that I should take water, so I did. At each water stop starting after five miles, I took a cup of water, slowed down to a brisk walk for five steps and counted them off: one, two, three, four, five; tossed the cup and started running again. It was beautiful. I felt like a well-oiled machine.

The miles ticked by and I kept a mental tally of how many I had left. After five miles the time passed much more slowly. But each time I crossed a new mile, I was amazed that I had made it that far.

When I got to mile nine, and I mean literally as soon as I stepped past the sign, my stomach started to growl. I realized "Holy crap...I'm STARVING." I had to make a quick decision--should I stick with water or go to Gatorade? I hadn't trained with water, so even taking THAT was a risk. But I had no GU, no gels, no gummy snacks, because again, I hadn't trained with them. I decided to take the chance and made the decision to get Gatorade the next time it was offered, knowing that it could totally backfire. I took the cup, took my five steps and sips, threw it to the side, and went on my way. I was fine. The only thing that bothered me was that it seemed to dry my mouth out, but it quelled my hunger, so I just decided to go back to water at the next stop. And let's face it, I only had 4.1 miles to go, so I was almost there!!

At this point we began to run on more brick streets. I had been warned that the brick would be hard on my feet and knees, but I honestly didn't have a big problem with it. And there were sidewalks available that I used if I thought I could go faster.

As I was picking up my pace on one of the brick streets, I noticed two men running in bright neon yellow shirts. The two of them were holding a rope between them. I thought, "what a neat way to stay on pace--hold a rope and just don't let go!" But as I got closer I noticed that the man on the right was talking softly to the other: "Ok, we're on brick now, do you feel that? There's a little dip coming up..." The man on the left was blind. And he was running a half-marathon. He couldn't see the brick, the trees, the beautiful historic Orlando homes, or the other people around him. But he was running. That moment was such an inspiration to me and really kept me going through the rest of the race.

The last 3.1 miles were the longest. And to my knowledge, for at least the last two miles, there were no mile markers. I had been mentally and physically strong up to this point, and I had to fight just a little bit to keep it up and not let myself break down. Then I started to see the elite runners walking back to cheer us on. And I knew--it was almost over. As I rounded the corner onto the last street, "Awake My Soul" by Mumford and Sons came on my iPod. It's a song that means SO MUCH to me, and I had used it the day before to help tell my story in my final presentation for graduate school. I was flooded with emotion and adrenaline, and pushed my hardest. At this point I knew exactly where I was, because I am familiar with downtown Orlando, so I was talking my way through it as I passed buildings and streets.

I can't describe my feelings as I sped up and sprinted to the finish. There were tears in my eyes as I thanked the runners who had come back. I crossed the finish line with my arms in the air, partly out of triumph, partly out of praise to God for giving me a strong body and mind to get through the race. The tears were falling as I walked toward an open area to stretch and text message my husband, who was waiting for me somewhere at the crowded finish line. When he smiled and said "I'm proud of you," I BEAMED. I'm proud of me, too. I felt great. I felt great through the whole race. In just a couple of months I more than doubled the distance I was able to run, and ran a race, finishing in two hours and three minutes. Like I said, it's still hard for me to believe. My friends finished about a minute behind me, SMASHING Jen's goal to finish in 2:05, which would be a new PR for her.

Now I'm left wondering, what's next?! I feel like I can do ANYTHING.

The Accidental Half

On December 4, 2010, I accidentally ran in the OUC Half-Marathon in Orlando, FL. I stumbled upon a start line, and just said "Hmm. I'm not doing anything today; I certainly don't have any motherly responsibilities to take care of *cough cough* so I guess I'll run 13.1 miles! Here I go! Wheee!" Nah, it wasn't THAT kind of accident, but I didn't start out with OUC as my goal, for sure. I guess I'll start at the beginning.

I started running when I stopped dancing, around 2006. I ran with a friend, we ran a couple of 5K's, we felt super-accomplished, and then I stopped running with any sort of purpose or intention and ran every once in a while for fitness, on a treadmill, especially after training to teach Body Pump. Cardio is great in combination with strength training. Don't take my word for it, talk to my six-pack. ANYWAY, I started running seriously again about 2 weeks before we moved back to Florida from Missouri, as I had enrolled in a "Couch Potato to 5K" training program. I wasn't REALLY a couch potato, but I wanted to get back to the basics of running technique and work on improving my time.

When we moved back to Florida, I started running again for fitness, again on the treadmill or briefly outside. Throughout this whole process I never found running to be incredibly difficult, but I always wanted to do it better. So I entered some 5K races. My time at the first one, in the heat of the summer, was 28:00. The next one was 26:37, and the third? 26:00.

Ambitiously, I thought, "Now I'll go for a 10K," and was pretty nervous about SIX WHOLE MILES. I got a training program off the internet, and started on my way. Meanwhile, a group of soon-to-be friends was running three mornings a week, starting at our gym, and gradually adding mileage depending on their race goals. I thought, "I'm too slow for them, I'm sure they're going really fast and really far." Well one day I got lonely and decided to join them, tossing aside my formal training program, with the knowledge in the back of my brain that there was something more for me out there. They accepted me into their fold, and I set out on my first "long" run--FOUR WHOLE MILES. The next week we did FIVE. Then SIX. And then I realized that I'd done it. I'd completed just about 10K, without the training program. AND I had a scheduling conflict and couldn't even run in the 10K. I skipped a week due to illness, and when I found out that my crew had run 8 miles, I was upset. I wanted to accomplish that, too! I kindly asked if they would do 8 the next week with me, and they were more than happy to push me to my goal. The next week, we did TEN. TEN WHOLE MILES. At that point I realized that it was done. The decision was made for me (although I didn't actually register for the race until about 4 days prior), I had trained for a Half-Marathon, completely on accident.

Oops, my bad.

And how did the race go?

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know. But if you want to know the details, you'll have to come back tomorrow and find out.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Holiday Gifts Part 2

I hope you enjoyed reading about this great gift for the "staff" people in your life.

But what about the rest of them? The kids, the adults, the pets? I personally don't get presents for people's pets but maybe you do. *cough cough*nutjob*cough cough*

If you're like me, and your family contains a lot of people, you have a lot of gifts to buy. Even paring it down to "just kids" is a challenge because most for me, most of those people are kids. So far I haven't pared it down that far, but I have taken it down to "just immediate family." Unfortunately that means I don't usually buy presents for cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. Only mine and my husband's parents and siblings. And sometimes the grandparents. They most often at least get a card with a cute picture in it. It kills me to not buy presents for EVERYONE, but it's just not possible right now. So because of the sheer number of people I am buying for, I find it necessary and helpful to stick to a budget. For me, that is a set dollar amount for each person. If you do a "couple's" gift, like a combined gift for mom and dad, then that dollar amount gets doubled for the gift--but if you can keep it within the "singles" dollar amount, that's great!

The set dollar amount is why Black Friday shopping is absolutely necessary for me. I don't have to go crazy with the doorbusters....usually...but it's imperative that I find some pretty sweet deals in order to stay on budget. This year Old Navy was my saving grace. I was able to pick up gifts for all the kids, plus an adult or two, within my budgeted per-person price point. Later, I moved on to J.C. Penney and Barnes and Noble, where I also nabbed some great deals, using coupons to score even more bargains.

