Tuesday, December 27, 2011

We are plotting and planning

we've had an AMAZING break so far. christmas was fabulous in storm lake. always so fun to spend time with the burbacks. every single time i am beyond thankful that i not only LOVE my in-laws, but i LIKE them. we laugh hard. we have a blast.
i barely got my camera out at all. i'll download pics a little later. i was just happy to enjoy our time together.
then my brother and his family arrive later this week. we will celebrate christmas and new years together over the weekend. SO looking forward to that as well!
paul had monday off from work. we did NOTHING. had a fire going. drank a bottle of wine and dreamed about 2012. we have been planning a vacation as soon as school gets out. and we got that all finalized yesterday! we are heading to the upper peninsula in michigan to kayak/bike/hike for a week!! and we are pumped!! we will be renting this house for the week...

it has been so fun to plan! i LOVE planning trips. seriously. i think i missed my calling as a travel agent. in the midst of all this planning, we realized we would have to bring along our kayaks and our bikes. we had purchased the kids an inflatable kayak for christmas, but still have 2 kayaks that we need to transport outside of the car. we found a kayak rack for the top of our car. we were kind of giggling about how we would look driving down the interstate with kayaks on top our car. and then we remembered we needed to purchase a bike rack for the back of the car. we hit up amazon and started looking. we found one for a very reasonable price and then died laughing when we looked at the photo....

for real. it's going to be hilarious. 2 kayaks on top and 5 bikes on back. a family of 5 PLUS a golden doodle inside. oh my word. one day i will miss this. i know i will. but for today, it was just hysterical. feeling so so blessed. truly. my cup is overflowing. and i cannot wait to take pictures of our own gear gracing the outside of our van this summer. it will be a blast.
(oh...and did i mention while we are in michigan, the dirks family will be just down the road from us? can you imagine THEIR car with a family of 7?? so fun! can't WAIT for this trip!)

Sunday, December 18, 2011


She had a solo at our Christmas program at church today.
So sweet.
Brigg, Lani and Ayla were all in a little play as well.
And after that we rushed to a local nursing home so Lani and Brigg could play piano in a Christmas recital.
Here's a video of Lani singing...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011


have i really be absent that long? wow. that's forever.
i feel like i start every blog post out with a big "we have been BUSY".
but it's true. every time i say it, it is true.
and i am thankful.
because we have several kids who love to GO.
and a dog that loves to eat. and run. and chew tissues.
and i have a job that i LOVE.
and my husband has 2 jobs that he doesn't hate, too. :)
all really happy, good stuff.
so i am thankful for it all. bring it.

since i haven't updated in a while, i think i'll just give a quick run down.
paul is doing great. he is still working 2 jobs. mpw and home inspections. his home inspection business continues to grow. i have a love/hate relationship with this business. i love it because HE loves it. and he is GOOD at it. and it brings in a nice little extra income for us. but i hate it because it's all done outside of regular business hours. so i get a little up tight when he is gone ALL DAY LONG and then working on his computer all night long finishing up a report. we are working on getting some new software that might eliminate some of that extra time in the late night hours. but they call it moonlighting for a reason.

i am also doing great. busy busy at school. still so thankful that i got a job in the 5th grade. i don't think i could possibly do those younger grades. we had to show the puberty video the other day. that was great fun. something i didn't really think about when taking this position! good times indeed. we strategically planned it the last hour of the day on the day before thanksgiving break. we are smart. worked like a charm. haven't heard them speak a word about it since their return.
i love my students and my co-workers and my parents. i can't imagine walking away from this job. although i have days where i daydream of staying home with the kids again. then i remember that 2 of them are in school all day and ayla is a holy terror. :)
we are going to mexico in march!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
leah is getting married. i only have 2 personal days a year. i am taking them both for this trip. it will be a QUICK trip. leaving on an EARLY flight on a thursday and returning on an afternoon flight on that sunday. i wish it could be longer. but it will be so awesome to be in that beautiful place and watch leah and jeff tie the knot. SO FUN!! SO HAPPY for them! can't wait!!!!!

brigg is still taking piano lessons and playing basketball right now. oh...and his music teacher taught him how to play the recorder with his nose. true talent. :) she also taught him how to wash the recorder in the dishwasher. ha!
he is growing like crazy. when he stands in front of me i can rest my chin on the top of his head. wow. i'm dreading the day when he no longer wants to give me a kiss and hug goodbye in the morning and before bed. love him so much.

lani is doing horseback riding lessons and piano lessons. she loves them both. she is great at them both. i tear up every time i see her on that horse. for real. she is so happy in those moments. i'm so grateful she has found something she loves. as any mother would agree, i'm sure, it's so amazing to see your child happy and thriving.
she is doing great in school and her reading is finally taking off. she loves to read. and i honestly was very concerned about her reading for a long time. then suddenly it just clicked. so fun to witness.

ayla. oh ayla. this child is refining us every.single.day. by the time she leaves our home we will be THE most patient people on the planet. honestly. there will no others in existence who will have a greater amount of patience than we do. we will have had years and years and years of practice with her. :) she is hot or cold. and it can change with NO notice whatsoever. she dropped out of preschool. it was just too many changes all at once. and now she's fine. she is doing great at daycare. she never complains about going. but she is always ready for the weekend. she knows what it means when i tuck her in bed on thursday night and tell her "tomorrow is FRIDAY!" she loves the weekend and her time with all of us. oh...and she is so funny in the morning. INSISTS on kissing and hugging brigg and lani goodbye. it drives them crazy. but she won't let them out the door without it. cute.

willow is huge. and shaved. but honestly, that dog is getting SO GOOD. she's getting calmer by the day. but she still loves to find tissues and chew on them. i do not understand that. i think if you are not big dog people, golden doodles are the dog for you. we haven't done much in the way of training, but she is really pretty well-behaved for a dog of 1.5 years!

we are heading to storm lake for the holidays. i am really looking forward to our break together. one of the HUGE perks of teaching. i get all that time off with the kids over the holidays. makes me happy!! my christmas shopping is done for the most part. couple little things to pick up, but really not too much. thank you trusty online shopping. i love you.

and it's still not too late to pick up a stove for christmas. they have been FLYING off the shelves the past couple of days! so fun!

i'm off to play with brigg's christmas gift....a kindle. i've wanted one for years, but somehow my 10 year old is getting one before me. how does that happen??
happy weekend to all....

