Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Seize the Moment

Within the last 2 months, my husband and I have gone to six funerals.  We've witnessed (and felt) lots of sorrow, pain, laughter through tears, memories shared, and ultimately -- hope.  Each of the services we've attended focused on the victory Christ gave us through his death and resurrection.  Each pastor pointed us to the cross and the reunion we will have with our loved ones in heaven.  What comfort and hope we derive from those promises!

These passings have been hard.  But I've watched a beautiful thing happen, and I've seen it happen many other times over the years.  This:  a massive outpouring of love.  On Facebook and social media, and then in person at the visitation and funeral services, those whom we've lost have been showered with an overwhelming amount of love.  These friends were beloved, respected and cherished.  Their families were flooded with hugs, prayers, memories and love.  I was so thankful to witness such a testament to who each of these people were, and what they meant to so many around them.

But what I kept thinking, was. . . I bet he had no idea just how much he was cherished.  I bet she had no idea what she meant to those around her.  I bet he had no idea how many lives he changed.  I bet she had no idea how much she will be missed. And while I was thankful the family was able to see all of these things, I felt this pang that, in life, the friend who had passed was not aware the difference he had made to those around him.  And it made me so sad, but also resolute.

I have pondered this subject before - the concept of building one another up.  Of taking a moment (or two or 500) to tell a friend what she means to me.  Of pausing my life's busyness and getting together with a friend.  When I value something in a person (a good friend or a virtual stranger) I need to voice it. Life is fragile, and I am renewing my vow I made in the link above to tell people how much I value them.  I don't know why, but sometimes this is hard!  Fear of rejection; of sounding silly or over-emotional?  Fear of embarrassing yourself or the other person?  I don't know, but I need to get over it.  Because when someone goes out of their way to encourage me, compliment me, or build me up, I am buoyed by it. I'm guessing others feel the same.

So let's not wait, my friends.  Let's cherish our friends and family members.  Let's let them know how much they have impacted our lives.  Let's take a moment to tell someone what they mean to us.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving
 one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 
Ephesians 4:32

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The (last couple) Week(s) in Pictures

Here are a few visuals from our house the last couple of weeks:


I recently switched over my (very small) closet from winter clothes to summer clothes.  These, dear reader, are my winter clothes.  Do you notice a theme? Black, gray and brown are great colors - with a small splash of denim and burnt orange!  Don't be a hater! Neutrals are my friends!


Look at that large even number!  This is the odometer of our suburban, which we are hoping has lots and lots of more miles left in her.  We have a few more adventures planned and we hope the old girl can hang on to take us on them!


Tuesday night, my middle son got the game ball at his game.  He had possibly the best game of his life - a triple (to the fence!!), great pitching, and several infield plays.  I was not able to see it (I was watching my older son's game at a different park), but my husband gave me some play by plays as the game progressed.  My son's coach is great - he encourages my son and gives him opportunities to learn and grow.  We couldn't be happier with all his coaches and his team this year.  But his coach told my husband that I couldn't come to his games anymore - apparently mom is bad luck (this seems to be a common theme for me and my kids' achievements)



Our Blessing Chapel is a tradition at our Lutheran School.  In the top picture, I am blessing one of my students, and in the bottom, my youngest daughter is being blessed by her teacher.  These blessings are amazing.  As a teacher, I am incredibly moved as I bless each child at this last service of the year. What a joy to give my little ones God's promises as I tell them good-bye.  And as a parent, what a privilege to witness the same between my children and their teachers.  Our Lutheran school is a partnership between parent and child, and I am ever so grateful for it!


Sunday, June 4, 2017

Hello Summer!

School is out, though things haven't quite slowed down yet.  I just finished up a heaping dining-room-table-full laundry marathon, which featured two items of note:  FIVE sweatshirts that my middle school son unearthed from his locker on the last day of school, and the last of the school-year uniforms.  This means fewer hanging shirts and more folded T-shirts, fewer socks and fewer khaki pants.  Woo to the hoo!  But the school uniforms have been replaced by baseball uniforms. . .pants, shirts, socks, special baseball boy undies. . . I don't mind - it's a nice change!

Speaking of baseball, have I ever mentioned that I love watching my kids play?  On average, we have  about 10 games a week between the four kids who play.  Add in practices and actual other life things, and it makes for a nutso schedule.  But that aside, I really, really love watching them play baseball.  Until they started playing four years ago, I hated baseball.  I thought it was so ridiculously boring and slow.   But from the first moment my boys stepped on the plate, I was hooked.  It isn't slow at all (well, the younger kids' games can sometimes be a bit laborious--), and watching my boys grow as players and young men has been a gift.  They've learned from their coaches, both good and bad, and they've learned valuable team skills.  I'm thankful for all the time we've spent on ball diamonds in the last four years -- and I'm also super glad they aren't into soccer!  Play ball!

