Vacation Edition 2014 – Fort Bragg CA


For those of you who don’t recognize that house, it is Jessica Fletcher’s house from Murder She Wrote. I took this picture this week while exploring Mendocino.  It is now on my bucket list to actually stay overnight in the Bed and Breakfast that is now located there – The Blair House. We had a lovely week of vacation in Fort Bragg (and outwards up and down the coast each day) and the weather was beautiful.  We are now back to the 90 degree heat and home.  I have the weekend to get my life together before Bean starts Kindergarten (!) and I have next week before I start teaching again.  So, what would it mean to “have my life together”?  Excellent question.  I’m not sure of the answer, but here are some things I have as goals:

1.  Have a clean and organized house to start the school year.  

I am in “post-vacation chaos” right now.  Lots of laundry to do, putting some areas back together after the rush of last minute packing of things we almost forgot, etc.  The house isn’t a huge mess though and I think it can come together relatively easily and fast.  I just want to start the new year with clean spaces so that #2 will work better.

2.  Have routines in place for maintaining house, work and sanity.

This will quite possibly be the biggest challenge.  I am so bad at sticking to routines.  But, I know that I am in desperate need of them.  I need routines to keep the mornings less stressful, I need routines to keep my daughter sane and rested in the afternoons (she tends to want to go, go, go and if I don’t have something set, I can’t convince her to rest, eat or anything else on a schedule).  I need routines in the evening so we get to bed at a decent hour and have everything done that needs to be done instead of me trying to stay up all hours finishing whatever it was that didn’t get done during the day.  It will also help with the nights I’m teaching to keep things on track around here. 

3.  Menu planning

I have resisted this with all the fibers of my being.  I don’t know why.  I guess because I often feel unmotivated to cook whatever it is that I’ve planned so I find it less guilt-inducing to just not plan anything.  But, with our schedule, needing lunches for school for Bean and trying to save money, I feel I can no longer resist.  I just need to be totally realistic.  Easy and fast foods that don’t require a lot of prep.  Keeping it simple so both my husband and Bean will eat it and I will also be able to make it (or he can make it on the nights I’m teaching).  So, I’m hitting my Pinterest boards and the Kraft Food and Family magazine and I’m doing a plan.  

So, what’s your plan for back to school this year?  Or are you even impacted by back-to-school?  

Five Minute Friday – Fill


Today I am participating in Five Minute Friday, which is being hosted in a new location.  Kate Motaung has taken over for Lisa Jo Baker and has even created a nifty new button for the party!  If you are like me and struggle sometimes with what to write or how to write something, this is a great once-a-week party that gives you something to write about and tells you not to worry about HOW you write about it.  Takes the pressure off!  So, think about joining the party over at!  Here is mine for this Friday:

Fill.  It is a word that means so many different things to me right now.  I could say “I’ve had my fill” of some things in my life.  Certainly there is that.  But, I could also say that I am excited about how my life is being filled now.  A little more positive and optimistic.  So, I think I’ll focus on that aspect in today’s writing exercise.

My life is very much filled for the Fall semester.  I’ve already started filling in my calendar and I will be teaching two more classes this semester (an overload, which is great for filling our bank account, or perhaps emptying our debts a bit), Bean is starting to Kindergarten (!) which is sure to come with many new and exciting activities.  I am also going to start her in a gymnastics class as I think she needs to be doing some organized activity that builds muscle and confidence and gymnastics seems like a fun one.  I am also going to have my husband at home this year (!), which is certain to fill the space with a bit more adult conversation and socializing (hopefully) than before – when he was gone for three nights a week on average for his job.  I am also joining a small group at my church which will not only fill my Wednesday mornings, but hopefully will fill my heart and soul with friendship, fellowship and faith.  The woman I worked with doing crafts at Vacation Bible School this year sent me a personal invitation to join her group, but said there were others and that I should feel free to look around.  But, I think I will join hers.  She was wonderful and I felt a connection with her during VBS.  Finally, I am looking forward to new students and team members to fill my classes and make memories with this semester.  I had a pretty good semester last semester, but I’m looking forward to even more and better classes this semester and making more connections with my students to fill their heads with knowledge and hopefully fill their hearts with a love of learning.

Time’s up.  Already.  That went fast this week!  I hope you’ll consider joining us for the #fmfparty this week!

I am alive and kicking…

Well, I can’t believe it has been almost two weeks since I last posted on the blog.  I’m not sure what happened to cause me to lapse for so long.  I started a couple of posts, but didn’t finish them.  And the rest of the time, I’ve just been focused elsewhere.  But, I’m back now.  I am looking down the barrel of the first day of Kindergarten and first year of school five days a week for my daughter, a Fall semester where I will be teaching two more classes than I have for the last seven years, and a husband who is home pretty much full time.  The last may seem out of place on that list, but I’m still deciding whether its going to be a help or hindrance.  I mean, having him home more often is definitely going to be great, but having him home all. the. time. may be a bit stressful at first.  Two years ago he was on a schedule where he’s been working away from home for four days and three nights a week.  Last year he cut that back to every other week, but was still gone quite a bit.  This year, he’ll be traveling for a weekend here and there, but not during the week.  That is one reason I feel like I can teach more classes.  That and he took a pay cut to be home, so I feel like having the extra money for the extra classes will come in quite handy.  

