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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The rain is gone!

It wasn't raining this morning and I got to run!

Brene Brown - wholehearted parenting manifesto

I read Daring Greatly a couple of years ago and want to read parts of it again in the new year.  I love how this manifesto reminds us about the important stuff of parenting. It's just too easy to get bombarded by all the noise and forget about the beauty in the people we are raising.  I've noticed over the last week how much my kids are growing up.  They are such caring, strong, brilliant people.  They are humble and brave and so funny, too.  They are patient in ways they have not always been, they are understanding of the faults in others and have empathy.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Christmas in progress

Lucy's gift to our family.  A portrait with "I love when my family plays board games together.".

Christmas has been beautiful this year!  We've spent lots of time with people we love and have had equal amounts of down time to veg out and relax.  In fact, it's after 11am and Emma and Eleanor are still in bed.  I'm looking forward to Eleanor's birthday on Thursday and JANUARY!  I love January!  Eleanor asked me the other, what month don't you love?  I love them all for their own reasons but just for the record, April is my least favorite month, followed by March.

I will now get back to the laundry and dishes and bills but I'm still in my pajamas and still drinking coffee and still listening to Christmas music so I'm happy!

Monday, December 21, 2015

It's Christmas Week- Balance!

I've come to believe and accept that we celebrate two distinct Christmas' in our house.  There is the real Christmas, the whole reason for the holiday and the one that brings the Baby Jesus.   This is the one that calms my soul and makes me giddy with excitement for the day to arrive.  The one that every single year I feel like I get a little closer to actually capturing.   

Then there is the one with the cookies and the tree and all of the stuff and I love it, too.  Not in the same deep way but in a very real way.   The balance for me is to to not let this loud, flashy Christmas overrun the real thing and make us so exhausted that when the Baby Jesus shows up, we're just too worn our to even notice. 

 Christmas week is here and we're enjoying the cookies, and tree, and stuff but I still feel the true spirit in my house this morning. 

   The kids are finished with school and I get them all to myself today!  I will let them sleep as late as they want and pajamas will be the look of the day.  My 5:30 run was sidelined by a thunderstorm so I've been happily reading and puttering for the last couple of hours.  My shopping is complete, menus are planned and shopped for, outfits have been chosen, cards are nearly finished----I just relaxed and prayed and read this morning.  This is always my hope, that I will have a few days without "preparations" to just enjoy the season.  It doesn't usually work out.  This year, after lots of lessons learned, it did.  

Plus, these girls!  They are like having my own elves.  They helped with Christmas cards, wrapping, cleaning, you name it!  Tweens can be a challenge but they can also be the best help!

Not our actual tree.
Every year I'm certain we've found our best tree yet.  Not this year.  It's super pokey,  thin, short and crooked.  We loved it on the lot.  I blame the fact that it was so warm the Eleanor wore shorts to the tree lot.  We weren't in our right minds.

We replaced our yearly visit to Tilles Park with the Zoo lights.  Great change!  Last year, about 2 minutes into our trip to Tilles, we all wondered why we keep going.  A couple of times is fine but we'd worn that place out.  

A tradition we've not yet worn out is Christmas painting in Columbia.  We celebrated Christmas this past weekend in Columbia and
had a wonderful time together.

Emma-clarinet, Eleanor- violin, Sonia- flute, Lucy- clarinet
The girls put on a Christmas concert last week with one of Emma's friends.  Yesterday, they did a production of the Nutcracker.  These are some of my favorite times!  I suspect today will result in a few shows!

Here's to a Christmas week full of celebrating and keeping in mind what all this celebrating is about!

Monday, December 7, 2015

I'm still standing

but my feet are blistered and I don't ever want to run another marathon. 

This photo was taken moments after finishing.  I was so happy not to be moving.  The race was HARD.  Much harder for me than my first marathon.  I won't bore you with all of my thoughts on what made it harder I'll just say it was hard.  I finished in 4 hours and 17 minutes.  Guess what?  I finished my first marathon in 4 hours and 17 minutes.  Weird.

