There are times when people do something very simple and unassuming that turns into a blessing.

Today a dear, sweet friend took my three kids for the afternoon.

It started as a play date between Morgan and her daughters after a morning at vacation bible school.  When Landon found out Morgan was going to Miss Barbie's house, he wanted to go and play with her son.  This dear sweet woman can not say no to my charming boy!  I guess since she had two she figured she would take all three of them.  I know I asked her at least fifteen times if she was sure she wanted to take all of them.  She assured me she was delighted to have them for the afternoon.  

It was so strange to be home. By myself. For two hours!  I wasn't even sure what to do. I was torn between tackling some summer projects and just being lazy reading on the couch or watching a movie.  I decided to split the time - spending more on cleaning than relaxing but it still felt good to tackle some projects.  I also had a haircut this afternoon and for the first time in probably 5 years, I went without kids!  What a treat!

I knew my kids were having a blast.  Miss Barbie is a woman who has a huge heart for children. She loves my kids as if they were her own.  She lets them do things they can't do at their own house, like slide down the stairs on pillowcases and cover themselves from head to toe in mud. They create projects, eat yummy snacks, and are just plain crazy and silly.  It is one of their favorite places because they feel loved and it is always an adventure!

In the craziness of our summer, this little simple gesture brought a few hours of peace and relaxation.  A simple gesture that touched my heart and was a blessing to this tired mama!


I'm Here - Sort Of

Remember this post?

Summer is still very hectic, hence the lack of posting and commenting!

Our days have been filled with gymnastics for Morgan, trips to the water park, birthday parties, pool parties, softball games, errands, picnics, every day life, and more stuff I am sure I am forgetting since I am too tired to compile too many thoughts.  I have some posts partially started that hopefully I will get posted this week.  I am hoping one of these weeks will slow down so I can feel relaxed and caught up on things around the house. 


Swimming Lessons

Over the last two weeks, Morgan and Landon have been taking their first session of swimming lessons.  I knew Morgan was excited and looking forward to learning new skills but Landon.. not so much. The week before swimming lessons he told me that maybe he needed a break from swimming lessons.  So he needed a break before he even had his first day - oh brother!  I had to really pump him up on the first day of swimming lessons but he still was hesitant. Once he got in the pool and the lessons started he did great.  He loved wearing the goggles and putting his face in the water. The single startburst they get at the end of each lesson was a huge motivator for that boy.

Swimming lessons at the beginning of June, outside, in the morning, can be ify.. there were two mornings when Landon got in the pool when the temperature was 52 degrees. YIKES! Thankfully the pool is heated and they put a heater out by the pool so the kids could warm up when they finished. It wasn't quite as bad in the afternoon when Morgan had her lesson but the kids all loved sitting under that heater.

Landon worked on putting his face in the water, superman float (front float no kick), back float, they did both front and back floats with a kick, jumping off the side, jumping off the board, crawl arms, and circle arms.  Landon did pretty well but I knew that being one of the youngest in the class he would take this same class again in his next session.  When he does his kicks, his little legs go so fast but his butt is straight up in the air. It is so funny! He has made huge improvements since last year and I am just thankful he is more comfortable in the water and ENJOYING swimming lessons.
Goggle boy
Swimming on his own
Working on the front float with kick
Cowabunga! (his teacher cracked up every time he went of the board - they boy got some air each time he jumped!)

Morgan worked on her front crawl, back crawl, elementary backstroke, sidestroke, diving, breaststroke, treading water for two minutes, turns, and they started on the butterfly.  During the two weeks of lessons, Morgan really improved on her front crawl.  We don't get to a pool that often for her to swim so it was nice to see it come along during her lessons.  She did master all the skills but we want her to be stronger and a little older before she moves on to the next level so she is going to take this class again in the next session.  Morgan enjoys learning all the different strokes and is turning it quite a good swimmer. Swimming is such a good life long skill, I am glad that she enjoys it.   
Treading water for 2 minutes
Working on the breaststroke
Hanging out after swimming a lap
Working on diving


The Not So Lazy Days of Summer

I absolutely LOVE summer!

