Wednesday, November 20, 2013


"Mom, what's a ca-too-shon sign?" asked my 9-year-old.


"You I am drawing a building with a fence around it and fences around buildings always say, 'ca-too-shon.'"

"Caution? Do you mean a caution sign?"

"Oh! That does sound more right."

Ah, kids. Positively love the way their minds work!


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

60 Days of Insanity

In an effort to get myself back in shape I have committed to a 60 day challenge. Last summer, I bought a used copy of the Insanity DVD workout. I did precisely one workout. So, when I stumbled upon a trainer offering limited enrollment into her 60 day challenge, I requested to be considered. I was accepted for the challenge and I am using my Insanity DVD's and last. Yes, I had to brush a layer of dust of the DVD jacket. The best part is - I am sore! I know by my soreness that my muscles are being used and targeted!  They are getting tone!

A fit person does not a runner make! I run consistently. My heart is strong and my legs are strong but I noticed my belly was jiggly and my arms had developed bat wings. And, not like cool Batgirl bat flab bat wings. The kind that flap and don't fly (Aw! That sounds like Opus the Penguin!). But, upon recognizing my lack of overall fitness I found I still struggled with getting up and completing a workout that did not involve running. I horrified myself with the realization that I was being lazy! Laziness positively freaks me out. I fear becoming a lazy person. I am so high-strung that the mere thought of lackluster living frightens me to the core. 

Amazing book!

So, to have found a motivation group thrills me. For 60 days I am encouraged and inspired. I am accountable. I have to do my part to stay in the group. I have to report my daily exercises and I have to follow my Insanity schedule. I still run so I am really giving myself a wake up call. I know I cannot slack. I have to tow the line. It works for me. I needed to be held accountable to begin this transformation. I am hopeful that at the end of 60 days it will just be a new routine at that point. It, like running, will just be what I do. And, hopefully I will shed my uncool wings!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Best Conversation of the Weekend!

My son's friend came over for a play date on Saturday afternoon. Well, they are both 9 years old now so maybe they aren't called play dates anymore? I am not sure. Let's say, my son's friend came over to hang out.

Anyhow, they were hanging out in the backyard and our dog starts barking ferociously at our neighbor. He is coming through a side gate with a hung bouquet of flowers freshly cut from his garden. I go greet him and thank him and apologize for our over-protective dog. I say all of this with waving arm gestures and an expressive face because he doesn't speak English. He laughs and pats my hand and goes back to his yard. He is the nicest man. At almost 90 he is more active than most people my age!

As I return to our yard I hear my daughter tell my son's friend, "Our neighbor is so nice. He only speaks Spanish."

The friend replies, "Really? That is cool. He seems really nice. You can talk to him in Spanish. You can say, 'Aloha, compadre!'"

Ellie looks completely fascinated.

She replies, "Wow! That is so fancy! I usually just say, 'Hola!'"

We will see if my neighbor now gets greeted Hawaiian style! 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


My son received the character counts award for school. The characteristic he was awarded was respect. I am so proud of him. As parents we do our best to teach our children to be good little people and then we send them out into the world. It is what they do in the world away from our watchful eyes that really matters.

Last year my son received the characteristic of trustworthy. His teacher said he received the award because, even if he implicated himself, my son always told the truth. His lip may quiver, his eyes may scan the floor, but my son will tell you the truth as he knows it to be.

He told me last week that he received the respect reward because his teacher said no one is as respectful as he is. He respects her, his classmates, and himself. He respects the rules and follows them though once in awhile his giggles get the best of him and he has to be re-directed.

It makes my heart all warm and fuzzy knowing that he leaves for school each day and moves through the world as a good person. I have watched him interact with younger children who are in awe to have an older classmate acknowledge them. I have see him High Five the custodian. I have heard how he sticks up for his friends against bullies. And, his little sister always tells of something told her at lunch. 

Mitchell makes time for everyone. He is not bogged down by labels and classifications. If he likes you, you are his friend. If you are an authority figure, he will respect you. If you need a hand, he will lend you one. If you need a smile, he will provide that too.

He is a good kid. I am so thankful that God blessed me with my kids and my husband. OK...some days, I really want to run for the hills! But, on days like today I remember what makes my tribe so awesome!

Monday, November 11, 2013

We Bought a Beast

Yesterday my husband purchased the ugliest pick-up known to man. It is 1997 Dodge Diesel. It has seen better days. Actually many, many better days. The only thing that surprised me is that the title was not salvaged. It has not been destroyed...just very well used. 