Running this marathon was the brainchild of my mom.  This is my her 60th year and to celebrate she wanted to run one more marathon.  We (all of those pictured above, plus one more) wanted to join in the celebrating and run with her so we signed up!  Except injury hit and our plus one had to back out.  Then, a huge injury hit my mom.  So severe that she has been walking with a brace for over a month and will have surgery next week.  We were all broken hearted when she told us there was no way she could run.  It seemed cruel that the person who really wanted to run in the first place was sidelined.  As is typical of my mom, she didn't spend any time feeling sorry for herself  Instead she became our number one cheerleader for the remainder of our training.  Then when race weekend arrived she made us a carb loading dinner, gave us a pep talk when none of use was too peppy and dropped us off right at the race start.

And then, along with these amazing people she followed us around Memphis, yelling and cheering and helping us to keep putting one foot in front of the other.  

None of us had a stellar race, but it was still a very, very good day!  We had a great meal at Rendezvous, and then had a wonderful evening of laying around watching movies together.  

The girls were with my dad and Kyra all weekend so of course they were as happy as could be, which only added to Kevin and I having a really great weekend...we could relax! 

So glad to have this accomplishment behind me!  

Monday, November 30, 2015

Wrapping up November

This was a November to remember.....maybe the best ever!

 I miss all kinds of things about my Nana and Grandpa.  I miss the way my Grandpa never ever called me Melissa, only Doll.  I miss the way he whistled and hummed and how his worn Bible looked in his lap.  I miss his goofy jokes and happy laugh.  I miss my Nana's great big smile, and her even larger laugh.  I miss the way she squeezed all my air out when she hugged me and how she never ended a phone call without "Jesus Watch Over You".  I wish they could have met my girls and how I wish my girls had known them.  The weekend before Thanksgiving was as close as it could be here on Earth.  We made my Nana's Italian cookies.  My Aunt Mary Ann flew in from Colorado and on 
Friday she and my Uncle Ben made lots and lots of cookie dough!  On Saturday we all came together in my kitchen and made lots and lots of cookies.  We laughed and shared stories and it felt so good to be together.  
I'm thankful for the never-ending love of my grandparents.  I'm grateful for family who care about keeping traditions alive and for passing down those traditions to my kids.  

After Cookie Fest we traveled to California for Thanksgiving.  
And it was perfect!!!

The girls were fantastic travelers.  They made traveling easy and I am so thankful for that.

We spent a day in San Francisco.  The girls had a great time at the Exploratorium, an awesome science museum.  This was outside of the museum.  We spent about 20 minutes working on getting that bird to stay put while Lucy got close!  We drove down Lombard Street and went to Ghirdelli Square.  I'm thankful for a family that loves to explore!

 We stayed in a house in Sonoma County.   There was no way to come even close to capturing the beauty of this area.  I am so thankful to have had a week in this little bit of heaven.  My heart and mind were soothed by this beautiful place.

 Our animal lover was so happy!  This horse lived next door.

 And the dog lived next door too and was Lucy's constant companion the whole trip.  Her name was Reecie and she and made the trip for Lucy an absolute dream.  I'm thankful that Lucy can find such joy in animals, its makes me smile.

This happened while we were gone.  Emma and my mom are officially the same height!!  I'm thankful Emma and my mom are so close...not in height of course by in heart!  

We ran a couple of times while we were away plus we ran a turkey trot.  Not your ordinary turkey trot...a trail run!  I'm thankful to be a runner but I'm ready to cool it on the miles.  Less than a week until the marathon!

My brother! 
 He's amazing.  He's smart and fun and the most generous person you could imagine.  
I loved being with him last week.  My girls loved being with him too. 
Eleanor kept a journal while we were gone and it read like dream.  Games,games, games, a hot tub to play in, a trip to a winery, out to eat, a turkey trot trail run, a zip line in the yard, s'mores by the fire pit, drinks at the coffee shop, a tire swing for fun, Hallmark Christmas movies,  Thanksgiving crafts, delicious baking,  and staying up late every night.  He made sure we had a perfect vacation.  
I am so thankful for my brother and I'm grateful my girls are so blessed with him as an their uncle.   