I have counted down the days to summer break each year. As a student. As a teacher. As a mom. I love the carefree feel of summer - not having a schedule, the longer days, BBQ's, and days at the pool.

This summer is flying by so quickly.  June is almost over and we have yet to have a carefree day. Since returning from vacation, our life has been a whirlwind of activity.  Each day and most evenings have been filled with commitments.  So this month has been a blur. I don't feel relaxed or rested as I usually would at this point in the summer.  I haven't tackled a single project on my summer to do list. I haven't completed a single book on my reading list.  I am behind on things around the house, on reading blogs and commenting,  and on responding to emails and returning phone calls.  Most days we have been home in small chunks of time between swimming lessons, gymnastics, birthday parties, errands, etc..  Enough time to start dinner or throw in a load of laundry but not enough time to do anything else around the house.

I need the carefree feel of summer. I need a break from all the activities and commitments. I want days at home with the kids running through the sprinkler, eating picnics in the back yard, planning play dates with their friends, and being able to spend an afternoon (at least nap time) reading.  I need to simplify somehow so that we can enjoy some lazy days of summer before they slip by without notice.


An Unexpected Visitor

I am a fanatic about locking our house at night.  I am probably borderline obsessive about it.  

It was never a concern for me when we lived in a small town. A place where I could leave my garage door open, house unlocked, and go downtown for hours. I always felt safe and secure.

When we moved to the "big city", I needed the security of knowing the doors in our house were locked. Every single lock bolted each night.  Lance thought I was going a bit overboard and didn't feel the need to have the house so secure each evening.  He felt that because he was a light sleeper and we have two dogs, he would hear anyone who tried to come into the house.

This morning, Lance got up for work around 5 am.  He went downstairs, turned on the light, went to get his coffee when he was greeted with a deep voice saying "Good Morning!"  There on our couch was Lance's partner Kirk.  

Kirk was returning from a trip to Europe last evening. Lance had taken Kirk's truck to the airport and parked it for him but forgot to call or text Kirk to tell him where his truck was parked.  When Kirk's flight arrived he looked for his truck and couldn't find it. After calling Lance's cell phone and getting no answer he called a cab and had them drop him off here. He and Lance had to be to a dairy at 6 am this morning and he didn't want to miss work so he came into our house to get a few hours of sleep.

I am glad I was too tired last night to be obsessive about locking up so Kirk could get into the house. I am a bit frightened freaked out panicked alarmed that neither Lance nor I nor the dogs(way to go guard dogs) heard a thing.  I think Lance's heart was still beating rapidly when I talked to him at lunch.

I think he will be doing a better job of locking up at night.  I think I might have officially become obsessive about locking up. And maybe just maybe I'm considering investing in an alarm system! 


No More Braces

A little over six months ago, Morgan had braces put on her top four teeth.  She has been a trooper - she was faithful in her brushing and flossing, followed the food rules, and did not complain about pain or discomfort through this process.  

Two weeks ago at Morgan's appointment, they made a mold of her mouth so she could be fitted for her retainer. Morgan began counting down the days until her braces would be removed.

The day arrived for the braces to be removed and Morgan was giddy with excitement. 

(self portrait on the way to her appointment)

The change in Morgan's teeth was noticeable within a month of the braces being put on.  It was amazing.  Her teeth are straight and look great. Of course, this is only Phase I so there will be more braces to come in a few years once all her permanent teeth are in.
no more braces

Morgan with straight teeth and her retainer (colors of her gymnastics team of course)


Adventures in California - Part IV

Our last morning in San Diego dawned with a gray skies and three very tired children.  We had been debating on whether to make a quick trip back to the beach or go to the zoo before catching our flight home.  Thankfully we chose the zoo as the typically overcast skies of San Diego did not clear up.  It was a chilly and rainy morning!

