The Weekly Recap: Puppies, Rotten Pumpkins, and a Whole Lot of Feelings

To say that this week has been full of emotions is a ridiculous understatement. I haven’t had words to put to the emotions, but now that the weekend is here and rest is available, I’m sure the words will come. But for now, let’s simply catch up on the family news.

All the falling leaves….

We actually got some yard work done last weekend, which really means that I finally mowed the lawn. I brought out the rake and had May Lee rake up the leaves that the lawnmower didn’t get. Honestly, when it comes to leaves, I’m not one of those people that care about having a neat and tidy yard. I am more of the “circle of life” mindset, meaning the leaves fall to the ground and decay for a reason- it enriches the soil. Therefore, I feel silly sweeping nutrients into a bag where they serve no purpose. I guess I’m just a little granola that way. Even so, my daughter is in desperate need of lessons about work, so this small raking job was a good opportunity for the lesson.

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The end result was a small pile of leaves just right for jumping into, so that was the reward for her work. She jumped and had herself a ball, and when her pile was in complete disarray, she got out the rake and worked until her pile was back together again. Thus, the lesson of “put in the work so you can have the fun” seemed to come full circle. Even better, we invited the neighbors over to jump with us, so it was a merry time for all!

The chill of winter and the single-parent budget:

The 80-degree temperatures have finally given away to more seasonable temperatures, and for that I’m grateful. Grateful, but unprepared. My budget has been very tight, and I have been able to set aside only $30 for a coatcoat for May Lee. You are probably well aware that coats for children cost about twice that, but wouldn’t you know it, I got an email from The Children’s Place that all outwear was 50%-60% off. Blessings come in many forms, my friends, and this was a blessing to this single parent. Due to this sale, my $30 got this adorable puffer jacket (http://thechildrensplace.7eer.net/c/336760/322455/3971) and a pair of gloves (http://thechildrensplace.7eer.net/c/336760/322535/3971). With the free shipping, my dollar stretched as far as it could possibly stretch, which makes for guilt free shopping (http://thechildrensplace.7eer.net/c/336760/316382/3971)

For this reason, I decided to become an affiliate for The Children’s Place. The links above are affiliate links, and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. Free and discounted clothes are a big deal to a single-parent budget!

Training for the St. Jude 10K:

img_2570Training and fund-raising for St. Jude is still going strong. Despite the insane amount of stress eating that occurred this week, I was still able to hit the 5K mark on Tuesday evening. As what I like to believe to be a cosmic reward, I found this $5 bill on the ground. What a nice treat- a dollar for every kilometer run! If this is what the metric system is about, then it has my full support.

The animals:

Part of my job involves lab puppies, and sometimes these puppies are with us a few days before their owners arrive. In these instances, a staff member usually takes the puppy home and cares for it until the owner arrives. This week that staff member was me, and I brought home this adorable baby for May Lee to enjoy for a night. You may be thinking that this was a recipe for disaster, given the propensity of my own giant lab to be completely wild and of my elderly cat to be downright evil. The img_2581same thoughts occurred to me, but I did it anyway. We actually had a very lovely evening. My daughter just about exploded from the love in her heart for this little baby, and my heart just about exploded from watching the two of them play together. I even put the puppy and the child to bed together, where they curled up sweetly and slept peacefully all night. (I did wake up at 3:30 and take the puppy out to potty. He went right back to sleep after that.)

However, around 3:45 all hell broke loose and stayed loose for the rest of the morning. Shortly after returning to my bed from taking the puppy out, Stax began to whine. Upon investigating, I discovered that he had pooped in his crate. I made short work of the clean up process and returned to bed, sleeping fitfully until my alarm went off at 5 a.m. I got up and strategically went to work preparing everything we would need for the day in light of the fact that we had a puppy to work into our morning routine.

I woke May Lee up and put her in the shower. In the meantime, I prepared breakfast for the puppy and placed it and him in Stax’s giant and freshly cleaned crate. I thought this excellent plan would let us be about the business of getting ready while the puppy was safely in the crate. The puppy disagreed adamantly, whining and howling like I’d whipped him and placed him in a crate of nails. As I was helping May Lee finish in the shower, the puppy was overturning his food and water dishes and working himself into such a state that he would nervously poop in the crate as a result. He then proceeded to tap dance in the poo, creating a mess reminiscent of the one I had cleaned up around 3:45 a.m.

