Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Big Three

You thought I was referring to This is Us weren't you? Yeah, I see you, and I'm not ashamed to say that it was super intentional, but only to get your attention. :) I love me some This is Us references. No, I was actually referring to the end of the year. My favorite trio. October, November, December. A delicious blend of crisp Autumn air, a kaleidoscope of colors, the gathering of friends and family, the cozying up under the couch on the blankets next to people I love and watching old holiday favorites, the aroma of fir and balsam on repeat, the gratitude journal entries, the playlists of old and new Christmas songs, picked to fit your mood. The lists are endless really, and it's my favorite, absolute favorite time of the year.

And while I know people find it daunting and full of pressure and expectation, I've learned to just embrace the season for what it is- a time for friends and family and reflection. I don't hold myself to any standards. I don't get my panties in a bunch if I don't check off all the items on my bucket list. Our Christmas lists aren't long. We focus more on the giving than the getting. Twinkle lights are a must, and above all else, and this one is hard for some people.....we don't do what we don't want to do. If it doesn't make us happy, it's out!

Christmas candy not your thing? Don't do it!
Have a list of 14 different types of goodies and plan to host a party? Awesome!
 Hate putting up a tree? Fine by me!
You put up 16 trees in various places around the house? My kinda friend!
Christmas cards not in the budget? Who cares! That's what Instagram's for.
Save money all year to go the fancy route on cards? Can't wait to see em!
Planning a Black Friday shopping spree? You go girl!
Hate malls, so Amazon primed all your gifts this year? GENIUS

You guys. There is no status quo. Make this YOUR time of year and be intentional. Do your favorite things and leave out the rest. Make memories. Enjoy your family and friends. Those are the only rules. :)

On that note, I'll leave you with our happies from the past month and a half, and some of how we have enjoyed the first member of the trio.
Celebrating birthdays with this crazy crew!

Titan football for Sawyer

Carter finishing out the 7th grade season

Last game for Freshman volleyball ends in a W

Dates with this guy

Dates with this guy

Crafting with these lovelies and our tradition of getting together more often

Grabbing a few family pics at the Christmas


Disney's got nothing on this view in the Ozarks

The OG

My <3

Boat rides

Love her 

Captain Carter

Harry Potter Party feast

Setting the tone

Honeydukes is now open

Can't force my kids to dress up, but at least I get to have fun with this crew. Come on down to the Price's Right!

I have the most selfless hubby! He repainted our Computer room while I was at the High School retreat, so it was no longer purple. It set the tone for working in there, and I've gotten so much done because it's no longer a cluttered pigsty! 

Trivia nights during the school year give me life. :)

In addition to all of these things, I've been enjoying a class I'm taking called Framed. It's been giving me inspiration on my photography, and motivated me to organize my pictures on my computer and start doing something with them! It's been a very fun project. I'm also being intentional about creating habits that will motivate me to be my best self. I was feeling like I was deep in a rut, and so I decided to start reading books, listening to podcasts, and follow people online that would help me grow. Getting into the habit of making myself a latte, reading my devotions, listening to a podcast, writing down my dreams/goals, and making a gratitude list every morning has shifted my mentality over the last couple months. I'm excited to see where this goes.

Next item on the agenda- slowly roll into the holidays. Buy some twinkle lights on Amazon, start to make my Christmas lists, and look for inspiration for Christmas cards. Have a happy Thursday!! Do something that makes you happy- even better- do something that makes you AND someone else happy today. :)

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Great Divide

I've come back and forth to my computer this week, trying to decide whether or not to write about something that, again, has taken America by storm. Something that has divided our nation once more. Something that leaves both sides boiling with anger, and to be perfectly honest, this week I have just become overwhelmed with many many emotions. Many people I love and respect have shared their views. Some people I don't really care for have shared their views. There are others I don't even know, and yet, I still see their opinions scattered over my Facebook feed, and I am overwhelmed to my core. I feel powerless.