So really, I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping. Since Black Friday is over and I'm not QUITE done yet, you might be wondering how I'm going to stick to my budget AFTER the doors have been busted. Here are a few ideas, for me and you, on how to get some great after-black-friday-and-cyber-monday prices:

1. Amazon.com. Every day they are slashing prices on different products. You just have to watch. I suggest "pre-shopping," which is what I do in stores a lot, too. Go onto the site, scope out the product you want, and then wait a couple of days. If it doesn't go on sale for 3 days, go ahead and buy it. OR wait it out! If you have time before NEEDING to ship something, wait to your little heart's content. Also, make sure you sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime, which will get you free shipping! After your free trial is up there's a charge for it, but depending on how hooked you are after your Amazon shopping experience, it may be worth it. If you have a student email account (ending in .edu) you get a membership for free!!!

2. Kohl's. Y'all know Kohl's always has everything on sale. I have my own personal thoughts on that, but I'll save them for a rainy day. I find it difficult to sort through the racks of the sale items, so I usually find coupons online by Google searching for "Kohl's Printable Coupons" and combine that with other sales to make better deals. Also, they usually have some sort of $5.00 item at the front of the door; right now it's Dr. Seuss books and stuffed animals, and that might be an easy way to get some shopping done.

3. Book stores. Any book store is going to have a "Bargain Books" shelf. If you look hard enough, you can find something for everyone. Keep your smart phone handy so when you come across something you THINK someone might like but you're not sure, you can do a quick Google search. For example, "Was Henry Kissinger a Democrat?" "Yes." "Okay, not a good book for Dad. Let's find a Republican bargain book."

4. iPhone Apps. I'm not sure about other smart phones, but there are a few apps for the iPhone that let you take a picture of any item's bar code and it will tell you if there are any local retailers or online retailers that sell the product for cheaper. I always feel like I'm cheating when I'm using my app, but I have more often than not put the item down and headed elsewhere for it.

Alrighty, there you have them. My four biggest tips for Holiday gifts. These are the tips I'm using to get me through the rest of my Christmas shopping. Do you have any more suggestions?

What is your budget this year? How do you plan to stay within those confines?

Friday, December 3, 2010

This little boy...



...Is CLEARLY completely engrossed in the movie "Cars." He didn't even notice I had taken his picture.

What a cutie, huh?!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Gifts, Part 1

Alright folks, this Friday is BLACK FRIDAY. When I worked in retail, I thought it was aptly named because every retail worker LOATHED it like the plague. Alas, that's not the reason this Friday is called Black...even though retail workers, and quite possibly you, still loathe it.

There's just one problem. In order to get sweet $5 t-shirts for your child's entire day-care staff, thus staying within a decent budget, you simply MUST go to Old Navy at an unholy hour to snag them for the crew. Or DO you?

I've found an awesome alternative to the Black Friday craze that can take care of an entire staff in one shot, and is sure to delight the whole bunch. You can order it online. No stores necessary.

Mrs. Prindables
! I reviewed one of their apples this Spring and I was thoroughly delighted with it. To help get me in the holiday spirit, they sent me another one, the Dark Chocolate Delight.

Again, it held up RIDICULOUSLY well on the trip down to Florida, and was delivered in a HUGE box, insulated with much bubble wrap and several cold packs. Here's my package on the "kitchen" table. Oh, and roses are not included in the purchase price--those are from my husband. :)
The Mrs. Prindable's purple box is gorgeous, and makes for a breathtaking presentation.And then you open the box and see the ENORMOUS, over two-pound treat

It's pretty ridiculous.

For my taste test of the Dark Chocolate Delight apple, I chose my co-"workers" at my internship; at a local hospital. They were more than happy to oblige.


One drawback to using this as a "corporate" gift--your recipients will need a very large knife to cut their ginormous apple. If they're easily able to smuggle a large kitchen knife into the workplace, then great. As you can see, I was able to do this very thing.

We sliced the apple into 10 pieces. It was a little bit messy, because the chocolate on the outside is hard. But I was totally okay with "taking care of" the little crumbs.

The consensus? The loved it. Absolutely loved it. Mrs. Prindables is not kidding when they say this apple can feed 8-10 people. We had 8 people partaking in the apple festivities, and 2 had seconds. The dark chocolate was delicious, but the caramel was the big hit. It was, as one of my co-"workers" said, "GOOEY." It was just the right amount of salty to pair with the tangy/sweet Granny Smith apple, and to balance out the sweet/bitter dark chocolate. They were also pleasantly surprised, as I was the last time I reviewed this tasty treat, that the apple was FRESH. It was crisp, juicy, and did not taste like it had been in my indoor mailbox for 3 days, then my refrigerator for a few more.

The apples are about $22.95, but if you think about all that you're getting, it's not a bad price at all. AND let's say you're planning on getting a gift for your child's day care or preschool teacher and staff anyway...$22.95 is a great price to split amongst those people. If you were getting them individual gifts, you'd easily spend at least $35.00. Why not get them this amazing gift?

And here's something cool. Rue La La is offering these apples starting at $15.00! Just go to Rue La La, and use "Boston" as your location. Scroll down and click on the "Mrs. Prindables" banner, and voila! Chocolate Apple Bliss. For cheap. I love cheap. And psssst...I hear if you sign up using that link I just gave you, you get a credit. Just sayin.' While you're at Rue La La, check out their other boutiques. They offer great designer swag at a deep discount. I just bought Zeke some kickin' designer shoes for $20.00!

Let me know in the comments what you're getting your staff members--your teachers, co-workers, church groups, etc.

And check back with me after Black Friday to see how I shopped on the cheap. I love cheap. Have I mentioned that?!

**YO, FTC, PEEP THIS: I received a "Dark Chocolate Delight" Jumbo Apple for my very own for free from Mrs. Prindables. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. It was delicious, I assure you.**

Thursday, November 11, 2010

What do you think?!


Half Marathon
. December 4, 2010. Your thoughts?


We've been training hard.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

200th Post!

This, my friends, is my TWO-HUNDREDTH post on this here blog!

I think it's only appropriate to celebrate this monumentous occasion by 1., making up words like monumentous, and 2., celebrating my complete, total, utter lack of influence in social media.

I've been "hearing" a lot about the website Klout on Twitter lately, well, as much as you can HEAR things on Twitter; I guess I've been SEEING a lot about it on Twitter. ANYWAY, it's a website that measures your overall influence on the interwebs. If you want to know some particulars about how they measure, click here. It's actually pretty interesting.

According to Klout, I pretty much have ZERO influence. Like, the cat who scratches at my roof every morning at 4:00 has more influence than me. My Klout score is....*drumroll please*....

SIX.

It seems that in April of 2010, my score was a whopping 30, which is a lot better than SIX. I have declined in interestingness over the months, it seems.

And I've got bad news for you, my engaged audience. According to Klout, YOUR level of influence is ONE. hahahahaha sucks to be you!!!! Just kidding. No, I'm not. Look at your Klout score, now look at mine. Now back at yours, now back at mine.

I feel like I'm at a middle school dance and "I Swear" just came on and all the cool kids paired up to dance at an arm's length and maybe sweat on each other. Now I'm huddled in the bathroom crying.

Someone send the P.E. teacher in to check on me, ok?!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Pumpkin Patches Through The Years

October 2008 in Longwood, FL


October 2009 somewhere near Joplin, MO
yes, I'm serious, I have no idea where this was taken


October, 2010 Longwood, FL (same pumpkin patch as 2008)



My, how time FLIES

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Comment

I posted this comment in response to Amber's post about Claiming a New Name. I really wanted to post it here.