The first thing we did at the zoo was take the bus tour which covers about three fourths of the zoo.  It was a great overview tour and gave us time to prioritize our day since we knew we had limited time at the zoo.  After the bus tour, we began walking the trails to see the tigers, orangutans, koalas, pandas, and hippos up close. It was so neat to see our kids awe and wonder at these marvelous creatures. They were curious, asked questions, and were excited to learn fun facts about the animals.  I was in awe seeing hippos swimming in the water and a baby panda high up in a bamboo tree.  So cool!

We had a great trip to San Diego.  It wasn't a relaxing trip by any means but it was wonderful. The kids were such troopers.  The little ones missed naps, they all stayed up past their bedtime, got up early in the morning but they maintained their composure! Thank you Lord!  It has taken about a full week to get back into our routine and recover from the pace of our trip in San Diego but I wouldn't trade that time for anything.  It was so nice to not have any time constraints and to just go at our pace.  It was nice to be together as a family and not have schoolwork, laundry, cleaning, or errands to distract us from just enjoying each other.  It was nice to have time to focus on my kids, to really listen to them, and to give them undivided attention.  I can't wait until we can take another vacation like that again!



Adventures in California - Part III

Our second full day in San Diego started with a drive to Escondido to the San Diego Wild Animal Park.  Oh. my. word. It was incredible! The first thing we did was to take the Journey through Africa tour, which was amazing.  We learned so much about the animals, the breeding program, and the park in general. I wish I would have had a tape recorder so I would have all the information to go with the pictures.  We spent the next four hours touring the park and enjoying the beauty of the animals.  

After we left the Wild Animal Park, we decided to go to the beach.  It was a beautiful afternoon, a bit windy but a great day for playing in the water.  The one souvenir Morgan wanted from San Diego was sea shells.  She loved searching the beach for them and creating a collection.  Landon and Mauryn had fallen asleep on the way to the beach, so Landon was a little less than enthusiastic about being at the beach. Until he discovered some rocks that he could throw into the water.  The kids jumped, splashed, and played in the water for a while before we met the Cheney cousins for dinner.  It was another full but wonderful day in San Diego! 



Adventures in California- Part II

When the marathon and all our teammates were finished, we loaded up on the shuttle bus to get back to the hotel.  I was dragging myself to my room as I had been up since 2:30 am to get ready for the day and I had just run (using that term loosely) 26.2 miles when I heard giggles and squeals from behind my hotel room door.  The sweet sounds of my husband and children!  I was so excited to see them and thankful they had made it safely.  I must commend Lance for traveling with our three children and all their gear.  He did an awesome job. The kids were incredible for the flight, the two hour wait for the rental car, and the traffic jam on the way to the hotel. They all were smiling and seemed relaxed - what a blessing!

Our first full day in San Diego was spent at Sea World.  I had never been to Sea World and the last time Lance was there he was a young boy.  Lance's parents met us at Sea World where we spent the day seeing as many exhibits and shows as possible.  The highlight for the kids was definitely feeding the dolphins and sting rays!  It was pretty amazing! I know that is something they will remember forever.  

I put together a slide show of some of our photos. This is my first attempt at making a slide show and there are a few places it doesn't transition smoothly.  

After a full day at Sea World, we went back to the hotel for about an hour and then headed off to the Padres game.  This was the kids' first experience with a major league baseball game.  Lance was so excited to take Landon to the game and let's just say Landon was far more interested in food and the fact there was a big red dog in a baseball uniform that looked like Clifford.  He did watch a little bit and had fun cheering on the teams.  It was a beautiful night for a walk to the ball park and to enjoy a baseball game.  By the time we got back to the hotel, I think the kids were all asleep within minutes of being put into their beds.  It had been a very busy day and the rest of our days looked to be just as busy.  


Adventures in California - Part I

One of the highlights of my time in California was getting to meet my blogger friend Sarah and friends/bloggers/cousins Shannon and Courtney.

