2017 Going Crazy


Since the kids were babies, our family has Christmas tradition. Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, after the children were snuggled in their beds, James and I would sneak upstairs and whisper, “We’re going crazy.” They would scream in delight as we picked them up, carried them down to the warm car. They would drink hot chocolate and eat popcorn while we drove around town singing Christmas songs and looking at the lights.

They got older, and the cheers turned to groans each year when James and I succeeded in surprising them. They would try and come up with all kinds of ways to remember for next year. James and I would wait for the perfect night to catch them by surprise.

In 2015 and 2016 the kids flipped the tables and surprised James and me. You can read about that here. This year, I wondered how we could surprise the kids since they are living away from home.

Going Crazy 2017

On December 4th, James and I picked Catie up from the airport after her three-month internship in Germany. Jon was planning to stop by the house and see Catie when we got home. From the backseat of the car her phone rang.

“Mom, Jon can’t make it tonight. Are we free for him to come over tomorrow?” Catie asked.

“Sure,” She hung up, and I peppered her with questions. How was her flight? Was she tired? Was she hungry? We have leftover pizza at home.

As we pulled into the driveway, Jon’s car was there. I smiled as Catie ran and hugged her brother.  My family was back together. We stood around the foyer making small talk. Catie sat on the bench by me, Jon leaned back with one foot on the wall and James sat on the stairs.

“I’m tired. But it’s going to be a while until I get some sleep.” Jon said.

“Why is that?” I wondered if he had to go to work this late at night.

“Because we are going crazy.”

I sat silently as the words hit my forehead and sunk into my brain. Then Jon was on the other side of me on the bench, and I was rubbing both my kid’s backs at the same time and trying to hide my ugly-face tears.

They send James and me upstairs to on put our pajamas. Jon opened the door to the backseat of his car and James, and I piled in.  The had popcorn, hot cocoa for James and mint tea for me.  Jon started the playlist of contemporary Christmas music, and Catie brought up the route list on her phone.

“How did you guys plan all of this with Catie in Germany?” I asked.

“We were trying to figure out how to surprise you and knew you would think Catie would be exhausted after traveling all day,” Jon said.

“Why did you say Jon couldn’t make it?” I asked Catie.

“Jon called to ask me what kind of popcorn and drinks to get. He didn’t realize I was already in the car with you. He caught on and asked me yes and no questions. I pretended to be rescheduling.”

“You guys got me good. Aren’t you tired?” I knew she had woke almost 24 hours ago to begin her trip home.

“I’m fine, Mama.” A typical Catie response. We came to the first house and Jon, Catie and James chatted about what kind of lights they liked. The weather was unseasonably warm at 61 degrees, so we rolled down the windows as we watched the lights dance in sync with the music on the radio.

As everyone chatted, I sat trying to absorb the night. The blur of houses, laughter, cool breezes, warm tea and my babies. Both in one car. I could reach out and touch them at the same time.

Thank you, Jon and Catie, for the best Christmas gift ever. I love you guys to the moon and back.








153 Years Ago Today: Thanksgiving Became National Holiday

On October 20, 1864, President Lincoln signed a proclamation declaring the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day.  As I read the proclamation I was surprised at what it said.   I was sad racism is still a part of our country, and God is not–at least on the governmental level.

But then I realized we, as a people can and should look to our past, to the overarching themes of President Lincoln’s intent in his Thanksgiving proclamation.  I love the turkey and pumpkin pie as much as the next person, but I want to pause this year and remember to thank God for every blessing He gives and humble myself to ask for peace, unity, and blessing over our land for generations to come.  

Thanksgiving 2017

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

As we approach the 153rd annual Thanksgiving Day let us thank Almighty God for prolonging our nation for another year. He has defended us from our enemies and from ourselves. He has shown us favor and health in our homes and to our soldiers and sailors abroad. He has given us freedom and opened up opportunities for wealth and has abundantly blessed us. He has also encouraged us to fortitude and courage, bringing us to a place of hope for deliverance from our dangers and afflictions.

Let us remember as did our forefathers this last Thursday in November as a day when all citizens pause to thank and praise the Almighty God, our Creator, and Ruler of the Universe. On this day reverently humble yourself in the dust and offer up prayers of repentance and fervently pray and ask God’s blessings of peace, unity, and harmony throughout this land which God has given us as a dwelling place for ourselves and our future generations.