Monday, November 28, 2011

cyber monday...

there are SO many great deals out there today!
and i'm not gonna lie...i may have purchased several items from my christmas list today.
the best purchase i've made so far, you ask?
you can give them in someone's name and the adventure project will send them an e-card HERE.
check it out.
if you're looking for a gift idea for me, i'd LOVE a stove or two purchased in my name!! :)
for real.
consider heading on this journey with the adventure project.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Remember Jody?
You know...that friend of mine from a while back? :)
I may have mentioned her a time or 2 on this blog.
And guess what...she's still a part of my life. And she's been busting her butt this past year or so getting The Adventure Project up and running.
Their impact has been amazing.
Their philosophy is new and different and is filled with dignity and and the belief that creating change from the inside out by providing sustainable solutions is possible.
It's awesome.
Watch this...

Give a Stove this Holiday - The Adventure Project Campaign on Vimeo from The Adventure Project on Vimeo.

I love this for may reasons but one of the main ones is that for the first time ever Jody is speaking at a normal pace and her arms are not flailing. She must REALLY REALLY believe in what's she's doing because that took some serious self-control on her part. :)
(love you, jody!)

So I will be buying stoves for Christmas. Because the impact is huge.
And sustainable. And good for the earth. And amazing for communities that are working to pull themselves up out of poverty.
I hope you join me.
Check it out!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

still adjusting

seriously, will we ever get this figured out?
i stayed at home for the better part of 10 years.
i did everything home-wise.
because that was my job.
bills, laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping, cooking, pet care, running errands and on and on.
so we knew when i went back to work full-time that it was going to be an adjustment to say the least.
we knew we were going to have to make some shifts in responsibilities.
and honestly, we've transitioned quite well.
but once in a while, things just get overwhelming.
and i freak.
like this morning.
last night brigg found a tick on willow.
this morning i said to paul "what was the date you took willow to the vet? we probably are about at one month and need to give her her next pill for fleas, ticks, heartworm, etc."
he stared at me blankly.
"what pill? i didn't give her a pill that day."
(enter my freaking out because our neighbors dog died of lyme disease last year).
so we bicker back and forth as i'm throwing dishes in the dishwasher and FORGETTING to switch over the wet clothes into the dryer. barking at him from the kitchen as he's rushing lani along to finish drying her hair and get the big kids out the door.
apparently i never told him about the pill.
because i just DID IT.
it was never written down.
i don't have a list.
i did things for TEN YEARS.
it was just something i did.
so now when i forget i just assume someone else will pick up my slack.
without ever telling them.
(or him).
and it's frustrating! for both of us!
so paul rushes out the door with me shouting out reminders as he's in the doorway and i rush out the front door to get ayla to daycare 10 min late.
after i drop her off, paul and i meet again on our cell phones.
we go over the plan for the day.
for the weekend.
what am i forgetting?
he says "you need to write it all down. everything you do."
oh my.
but this weekend that is the plan.
write it all down. because geez, this stuff needs to get done!
in my panic i had visions of a dead dog and sobbing children and late bills and paul's business failing and us living in a van down by the river.
you know how one little thing in your brain can evolve into the end of the world? :)
yeah. that's me.
i'm trying. i don't want to fail at any of my jobs.
and we are getting there.
but we are obviously still going through an adjustment period.
(paul called the vet and he calmed my worries. we think willow might live. whew.)

Monday, November 14, 2011

The American Girl Store

my american girl place post! :)
so we went to the store after a long night before and a train ride to chicago and we had already walked all over the city with no stroller so ayla was tired.
and this place was insane.
totally crazy busy.

it was loud and overstimulating for me.
but we had been planning this and we also had reservations for "tea" at 4:00.
so we ventured in and someone must have seen the overwhelmed look on our faces.
she was like a personal shopper.
for real.
she just walked around with us and helped us find what we were looking for.
she was nice.
but paul and i kept looking at eachother and kind of giggling.

because really, i don't think paul and i are American Girl people.
we know so many people who love going here.
so i really hate to say anything negative.
BUT we did not love it.
although we DO love ayla.
and she had been dreaming of an american girl doll for a long time.

4:00 came and we went to "tea".
a loud bell rang and everyone that was sitting outside got to go in and be seated.
they had highchairs for the little girls' dolls.
and little tea cups and plates for the dolls.

and finger food.
little sandwiches and some mini scones and some fruit.
paul had decided he didn't want to eat any of the food, but he still had to pay a $10 "sitting fee".
appparently to just BE in the room.
oh my.
did i mention we are not american girl people?
also...did i mention that we could not stop looking at eachother wide-eyed and laughing?
ok good.

so the moment we gave ayla her doll made it all worth it.
she was so cute.
and so happy.
and i think paul's 2 hours of torture turned into a smile. :)
i'm so glad we went.
i'm so glad she loves her doll.
but i'm pretty sure we'll never go again.
i LOVE chicago.
but i'm thinking we'll stay away from this store in the future.
we'll stick with checking out marilyn's panties. :)
and i won't give a "formal" review.
because honestly, i know LOTS of people who love going here. I hadn't heard one person that shared my distaste, so take what i say with a grain of salt. you should check it out yourself.
you may be pleasantly surprised.
happy birthday ayla. we really really love you.
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One of my favorites...

Tonight we finished harvesting the garden.
Brussel sprouts.
One of our favorites.

This has been so fun!
The kids LOVE picking our produce out of the garden!

And the best part?
The kids ate brussel sprouts tonight.
All 3 of them.
They would NEVER eat them if they hadn't picked them.

So awesome!
And really...I had NO IDEA this was how brussel sprouts grew!