My name is Rachel. Little Lamb. I hated my name for a long time, because who wants to be named after a farm animal? But then, when I was a senior in High School, I had to analyze this poem, and ironically at the same time was singing the words set to music in my voice lessons. And then my name came to mean SO MUCH to me.

“The Lamb” by William Blake
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed,
By the stream and o’er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I’ll tell thee.
He is called by thy name,
For He calls Himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and He is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child, and thou a lamb,
We are called by His name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

So my NEW name is the same name, the name the Lord audibly told my mother I would be. It just means something new to me.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lots of numbers

We are gearing up for our EIGHTH move as a married couple.

We've only been married FOUR years.

If I let them, these facts will grab hold of my every limb, start swirling and overwhelm me, taking me down with them.

You see, approximately SEVEN days after we signed a lease and moved into an adorable, moderately priced house, thus moving out of my parents' house and out on our own into the wild blue yonder, my husband was offered a job approximately 45 miles away in Daytona Beach. The lease we signed was for ONE year. Which meant, at the point we officially accepted the job, we had ELEVEN months left. The day Josh got the job was the day I stopped unpacking, which means we still have FOUR MILLION boxes in various states of unpacked-ness in our house.

The good news is that whenever we are ready, we can begin advertising that our house is up for rent again, and be released from our remaining HOWEVERMANY months there are left on our lease as soon as someone else can fill it. The bad news is that we haven't started that process because I still have about EIGHT weeks left of my internship here in Orlando. So Josh will commute for a while. It's not that bad...it takes the same amount of time to get up there as it does to get to downtown Orlando because of traffic/lack of traffic. It means that we'll be without him on Wednesday and Saturday nights, but I think with a little ice cream I can convince Zeke that it's alright.

The good-er news is that my husband is back in ministry. This is a full-time youth-pastor position that includes responsibilities at a school, and he is in love. We were meant to take time away--I didn't think it would only be SIX months, but God doesn't tend to give me much warning about these sorts of things. He figures it's better for me to be surprised. So here we go, head-over-feet-first, ready to take on a new challenge. Yes, it involves many more transitions and many more unknowns, which I am not known to deal well with, but there are a few things I do know:

I have ONE happy husband, which makes me ONE happy wife.
I have ONE amazing toddler who adapts to his environment easily.
I have ONE really awesome father in heaven who will take care of us and love me even when I'm sick of all this transition.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

t-minus 3 days and counting...

On Saturday I will depart Orlando in my massive '01 Buick Lesabre to go to Miami for a few days, where I will do something extremely cool. Extremely cool and just a little bit nerdy.

On Sunday I will don a new "hat." I will be a PRESENTER at the Florida Counseling Association's annual state conference.

If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that my presentation "Perinatal Death and Bereavement: Implications for the Counseling Profession" was accepted as a 90 minute "breakout session" at this conference.

Did I mention that I am STILL A STUDENT? Yes, I, as a student, was accepted to speak at a conference. I'm trying to tell myself that it's not; but really, it IS a BIG DEAL. To me, at least.

I've been out of commission for a while now (for about 6 months my posts have been infrequent at best, and I've all but abandoned "Operation KidConnect," the way cool project for which Hallmark sent me some awesome cards...and really, I'd love to get it going again but let's face it. I had fewer blog readers on my "Operation KidConnect" days than I did all week. What's up with that? Aaaaaaaanyway.) because of school, but more recently because I've been so busy preparing for this presentation. I'm in obsessive list-writing mode, with a pad of paper by my side of the bed, and I wake up at all hours of the night, grab a pen and add to my list of "things to pack":
*underwear (really? do I have to list this? I mean, DUH)
*face wash (yeah, this is a legitimate "wake up in the middle of the night" item because I have forgotten it)
*belts
*3 shirts
*3 pairs of pants
...and then I write out every single outfit I am going to wear for the entire conference.

I'm not kidding. Right now my list-making is officially a compulsion.

ANYWAY, back to the conference. I'm speaking on Sunday afternoon, and I'm terrified. When I think about it, I get paralyzed for a split second. But I'm just going to get up there and treat it as a performance. No, I will not be picturing the audience in their underwear.

I hope to leave the conference with a renewed sense of confidence in my intelligence and competence as a counselor....and a job. These things are great for networking, I hear.

I'll let you all know how it goes!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Heathen Sunday

This morning, we skipped church. It will be the last Sunday we'll be able to have that luxury for a while. SO, we took the opportunity to engage in some debauchery like this:







And this.....


And then when he said "Want to go very higher, daddy!"...we did!

And this is what happened:

We got "high" this Sunday and loved every minute of it. Also, we fed the ducks and swans a whole bag of hot dog buns. The deadly sin of gluttony was indulged as Zeke yelled "EAT IT, Swan! EAT IT Pigeon! EAT IT, ducky!" And who were they to resist the temptation (and direct order from their superior)?!

Why we were playing, another boy about Zeke's age pulled down his pants under the 2-5 year old play structure and peed. Right there in front of God and everyone, just...peed.

We decided it was time to go. Hooray for heathen Sundays!

Monday, September 20, 2010

My Big Night Out

On Saturday I had the rare opportunity to participate in a GNO. No, that's not an embarrassing appointment that involves stirrups. In case you're not cool enough to know *ahem* GNO stands for "Girls Night Out," of course. I'm not usually invited to such events, but this time, it was my night to shine! Well, my night to celebrate a friend's birthday, at least.

Prior to leaving the house, I consulted my closest fashion adviser, Melissa of "A Working Mom's Closet" That's right y'all, I KNOW her! This is the picture I tweeted at her:

I was so excited to go I didn't wait for her reply, but she ended up giving me some great tips on what accessories might go well with this ensemble.

I had a blast, and I felt super confident. Sometimes you just need to run ideas by a friend, you know? All hail the GNO!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Hardest Job I Have Ever Done....

....was most definitely NOT "Stay At Home Mom"

I hear the gasps from the mom-blogosphere. I hear the gnashing of teeth, the screeching, I even hear the finger pointing (yes, I can hear fingers pointing) and screams of "TRAITOR!"

I'm about to lose my mom-card for it, but I don't take that statement back. I'm dead serious. Being a stay at home mom was CAKE compared to what I'm going through right now, and y'all know how much I love cake.

Yes, I know, being a stay-at-home mom is a challenge, to say the least. Remember, I was there once. And it was bliss. Wonderful, blissful...bliss. Only I didn't realize it at the time. My friend Erin's post about loving her relaxed schedule reminded me how challenging being a stay-at-home mom is, AND how much I miss it, as well as making me realize that what I'm doing right now is infinitely harder.

Would you like a peek into my day? You don't care? Oh well, I want to show you. It's time to peel back the curtain on a day in the life of A WORKING MOM, the hardest job I have EVER had:
4:30 a.m.: Wake up, get ready to go to the gym. Since I don't stay home anymore, I can't go during the day, and the evening is out because I've got a 2 year old to take care of and dinner to "cook" (if you count Hamburger Helper as cooking)

5:00 a.m.: I'm at the gym, running or doing some other hellish thing.

5:30 a.m.: I'm in a class, either spinning or BodyPump.