Since school has been out, we've also had a few conversations with our kids about screen usage.  We are really trying to encourage them to self-regulate -- to watch their own activities and make healthy choices. We are also trying to make some changes ourselves:  be less reliant on our phones and more present.  We have seen a lot of good already -- brothers playing blitz ball, lots of books read and art created.  I am hoping for some long-lasting shifts in all of us.

So hello summer!  Here's to sleeping in, late(r) nights with the kids, reading a book (or two or twenty), vacations, camping, family reunions, and togetherness. Cheers!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Bits and Pieces #19

School is out for me on Friday, and next week for my kids, and May has been a race to the finish.  May is chock full of baseball, awards banquets, musicals, concerts, graduations, work commitments, track meets. . . the list is endless.  All good stuff, but why must it all happen in the same month?  Anyway, due to the severe amount of activities over here, we've been limping along, hoping to make it to the last day of school.  Our house, laundry, and meal planning is suffering.  But I'm optimistic, as May is always hairy, and we always make it.  But I'm a bit weary, I'm not gonna lie.    So here are a few snippets of what has been going on over here amidst the crazy.


  • In the preschool pod where I spend lots of my days each week, we have had so. many. babies. born in the last couple of months.  It has been awesome to see all these moms with their tiny little ones.  There are lots of preschool moms still pregnant too, and it truly makes me weepy with delight.  What a blessing a new life is!  How glorious to be carrying new life, and then caring for that precious infant.  Love, love pregnant mammas and new babies! Keep having babies, mammas!
  • Speaking of preschool and work, as I said above, this is my last week of teaching (I'll still be working in my room for a bit after that, though).  And man, as it approaches, I am truly sorry to see these little ones move on from me!  This has been a great class, and I'm going to miss their little faces and personalities.  Thankfully, most of them are simply moving across the hall from me next year so I'll still get lots of hugs and updates.  
  • My teens have received several awards in the last week:  my son won four academic awards for being at the top of several of his classes, and my daughter won a theater award for her dedication to the department.  I was so proud of both of them, and it's possible a few tears escaped (ugh!  you know I can't help myself!!)
  • A few weeks ago, my husband and I took my 17-year-old on a college visit to our alma mater.  It was so surreal to be there again. . .so different, yet so much the same.  At one point, as I shared yet another memory (about when my husband and I first met for goodness sake!), my daughter dramatically rolled her eyes at me and made me laugh.  I put my hand over my mouth and cried, "If you only knew!  I am only sharing about an eighth of what I am remembering!" Seeing the school through her eyes and hearing her take on it was fascinating.  I look forward to more college visits with her and walking with her on this journey.
  • Changing gears completely. . .my eldest daughter told me about a new adaptation of my beloved Anne of Green Gables on Netflix.  I was skeptical, since I am a purist and love only the Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie version from the 80s.  But, since she is also a fan, I thought I would give it a try.  We watched episode one last night and I actually thought it was pretty good - good acting, beautiful scenery, mostly sticking to the book's story line.  My youngest daughter and younger two sons also got pulled in and were enjoying Anne's escapades. . . until episode three, when all came to a screeching halt.  I was incredibly disappointed in Anne's dialogue - delving into euphemisms that were completely inappropriate for younger audiences. Thankfully my younger two didn't catch what she was talking about, and I quickly pulled the plug on the show and looked up some reviews.  Turns out, many people like it, but many are also calling it dark and a turn away from the book's true storyline.  Shame on you, Netflix, for tarnishing a classic!  I told my kids that I would check out from the library the "real" Anne from the 80s and we would enjoy it without worries.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Cousins!

This month, my eldest nephew will graduate from high school.  It's hard to believe he could possibly be that old!  But he is ready for the next chapter, and it's exciting to see what is in store for him.

And behind him, in rapid succession, two of his sisters and two of his cousins will follow suit.

Rewind 19 years ago:  my husband and I and his brother and wife were still relative newlyweds, both couples beginning to think about starting families.  And my in-laws** were excited at the prospect of both of their sons soon giving them grandchildren.  But I don't think they knew quite what was on the horizon.

Snap - in a period of 2 years and 9 months, my in-laws had 5 grandchildren!  My brother- and sister-in-law were gracious enough to have twins, making that number possible.  Suddenly, we were getting together for births, baptisms and birthday parties.  Holidays were fun, crazy and often exhausting.  My in-laws were thrilled with the almost-instant big family.

And the grandchildren kept coming. . .in 13 years, the grand total was 10 grandkids.  Family get togethers are awesome.  There are kids everywhere, playing games, putting on shows and laughing.  It's the best.

The kids seem to have naturally fallen into two groups.  The older five (currently known as the teens, though this summer two more will join that category) and the younger five.  And for this year only, all five of the teens are in high school.  It's been great to watch them become friends over the years, and as teenagers, stay in touch on their own now.