Can't wait for next year's garden.
We will tweak things and it will be even better!
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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Our Storm...

Oh Ayla...

How can you possibly be FOUR YEARS OLD today?
How is it that it feels like you are only a baby but yet you have been a part of our lives forever?

Our little unexpected gift.
The one who turned our world upside down even before you showed your face.
We had no idea what was coming.
And then on November 9, 2007, you arrived.
And our lives have never been the same.

Over the past 4 years you have REtaught us how to be parents.
You are passionate and intense.
You are stubborn and curious.
You bring spunk to our household.
You are UH-dorable.
Everywhere we go, people tell you that.
But I love it best when they say "she is so CUTE!" and you say "AND smart."
with attitude.
It's true. Brains, beauty and spunk.
You love deeply.
You scream loudly.
You laugh genuinely.
You are ONE OF A KIND.

As you turn four today, I pray that you learn to channel your intensity for good. That you use your confidence and energy to spread love and joy.
I pray your curiosity grows and motivates you to learn more. To love deeper and give freely.

We love you, Ayla Lyn.
We cannot imagine our lives without you in them.
You have completed our family.
We cannot wait to see what God has in store for you.
Happy birthday Ayla bean.
With all our love, Happy Birthday.
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Sunday, November 6, 2011


As u Can imagine...ayla is tired. Long weekend.
Good exciting funny moments mixed with stubborn crabby tired moments.
This is ayla. In muscatine or in Chicago.
She is no different.
She is in love with her American girl doll.
She waned to go to the dolls where u pick one that looks like you.
She picked the black doll with long black hair.
She insisted.
So cute.
We love her so so much.
She wears us out.
And now Paul and i are ready for a vacation. :)
More to come when I'm not on my phone jammed in a train....
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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2 of the 2989 reasons...

we love living out here.

and Leona...

they live directly across the street.
they are amazing.
they have 8 grandsons and NO granddaughters.
they say they don't need any...they have ayla and lani.
it's a perfect relationship.
we adore them.
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Friday, October 28, 2011

jennie took pics

i did not.
to see some from lani's night last night.
go to her blog HERE.
they are so cute.
so lani.

fun stuff!

last night was so fun!
i had 12 conferences. i lost my voice.
but then paul picked me up with all the kids (+1) in tow and we headed to incredible pizza to celebrate lani.
it was a great time.
by the time we got home the kids were beat and they went to bed pretty quickly.
then paul and i watched the MOST amazing cardinals game.
there may have been texting and facebooking and screaming and jumping going on during the whole thing.
not to mention laughing and jumping into paul's arms while he swung me around in circles when it was finally over.
at one point i tried to wake up brigg but he was way too tired. i was so disappointed.(i am not the best mom ever, but fun!)
it was a great time.

and TODAY is going to be great, too!
no school.
lisa and i planned to meet with lani and macy to celebrate their birthdays together.
you may remember the story of lani and macy. if not, you can read about it HERE.
what a special time in our lives.
what a special relationship they have.
so thankful we get this day together just the 4 of us. it's going to be awesome.

so i am off this morning. lots to do before we head out.
my cup runneth over....

Thursday, October 27, 2011

8 is great.

At least that holds true for Lani.
Today she turns 8.
And I tell you what...this child is beyond great.
What a blessing she is to us.
Patient. Kind. Generous. Compassionate. Humble. Not confident. Compliant. Shy. Sweet.
Sometimes I wonder how she came from my womb. :)
(fyi...i ordered the above photo in an 8x12 canvas for her birthday. she loves bridgette. can't wait to give this to her!)

But I'm SO thankful she did.
Eight years ago God gave me a girl.
I didn't ask for one.
I thought I'd end up with all boys.
The night I went into labor I asked for the "blue room" because I was sure boy number 2 was about to arrive.
And then our little Nalani showed up.
And I turned to Paul with tears in my eyes and literally said, "I didn't know I wanted a girl!"
I remember it like it was yesterday.
And honestly, I remember nearly every second of Lani's first few months of life like they were yesterday.
It was a rough transition for us. Add in 6 surgeries in 12 months and you had one stressed out momma.
But man, Lani was and EASY baby.
An EASY toddler.
And now and EASY child.
Our calm before the storm, some might say. :)
(more on our storm on HER birthday...)
Last night as I sat there thinking about Nalani in all her sweetness, I was overcome with emotion.
Gosh, God knew what we needed.
And our sweet little baby turned out to be a perfect mix of sweet and strong.
Compliant and determined.
Quiet and witty.
Compassionate and brave.
She is incredible.
And I love her with all that I am.
As she turns 8, I pray that her confidence grows and she fully recognizes her God-given gifts.
I pray that she continues to be sure in who she is and what she believes. That her faith grows and her worries disappear. That as she matures, she learns to hand over those fears to the one who created her and loves her even more than I do.
Thank you God for Nalani Alma. For her sweet, generous, compassionate, funny heart. Thank you for picking us to be her parents. Thank you for hearing my prayers for all boys and saying "Nope." Our lives are so much better because of Lani Lou.
Happy birthday Lou Bug. We love you so so much....

Monday, October 24, 2011

This week

Lani's birthday.
on top of...
piano lessons, basketball practice, and a home inspection.
but no school on friday.
and honestly, i'm super nervous about conferences.

Monday, October 17, 2011

500 women

i HAVE to share this with you!
The Adventure Project is at it again. Upping the stakes. Still working towards the goal of hiring 500 women.
As of tonight there are 147 covered.
We are looking for people to step up and sponsor the rest this month.
There are only 2 weeks left.
I believe we can do it!
$120 for health care training classes and $42 for a uniform and tote.
I am pumped!
I cannot wait to receive our photo next year of the woman who was hired because of our one time donation.
You, too, can help.
Go HERE to check it out!

god must have known...

i was going to have a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day today.
that is why this weekend was so awesome.
i needed it to get me through today.
i'm exhausted.
and as a friend said "the highs are really high and the lows are really low". (or something like that!)
and that is truth.
hoping tomorrow is really high.
because i can't take another one like today that soon.
night blog world....

