Thursday, July 3, 2014

Some of the things we've learned...

Ok... things are changing. More specifically, things are going back to the way they were with some improvements. I've even been toying with a few ideas about a new blog direction.

I've made a discovery over the last few months. One of them is that I now (more than ever before) believe that God made some women comfortable working outside of the home and I am not one of them. I also have a new appreciation for my amazing hubby who goes to work and has to deal with traffic, work, and other frustrations. So now, I just want to take this opportunity to clarify a few things....

Yes! I worked VERY hard for my degree.

Yes! I really honestly think I would go back and do it again.

Yes! I am still very interested in health care administration.

And most importantly... Yes! I am very happy with my choice to leave my retail craft store job and return to being a stay-at-home mommy, also known as the Chief Mullins' Family Home Manager and Teenager Wrangler- Carnation Division. 

I learned that I am quite capable of learning new things. I used to be a basic stringing kind of girl when it came to my jewelry making. I learned that some of the things I was so interested in aren't as hard as they appear and I can pretty much teach myself anything... just give me a YouTube channel and/or a book.

I learned that I REALLY miss having the time to read, hang out with my friends (online or in real life), go for walks to the river, blog, and write regularly. I learned that I can still make new friends and that while it feels like it's gonna kill me; standing for 8 hours a day won't actually kill me.

I'm not the only one who learned a few things the last few months. My kids learned that little elves don't make dinner appear. They've also learned that while sometimes they don't like the choices for dinner, when they don't have to cook it, it's a whole lot better. They learned that when Mommy has to do it all, Mommy is not happy at all. They've learned to appreciate how lucky they are to have a parent there when they come home to help with homework and cry on when they've had a bad day. They've also learned that it's not a bad thing to let Mommy have some time to be creative... and that they can survive on their own when they take the responsibility part of it all seriously.

We all learned to appreciate each other.

And that is the most important thing of all!

SMOOCHIES YA,LL!!! I look forward to new things with you!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Crash and Burn

I usually feel like I'm doing pretty good at this whole mother thing. I had an awesome teacher on how to be a mom and while I think that my mom was awesome and amazing and I only wish I could be half as good at this as she was, I think I have some pretty good days more often than not. When my kids accomplish something or show an interest in something, or when a teacher calls me just to tell me my kid is improving or someone tells me how well behaved they are, it makes me realize that I'm maybe doing more than a little something right.

But sometimes I have days where I feel like I've really crashed and burned. Days where either everything I do is wrong, or every good intention turns out bad and reminds me of why there is a saying about good intentions not always working out the way we want them to. When they think that no matter what I say or do, I'm the cruelest meanest Mommy ever and I feel like I'm the biggest failure ever. I mean colossally crashed and am a smoldering ball of parental screw-up crash and burn kind of days. Days like today.

I have researched the Washington state laws for teenage drivers. I know how much it will cost for them to get a permit and license from the DMV and exactly how old they have to be for the permit. I know exactly how much my insurance will skyrocket when they become drivers. I know how old the state says they have to be before someone other than a relation can be in the car with them after they've gotten said license. I even know what my responsibilities are in order for them to get a license. But I forgot something very important. Three somethings actually.

I forgot Driver's Ed. How much it costs, when it is, what is expected of the student and the parent. Oh, the drama when my girly heard that one!

And I forgot to mentally prepare myself for the fact that in less than a month, my baby girl will be old enough to take the first step to driving- getting a permit.

When did that happen?!?!?! She'll be 15 and 1/2 in less than a month and old enough here to get a permit. I swear that just yesterday she was sitting on our couch crying because she was in time out after I caught her playing dress up with my just purchased $300 line of make-up. Or was it watching her get on the bus for the first time? No, wait, yesterday was letting her spend the night at a friend's house for the first time... or was it letting her go on a road trip with Grandma without me? I swear to you... she's still a baby! She's MY baby.