Ramblings from the week

What I’m thinking about this week

God calls us his children.  He doesn’t call us his brother, or sister, aunt or uncle.  He calls us his children. I’ve been chewing on that all week.  Does that mean we should come to him in child-like faith? Like when a child asks a parent for something – not worrying about how his needs will be met, but confident the parent will do what is best for the child?

When we are a child of God we are part of his family. Just like my children are part of my family. Nothing they do can ever change that.  Matthew 11:7 reminds me that God is the perfect Father giving us good gifts.

What would it look like to live like a child of God?  Not an adult of God, but a child? For me, that would mean worrying less. Trusting more. Loving fully. Not being afraid of being hurt. Not taking life so serious. Wide-eyed wonder. Coloring. Being present. Barefoot and carefree. Spontaneous.

So no matter what kind of home you came from, you can still belong. You can still be a part of a family. Everybody can have a good father.

What I’m reading this week

Well, I was reading, Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! but the audio copy I borrowed digitally from my library came due and someone else was waiting for it, so I couldn’t renew it.  I’m right in the middle and desperate to finish it- I’ve checked twice this week already to make sure someone hasn’t returned it.

In the meantime, I started A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers.  I’m an hour in and it’s too soon to know what I think.


I just finished season 2 of Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime.  Next to check out on my list are The Crown and Victoria.

Shopping and coloring

Grocery shopping

I struggle with grocery shopping.  I seem to not be able to think of what I want to buy when I get there. I use Plan to Eat, to store my recipes and schedule my meals.  It’s not free, but I like it.  Except with my kid’s schedules, I rarely know who will be home when, so it’s hard to plan.

James has been shopping with me the last couple of weeks. Last week we went to Aldi just when it was closing. The kids seemed happy with our choices. I was impressed with the produce and Simply Nature products.  I found some peanut butter that didn’t have any scary ingredients in it. Their almond milk gave me a stomach ache, I’m not sure why – the ingredients didn’t indicate a problem.

I have tried to make a price book a couple of times not followed through with it.  I asked James for his input.  He found an app called Price Cruncher. (android only)  and has been putting in the prices at various stores. It breaks down the items to the price per ounce so you can see what is the best value.  We only have a couple of weeks of information in there but it looks promising.


My love for coloring has only grown since my post here.  I got a couple of different coloring books for Christmas.  I bought the 24 pack of Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils.  Someday I want to get the 72 pack! Better than pencils are gel pens – I think I’m addicted!  I got a 100 pen set of Gelwriters from Costco for $20 that I’ve been happy with. It it relaxing to color in the evenings by the fire listening to an audio book.

How about you? What are you up to this week?



My Capsule Wardrobe – Summer 2016

All my clothes in one pile. Who knew I had so much stuff!?

One of my goals is to say no to some things, so I can have the time and space to say yes to the things I love and want to do.

After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by  Marie Kondo in the summer of 2015, a friend and I tidied our homes.  We would text each other pictures as we gathered like items from all over our houses and sort them – keeping only what we needed and loved.

A year later I am using the things I love and not spending time shopping, cleaning, dusting and moving around things I don’t.

New new closet with 33 pieces of clothes

This summer I decided to take it a step further with Project 333 Challenge.  The rules were:

  1. Choose 33 pieces of clothes to wear for 3 months.
  2. This includes shoes, purses and coats.
  3. This does not include exercise clothes, underwear or pajamas.
  4. I didn’t include church/funeral clothes and the jewelry.
  5. Choose pieces that you can mix and match.  I choose blue and purple with pops of orange.

Here’s what my closet looked like:

  • 7 tank tops
  • 7 t-shirts
  • 2 sleeveless light sweaters
  • 3 sweaters  (light long sleeve, light short sleeve, heavy long sleeve)
  • 2 pair shorts
  • 2 sundresses
  • 1 long sundress
  • 1 skirt
  • 1 skort
  • 1 pair jeans
  • 1 capri pants
  • 1 purse
  • 4 shoes (1 dress sandal, 3 casual)

Positive Takeaways

  • Empty space in my brain -not having to think about what I was going to wear each day.
  • Feeling confident – everything in my closet fit me and I felt comfortable wearing it.
  • Not shopping – I actually felt like I had more clothes in my closet than when my walk-in closet was stuffed.
  • Compliments -I got more compliments than when I was choosing from a closet full of clothes
  • Lifestyle – I realized that even thought I prefer to dress up, my lifestyle is casual.
  • Laundry – I had less laundry to do.  I still don’t understand why-but I did.

