Monday, April 15, 2019

morning routine

Mornings are hard. I’ve admitted this in the past: I like my bed and I don’t like to get out of it because it’s amazing and warm and the world is a cold, hard place especially on a Monday morning when you have a crazy busy day staring you in the face! The cool thing for us is that we are a homeschool family which allows for some flexibility in our schedule. However, I don’t sleep in and I rarely let my kids sleep in. We are up and (mostly) functioning by 8:00, which might seem late to some of you, but in the homeschooling world, we would be considered early birds by many!

There’s one more thing I need to tell you about myself before I proceed to my point. (Well, it’s kinda a point, sorta. Not a terribly important point today, but maybe a valuable point for someone? Idk.) It took me years to admit this, but I am not a morning person. Shocker, RIGHT?! Happy, bubbly Kathy does not wake up and immediately want to speak to or interact with anyone who is instantly joyful or energetic when they set foot out of bed. Do not ask me tough questions like where to find a new tube of toothpaste. Do not tell me a joke or tease me. It’s not funny at 22% awakeness. Please do not start a conversation about anything important, such as what my plans are for the day or what I’m making for dinner hours later.  I don’t need a cup of coffee. I need time. Eventually I will become happy and bubbly Kathy, but I need to shake all the cobwebs from the brain and put my mind in functioning mode, which takes me time. (Unless it’s 3:00 a.m. when I wake up in an instant thinking very clearly and anxiously about something that is giving me stress. What is up with that?!)

So I developed a morning routine...of sorts. I sleep with my phone on my nightstand (horror of all horrors 😳). I leave it on all night. I put the “do not disturb” on so it doesn’t ring or vibrate or anything. And when I wake up in the morning, after my hubs has left for work (because I don’t conversate in the wee hours of 6:00 a.m.), I grab my phone and I look at it. Criticize all you want. At this point in my life, I don’t care. I am just trying to wake up, you guys! Consider this my “morning cup of coffee.”

But here’s the thing. I don’t go to Facebook and Instagram and start reading everybody’s morning business. I find America’s Funniest Videos and watch people fall off of trampolines or bellyflop into a lake or ride a hovercraft thingy and fall on their bum. And I smile and giggle at other people’s misfortune. (That sounds terrible.... There’s other funny stuff too, where people aren’t getting hurt, I promise!) Sometimes I watch Jimmy Fallon’s hashtags because the people of the Tweeting world are funny! Or I watch a video about human kindness or charitable acts or anything uplifting.

I’m tired in the morning. I’m tired thinking about my day and I haven’t even gotten out of bed yet! I know this is my season in life (Is “tired” a season? It feels like a really long one...) and that someday I will wake up, bouncing out of bed to attack the day with vigor!! (Sheesh. Even that sounds tiring!) But this season is not that.

So I choose to start my day by waking up to things that set my mood for the rest of the day. Videos that make me smile, stories that make my heart happy, people that brighten my day with their words. Every once in a while there will be a text waiting for me from a friend that makes me smile as soon as I read it! (Making me smile before my eyes can see clearly - that’s impressive!)

Congratulations to those of you who wake up with a smile on your face. But kudos to those of you who drag yourselves out of bed even though you need an additional 20-30 minutes to feel human. I am right there next to you, not saying a word because words are dumb at early o’clock in the morning.


This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us be glad and rejoice in it!
Psalm 118:24

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

chain reaction

I was at GEMS this evening. (It’s a young girls group at a local church. I volunteered to be a counselor a few years back and it turns out that I’m as mature as the girls in the group so it’s a good fit!) I have the privilege of leading the devotions almost every time we meet. Tonight’s devotion (which I can’t take any credit for because I didn’t write it), was about chain reactions. It’s along the lines of a topic that I’ve touched on before, but it’s been a while and it’s worth repeating!