And finally, I forgot to let go and let God. I held on to some pretty big stumbling blocks and forgot to trust God with everything, then I stepped out on to a path that lead to an ugly evening. I let my fear of the eventual reality of my daughter growing up, and then I let the stress of everything else in other areas of my life get the best of me and it came out in my tone of voice, so when I was laying out what I thought were some pretty fair conditions, it sounded wrong. Like wanting to drive was a punishment and I was angry with her.

Did I mention that we're talking about my baby girl being behind the wheel of a car in the not to far away future?

Did I also mention it was a colossal crash and burn kind of day?

We really need do-overs for days like today.

So here I am, unable to sleep and listening to the snores from the rest of the household. And I'm trying really hard to give all this stress and fear to God. It's amazing how much strength it takes to do that.

Pray for me please, because alone, I know I'm not that strong.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

So I have a plan....

Like I've had a few times in the past. But I have a feeling about this upcoming year. Its gonna be an awesome year. @013 was, afterall, going to be a good year and as it turned out... it really was!

2013 was my year to learn...

I learned a lot this year, and not just about school subjects like health care, creative writing, and accounting. I learned my kids CAN live without me there all the time. I learned Matt can cook something that isn't fried or pre-made. I learned my kids will survive eating frozen chicken nuggets, no matter how disgusting I think they are. I learned that Oscar and Rtoo pout when I'm not home. I learned we can go camping and have fun! I learned a lot of new crafting and jewelry skills. I learned I can go all day long with only two cups of coffee instead of the gallon I used to drink. I learned I'm not just kinda smart, I'm a lot stronger than I thought, too. I learned I could still make friends. I learned I could still reconnect with old ones.

I learned to take my life back, to be happy with what I have, to bloom where God has planted me... and I learned to LIVE.

But not all the things I've learned were good. I learned I really miss being a stay-at-home wife and mom. I learned I miss being able to be so involved in my kids' lives. I learned that worrying if they get to school and home again is way worse when I can't get text messages to know they have. I learned I really hate getting up in the morning. I learned I still hate driving in snow. I learned how much I hate feeling left out of a family loop. I may have learned I can still make friends and keep the old, but I also learned I don't know how to do that when family is involved, to build the kind of relationships some of my friends have with their extended families, ties that I envy.

But I am happy with how God has already blessed my hubby, kids and me. I can be happy with the not so funny or good things I've learned. I can grow and change them. And I can rejoice in the fact the 2013 was overall an awesome year. And I can't wait to see what 2014 will bring.

I also decided to make a plan for next year. I have a goal in mind. And I'm going to achieve it... because I also learned that I'm just that darn stubborn. I'm going to work, write, play, sing, and praise God more in 2014. And I'm going to be happy.

My prayer for you, my dear friends and family, is that God blesses you in 2014. That you see His awesomeness at work in your lives. Because no matter what is in your past or what lies ahead, God is the one who goes before, guards behind, and is always by your side.


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Six days til Christmas....

And I am soooooooo not ready.

We found the stockings. They aren't hung, but the box they were in isn't in the garage anymore, but in my living room.

We just put our tree up. It's not completely decorated, but its up, with the lights and paper garland. and I'm seriously tempted to call it good.

Matt is actually 75% done with his gift shopping. I have about 5 gifts ready to go but not for people in the house. I haven't even started shopping for Matt and the kids. And I finally finished making the cards today. They aren't ready to mail, but they're finished and ready to address. Now if I can remember to mail the gifts I have and cards, I'll be happy.

The Mistletoe star is on the door. The rest of the door decorations are still in the box... next to the stockings.

I'm not even going to get into the baking that I haven't even thought about starting. Or the groceries I haven't bought for the dinner I don't know if we're going to or having.

I've been having moments of panic because I am not ready for Christmas. I have been having moments of low self esteem because I'm not prepared. And there have been moments that I'm not feeling the holiday spirit.