Sunday, October 16, 2011


in a nutshell...

perfect pic capturing how i felt most of the day.
for more images, check out jennie's blog.
fun fun stuff.
not really ready for the weekend to end...but what's new??!!

Really amazing weekend...

spent tailgating in iowa city with so many people i love.
it was perfect.
not to mention luke and i were baggo champions.
there may or may not have been some very very bad sportsmanship from the winners.
forgive us. :)
neighborhood gathered in our yard after church this morning and helped cut down a tree.
(have i mentioned i LOVE our new church? yeah...i do. just keeps getting better.)
not sure how we managed for find the absolute perfect neighborhood, but we did.
so refreshed today.
i almost feel ready for another work week.

Friday, October 14, 2011

"so, how's it going?"

"We must see that every child has equal opportunity, not to become equal, but to become different--to realize the unique potential he or she possesses." (john fischer)

i came across a book the other day as i was cleaning out a closet. (i'll be throwing in some quotes throughout this post that i love from it).
i got it when i graduated from UNI with my teaching degree.
at the time it was just a cute little book to add to my collection.
i don't think i even opened it.
i assume if i had started teaching right out of college, it would have sat on my shelf and collected dust.
instead, it got packed away in one of my tubs labeled "TEACHING STUFF".
there was a time when i thought i just might not ever open those tubs.
i thought my teaching career would never happen.
but here we are, 10 years later, and i was wrong.
thank goodness!
i pulled this little book out last night and started reading.
let me tell you...those words of wisdom and quotes mean so much more now than they would have 10 years ago.
after a rough week and days of feeling like a failure, they hit home.

"Whenever a pupil has spoken disrespectfully to a teacher and the teacher can say with truth, 'Do I not always speak politely to you?' the case is won without any more argument." (fanny jackson coppin)

"In discipline, whatever generates hate must be avoided. Whatever creates self-esteem is to be fostered." (Haim Ginott)

"Good discipline is a series of little victories in which a teacher, through small decencies , reaches a child's heart." (Haim Ginott)

you want the truth here?
this is HARD.
it is really hard.
i love deeply. i feel deeply. i am emotional. i am relational.
i am not in this for the paycheck.
i cry when i read "Where the Red Fern Grows".
i choke back sobs when a student who struggles terribly in math gets a 100% on a quiz and quickly offers to help another student who is struggling.
i start chanting "they are getting it! they are getting it!" over and over when i am checking papers at home and they are all scoring well.
i have dreams about them.
i worry about them over the weekend.

but honestly, about every sunday night i still am not ready for monday morning to come.
it's just a tension.
mommy guilt.
loving 23 kids deeply.
wanting to be able to volunteer in my own kids' schools.
wanting to play a role in the future of 23 others.
it's hard.

"The world is all gates, all opportunities, strings of tension waiting to be struck." (gosh i love ralph waldo emerson)

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through the experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved." (and helen keller was an unbelievable soul!)

so in all honestly...it's going well.
a friend told me the other day that her sister asked how i was liking it.
she said, "i think she loves it. but it's not easy."
she knows.
i tell her. :)
and that's the truth.
i knew it wouldn't be easy. i knew there would be good and bad days.
but i didn't realize how deep i would feel those successes and failures.
both mine and my students.
it's like becoming a parent for the first time.
people tell you that you have no idea how much you will love your child.
and you know it's true, but they are right...you have.no.idea.
and then it happens.
and your eyes are opened to a whole new world.
that is teaching for me.
it runs deep. and strong.
i love it.
but man...it's hard.

and i made it through another week.
hello friday.

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as though they were great and noble. The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker." (more helen keller)

"We teach who we are." (John Gardener) ...and this my friends, could be scary. not easy. i feel such a deep responsibility right in this spot. deep.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

12 year later...

We will celebrate 12 years of marriage tomorrow.
Doesn't seem possible.
And what I didn't expect 12 years ago was that our relationship would be this much better today.
Didn't think it was possible.
So we left a screaming ayla (hello mommy guilt), and a dog chasing after our car this morning to sneak away for 24 hours.
We are excited.
And so thankful for our many blessings.
Happy anniversary Paul.
Love you with all my heart.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Settling in...

i feel like i am settling in.
not just at home with the new schedule.
but also with my students. and my co-workers. and the parents.
things seem to be starting to click.
i love it.
it's getting to the point where my students are starting to "get" me.
i'm figuring out what will work with some of the more challenging students.
i emailed my principal tonight and said
"i think i'm making progress. but geez...this is hard work! :)
(oh...and i love it.)"
and it IS.
really hard.
but i am totally in love with figuring them out.
who knew i'd love that part?
when i am working one-on-one with a student talking through a conflict and i can see them shut down, i find such satisfaction in knowing how to pull them out of it.
i think it's a sign that our relationships are growing and getting stronger.
i love "The Leader in Me" program our district is using. it works. i swear it does.
i love that i can ask them if the language they used was proactive or reactive and they know the answer. i love that i can say, "You have the freedom to choose. But what happens if you choose not to pause and think about how you are going to respond and you end up responding REactively instead?"
and they can give me an answer.
and they are ready to come up with consequences for their actions.
and they know i am hearing them and not REacting myself.
i love it all.
i LOVE it when they "get" a concept after days of not fully understanding.
i love it when they all pass a test or get homework turned in.
i love working with my push-in teachers to come up with new ideas that allow the kids to stay in my classroom during math.
i love differentiating.
it makes me beyond happy to be teaching a lesson while my ELP students are working diligently on the ALEKS program on the computers in my room and my special ed teacher is working with students at a table in the back to help them with the concept and kids are coming up and working on the smart board and explaining to their peers how they came up with an answer.
seriously amazing moments mixed in with crazy, frustrating, disappointing moments as well.
but the scale is starting to tip towards many more positive, productive, giddy moments.
oh...and i love that my students bring me the MOVES LIKE JAGGER cd to borrow. :)
that's awesome.
wow...i think i'm hitting my sweet spot.
and did i mention i love it?

