Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bike Ride - Ernst Trail

A few weeks ago, on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, we loaded the bikes in the van, packed a lunch and hit the road. The destination was Ernst Trail in Meadville.

Ernst Trail is about five miles long and since it's a rail trail it's a nice, easy ride. Things were just starting to turn green when we went and it felt like spring. We enjoyed the ride and saw several baby snakes, some alive, some dead because they tried sunning on the trail. We also saw a turtle and lots of yellow flowers. It was so refreshing to see color again after the winter months of brown and grey.

This was a perfect ride to do at the beginning of spring/summer. We'll save the longer rides for later in the year when we aren't so weak from a lazy winter!











Monday, May 23, 2016



As a mom, the one thing I want more than anything else is for my children to know that I love them... always... no matter what. 

I want Liza and Jason to know that if they have a bad day, I still love them. And if I have a bad day, I still love them.

I love them when they make good choices.
I love them when they make bad choices.

Bottom line... I love them.
Always and forever.

Rewind to Mother's Day and the small gifts I received from them...

The note from Jason...


Then Liza told me she wrote me a song but she was too shy to sing it to me so I had to read it...


Let me translate Liza's in case you can't read her ridiculous spelling and writing...

I know I may be a pain in the butt
But you-ou-ou still love me
Can't write a fancy letter because I don't know my cursive
So I will sing for you and I will sing-sing-sing
This might get annoying but I still love you

I don't know why she wrote that she may be a pain in the butt. I have never ever told her that! But I guess we all know deep down that sometimes we can be a pain in the butt. The good news is that she knows I still love her!

Both my kids know that they are deeply loved.

THAT was the best Mother's Day gift ever. To know that they know.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What Is Right In This World

There are several situations in life that have me beyond irritated lately. Situations like our school across the street being closed and the fact that we will most likely lose the playground when the building is sold. It's just one of those things that is wrong with life. And it also happens to be something that I can't do anything about. Trust me... I've tried!

Today I found myself insanely frustrated with the situation all over again. Upset. Angry. Losing hope while realizing that the things I loved most when I moved here no longer exist.
I was sitting here thinking about all the things that are wrong with this world...

...but then I saw this face...


And this child, my child, is something that is so right in this world.

Her kind heart.
Her willingness to give everyone a chance.
Her love of animals.
Her silly dance moves and cute made up songs.
Her laugh.
Her strength to forgive.
Her belief in what is good.
Her love.
Her innocence.

Liza is what is right in this world and all I need to do when I find myself frustrated with all that is wrong is to spend a little time with her. She lights up a room... she lights up my heart... she lights up my world!


Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Soccer Love

I ended up coaching both Liza's and Jason's soccer teams this season. At first I was concerned it might be too much, but turns out I'm loving it! I really enjoy coaching and both of my teams are full of fun players. I love my teams. I love the game. I love being coach!

At the beginning of the season, I noticed some of my girls were just being too nice during games. By too nice I mean not as aggressive as they could be. Giving the ball away too easily. Too nice.

I told them to get attached to their soccer ball. Carry it around all week. Get used to it being near you. Protect it. Don't let anyone take it from you.

It might seem a little strange, but the purpose was for them to start thinking of that ball as theirs so when they got on the field they wouldn't be so nice about giving it away. By keeping a ball near all week long, it had them thinking about WHY they were carrying the ball... to get possessive about it.

There was one girl in particular that I wanted to see being a little less "nice" during a game. During our first game she could have scored several times but she was nice and just let the goalie have the ball.

Well she carried that ball around for a week and came back a different player. She also scored several goals. I was so proud of her.

I love coaching.

But what I love most about coaching is seeing my kids doing what I'm teaching them. They took me serious when I said carry that ball around and don't let anyone take it. My heart almost exploded the first time I checked on them at night and found this scene...



Soccer for life!
Or at least I hope for a good many more years. :)

I love that my kids love soccer... and having me as their coach.

So many people always wish that they could freeze their children in the baby years and keep them little. I never wished for that... because each year is more exciting than the last. Each age brings something new. Each year gives me awesome memories.

My kids sleeping with their soccer balls is now etched in my memory bank and when I think of my 8 and 9 year olds and their first year of soccer... this is one of the images that will always be there.

Monday, May 16, 2016

52 Lists - Summer Goals

List #20
Summer Goals
don't be lazy
take lots of bike rides
picnic as often as possible
visit friends
have a lot of fun while spending little money
spend long days at the lake
do not let the weeds get out of control
grow a garden
read a few books
take advantage of the free summer bowling program
get the kids involved in the library's summer reading program
spend a week with mom and dad
find something to do that we haven't done before... and do it
have a themed party
roast marshmallows
rent canoes at the lake with the kids
go to the drive-in at least once
build forts on rainy days
go puddle jumping with the kids
host a free soccer camp for the neighborhood kids

I'm so excited for summer! We love summer and being busy and finding fun things to do. We love being outside after being stuck inside during the cold winter months. There are so many things to do near where we live that we rarely have bored days. Unfortunately, the kids still have a month of school left. June 14. Too far away! What are your summer plans?

Monday, May 9, 2016

52 Lists - Things I Want To Be Known For

List #19... List things I want to be known for. This is a hard list for me to share. It is something I think about often... but rarely share. Here goes...