Sarah was sweet enough to drive almost 2 hours down to San Diego so we could meet in 'real life'.  As I was getting ready to meet Sarah, I found myself getting very nervous.   Would our conversation flow and be comfortable? Would she like me? But as soon as I got off the elevator and I saw Sarah waiting, all those feelings of nervousness and anxiousness disappeared.  Sarah greeted me with a warm smile and friendly hug.  We started visiting immediately and our morning flew by far too quickly. Sarah is just delightful - beauty shining from inside out.  If you haven't visited Sarah's blog, stop over and read it. Daily. Her words flow off the page (or computer screen) so eloquently. I find myself encouraged, inspired, at times challenged, and daily blessed by her writing. She has a gift for words and shares her heart so beautifully.  Thank you Sarah for taking time away from your family to meet with me. I hope we can meet again one day!
Sarah and I working trying to get a self portrait

About four years ago, there was a Cheney family reunion where Lance first met Shannon, Courtney, Sean and Lindsey, Heather, Art and Linda and their families. Lance had a wonderful time with all of them at the reunion. I know he was thrilled to meet some new Cheney cousins.

In the past year, we have reconnected with these Cheney cousins through this crazy blogging world.  It was so wonderful to get to meet Shannon, Mandy, Amber, Courtney, David, and Isaiah for dinner one evening while in California.  It was two hours filled with non stop conversation and a bit of chaos with the little ones (mainly mine).  It was so much fun!  It felt like home being with these cousins.  They embraced us like family they had known all their lives.  Thank you all for making time to have dinner with us.  We are definitely looking forward to more time together over the years! 
The bloggers: Shannon, Courtney, and Kristen
The cousins
Morgan and Mandy - new friends
Our Cheney crew


A Few Marathon Photos

We're back. We're exhausted. The laundry piles are slowly decreasing.  The pictures are being downloaded and edited.  Vacation post(s) should be coming soon.  Until then, here are some photos from the marathon (taken by action sports international).

The view from the starting line... look at all those people participating in the marathon
My friend Joslyn and I at mile 21...injured but still enjoying the experience 
I did it!



Last week our team received an email from the mom of our honored patient, a four year old boy who is fighting Leukemia.  He has been telling people "There are people running for me".  He was so proud of the fact that people were running for him.  I ran with his picture on my back yesterday, thinking of him many times when the going got rough.

I completed my marathon.  My knee decided to have some issues yesterday during the run. There was a stretch of seven miles where I had to mostly do speed walking.  I knew there would be some pain involved in this experience, but this was more than aches and pains. My knee would buckle and there wasn't anything I could do about it.  

Right at the time where I knew I was going to have to walk, we met up with the four other members of our group (we got separated at a bathroom stop).  Of those four, two of them were having the same knee issues.  The three of us that were injured were encouraging the others to go ahead.  They would not go.  They were part of a team and they were sticking it out with us.  It makes me cry to write about it. They didn't have to stay with us. They could have left the three of us to finish and they could have gone ahead to get a better time.  They are the definition of team members.

Due to my injury and having to walk, I was able to enjoy the sights of San Diego. There are so many things I would have missed had I been running.  We met other runners, we listened (really listened) to the bands playing, were encouraged by the cheerleaders and spectators cheering us on.  We laughed, we joked, we told stories, we cried, we encouraged each other, and we had some fun.

As we approached the last 1.2 miles, a man that we run with who is a lymphoma survivor said we started this as a team we are finishing as a team. So we ran, in a line of six, for the last part of the race and across the finish line.  I think that was one of the most memorable things for me -having those teammates that stuck with the three of us who were dealing with injuries and then crossing that finish line as a team.

This was about the journey not the destination.  As we ran and saw the people fighting cancer or the cancer survivors with signs thanking us or calling us heros, it was crystal clear what this was all about. It was about raising money to find a cure for cancer. It was about giving of yourself for others. It wasn't about a time. It wasn't about being fast. 

This has been an incredible journey. One I am sad to see end.  It is definitely a journey that will live with me forever.