This year in our GEMS program, we talked a lot about blessing others. Tonight’s devotion was about blessing someone and how that can lead to a chain reaction of that person blessing someone else and so on and so forth.

I likened it to the “Pay It Forward” Movement (that used to happen frequently at Starbucks in the drive-thru line) and none of the girls really knew what I was talking about (or their attention span was super short tonight. Could have been both! I’m not sure.) So I explained that when someone does something nice for you and you don’t know how to repay them for it, if they tell you to pay it forward that means to do a kind deed for someone else. (I saw a couple of light bulbs turn on with that. Progress!)

Now, I don’t know exactly how guys work because I’ve never been one, but for most of the women I know, when something kind is said to them or done for them, the feeling they get is so fulfilling that they want to share it. Compliment them on their shoes or hair, bring them a coffee or flowers, even remember them on their birthday (I’m utterly the worst at this) or send a random encouraging text and you have made their day!

I’ve randomly complimented people I don’t know in stores before and they are so taken aback by it that they hardly know how to respond! That reaction right there tells me that it doesn’t happen near enough in this world. If complimenting strangers feels weird to you (I’m a bit strange myself so I’m cool with that), it’s fine to stick with the people you know. They probably need to hear it too! Even your kids, y’all. Build them up like crazy! It’s a great way to be an example to them.

So today’s challenge (and actually the “Rest of Your Life” Challenge): find someone to bless and bless them with a kind word, compliment, encouragement, a cupcake, coffee, flowers from your garden (people: everything is blooming in California right now!) or one of this funny memes on your phone that you can now send via text to people! That’s my favorite! ❤️

From what I remember, it takes about a month for a habit to develop. I think this would be the best habit to develop over the next month. Just sayin’!

By the way: your hair looks great today and you have a beautiful smile!


Monday, April 1, 2019

the best gift

There are days when I wonder how in the world I am ever going to prepare my kids for real life when many days I, myself, don’t feel prepared for real life. It’s not as though my parents did a terrible job of raising me. They did a fantastic job, actually! They pushed me in my strengths and supported me through my weaknesses (*cough, cough, basketball*). They taught me numerous life skills and provided an excellent education. And they loved me through everything.

Now, as a grown up, there are some mornings I really don’t feel like getting out of bed. It’s a two-fold problem, really. My bed is deliciously comfortable. We recently upgraded to a king size bed that isn’t indented or smooshy anywhere. I also have an infatuation with comfortable blankets (I refuse to count how many are in this house. I’m sure we have room for more.) Oh, and I finally found a pillow that is the perfect shape for my neck and head. With all this warm goodness, I have created a beautiful cocoon that takes all my will power to crawl out of in the morning.

The other problem I have in the morning is that once I get up, I have to start a busy day. (I’m sure many of you have crazier schedules than mine so I won’t complain.) Starting the day means that I have to finish the day and once my feet hit the floor, then my determination and self-discipline have to take over because: do you know how much easier it would be to stay in bed and not do all the things and see all the people?! I love our things and people, but it still takes effort to get going in the right direction in the morning.

So, what if I’m not doing a good job of teaching my kids to be self-disciplined or determined? What if I’m creating lazy children or maybe I’m actually putting too much pressure on them? What if I haven’t given them the tools to deal with the scary people, the mean people, the people who need to be understood, and those that need to see their love? There are a thousand things I’ve neglected or done wrong, I’m sure of it. I know this because I see it in my own life. I’m so far from having life figured out. It’s like the longer I live, the more I realize just how much I don’t know. (Can I please get an “Amen!” on that one?!)

But you know what gift I have that HAS prepared me for real life? It’s the same gift I keep striving to give my children. The gift of God. A great, big, wonderful God. A God who is always victorious, always looking over us. A great, big, wonderful God. (I couldn’t help it, the childhood melody crept back into my brain as I started writing it, begging me to continue.)