Living in this unbelievably conservative corner of NW Iowa, I know that by saying my own thoughts and views, I am subjecting myself to the probability of getting scrutinized through the ever so easy ability of others to type up their comments rather than saying them to me in person, and perhaps that is why I've stayed relatively silent until now. However, this morning I had a small, but very powerful epiphany. I kept mulling over the fact that I drill into my kids' heads that if you stand around and watch people exert their power over another and don't do anything about it, you are part of the problem. If that's true, then doesn't this issue fit into that same box, or is that only true on the playground or in the cafeteria or the girls' bathroom? I personally don't think so. Therefore, if I expect my kids to stand up for what they know is right. If I expect them to have integrity, then why am I not holding myself to that same standard?

Because it's scary. That's why. It's hard to have a minority opinion. It's hard to risk having people stop liking you (yes, even as an adult). It's painful to have friends or family decide that your opinion is enough to make them not what to be part of your circle anymore. But you know what's harder? Living with yourself knowing that you didn't stand up for your beliefs. That you have to look at yourself in the mirror every day and feel like a fraud. That you have to explain to your kids that you became someone you try to teach them every day not to become. To me, the price is much greater to stay silent than it is to speak up.

So my next dilemma was how to go about it. I am a firm believer that shame motivates no one into change. I'm not here to tell you I'm right and you're wrong. And I'm definitely not here to sway anyone into changing a political stance to any one party. In fact, when Dr. Blasey Ford came forward accusing Kavanaugh of attempted rape, politics were the last thing on my mind. Instead, I felt compelled to share my view with the hopes that maybe some of you might read this through a different lense. Maybe I could help someone see a very different perspective. When all we hear in the media and our Facebook and Twitter feeds is what the Dems or Republicans are doing wrong.

But I warn you. It comes with some major vulnerability. I suppose most things that are worth fighting for drag along the baggage of vulnerability. So I pray that you are gentle. That you don't hear what I'm not saying, and more importantly that you hear what I AM saying. So here it goes.

I believe her. I believe Dr. Blasey-Ford. I believe her because I was her. No, I was not almost raped, but I was one of the "one in four girls" that was sexually harassed/assaulted before the age of 18. I've never told anyone the whole story, and only Dan knows a few very vague details. But I do feel like that warrants enough to have me bring something to the table in lieu of this national conversation.

When I look to my feeds and listen to the news, the major things I keep hearing over and over again are she's probably lying and if she's not, why didn't she come forward until now? Also, how could she remember some things, but not others? Her memory is foggy at best. Maybe it actually happened but not by Kavanaugh. Probably someone else. And finally, my favorite. The one that people are getting the most bang for their buck in the meme department- why are we holding him accountable for things that happened 35 years ago?

Let's dig into this shall we?

*Did you know that roughly, only 5% of reported sexual assault cases turn out to be false. This means that 95% of reports are found to be true. There is a higher probability that she's telling the truth than that she is lying.

So if she's telling the truth, why didn't she come forward until now? 

* 1 in every 100 accused rapists do time. That means that the victim is far more affected by what happens than the person who's actually done the crime. If nothing happens anyway, why say it?

*In the case of Dr. Blasey-Ford, she felt it was her civic duty to let those making major decisions that affect this country know her truth before giving someone with that history a great deal of power. Coming forward will forever affect her. It would have been much easier to keep this quiet, but again. In my opinion, it's harder to look at yourself in the mirror every day when you know you didn't do the right thing, and you can't take it back.

*In my situation, I didn't want to make waves. I never come forward because I don't like confrontation. I wasn't even ten at the time, and I was scared to tell anyone. I felt guilt and shame, like it was my fault. Like I could have changed it. Besides, who would have believed a kid? By the time I  was an adult, I never said anything because what good would it have done?  I don't even remember his last name. Would I love to say something to him today? You bet. But just because it doesn't run my life or my thoughts on a day to day basis, doesn't mean I'm never affected by it. It stays with you forever.

*Research sexual abuse and the psychological effects. It gives a lot of insight into the mind of a victim.

 How can anyone remember something that happened 35 years ago? Her reports are vague and she can't even remember the details from that night- like how she got home. How in the world are we supposed to trust someone who doesn't remember things like that?

