Let’s play catch up

Confession: Sometimes I really miss writing blog posts on a somewhat regular basis. But I have come to be content with my lack of them recently.

I will be honest in that I wrestled with what I should do about keeping up with Joyful Girl while I am in school this semester. I thought about keeping up with My Three Joys and my monthly goals, but in the end, just couldn’t do it. Not out of anything other than just not having the time or energy.

Today I found myself feeling good about where my work stood and decided to take a break and play a little catch up.

I will be entering my third week of school and what a crazy two weeks it has already been. I am currently taking the following classes:

  • Language and Literacy
  • Physical Education and Wellness in Elementary Education
  • Foundations of Education (includes a 40 hour practicum)
  • Literature of Children and Youth
  • History from 1877 present (online through DMACC)

I can tell you that so far I love my classes. Being in grad school is so different from completing my undergrad for so many reasons, a few of which I will mention.

  1. What I am learning will actually benefit me in the job directly preceding school.
  2. I know exactly how much I am paying for my classes.
  3. I actually enjoy everything I am learning (including the history class).
  4. The things I have to balance now in grad school compared to my undergrad really puts things into perspective.

The first week of school I was beyond excited for my classes, but sadly I began to get sick. After a night of vomiting, sleeping and waking up with immense ear pain, I was diagnosed with an ear infection Friday. Let me tell you this has not been a walk in the park. As much as I hate to complain, I realize I have done a lot of it these past couple of weeks. The pain is at times unbearable, not to mention the annoyance of the loss of hearing in my left ear and the disorientation it leaves me with in my thinking. Thankfully my doctor experienced his first ear infection at the age of 56 and acknowledged that it was the worst pain he has ever had in his life, thus giving me hydrocodone to help ease the pain. The following Tuesday the pain still wasn’t subsiding and my doctor gave me a different prescription to try. Thankfully it has helped ease the pain, but the loss of hearing is still present. I am hopeful that my hearing will be back by the time I return for a follow-up appointment next Friday.

With having this ear infection, I have had numerous thoughts and conversations with Jake about the small amount of discomfort I had to endure compared to the months of discomfort and body changing illness he went through. His strength and positivity really put things in to perspective for me.

Despite the rough start, things are going well. I have learned the free time will be few and far between, but I am completely okay with this. I have still been able to work out (modifying a lot to accommodate my ear) to help keep me sane. My practicum has started and is absolutely perfect. I love being in the kindergarten classroom.

Last weekend Jake and I traveled to Decorah to see Jake’s best friend Shawn and his wife Heather.

We were both extremely excited to spend the day with Shawn and Heather and it was just an added bonus we did it in Decorah. I have never been to see Luther campus and it is beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. Jake and Shawn visited memory lane by playing their infamous game of disc golf on Luther’s campus.

We of course then checked out the shops downtown and ate at the infamous Mabe’s pizza.

A most perfect day with good friends.

I find myself reflecting back on the amazing people I have in my life, the loving and supportive husband I married and the wonderful life opportunities I am privileged to. Life is good.

With that, I am not sure when I will be able to post again, but know that life is great and take the time to love every day no matter what it presents.

Have a wonderful week!

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Happy Birthday

9 years ago I meet two beautiful babies and their sister.

7.5 years ago I was lucky enough to care for these beautiful babies and watch them grow.

5 years ago I moved away from these beautiful girls to move back home to Iowa.

1 year ago they honored Jake and I by being our flower girls in our wedding.

9 years later they continue to be a joy in my life.

I am beyond blessed.

Happy Birthday Kendall and Addie!

Kindergarten Musings

Last semester I had the pleasure of observing Mrs. Nelson’s kindergarten classroom for a few hours. This semester, I am required to partake in a 30 hour practicum for one of my classes and was lucky enough to do that in Mrs. Nelson’s classroom. Although my classes at Drake do not start until the 27th of August, I wanted to be at school on the first day to see how  she works with getting the kindies going on the structure, rules and routine of the classroom and school in general. I mean, a lot of these little kids are new to the whole concept of school and have no clue what is going on. Priceless in my eyes.