There is no way for me to anticipate all that my children are going to experience in their lives. I’ve got them under my roof for approximately 18 years. Chances are good that they are going to live 65-75 years after that, NOT under my roof! (Let’s hope and pray, folks.) And I can’t hold their hand at that point anymore. (Because that might look a little strange and their friends might make fun of them.) That’s when I’m going to hang onto the promise that God’s got my children in the palm of His hand and trust the upbringing that God directed through me to them: to call on Him for help and strength.

Now, if you hear some crazed gal yelling out to God tomorrow morning, it’s probably just me trying to get out of bed...


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

a daycation

(This post is dedicated to my friend who reminded me that we live close to the ocean and we should visit it more, and to my other friend who told me that I had enough caffeine in me to write tonight and knew before I even started writing that it would be good. She’s my believer.)

Today I took my kids to the coast.
We’re not on spring break. We’re just running on zero patience and 100% irritability with each other. We decided to leave the house so that we could like each other again!

We drove in the old familiar pick-up truck, even though it gets cramped with us and our stuff (because you do need a bag full of snacks and another one full of sweatshirts, beach towels, and a blanket when you head to the beach). We stopped at our old familiar mid-way point (Casa de Fruta) where we encountered a bunch of peacocks and one very interesting man who warned us about the peacocks and then proceeded to tell us the strangest “facts” about himself and his family until we carefully edged ourselves away from him. (I’m really good at being polite with interesting people, but this guy was pushing it with me, so much so that I was talking out of the corner of my mouth to my kids, telling them to get up and walk away!)

Our drive took close to a couple hours and we listened to a bunch of music (no electronics, for reals!) and we made observations about the currently amazing green earth and quoted a lot of dumb stuff that we’ve heard from the ridiculous YouTube videos and vines they watch. As we drove, it struck me that we are in this really cool stage of life: the stage where the memories they make are strong and they actually contribute more to those memories. Their personalities are emerging in a more “out loud” sort of way and they see things differently than the last time we took this drive (a few years ago). It can be really enjoyable to hang out with them! (I say, “can be” because it isn’t always enjoyable...)

When we hit Highway 1, we opted to go to our familiar beach: Sunset Beach. As we approached the campground, we rolled down our windows to smell the evergreeny, eucalyptus, ocean smell that evokes precious memories every time we smell it. (If someone can capture that scent in a candle or oil blend, I’d super appreciate it!) As we drove past the campground towards the main beach, I told the kids stories about camping with my dad and about how my husband (we missed you today, Scott!) asked me to marry him while at the lookout years ago. We found our old favorite camping spot and the climbable trees and then proceeded to drive (not walk the 700 steps) down to the beach. (Ok. It just feels like 700 steps, especially when you’re climbing back up, covered in sand!)

We climbed over the small dune and onto the wide expanse of beach where, on a clear day (which we had today!!) you can see both Santa Cruz and Moss Landing. There were only about 5 people on the beach as we walked to the water’s edge. I could have spent the entire day there, because it is so beautiful. I have met God numerous times where the waves roar and the water meets the sand. And I love to see my kids on the beach where I “grew up.” (Yes, this usually foggy, cold, wet campground and beach still feels like home to me, even though you had to pay to take a terrible shower and a fire was constantly lit to ward off the cold and wind and some years we dealt with skunks and other years we dealt with the farmers working in the fields next to us WAY too early in the morning. It is still home because of the memories of amazing food, card games, seashells and sand everywhere, early morning walks on the beach, lifetime friendships, and an old hard-sided Apache tent trailer that my dad would crank up every year for us to “live” in). After the kids romped around a bit, we re-created an old photo of them, wiped the sand off of their feet (which is a whole lot easier with them at this age!) and drove back up the hill.

(If you’re wondering why I’m describing so much about this Sunset place, it’s because so many people I know have been there and I’m certain they can see, smell, and feel every part of what I’m writing!)