Stay hungry...Stay foolish

Wanted this here for future reference.
I will watch it again.
And again.
Amazing man. Amazing life.
Stay hungry...Stay foolish.

Monday, October 3, 2011


love playing with my mac book. :)
looks like i'll be grading papers tonight.
what's new?
paul has an inspection.
it's GORGEOUS out.
i'm sure the kids will be playing.
ayla has started saying random words. what i ask what she said, she'll say it in normal language and then say. MOM...that was in SPANish.
not sure where she's learning this spanish. but her teacher STINKS.
some fun stuff coming up...
this weekend paul and i are sneaking away for 24 hours.
we need it.
12 years to celebrate!!
ayla turns 4 in november. she's the last of our children that we haven't gotten away with one-on-one. so we have planned a big trip for her! she knows about it and asks about it every.single.day.
we got train tickets to chicago for the 3 of us.
one night in a hotel and plans to hit the american girl store.
i'm so happy that she's so pumped about it.
i was afraid she was still a little young, but i was wrong.
every night at bedtime i lay down with her and she touches my cheek and says, "Mom, let's talk about what the train ride is going to be like!"
so fun.
can't wait!
and thank goodness for aunt jennie!!! what would we do without her?!?
oh...and oct 15th we are hitting our once-a-year hawkeye football game with all the burback siblings and this year jennie and sean, too.
good times, no doubt!
lots of fun stuff coming up.
and can the weather just stay this temperature forever??

Sunday, October 2, 2011


we are here! we are alive! i am posting from my mac book, so i don't have many photos on here. but i downloaded a couple for your viewing pleasure. :)
wow...busy busy busy.
made it through midterms. barely.
and things are really starting to settle at school. i am getting the hang of things. our schedule flows nicely. i still love the kids. and i have a feeling most of them love me, too. :)
we are going through an unexpected bathroom gut right now.
frustrating, but necessary.
so paul and my bathroom is tore up. all the way down to the studs.
i've been scouring the internet for ideas and have fallen in love with idea of using a piece of furniture as a vanity. so we got on craigslist and saw this listing that said "pickers welcome...everything must go".
we need to start a reality show called family pickers, i think.
we were successful in finding our vanity.
in a vacant house. with the windows broke out and glass all over the floor. no electricity. looked at it with a flashlight. in a small small small town (pop 250) in north tama county.
it was an adventure and this is what we came home with...

pretty awesome, right? we are going to refinish it. and then add 2 vessel sinks to the top.
seriously glad i have a handy husband.
and this piece of furniture is SOLID. it was $150. way cheaper than a vanity from menards. :)
it's making me happy.

but not as happy as these people make me...

so here's the update on US. (photo taken by my sister at tater's 5th birthday party last night. so fun!!)
paul...working working working. SICK. stayed home with lani on friday. both were sick. he has really been awesome during this transition. our lives have completely changed. totally different life. he has just gone with the flow. never once complaining about my crazed moments of overwhelmedness (yes...i made that word up). supportive and amazing. and next week we will celebrate 12 years together. wow. love him so so so much more and so so so much better than i did 12 years ago. never thought that was possible. still love to laugh with him, but also love to garden with him and raise kids with him and drive 2 hours one way in a pick-up with 3 kids and dig through old abandoned houses looking for the perfect piece of furniture to repurpose.
really love that.

brigg...he's having a great year at school. really growing up. he loves his teacher. he's making some new friends. still loves his momma though. :) still social as ever. ran the mile the other day and beat his personal best which made him happy, but really wanted to get below 7:00. he got 7:07. he was discouraged. :) but then came up with a plan to do it in the spring. he is MOTIVATED and DRIVEN. when we were in colorado he decided he needed to be healthier and gave up soda. hasn't had a sip since august 6th. which is funny and pretty amazing. he would ask for a soda on any "special occasion". he's committed. and i love him with all my heart.

lani...still riding horses. playing piano. being a sweetie. doing great in school. loves her teacher. her reading is really taking off. she has really connected with another little girl here in our neighborhood. it's been fun to watch that relationship develop. she takes a while to warm up. but now she wants to be with her all the time. lani turns 8 this month. seems impossible. she has this quiet sense of humor that i ADORE. she is who she is. she doesn't change for anybody. i love that about her.

ayla...oh ayla. she's had the most change this year. she loves her daycare provider. an answer to prayer. she started preschool a couple weeks after daycare. she loved it for one day. since then she had been crying whenever we talk about it or when she gets dropped off. so as of friday, ayla is a preschool drop-out. :) i hope this doesn't become a trend in her life. ha! she has another year of preschool next year, so it's not a big deal. i think it was just too much change all at once.

me...i'm doing well! i want a house cleaner. really. i knew that once i dipped my toe in the waters of the working world again, i would be ready to dive in full force. i was right. i have thoughts daily of going to conferences and back to school for my masters. it's a bit of a problem. but i AM going to a conference in october and one again in november. i LOVE this stuff. love it.
we are still loving our location and our house. it's gorgeous out here. we feel so thankful. each and every day. so so thankful.

so that's it for now. we have found a new church. and it starts in 1 hour and 10 minutes. i need to shower. oh...and my goodness...we LOVE this church. YAY!!! the pastor is incredible. his messages have really spoken to us. we didn't think it would be possible to feel good walking into a church again. but we were so wrong. so off we go. have a great week. i'll try to check back again soon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

some fun stuff!

another week is coming to an end.
it has gone SO fast.
it's been a fairly emotional week for me.
lots going on.
but there are some fun things happening!
first of all, i have learned that when my students all finally grasp a concept, it is beyond exciting for me.
i graded a quiz last night and they all did awesome.
i was smiling from ear to ear.
i wanted to walk in a squeeeeeze them all today!
i couldn't wait to hand them out.
and they did not disappoint.
lots of fist-pumping and high-fiving.
it was exciting.
i love it.
love it.