My husband knew what he wanted - an earlier model, extended cab diesel pick-up. He sold our F150 Ford crew cab and set out on his quest. The challenge was finding a diesel for the right price. Because of the rising cost of gasoline and the mileage an older model can get per gallon the diesels are in high demand.

But, my husband has a special talent. He restores old cars for a living. He set out to by the most mechanically sound vehicle he could find regardless of cosmetic appeal. In his research he stumble across a mechanic selling the beast that would soon become ours. I cannot emphasis how ugly this truck is. Though its appearance can make a person weep, the thing runs like a top! It has a brand new transmission with only 200 miles on it. New brakes, new battery. It runs like a cougar. This truck has power.

When I first saw the truck last night I laughed. It struck me as funny. In the morning light I actually could not bear to stare at it. It made me nervous. It is that ugly. I have great faith in my husband's ability but since we forked out money for the thing it did make my pulse quicken. The good news is that my husband was able to get the truck well below market value. And, he already has it out in the paint booth beginning the transformation. Once he has it in a more presentable state I will post before and after pictures. If I post pictures now, our friends and family might host an intervention thinking we have gone mad.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Days of Joy

Some days seem daunting from the get-go. I have definitely had my fair share of begrudgingly started the days. I have decided I am not good with that. I don't want to dread what awaits me at work. I don't want to fret about what bills will arrive in my mailbox in the afternoon. I don't want to wonder how I will accomplish everything the day has prepared. I don't want to begrudge the day...I want to live it! I want to enjoy it and savor it for the gift that it is.

I feel I am going through a shift. A good shift. A shift in my perspective and a shift in my core. I feel like I am becoming more keenly aware of what is truly important and what is not. I feel like I am choosing my battles better. I am aware that my attitude is mine to own and alter. No one can steal my joy...if I have lost it, it is because I relinquished it. My life has been a set of adventures and adversities and I think I finally am grasping some lessons God clearly wanted me to learn.

My faith is on fire within me. I finally get that God is at the helm and not me. I believe that He has plans for me that I can't even fathom. I realize that if I slump through my day, I am robbing myself of gifts that God is setting before me. If I grouch at my children, I am stealing the blessing of their presence from myself. If I grumble at the slow driver in front of me, I am robbing myself of happiness by filling it with irritation. If I become so frustrated with work that I stress intensely over it, then I am robbing myself of any number of moments of joy that are taking place all around me.

I have to let go and let God. Let God provide. Let God's favor flood my life. Let God's plans for my life unfold. 

I believe I am at a good place in my life. But, I believe deep in my soul that this is not all God has planned for me. I truly believe this shift will take me beyond my expectations. Have you ever felt that deep in your gut? That feeling that something big is coming? Something good? That is what I am feeling right now. And, to keep myself from missing any opportunities I am starting the day on the right foot. I am declaring my days will be good and I am starting each with great expectations.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Grumpiness at the Acres

Today was a rough morning at Smokey Acres. My daughter who is 7, woke up angry and loaded for bear. She was in a foul mood and wanted to make sure no one else was happy. She fought with her brother, argued with me, and screamed at her dad. She stomped around and cried and yelled. It was not pleasant.

I don't remember my son behaving like this at 7. I might have blocked it out. This is a rough age for my daughter. She it caught between wanting to still be a baby but also wanting to assert more independence. She is not only challenging for us but for herself. She gets so mad at herself for acting out and wants everything to immediately go back to normal. She is a sticky widget right now.

School mornings are the hardest. Aside from myself, no one in my tribe is a morning person. I wake the kids up at 6:30 just so they can have a full 30 minutes to accept it is morning and consume some breakfast. On weekends they sometimes sleep in as late as 9:30. Mornings are just not their thing.

My son wakes up very sullen but he moves and shuffles through the routine. My daughter wakes up mad and fights every step of getting ready. She grumbles about breakfast, She screams about her clothes. She argues about her how to wear her hair. She spits her toothpaste out like a viper spitting venom. I know she sounds like a brat but the thing is, she is the funniest and spunkiest kid I have ever met. She loves her family and loves her animals. Mornings are just not her cup of tea and they leave me drained once she is off to school.

I might look back on these years and laugh about them...if I survive them. But, right now, I am just trying to not mess up too badly. I am trying to mold and shape this fiery little creature. I am trying to reign her in a bit without crushing her spunk. This is a day by day adventure and sometimes it is a minute by minute one. 