Negative Takeaways

  • Choices –I felt like I had lots of choices the first two months, but by August I felt like I was wearing some of the same clothes over and over.
  • I didn’t wear all the clothes –  We had a hot summer so I didn’t wear the jeans, capris, heavy sweater or tee shirts. I didn’t wear the skort, light short-sleeve sweater or one of the casual sandals much at all. A little tweaking next summer should solve the negatives.
  • Long Tank Tops –  At 5’11” the one I have just aren’t long enough
I’ve realized that every item I own comes with two price tags.  The purchase price and the ongoing cost of cleaning, organizing, storing and thinking about it. I choose to keep things that I love and are useful to me so I can have more time to do the things I want to.


What do you think?  Does this sound like something you’d like to try or does it sound too crazy to you?


Going Crazy

We started a Christmas family tradition when the kids were bitty babies.  One day between Thanksgiving and Christmas we would tuck them snugly in bed and sneak out to the kitchen to pop popcorn and make hot chocolate.  With anticipation we would come into their rooms and swoop them up out of bed and bundle them in their coats.  Heading to the car they would ask where we were going and we would reply, “Crazy!”

Each year we would play Christmas music on the radio and drive around town looking at the Christmas lights on all the houses while they sipped hot cocoa and ate popcorn.  It was a magical sort of night -all of us dressed in our pajamas driving around.

Then the children got bigger.  And each year they would hoot and holler when we would pick a night they weren’t expecting.  Or they would just plain forget that year – until we would sneak into their rooms after bed.  Each year they would purpose to not be surprised.  And we took great pride in surprising them. One year I snuck the popcorn popper to the basement so they wouldn’t hear it running.  Another I was sick in bed all day, but crawled out to catch them unawares.

And then they got bigger still.  And they started going to bed after us.  Gone were the pj’s and sleepy dreams in their eyes, but the wonder of the night still was captured.

And then they got bigger again.  This year, they have jobs and college classes and friends and it seemed every night one of them was not home.  James and I plotted and planned, waiting for the perfect night.  We had found directions to places we planned to visit and waited with excitement for the perfect night.  As Christmas neared our hearts worried this year they would remember.  This year they wouldn’t be surprised.  After 16 years of surprises, would this be the year the magic of Christmas would end?



Going Crazy 2015

After a long day of life about two weeks ago, I am crashed out in front of the tv watching the final episode of season 2 of Doctor Who.  Catie comes home from seeing a movie with friends at 10:30 and pops in to tell me she’s home and going to get something to eat.  I turn my mind back to the show.  With eight minutes left she comes running up the stairs calling for me.  I pause the show and she says the toilet downstairs is overflowing.  In my selfless, caring way I promptly reply, “Get Dad!”  She INSISTS she needs me.  At my resistance she says Dad needs me to bring towels, lots of towels NOW.  I hear Jon calling James from the basement with the same concern overflowing toilet.

Heading downstairs I don’t see anyone in the bathroom, but rather hear a confused James in the kitchen asking where the overflowing toilet is – and the children hushing him.  Having absolutely no idea what is going on, I head down the stairs into the kitchen and am greeted with a bag of popcorn and a thermos of hot tea.  “We’re going crazy!” They both shout.

I stand there stunned, my mind racing trying to figure out the twist of events. kids drivingSlowly I realize what is happening.  Our kids have grown up.  They head James and I out to the warmed up car with blankets already in the backseat.  A planned Christmas list of music plays from Jon’s phone in the front seat.  As we munch on our popcorn they begin their GPS route around town to show us lights.  Chatting away in the front seat they ask us to pick out our favorite lights or comment on a style or color of lights – just like James and I have done with them for years.

Magical.  I am smiling at their love and creativity. I am shocked that they surprised me – a feat not easily accomplished.  My heart is happy to see a family tradition change and take shape into something new. Sitting in the back seat we ponder for the first time what it will be like that Christmas night when our children buckle their children into the backseat with hot cocoa and popcorn. And then our minds turn to plotting how to out-do this Christmas next Christmas!