Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thankful Top Ten 2015

My annual list of things I am thankful. In the 10 years I have been writing this blog, these thankful posts are some of my favorite to look back on! I hope you have a wonderful day of eating lots of yummy foods, relaxing and appreciating all the good things in your life!

10. NETFLIX..seriously brings me such comfort. I love having a multitude of shows at my disposal! Especially on the days where I am feeling blue or anxious.  A few favorite episodes of Gilmore Girls or Mad Men allow me to escape my real world to Stars Hollow or to feel like my life is far better than Don Draper's!
9. gets me going and keeps me at it when my body is all..I can't even.
8. My home..sure, there are about a million things I wish I could change or update but this home has been so good to us. We are making memories here. Within these walls, for better or worse, life happens to the Simpsons on Carnoustie Street!
7. My car, this one is hard because I really do hate it. But, I also love not having a car payment. Our van's days are numbered and I am trying hard to love her till the end! Sure, she's a little tattered, her doors don't open automatically anymore, her rust is abundant. But, she gets us to all the places we need to go!
6. Friendships..I have realized throughout this year, that I have so many good girlfriends who I can count on!
5. My kids..they can sure be spicy but they have lots of sweetness too. Appreciating them for who they are, that is my new focus.
4. Jeff. I love this man so much and am loved unconditionally by him. Thankful, thankful, thankful.
3. Marriage. I feel like I spent much of the past few years taking my marriage for granted. I am so thankful that I "woke up" and realized that marriage is a blessing and needs daily work and love to make it through. I love having a partner to help me navigate this crazy world.
2. Health. Working with people who are dying makes me aware everyday that tomorrow is never guaranteed and that everything you thought you knew can change in a moment. Live life to the fullest, everyday.
1. Faith...Jesus. I have realized this year that I am serve a God who will relentlessly pursue me. He has, through it all, every stupid mistake, every bad decision, every day I have chosen to do what I wanted to do,even though I knew it was the wrong path, continued to pursue me. It makes me sad to think of my God, sitting there thinking, "Oh, sweet girl, please stop this insanity." I am thankful for a church, small group and Christian friends who I am able to confide in with my struggles and say.."Help!"

Thursday, November 19, 2015


The kids got their report cards this week. I will admit, I get a wee bit nervous when I know they are coming. I pretty much know how they are doing based on the papers that are sent home every week. I know that Matthew hates math but is a whiz a reading. I know Caroline is a whiz at just about everything but usually rushes through to make sure she is the FIRST ONE DONE and therefore makes careless mistakes. I know Ellie continues to struggle with reading but tries her darndest and is also a whiz at math! I assume my kids are above average to average in behavior because I have yet to hear from the principal :) But still, I worry...because that is what I do. My kids are also anxious to find out how they are measuring up. They scan those cards for their scores. In our school the kids are graded with the measurements of three standards, LPS(limited progression towards standards)
PS( progressing toward standards) and MS (Meets Standard). Matthew wants all MS's but to be honest, he is fine with a PS or two. Caroline is very dismayed if she gets anything other than all MS's. And Ellie, she's pretty much clueless about this grading business and just carries on with her bright, happy, determined attitude. The Simpson kids have some LS's on their cards this semester. At first I was irritated when I saw it. To be honest, I felt it reflected poorly on me as a parent. It's as if the LS is saying.."Yes, Jeff and Susan Simpson, your child is sucking at this and really, it is ALL YOUR FAULT." But, as I gave myself sometime to process it and think about the areas where my child is still limited in their progression, I found that limited progress is still progress as long as you're still moving towards meeting whatever standards are set before you. Ellie may have a received a LS in one aspect of reading but girlfriend is rocking out other areas! In this day and age of the tremendous pressure to always be above average at absolutely everything you do, it can be very tempting to feel overwhelmed by all of the ways in which you just don't measure up. Whether that be in math, reading or we can carry that over into our adult lives where impossible standards can drive a mommy bonkers! I can't do it all, I can't be it all. What I have learned in my forty plus years of living and holding myself to impossible standards is that you miss so many opportunities when the standards you are trying to obtain are not worthy of your time and energy.
Now, don't get me wrong, I recognize that my children need to learn that you do need to strive to meet the highest standard possible. I want Ellie to be good a reading so she can experience the joy of getting lost in the story of a great book! I want Caroline to learn that being first is not everything and being mindful will serve her well in so many things other than academics. I want Matthew to feel good about himself despite the struggles he faces daily due to his cerebral palsy.
I want Jeff and I to make choices for ourselves and our family that help encourage behaviors that lend themselves to the kids being successful students. Reading time that is relaxed, family game nights, less screen time, less yelling, less busyness. There are many areas where the Simpsons would certainly score a limited progress towards standards! But, there are many areas where we are certainly PROGRESSING. Regular church attendance, regular volunteering at church, small group and book clubs with friends who share our same values. Filling our times with things that are good and help us progress not limit us in being all we are meant to be! That can be hard as old habits die so very hard. (Especially if you are Mommy Simpson). But, one of the most important lessons I want my children to remember from their childhood is that you will always be loved, no matter how you measure up against the standards our family has set forth. We can't always meet expectations. We screw up. We believe in grace and forgiveness and always in the power of tomorrow being an opportunity to turn it all around.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Things I know for sure..

