Wednesday, July 31, 2013

So What Wednesday

This week, I'm saying SO WHAT if:

  • I stay up until WAY too late simply because I'm trying to milk every minute of summer and when I go to sleep I know that's one less day until I go back.
  • I am getting really excited about how my room is taking shape.  I was there with a good friend yesterday for multiple hours and it's really starting to look good.  I'll upload pics tomorrow.
  • We have nothing of substance here to eat, so we've been just haphazardly figuring out meals one at a time.  It's not good.  I should really do something about that.  But SO WHAT. :)
  • My OCD brain is beginning to itch for a normal schedule where I don't have to look at my planner each night to determine where I need to be at what time.  I've been living on the edge this summer without a set schedule.  I really know how to live on the wild side.
  • Tomorrow is August.
  • I am two weeks behind on So You Think You Can Dance and I am seeing a marathon in my near future.
What are you saying SO WHAT to this week?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I just can't really express how much I LOVE this quote.  I have loved it for a long time, but it means even more now because every time I look at it, I think of Julie.  I can't explain how humbling it is for me to be on the receiving end of such an act of kindness.  Really, I'm not sure you could call selflessly offering to carry a child for 9 months and then give birth to said child without asking for a solitary thing in return merely KINDNESS, but I honestly don't know what else to call it.

It convicts me for sure.  I have always thought of myself as a kind person - but in today's world it is very rare to find someone who genuinely doesn't want ANYTHING in return.  Someone who does the right or kind thing simply because it's the right thing to do.  I want to be that to people I encounter each day.  I pray that my students see that in me.  I pray that the grocery clerk thinks that of me when I walk away.  I am so in awe of Julie.  She has been thru hell and back in this process so far - blood draws, medicines, shots, 45 minute drives across town multiple times per day - you name it, she's done it.  And she has never one time made me feel like she is being put out.  In fact, she's never made me feel anything besides that she is happily going about the business of making Kevin & I a baby.  I know that my calling is not to be a surrogate for another family - but I have prayed many times in the past few months that whatever my calling is in this world, that I can do it with the loving kindness that Julie has shown me through this process so far.

Most of all, I pray that I can instill this quality in my children one day.  I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to share this real life example of pure and intentional kindness with them.  I am hopeful that my miracle(s) will be someday be a constant and living reminder to anyone who knows the story of their conception and birth that kindness still exists in this world today and it's power transcends all else.

Never underestimate the power of kindness.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Morning Musings

I spent quite a bit of my weekend in the car driving to or from St. Louis - but it was so worth it.  I loved spending time with Julie and her family in their own environment.

Julie and I talked for hours on Saturday night while Dan was at football.  She made a delicious Mexican dinner and we drank a few (too many) lemonade alcoholic beverages.  It was really nice to be able to just sit at her kitchen table and chat with few interruptions.

  • Genevieve FINALLY came to me (I may or may not have bribed her with M&Ms) and I have an adorable picture of us however it's on my cell phone and I am too comfortable to get up and get perhaps that will make the blog later in the week.
  • My nephew and niece are coming to visit for the last part of this week and I can't wait!  It's my last full week of summer and I can't imagine a better way to spend it!
  • The weather here in Iowa has been ridiculous this weekend - I'm not complaining because I do love sleeping with the windows open and having it be a tad chilly...but I wasn't really ready for pool weather to be over.  Didn't that just start?
  • I'll be spending lots of time in my classroom this week trying to get things settled.  More picture updates to come.
  • How is the end of this week AUGUST already?!  Wasn't it just May like two minutes ago?!
  • I'm still a little confused on this whole Google Plus business.  It's fun to see people adding me to their circles and I did a little adding myself earlier last night, but I truthfully have no idea what I really did.  Whatever I guess.
I think that's about it, Ladies & Gents.