6:00 a.m.: I leave the class early. I hate doing that, but I've got to shower and get ready for the day in the locker room. I have to be back home by....

6:30 a.m.: Run in the door, where my husband has already woken up our son. Zeke is sitting at the table with messy hair, sleepy eyes, and is downing a cereal bar.

6:45 a.m.: Leave the house

6:55 a.m.: Drop Zeke off at Day Care. He loves it there, and he gets his full breakfast once he arrives. Don't get your undies in a bunch, he eats more than a cereal bar.

7:00 a.m.: Back on the road, on our way to downtown Orlando.

7:30 a.m.: Drop my husband off at work

7:45 a.m.: Arrive at my "work," which is actually an internship that I don't get paid for, but love with every fiber of my being.

8:30 a.m.: Morning meeting. After this meeting, the day "officially" gets started for me.

2:00-4:00 p.m.: Finish for the day. After I finish, I can do errands around downtown or the nearby area, but I have to stay around the general vicinity. Sometimes I go to Panera and work on school stuff, but most often, I just end up staying and working until...

5:30 p.m.: Pick up Josh at his job

5:35 p.m.: Back on the road

6:05 p.m.: Pick Zeke up at day care and toss him (gently) in the car

6:15 p.m.: Arrive at home.

Here's where it varies. On NORMAL days, this is how it goes:
6:20 p.m.: Start cooking dinner

6:45 p.m.: Eat dinner with the slowest-eating toddler on the planet

7:20 p.m.: Brush Zeke's teeth, get his pajamas on, or if he's lucky, give him a bath

7:30 p.m.: Zeke in bed

AFTER 7:30 p.m.: Do dishes, laundry, clean, make lunches for the next day.

On days where I HAVE CLASS, this is how it goes:
6:15 p.m.: Drop Zeke and Josh off in the driveway and peel out onto the interstate.

7:00 p.m.: Arrive in Deland, FL for my class.

9:00 p.m.: Class is over

9:45 p.m.: Arrive home, do dishes, laundry, clean, make lunches for the next day.

So there you have it. I will not be one of THOSE mom bloggers and sigh and say in a sweet voice, "I wouldn't trade it for the world" or anything lame like that. Because, the truth is, I WOULD trade it. I would trade it for lots of things (except my internship, because I really like that except for the "for free" part). Would you like to make an offer?

My schedule is crazy, and I am exhausted. You?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shout Outs!

Just wanted to give a quick shout out to my top referral sites this past week. All that means is that some of you found my blog through these other sites! I'm honored that you found me through them because these peeps are AMAZING:

Kingdom First Mom
Reluctant Entertainer
Angry Julie
Google (that's right, if you Googled me, I know about it)

Thanks, y'all!

Kisses!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Awake My Soul

Literally every day I ask myself why Jesus chooses to take babies and little children, as well as all the otherwise defenseless ones, to be with Him. It's something I won't understand on this side of heaven...and I don't want to understand. The mystery makes my job easier.

AWAKE MY SOUL
Mumford & Sons

How fickle my heart
and how woozy my eyes
I struggle to find
any truth in your lies
And now my heart stumbles
on things I don't know
This weakness I feel
I must finally show

Lend me your hand
and we'll conquer them all
But lend me your heart
and I'll just let you fall
Lend me your eyes
I can change what you see
But your soul you must keep,
totally free

In these bodies we will live,
in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love,
you invest your life
In these bodies we will live,
in these bodies we will die
Where you invest your love,
you invest your life

Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul
You were made to meet your maker
Awake my soul, awake my soul
Awake my soul
You were made to meet your maker
You were made to meet your maker

Friday, September 3, 2010

The One Where I'm on the News

Yesterday Zeke and I were minding our own business, running around at a local Orlando park, waiting for Josh to get out of work, when all of a sudden, Ryan Hughes from WFTV Channel 9 asked if he could interview me on camera for a news story.

ME???!! It took me about .2 seconds to say "Sure!" I didn't have time to call my hair and makeup people, but I thought I looked pretty good, and the camera guy said I could keep my sunglasses on. Maybe because I didn't have any makeup on. Hmmm. ANYWAY....

As you may already know, I love the camera. And I think the camera loves me. See for yourself; my 2 seconds (literally, it's about 2 seconds) of fame is right here for your viewing pleasure.

The subject matter is extraordinarily disturbing, but I think I brought a little "fabulous" to the piece, don't you? What? What's that? You're wondering where my child was during my on-camera debut? I have no idea. Probably running around terrorizing swans or something. JUST kidding, he was holding my hand the whole time and even said "hi" to the camera man and reporter after we were done. He was totally charming. But really, I was the star.

Thanks, WFTV for my big break! And Ryan Hughes, if you're reading, you have really nice teeth.

Just sayin'.

Monday, August 16, 2010

In which I get photobombed by @herbadmother

With all the talk about Blogging conferences, I thought I should chime in. Not so much because I have anything to say, but more because I just can't stand to be (read: FEEL) left out. So here is a picture from Blissdom 2010:


This is what you would call a "photobomb", no?

Here I was, just trying to take a picture with Tanis and her sparkle stick, when Catherine Connors, of HerBadMother jumps in there with the classic "L." Thanks! I feel special! And totally not left out! :)

Thanks, ladies, for letting me into your world for a while. You two are some of my favorite Canadians. If you, dear reader, are unfamiliar with these two, make sure you click those linkies up there. They've got great stories and they tell them well. Please also read about Tutus for Tanner. The community that has rallied around this little boy is amazing. Amazing and quite possibly unstoppable.

And she was on CNN, y'all!

Ok I'm done.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Attention Publix Shoppers!

Hi frugal friends, I'm hoping you can shed some light on something for me.

Today, my local Publix told me that they accept one Internet Coupon (IC) per product. Now, to me, that means that if I have three $1.00 off Prego Sauce coupons, for example, that I can use one of those ICs per jar of sauce, meaning that I can get three Prego sauce jars and each of them will be $1.00 off. They are saying that regardless of the number of items and number of coupons you have, you can only use ONE IC per product: thus, I can only use ONE $1.00 off coupon on my three jars of sauce, even though I have three coupons and three jars of sauce. They are manufacturer's coupons. Why can't I use one coupon per product? Now, what you CAN do is do each of those products in a new transaction and use each coupon per jar of sauce, you just can't do it in one transaction.

Eventually, after explaining to the manager what I wanted to do (and him looking at me like I was trying to steal from his store when I told him I wanted to use a coupon on a BOGO offer) for about 5 minutes, he let the cashier use my extra coupons. I had VERY carefully matched up my products and coupons.

Does that make ANY sense to anyone out there? Are other Publix stores doing this? Have you run into this at your store?

Halp!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Got it.

Today at "work," (well really, we were at lunch), I started to get that feeling. You know, the cold pricklies and sweat and overall tummy...yuck. As soon as I recognized it, I made the executive decision to go home. All my "co-workers" know that my son and husband have been sick over the past few days and I have been sanitizing everything I touch in the office. They were prepared. I wasn't.

I made it home in a daze, but I made it. I got myself straight into bed and slept for about an hour. The following few hours were rough, but right now it is 8:42 p.m., I haven't thrown up, and I feel almost normal. My piece of toast and sips of Gatorade have, so far, been successful, and I think I'm back on track.

The virus that has ripped through my house? I got it. But so far, it hasn't gotten me.