I instructed May Lee to get dressed in the clothes that we had already picked out while I went to hose down the crate and clean up the puppy in the front yard. It was during this chore that I looked up to see my still naked child with dripping hair standing at the door watching me while her clothes remained in her hand and not on her body. As you can imagine, a heated discussion ensued, and as I abandoned the poop-cleaning project to step onto the porch to offer my child whatever assistance she claimed she needed but really was perfectly able to do herself, I stepped on the rotting jack-o-lantern left to compost in the flowerbed.

That’s life, isn’t it? Feeling good about successfully maneuvering around the crap only to step into the rotting pumpkin. C’est la vie…

Somehow, we made it to school on time and free of any particles of puppy poop or rotten jack-o-lantern. This is due in part to my shoving lunch money into my child’s hands and telling her to order lunch. I have to say that overall it was worth it to have the puppy for a night. It has generated several discussions about responsibility, taking care of things, and at what point May Lee will be ready to take on a pet of her own.

All the feelings:

Clearly, the election has stirred up big feelings for everyone, including me. Life quickly gave me a reality check on those feelings with news of the deaths of people I know. Substance abuse and cancer are not only affecting so many families that I know but also claiming lives. This news has both confused and refined my feelings about the election, but both events have resulted in a deepening belief and intensified focus on the core values of this little family. Many important conversations have happened this week, and I suspect that they will continue.

As for today, it is Saturday, and we are going to slow down, rest, and let our systems process and recover from all the emotional hits of this week. More and more, I have come to understand the importance of laying low and being peaceful, even when nothing inside or outside of me feels peaceful. Peacefulness has to be invited to come; it won’t just overtake a person. This has been a hard lesson for me to learn, that peace is active. As in, I have to actively and intentionally make a decision and create a time and space for it to come into my life. I have to willingly participate in it.

Long story short, that is what today is about- bringing about peace. I hope your heart and your home are blessed with peace today as well.

 

 

The Weekly Recap:

Hello, friends. It has been quite the week. I haven’t had any stories to tell you about Stax and Emmy Lou, because they have done nothing outrageous as of late. Stax has taken to barking non-stop between the hours of 5 and 6 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. This has earned him some extra time in his crate, but other than that, he’s been mostly well-behaved.

Emmy Lou has also cycled back into a demeanor that is relatively easy to live with. Interestingly enough, she has taken up a new habit of running everywhere she goes. There is no smug, feline saunter through the hallway anymore; it is a full blown sprint on those tiny, little legs. It sounds as if a couple of speedy garden gnomes have taken up residence in our house. Come to think of it, this started right after I flea treated her. Perhaps the chemicals went to her head, subsequently stabilizing her mood and igniting her motor system. The running seems like a small price to pay for a nice cat.

img_2480Speaking of igniting, the biggest story of the week is my shower door, which betrayed me greatly. I finished my shower, turned off the water, and opened the door to exit the shower. Hardware flew with all the popping and jet propulsion of 4th of July fireworks, and with no hardware left on the hinges, the door pulled away from my grasping fingers and fell sideways leaving me exposed and completely perplexed by what was happening. Once I picked my jaw up off the tile floor and wrapped myself in a towel, I removed the door from its sideways resting place in my wall. Now it sits behind the bathroom door, waiting for me to move past my feelings of betrayal and into forgiveness so that I may return it to its rightful home.

img_2455May Lee kicked off her week with a surprise teddy bear sitting on our front steps that we discovered as we were getting into the car to go to church on Sunday morning. We don’t know who left it there for her, but we have several suspects in mind. My little girl is blessed to have so many people that love on her and pour into her life. In the afternoon, we attended the Fall Fest for our church. May Lee dressed as a renaissance princess, ran off and played with a boy most of the time, ate a bucket full of candy, and generally ignored most of the things I asked her to do. This independence thing is hard on both of us!  