And then I was reminded of something I wrote in 2008. I hate to admit that it's been a while since I reposted it, read it, or even thought about it. So I'm going to share it with you again, along with the wish for a happy and joyous moment sharing the holidays with your families and that you remember the true reason for the season.

Twas a week before Christmas and all through the house,
Mommy was freaking, and not from a mouse.
The stockings were out, hung by the tree with care,
Mommy was wondering what she will put in there.

The truck was secure, all snug in it's spot,
Since there was no driving out of our parking lot.
Daddy sat with us, giving his computer a break,
While we watched a movie about the Grinch, what a snake.

Out in the yard, the snow and ice froze,
"Bundle up!" the advice, "So you don't freeze your nose!"
Hot cider, and cocoa, and movies we shared,
Warm and cozy with family, the cold weather we fared.

The snow fell all day, oh how it accumulated,
Until Daddy and the kids were totally elated.
While Mommy she wasn't nearly as excited,
Since the amount of gifts 'neath the tree was truly short sighted.

She worried about the kids on Christmas being upset,
And thought about tears making their jammies all wet.
Until Little Lizzie Sue so sweet and sincere,
Reminded Mommy the true reason for holiday cheer.

"A Child was born, a long time ago,
In a stable since there was no where for His parents to go.
To save the whole world He was laid in a manger so low,
Not for presents and gifts or a fancy home's light show.

Great purpose He had and to us they still teach,
The reason He came at church they still preach.
But so many miss it, so busy they are,
Rushing here and there, sometimes to never even leave the car!

So consumed we are with finding the perfect present,
We often forget and to God it must be extremely unpleasant.
His own Son He gave, the perfect sacrifice,
The only way for us to gain eternal life.

So don't worry to much about the gifts, Mommy,
No need to be so sad or feel sorry.
For you taught us the real reason,
For celebrating this season."

So stop what your doing, put those gift lists away.
Take a moment to remember why we have this holiday.
Open your hearts and get ready to listen,
To the story of Jesus and His holy mission.

The true Son of God, our Lord on high above
Sent to save us and teach us with unending love.
He lived as a human, just like me and you,
A challenge He faced, so much to do!

Temptations He faced, just like everyone will,
All in preparation to journey up that hill.
His life He laid down, forgiveness He pleaded,
From his Father for us, it was what was needed.

Three days he lay dead in a grave so hollow,
With His resurrection, to eternity He gave us a way to follow.
Our sins we confess, God's truth we believe,
Through His son, Jesus Christ, our earthly suffering relieved.

So as we rush here and there in the snow and the ice,
I feel I should say it would be quite nice,
If we remembered the truth and the reason,
Jesus Christ is why we celebrate this season.

Merry Christmas and SMOOCHIES Y'ALL!!!

Monday, August 19, 2013


So this summer has been a HUGE pain!

Don't get me wrong, I've had some really awesome and fun moments. We've even managed to cross some Summer Bucket List activities off. I survived my kids' going away to their first ever youth camp and I finally got their room separated to make more of a separate bedroom space for each. We went to Seattle (crossed some of the Seattle activities off the list) and we're getting ready to go camping later this week to Friday Harbor(getting to cross more of the activities off the summer list and a few off my Lifetime List). I faithfully went to Ladies' Bible Study and met some wonderful new friends (another cross from the summer list). We also went to Carnation's 4th of July festivities,  and to Centralia for Grandma's birthday. Matt started a new hobby (making holsters out of Kydex). Liz made and met a personal goal to beat one of Eli's XBox games (Lego Pirates of the Caribbean) and Eli wanted more than anything to turn 13 (he did that... last Friday!). We're still working on his getting his own Facebook page, but hey... he's getting there. We've gone on family walks, gone out for ice cream, fro-yo, and Krispy Kreme all while laughing hilariously as a family and making people stare at how crazy we are. It's been a GREAT summer!