You guys. I don't remember what I was wearing. I don't remember why he was at my house. I don't remember how it happened, but I sure as hell remember who did it. His face is forever etched in my memory. I remember the incident, and nothing else, and it wasn't 35 years ago. Believe me- I wish I could forget that moment like I can easily forget why I walk into the kitchen a billion times a week. But I can't. Some things can't be forgotten.

Finally- "Are we really going to crucify this man for something that happened decades ago? I sure hope nobody looks into what I did as a high schooler/college kid. Better tell my son not to talk to any girl on the playground. It will come back to bite him in the butt later."

Ok. I really really REALLY hope that if you are saying this, that you weren't out at parties drugging women and forcing their clothes off of their bodies. I sure hope we aren't saying "teenagers will be teenagers". YOU GUYS. This wasn't someone mooning the car behind them. This wasn't whistling at a girl on the street (but still...ew. Don't do that.) THIS WAS SEXUAL ASSAULT. Why does he get a free pass because he was in college? I was married and a freaking mother by the time I was in college. HE WAS AN ADULT. Is that what this world has come to? Are we really willing to die to the sake of a political party rather than call it what it is? S.E.X.U.A.L. A.S.S.A.U.L.T

What if this happened to your daughter....or son for that matter? Oh yes, it happens to boys/men too. And believe me, it's much less reported. I can't imagine the jokes in the locker room that would come from spilling those beans. Come on guys! We need to wake up! We need to stop picking sides and remember the HUMANITY of this woman. Please take into consideration all the victims that had to relive their old wounds listening to this hearing and all the muck that came with it. Think of how many victims feel as though their voice doesn't matter. Their pain doesn't matter. That they don't matter.

And then remember that the probability that you love someone who has been assaulted/harassed is very high. Even if you don't know it, and then remember that they are watching what you say......or what you don't. If we don't speak up, we are part of the problem. We need more than just the women to speak up. We need the good men to have our back too.

(And just a side note....I don't want to rehash my experience. I don't want to relive it. I brought it out to hopefully share a new perspective, but it's still painful even decades later. I just thought it might help someone. Thanks for understanding and being gentle with my story.)

I hope that if nothing else, you were able to view this in a different light and that maybe you can be more mindful about what you say or post. That maybe you are able to understand differently that what you are posting affects someone you love in a way you didn't realize it did. "Know better. Do better." Let's divide less and come together more. In this day and age, it isn't going to happen on your phone or your computer screen. Not on Facebook or Twitter. Not on CNN or Fox News.

 Let's make a commitment to get out into the world and do our part to bring people together. Listen to someone's story. Hug them. Tell them they matter. That you love them. That their pain is safe with you. Let's tear down the walls that divide and hate....not build them. Be the light.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Coasting into Fall like............

You guys. It was a crisp 51 degrees on my walk this morning. Hate me if you must, but Fall is coming!! And if you don't think I'm wearing cozy sweaters with a top bun, cute glasses, and drinking a pumpkin spice latte any time I get the chance, then you are WRONG. Getting giddy just thinking about the leaves changing colors, and enjoying a cozy fire in my hooded sweatshirt. Yassss!

Not only am I loving the temperature, but football and volleyball season have begun, and I can't wait to get into that groove as well. I have a Titan, a middle school football player, and a high school volleyball player which means lots of different schedules again, but mostly we just love it!

Now school on the other hand....That has taken some getting used to. It has been quite tiring on all our ends. Having Labor Day to recoup was super nice. We slept in. Made biscuits and gravy with a side of mimosas and had our favorite slow morning Pandora playlist  going while we played cards as a family. That's quickly becoming one of our favorite things to do when we are home and have some free time. That and sinking in to watch some Harry Potter. Never mad about that.

So besides all the new of starting a new year and transitioning into a different season, we're glad to have slowed down a bit. RFKC was another fulfilling week of serving some well deserved kiddos, and our trip to the Ozarks is always one of the highlights of my year. Lucky for us, we get to go twice this year. We are taking our kiddos when we normally go in the Fall, so I can share my favorite place with them. We are super excited.