I arrived shortly before the bell rang at 8:05 am and in no time, all the new little kindies were coming in with their parents and backpacks in tow. Most of the kids seemed as happy and as excited as I was to be there! After they got settled with meeting their table mates and playing with small objects, it was time to get busy. Watching Mrs. Nelson speak with, and interact with her students was just amazing. She has been teaching for over 20 years and definitely knows her stuff.

Today the kids were at school for only 4 1/2 hours and over a few weeks will build up to the full day schedule. It was so neat to watch how engrossed they were in hearing about all the new things at school and how they all learned about hot lunch vs cold lunch, lining up, what they need to do when the lights go off, how to raise their hand for a question and the ins and outs of recess!

As I had the pleasure of being with these new kindies, a couple of funny questions came my way that I just have to share.

  • After the kids took a tour of the school, one little boy looked at me and in all seriousness asked, “Are my parents going to be in the lunchroom and eat lunch with me?” It broke my heart a little having to tell him no they would not, but he seemed fairly happy with me answering that he would be eating lunch with his new friends.

And this next question, just priceless.

  • As we were lining up for recess and hearing my little kitty heels clicking along the tile floor, one little girl looked up at me and asked “Did you bring other shoes for today, or just those ones?”. Oh if this sweet little girl only knew I have about 10 different pairs of shoes in my car at any given time. But I told her that for school, these were my shoes.

Super cute day.

#heartkindergarten

My Three Joys

A week well spent.

Well spent doing what you ask…

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Except for watching Big Brother of course.

And getting laundry done.

Oh and watching Jake receive his last radiation treatment.

And a check-up appointment with Jake’s oncologist.

Oh and going to the Iowa State Fair.

But hey, those are small potatoes compared to most weeks. 🙂

Number One:

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of watching Jake finish up his last radiology appointment. This was my second time going to the office to watch, with Jake’s 17th time.

We were able to meet with Dr. Voynov after and heard that it appears the radiation was a success and he was free and clear to be done with treatments! Whoohoo!

Number Two:

Remember when I made a goal this month to spend as much one-on-one time with Jake. Well this week was a great use of that goal as we hit up the Iowa State Fair!

First up, deep fried pyro dawg. A dill pickle spear spread with the most delicious, spicy cream cheese and then wrapped with prosciutto ham and battered up and fried. YUM!

Then a little stop to see Jake’s art work being displayed. So proud that he was one of the 20% that made their photo entries into the fair.

After looking at all the photographs, Jake and I decided to try out the corn brat. A bratwurst corndog. Trust us when we tell you it sounds better than it tastes. It wasn’t terrible, but just lacked a lot of flavor. I may need to replicate these at home using some yummy bratwursts from Gateway Market.

And what is the fair without some fun and cute little pictures.

When discussing what we should try for sweet treats at the fair, we just couldn’t resist the fried snickers. I remember having this two years ago, but didn’t recall having it last year. (Which we totally did. And I didn’t care for it last year! Hand to the forehead!) Well, just like last year, it wasn’t our favorite. I think this year was the last time we will get this item and move on to the next sweet treat… maybe the fried Twinkie?

Jake has been hitting up the pork chop on a stick vendor for several years now with last year being my first. But this year Jake and I were super disappointed with our pork chop. It just wasn’t as juicy, tough and just didn’t seem to have the flavor it did last year.  Bummer for sure.

And last but not least, what is a state fair without mini donuts. Jake just loves this picture where he got me mouth full of those little pieces of heaven.

Other treats we ate but didn’t picture; the original pyro dawg, cheese curds and delicious root beer. I love that Jake and I were able to split everything to be able to fit more in our bellies.

Number Three:

Saturday morning my friend Mandy and I had a little impromptu garage sale shopping trip down to Indianola. As I was looking at Craigslist to see if there were any fun Estate Sales Jake and I could check out later that day, I happened upon a listing for a garage sale that two college girls were having. They were getting rid of a ton of super nice and brand name clothing, shoes and purses that I just had to check out. Mandy and I had lunch plans already, so she just swung by a little bit earlier and we headed down.