Raising a daughter...I think it might be easier to be pecked to death by chickens.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Shout Out Across the Seas!

One thing I love about having a blog is seeing the audience that reads it. Most folks reside in the grand USA but I do have readers in Russia, Poland, and even the Ukraine! I give a hearty shout out to my friends across the ocean! I did have a small contingent from Latvia for a bit but I think they grew weary of my musings from Smokey Acres.

I would be delighted to hear from my counterparts across the seas about life in their world. I am an exceedingly curious person (OK. I am very nosy!) and I think it would be fascinating to hear what life is like in your neck of the woods. 

Where I sit now it is a chilly  53 degrees outside. The sun is shining though so things are warming up. I am in my home office getting ready to tackle the work day ahead. My work laptop is humming away in the background holding e-mails I need to answer and projects I need to tackle. There is no rest in college publishing...seriously...this job is like air traffic control on a busy day. Who knew working in publishing would be like wrestling an angry octopus on a daily basis? For a job I thought I would kick around in for a couple years, I find myself still here 13 years later. I must like herding eight-legged sea creatures.

As I switch chairs to settle into my work space I wish all everyone out in the world that takes a gander at this post an awesome day! Thanks for stopping by in the course of your busy day! My hope is that you experience something truly amazing today in your world!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

No PR for me!

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent Saturday morning running the Two Cities Marathon and Half in Fresno, California. I don't say "competing" because really - there was no way I was in contention to win anything. I only challenge myself at these things. When I finally saw my official race results and cringed! I was 14 seconds shy of beating my personal record (PR) that I set in 2009. Drat! So, so close! 

I reasoned that I was older time was still applause worthy...I finished on my own two feet...and those extra seconds I burned on the course were when I was high-fiving my kids and my friends and family that were cheering me on. So really, those extra 14 seconds were well spent. And, now, I still have a goal to beat. I still have a challenge before me. 

Oh, and while I lagged on the PR I still burned 1453 calories! That is something snazzy!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Our Un-Romantic Anniversary

Today my husband and I celebrated our 12th anniversary! We are not a particularly romantic couple. The first order of business for me today what to run the local Two Cities Marathon and Half. I didn't run the full marathon...the half is plenty for my aging bones! It was my 12th half - or there abouts. I can recall clearly recall 12 but have this feeling I might be missing one or two. I sign up for the half every year just so I have something to work towards that keeps me in motion. I have determined that should I ever be too feeble to run the half, I will walk those 13.1 miles. I must just keep myself moving.

After the half and a badly needed shower we headed to the movies - with the kids - to see Free Birds. It was ridiculously cute! The kids loved it and I did too. It was silly and fun and it was positively wonderful to just sit. We finished our romantic date for four at Red Robin...Yum! And, we even got a free burger with our Red Robin Royalty card!

When we were first married we would go on weekend getaways for our anniversaries or indulge in fancy dinners. As we have added years and kids to the mix, the need for that has changed. Yes, I love time alone with my husband, but I also dearly cherish family time spent together with the kids. And, in 12 more years, they will have their own plans and lives to tend to. I am good to share my anniversaries for now. Not so romantic but real life. And, I am very thankful for the fellow God placed in my life. My husband has been an amazing gift indeed!


Friday, November 1, 2013


The morning after Halloween is never pleasant for us. The kids emerge from their sugar comas in surly moods. They are angry that they must go to school. The sugar leaves them incapable of dressing themselves. They flop on the floor in despair with bed hair that rivals the finest bird nest. They limply wiggle their toothbrushes in their mouths. They slump and shuffle down the hall. The weight of their backpacks is suddenly too great for them to manage. It is tough. But despite the morning after we trek out into the darkness on Halloween and have a spooktacular time collecting treats. 

This year we had a hot dog and a Jedi in our ranks. They were quite a combo! My daughter usually likes princesses and fairies so I was surprised she opted to be a food item. But, she was the cutest hot dog I have ever seen!

We went to a friend's home for a pre-Halloween party  and then took a crop of kids out in search of treats. One of my daughter's friends was a witch and she told her mom, "I never thought I go trick or treating with a hot dog!" 

Our group was eclectic. We had ninjas, princesses, witches, and, we even had Mr. Toad.


And...just like I did 15 years ago...

I had to kiss Mr. Toad again...

So, even though we know the morning after will be dismal, we continue to celebrate the quirkiness of Halloween. I love that the kids get to pretend to be warriors, toads, princesses, and even hot dogs for the night. Memory making in progress!