Thursday, November 19, 2015


No surprise, I'm behind.  I've been feeling incredibly grateful though, just haven't taken a moment to write!  I'm at Telle Tire right now having my tire replaced because it keeps going flat.  This week has been that way, a lot of little annoyances.  Nothing huge just irritants.  Today I'm thankful that I've kept each of these annoyances in check and they haven't done a thing to my happiness.  

I'm certain it has something to do with this place and the fact that I start every Monday with my 6AM  Core Group.   Meeting at 6AM either makes perfect sense to you or sounds insane.  I'm really grateful for a group of amazing ladies who think this makes good sense.  

I am also certain my joy has a lot to do with this girl.  In the last week she's cut her hair, changed her name, then changed it back again and been defiant more times than I can count.  Sometimes it's hard to be 5.  Sometimes it's hard to be 39.  I'm so grateful that we get to be 5 and 39 together.  

And these two!  Oh my goodness.  On Monday I told them I'd pick them up from school if it was raining.  I looked outside around pick up time and it didn't seem to be raining.  

I even sent her the above text, so there was no confusion about pick up vs. driving.  They arrived home drenched!!    They were laughing so hard and thought this was one of my ploys to have them work together and bond.  It wasn't but I think it worked anyway!  I'm so grateful to get to raise sisters!

On Monday night Eleanor had her first violin concert.  She absolutely hates playing the violin.  Hates as in she voluntarily went to a math review before school this morning so that she wouldn't have to go to violin lessons.   I'm grateful that Eleanor is learning that she is able to do really hard, not fun things.   I'm also glad there was a math review this morning so El could have a little break! 

I'm grateful that we are a flexible family.  In the rush to get Eleanor to that math review and Emma to school we forgot to feed Lucy.  Ok, I forgot.  We were almost to Lucy's school when she said "boy am I hungry!"  EEK!  Thankfully Lucy's school is near a Schnucks where there was plenty to make her happy and fill her tummy. 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Yikes...9, 10, 11, 12, I think!

What would life be if I weren't behind?  
Dull, I guess.    
Tonight's post comes straight from the Webster Groves Starbucks where I sit, praying I won't fall asleep while Eleanor is at dance a few shops down the way.  I'm pretty much a mess over here.   Before I left home Emma suggested I brush my hair.  I didn't.  I did however stop at the grocery store to buy something for tomorrow morning's teacher appreciation breakfast at Eleanor's school.  Twelve years of being a mom and I don't think I've ever purchased something for a school event, I've always donated a homemade goodie.  You know how I'm feeling about that?  Great!  Absolutely GREAT!

Today I'm grateful that I'm not judging myself on my ability to be perfect.  And really is baking homemade lemon loaf perfection?  I didn't think so either.

I'm also grateful for the line, that at 7:20 on a Thursday night stretches to the door at Starbucks. I'm noticing how many people are coming in by themselves and leaving with two red cups.  It's buy one get one free holiday beverage time at Starbucks.  My heart feels happy thinking about all of the kindness that's being shared!  And by the way, this "uproar" about red cups at Starbucks just makes me embarrassed.  As Christians we've gotta do better with our message.  LOVE is our work.

I'm a mess tonight  because my body hurts and I'm all out of steam.  And for that, I'M GRATEFUL!  I ran 20 miles today.  I did it!!  My body is strong and healthy and works.  It gets worn out and blistered and chapped and my shoulder, in the eloquent words of Brittany the awesome Massage Envy therapist,  is "all jacked up".  But it works!  

dont worry theyll tell you
Sorry about all this marathon talk!  

I'm also grateful for my sweet friend Christy.  We were able to have lunch together yesterday and I was reminded of how lucky I am to have such an amazing person in my life.  We have been friends for 20 years!  More than just about anyone else I know Christy has impacted my faith.  I am in awe of the depth of her faith.  It is not stagnant though, it is a living faith in which she is always learning.  I have watched as she has faithfully walked, carefully thought and allowed her heart to constantly be formed.  She inspires me to be a better person. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

6, 7, 8

For Kevin
Yesterday Eleanor had her last soccer game of the season.  The team she has played on since kindergarten fell apart this year and they didn't have enough girls to make a team this fall.  A few girls from our elementary school had to join another elementary school's team.  It was a little scary  for the girls but they did great.  Kevin offered to help coach the new team and it turned out to be a great season of learning and growing and new friends.  For both Kevin and Eleanor.  I'm grateful for Kevin's commitment to our kids and his desire to connect with them.   