But then there has been some parts of the last two months that have made me wonder what I was thinking not going straight to the job hunting and avoiding the summer at home. None of them could really be helped, but every bad thing has been exasperated by the dilemma that is our home. Our apartment is a serious challenge and it's getting REALLY old at this point. (Remember... 4 people all over 5 ft tall, 2 dogs, and a lot of memories in an 800 sqft apartment.) With the weird weather we've had, there's been more than a a little mold/mildew problem and when we go to clean it, it triggers migraines for me and sometimes Eli. And then there are the problems with my eyes.

I either got a piece of glitter from one of Miss Not-So-Lil-Bit's numerous cosmetics or a hair sliver from Matt shaving his head into my contacts (both things are so easy to miss no matter how hard you clean!) and it seriously irritated my eye and that turned into pink eye. No contacts, no sunglasses, and because I can't wear my sunglasses that meant no driving. AND my eyes have been so irritated that there was at least a weak where there was (GASP!!!!!) NO READING!!!!! (Plus, I read faster than the average audiobook pace, so I can't stand to listen to books. Torture, I tell you! Pure torture!!! ) Did you know that pink eye (like so many other childhood type illnesses and afflictions) tends to take longer to heal in adults? I'm on the 2nd week of eye drops and the 4th week of irritated eyes. (Please don't get me started on why it took so long for the eye drops... it's a hot button topic for me!)

That also meant that my goal of blogging more was set aside for a large hunk of summer. Here it is with 15 more days before my kids reenter the world of public education and I realized my last blog post was at the end of June when the first migraine sidelined me for a week and a half!

So here we go for a whirlwind adventure. I'm going to try hard to keep ya'll posted the next few weeks of our summer activities and then I'm going to try to bring you along as I eneter the big bad world of finally growing up and being an adult and get a job.

For now, I'm going to go huddle in the blankie-couch cushion fort in the living room and read now that my crew has decided to at least pretend to be asleep in order to give me peace and quiet. Dude... I thought my kids were loud and obnoxious as toddlers? Nope! I miss those days because even on their rowdiest days, I could still look forward to nap time!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

200th Post, a Father's Day Contest, Choir Concert, Moving Up, and a Supermoon Hunt!

A while back, Matt upgraded my cell phone to an iPhone 5, and after a little ribbing from Amber, I FINALLY downloaded a couple apps. (I'm not a manic app user and Amber keeps asking me what the point of having an iPhone is if I don't use the apps. :p) One was a photo app (Repix) and it's what I usually use when I post mobile pics to my facebook page. (In fact most of the pictures for this post are off my iPhone.) When I was going through my pictures to download the ones from the choir concert, I found this one that Sissy created. It took me a second to realize it's of a tree in our very own back field! I Just had to share it.

So the kids have both been in choir this year and they had their final concert and awards ceremony in the 13th. Eli is one of 5 boys total for all three grade levels. At the beginning of the year, he was the only 6th grade boy. I posted about this on Facebook, but I have to go more into it. When Mr. Lewis (the director) called Eli up, he gave us the greatest compliment EVER. He told a roomful of parents and students that if they were looking for a good male peer role model, Eli was the one to look too. And I couldn't agree more. This last year, he has grown so much and accomplished some amazing feats, one being taking his LA grade from a first quarter D to a final quarter A. I'm so proud of my son! He is awesome, amazing, wonderful and I am so grateful he was recognized for that.

Liz is always so mellow when it comes to choir. Mr. Lewis awarded her with the Even Keel award. She's always ready for anything and nothing phases her. Mr. Lewis... here's a secret... you don't see it affect her because she vents at home and then starts over every day. :)

 The biggest highlight for all of us, Liz included, of the concert and awards was when Eli was one of 9 students total from all three classes to receive Mr. Lewis's highest honor, the Director's Award. He was also the only boy to receive the award. Again, I am so grateful that Eli received this recognition. Parents and siblings can tell you all day long that you rock, but sometimes you need to hear it from an outside source. he was blushing furiously, but you could tell how proud of himself Eli was and that meant the world to Matt, me and Liz.

