A Different Type of Thanksgiving

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A gorgeous sunset on Hilton Head Island by the lighthouse

I had the opportunity to do something different this Thanksgiving which was a relief but at the same time, a little stressful.  For many years my family would travel to my husband’s family as a Thanksgiving tradition.  The past couple of years I’ve spend it in Keystone, CO with my parents, my children (or some of them at least), and my fur boys. This year my parents were driving to Hilton Head Island, SC to visit my brother and his family and had invited my eldest son and to fly in later and join them.  Well, my son didn’t want to lose out on work money (I don’t blame him! As a server in an incredibly busy restaurant, it would make sense to earn beaucoup $!) and, unbeknownst to me, his father had asked him over for the holiday since he already had his brother and sister . He had accepted, not knowing that I hadn’t made any plans as I refused to leave him alone on Thanksgiving Day. Hmm, communication problems?! Yep, I believe so! Argh. ..  Well, now that these other plans were in place, that now meant that I’d be alone on Thanksgiving.

Parents to the rescue! I still managed to book a flight and although my heart hurt being away from my children and things that they had to deal with by being with their dad, I got to visit with my brother and his family in a state they’ve called their home for four years that I’d never seen before, run in a 10K race with a new PR, run on the beach, see some humongous alligators, and make some new memories. I was certainly blessed to have had this opportunity!

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Thanksgiving Day Race – 5K and 10K participants!

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Mandatory beach run selfie! If I hadn’t have been on a time crunch, I’d have been out there for HOURS!

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Group shot on the beach following our Thanksgiving meal. It was a beautiful day!

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My brother and I – we’re only a year and 17 days apart and were very close growing up. Not so much now 😦

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Easily 12-14 feet long. Gulp! Glad they were on the other side of the water!

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My new beau (ha!ha!) – and my Dad photobombing in the background (he was actually keeping the nutcracker’s mouth closed!). I love Christmas lights. . .

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Isn’t this a beautiful walkway to the beach? 

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My Dad and I – one last look at the beach before I headed home. 

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Turkey Trottin’ 2016

Last year when I ran this race I called it The Longest 10 Mile Race EVER and swore I’d never run it again. It wasn’t even an option this summer either, when I was comparing races with my new running buddies until I heard that they had changed the location and the route and since it was during yet another one of my training cycles, I thought, “Why not?” And if I was one of the first 2,000 runners registered, I’d get a free turkey. And who couldn’t use a turkey? (Okay, so maybe that’s not the best reason since my daughter is a vegetarian! Oh, and I still have last year’s in the freezer.) I’m glad I did.

So, prefacing the race was more family/teenage drama. I woke up the morning of the race sick to my stomach, with a thought racing through my head that I hadn’t in the slightest entertained.  I mean, I TRUSTED my daughter, yet why would this thought not go away? Something wasn’t right. Hmm, before the race I confirmed what I knew to already be true.  After the race, I double-confirmed it. Great thoughts to run on, trust me. Grrrr. . . .

We were all lined up in the chute for a good 20 minutes before they told us that we could go back inside due to a delay. Well, I’ll tell you that the real feel temperature was 25 degrees that morning, and standing around waiting for the horn to go off for that long wasn’t the most pleasant. It took a while for my toes to thaw out for I’m sure those guys in tank tops and shorts were feeling it much worse than I was!  Turned out there was a high risk situation somewhere in the area that may  have impeded our safety. Thanks to the race directors for keeping us all safe!

Going into a race there’s always many variables that you usually don’t have any control over.  Weather is one of them, particularly the Kansas wind.  Fortunately, even though the past few days had been gale force winds, it had died down significantly for the race. Yes, it was cold, but at least the sun was supposed to come out. I had a goal for this race knowing that my past two races were 1:32 and 1:31 so I was hoping for around 1:30.  I’d been training well and as long as my IT band didn’t act up again, I felt confident that I would meet it. Due to shuffling back inside and out to the starting line, I lost my fellow runner buddies but I figured I’d meet them on the course somewhere (I only saw them in passing in the last mile:(). All the waiting and the cold even made my MP3 player die before I hit the first mile.  I don’t always run with music, though, so I knew I would overcome yet another challenge this morning. One of these days I should record all of the thoughts that go through my head when I’m running a race.  It’s actually quite comical!

It was a beautiful course with nicely placed water stations that I took of advantage of. I managed to maintain a fairly consistent pace and crossed the finish line with a time of 1:27:18, nearly a 4 minute PR! Yep, I was a happy camper!

Now I’ll need a new goal if I run it again next year.  I haven’t signed up for any other races yet, either, so I’ll need to figure out what’s next! I find having a race on the calendar definitely holds me accountable, as well as running with my group.  I’m going to have to up my mileage a little, too, if I’m wanting to finish 2016 with my goal of 1,000 miles!

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Why do all of my race pictures make me look like I’m dying?  Maybe the photographer should hold up a sign saying “Smile!” as I wasn’t expecting pictures!