For Leah
My girls do not have actual  first cousins,  but they have do have Leah who they call their cousin.  She's the most amazing cousin I could've dreamed up for my kids.  She's the role model as a parent you pray you'll find for your kids.  She's patient, strong, hard working, enthusiastic, passionate and has such a wise way of looking at life.  She gives Kevin and me hope that all of this very exhausting parenting work will give our girls the same foundation on which Leah stands.  Leah has parents who rock!  Not saying Kevin and I rock but we're doing our best and shooting for the starts...aka Leah!  I am grateful for Leah and so happy that she has chosen to have such an important part in the girls' lives. 

For a baby

In May, the girls will have a cousin!  A baby boy is joining our family and we couldn't be more excited!  Meredith, who always has a little gift for the kids,  surprised us last week with a puzzle for the kids to put together.  The puzzle announced the arrival of a baby!!  Excitement ensued and technology helped to share the news across the miles between St. Louis and Dan and Beth in Kansas City and Blake in San Francisco.  I'm so grateful that I get to be an aunt!  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Day 5- A budget with a little breathing room

A fridge full of warm food means out to dinner!
On Wednesday morning when I opened the freezer to retrieve ice packs for lunch boxes, a sticky mess of melted popsicles greeted me.  I thought one of the kids had left the freezer door ajar overnight, causing the mess.   I cleaned it up and reminded everyone to CLOSE THE DOOR! That afternoon I realized the refrigerator wasn't really that cold and nothing in the freezer had refrozen.  So it seems it wasn't our careless kids after all.  To be clear, they have earned their reputations as meances.  I'm typing this post without my lamp as someone broke the lightbulb in my lamp.  Not just the glass but the little silver part that screws into the lamp-- it's stuck.  The person broke the lightbulb to such a degree that I cannot just replace the bulb I have to figure out how to get the old bulb out.  Anyway, I called a repairman for the refrigerator and thankfully he was able to come this afternoon.  $255 later and it might be fixed.  We had refrigerator problems in the apartment and I won't rest easy for awhile.   No big grocery purchases until I"m certain it's back on track.  Oh, I hope we don't have to replace it though!

And then there's this

A flat tire on top of a sick refrigerator.  And a couple of months ago Kevin had a flat tire which ended  in 4 new tires.  While I'm not thankful for ANY of this I am grateful that it just feels like money to me not like a disaster.  I'm grateful that while I really don't want to spend money on any of these things it's not going to cause us to have to make hard decisions about heat, or food, or insurance.  Tonight I'm praying for all those families who make hard decisions about those things every day.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Day 4- Christmas is Coming!

   I ran 12 miles this morning.  It was  a drop back week so it didn't really feel that long.  Even though I say that in all honestly, it still seems like crazy talk to me. This line of thinking signals the fact that I am nearly finished with my marathon training---I have fully entered into a period of insanity where running less than two and a half hours at a time seems "nice" and discussion of my many aches and pains causes my kids to shout "TMI mom, TMI!!".  
Lucy spent the afternoon with my mom and since I figured I'd earned a little rest from that run, I decided it was a great time to get a jump start on Christmas.  It was such a fun afternoon!  I made our family Advent calendar and organized myself for all of the fun ahead.  I turned on my Christmas Pandora station but it was too early even for me.  I'll try in another week or so!  
It's back to November tomorrow but Christmas is coming and I'm so thankful!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Day 3- Perspective

I took a picture at the game, just not of the girl in the game!  

Tonight was Emma's last soccer game of the season.  It's been a great season, Emma has become a much stronger player and has had such fun playing.  
As I watched the game I chatted with my friend Cabrina, whose daughter is also on the team.  We commiserated over how unbelievably forgetful our girls are.  Seriously, the old saying about forgetting their heads if they weren't attached is TRUE!  As half time was called Cabrina, who had hosted a team party a couple of weekends ago said that someone had forgotten their portable chairs at her house after the party and she needed to figure out who.  I looked over at where she'd laid the chairs and realized they belonged to ME!  Kevin and I had forgotten our chairs at the party!  Cabrina and I cried over this, it was such a hilarious reminder that the apple really doesn't fall far from the tree.  