I have to say that our little trip down south was well worth it. I paid $11 for a pair of shoes, boots, a down vest, and a couple of nice tops. I just love a good thrift sale! Mandy got away with some great clothing items and books as well. After our fun finds, we stopped and had lunch at Palmer’s Deli- a huge favorite of mine! It truly was a great Saturday morning to catch up with my good friend Mandy!

Well, time for Jake and I to head out for dinner party for some visitors from Tanzania! Have a wonderful week!

Expectations

This past Sunday Jake and I were able to enjoy Faith’s church service together with Addie, Kendall and their father Kevin. Jake and I both work and have various activities going on Sunday mornings at church so it is a treat when both of us are able to sit down and enjoy the service.  This particular Sunday I was in a joyful bliss with our guests and not much else was on my mind. The service was off to a wonderful start with Melinda, the Director of Children and Family Ministries, giving the annual “Blessing of the Backpacks” sermon andsharing about the high school the youth group painted while in NOLA.

Teary-eyed after hearing about this particular school’s condition and how our church was going to offer additional support, our interim pastor, Lyle Kleman moved into his sermon titled “Expectations Unraveled”. Pastor Kleman shared the story of Elijah and Elijah’s expectation of going into the wilderness to die. Elijah however was woken up over and over again by an angel only to find food and water. Elijah continued to lay down to fall asleep with the expectation of never awking up again, but continued to be woken up to eat and drink.  On the last time he awoken, Elijah woke up to God telling him to eat his flesh (bread) and drink his blood (wine) to nourish himself before his journey. Elijah was confused and unsure of what journey God was talking about. Elijah quickly found that his expextations to die were beginning to unravel as God had his own expectations for him. Elijah was sent on this journy with very little food and resources and had the expectation to fail. But with God’s guidance and strength, Elijah began to see that his expectations were shattered. God had turned his expectations around and made Elijah into a great prohet.  (Please excuse my paraphrasing for those who know this story better than I).

While Pastor Lyle used this story in the Bible to focus on Faith’s expectations for finding a new Senior Pastor and a new Director of Music Ministry, I couldn’t help but wonder how this message of expectations was creeping up in my own life.

I sat there listening and my mind started to roll. I leaned over to Jake and whispered in his ear “this is the perfect mindset for school”, or something along those lines. As I am facing one of the craziest semesters of my life, I couldn’t help but ponder my own expectations of school, work, church, marriage, friendships, health, mental health, fitness and Joyful Girl. My mind has recently been filled with mixed emotions and how this next school semester will play out in all of those areas.  Some days I have positive and wonderful feelings and expectations that the next few months will pass by smoothly without interruption and everything will be just fine. But there are other days where my expectations are ones filled with failure and worry that I simply have given myself too much to handle.

For the past four days, I haven’t been able to stop thinking about Pastor Lyle’s message and thinking back to how God shattered Elijah’s expectations and changed them for the better. I can’t help but wonder what expectations of mine will God shatter.

The message that keeps playing over and over in my head is that I am to expect the unexpected. Being honest and realistic with myself, I know that there will still be moments when I continue to think about those low expectations, but in those moments I need to remind myself that with every new, focused and realistic expectation I give myself, my life changes.  To remember that by nourishing my body with God’s bread and wine, we live in His strength. That we are a part of Him and He is a part of us. Knowing that God will always work through me and will continue to allow me to do great things, to continue to create new expectations no matter what those are.

Life is ever changing and I can only expect that I will put my best foot foward, do what I can, and know that I will be just fine.

If interested, you can listen to Pastor Lyle’s sermon here. August 12th sermon, it is at the tenth minute that the sermon begins.

Growing Up

It has been 11 days since I last posted and there really are no excuses. My online class just finished up, and life has been running pretty smoothly at a slower pace. I thoroughly enjoyed having time to myself, with Jake and just relaxing.

With that relaxing, came some wonderful news.

