Labor Day in St. Louis

A long weekend. Yeeeesssssss . . .

Mike and I hit the road for a trip to St. Louis, Missouri to do some site-seeing and go somewhere I’ve never been before. We had looked into going before but apparently it’s a hopping place as economical hotels were already booked up. So for this trip, we planned ahead and booked early!

I had worked all day teaching the Friday we left and didn’t arrive in St. Louis until after midnight, but at least we got a jump on our mini vacay. Our hotel was lovely so if you have a chance to visit St. Louis, I would highly recommend La Quinta. Saturday morning we visited the iconic Arch, of course! So did a lot of other people . . . but now it’s a national monument that I have seen and been inside of! A little scary, I might add, and crowded at the top but great views!

 

Next up, the Basilica Cathedral.  Wow. All of those mosiac tiles! There was a wedding ceremony there when we were but after it was over, we were able to go into the sanctuary. Absolutely incredible.

 

The next day we headed to the St. Louis Zoo. So did everyone else (free admission? Yep, gotta go!) so we went to Plan B, the Anheuser-Busch Brewery. We went on a tour and saw the Clydesdales horses as well as ate outside at the patio BBQ, got free beer, and enjoyed a free concert. Although I had been hesitant about going, I think it was one of my favorite parts of our trip! I had been to the Coors Brewery in Golden, CO and thought it might have been similar but this was much better! We did, however, go back to the zoo later in the day and were thrilled to see the penguins and a polar bear.

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Mike and I with Bruce the Clydesdale!

I loved what I saw of St. Louis in the short time we were there. The architecture and buildings were wonderful. There were many bike paths and lots of trees. Downtown was neat, although parking was a nightmare to get to the Arch. There were plenty of highways to get around with although I’m thankful for Google Maps that helped us navigate the city.

Mike and I enjoy our traveling and try to take advantage of a trip out of town every other month or so, schedule permitting! With us having the kids alternate weekends and Mike having to work another weekend, we’re typically limited to one weekend a month. Taking time out of our hectic schedules to see something new and enjoy each other’s company is wonderful and does our marriage so much good! It’s energizing and gives me a refreshing change with what else is going on in our lives.

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Deep Waters

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The swirling waters of a full Arkansas River.

Have you ever felt that the waters are just deep and life is just too tough? You can’t catch your breath. You feel as if you’re drowning. You’re trying to fight your way out.

Yep, I have. And it seems it’s more and more these days.

When my word for the year came to me (strength), I had no idea that it would be as needed as it was. I guess that’s the way the Lord works, though, when He puts ideas in your head! It seems to be one challenge after another with little to no break in between. Geesh.

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I found this bracelet at JCPenney earlier this year and have worn it every day!

So what does one do?

You MUST relinquish control to the One who loves you. I’m one to hold on to worries and struggle with releasing it. The thing is, many of the issues I’m having to deal with I have absolutely NO CONTROL OVER. How are you to solve a problem if you don’t have any control over it? You can’t.

I was running by the river earlier this week after an exhausting day of teaching, my main goal of alleviating the stress of the day. As I frequently do, I pray but last night I had no words. My sentences wouldn’t come. My words seems to freeze. I was frantically searching for guidance yet found none. I glanced at the river, noticing the rushing current and the swollen banks. Under water. That was what I felt like.

Psalm 121 says the following: I lift up my eyes to the hills– where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip–he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you–the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all harm–he will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Isn’t that so reassuring?

My second tattoo was inspired by Isaiah 41:13 (NLT) – For I hold you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God, And I say to you, Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you. 

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An infiniti symbol in the shape of a heart on my right wrist, perfect for inspiration of Isaiah 41:13.

I have to keep in mind, however, that there are reasons I am going through the trials that I am. Maybe not reasons that I understand yet, but reasons. 2 Corinthians 13:8-9 (NLT) says: Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. Okay, so I’m not to the boasting part about my weaknesses, but I will pray for His power to work in my weakness.

I hope that you are able to place your hope and trust in Christ. Life is hard enough to manage it alone; grasp tight to His hand and His grace will guide you.

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Welcome to Another School Year!

Just like that, summer was over! It was an incredibly busy one yet strange at the same time. I’m not even sure how to even explain it. Yet I was excited to get into my classroom and changed my theme slightly this year. I was fed up of using the same borders and colors that I’ve used over and over and over again for years! I had bought black fabric years ago for my bulletin boards and I continue to use those (frugal!) so this year I decided to do black and gold.  I believe “Glimmer of Gold” was the name of the theme that I purchased at Mardel’s. Why not?