I am grateful tonight for perspective.  I am happy to be able to laugh at myself and keep from becoming too certain that I have things figured out.   

Monday, November 2, 2015

Day 2- School

This morning I got to help make cookies in Eleanor's classroom.  They kids used cut out cookies shaped like Missouri to learn the geography of the state.  I loved it!  Not only was it an opportunity to spend some time with Eleanor but it was a reminder of what an awecome school system my kids are a part of.  I am so thankful for the exceptional facilities, the outstanding staff and the abundance of materials.  


This is Eleanor's chair.  Yep, it's a stool.  A stool that moves around, sort of like something you'd see on a playground.  The school realizes that kids weren't made to sit still.  So they not only let them move they encourage movement.  This not only decreases behavior issues but it increases learning.

I dream that some day every single child in our city will have their very own classroom like Eleanor's.  Full of movement, and hands on learning, with enough books and paper and love for everyone, fun of qualified, dedicated staff and a sense of safety.   Oh, how I wish I knew how to make my dream a reality.  I don't have a clue.  I'll keep dreaming though.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Thankful in November

 I'm so happy to welcome this wonderful month!  
I'm also excited to begin my somewhat annual November thankful posts!

Today, I'm thankful for a day to get things back on track around our house.   We spent nearly the whole day organizing and cleaning up.  It was very needed and felt great.  We had conversations throughout the day about other things that are in need of some cleaning up.  
Attitudes.  Time spent on technology.  Time management.  Sugar intake!  Keeping up with chores.  

Halloween was a success.  Lots and lots of fun was had.  Though I never got a photo of the girls together this year.  They were all going in different directions!   I am getting terrible about taking pictures.  I vow here and now to improve.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Measuring Success

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I volunteer at a school in Normandy, doing literacy activities with struggling second and third graders. 
I leave each day with way more than I have given. 
It's hard to explain but maybe this will help.

 I work in a small alcove in the second grade hallway.  Today,  as I worked with my first student of the morning I noticed one of my other students, B., as he walked into his classroom.   He was late and the slope of his shoulders and the lag in his step told me that he was not ok.  
Twenty minutes later it was time to see B..   His teacher, not at all pleased, told me that B. was behind in his work and asked if I could finish a workbook page with him rather than do our literacy activity.   
B. and I walked out of the room, workbook in B's gloomy hand.  
As the door closed behind us he said " Sorry, but we're not gonna have a good time today, it's just a terrible day." 
 I let him know that terrible days can be turned around. 
"Impossible" he mumbled.  
"My daddy told me to wake him up at 9 oh oh.  And I did.  But he said he needed more sleep.  So I let him.  Then he woke up and it wasn't 9 oh oh and he was late for work and now he's really mad at me.  And the only way you can make this day ok is if you know how to make my daddy forget that happened because he's so mad at me".  
 I stopped and knelt down and  said, "Your daddy loves you more than anything and sometimes when a parent gets mad they lose their temper.  But your daddy loves you." 
He shook his head.
I swallowed hard.
"How about we work hard to get your workbook finished and then we'll have time for the Piggie and Elephant book I brought".  
Right now, Piggie and Elephant are just about perfect in B.'s mind.  A few weeks ago I introduced the series to him and now he knows what it feels like to LOVE a book.
He shrugged,  "Ok"
We got through the workbook page, which was at least one year ahead of his current ability and 
so very dull.  
But we did it!  
We finished with enough time for Piggie and Elephant!
As we read the book, in the midst of knee slapping laughter,  B. looked at me and said,
"I feel so happy!!".
 I  returned B. to his classroom, completed workbook in one hand, new Piggie and Elephant book in the other.  We walked through the door with our shoulders high and a spring in our step. 
In 20 minutes we did the impossible.
And as I closed the classroom door I thought,
I feel so happy.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My $45 Nap

 There is a theatre near our house which has reclining seats and a Coke Freestyle machine.  
Which means SODA! and a movie and comfy seats and makes it a complete treat in our minds.
 Lucy, Emma and I were excited to go this afternoon even if it was just to see Hotel Transylvania 2...and we hadn't even see 1.  
Emma carefully chose excellent seats for us, we collected our movie snacks and settled into those glorious reclining seats.  Lucy got out a fleece blanket she'd brought along and covered the two of us up, nice and cozy.  The movie began and I promptly fell asleep.  
An afternoon nap and two happy kids.  
This is what we call a win.    