the other day we were doing our silent reading time.
i quick snapped a picture of three of the kids in my book nook.
it look exactly the way i intended it to.
again...love it.
i had enya playing in the background and it was so peaceful.
it's the little things.

and today!
first of all, i need to share BIG news for Washington School.
today there was an official announcement made that Washington was named a blue ribbon school.
it's a gigantic honor.
and makes me even more proud to be a part of this team.
it's been a long time coming and so much hard work has gone into it.
those teachers/administrators/support staff truly deserve it.
i believe that from the bottom of my heart.

and finally, this is so fun.
did you know that i work with some old classmates?
(no emphasis on OLD...cuz we are totally young.)
but it's so great!
one of them is my mentor.
we meet once a week.
she will be my mentor for two years!
that is so exciting to me!
and how cool that i have known her for like 20 years! :)
(yes...i just said "cool". maybe i AM old!)
to today 2 of my old classmates and now current co-workers came into my room to teach a smart board lesson.
i have never used one.
i want to use one.
linda and sonia are pros at using one.
so it just made sense!
and look...

the kids were completely enthralled.
i love it!
i was snapping photos.
and just felt giddy!
i LOVE this technology!
can't wait to learn more about it.
it just changes the whole face of education.
man...i am beyond excited to be jumping into the water during this time.
i cannot wait to see the kinds of things i will have access to in the future.
but first i need to figure out this smart board.
because it is seriously smarter than me.

that's all i got for today.
heading to bed.
anxious for friday but thankful for today.
just the way it should be.
happy weekend!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

dear family and friends...

don't give up on me!
i heard a rumor that this teaching thing gets a little easier down the road.
so i'm hopeful that i will be back soon.
i'm begging you...please don't give up on me!
i know i suck right now, but i will be better soon.
i promise.
miss and love you,

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


i think my WHOLE nose is above water now...and not just my 2 nostrils.
it's a slow process....and quite the learning curve.
lots of buzz words i'm learning.
and acronyms.
and test names.
i'm working on figuring out what are MUSTS and what are CHOICES.
i did an activity today that i created on my own. it wasn't from the text book.
sounds so silly and like such a small thing. but it's a big deal.
i am just trying to learn what is allowed.
i do NOT want to short these kids on a good education. on the skills needed to pass required tests.
i don't want to send them to middle school without the proper tools to survive.
i'm not fulling trusting my own abilities yet and for some reason i think McGraw Hill is way smarter than me. :) so i've been depending on him (or her...i'm not sure WHO McGraw Hill is!) to get me through my lessons. which in turn makes my classroom look a little different than i want it to look in say a month.
but my confidence in myself is growing bit by bit.
and i'm breathing a teeny tiny bit easier.
it's just such a gigantic responsibility and i take it very seriously.
parents are counting on me.
kids are counting on me.
sometimes it feels like too much pressure.
but i'm still loving it. and slowing figuring it all out.
and gosh...i love these kids more every day.
they are awesome. i think it's so great that i get this amazing class as my first classroom ever. i'll remember them always and i hope they feel the same.

now that i have caught a breath...i better go tackle the laundry.
not pretty.
happy wednesday!!

Monday, September 5, 2011

{not really} apple picking 2011

our crew this year...

we had a small group this year.
it's fun either way.
2 years ago we had nearly everyone on both sides there.
this year just the 10 of us...plus willow.
it's fun no.matter.what.

but this year, we had a problem.
early apple picking trip + really dry summer = no picking apples on our annual apple picking trip.
i'm not even kidding.
the apples weren't ready.
so our favorite orchard wasn't open.
and won't be open until the 10th.
so no apples.
but we knew it before we got on the road on friday and we decided the 3 day weekend still made the trip worth it.
we have some local apple orchards that we can hit in a few weeks.
and it really was nice to just hang out all weekend at the amazing house we have gotten to use the past 3 years.
hot tub.
4 wheelers.
huge fire pit.
giant windows in a beautiful setting.
a creek.
2 kayaks.
serious fun.

we laughed until our faces hurt.
we stayed up LATE and sat in the hot tub for hours.
we ate and ate and ate.
we drank baileys in our coffee in the morning. :)
a vaction indeed.

and on the way out of town we stopped at an orchard (that WASNT pick-your-own) and bought apple cider and cheese curds.
more photos to come.
another amazing weekend.
kind of makes reality stink though. :)

back at it tomorrow.
ayla starts preschool in the morning.
she is excited.
i am teary.
kids start back to piano lessons tomorrow afternoon.
we are getting into our groove, i think.
and our reality really is pretty awesome, too.
always an adventure...
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Tuesday, August 30, 2011


i am slammed.
meeting after meeting after training after training after meeting.
and i don't think that ever goes away. :)
it's all good stuff.
but my brain is on OVERLOAD to say the least.
so let's just clear that up before i start typing completely unrelated thoughts into one blog post.
so i'm fried.
got it.

the other day i sent lisa a message that said i am trying to be the BEST mom.
the BEST teacher.
the BEST wife.
the BEST friend.
the BEST sister/daughter/aunt/neighbor/co-worker/house cleaner...oh wait...NOT that one. :)
and really, in the end i am failing at all of them.
so i'm finding that there really is something to the saying "Something's gotta give".
it does.
i have to focus.
so last week it was 2.
teacher and mom. (paul was out of town...wife got put on back burner.)
which basically meant i was terrible at all other things.
and let's be honest...i certainly wasn't THE BEST at the 2 i put as my priority.
but they were my focus.
and i made it through the week alive.

i talked to a friend one night for 2 1/2 hours after the kids went to bed.
she informed me that by the looks of my FB page and my blog, i looked like i had it "all together."
pretty sure i laughed out loud at that one.
let's clear this up.
laughable, i tell ya!
i compare how i feel to be completely submerged in water with just my two nostrils above the surface.
barely staying a float.
barely breathing.
but trying to keep it all together for my students and my kids.
so god help you if you are my dear friend and 'get' to talk to me for 2 1/2 hours one night after my kids are in bed. HA!