Crud: 2 Boldmans: 1

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Blast from the Past

**Today I'm re-posting one of my most popular blog posts from the past few years. On my stat counter, the most searched for phrase is some variant of "You live and learn and then get Luvs," which lands you to this post right here. Today I'm re-posting it because I read it again and it made me laugh. I hope it makes you at least giggle. Maybe chortle. Just don't roll your eyes, ok?**


"Live and Learn and Then Get Luvs"

....and then probably go back to using Huggies.

I'm turning into a bit of a diaper snob. Let's start at the beginning, shall we?

I have about a million $1.00-$1.50 off coupons for Huggies diapers. Some of them expire later this month, while others expire in 2009. I typically buy diapers every week, except for the past few weeks, as my son has just grown into the size 2 JUMBO-GINORMOUS pack I was given at my baby shower. So last week the time came to buy diapers, and I had my Huggies coupon in hand, and I marched my happy little butt up to the diaper aisle at Wal-Mart. There they were, Huggies size 2, with Winnie the Pooh characters and all sorts of fluffy cuddle-weave-y stuff all over them. $9.99, as expected. And then, of course, I had my coupon. Suddenly, my eyes were drawn to the left, where I saw LUVS brand diapers, for $7.50. And there's 50 of them in a pack! Suddenly, I was torn between two diaper brands. I stood there for, no lie, about five whole minutes, deciding whether or not I should take a chance and get the LUVS diapers this week. I had this horrible anxious feeling in my chest, like I was about to be a bad mother for switching diapers on my son. I was reassured by that voice inside my head--no, not THAT one--the one that said "You live and learn, and then get LUVS." That's right, I was ultimately swayed by their advertising--good job, LUVS PR reps! Your college degrees earned you a new customer! So now I've lived and learned, I got LUVS, and I'm not all that thrilled with them. Here's why:

1. LUVS have a scent. It's not an unpleasant scent, but it is a scent, nonetheless. It's kind of a baby powder-y sort of smell.

2. They are extremely thin. Yes, they have the "leak lock core" or something like that, but they feel like tissue paper.

3. When my son pees the gallons that he does every day, the diapers end up feeling like a water balloon. They're all sloshy. Huggies just feel heavier. You can't actually feel the liquid in them.

4. Let's talk poop. If you've ever nursed a child or changed a nursed child's diaper, you know that their poop is the consistency of mustard when it's at its most solid. Other times, it's extremely liquid, and sometimes it's even gel-like. Sorry, I know that's gross. Being so thin, and only really absorbing ACTUAL liquid, LUVS doesn't handle the poop very well. Huggies at least absorbs it. I wonder if LUVS work better for formula fed babies, who have a more solid, sticky poop. Okay, no more poop.

5. LUVS have sticky tabs rather than Velcro. I like the Huggies Velcro tabs.

6. Because they are so thin, LUVS are loud. When Zeke moves, it sounds like he is rolling around in tissue paper.

So there you have it--I'm not sure if I'll stick with LUVS or if I'll go back to Huggies. The fact that LUVS are at least $1.00 less than Huggies, even when I have a coupon, is a major selling point. For now, they're all I've got. So I have to avert my eyes when I'm changing Zeke and he looks up at me with those puppy dog eyes as if to say, "Why did you switch my diaper brand, mom?! I thought we had a good thing going with Winnie the Pooh!" Oh, the guilt.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Something Came Up

Sunday morning was fairly normal. We had moved all of our personal possessions out of storage and into our new rental house the day before; so maybe we were a little tired. Zeke didn't eat all of his waffles for breakfast but I didn't think much of it because he ate well the night before. He played and laughed and tickled with Daddy, and then we went to church.

When we picked Zeke up from children's church, he was more clingy than normal, but that wasn't unusual because he gets overwhelmed very easily and there were MANY more children than usual. Our little family, under the cover of a nice church member's huge umbrella, braved the rain to get into the car and drive to our new home. I turned around to strap Zeke into his car seat, and he looked at me with wide eyes, looking as if he was about to cry. I asked, "Zeke honey, what's wrong? Are you sad?" He nodded "yes" and said he was wet (we all were from the torrential downpour) and asked "Too wet. Mommy wipe it?" and pointed to his arm. So I did. I wiped the rain off my little boy's arms and legs and it seemed that he perked up.

Driving through the flooded streets of downtown Orlando, we were discussing where to go for lunch and formulating a plan to put Zeke down early for his nap based on the continual yawning coming from the back seat. We got onto the interstate and decided to take a different exit, a couple of miles away from our usual one, that would be closer to our new house. Zeke started to cough, and we didn't think anything of it because he had an allergy cough for about a week and we hadn't given him his medicine. Then he started mumbling. Red flags went up for Josh and I so I turned around and asked him what was wrong. A couple coughs and more mumbling. So I asked again, "Bubba, what's wrong?" To which he said, "My tummy's full. Please to kiss it, mommy?" So I kissed my fingers and touched his belly. The look on his face was not good. I turned to Josh--"Is he going to..."

Two coughs, I turn back to him and try to get my lunch bag to his mouth but it's too late.

He vomited.

All. Over.

All over himself and his car seat. He was holding his special stuffed animal, Harvey Hamel the Camel, who seemed unscathed. The vomit ran down through the creases in his car seat onto the seat of the car and...yuck.

Then he began to cry. "Wipe it, mama!!!" Please picture this with me. I am turned completely around in the front passenger seat, wiping vomit off of my son's bare arms, legs, and clothing. And then I realize, "what am I going to do with the wipes now that they've got vomit all over them?" With deft precision I reach into the door's pocket and get an old Ziploc bag (you know you have a stash of them from car snack-time, too). So now I am turned completely around in my seat wiping vomit off of my son and tossing the vomitous wipes into an old sandwich baggie. It was quite a sight. We were able to get to the next exit, which was our old exit, and get to my parents' house.

It was disgusting.

You could say that our original plans to finish moving out of my parents' house because, well, something came up.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Today

I took today off from "work."

Why? Because tomorrow my husband and I will be making our SEVENTH move as a married couple....and I wanted to relax a little bit. This time we are hoping it will be much easier than the last six, because all of our stuff is in storage. That, and we're moving it from a storage unit that is about a quarter mile away from the house we're renting. Not like last time, when as you might recall, we had to do this:
I can't find the picture, but some of you may remember that our stuff BARELY fit. Thanks to the genius of some great men from our church, including the late Andy Higgins, we were able to get on the road in record time.

And then we came back six months later. And had to pack another truck, this one slightly bigger, with minimal help (I'll write more on that later this week).

I still don't know how I feel about our journey thus far, but it's nice to know that tomorrow I will have my stuff back. If I've learned anything throughout this (still very young) marriage and our SEVEN moves, it's that stuff is just stuff. But in the past four months, I've realized that stuff that's yours and UNIQUELY yours makes you feel more comfortable, more at ease, and less anxious.

So here's to moving our stuff back into a place we can call "home."

And to my co-workers: Yes, my diffuser will be unearthed ASAP. You won't have to look at my frizzy fuzzy hair for much longer.

I'm so happy I could cry.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Quick Survey

Hey y'all,

Just a quick survey for muh peeps...

Would you be interested in a weekly Winn Dixie Coupon Match-Up? Cause I want to do one.

Just wondering,

Me.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Declaration

I hereby declare the Boldman Family's INDEPENDENCE!