About a month ago I received an email from Janet, the mother of three beautiful girls I nannied while I lived in Colorado. She told me that while she and her girls, Addie and Kendall, were discussing their upcoming 9th birthday, they both told her that instead of having a party this year, they wanted to come to Iowa to see Jake and I. My face beamed and my heart glowed. I was over the hill ecstatic! I have known Addie and Kendall since they were teeny-tiny babies in my arms and have fond memories of changing their diapers, their terrible-two’s, the lost hot pink and silky all while filled with laugh out loud memories watching them grow up.

When I decided to move back to Iowa, leaving Addie, Kendall and their older sister Mackenzie was one of the hardest decisions I had to make. Thankfully despite our distance, we have been able to keep in touch over the years. So much in fact that Janet, her husband Kevin, and the girls all flew out last year to be in our wedding. Seeing how much Addie and Kendall have grown since last year was amazing. I was simply blown away to see what polite, witty  and beautiful girls they are growing up to be.

Kevin, Addie and Kendall arrived on Saturday afternoon and it was just like old times. Hugs and sharing stories were in abundance. Jake and I took the girls to Half Price Books to pick out a couple of books for their birthday presents. We then took them out to eat at Monterrey. Kevin left for his hotel and the fun, fancy-free sleepover began.

Mini red velvet cakes complete with cream cheese frosting and candles was first on the list.

We then enjoyed some friendly competition in Wii cycling. They were hilarious to watch.

We then settled in to watch Rango and eat some popcorn.

After tucking the girls in, reading them a bedtime story and saying our prayers it was just like old times. What wasn’t like old times however was waking them up. In years past, Addie and Kendall would be up before the sun and crawling into bed with me. This time around however, it took me a couple of times going into the guest bedroom to wake these sleeping beauties up. Oh my how they have grown.

We were able to get some breakfast in and headed off to church. After church, it was time to say goodbye.

My heart was sad but smiled when I came home to see this…

They had made our bed with my stuffed animals they had slept with.My heart melted all over again as seeing a made bed was just another sign of how much they are growing up.

Thanks to technology  and each girl having an iTouch we will now be able to stay in touch using Kik messaging.

Spending this time with Addie and Kendall was pure joy and certainly filled my heart with love.

I cannot thank them or their parents enough for allowing us all to stay in contact and continuing our beautiful relationships.

August Goals

My oh my, where in the world does time go?! It is hard to believe that July is gone and a full school schedule is just around the corner. July was a HOT and another busy month that didn’t lend to me getting much done on my goal list. Here is a recap:

July Goals

1. Go through the totes I received full of teacher items.  Boo

I couldn’t be more disappointed in myself. I really did plan on getting this done while Jake was NOLA, but it just didn’t happen.

2. Organize front closet. Boo

Well, no excuses here, it just didn’t get done.

3.  Under the Dome. Boo

I tried on this one, I really did. But I got sucked in to reading The Night Season, Ready Player One and The Fault in Our Stars instead. I am not sure I have the motivation to finish this book.

4. Create a cleaning list. Success! 

Whoohoo! I tried cheating and finding a cleaning list online, but not finding what I wanted, I created my own. Basically this list has every room listed and all the cleaning that one can think of such as cleaning the ceiling fans and dusting the blinds and baseboard. The main goal of my cleaning list was to add an every 3 month list so that I am not doing some of those tedious jobs each month when they really could go a few months without.

5. Play more games. Success! 

Earlier this month my friend Kelly and I were able to get some cribbage games in and it was splendid! I also started volunteering at a nursing home and play cribbage with my new friend once a week. This older gentleman has been playing for over 70 years and kicks my butt every time!

August Goals

1. Freezer meal prepping

I am fairly certain I have had this as a goal previously, but it that time again. Jake and I both start grad classes the last week in August and between studying, working and church, life is going to be insane. I spent some time the other night finding some quick, easy recipes to prep and store in the freezer so that all that needs to be done is pull the food out and pop it into the crock pot. All of the groceries are purchased  and this weekend I plan to get it all done!

2. Wake up at 6 am each morning. 

I have been doing well with getting up between 6:30-7:00 am most mornings with the occasional 6 am here and there. Knowing that time is going to be stretched thin soon and knowing that I want to get my workouts in, I need to get up just a little bit earlier to make it all happen.