When the first five kids were 2 and under, it was hard to imagine the day when they'd all be in high school.  Impossible, really, to imagine what our lives would look like.  We had no way of knowing how fun teenagers would be, and what a blessing these cousins would be to each other.  And now, my nephew will be the first to bring on a new change:  college.  I pray that all these cousins (including the cousins on the other sides of their families as well) will stay close -- that they will share their new adventures with their closest family members.  It has been and will continue to be a joy to watch them grow together.  There is only more beauty to come!




** When I hear the phrase "in-laws", I often think of the 1991 version of Father of The Bride, when Steve Martin is on his way to Bel-Air to meet his daughter's future in-laws.  He isn't thrilled and doesn't like the phrase "in-laws".  He says:  "What does it mean anyway?  That we're legally bound to these people?  I don't wanna be in-lawed, especially to people who live in Bel-Air!" This scene is just before he almost gets attacked by the Dobermans and falls into the pool  If you haven't seen this movie, watch it immediately.  You can thank me later.

And let me also take a moment to say that my in-laws are THE BEST.  My husband's parents and his brother and his family are not "in-laws", they are simply family.  I am ever so thankful for the blessing of Cumore family!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The Week In Pictures

A few visuals from our place this week:




Yes, the obsession with butt-enhanced foods lives on in our house.  Perhaps you recall reading here about some "almost butt" spread. . .I'm thrilled to report that many more items have shown up in our pantry with this all-hilarious secret ingredient:  cookies made with chunks of butt, crunchy butt, and butt flavored syrup. I have to admit, I crack up every time I take something out and find this child's handiwork.  



We went to Florida over Spring break with my in-laws, and my dad made this bag to send with us in the car.  It had a bag of gummy bears in it for each child.  This gift is just like my dad - thoughtful and creative and goofy! ❤️


I found this in the freezer.  I don't really know what to say about it. . . The master chef who created them called them cake pops.  
That is all.


This is the back of my beautiful 17-year-old daughter's head.  She went to her junior prom over the weekend with a big group of her friends.  She looked amazing and she and her friends had a great time.  I was so proud of her!



And this:  "If I could do something all by myself I would ride my bike around the big circle.  This would make me feel like a grownup".  Oh - the sweet dreams of a 7-year-old!  I love her so!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I'm Not Fancy Part Two

Quite awhile ago, I blogged about not being fancy.  I talked about how I don't wear much makeup, and what I do wear is Cover Girl.  I'd prefer comfort over style if I really had to choose, and a ponytail is my hairstyle of choice.

Well. . .I'm not fancy in lots of other ways as well.

House/Decor:  My house is a modest two story.  We have enough rooms, square footage, furniture and family pictures to make it just right for me. We may not have an enormous en suite in the master bedroom, or a gourmet kitchen.  I'm not an interior decorator, and my house doesn't look like a spread in Better Homes and Gardens.  But it's comfortable, decorated well enough, and full of people I love.  So what if I don't have Joanna Gaines' touch?  It's just right for us.

Meals/Food:  I can't say I don't mind a fancy meal now and then, but I would prefer to cook simply.  Early on in our marriage, I remember having people over for get togethers and thinking I needed to cook some fabulous meal that was completely out of my repertoire (and comfort zone!), because the people we were inviting were foodies (well, that was before the word foodies was coined, but hey. . .).  Nowadays, if you come over, we might order pizza, or I might cook or grill a well-loved meal.  It might not have sixteen ingredients you've never heard of, but it will be cooked with TLC and love.

Cars/Phones/Possessions:  Let me start with this one by saying one of our cars is a 2004 Chevy Astro Van.  I could basically stop there, as that pretty much sums up this category, but I'll continue. A beautiful car in my book is one that holds all seven of us and is paid for.  The Astro passed both questions from the get-go and therefore was a winner.  We may not have the fanciest, flashiest cars on the block, but they get us from point A to Point B without breaking the bank, and that's what a vehicle is for, right?  In the same vein, we have 3-year-old iPhones that are still limping along.  We have to charge them a little more frequently now, but they're still working and they are freeee!

Vacations:  Dear reader, if you know me at all, you know we camp for most of our vacations.  The price is right, we make great family memories, and we see the country!  No, we don't have pristine hotel suites or zero-entry pools, we don't buy top-notch travel packages and we don't eat at all the best restaurants.  But we can still spend a lot of time together as a family without all that stuff, and that's what a vacation is for, right?

As I said in my original "I'm Not Fancy Post" (link above), the older I get, the more comfortable I am with who I am.  If someone else always has the latest iPhone and takes award-winning vacations, awesome!  But that isn't me, and that's okay too.  I'm happy being me: a pop-up-camping, iPhone 5-using, comfort-food-cooking mamma.