We ended up at our favorite bagel shop, then on to the Santa Cruz Wharf where we checked out every restaurant before ending up at Woodies, looking out over the ocean, watching the surfers by the lighthouse (anyone know what that point is called?) We then headed back down to visit friends who were camping at New Brighton, totally crashing their beach party. (Well, actually, they were all a Ripon folks so we just blended in like we belonged!) After the rain started to fall, we packed it in and headed to Target to buy a pair of dry pants for the kid who managed to get his jeans soaked up to his thighs. We grabbed caffeine, and then we went home again, home again, jiggity jog. (That’s a Dad quote. It was necessary to quote him somewhere in this post).

We didn’t do math or language arts today.
But we did music and memories and relationships and food.
And those might be the 4 most important subjects we ever study.


Thursday, February 7, 2019

for the love of cheese

I love cheese.
If you’ve spent any amount of time with me, you already know this.
A wonderful and dear friend of mine dropped off a wedge of cheese and some crackers to go along with the cheese and I nearly cried. I’ve never read about the Five Love Languages, but if cheese is not one of those languages, I think the book should maybe be re-written.

I come by this love of cheese genetically. I have fond memories of my Pa (aka my dad) cutting off a huge slice of Colby jack cheese and sticking that piece half in, half out of his mouth while he gnawed on it and continued to help out in the kitchen. I think I might have expanded my palate a bit further than he did, but I like to think that if he was still hanging out with us on earth that he would join in with all the fun cheese tasting I’ve done.

Not only have I developed a taste for an aged cheddar with crystally crunch (if you’ve had it, then that makes sense to you) or a caprese salad with fresh mozzarella, but I have now introduced my kids to these not-so-inexpensive cheeses. My son will eat a block of creamy havarti in one sitting, if I don’t watch him. And my girl likes to keep in touch with her Dutch roots by eating smoked (not plain) Gouda (which I just pronounced correctly in my head, for all you true Gouda fans. It’s “How-dah,” pronounced with a little spit in the back of your throat. Don’t laugh. It’s the truth.)

Green Thunder, Red Fox, White Fox (yes, they are related), Manchega, Dubliner, Camembert, Scamorza, goat, sheep, and cow cheese... guys, the cheese possibilities are endless. I’ve had cheese soaked in red wine, cheese covered with a lavender and ground espresso bean rind, cheese that tastes and feels like thick peanut butter, 5 different blue cheeses (that each tasted completely different!) And I have had the stinkiest cheese ever (Epoisse - it’s French) which smelled 10 times worse than it tasted, and it really didn’t taste that good so you can imagine how bad it smelled!

(Oh my goodness, I am apparently infatuated with cheese! 😳)
(Guys, I just got distracted on Amazon for a minute and added 5 different articles of “cheese” apparel to my wish list. There’s a shirt that says, “Ban shredded cheese, make America grate again!” HA!!)
(And for my dairy-free friends: there is dairy-free and vegan cheeses out there. I just haven’t ventured out into that arena of cheeses yet!)

I keep trying to think of a good moral for why I decided to write about cheese and all I can think of is this: being passionate about something is a good thing. It makes you interesting (or weird). So go be passionate about something and don’t be afraid to tell other people about it. I’m not! I’ll talk to anyone about cheese!

I think of our kids in school and how often times they get teased for being different. And that is SO discouraging and frustrating. Those things that make your child unique should be celebrated! After all, the different passions and strengths that we have make this world work! We wouldn’t survive if the world was full of just athletes.. We need artists and musicians and farmers and techy computer people. And we don’t need just the straight A kids. We need kids who care about animals and about cooking and baking (and cheese!) and about other people.

I think it is so valuable to push your kids to pursue their strengths and passions (even if it is making slime - future scientist, I hope!) Someday, maybe not while they are in Jr. High, but someday that passion will be a source of self-confidence for them. For me it was playing the piano. And look at me now! It’s a career! Well, it could be if I had the time...
LMaybe I should make a career in cheese.