My husband has been gone for the past seven weeks for work and let me tell you, I am really ready for him to be home.  I love my five year old, but we’re pushing mother-daughter time to a limit with me being off work and her being out of school and him being gone. Seriously.  Pushing it.  So, he arrives on Saturday and we leave for a family vacation on Monday for four days.  I’m really looking forward to that.  We’re going to Mendocino, which is one of my favorite places.  The weather will be in the 60s the whole time – a full 30 degrees plus cooler than it is here.  There are beaches, the hotel has a pool, there are fun things to do and see, and there will be other adults there (my in-laws are going as well), meaning I may even be able to get some me-time.  Maybe.  Oh, and on top of all that, Mendocino is where Murder, She Wrote was filmed.  I looked into staying at Jessica Fletcher’s house, but it really wasn’t conducive with the whole family.  But, it is on my bucket list, for sure.  

So, I’m trying to figure out how this new schedule is going to work.  How I’m going to protect myself against the burnout I usually tend to start feeling about five or six weeks into the semester. How I’m going to manage a couple of more classes and still feel like I can keep up with the house and Bean’s schooling and all the other things that pop up during a semester.  I am trying to approach this semester as one of “good busy”.  I am also going to try to weed out a lot of things that I consider to be “bad busy”.  I am going to fight my normal tendencies and try to follow a routine both daily and weekly.  I am going to try to find a balance.  Basically, I am going dream the impossible dream and try to live as much of it as I can.  

What about you?  What is your Fall starting to look like?


Five Minute Friday – Finish

Five Minute Friday


I am once again joining Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday.  I am sad to hear that Lisa-Jo will only host this one and next week and then she is “finishing” with Five Minute Friday, but I was glad someone (Kate Motaung at Heading Home) is taking over.  I have grown to love the Five Minute Friday writing experience!  This week’s prompt is “Finish”.  Here goes…

I am bad at finishing things.  I consider myself to be an idea person more than a producing person.  I have some great ideas, but I often don’t execute them too well…or at all.  I have big thoughts, but little follow through on a lot of things.  So, “finish” is a bit of an intimidating prompt for me.  But, as I spoke about in my birthday post yesterday, I am trying to show myself some grace and let myself off the hook for some of that lack of follow through.  Because instead of following through, I have just been getting through and that was all I could do for a while in my life.  There was a LOT to get through in the last five years.  And I haven’t been very good at giving myself time to just be in it.  Or to just escape from it, as the case may be.  So, instead of focusing on finishing things in this post, I’m going to focus on things I’m finished with.  (And yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition…I’m showing myself some grace and not going back and editing it.)

I am finished with feeling like I’m less than when I can’t please everyone all of the time.  I have a lot of people in my life who I have viewed as “making me feel guilty” about not being around enough or not doing enough at work, etc.  But, really, I need to realize that it is ME who makes me feel guilty, not them.  They feel what they feel, but I am the one who feels what I feel.  And sometimes I make mistakes or overbook or just think I’m going to be more social than I can really get myself to be.  I have to be okay with that.  And often, it is disappointment in the other person that makes me feel guilty, but instead, I should feel appreciated and gracious for having people who want to spend time with me and my daughter.

I am also finished with being mean to me.  I consider myself to be a kind person to others, but I am often mean to myself.  I am harsh on myself.  I don’t ask for help from others even when I obviously need it.  I often try to do it ALL – work stuff, home stuff, medical stuff, fun stuff, etc. and all of it just gets to be too much stuff.  I need to be kind to myself and say its okay to get overwhelmed and ask for help.  I always appreciate it when others admit their vulnerability and ask for help, but I don’t let myself do it with others.  I need to be nicer to me, forgive myself more often and ask for help when I need it.

Done…so, there you go.  That is what I’m finished with (among other things).  What about you?  What are you “finish”ing?



Birthday – mine and the blog’s


Well, today I am one year closer to 50 years old.  According to the cashier at Goodwill yesterday, I am looking a full five years past that age (seriously, STOP asking if I qualify for the senior discount people…).  I started this blog a full 365 days ago.  I can say that I’ve learned some things about myself blogging here and despite the fact that I got off to a rather slow start and had some periods of starts and fits, I am feeling a little better than I was a short time ago.  I am a little disappointed in my lack of ability to achieve any of the items on my list from last birthday, but I’m not giving up that easy.  I will continue to work toward making my life “more,” whatever that may be.