Have a great week -

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Silent Weekend - St. Louie Style

Visiting these awesome people this weekend before the craziness of back-to-school hits.  See you on Monday  :)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dear Platinum {camp summary}

As mentioned in my earlier posts this week, I spent the beginning part of the week with my high school dance team at UDA camp.  This camp is our bid to Nationals and the official kick off to our season, so it is CRITICAL that we have a successful week.  Success isn't necessarily defined in my book as winning, although that is certainly an added perk.

Here's the run down of the AMAZING job my girls did at camp:  1st Place in Home Routine {a routine they learned before camp and brought with them to be judged against the other teams at camp}, Full Out Award for Team Routine {a routine they learned on the first night of camp and had to work together to create formations and alter the choreography to be unique and creative}, Superior Placement for individual routines, 6 of my girls were named UDA All-Americans, Won the Leadership Award {all teams at camp get one vote and are asked "if you weren't on your own team, who's team would you want to be on?"

So with that, I wanted to take a moment to write a little note to them to speak my heart.

Dear Platinum, 

I know camp is super stressful and extremely exhausting, but I am confident that you left camp a much stronger team than when you arrived.  I hope you've learned a lot more this week than routines and technique.  

I hope you've learned that you are MUCH stronger together than apart.  I have loved watching you develop this week as a team - it's always interesting to watch who emerges as a leader and who is more comfortable following.  As a coach, it doesn't matter to me which category you fall under because the bottom line is that our team needs BOTH.  

I hope you've learned that it's not only important to work hard, but to play hard as well.  Nobody can be serious all the time - life is all about balance.  There is certainly not a lack of FUN on this team.  But, to be honest, it's one of the things I love most about you.  You are some of the funniest people I've ever met.  The fun times are what will get us through the upcoming hard stuff we have to do {puke practice, anyone?!}.  I adore when you come running into my hotel room to tell me something funny that just happened or to show me a ridiculous video on your phone.  You make me smile every single day and that makes my job SO much easier.

I hope you remember the moment captured in this image.  The moment they announced that you WON.  The moment that every second of sweat and hard work paid off.  While these moments are few and far between, moments like these are certainly what makes the work we do worth it.  Obviously only one team can win, and it won't always be us - but when it is, I just love to watch you.  The pure joy and excitement in each of your faces was worth every single early morning alarm and sweaty hour in that hot gym this summer.  I sat there watching you with tears streaming down my face because I am so blessed to be your coach.

And lastly, I hope you always look back on this past week at camp {and our entire season really} and remember that our team would not be the same without each and every single one of you.  Each of your strengths and weaknesses and quirks add up to be one of the most remarkable groups of young women I have ever coached.

Each season is special for different reasons and this one is no different.  I will look at that Gatorade container at each practice and think of each of you and this week we got to spend together.  It was an amazing start to what I know will be an awesome season.  Thank you for working hard.  Thank you for playing hard.  Thank you for being humble.  Being the coach of this team is one of the greatest blessings of my life.

I believe in you always -

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

So What Wednesday

Joining Shannon at Life After "I Dew" for another installment of So What! Wednesday this week.

This week I'm saying SO WHAT if:
  • I have eaten far more junk food than anything else this week while at camp.  {to be fair, our camp served less than healthy choices which didn't help this little issue}
  • I brought quite alot of school work with me to camp to work on and didn't get much of it done.
  • The one thing I was able to complete are the headers for my homework board - they are ADORBS.  
  • My sister made fun of the amount of time I spent on said Homework Board headers.  Whatever.  She's just jealous of my awesome-ness.
  • This Friday is our last summer get together with work friends which means the beginning of school is nearing.  {perhaps I'm just pretending to say SO WHAT to that so that I don't begin crying that summer is over?}
  • I'm heading to St. Louis this weekend to visit with Julie & crew before we head back to school - Kevin can't go...this means a road trip by myself.  YIKES.
  • I realize that this Royal Baby business has no relevance to America, but I'm fascinated.
  • I'm about to break up with Candy Crush Saga because I cannot pass 102.  Now that I've said that, I will likely pass it the next time I open it to play.
  • Still haven't read a solitary children's book this summer.  Oops.
  • My ab workout for this week was laughing with my friends at dance camp.  Inside jokes are awesome.  "Worry about yo-self!"
What are you saying SO WHAT to this week?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

10,000 and a camp update

For the past 10 years my sister and I have coached a high school dance team at our alma mater, Pleasant Valley.  There was no program for dance when we attended there, so it has been a pretty huge task to build this program to what it is today in 10 short years.  We are so thankful to the supportive parents in our program and our extremely talented dancers make our jobs SO much fun.  

