I love Aldi. I've been going there since my grad school years when I limited myself to $100 a month of groceries. I didn't eat a variety of foods at the time, but I managed to actually eat fruit and vegetables and not starve. Since being married, I've carried over my Aldi patronage with my family and have managed to feed them semi-healthily and still have money left over to pay bills. Aldi has money saving reasons for me to justify driving 45 minutes each way, but it also has human saving reasons, too. If you've ever been to Aldi, you'd know that if you want to use a quarter, you'll have to put in a quarter to get one and that you bring your own bags and bag your own groceries. This is their money saving way of getting back their carts etc. I'm sure they have a few each year that go missing, but overall, most people are pretty protective of their quarters and everyone, whether they are hippies or not, are pretty careful to bring a recyclable bag. So a long time ago I saw the movie Pay It Forward, a movie where the concept of "paying it forward" instead of back was introduced to me. After watching this movie where a little boy came up with the kindness concept that we could pay forward what others had done for us and change the world, I decided to pay forward my Aldi quarters. Every time we go to Aldi, we give our used cart to someone new, smile and say "pay it forward to the next person", and leave with not only a full car of a months worth of groceries, but a full heart. See, in the movie, Hayley Joel Osment (or whatever ha), talks about the full heart giving to others creates, more so than paying back. A few months ago my pay it forward came back to me. I've probably spent $30 in quarters over the years, but it was worth it to see that there are others in the world trying to make a difference. But not only do I love the concept of paying the carts forward makes me feel good or that using my own bags feels responsible, I love that these acts make people communicate and interact. Most people will share their used boxes and talk to each other when they exchange quarters for their carts. In a world of online everything (I'm one to speak, as I write this blog on my phone), we forget to actually have conversations with one another sometimes. Maybe it's bc I worked with high schoolers this year who barely make eye contact and sometimes trip on their own feet bc they can't put their phones down, but our society is being turned into people who are self absorbed by the nature that they don't have opportunity to feel the good feels of giving back and getting a smile. So in my option, Walmart and Target stores may be making a killing in the finances, but regardless of what Aldi makes, they're making a difference in our world, and I love them for that.


As I sit here rocking my sweet, recovering from a fever, babe, I'm thankful for the days to be able to stay home and nurture him. Recently I've been questioning everything about myself. As if I've suddenly lost my confidence and replaced it with a constant nag of everything I do and have done wrong. I feel like I can't keep everything up at home, I'm not biking/spinning/losing weight like I want to, and I'm always wrong in someone's eyes at work. It's really fun. This isn't like the postpartum depression I experienced where I was anxious about EVERYTHING (which was actually a real thing in hindsight, rather than what seemed like "adjustment"...I won't go into detail, but if you think you might have even a slight case, ask for more support in some way, even if it's not meds.), it's more self doubt. I'd love to solve all this with positive self talk, but that doesn't always work because I'm in my own head. What does work is the smile on my sons face and his laughter and arms reaching out for me to hold him. It's not that I need my son to feel validated as a person, it's that our need for each other is validating. I know he's what my job is. His face reminds me that I'm doing ok at my job. He's healthy, seriously the happiest baby I've ever met, and very loved. That's my job. My perspective of my priorities has changed, I suppose. I can't give my 110% to work, friends, bikes and housework, but my job as a mommy takes more than my 110%. So even on horrible days, I can pick him up from daycare and be reminded that I'm doing a good job. And that's all I need, really. To be the mommy I was created to be. Nothing more, nothing less.