The custodial team cleans all of the classrooms during the summer and takes out all furniture. My carpet was cleaned and the furniture put back where I wanted it other than the student’s desks, which I arrange into groups. The photos above show what my classroom looked like when I first walked in after the summer break.

Here’s what it looks like right before Open House.

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One of my student groups, ready for Open House night! I used folded sheets to cover the storage area shelves above the coat hooks. Love my new poster on the left and incorporated our district’s theme of Dream, Believe, Achieve on the right.

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These cubbies hold textbooks.  Their desks are too small to hold these as well as their other supplies we use daily. I used labels with sticker numbers and then put clear contact paper over them so they can be reused year after year. If I want to, I could write the students’ name on the contact paper also and it will still keep. The signs above the sink are for birthdays and the post office I use for handing out papers weekly. The desk is my “Safe Seat” for students from other classrooms or my own that need a break from their other space.

 

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This is my Focus Wall for our new Journeys English Language Arts curriculum as well as a part of my library. I redid my tubs to the black/gold and cut the signs in half to do more tubs. Frugal?! I also reused plastic tubs from Furniture Row that had leather cleaners in. I arrange my Accelerated Reader levels and also by collection, like Captain Underpants, The Magic Treehouse, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I bought the pencil tubs from the Dollar Tree and I reused chalkboard clips from my wedding reception to label the tubs. 

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The central part of my classroom, the SmartBoard! I did buy a new black & gold calendar.

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The classroom door. I added my students’ names on arrows and kept my Gold Glimmer theme going outside the classroom with signs and notices. I love the difference! Can you see the guinea pig cage through the window? I brought Cosmo  and Tito back to the classroom!

This is my 12th year of teaching and I’m looking forward to hopefully making a difference in the lives of my students and taking them to the next level.

A Doozy of a 25K

One thing I know about myself – I don’t run well in heat. Especially humidity. And this summer hasn’t been any different than any other except for the fact that the thermostat sky-rocketed early in May. Yuck. That doesn’t do much for my training, that’s for sure!

The UrbanICT was a new race this year and a couple of things appealed to me about it – it was at night, hopefully under the full moon, and the registration fee was much lower than most long races I’ve run. So I signed up.

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Isn’t this beautiful?! We ran across this bridge as the Keeper has the rings of fire on during the first mile of the race. Mile90 Photography rocked these pictures!!

My training was on track for the most part until July hit. My ocular migraines were back with a vengeance as was the humidity and ultimate exhaustion. Of course that didn’t stop me from hiking a 14’er in Colorado, but it did derail my outdoor runs. I ended up on the treadmill at the Y more often than not. The night of the race, I hadn’t run in 2 1/2 weeks. Uh oh. I should have known.

As I toed the starting line, I was hoping that my body would kick into memory mode and knock out the race in about 2 1/2 hours. Ultimately, I wanted to finish without injury and wouldn’t really know until the horn blasted from the start and I began to run. I was thrilled to run with a running buddy that shared a marathon with me a couple of years ago. She helped me keep pace for the first 5 miles but then the side stitches came. Regardless of my breathing, liquid intake and fuel, it was a struggle. Running in the dark was a new experience. I had a lamp but the bobbing of other runners’ lights was a bit nauseating and parts of the path by the river were very, very, very dark. And yes, maybe a little scary. My body was giving up waaaayyyyy too early. The shorts that I have worn on many a run started to rub. My hips ached. My knees started to give me issues. And did I mention exhaustion? To the extreme. It became a tremendous battle of my mind to keep going.

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These are the best race pictures I have EVER had. Thanks Mile90 Photography! (Look at those leg muscles!!! ;))

Although I did some walking, especially through water stops even though I carried my own on my back, I finished. According to Timer Guys, I finished 69th out of approximately 146 people with a time of 2:57:31, just before midnight.

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This smile wasn’t forced — I was FINALLY done!!!!

I learned a few things.

  1. I don’t much care for night running along the river with bouncing headlights.
  2. The power of running with friends is tremendous.
  3. Regardless of how much I struggle running/training in the heat/humidity, it MUST be done in order to be successful.
  4. Running long distances will always be a mind battle.
  5. Treadmill running doesn’t replace street running although it’s better than nothing.

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Next up?

My hubby and I have scheduled another half marathon in October in Nebraska. We had such a great time running the Good Life Halfsy last year that we wanted to do it again! I have started my training again – outdoors and relatively easy for now – to ensure that I’m ready. I don’t want to risk injury by ramping too many miles too quickly. I’m not making the same mistake again!! I’m prone to IT band and knee issues as it is!