We found a cute little house near where we are currently living, and have decided to put down a deposit and application to rent it.

We are so super excited, and I can't wait to show you pictures! I can't wait to make it "my own."

Will you follow me on the journey? I'd love to keep you updated!

In the meantime, if you have any burning questions you'd like to ask me, you can catch up with me on Formspring! My user name is NotJustA. Feel free to post a question to me and sign up to be notified by email when I answer!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Someone I know

I just want to draw attention to someone I am proud to say I know, and whom I am glad to call a friend.

She is working on her "40 x 40" list. 40 things she wants to do before the big four-oh.

Claire is absolutely amazing, and I hope to come out on the other side of adversity HALF as well as she has.

Join Claire on her journey here. You should also check out this amazing organization, where she is the executive director. Oh, and check out this post...cause there's a picture of me and my husband! Holla!!!

Friday, July 9, 2010

What's going on?

Hi everyone...

Just checking in to see who's still with me.

I've been absent and I hate it. I really enjoy writing and connecting and I just haven't been able to do that lately.

The bottom line is, hubby and I are working EXTREMELY hard to get out on our own. The only problem is, I only get paid in class credit (who knew that they don't take that as currency at Chick Fil A?) and the occasional piece of cake for a co-worker's baby shower.

We're working our butts off, and it seems like we're not getting anywhere. At least, it seems that way to me. I think my husband has a better "big picture" view than me right now, which is ironic because this time last year I was the one making long-range plans. Now I've got a thousand-yard-stare and can't make a solid decision to save my life.

Ever been there?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

States

I saw a guy walking in Downtown Orlando today with a shirt that said "I love my State." My immediate thought was, "Florida is not that great. I'm sweating and the A/C in my car won't blog cold because my car sat on a hot parking garage roof all day." But then I thought about the other states.

How do you feel about your mental state?
What about the state your life is in right now?
How about the state of your marriage?
Or the state of all your relationships, for that matter?
The state of your faith?

What say you?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Paranoid and over-controlling? NAH.

I'm new to the "day care mom" role. Zeke's been in full-time care for, oh, about six weeks, and it feels like FOREVAH. You shouldn't be surprised that he's doing great. He's healthy, growing, INCREDIBLY social, knows all his colors, most of his shapes, his ABC's, and quantum physics (he gets that from his daddy). But there are a few things he's learned that I'm not thrilled about. They are, as follows:

* The phrase "shake your booty."

* Pointing his fingers at me and saying "pew! pew!" as if he's shooting a gun.

* The word "no."

* The word "mine."

* The fact that he has an opinion.

And here, my friends, are the two ABSOLUTE WORST things he could have POSSIBLY learned in school. I tremble in fear at the very thought:

* DORA

* SPONGEBOB

O.M.G. I about had a heart attack when I went to pick him up early the other day and he was asking another child about Dora. "No, God! Not my sweet baby!" THEN he started saying "Want watch Spongebob!" I passed out. Really, I blacked out for just a second.

I don't want him to watch Dora because it's just plain annoying. So really, there's no issue there that holds any sort of water. I can get over the Dora thing and just not watch it at home. But I have more of a true issue with Spongebob. I truly believe that it's NOT a kids show, and that it's rude and gross. The only time I've ever watched it, the yellow fellow was farting, burping, and pulled down his pants to show his butt. I just don't like that. Can I get an "amen?"

So this morning, my husband very calmly and non-chalantly (I'm so proud of you, honey!) asked the director where he may have gotten the "Spongebob" thing from. She confirmed our belief that they do not have a TV in the building (PRAISE JESUS!) but that they do listen to CD's for music time. She said that they have a Barney CD (which we already knew because Zeke is totally obsessed with the dino) but that they also have a bunch of Spongebob tapes that they listen to. I can't say I feel a WHOLE lot better, but maybe a little bit. We're not really sure what to do here. Being realistic, I can see that I'm probably the only parent who cares about this. But being Zeke's mom, I know what I do and don't want him exposed to. I'm not going to tell them not to play the tapes because it's their school, not mine (aren't you proud of me not acting all "entitled?!"). This is surely the first of many songs/videos/curse word issues I'm going to have with him at school throughout the rest of his life. How do I deal?

Can some of you more experienced moms help me out? What would you do in this situation? What HAVE you done in this situation?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Healing.

I heard somewhere (maybe it was in a book, which would mean I read it...or maybe it was our pastor who said it in a sermon) that you know you're healing from a hurt when you can pray for the person who hurt you:

When you no longer wish that harm befall him/her...

When something about that person causes you concern...

When you can honestly go to the Lord and pray for that person...

This week I had a very humbling experience. My heart broke for someone who broke mine. I found out that a certain person who was once in my life is having treatment for something that medically, was thought to be resolved.

Honestly, I was surprised when tears welled up in my eyes as I read what was going on. Before I could process what was happening, I had already begun praying for the person. I actually stopped myself and thought, "What the **** am I doing?!" For the next few minutes I fought it. HARD. But eventually God got the best of me and I gave in. It was time to take yet another step toward letting go. So I prayed. And I've prayed every time I've thought of it since.

If that person, or anyone who knows that person, is reading this, I just want you to know that you and your whole family are in my prayers. I am concerned and worried and my heart hurts for you. In praying for you, I was also led to pray for my own forgiveness for the sin of my bitterness. So thank you.

It's not much, and I'm still on the mend, but it's a start. And it feels really good to let go of just a little bit more.

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
--Matthew 5:44-45

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Operation KidConnect!!!

**********************************
Welcome!!! Operation KidConnect is a little project where I partner with Hallmark cards in an effort to encourage the special kids in my life. I hope you'll take this opportunity to do the same!
If you are new to Operation KidConnect and want to catch up, the introduction is here. If you want to find out some more about the kids I am personally encouraging throughout this project, please click here.
***********************************

Reluctantly crouched at the starting line,
Engines pumping and thumping in time.
The green light flashes, the flags go up,

Churning and burning, they yearn for the cup.


Have you ever been to an elementary school track meet? You walk from the parking lot across the field into a sea of parents and older siblings dragging little ones into a throng of munchkins. All that's missing is the Lollipop Guild, really. The air is a mix of fifth-grade-boy sweat and palpable anxiety as the kids line up in age groups and prepare to race. Some parents are practically forcing their kids to get into their age group. Some are super-prepared in sweat bands and UnderArmour. Others are in jeans or pajama bottoms, totally ill-prepared for what's next.
And then, the announcer yells to start. And it's all a blur. A flurry of lanky, skinny legs and arms flailing past the start line. They're about to run a mile. That might as well be 100 miles to a first-grader.

They deftly manouver and muscle for rank,
Fuel burning fast on an empty tank,
Wreckless and wild they pour thru the turns,

Their prowess is potent and secretly stern.

The course is marked by the "rabbit," an older, cooler kid who is honestly just more able to hide his exhaustion and panting from the others. They run. And they run. Of course, there are winners in every age group, which means someone loses. Some cross the finish line to the cheers of encouragement from their waiting families. Others are pushed more forcefully: "Keep going! You've got this! Come ON, PASS him Jason!!!" Some cry. Yes, at K2's final race of the season a girl crossed the finish line first....in hysterical tears.

As they speed through the finish the flags go down.
The fans get up, and get out of town.
The arena is empty except for one man,

Still driving and striving as fast as he can.