Here are a couple pictures of our last month!
Carter/Mom Christmas date- Applebees and Thunder Road

Girls' night for the Made for More premiere

Commissioning service for RFKC

Communion service at camp before campers came

Just playing our parts...... #drama

Down on the Farm

Color me Mine

August Christmas family date to a Canaries baseball game and some BWW

Ozark Boating

Just hanging in the water

First day of school- Jae- Freshman, Carter-7th, Sawyer 4th

Sawyer's first ever Titan football game. They won! We love #60

Sunday afternoon funday with my fam

A night out with friends

Nerts champions.....not sorry

Lots more to come this Fall I'm sure! Enjoy the beautiful weather!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Yes, I still live here, and No, I'm not home for long. :)

"You still live here?" "Are you done traveling for awhile?" Haha. Those are the top two questions I've been asked since we returned home Friday. For those that follow me on Facebook/Instagram, you know that we've just been gone for a couple weeks on vacations. We started out in the Black Hills with family and ended up in Denver with some of my childhood besties for a little reunion. It's been a satisfying few weeks. A good reprieve from the hustle and bustle of busy family life. But it's been really good to be home. 

You know, being a teacher is a different cat. Especially when it comes to vacations. We do a few weekend getaways during the school year, but there isn't a lot of wiggle room for trips unless I want to take days unpaid (I wouldn't recommend it). So once ball is over, we tend to pack in the adventures until it's back to the grind. Honestly, while it is definitely busy, it makes me appreciate my home and this town that much more when I return. It's a good balance for us, and it works out for our lifestyle in this season of life we are in. I couldn't imagine doing the traveling we've done this year if our kids were still little. Back then, get togethers consisted of going to one couple's house and letting the kids play in the basement while we played cards and had a few drinks. Now, I'm lucky if my kids are around when we get together at someone's house. ;) 

As I was visiting my grandma today, we chatted about how life just flies. One minute, your toddlers are hanging from your leg, and the next, you are sending them to high school and teaching them how to drive. This stage of life is by far my favorite. I love their independence (and ours), but I also love watching them turn into little adults with opinions and passions of their own. It's satisfying to me to watch them take the things we've taught them and apply them to life. It's also scary. Very scary. I know that kids make mistakes, and I'm trying to prepare myself for how to handle those as they come too. Nevertheless, we are enjoying the ride. 

I sent Jae to Power Connection this morning for a week, and tomorrow I'll send Sawyer to Inspiration Hills for a few days. And in a few weeks, football and volleyball will start, and we will be gearing up for a new school year. It's all happening so quickly! 

Here has been our summer in pictures thus far:

Jaedyn Freshman (technically 8th grade) Softball 

Carter- 6th grade Little Warrior baseball

Strawberry picking 2018

Trying to fit in our monthly Christmas dates is proving to be harder than we thought :/- June Luverne Drive In Date

Family picture at Mt. Rushmore

Hiking afternoon

Lots of card games on vacation

Dad and I at Custer State Park

Dan's favorite part was the UTV

Mt. Rushmore

The kids with dad

In Deadwood at the Adams Museum- They play the part well. :)

Jenny Gulch at Lake Pactola

Sawyer cliff diving

Gaining a little courage from Uncle Colin- This picture is the sweetest

My entirely too brave for her own good daughter. Had to jump just right.......

He did it!!! So so proud of him!

Wildlife loop at Custer State Park


Bear Country was a favorite for sure!

Next up- Denver to with these ladies! First item on the docket- Biking to the taco bar!

Bronco stadium tour 

In his element

Beautiful views from our hike in Breckenridge

The first of many breaks on this hike. Oof

This picture doesn't do justice the beauty of making it to the top, but it was worth losing my breath for 2 days. ;)

Real life photography at it's finest. Probably making dad jokes or something....

I can't put into words the meaning of this beautiful almost 30 year friendship. I love these women and their hearts. Feeling very blessed to be able to foster this relationship into our adult hood.

We have a little country to us---maybe only 2%, but it's there.

Annual boating day and celebrating one of the finest- Melissa Marie. Your birth is definitely a blessing to me. :)

Spending a couple weeks at home now. Then heading to RFKC for a week, and an Ozark trip at the end of summer to launch us into the school year. I will be ready for a schedule when I need to have one, but for now, I'm enjoying all the adventures! Happy Tuesday friends!! Enjoy this sunshine without the humidity!!