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As far as school and work, it has been a busy week for both of us. May Lee was able to attend a musical, and she recounted the entire plot to me with her own brilliant theatrics later that day. The girl has real talent in the arts and drama department. She also had a field trip to the zoo. My work has a whole lot of construction going on, and we are all very excited to see the progress. Our schedule has also changed, and I am still in the middle of transitioning to new job responsibilities. So, deep breath, we have been off of our normal routine this week. To compensate, I’ve been eating lots of treats. What can I say, old habits die hard.

A new, delicious, life-giving treat crossed my path this week and turned my world upside down. I have no self-control with these candies. I shamelessly ate them by the handful and made multiple trips back to the box for more. If you like peppermint and taffy, you need to try Lammes Peppermint Kisses. They are amazing. https://lammes.com/product.php?web_item_id=20

Tomorrow is May Lee’s last soccer game, so our Saturdays are going to feel pretty empty after this. She has been blessed with a great coach, great teammates, and great parents of those teammates. It has been a pretty great first experience with soccer, and we’ll be looking forward to the spring season starting. In the meantime, we will enjoy the break and the slower pace.

I hope you all have plans for relaxation and fun this weekend! Blessings!

Sunday Reflections

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I had full intentions of going to 8 a.m. Sunday service, as we usually do, but it is currently 8:03 and I am sitting on my couch in flannel pajama pants. My child, who I put to bed at 7:30 yesterday evening, is still sleeping. I attempted to wake her up, but she was dead to the world. My motherly intuition is sending up the flag that this little family needs another morning of being slow and peaceful before the Monday rush hits. So here I sit, reflecting upon the changing of the seasons.

It’s getting to be that time of year. Really, it is already upon us. The time of year when schedules get really full and budgets get really tight. I don’t know about you, but the demands on my time and on my bank account grow exponentially as the holidays approach. I’m already stressing about it and trying to figure out some boundaries that will keep us sane this season. Figuring out what to say yes to and what to let pass can get complicated, but I’m determined to create space for peace during the holidays.

Then, there is the change in the light. If there is a roster for seasonal affective disorder, sign me up. Nothing makes me relate more to Kipling’s fable about the rhinoceros with the dry, stale cake crumbs under his skin than the longer periods of darkness. Already, I pine for the surplus of sun and the pace of life provided by long summer days.

Finally, there is the season of change in me and in my life. I don’t know if it’s just my age and stage in life that has increased my ability to sense when a change is coming or if that is due to a deeper walk with the Lord. Perhaps it’s a little bit of both or an amalgamation of many other things I don’t yet realize. Whatever the case may be, when the icky feeling of discomfort creeps upon me, I no longer react with full blown anxiety, fear, and agitation. Those things are still there, don’t get me wrong. I am still very much human. The difference is that those emotions are short-lived and far less intense than they once were. The greater difference is that now those emotions cause me to look up and talk to my God about this new thing He is doing in my life. Now when fear and discomfort hit, I don’t camp out there. I saddle up and get ready to ride, because I know a new trail is opening up ahead.

Writing this blog has been one of those new trails that I never expected to open up in my life. Yet, here I am, getting to know some lovely new people and getting to reconnect with people  that I haven’t been able to catch up with for far too long. I’m blessed to be here and to have this avenue to connect. I’m grateful for all of you who have reached out with encouragement, kind words, ideas, suggestions, and candid stories of your own lives and experiences. It makes me a better person to have the feedback.

I hope you also are finding some time to enjoy and reflect upon the changing of the seasons. As always, I’d love to hear what the Lord is putting on your heart and mind as the seasons change. Blessings on your Sunday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Weekly Recap: Things That Have Kept Me Alive

 

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I have battled a nasty sinus infection all week, and that pretty much sums up how I’ve spent my time this week. Before I was knocked down by illness, May Lee and I did pick up some pumpkins and flowers and put together a little fall display. Also, I was able to drop my class, and this freed up a great deal of time. Theoretically, at least. In my mind, I was restructuring my time to accommodate my St. Jude training schedule and this, that, and the other, and believing that I was going to accomplish those things this week. However, the aforementioned illness had me taking naps or laid out on the couch wishing for naps. Below you will find the things that have helped me survive this week:

  1. img_6379Essential Oils: Specifically, thieves, lemon, peppermint, lavender, and eucalyptus blue have saved my life this week. Let me tell you how. When the pharmaceuticals weren’t touching my symptoms, I made up “special tea”. My special tea is simply a teaspoon of honey, a drop of thieves, a drop of peppermint, and a drop of lemon in the bottom of a mug. I pour hot water over those things, then I hold the mug under my chin and let the vapors work while the water cools down enough to drink. Once it is cool, I begin sipping. Be warned, if you do not mix well or if you put the water in first and the oils on top, you will be knocked over by the vapors. In my diffuser at night, I have been putting in lavender, peppermint, lemon, and eucalyptus blue to hit both the allergies and the sinus stuff. In the mornings and evenings, I have been taking a steamy shower. Again, I’ve been putting drops of eucalyptus blue on the floor of the shower, then turning on the hot water and letting the steam and vapor unclog my head. All of these things have really kept me comfortable.
  2. The pharmaceuticals: the generic versions of maximum strength sinus medication and cold/flu medication have done their part. Although, the relief is not as immediate as inhaling some thieves and peppermint.
  3. Aunt Bunny’s chicken enchiladas, or as May Lee calls them “chicken-ladas”. They are divine.
  4. All of the friends and family that helped take care of my parents and May Lee during and after my mom’s surgery. We are blessed with a great community.
  5. Soothe Lotion: Ok, I know I talked about this last week with May Lee’s skin stuff and the amazing things it did, but last night I tried it on me. I developed an enormous and painful pimple right next to my mouth- I blame the constant use of tissues- and nothing I was doing was relieving the swelling and pain. I don’t know why it took me several days to think of it, but last night it occurred to me that I should try the Soothe Lotion on it, and so I did. It was much less angry this morning when I woke up. I put it on again this morning, and it is no longer painful and swollen and it is clearly going away. I just might love this stuff.
  6. No soccer. I thoroughly enjoy watching May Lee play soccer, and I love her little team. We are blessed with a good group of girls and a good group of parents. For some reason, this week has been nuts for everyone, so long story short, we do not have a soccer game tomorrow. I will actually be able to stay in my pajamas ALL DAY on Saturday, and I feel like that is a sure fire remedy for a sinus infection.

I hope that you, too, are blessed with the weekend that you are needing to get back into good space in your head and in your heart.

The Weekly Recap: viruses, spiders, and other ramblings

My Get Up and Go is a No-Go…

As for the physically healthy lifestyle, this week is a wash. I really didn’t even buy groceries this week, with the exception of a few essentials liked boxed mac and cheese, bacon, and another bag of candy corn pumpkins. Don’t expect to see us on the cover of any healthy eating publications any time soon.

Also, whether it be allergies or a bona fide cold virus, I do not know or care. But I do care a great deal that I have not been able to breathe out of my left nostril for 2 days. When I am blessed with a few seconds of fresh air, it is only because the left side of my nose has decided to drain in a way that makes me think that this is what it would be like if the Hoover Dam cracked right down the middle. This grossness has led to absolutely zero physical activity.

The Job…

I just finished the last week of training for my new responsibilities at work. Next week, the training wheels are off, or more accurately, out of state and only accessible by phone rather than sitting next to me and holding my hand through raw data sets, excel spreadsheets, and computer language. I’ll be flying solo from here on out, and I’m suppressing the panic and will remain in a blissful state of denial until Monday.

The Family…

I have been determined for a really long time, pretty much forever, to get back to eating as a family at the table without TV or smart phone. I have not been intentional about actually bringing this about. Recently, I had the pleasure of hearing Darryl Strawberry speak, and the message he delivered about getting back to the family table had me deeply convicted and ready for the altar call. Still, I didn’t make it happen.