Once upon a time I hosted a cheese-tasting event and it was the best night ever! I think it’s time to host another. Who’s in?!


Monday, February 4, 2019

dear child

Dear child of mine,

My heart breaks when I listen to you complain about what you don’t have or what I don’t allow you to get. This person has one and so does everyone else you know. So why can’t you?!
Because I am making a wise and healthy choice for you.
And jealousy doesn’t look good on you.

And you complain about the unfairness of life frequently.
Yes, it is unfair but the sooner you realize and accept this world of “not fair,” the easier it will be to deal with it.

I know you have hopes and dreams and you want them right now. I get it.
But do you realize that you are learning large amounts of patience in your waiting and that patience will prove to be invaluable in your lifetime? And perhaps waiting makes the “getting” so much better! And maybe, just maybe, I’m waiting until the perfect time to give it to you...

You are frustrated with the people around you, your friends who bring the drama or bring you down.
But what an excellent lesson in understanding and sympathy you are getting! Perhaps you are even learning how to create healthy boundaries. Boundaries are a good thing to learn at a young age.

Your irritation when I ask you to do things, as if it is an inconvenience for you to help me, is disappointing. I’ve done so much for you. Getting you to do a little something for me (without complaining AND with a cheerful attitude) is practically impossible. Child, when will you learn that the greatest rewards come from doing unto others?

And then there are the hard things that I push you to do that you fight me on. Do you know why I ask you to do them? It’s because it makes you stronger! It creates a more amazing you! I have high hopes for what you can do with your future, but if I don’t push you now, you might never step out of your comfort zone, there on the couch, watching Netflix.

Dear child,
I know it might take years for you to get just a glimpse of how much I love you, but know this: my love will always be there, running deep, just for you.

*When I wrote this, it started out as a letter to a whiny child of mine, but as I kept writing I realized that this could very well be a letter from God to me. Or maybe to you? Have you been whiny like me?!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

bigger than me

There have been a variety of experiences in my life that have been way too much for me to handle. I mean, if you take a look at who I was as a kid, you’d think I couldn’t handle much.

I was super duper painfully shy. It hurt my head and heart to say things to people. (If you’ve never been shy, I don’t expect you to understand this, but if you have been or are shy, you know what it feels like!) I was also prone to a nerves, which meant I had frequent stomachs aches as a child. My mom did her best to get to the bottom of the stomach aches, but in the end (and looking back now), I believe it was anxiety. I just didn’t handle things very well. This led to an anxiety disorder in high school and college (yay, me) with accompanying panic attacks (awesome). I was also very, very, very thin. I was not anorexic, but no one told my body that. I was skinny.

If you told me back then that I would raise a strong-willed kid, I would have laughed because the idea of raising any children at that point terrified me, even though it was truly my heart’s desire. If you told me that I would walk through cancer with both parents, back then, there was no way. I would have hidden in a closet, away from it all. I have lost a parent when he was WAY too young, I have lost family members to suicide, I have seen young lives living through trauma, I have shared the real me (the ugly, vulnerable me) with people, and I have said “No” to things I have been asked to do. And I have survived all the scary things.

This evening I had to have a tough conversation and while my insides were shaking, my words were not. I said what came to my heart, and even interjected humor at the appropriate moments. And I walked out of the conversation confident that all had been handled and handled well.

But I also walked out of that tough conversation knowing that all of that wasn’t me. I found the courage to walk into it knowing it was the right thing to do and knowing that God would handle it. And He did.

And when I look back at all the big things I have walked through and survived thus far, I KNOW it is not because of me. Because I am not Wonder Woman. I am just a skinny (well, not quite so skinny anymore) kid who said, “God, use me.” And He has.

I still fight Him on some things because I’m stubborn. I’m human. But When I do walk
into the scary things, I do so confidently because He is bigger than me.

He is bigger than little ol’ me.