1. I work with some of the most supportive people. Work has been challenging, sometimes beyond what I feel I can bear lately. I have felt such love from my fellow social workers, providers, nurses, case managers, etc.
2. That man knows how to chill his crazy, anxious wife out with a few sentences. Man of  few words, my husband, but the ones he picks, powerful. So thankful for him.
3. Crock pot meals are somewhat life changing. Having dinner ready and waiting..makes life so much easier.
4. Family is important. This job of mine, it certainly has made me think more about how little I see my extended family. I want my kids to have memories with all of their cousins and aunts and uncles. So, we are spending Thanksgiving with my sister's extended family, who practically is family because they are so awesome and we have plans to return for a few days at Christmas to be with my parents and sister's family. I envision cooking baking and cousin's giggling and lots of memory making. ( In reality it may involve my dad watching endless hours of FOX news and nibbling store bought cookies, but hey, we will do these things TOGETHER!)
5. I miss not having stitches in any part of my left side!:) This sounds ridiculous I know but first I fell and shattered a glass into my left hand which required a minor surgery and two sets of stitches. No sooner did it heal than I went to the dermatologist to have a spot looked at on my left forearm that's removal required three stitches! I know, first world problem
6. Christmas is coming. I love it all, the cheesy movies, the twinkling lights, the tree, the decor, the music, the traditions we have with the kids.
7. Small group and reconnecting with my faith. I am still ridiculously full of flaws and daily make mistakes, sometimes big ones.  But I feel for the first time in years that Jeff and I are on the path we need to be. I also love seeing how much my kids are getting out of being part of a smaller community within our church. They love it too!
8.  Volunteering is good for your soul! I have been helping with GEMS's fifth grade girls. GEM's is a program for girls ages 2nd grade through 5th at our church. I decided that I needed to do more at church this year and considering Caroline goes each week, it really was the perfect opportunity to serve. I will fully admit, I was very apprehensive. After all, I am not a huge fan of helping with kids. (I know, horrible.) But, I have really enjoyed getting to know these girls. I am glad I stepped out of my comfort zone and every week I am blessed to learn so much from them and their perspectives.
9. Friends can make or break you. I am lucky to have some awesome friends who have proved they are there for me through it all.
10. Time flies with your kids. I can't believe that my kids are 10,9 and 6. The other night I went to give Ellie a kiss goodnight. As I gazed at her sweet, sleeping, little face, I noticed her hand closed in the same way it was when she was an infant. I have no idea why I remember what her hand looked like as an infant? I think maybe it was that I remember trying to really cherish and soak up her infancy because I knew she was my last. As I looked at my now six year old with that same little fist, my heart was sad. I love having kids that are more independant but sometimes I wish time would slow down. Soon, Matthew won't want to give me a hug and kiss in the middle of the school hallway, every ,single day, Caroline won't let us call her "Squeaker" and Ellie's clenched little fist will just get bigger and bigger.
These things, these are what I know for sure on November 5, 2015!