This week we are at camp with them learning new routines, bonding as a team, and hoping to earn our bid to Nationals in Orlando, FL in February.  The camp experience is a TON of work for the girls but inevitably winds up being one of their most memorable experiences as a team.

Before we left for camp, one of our families graciously allowed us to invade their home for an afternoon to swim, eat dinner and then have a sleep over.  The girls had a BLAST!

This is SO them.  They are silly and fun - but hardworking and dedicated all at the same time.  We love them so much!
Ok, now for the 2nd part of this title - 10,000.  Does anyone know what that is?!

That is the number of page views this little blog has gotten!!  
Unbelievable.  Thank you so much for your interest in our story - I find it so amazing that other people have found this little online home of mine and enjoyed it so much that they continue coming back.  I wonder if that will ever cease to amaze me?

Have a super day friends

Monday, July 22, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mama!

Today is my amazing mom's birthday.  Many of you reading this blog know my mom personally, I assume...but for anyone who doesn't, let me get you up-to-speed on this lady.  She is one of the most loving and warm people I know.  She fiercely loves her family and there is nothing on this planet more important to her than us.  She has high expectations of herself and others - she demands excellence of us and has always led by example in that department.  She loves opening her beautiful home and heart to others and as a result, our "family" has grown many "adopted" branches as we have grown up.  There are many, many people in our lives that think of her as a mom or an Oma {German for Grandma and what our kids call her}...she simply wouldn't have it any other way.  She is one of the hardest workers I have ever known.  She works 12 hour days at a minimum most days, and usually does it with a smile.  I always joke that while my dad and I would quit our jobs tomorrow if we won the lottery - my mom and sister would continue working...that's how much they adore their careers.  Not only does she work hard, she plays hard too.  She enjoys time by the pool, vacationing with family, and attending the kid's school events whenever she can.

I could go on and on about her, but I think you get the picture.  I would say as I've gotten older I tend to be more and more like my dad - and I (admittedly) make her crazy sometimes.  My fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pant attitude about some things sends her over the edge.  She just shakes her head and smiles at my perfectionistic drive towards other things.  She even plays into my need for routine {for example, everyone is required to sit in the same spot for opening Christmas gifts.  If the gifts are mixed up, I really struggle to deal with my sweet mother carefully places all gifts in the appropriate location}.  She has allowed me to simply become who I am, and loves me unconditionally.  She is a remarkable woman and I consider it one of the greatest blessings of my life to call her my mother.  This world is a better place with her in it - and I am so lucky that she's my mom and the Oma to my kids.

Happy Birthday, Mom!  I wish I could be there to celebrate with you today - but I love to celebrate you any day!  Enjoy your day - and maybe only work 8 hours today and do something special instead?!

Love you,

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Off to UDA

I'm off to Camp with these lovely ladies until Wednesday.  I am hoping to update this blog throughout the week with both personal and Platinum updates from UDA Camp. 

Happy Weekend!  :)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Weather is Here and My Classroom is in Progress

It has been ridiculously hot this week here in Iowa.  I know, I know...I complained about the weather a few short weeks ago because I wanted summer, but is there no in between from cloudy and cold to sunny and unbearable?!  Evidently not.

This week has gone by really quickly - between having my sweet nephew and niece here for a few days, getting our dance team ready for camp next week, and beginning work in my classroom - I can't believe it's already Friday!  