Somehow, some way, this very week it just kind of happened organically. On the day this spontaneously came about, we had eaten pizza for breakfast, so I made breakfast for dinner that evening. We were in the kitchen together, hanging out, and we just naturally moved into the actual dining area as the food finished. When we sat down to eat, we realized that we should probably pray over our food, and so May Lee led the blessing. It hit me in my gut right then that we have really been longing for this. This is important, and it is imperative that we continue. So, we’ve spent every evening in the kitchen together preparing whatever it is that we have decided to feast upon (mac and cheese, anyone?) and then sitting down at the table. This practice has already evolved into other things, such as each evening we select “dinner music” to play in the background. So far, we have enjoyed the stylings of Nora Jones and The Beatles. It’s also become a time for us to look at her school folder together, instead of me just hastily slapping a signature on it and quickly returning it to her backpack. Now, she gets to show me each page and tells me about her day in the process. After all of that, we clean up together, and then it is time for the typical bedtime routine. It has been absolutely wonderful to spend the entire evening together throughout the week. One of the lovely byproducts of this newly forming habit has been an overall reduction in parental guilt, and who doesn’t need that?!

The Home Front….

As others welcome the arrival of fall with overflowing pots of beautiful, golden mums and yard displays of hay bales and scarecrows, the same pot of dead petunias remains on my porch. The decaying remains of my summer plants are still visible in my front flower bed. I make no promises that this will change at all until spring, but perhaps I’ll string some Christmas lights over the mess come December.

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Hello, Black Widow

In other house-related news, we are just so blessed to be greeted with a new variety of spider on at least one morning each month. Our first guest was this very large black widow. Yesterday morning, we opened the door to find this fine creature on the doorstep. Google tells me that it is a wolf spider with a whole host of babies on this back. A WHOLE ARMY OF WOLF SPIDER BABIES. Typically, I don’t freak out over spiders. I can be ok sharing space with a spider. I have chased down tarantulas while hiking, to the point that the spider jumped at me because I was getting on his spider nerves. BUT, wolf spiders I do not care for. We have history. Years

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Generations of Wolf Spiders

ago, as I innocently slept in my bed, I was bitten by a wolf spider in the middle of the night. I didn’t realize this until a small spot on my arm continued to grow to the size of a quarter. I finally went to the doctor who recognized it right away, and several days of antibiotics and steroids later, I was fine. But the wolf spiders and I still have beef. Therefore, I declare publicly that should that spider cross my path again, he or she will be sleeping with the fishes. Capeesh?!

 

 

Things I Enjoyed This Week…

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Mr. Postman. I have visited him once a week since I have discovered the treasures that lie within. He is my new coffee dealer. And this sign only confirms what I already know in my heart: these are my people. I belong at Mr. Postman with all the other lovers of coffee, coffee related decor, and mailing things and the avoiders of awkward physical contact.

Walgreen’s 50% off of all things photos. I kid you not, I have already made and picked up my Christmas cards and ordered the address labels for them. Also, I finally printed the pictures to put in the empty frames to hang on my empty walls. By all means, go forth and save on all your photo needs. I think the sale ends today, so get cracking. The code at checkout is FAVORITE50.

Soothe Lotion. May Lee put a pretty good sized boo-boo on her face this week. We put the Soothe lotion on it before bed, and the next morning it was noticeably better. We’ve put it on 3 times total, it is amazing how quickly it is healing up. We had the same experience with this lotion on her first eczema outbreak for the year, so we have high hopes for this lotion getting us through the winter! It’s a Rodan + Fields product, so you’ll need to go through a consultant to get a hold of it. If you don’t know a consultant, you can contact Alison at aekuepker@gmail.com. She’s family, so you know she’s good people.

The chicken tortilla soup at Burrito Day. I have already horrified you with the details of my cold, so we won’t go there again other than to say that it inspired me to order the soup. Even with the funky taste buds that come with illness, it was packed with flavor and absolutely delicious. A definite go-to meal for sick days, but I can’t wait to try it again with a healthy palette. Also, the mango tea- YUM. I helped myself to 2 glasses.

Peebles Farm. A friend came into town last weekend, and we took the kids out there for fall fun, with hopes of catching some cute pics and some uninterrupted time to talk. It delivered. My child ran about chasing kittens and my friend’s child found his personal heaven in the shed that was fully equipped with every piece of toy farm equipment a boy could dream about. We also did the hayride and enjoyed finding the faux alligator heads and herons placed throughout the marsh. There was also a very real eagles nest “the size of a bathtub” as described by man next to us in full Arkansas accent. I do love the local flavor.