I entered a Father's Day contest sponsored by our favorite coffee company, Lock-N-Load Java (a Veteran owned mail-order coffee company) and I won! I was so happy to be able to share a story about my Dad, I wasn't expecting to win. Matt didn't want to do anything fancy for Father's Day, so we gave him exactly what he wanted... the kids let him play video games and watch Game of Thrones and we had bacon burgers for dinner... and I didn't lecture him on the amount of bacon he ate. :P
On Monday, Liz graduated from 8th grade. I'm still absorbing that and adjusting to the concept that I now have a freshman in high school. It's so surreal. But one thing that lessons the fear in my heart for her as she takes another step closer to becoming a grown up is that she surrounds herself with people who love her for her. When she walked out of the gym on Monday, certificate in hand, she was with her best friend, Grace. These two girls are almost as different as night and day, but they balance each other. The best part about their friendship is that they remind each other to stay young and not to grow up too fast. And they support each other as much as they can. I love seeing them together! 
Tuesday, the 8th graders went to Wild Waves, but Liz opted not to go. (She said it was because there were some people she just didn't trust to follow dress codes and she didn't want to see them in swim suits.) It was a really good idea too, because her voice disappeared Monday night right after her solo when the 8th grade choir sang at graduation. 

Tonight is the Supermoon and we went out to see if we could find it. It was such a BEAUTIFUL day and as the sun came close to setting, the clouds began to role in, so I didn't think we'd be able to get a good look at it. So we went on a moon hunt. And all I can say is WOW! Isnt' it beautiful?!?
So summer has officially begun! School is out and the kids and I are ready to check things off our summer bucket list. First thing we're planning? We thought about an adventure to the Remlinger's Farm store and maybe a trek to the river. Then, Matt has next weekend off and we're going to rework the kids' room so that they have more of their own private spaces.
Can you believe this is my 200th post? I started this blog as a way to participate in a photo a day challenge, share scrapbook layouts with magazines and other online resources, and mainly so that I could share the going-ons of our little family with the rest of our extended family scattered near and far. Even though I slowed down posting while I was in school, I'm liking the fact that I have this here so I can keep sharing. Like I mentioned in my last post, I love writing, and this gives me a way to do just that. I really hope I've been able to be a bright spot when you need it, just like knowing that I'm able to share with all of you has been a bright spot for me. Here's to 200+ more posts!!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Jam Epiphany

Amber and I live on opposite sides of the country and we have been trying to talk at least once a week. This morning we were talking and I had an epiphany almost as soon as I hung up the phone. I've had a few epiphanies lately and in my desire to blog more, I thought I would share them. Who knows, someone just might learn something from me.

1) Growing up when you're already a grown-up is so much harder than you think.

There were days before I made the choice to go back to school when I thought that nothing could be harder than having kids in potty training,  pre-school, then kindergarten, making friends, moving, working with kids, Matt's medical problems and so on. Then when I was in school, there were days when I longed for the simplicity that was my life before being a mom and a student.

Now? School? Kids? Wanting to move? Worrying about all the what-ifs when we do? Hah! Talk about minor worries. Now I have dread about bills looming, worry about jobs not being there, worry about never ever getting out of this inky dinky apartment and into a real home... the list goes on. And all the thinking about growing up and getting a job and joining what I cal the adult world has led me to another epiphany.

2) I (as in me and myself) am the one who makes my stumbling blocks that Satan uses to trip me up.

Here's a little known fact... someone told me before I started college right after high school that they thought paying for my education was a waste of money on my parents' part and time and effort on the college I would attend's part. And I made that a stumbling block so many years ago. Then when I was leaving, someone told me that if I left I would never go back and I would never earn a degree. For 14 years, I made that a stumbling block. Then I let finances stop me, creating another one. Now I'm letting fear and doubt become more stumbling blocks.