A Long Day and Failure

It had been a long 12 hour day of teaching restless students with an early release day due to parent/teacher conferences on top of emotional conversations with parents. When I finally walked through my door, my fur babies greeted me enthusiastically, yet my first gaze fell upon the dirty dishes all over the counters and the ½ full gallon of milk – now warm – left out. *sigh* Really? And what was that smell?

My daughter was at work. My oldest son was MIA. Apparently telling your mother where you are when you’re 19 is optional. I only knew that he didn’t work that day. My youngest son was laying on his bed with bloodshot eyes playing Xbox.

I exhaled and tried to convince myself that it’s okay. But it sure didn’t feel that way. I felt like a failure again.

I probably should have gone for a run or done some yoga. Mistake #1. Instead I looked up grades on my phone and about had a heart attack when I saw that not only did my daughter have 4 D’s, she had 2 of them that were less than 1% from F’s. (We’re working through some issues at the moment and she’s working hard at getting them better.) Mistake #2. Refer back to Mistake #1. So I started working on upcoming paperwork for my attorney because due to budget cuts within the school district it’s affected my health insurance and, therefore, my paycheck. My ex is ignoring my emails. Panic mode set in filling in the numbers and realized that there wasn’t anything on vision listed on the plan. Now I had to hold off and look for more information. Mistake #3. And on and on it went. I went to bed in an attempt to relax but couldn’t stop the tears. Refer back to Mistake #1.

LOL!!!:

Needless to say, it was a rough night. My first thought when I awoke was “Oh, no, here we go again”. A song popped into my head, “Eye of the Storm” by Ryan Stevenson.

Yes, God is constantly giving me reminders that He is with me and that I don’t have to do this thing called LIFE alone. On my drive to work this morning, another long day of conferences, I not only heard “Eye of the Storm” again, but “Fix My Eyes” by King and Country and “Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns. One thing I miss about being married is physical touch. After a long day of work it’s nice to be listened to, someone to brew a cup of tea for me, and hold me. It’s been a long time since I’ve had that affection. I think last night would have gone much smoother if God could have physically held me. I don’t need a man, though, just God. Even as I’m typing this post WAY-FM is playing “In My Arms” by Plumb. Just what I needed. Thank you, WAY-FM and thank you, God.

God is big enough to handle our disappointments, even when we feel like it is Him who disappointed us.:

God is good.:

Only God can fill an empty heart. Psalm 4:

A Late Night God Moment

train up a childParenting is HARD.  Teenage parenting is even harder.  Single teenage parenting is even harder still.  *sigh* What’s a mother to do?

Last month I was having issues with my eldest son, AGAIN.  It’s upsetting when I feel like I’ve lost connections/relationships as my son has gotten older. He has his own agenda now and doesn’t feel like he needs to share anything with anyone, including me, regardless that he lives under my roof and I provide for him.  Tough, I tell you, really tough. So I had gone downstairs and mentioned something in passing to my son who was doing something I have previously asked him not to do in the house.  I was just reminding him, honestly, and tried to keep my tone non-accusatory.  Of course it backfired, and he retorted with a statement with some expletives in it. I prided myself in not retaliating with what I really wanted to say, instead I just said, “Don’t even start that with me” and went back upstairs.

The damage, however, was done. My heart was crushed, again, and I felt defeated in my attempts to do what is right.  I felt helpless and out of control. What did I do wrong? It was a long night of crying, praying, tossing and turning and more praying.  I had work the next morning, which certainly didn’t help matters and only stressed me out more. And then came the anger and stress of having to deal with this alone with his father having left.

My phone signaled an incoming email.  I don’t usually check it in the middle of the night (or wee early hours of the morning) but in this case, I rolled over and checked it.  I get daily emails from Proverbs 31 Ministries and that was what had arrived at that moment. It was entitled  “Three Things Every Mom Should Know” by Lysa TerKeurst. My interest piqued, I opened it and began to read.

It began like this:

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10 (NIV)

LYSA TERKEURST

“Being a mom is tough.

I think one of the hardest things about motherhood for me has been my tendency to blame myself for the wrong choices my kids sometimes make.

The second hardest thing is trying to figure out how to fix their issues. Especially when you are hyper aware the situation your child is in will carry great consequences.

Deep is the sorrow of a mother who feels helpless.

Thankfully, God knows what it’s like to deal with wayward children. He feels our pain. He knows our sorrow. And He knows exactly how to encourage us through His Word.” (click on the title for the link that will let you read the entire devotional post)

I started crying all over again, big, heaving sobs that shook my entire body. I had been crying out for help in prayer and God provided answers by way of a single tone on my cell phone. I had been heard. God sent the encouragement that I needed to get me through this situation. What a friend I have in Jesus!

Psalm 145:18-19 “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them.”

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And Just Like That, Another School Year Is Over

I honestly can’t believe that another school year has come and gone.  My mother once told me not to wish time away as before I’ll know it, it will have just zoomed by.  Well, maybe not exactly in those words but you get the point.  Granted, due to budget issues the school ended a couple of days early for the students, which might have made it seem a little shorter but it didn’t shorten my days by much! I still have at least 1 1/2 days next week. Now dreams of summer are a reality.