moving on.
i LOVE the song "Moves Like Jagger".
for real.
can help but dance to it.
it's in my head *all the time*.
hundred of times a day.
and it makes me smile.
and kind of dance when i walk.


speaking of walking.
i have a problem.
i do believe it is called plantar fasciitis.
this morning i wanted to cut my foot off and just get it over with.
but by mid-morning it was much better.
kinda sounds like i'll feel the same way tomorrow morning.
can't wait.

the house was out of control.
paul got home on friday evening.
we were all DONE.
the kids were beyond tired after their first week of school.
*I* was beyond tired after my first week of school.
and ayla had the mother of all meltdowns.
which in turn lead to the MOTHER of the mother of all meltdowns from me.
good times.
i think paul was scared.
wondering what in the world happened while he was gone!
good news is that i alluded to it on FB on friday and today is tuesday. i friend called and asked about it and i couldn't even remember what in the world she was talking about.
what meltdown?
there was a meltdown?
OH YEAH....that's right....there WAS that one night. with the 2 biggest meltdowns ever recorded in the world.
but we're over that.
i totally forgot.
see?? it's all good!

moving on.
we had no order to our lives for like a month.
laundry was piling up.
we were eating eggs every single night.
i couldn't take it....coming home and not having a plan.
so sunday night i came up with our menu for the month.
nothing fancy.
but a plan.
got groceries for the week.
and we are eating normal again this week.
it's been nice.
we are having THIS tomorrow.
because damn it...i need some comfort food.

and guess what.
we have our annual APPLE PICKING trip this weekend.
and it's a 3 day weekend!!
so excited.
that's an understatement.
a long weekend in wisconsin.
happy dance is in my future!


ayla is doing awesome at daycare.
there has not been a tear.
not one.
she gives me a hug and kiss and she's off.
it's made that part of my life much much easier.
i drop her off around 7:30 am and paul picks her up around 3:30.
he gets home with her just as the kids get off the bus and i'm home about 30 minutes later.
by the time i get home the kids have their reading done and if they have homework that is finished.
so we have several hours at night just to BE.
and that is what we are doing.
eating supper.
and then going to bed.
once they are in bed, i pull out my work.
has anyone ever told you teaching is not a 40-hr/week job?
i'm here to tell you it is NOT.
especially as a first year teacher.

i love my class.
LOVE them.
deep love that is so unexpected.
my FB status the other day read...
"Unexpected surprise #1 during my 1st year of teaching: I love my students. All of them. A deep "i-will-fight-for-you-no-matter-what" kind of love. Didn't expect that. Knew I would enjoy them, but not that I would feel so protective of their feelings and their right to receive an excellent education. I've finally had some time to reflect this morning and this kept popping in my head as my biggest surprise so far."
and it's true. totally unexpected, but happy. i'm so glad i get to fight for them. i'm good at that. i can DO that. makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. thank you god.

did i mention i like the song "Moves Like Jagger"?
i do.
it's running through my head as i type this.

my husband is awesome, supportive, encouraging and amazing.
i could not do this without him.
could NOT.
i miss talking to him so much during the day, but i love him even more.

my kids, friends, family and students are awesome.
i love them.
i am thankful.
so so grateful.
but MAN...i do NOT have it all together. :)

the end.

i still need help meeting my $1000 goal!
please go HERE to donate and be the change!!

Monday, August 22, 2011


Today was my first day of really following a schedule and starting into the curriculum at school.
It was a good day.
Paul is gone until Friday.
I had to take ALL the kids into school.
I drove through and grabbed supper and brought my computer with a movie.
The kids ate and watched a movie while I did lesson plans and made a million copies.

I'm thinking we may still be in our honeymoon phase, but man...I am really loving my class!
They are a great group of kids.
We started classroom jobs today and they took them very seriously.
I had them fill out job applications and apply for the positions. :)
Of course they all wanted to be teacher's assistant.

I started using the book nook today as well.
5 kids are assigned to that area each week.
And there is something about seeing your vision come to fruition.
It worked just as I planned.
They were so comfy and relaxed during our AR reading time.
It was so quiet in there you could hear a pin drop.
For a full 30 minutes.
At one point I looked around and seriously got teary.
"I am a teacher."
"This is my classroom."
"Could I possibly be more blessed?"
It was awesome.

Not an easy job.
I'm running around like a chicken with my head cut off most of the day.
But I'm hoping I start to have more and more of those moments of pure thankfulness and calm.
Because it really is amazing.

(But seriously...WHY CAN'T I SLEEP???)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The photo wall...

We moved into our house last October.
I KNEW I wanted to create a photo wall on this big wall in my living room.
But it wasn't really on the top of my priority list.
We had much bigger fish to fry.
Even though we weren't going to do it right away, I was still dreaming.

Earlier this spring, I had an open house benefiting The Adventure Project.
At the open house, I purchased a vinyl decal for my wall through Uppercase Living.
It read *LIVE simply * SPEAK kindly * LOVE generously.
We pretty much declared this our family mission statement.
I knew I wanted to incorporate it into our photo wall.

So I started saving some of my favorite photos in a file on my computer.
I cropped them down to squares.
I decided on 16 photos.
I ordered 10x10's from WHCC.com.
**When selecting finishing items, I chose the styrene board for mounting.
They ended up being around $7.50/print.
I think they are EXCELLENT quality. I was so happy when they arrived in the mail.
I order from WHCC regularly, and love them.

next, i had to figure out how to attach them to the wall.
I decided to use 3M command strips.
They are kind of like velcro and they aren't supposed to damage your walls.
They photos are pretty light, so I didn't think I needed anything too super heavy duty.
Plus, I figure I will be replacing these photos with updated ones pretty regularly, so I wanted something easy to switch out.
They worked perfectly!
(just mak sure you use 2 strips per photo.  i started with one and woke up the next morning to find the photos all laying on the ground! 2 works great though!!)