Coming to that realization led to the discovery of another epiphany.

3) God knows what His plans for me are and even though I worked hard to get a degree in a specific field, He may use that to set me up for something else He has in store for me.

In the past three or four years I have discovered a couple things about myself and they are totally opposite of my degree- I love being a stay-at-home mom and that one of my spiritual gifts is writing, even though I have only recently acknowledged it as one. I love to write, I'm fairly good at it, and other people seem to enjoy it. (Yes, I know that isn't as confident as some of you are telling me I need to be, but it's a step. :D) I want to do more writing and I would love to continue being a stay-at-home mom.

I know that writing full time, especially to make enough money to pay the bills I am claiming responsibility for (I'm paying my student loans back, not Matt), isn't going to be easy, but I know I really want to. If I could combine what I learned in school (even if it is just research skills) than I'd be even happier.

That realization made another epiphany surface.

4) I should really take a camera into the kitchen when I go to figure out if something really is as easy as people claim.

I know you're probably scratching your head right about now and thinking "What has that got to do with everything?!" Let me try to explain...

I loved ice tea, but my mom never made it the traditional way, she always used that instant stuff. I love red beans and rice, but I'm not a fan of the boxed stuff. Matt wanted Car-Bomb cupcakes, but the whole concept of making cupcakes that had beer in them from scratch intimidated me. I love carrot cake, but I hate boxed cake mixes. I love homemade jam but I have never made it.

Then I realized that just like with the whole stumbling block thing, I was doing it again. I was putting things in my own path to stop me from achieving greatness. Well, OK maybe greatness is a strong word, but you get what I mean. So I realized a few things.

When I was living with my sisterchick, Tara, her mom taught me how to make iced tea complete with simple syrup for the sweetener. I saw on Paula Dean how to make red beans and rice and went into my kitchen and voila! I had red beans and rice and when I made it for my nieces and nephew last summer, they told me I did a bang up job. (Seeing as they had spent the last couple years in New Orleans, I decided to believe them!) I searched and found a recipe for car bomb cupcakes and now I make them three or four times a year because they're Matt's FAVORITE! Because of those cupcakes, I haven't used a boxed cake mix for anything other than Pineapple Dump cake in more than 6 years. So when I saw Ree Drummond making carrot cake on Pioneer woman a couple weeks ago, I went into my kitchen and produced a pretty darn good carrot cake.

So now we get to what I meant by taking a camera into the kitchen. I live in a valley surrounded by farms that specialize in a lot of different areas. I can listen to the cows at one of the many dairy farms and the flowers that you find in Pike Place Market are grown right here in some of our leased fields, some of the best horse ranches can be found in our foothills and there are You Pick Berry farms everywhere. The other day a friend of mine made a suggestion that the kids and I pick berries as one of our Summer Bucket List ideas. AWESOME IDEA!!!

Well, we haven't gone yet, but Eli and I went to the Farmer's Market here in town on Tuesday and we got some strawberries. And I decided I wanted to make jam. But I not only don't have the supplies, I really don't have the space. But then while I was researching about making jam, I remembered Hilary said she makes freezer jam, and I started looking into that.

Ya'll... It really is that easy!!!! Not only are there special jars you can get, but they have also taken the cooking part out because there are now different pectin options for freezer preserving. Yesterday, Matt took me to the grocery store and we got the freezer pectin, some freezer jars, and some extra strawberries (I didn't get a lot at the market and the strawberries at this grocery store looked beautiful!). And today, I made freezer jam. I forgot to take my camera in the kitchen to take pictures of the process and I'm not sure how the jam will turn out because it's still in the recipe's 30 minute sitting period, but I can't wait to try some on the scones I plan on making tomorrow.

The point I was thinking about is that I need to take my camera in there more often because as a stay-at-home mom of older kids, I'm learning more about myself when I'm in the kitchen and I realize how easy it is to make something and how life can be connected in the unexpected areas.