Things I Want To Be Known For
I do not want to be known for doing big things... I want to be known for doing the little things. 
For showing up.
For loyalty,
For caring when no one else would,
making a difference in the lives of others,
encouraging and inspiring those who are down.
For chasing my dreams and
never giving up.
For making others laugh and 
feel that they matter... because they do.
I want to be known for being someone that enjoyed life
and loved those who are close to me.
And mostly... I don't want to know FOR... I simply want to be known.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

My Village

I'm pretty sure you've all heard the African proverb...

According to Wikipedia...

It takes a village is a proverb that leverages the cultural context and belief that it takes an entire community to raise a child. A child has the best ability to become a healthy adult if the entire community takes an active role in contributing to the rearing of the child.

It takes a village.

Today my thoughts about Mother's Day have me thinking about my village. I'm 9 1/2 years into this mothering thing and I realize that I could not have done it alone. I like my village. I WANT my village.

The main people in my village are...

He has been my greatest support and is a far better parenting partner than I ever imagined I would have. He trusts my instincts when it comes to discipline and he has even read books that I have asked him to read so we could always be on the same page, disciplining in the same way. I believe this has helped our kids see me and Mike as a team and not something they can divide and conquer.

My parents and my in-laws.
The weekends of babysitting so I could have a break and refresh. The extra heapings of love poured out toward my children. The fun that they add to Liza's and Jason's lives. The constant support and encouragement from them. Their belief in me as a mom.

My neighbors.
They keep an eye out for my kids and other kids in the neighborhood. And they don't just stop there. We have neighbors who make simple things magical for Liza and Jason. The memories they will grow up with! I am certain my kids will be inspired by the memories someday when they are older and they will not only treat their neighbors well... but they will add magic to their neighborhood... just like our neighbors are doing for them.

What would I do without the wonderful teachers we have had over the years! The ones with patience I do not possess to teach my children the basic things they need to know so their minds can grow. The ones who have made my children feel special. The ones who have accepted their oddities and embraced who Liza and Jason are. The teachers who have tied their shoes, taught them manners, hugged them, inspired them. The teachers... I would be lost without them!

The people who are in the childrens' rooms at church every weekend teaching my kids about God and life and how they go together. The volunteers at all the different events and ministries Liza and Jason participate in. The volunteers who care, who smile, who hug, who teach.

My friends.
I couldn't do it without my friends who accept me just as I am. Who let me vent when I am beyond frustrated. Who don't judge me for making different parenting decisions than they have made. Who give me new and different perspectives.

I love my village.
Without my village I am sure I would have run away a long time ago and given up.

To my village... thank you!
Thank you for believing in me and supporting me.
Thank you for contributing to the training of my children... and as a result making my life so much richer!
Thank you for being my village.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Visiting Kinzua Bridge

I have lots of memories of going to Kinzua Bridge when I was a kid. We would walk across it and I was always afraid I was going to fall through the spaces. Sometimes we went across the bridge and took the bridge back... sometimes we took the trail to get back.

Then I grew up and stopped going to Kinzua Bridge.
Then a tornado blew most of it over.
And then I needed to take my own kids to visit Kinzua Bridge.

We've gone a few times now, the most recent trip being on Easter weekend. Mike hadn't been to the bridge since the tornado, so we figured it was a good thing to do while visiting family.

There is a visitor center being built at the park that is supposed to open later this year. We'll have to go back again to check that out. The hiking trail has also been reopened. (It was closed after the tornado.)

We walked out on what is left of the bridge and then we hiked down the hill to check out the wreckage. It was pretty neat to be able to get up close to the beams (or whatever they are called). It's pretty amazing how huge they are!

It was a fun little trip that we finished off with a stop for ice cream. Big servings... small prices. It's only a good trip to Kinzua Bridge if it ends with ice cream.
















Wednesday, May 4, 2016

52 Lists - Ways I Am Energized

List #18
Ways I Am Energized
helping others
taking a bike ride
work (I love my job!)
time alone
time with friends and family
a long hike
taking photos
coaching soccer
seeing a kid apply a life lesson we discussed
standing up for what is right
a good night of sleep
meeting new people
finishing a project
being outside
taking vacations
learning something new
giggles with Liza and Jason

Monday, May 2, 2016

52 Photos

A photo a week of Liza and Jason together.
A showcase of their siblingship.
You can view the first eight weeks by clicking here.

Week 9
Sometimes they are just too cute to not take a photo.


Week 10
These kids love making bracelets and then sitting on the front porch trying to sell them to people walking by. They even attempted to make sales on a rainy day.


Week 11
Liza and Jason enjoyed a hike at McConnell's Mill with their grandparents.


Week 12
We went to St. Marys for Easter weekend and took advantage of the nice weather. We spent an afternoon hiking and exploring at what is left of Kinzua Bridge.


Week 13
Liza and Jason read every night before going to bed. This night they decided that they wanted to be in the same room.


Week 14
It was a really cold day, so we pulled out a puzzle and got started on it. Liza and Jason love helping us with big people puzzles.


Week 15
We love Soccer Saturdays!


Week 16
Beautiful days should be filled with bike rides. We rode about 10 miles on a beautiful rail trail in Meadville.


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