Now, you must know that Paul hung them. And he is pretty particular.
I am NOT.
We are a good team. :)

He has one of those laser levels.
And we decided to put one of the 3M command strips on the level to hold it in place for each row.
Did I mention Paul is also GENIUS?? He is.
It worked awesome!
If you look in the about photo, you can see it attached to the wall.

And then it was time to apply the Uppercase Living decal above the pictures.
And here's the final product...

I am IN LOVE with it.
I sat and stared at it for like an hour after we finished.
I'm not kidding.
The kids LOVE it, too.

It ended up being about $150 for the mounted photos and I THINK around $40 for the decal. I can't remember for sure on that though. Plus, the command strips were like $10. So we were at $200 exactly for the whole project. And I can update it for as little as $7 on a regular basis.

So fun.
You should do it.

**I downloaded the ROES option from WHCC and used that for ordering. When you become a client of theirs, you also get 5 free 8x10's. Added bonus. But it can be kind of confusing at first. I'm sure you could order the pictures with that type of mounting from lots of different online photo places. Just FYI.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Weekly update?!?

i'm thinking i may just have to start doing weekly updates. at least until i get this life part under control. it's been a busy, wonderful, stressful, exciting, scary week.
a little rundown on what's going on....

she started full-time daycare on wednesday. i will be dropping her off every morning and paul will pick her up every afternoon. starting after labor day she will be going to preschool 2 mornings a week with 3 other little girls from her daycare. our daycare provider will be transporting her to and from preschool. she really enjoyed her first three days. i'm a little anxious about this first full week though. ugh. she has been SO tired. and she says she loves it. we shall see.

the kids started back to school on thursday. lani hasn't had much to say about school other than she likes it. :) she's so funny. pretty easy going. she likes her teacher. so that's good. she is growing like a WEED and all she wants to eat is banana berry smoothies. seriously. like 3 a day. hard to say no when it's all good stuff in there. she's still love love loving horseback riding lessons. asks about them every day.

brigg was super excited about heading back to school. there are 2 male teachers in 4th grade at his school, so he knew he was getting a man again. that made him happy. he has one of his friends from last year in his class. he is in a small gap of having NO sports right now. i'm loving it. we don't have to be ANYWHERE. it's great. he just seems so OLD lately. but still *my boy*. he defends me and is loyal to me no.matter.what. i love it. he's so protective. if he knows i'm stressed he'll just walk up and give me a hug. "it's ok mom." love him.

paul passed his tests to become a pest inspector. that's super exciting. we are just waiting on getting his license in the mail. he has been busy busy busy with inspections. the realtors love him. (of course). and after almost all of his inspections he gets an email from his clients saying how great he is. (again...of course). he loves doing them, but it does make for long long days as he does them after a full day of work. last week he literally had FIVE to do. he was exhausted. oh...and this is stressing me out...he is leaving for a week this week. ugh. not awesome timing. but we'll figure it out.

uuummmm...i've been fairly focused the past 2 weeks on school. meeting after meeting after meeting. piles and piles and piles of paperwork. lots of sorting to do this weekend. i have been in survival mode, but i feel like this week i'll be coming out of it. at school at least. at home is another issue. i haven't been to the grocery store in ages. we are trying to not waste the last of our tomatoes, so we've been canning after i get home from work until midnight. i haven't really slept for a couple weeks either. but my goal is to get my classroom organized this week as far as filing, etc, and THEN work on my house. oh...but i DID finish painting our bedroom...FINALLY. it was tore up for at least 6 weeks while i stripped wallpaper and scrubbed walls. it feels so great to have it all finished. we LOVE it.

lots of adjustments happening around here. but i think i see a light? maybe? it's been difficult to deal with missing back-to-school night with my own kids. i don't think i'm going to be able to be at ayla's first day of preschool on sept 6th. i am tearing up just thinking that. so obviously things are not perfect. but we'll keeping pushing through. growing and changing and evolving as people and as a family.

and for now, weekly updates might even be pushing it. but i do update my facebook regularly. you can always find me there. quick and easy, straight from my phone. simple is the name of the game.

yay for change. yay for evolving.

(oh...and while i have your attention, i am trying to reach my $1000 goal for the adventure project. go HERE to read about it and donate. i'm not even close, people. please help!! :))

Monday, August 15, 2011

More Adventure Project stuff....

I'm here.
I'm alive.
Anxious, excited, scared, overwhelmed.
All great words to describe me right now.
BUT...I don't want to forget. I don't want to forget that my "stuff" is just so petty compared to the big problems of the world. I don't want to get wrapped up in me and forget about the big picture.
So i'm back with a fundraising page of my own.
I have set a $1000 goal to help support the women of Uganda who are rising up as female Community Health Promoters.
and help work towards the 170,000 goal set by Jody Landers a couple weeks ago.
it's a big deal.
it's so much more than my anxiety and my fear.
and i so greatly desire to BE THE CHANGE.
join us.
and THANK YOU in advance. it means so much to me...

Monday, August 8, 2011

and why wouldn't she??

oh yes she did.
she brought her fairy and princess dresses to the mountains.
why wouldn't she?

and her fairy dress MAY be getting a little small for her.
ya think??

oh ayla...
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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Fort Collins

we spent our last two days of vacation in fort collins.
i have two words...dream city.
we love it there.
LOVE it there.
want to live there.
for real.
we didn't want to come home.
so we spent most of our time there trying to convince our children that this would be the perfect place for them to go to college.
we got LANI to agree.
of course...because they have an equestrian school at CSU.
brigg is still on the fence.
he says CSU is his #2 or #3 college choice.
yes...he is already numbering his college choices.
#1 just happens to be TCU.
i'm doing everything i can to sabotage that choice.
CSU is a much better option for US. :)
i'm so mad i didn't take more photos.
we even toured New Beligium Brewery and i forgot my camera.
i took some photos on my phone though.
i just haven't had time to sort through all the pics.

anyway...all that to say...WE HEART FORT COLLINS.
aaahhhh...wish we were back there right now.
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