I have realized something.  The last five years of my life have been pretty much a pile of stressful situations and life interrupted (I might say sh#! if I were one to swear on my blog).  I had a baby almost two months early via emergency C-section.  I then lived through learning that the baby would need a heart transplant and multiple months of touch and go conditions in the hospital for that baby.  I then lived through the recovery from the heart transplant, commuting to work for three months from the Ronald McDonald House three and a half hours away.  I then lived through multiple bouts of pneumonia, snoring, vomiting, and so much more.  Oh, and while all that was happening, my mom had her cancer come back and needed to have her other breast removed, twenty years after the first one was removed.  Then came the chemo.  And more chemo.  Then they bumped my daughter’s heart valve during a biopsy and she had to have another open heart surgery to repair it – a summer of recovery, then tonsils and adenoids out.  While this was all happening, my dad was diagnosed with vascular dementia and went downhill relatively quickly, but without a quick ending.  He lingered, in and out of the hospital, my mom (still going through chemo) struggling to care for him.  I was working full time, driving back and forth to my parent’s house when I was able to, and dealing with medical issues on all sides of the equation.  My dad died in January of this year, my mom immediately started radiation because she was out of chemo options.  Sometimes I think to myself that I am not doing enough and then I think about all I’ve been through and I can’t believe I’m still doing anything.  

So, this birthday, I’m giving myself a gift.  The gift of grace and forgiveness and understanding and not trying to do it all.  I’m going to focus on being kind to myself and others.  Some of that may entail some of the things I listed last year, but it isn’t going to be a list of “shoulds” its going to be a list of gifts that I can give myself.  365 days of gifting myself starting tomorrow.  Each day, small or medium or large, I will give myself a gift of self-kindness.  They will usually be simple, I’m sure – a hot bath, a new shirt that makes me feel good about myself, a pedicure, etc.  Everyday, at least one gift.  Something I do just for me.  And maybe after 365 of those, I will be able to feel a little more “happy” on my birthday than I have the last two (not that I’m sad…just not spectacularly happy and far from satisfied).  

So, there we are – #365selfgifts will be my hashtag, kindness will be this year’s word, and I am dropping the shoulds and embracing the grace.

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11-Year-Old Chinese Boy Donates Organs to Save Others


Such a difficult decision to make, but this eleven year old made it willingly. The best birthday present I could and will ever receive is my daughter receiving a heart transplant just over five years ago. Please consider organ donation if you have not already registered. And please be sure to talk about it with loved ones so they know your wishes. Have a great day!

Originally posted on Kindness Blog:

This 11-Year-Old Primary School Student from Shenzhen Donated his Organs Before He Died to Save Others


Liang Yaoyi from Shenzhen suffered from a brain tumor and shortly before his death, he bravely decided to donate his kidneys and liver.

He had previously said that if only he could have survived his illness, he would of become a doctor and tried to cure everyone else suffering from disease.


The photo above is after the operation was completed, when doctors brought him out of the operating room and bowed to Yaoyi and his mother three times.



Thank you so much.

Team Kindness Blog

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Monkeys, Math and More, Oh My! (A Giveaway)

As the mom of a girl, I am concerned about making sure she does not shy away from math and science early on in life.  So, when I heard about 10monkeys Math World Giveaway, I jumped on board to help promote fun ways of introducing or reinforcing math skills to children.  My daughter loves the monkey aspect and as a new Kindergartner next year, I would love to have some additional activities to keep her engaged on the math side of things.  Below, you can read a description of the product and a review completed by Emilee at Pea of Sweetness and enter a giveaway for the product sponsored by the makers.  The giveaway starts today (July 23) and ends on August 5!  So, get those entries in below!

10monkeys Math World Giveaway Sponsored by LLC

Hosted by Pea of Sweetness

Co-Hosted by Deals of Sweetness

10Monkeys Math World

10monkeys Math World is an online Math Program geared for younger elementary aged children around grades K-3. It has fun, eye-catching graphics kids love! 10monkeys Math World takes a progressive approach to learning Math. It uses what is referred to as the “high pedagogic approach,” developed together with top professionals and schools. As they progress, their skills are improving as well – and they’re having fun!

As a homeschooling mom, Emilee at Pea of Sweetness loves the progressive approach 10monkeys Math World takes and loves that her kids want to learn Math with 10monkeys Math World! Check out her full 10monkeys Math World math program review on Pea of Sweetness.

Whether you are a homeschooling parent, teacher, or parent (or grandparent) to young children and wanting to enrich their education, 10monkeys Math World offers a quality program anyone can appreciate! Three winners will each receive a one-year subscription to 10monkeys Math World (all levels) for one child. This giveaway begins on 7/23 and ends on 8/5 at 10:00pm (times are Central) and is open worldwide ages 18+. Please refer to the full terms and conditions in the Giveaway Tools.

Disclosure: Emilee from both Pea of Sweetness and Deals of Sweetness received a code for the full version app in exchange for an honest review. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.