3. Print off wedding photographs

Jake and I finally have some of our wedding photographs in a beautiful frame in our living room, but I still haven’t made an album. My goal is to find a beautiful wedding album, print off our photographs and put them all inside so that they are not just all digital.

4. Finishing Thank You cards

I have a growing list of thank you cards that have got to get finished this month!

5. Spend quality time with Jake

I look forward to our dates nights together, but want to make an extra effort to spend even more time with Jake this month. We have had a busy summer and with our upcoming school semester, it is only going to busier. I hope to take a mini-road trip at the end of the month and spend more time with just us.

What goals to you have planned for the last month of summer? Anything you have been putting off? 

Laughing, Crafting, Shopping and Eating

Girls’ Weekend July 2012! I certainly enjoy these mini-girls’ weekends and this weekend was no exception. Friday afternoon Mandy and I headed up north to see Michelle and get our laughing, crafting, shopping and eating on!

I bought  the Camera+ iPhone app this weekend so some of the pictures have been edited with the fun boarders and filters.  I am still learning how to navigate  the app and on the fence about some of the filters.

Shopping for our craft.

If you are ever in the St. Paul, MN area, Everest on Grand is the place to go for amazing Indian food!

Cheers!

This butter naan was bigger than my head!

Heaven on earth!

So good in fact we got it for take-out the second night!

And lots of laughing.

Although I honestly couldn’t tell you what we were laughing at.

And pretty sure we made a scene. 🙂

Fro-yo!

And as Mandy would say “Getting your exercise on”.

The bookshelves of my dreams….

And this awesome light fixture!

Our new duvet cover!

All in all, a successful trip to Ikea!

Another great restaurant in MN. Twin City Grill came highly recommended by our good friend Caron O! Super good restaurant in the Mall of America.

Craft time!

So thankful for my beautiful friends and our time together!  Thanks Michelle for hosting!

My Three Joys

I was extremely saddened by the news Friday morning of the awful and heartless shooting in Aurora, CO. As some of you may know I lived in Denver for five years and have not only my mother living close to Aurora, but also my Lennon clan spread throughout the metro area.  I immediately thought of all my family and friends who could have been directly affected. Thankfully none of them were.  But regardless, I cannot help but sympathize for the State I used to call home and what they are experiencing right now. My prayers continue to be plentiful.

Last week was one filled with rest and solitude.  Jake, along with thirty-two youth and seven adult leaders traveled to New Orleans  for the 2012 ELCA National Youth Gathering. I was able to watch some live feeds of a couple of the speakers and know that the small amounts of love, compassion and joy I felt was nothing compared to what the adults and youth were experiencing. Truly amazing.

Although I was missing Jake dearly, I was excited to be able to enjoy watching girly TV show like catching up on one of my favorites, Brothers and Sisters.  I also enjoyed a few nights of being extremely lazy and cuddling up with my kitties. Pure bliss.

Number One:

Last Thursday night my good friend Mandy and I were finally able to get together and catch up on life. I have known Mandy since high school and she is a member of our NHS girl 99 group. (North High School). We wanted to check out The Other Place in Clive, but were conflicted by having Big Brother be on around dinner time. So we opted to go and have a nice cold beverage at the bar and chatted away while sizing up the place. I have to say that I loved the atmosphere. Their restaurant is rather open with their main dining and the bar area and there appears to be great room around the almost oval-shaped bar. Our bartender was not the friendliest when we told her we were going to over for take-out, but did provide a smile when we ordered a drink.

The pizza came faster than we had anticipated and we finished our cold beverages while we continued to chat away. We then quickly raced home to watch the live eviction on Big Brother. I will tell you that I love everything about BB, right down tot he backstabbing and manipulation that goes on in that house. They are still early on in the season (Week 2) but so much has already taken place. While BB and watching it with Mandy was amazing, the food was not. I was rather disappointed in what I believe is pre-made frozen crust with tasteless sauce and nasty mozzarella that wouldn’t pass a 100% mozzarella test if it tried. Rather harsh I know, but those are my true thoughts. ( I unfortunately didn’t take any pictures, but no worries, you are not missing much). We also ordered the bread sticks which were apparently all the rage in college.( I honestly have no recollection of this.) They were just “meh” and didn’t really do anything for me.