So this morning I awoke to put my 8th grader on the bus for the last time before he became a high schooler and my 10th grader finished up her finals.  They have grown SO much this year!

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Pics on the left are from August 2015, pics on the right from May 2016.

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My 2 handsome boys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Can I brag a moment about my son’s promotional clothing?  He had a hard time deciding what to wear but finally decided on something simple and classic.  I paid $12.99 for the shirt from TJMaxx, $5.99 (not including the 10% discount) for the pants from Goodwill, and $3.48 for the black dress shoes from the DAV. He already had the belt (required dress uniform from school) and borrowed the black tie from big bro.  We had picked out another one but didn’t realize it was navy so the navy/black combo didn’t look good.  Not to worry, the tie was only $0.95 from the DAV. He looked just as handsome and polished as the fellow student whose parents spent over $500 for their son’s attire. My son was very happy with his classy wear, and so was I – and my wallet!

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Being goofy with the dogs photobombing in the background before going to school

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My beautiful daughter and I before she went off to finish her finals.

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The above Bible verses say it nicely – a blessing from Numbers and one of my favorites, Jeremiah 29:11. Many blessings to you and yours today on this special day/season of promotions/graduations and always!

 

 

Escaping on Spring Break

It’s been long awaited – the joy of a full week off – SPRING BREAK!  I had decided to split up the week to have time away and time at home,  a win-win situation, right?! The teens seemed to think so. Time away, time with their friends and time with their Dad. Too bad my eldest just got a new job and couldn’t come with us.

I put in my mandatory 3 1/2 hours at work on the Friday, packed up the kids and the dogs, and began the trek to Keystone, CO, where the mountains were beckoning. We did a couple of hikes, tried tubing (1st time in 13 years we actually couldn’t slide due to accumulation on the slope!), and walked in the snowstorm that dumped approximately 40″ in about 4 days.

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The morning after a few inches of snow fell – glorious, breathtaking, God’s handiwork scenery.  The pic on the left is Buddy and Cooper on a hike through an overlook by Lake Dillon. They love galloping through the snow and didn’t mind sinking belly deep! I sank in thigh-high deep at times but it was a  very enjoyable hike.  There’s just something about being in the mountains surrounded by such beauty that I feel at home, in peace, and so close to God. It clears the cobwebs and stress from my life back home and I feel so. much. better about EVERYTHING. What a wonderful emotional/mental break from life. And great cross-training, too!

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Brother and Sister did some great bonding on this trip. Lots and lots of laughter and memories made.

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Can you see how beautiful it is? In fact, my son got burnt on this 6.18 miles hike!

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This was our destination – La Bonte’s Cabin – and ski area! 

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And then the snow began in earnest. We took a walk when it tapered a little (my daughter coordinated her walrus socks with her Grandma’s jacket!) but it was snowing sideways and actually wasn’t  very pleasant. I came back with my hair soaking wet but I was plenty warm enough, despite the dropping temperatures.

We had planned to drive back on Tuesday and despite the hazardous warnings and the first time I’ve ever seen signs requesting  passenger vehicles have chains, we braved the I-70.  The highway wasn’t as bad as it could have been and some blowing snow caused some issues but we did just fine.  By the time we got to Genesee Park on the west side of Denver, you couldn’t even tell there was any weather! How bizarre . . .

As always when I leave, my soul feels fulfilled and although I didn’t want to go, I knew I had to. I’ll plan another trip soon.As it turned out, if I hadn’t left when I did, I wouldn’t have been able to leave due to the additional inches of snow!

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Mid-mountain on North Peak – Elevation: 11,237 feet – The official snow stake!

 

 

 

We’re Off to See the Wizard . . .ROAD TRIP!

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Yep, one of my Bucket List items – check!  A long weekend due to President’s Day and I couldn’t resist a road trip to Wamego, KS with my 3 kiddos. I mean, really, would I rather do chores or go somewhere fun? Exactly. We left the house before 9 am as it was supposed to take us about 2 1/2 hours to arrive.  We did, of course, stop by QuikTrip for the necessary refreshments prior to hitting the highway!

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Hwy 77 has plenty of farms and this kind of scenery.

When we arrived the teenagers were more than ready for lunch.  Two of them wanted Subway but my oldest said that was like driving 3 hours to go to Walmart. Good point.  So we looked at Friendship House (not the kids’ idea of a good place to eat: “It looks like someone’s house!”) or Kreem Kup, which ultimately won. Yummy food, that’s for sure!  With full bellies, the museum was next.

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The front of the museum. Very easy to find with front row parking.

When you first enter the museum you go right into what looks like a farmyard shop at Auntie Em’s.  Very friendly staff who not only helped me get as good a deal as I could get on the admission (yay for a college ID!), but she even volunteered to take pictures of us in the museum should we want!

The museum was full of artifacts, characters and a few videos about the making of the movie and the history — in other words, a plethora of information about the Wizard of Oz. We read oodles of signs and even watched part of the movie while we were there.  Here are a few pics of our fun trip.

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Perfect photo opp!