Look at these kids!  This was in New York City in July of 2014 and they all look so little to me. I feel like we just returned from that trip.  But no, we are actually over a year beyond this place! And this school year seems to be traveling at warp speed!  It's already mid-October which means we had parent-teacher conferences this week.    I left each conference so grateful for my girls.  They are smart and strong and such very good people.  All three just the same and different in the same moment.  Blessings!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

She was shocked

Just shocked, when Rick Riordan shared last night that 40% of adults don't even read 1 book a year. 

Wouldn't it be fun to have to read good books again?!   To be given actual TIME to do it?    I  started this book earlier in the week.  Christy has been asking me to read it for a very long time and  I really don't know what has taken me so long.  I'm not very far along but oh boy, this is a good one.  I've already cried and gasped and furiously written down these lines...

"If there is a fundamental challenge within these stories, it is simply to change our lurking suspicion that some lives matter less than other lives."

"I knew that the poor has some privileged delivery system for giving me access to the gospel.  Naturally, I wanted to be around this."

Excuse me while I try to keep my eyes open long enough to read a few more pages!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

October 1

October is one of my favorite months! 
 I love everything about it!  Hooray!  Yippee!  Wahooo!

The last week of September was also a winner.

On Saturday I visited the St. Louis IKEA!  I had a preview pass so Christy and I braved it.  It was the calmest IKEA trip EVER!  We talked about religion and other important life topics, seriously, it was that laid back.

While I did not come home with one of these lamps trust me,  I'm scoping out a spot.

We sent this girl away to 6th grade camp and honestly we're all feeling like Teddy looks about having her away.  

Still running.

I've painted all of the girls' rooms and did a major clean out while I was at it.  I have a blister and paint in my hair to prove it.  The older girls are redecorating this weekend.  New bedding, rug,  and so on.  They had planned to get new loft beds but Eleanor is reconsidering.  She is realizing the beauty of a nice, simple, clean room.  

And for the first time in 6 years, September 30th came and went and I didn't cry.  In fact, I didn't realize until today that yesterday was the anniversary of losing our Gussy Boy.   

Still miss you, Buddy!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Regarding the 3:45 wake up....

Our day began with the alarm going off at the disturbingly early hour of 3:45AM.  
On purpose.  
 From that moment until 7:30AM  
a flat tire was discovered,
a quick solution for how Kevin was supposed to arrive in Iowa for an early morning meeting with said flat tire was found
  4 fast miles were run on the treadmill
a shower was had and clothes were thrown on
 a 6AM CoreGroup meeting was attended
the kids were fed breakfast(ok, ok so I just handed them bagels purchased at Panera while at CoreGroup) 
and 2/3 of the kids were dropped off at school.  

And now it's 6:30PM and dinner has been served and cleaned up. One child is at soccer practice while I wait to take another to volleyball to then pick up the first one at soccer so that I can then pick the other up from volleyball to return home by 8:30 so that I can then enthusiastically GO TO BED!  And start all over in the morning when my alarm will most decidedly NOT be set to go off at 3:45 AM.  

Thank goodness for iced water and coffee!  

Saturday, September 12, 2015


No words even come close to capturing how much I love that girl.  
She is AMAZING.  Strong and brilliant and so very, very curious! 
Thank you Jesus for blessing our family with this fiery, fun, full of life girl.

Saturday, September 5, 2015


Oh man, the weekend is already off to a great start!  
It was a long, hot week and it feels good to have a little break.
  Life around our house is busy and life outside of here is breaking my heart.  I'm trying to process through all the pain in the outside world while keeping my heart soft for the people in my inside circle.
I'm so grateful for a weekend to rest and enjoy the good things that surround us.

Have a great weekend!

Our UPS delivery girl is SO ADORABLE!!