A HUGE shout out to Mile90 Photography!! Your race pictures were absolutely fabulous! Thank you for capturing this race!

 

A Pinterest 4th

It was both mine and my husband’s year to have the children for the 4th of July this year and I wanted to do something special with food. Where do you get such inspiration? Why Pinterest, of course!! When you put something in the search section, a plethora of fabulous ideas pop up! Now, several years ago I did a Jell-o concoction and spent waaaayyyyy too long cutting out watermelon with a star cookie cutter so I wanted something different – and easier – this year. I did need to watch my budget, though, as holiday food can get very expensive, particularly if you’re buying fireworks too!

I opted for something healthy and did wood skewers, mini marshmallows, blueberries and raspberries. The raspberries were a little pricey in my opinion ($5.98) but wow, were they yummy! Absolutely delicious and incredibly easy! I also made a cake (only a box mix) but although I wanted to decorate it with red, white and blue M&M’s, I couldn’t due to my stepson’s severe peanut allergy. That’s okay, though, as I had left over blueberries and found some red crystal toppings I could add to it and the family size was nearly $9 – gulp!! I forgot to take a picture of the stripes of the crackers and cheese that I made as well, leftovers from a party that we had a couple of weeks ago so that helped with the budget!

Here a couple of pics of what actually turned out . .

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So not as pretty as the M&M cake but no allergic reactions!

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Fresh blueberries, raspberries and mini marshmallows. Yum!

We cooked out (jumbo pack of turkey franks were very reasonable and tasted much better than the beef ones, in my opinion!), visited, played soccer, and made s’mores (already had these when they had a buy 1 get 2 free of the ingredients) around the fire pit before shooting off some fireworks that we had bought.

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Even Buddy enjoyed playing soccer!

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The fireworks all around us were beautiful!

The downside? Well, my older children had their own agendas, understandable at 18 and 21,  and didn’t even stop by. My youngest preferred to hang out with his girlfriend so I didn’t even have my own children with me in which to celebrate the holiday and partake in my yummy special food! At least my parents came over for a bit to help us celebrate! 😉

Snow, Ice and an April Half Marathon

When I signed up for the El Dorado half marathon, I was anticipating warmer temps and a good start to my running season. Boy, was I wrong! Race morning temperature was 18 degrees with a brutal wind chill! But then again, I guess that’s Kansas for you! The night before the race it sleeted and snowed. Uh oh. Did I really want to drive to El Dorado to run this? Well, I’d paid the money and I’d trained so . . . . why not?

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This was what the ground looked like at the finish line. The first mile, we were warned, was particularly icy and to watch out!

My goal was to just finish without injuring myself. My usual half marathon goals is a sub 2 hour but I didn’t want to put that much pressure on myself since the weather wasn’t particularly ideal.  Since I broke my foot several years ago, I’ve always been a bit apprehensive running in bad weather, particularly ice! As the race progressed, however, my body just kicked in what it knew how to do and I was very pleased with my outcome.

 

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Overall Results:   21st place out of 105 runners; 1st in my age group with a time of 1:58:09. Not too shabby!

My next race? A 25k night run in July!

Pic credit: volunteers at Oz via Flickr with the exception of the last selfie!

Our Wedding Elopement

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Ahh . . . true love . . . until you try to plan a wedding around work schedules, parenting schedules, kids, and holidays!  If that was the case, there would never be a “good time” to tie the knot! So Mike and I planned an elopement ceremony in Bella Vista, AR at the Cooper Memorial Chapel.

December 27th was cloudy and cold, below freezing, even in the afternoon of our ceremony. My Dad and I walked into a beautiful orchestrated rendition of “Unchained Melody” where I met my love at the altar to exchange vows and rings. Our Reverend Dee even choked up with the amount of love energy between the two of us! Our photographer, Lacey Whitmer Photography, did an amazing job capturing our elopement. After taking pictures inside the chapel, we went out onto the grounds and ended up at the waterfall where we have taken many other pictures. (Yes, I was traipsing around in the dirt in my wedding gown! I did bring my old running shoes, though, as my toes were freezing!!) There was a lot of love and laughter (and kisses!) at our intimate event. I have too many favorites to show here so I narrowed it down to just a few.  God has indeed blessed me in giving me another chance at love and marriage. On December 27th, 2017 I married my best friend. I truly feel that “I have found the one whom my soul loves” and look forward to a wonderful life of love with this man!

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