I realize that I tend to be a pizza snob, but I am okay with that. I can enjoy other pizza other than my family’s restaurant, but when it is as bad as what I had, I just can’t fake it. Sorry OP. I will certainly go back for the bar atmosphere, but certainly not getting the pizza or bread sticks. Maybe to try out other food on the menu.

Number Two:

It’s the little things in life that bring me joy. For example, on Wednesday of last week I received a manilla folder that contained my unit lesson plans and a paper from my weekend class I took in June. Our professor took the time to read all of them thoroughly and made all sorts of comments all over them. I was delighted to read nothing but wonderful feedback and the beautiful comments my professor shared. Yes I am 31, but I think everyone, regardless of their age, needs to be praised, given positive feedback and encouragement, even if it is the little things. To me this was huge as it was my first time creating a unit plan and I was unsure if I was on the right track. But according to this prof- I nailed it out of the park!

Number Three:

Jake is home! I know, I know, he got back Monday morning, so technically not a part of last week, but hey, it still counts for me. I was so excited to see him that I had trouble falling asleep Sunday night and then up at 6 am texting him to see when he would arrive.

Seeing his face, his hairy face I might add, was pure bliss. I almost didn’t recognize him! We were both aware of the possibility of Jake’s hair returning a different color or style, but I don’t think either one of us were prepared for his dark brown-almost black hair to be sprouting from his face! And his eyebrows! Oh my!

And his voice is gone. My lovely husband sang his heart out leading a worship service on Saturday and that combined with a complete lack of sleep and always on the go has left me with a voiceless hubby. But nonetheless, he is home, safe and sound. And that makes me one happy wife.

I hope all of you have a wonderful week and if you are anywhere near the midwest where the heat continues to be a staggering 100 degrees everyday, drink lots of water and stay cool! Oh and dont’ forget that sunscreen! 😉

Some Random Thoughts

1.  I am three days in to Jake being gone and while I enjoy having the house to myself at times, I miss him dearly.

2. Just got done listening to Nadia Bolz-Weber via Live Video Feed.  I am in love. My favorite quote from her keynote address at the gathering tonight was,

“A 100% Sinner and Saint. All the time. ”

or wait, was it,

“This God has never made sense. And you don’t need to either”.

Wow.

3.  Overjoyed and had tears in my eyes when I recieved this picture this morning.

After 4 months of no hair, my husband finally has a 5 o’clock shadow! #Love

3. Tried out The Other Place restaurant in Clive tonight with my good friend Mandy. Great atmosphere inside, but the food was lacking a bit. Not a fan. ( I will say however it was great back at UNI, but then again I don’t think I was eating too much food when I was there.) I think a lot of it may have to do with the fact that I am spoiled with having ElFredo Pizza in my life.

4. Proud to say I officially started another round of P90x yesterday. I have no doubt I will rock the workouts, its the darn eating healthy thing. Didn’t help that I had pizza for dinner tonight (See #3) but hey, baby steps, right. 😉

5. I truly, deeply love both of my kitties, D-boy and Bubbies (Dietrich and Klaus), but when they want to sit on me when it is 100+ degrees outside and its not much cooler inside, I am not sure my love extends that far.

6. I really should be working on my gigantic to-do list right now, but can’t seem to get myself motivated. Somehow I find other ways to entertain myself. Like reading all about how to make cloth diapers and cloth baby wipes when I don’t even have a baby, nor even close to having one right now!  (But you can be sure I plan to use them when the time comes!)

7. I cannot wait until next Friday when Mandy and I get to take a mini-road trip to St. Paul to visit Michelle! Mini-girls weekend. Ikea, India food, crafts and good old friend time! Cannot wait!

8. Whole Foods opened today in Des Moines. I am super excited, but super sad that I won’t dare to venture there until the middle of September when it isn’t packed full of people. #superlame.