I had a little reality check earlier this week when I looked at my calendar closely.  Students will be in my classroom in less than 4 weeks.  {Lets take a moment to take a deep breath and let that set in...}  I will be gone most of next week and the week before school starts we have teacher meetings - which leaves me essentially a week and a half.  WHAT?!  Sooooo...I spent about 8 solid hours in my room on Wednesday.  I even enlisted the help of my 12-year-old step daughter Kaitlyn.  When I left that night, I at least felt like I could reasonably be prepared for school to start...that makes me a lot relieved.

Behold the progress that was made:

This is how the room started.  View from my desk.  Note the computers all bagged up, the desks in disarray, above my cabinet full of who knows what.   
View from the back of my room.  It doesn't look bad in this picture, but it was not good. 
This is what the desks looked like.  Construction dust was EVERYWHERE.  All of them had to be re-cleaned.  Not a huge deal...but certainly time consuming. 
A bit of progress.  Desks re-arranged.  Small group table in a more appropriate spot than smack dab in the middle of the front of my room.
More progress.  Computers un-bagged and plugged in {Thank you, Kaitlyn!}, top of cabinets making progress, desks in final arrangement.  Looking more like a classroom.    :)
My not-so-little helper.  She was SO much help yesterday.  Crawling on the floor, vacuuming, hanging letters on my wall, moving furniture.  I could've never gotten as much done without her.
This is how I organize my bulletin board letters.  In a recipe box with alphabetic dividers.  The hot mess you see sprawled on the desk would be the miscellaneous characters - numbers, punctuation, etc.  That mess is now located in a large ziplock baggie.  That's going to need a little attention at some point.  I dislike having to search for makes my OCD brain uncomfortable.  :)
The finished product of the word wall.  This wall gets filled with reading strategy anchor charts throughout the year.  And who doesn't love Dr. Seuss?  
 Anyway, that's all for today.  I'll show more classroom pictures once it's all done.

Have a wonderful weekend, Friends -

Thursday, July 18, 2013

You Can.

I wish I could tell you the amount of times someone has said to me, "I could never do what you're doing" or "there is NO WAY I could go through that".

I'm here to tell you this: YOU CAN.  And you would.

Many mothers I've spoken to have told me the lengths they would go to for their children.  They would give them anything.  They would go to the ends of the earth to make them happy.  They would die for their children.  I have often said that my fight for my children just happens to have begun before they were even conceived.  And I would be willing to bet, most any woman in my position would echo the exact same feeling.

Many, many women face these same circumstances and do so with Grace and faith.  I aspire to be them.  The community of infertility is strange because there are SO many people going through this struggle - but it's just not talked about a lot.  I am not here to claim that my journey is any harder or easier than anyone else's...that's the thing - how do you quantify this horrible season?  "Oh you want a baby more than she does, so that makes your's harder..."  "Oh you've had 5 miscarriages and she has had zero, so that makes you more of a Mother Warrior..."  These statements are ridiculous and unthinkable.  There is simply no way to justify my journey's difficulty level in comparison to anyone else's.

The simple reality is that this is hard.  And unfair.  And painful.

But, I promise you - you would be able to do it.  If for no other reason that this: there really isn't another option.  I am continually amazed at the strength I have found within myself simply because giving up isn't a viable choice for this Mommy's heart.

If I can do it, you can too.  I promise.