The most remarkable part about an elementary school race is not the winners or even the losers, or the flailing frantic kids. It's what happens after the winners AND the losers have crossed the finish line. It's when the kids who never even had a chance cross the finish line. The scrawny, the unpopular, and the special needs kids. And when they are accompanied by their parents, who have chosen to run the race with them and encourage them through the breathless "I can't do it, I can't do it, I just can't"...THAT is what it's all about. THAT is where the true strength is found. There is no one left in the bleachers, the rabbits have gone off to make out with their 5th grade girlfriends, and the score-keeper is packing up her table. And still, they cross.

How do you "go the distance" for or with your kids? How can you "go the distance" with a kid who's not your own but who desperately needs your encouragement?

* Song lyrics taken from "Going the Distance" by Cake. Cake is an awesome band.


* I did not receive any compensation from Hallmark for doing Operation KidConnect. I just really like Hallmark and I hope they like me too. :)



Monday, June 7, 2010

Connecting....

Hi everyone...

I've been...out of touch recently. I've really been sad knowing that my blog is here waiting for me to write; just waiting for the words to fall on the page. Trust me, there's much to discuss. Unfortunately not much of it can be discussed on the interwebz. Strike that, NONE of them can be discussed on the interwebz. It's sad, really.

Here's what I CAN tell you:

* I am LOVING every minute of my internship. Really, that's all there is to say about that. I mean, I have never been so sure that I am exactly where I am supposed to be, doing exactly what I'm supposed to do.

* My requirements for graduation are intense. There's a huge exam to study for, a paper to write, a portfolio to prepare and a presentation to craft. I work for at least 3 hours every day on one or all of those tasks. It's exhausting but I keep reminding myself that I only have 5 more months left.

* My son, for the most part, enjoys his day care. It's really precious to ride home with him and hear all about his friends and his teachers. He tells the best little stories!

* We share a car. That means I'm taking time out of my day (and Josh is taking time out of his) to commute with each other to Zeke's day care, then to work, then back to Zeke's day care, then home. We leave the house before 7:00 a.m. and don't get back until after 6:30. It's pretty brutal. Does anyone want to give us a free car? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

* We are doing our best to draw close to the Lord through this time and to really sort out the lessons that are to be learned. There are about 1,000 I'm sure.

* We are just doing our best, and just getting by.

So I apologize to those of you who have been reading my Operation KidConnect posts. I'm extremely upset that I haven't been able to post them regularly, and I know I should write my posts on the weekends and schedule them throughout the week and blah blah blah, but I am really struggling. Now that I don't spend all day with my toddler, when I do get to spend time with him on the weekends it's really important that I take that time and unplug from my various devices.

Today at church, the pastor said "saying that someone has 'potential' is a compliment...until it's an indictment." Meaning, you can have all the potential you want, but at some point you need to use it. That's what I'm doing here, trying to finish my degree and yes, WORKING once I receive it. I'm struggling through massive feelings of guilt about putting Zeke in day care and mourning the loss of the freedom I once had to take walks, go to the gym, go to play dates and see my friends. Finishing is one of the most difficult decisions I've made. It would have been easier for me to keep the status quo and blame my lack of completion of this degree on "time running out" or "life happening" or something like that. But the truth is, I have the power to finish this thing. And if these gifts of mine are truly given to me by God, which I wholeheartedly believe they are, then God will see me through this internship, through graduation and onto a fulfilling job. So basically I've realized that it's time to start acting like I believe this. So that's what I'm doing. I'm sorry that's caused me to be a little bit out of touch lately. I hope to have some thoughts about connecting with kids a little bit later this week.

You all rock. Thanks for reading. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

6:8

Micah 6:8
He has showed you, O Man, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

I need to level with you really quick. I've been disturbed by many people's Facebook status updates, as of late. Such updates never used to affect me, because I didn't put much faith in them. I guess I just never took them seriously, because I figured that you can say ANYTHING on Facebook or Instant Messenger (oooh, remember away messages?!! wow.) and it wasn't necessarily what you were REALLY thinking. But now, with the rise of social media, blogging, and the like, Facebook is the new phone call. This is how we find out how each other is (are?) thinking and feeling. People we wouldn't normally wonder, or care about, let alone solicit opinions from, we are now reading their every thought. And, "...out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks." So your heart overflows what's in it, into your speech, or online, out your fingers through the keyboard and blasts itself onto the internet.

What's coming out of YOUR heart?

What do your political affiliations say about you? I'm not talking Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or Ted Nugent. I'm talking about what you believe about what is going on in this country, no not just this country, the WORLD. Out of the overflow of your heart, your mouth speaks. So does your heart respect the leadership that God has allowed over this country? Don't tell me, "Oh, I love *insert political leader here* but MAN they're screwing things up" and on and on and on. I don't think that counts. Why?

Because the Lord REQUIRES some things of us:
That we ACT JUSTLY
That we LOVE MERCY
That we WALK HUMBLY with OUR God.

You are required to act justly and stand up for those who are being mistreated. This includes illegal immigrants. It also includes the homeless, the orphans, and the widows. Even if they're drug addicts and prostitutes. Out of your mouth, you should be speaking justice. Not justice according to some law or bill or possible law or bill, but justice according to the Lord.

You are required to love mercy and rejoice when others are shown mercy, and show some mercy yourself, while you're at it. So cut our world leaders some slack, why don't you? Shore them up with prayer and support because they're doing their job....which leads me to our next requirement:

You are required to walk humbly with our God. You were not appointed as a leader of nations for a reason. If God chooses to appoint you at some time, then lucky you. But right now, he didn't. So walk humbly with the God of EVERYONE. The God of nations, the God of you, me, him, her, and all those people you don't like in the White House, or Arizona, or whatever.

I understand that Government is getting bigger and a lot of people don't like it. I'm not too thrilled about it myself, but you know what? That's what's happening. To fight against it in such a way that does not bring ANY glory to God WHATSOEVER is to go directly against all of these requirements.

If you believe that the Bible is the inspired, inerrant word of God, then you don't get to pick what's true and what's not. It is all true. So not only must you live up to these requirements, you must also believe that God ordains all authority. I personally believe that God ordains the positions of authority, and I'm not sure about the individual people. I'll ask Jesus about it when I get to heaven. But I know for a fact that if the Lord ordained that there be certain positions in government, that we should respect the positions and their authority over us.

The challenge of these requirements is to view justice, mercy, and humility on God's terms. I'm not saying you should blindly follow anyone, INCLUDING God. But remember that your fingers type the overflow of your heart. Your biting, scathing opinions about world matters can be hurtful and disrespectful to the Lord and His reputation. But He can change your heart. And out of your fingers will flow justice, mercy, and humility, regardless of how much you dislike our government, or anyone else's, for that matter.

Peace.

Monday, May 17, 2010

A Giveaway...

.......On someone ELSE'S blog!

Gotcha, didn't I?!

Well, while you're here, I'd like to tell you about Life With Twins and Multiples. It's a blog out there on the interwebs about...you got it! Life with twins and multiples. There are a few different authors, who you can find out about here. These are all extraordinary women who have dealt with EXTREMELY difficult situations, either in their daily lives (um, hello, they've got multiples) or through obstacles they've encountered along the way. Trust me, I know some of them personally. I wouldn't lie to ya.