Be Kind Today -

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

So What! Wednesday

Linking up with Shannon at Life After "I Dew" for another installment of So What! Wednesday.  This week, I'm saying "so what" to the following things:
  • I have completely ignored many of my responsibilities around our house for the past 3 days because I had my niece & nephew with me.  I will pick quality time with them every single time over just about anything.  :)
  • Because of the bullet above, I now have quite a lot of work to do around home in order for it to feel like I can be calm there.  {it was absolutely worth it though!}
  • I leave for camp with my high school dance team on Saturday for 4 nights and haven't thought about packing yet.
  • Dance camp with the girls is one of my favorite parts of summer - I love to watch them grow as individuals and a team!  Plus, I really adore my time with them...they make my heart happy.  It's also a huge bonus that my sister {Kim} and my might-as-well-be-my-sister {Jenny} will be there too...time with them, without kids - don't mind if I do.
  • I went into my classroom this week to attempt to get a few things in order.  Took one look around.  Turned right back around and left.  Not ready for that monstrosity quite yet.  It soon won't be a choice.  Not good.
  • I am beginning to think of my life in terms of two things: 1. Will this make a decent scrapbook page for Kaitlyn or New Baby K someday?  2. How can I make this a blog post?  Other regular bloggers I've spoken with about this concern of mine have assured me this is somewhat normal and I shouldn't be worried.
  • I still get so excited to see my blog followers {right hand side bar} grow.  The other day it went from 11 to 12 and I was so happy!  I see lots of page views each day in my Blog Stats, but I have no idea who is all when people follow I can put a "face" with a page view.  It's the little things in life, people.  :)
  • Going back to school worries me for lots of reasons, but currently I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to keep up with the blog.  I have found so much joy in writing this summer and I really want to find a way to continue during the school year. 
  • This post looked more like another brain dump, rather than really being "so what"...but, SO WHAT!  It's my blog and I can do whatever I want.  :)
What are you saying SO WHAT to today?

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

When I am weak, I am strong.

This Bible verse was used during the last week of the Bible Study I did with Kaitlyn this summer on the book Lies Young Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free.  It stood out to me immediately.  What a powerful promise of strength during times of weakness.  I have it highlighted in my Bible and plan to put it on a card for my bathroom mirror so I can have frequent reminders.  

I hope you find some comfort in this verse today.

Much Love -

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Morning Musings

This weekend was SO wonderful.  A chance to relax and rejuvenate.      I shudder to even type this, but this week begins the last 4 weeks of summer break.  Sigh.

Here's a picture dump from the weekend.  Good stuff.

As I mentioned, on Thursday night we were able to have dinner with Kevin's Uncle Larry.  This is Kevin's birth mother's brother and Kevin really adores his time with that part of his family.  Uncle Larry was in town for the John Deere Classic Golf Tournament and on his way out of town we were able to meet for dinner.  He brought his camera and was showing Kevin and I pictures of extended family and telling stories.  Precious memories with family we don't see nearly enough.

On Saturday morning, I was able to catch up with a dear friend from school.  Jessica and I have one of the most special bonds I've found in life.  We go months - almost a year sometimes - without talking, but the moment we're together, it's like we were never apart.  My time with her was exactly what I needed in the midst of this roller coaster I'm riding - she feeds my soul.

On Saturday after coffee with Jessica, I walked around the mall aimlessly by myself without a plan.  It was awesome.  I came home and did laundry, took a short nap, then went and floated in my parent's pool for the remainder of the afternoon with my mom and cousin - blissful.

On Sunday, I picked up my niece & nephew because my sister is out of town for a few days and my brother-in-law is in an extremely busy season at work.  I cherish this time with these two love bugs - we always have so much fun!  Sunday afternoon, Maicey had an appearance as Miss Iowa's Outstanding Teen's Princess.  Our dear family friend, Emma Kate Wichman was crowned Miss Iowa's Outstanding Teen in June and she had a Meet & Greet event Sunday afternoon.  Maicey went to greet guests and visit with many people - if it's a reason to put on a crown, she's all about it.  :)

 After the Meet & Greet, we went swimming at my parent's house and then out to dinner with family.  I snapped these sweet pictures of the kids with Kevin and my mom & dad.  Melt my heart.

We went to dinner at the Kangaroo's favorite restaurant.  It was closed when she was here last week, so I made Kevin snap this pic of me to text her.  She was super jealous.  

We came home and sat down to watch a little Duck Dynasty.  We looked down and these two loves were sleeping.  

That was my weekend, friends.  Nothing exciting - but just day-to-day life as I love it.

Have a wonderful week!