The lovely ladies of Life With Twins and Multiples are having their very first giveaway! You can win a Little Lasso, like this one: There are many ways to enter, which means many chances to win! Even if you're not a twin/multiple mom, you're welcome to enter! This doo-dad would make a great gift!

Go enter, and let me know if you win!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Operation KidConnect....MONDAY?!

Wondering what this is all about? Click here!

Well HI there! I haven't seen you for a while! I apologize for being inconsistent, but I've had just a few things going on. For the past few weeks, I've been on the hunt for a day care for my son. It is time to re-start my internship, get on with life, and finish my Master's Degree. But as we learned this week, there are many things you can't do in the workplace, and I'd like to add one: You can't bring your 2-year-old with you. I know, right? Surprise, surprise! I hope that amidst the busyness of your week, you were able to make some special, purposeful connections with the children in in your life. It's really difficult! I know! I was in the thick of it this week, ankle deep in work (not yet knee or neck deep, and for that I am thankful) and requirements, and...ugh. The important things just slip away sometimes. I encourage you to find new focus on the little things you do each day to be a positive force in your kids' lives (or other kids).

Being that it was Zeke's first week of day care, there were many tears shed...by both of us. We both needed some encouragement, except he's very difficult to talk to, not because he's emotionally unavailable...mostly just because he's two. So I try to encourage him in little, different ways. Every day I tell him what a good boy he is, even after 10 time-outs (because trust me, after a day at day care with no nap, there are at LEAST 10!). I tell him that mommy and daddy love him and love each other. Y'all, it is SO important that our children know that we love our significant other. I know there are many different situations out there--divorce, abuse, hostile marriages, and I honestly CAN NOT speak to those because I am not in those situations. But if you are married (or even in a committed relationship), and you love your spouse, your children need to know. We also give him "special treats." Sometimes we'll go to McDonalds (like we did this week) or sometimes we'll give him some cookies. Really, anything can be a "special treat" if you call it one and make it feel extra-special. Zeke now asks for them: "mama, special treat ice cream!" He's so sweet. One of the main sources of my anxiety over him being in day care (especially this first week) was that he would feel afraid or lonely, or like we didn't love him. So I try my hardest to let him know how much we love him, verbally, and in other ways as well.

On Thursday, my nephew K1 was recognized at a special event at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The event was only for the super-smartiest kids in Florida schools. Just to give you an idea of how smart you've gotta be to attend this thing...you have to score in the 90th percentile of all Juniors and Seniors in High School........

AND be in 7th grade.

That's right, my 7th grade nephew scored in the top 90th percentile of Juniors and Seniors in HIGH SCHOOL. So at the age of 12, he's already scored higher on the SATs than I did. I. Feel. So.....Not. Smart.

But do you know what's really neat? K1 never makes me feel stupid. With the exception of an incident in early elementary school where he stood up on his desk and declared himself smarter than everyone in the class, including the teacher (he got in pretty big trouble, as I recall...once my sister, his mom, stopped laughing), I have never seen him outright FLAUNT his intelligence. He has EVERY right to, by "worldly" standards. The kid is brilliant. But he doesn't rub it in anyone's face that he is so smart he has already skipped a grade. K1 (really, both my sister's kids AND her two step-sons) are extremely polite and kind. So to encourage Kevin on his special day, I sent a card along with my dad (the proud Grandpa had to attend the event!) for Kevin. I, of course, failed to write down the exact wording for you, but it talked about how proud we are of him and that his actions and abilities speak louder than any bragging could. When you've got a great kid (or when you ARE a great kid) there is no need to brag. If the child lives in such a way that others can see their "light" shine, they are living in humility and with a humble heart. And that, I believe, is more valuable to society than a perfect SAT score.

Do your kids know how proud you are of them? Have you encouraged them to be humble and let their abilities speak for themselves? What do you think about encouraging them to do that this week?

**DISCLOSURE: Hallmark sent me some awesome cards from their Kids' line for this project. They did not pay me, and my opinions about the cards (if I even feel like expressing an opinion rather than just telling a cool story) are my own and were not brainwashed into me at some secret lab at Hallmark Headquarters. I promise. You can show Hallmark some love by visiting a store and buying something, or even following their PR department on Twitter. They're great!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Tips

If you've been following me on Twitter lately, you know that I just started (really, RE-started) my internship for my Master's degree in counseling. You haven't heard from me much in the past few weeks because I've been trying very hard to get all my ducks in a row, dot the proverbial "i's" and cross those darned "t's"...and put my son in day care for the VERY FIRST TIME. Yes, I cried, and No, I'm not ashamed.

ANYWAY, I'd like to bring some things to your attention, especially you stay-at-home moms. I'd like to help you out. You see, my grand-re-entrance into the work force has not been, *ahem*...smooth. I may, or may not have committed some faux pas while getting reacquainted with my new-ish surroundings. You can be spared the embarrassment if you will but read about mine. I therefore present you with the following...

Things you probably shouldn't do at work, former SAHM!
1. Pick your nose. You really shouldn't be doing this anyway, since you can't blame your child learning the habit on anyone else but you...pssssst...your husband knows. It's* okay.* But really, no one outside your own home wants to see you dig for gold. Did you know that nose-picking is generally socially unacceptable? Well now you do. People WILL look at you funny if you do it, and not funny like your kid looks at you and it's oh-so-cute. No. They will probably walk the other way and avoid you if they see you doin' one of these: 2. Sticking your hand down your pants to adjust...whatever. So this one goes along the lines of the last one. This is a private activity that should be relegated to the confines of a restroom. Or, if you can close the door to your office and you do not share it with anyone else, I guess that's okay too. Yes, I know your pockets are all bunchy in the back, but people really aren't going to notice. What they WILL notice is your hands down your pants.

3. WEDGIES. Just let it ride until you can get to a bathroom, for the good of all involved. Please.

4. Adjusting your belt. Again, restroom stuff. Yes, you should be proud of losing the baby weight. But if you adjust your belt to cinch in that last belt loop in front of others, especially if you are standing up and they are sitting down, they will PROBABLY think you are taking your pants off. No one wants to see you take your pants off in the work place. At home, you can take them off whenever the thought strikes you, so you don't think "wow, someone might think I'm taking my pants off when I'm really not." Well, think again sister. You must remain clothed in the work place, and people are on guard about that kind of stuff.

5. Bodily functions. Try not to burp, fart, run screaming to the bathroom because you've got to pee or...whatever. This may seem like common knowledge, but especially after having a baby, these things just.........happen. You gotsta control that! Do your exercises. Please.

5 and 1/2. While we're at it... you don't have to call it a "potty." "Restroom," "bathroom," and "Ladies/Men's room" is juuuust fine. Everyone knows what you're talking about. ALSO... you can go ALONE! SCORE!!

6. Wear your jammies. You've been wearing them until the baby naps and you can get a free moment to shower and put at LEAST a clean shirt on, but honey, the rest of the world wakes up and gets ready BEFORE 1:00 p.m. Shocking, I know! Trust me, it threw ME for a loop. Your Eeyore pants are NOT proper office attire. Neither is your Eeyore shirt, even if it's covered by a jacket and EVEN if it's over those super-trendy leggings. Wear. Something. Else.

So there's a few of my tips...you know...because I've seen people do this stuff and I want you to be WAY cooler than THEM when you go back to work.

RIIIIIIIGHT!!

Any tips YOU'D like to share?!