I'm pretty sure my husband gets embarrassed when I brag on him online, so I'm gonna brag on him on my blog...which he never reads lol I've been lamenting lately about how boring we've been since pregnancy. I sleep a lot (yes, more than I used to), get cranky easily, and for some reason I've become much more introverted than ever before. Taking time to spend at home doesn't bother me too much usually, but I often feel sorry for my 100% extroverted husband. And yet he never complains. A while back I had a big hormonal meltdown (of which I'm not sure I even know the point) and joes take away was that I needed more help with the housework. You see, I didn't realize this until getting married, but I'm a little OCD when it comes to clutter and dishes. And when I say OCD I mean I get overwhelmed and frustrated much easier and then usually am grouchy to the people I love. It's not pleasant. So Joe decided his New Years resolution is to keep the dish washer always available for dirty dishes so he can keep them off the counters for me. Not only has he done that, but he's also been taking my laundry to the basement bc it's awkwardly heavy for the pregnant girl, picked up his things and takes the dog outside at ungodly hours so I can sleep instead of going into the freezing cold. Yesterday I did our Aldo trip with a friend so I didn't have to lift all the crazy heavy stuff and then joe asked me to just take in the cold stuff bc he would put away all the rest. This morning I looked into our filled cupboards and said to myself "I love him". Bc I do. More every day.


Shut up and rest

I don't know why it takes me so long to blog. I think maybe bc I always feel like I need to actually have somethimg to say. And you know what I mean, there's never anything worse than spending your precious time reading someone's thoughs on absolutely nothing or their boring update about what they've been doing. I guess the times I feel I can write are when I have learned a lesson, and apparently i am a slow learner and a sheep like the Bible talks about us all being. So here's what I've learned lately: I'm not sharing what I learn enough. Simce I work in a school setting I've had a great opportunity to have two weeks off work which have been very needed. While I haven't been very "productive" in cleaning my house or working on lesson plans and a 30 page project that's due in April for my final license, I've been productive in resting. Not just physically, though I have done my fair share of power sleeping, but mentally. We don't slow down enough in life. Sometimes I wish I were in Africa where things start "eventually" and people have less cases of exhaustion and anxiety. But I giess I can create my own African experience by just shutting up and slowimg down. there's really no sense in constantly doing. All it does is cause burn out and make me cranky and un-fun. Like I said, I'm learning that I'm not sharing enough of what I learn. In my resting, I've realized that I'm afraid of really saying what I mean or feel for lots of reasons: you might not get my spiritual God-talk and think I'm a wacko, you might judge my weaknesses, you might try to tell me "it's ok" and why I shouldn't feel the way I do. Ugh, that last one is the most dreaded of why I am not always real with people. Who wants someone to tell them they've really messed up in their feelings and that someone else has it figured out but I'm not going to get there with that attitude. Oh, last reason for avoidance: sometimes I'm really sarcastic and not optimistic. also, I swear sometimes. People don't always get that its a way of venting and isn't meant to offend anyone....so they get offended and stop liking you. Are you getting the idea yet that I really like people to like me? Yeah it used to be helpful lol now It just keeps me from fulfilling my callings. That being said, Gods been working on my shielded nature a lot lately. God wants me to share my unsheilded self. I haven't been fulfilled bc I know that I've not been real with others to a point of lacking shame and the good Lord has patiently reminded me that others will not learn from my explore des unless I share them. So here goes: Most of you know Im prego. It was totally planned and I was really excited for about 3 weeks. And then I stsrted getting what they call "morning sickness". Ha. If that timeframe isn't the meanest joke I've ever heard! I wasn't sick just in the mornings, I was sick all day every day for I don't know how many weeks. I felt like I did when I had mono in high school on top of what felt like a constant flu. Thanks to everyone who NEVER tells you pregnancy can really suck. And it can. Once I finally started feeling sort of better I stopped being able to fit into my pants. And thanks to expensive maternity clothes and Christmas time, I haven't broken down and gotten maternity clothes. 1: I think they're really dumb on the principle that I cam only wear them a certain time in my life. It's not practical and i was a raised a practical girl damnit (thanks dad). Anywho, all this to say pregnancy Hasnt been fun AT ALL. And I'm here to tell everyone who wants to have a kid to know that you've been fairly warned. But here's the thing: I think most of my lack of excitement over this pregnancy the end result is so far away and it's flipping scary! That's a no brainer for everyone and people have been having babies for centuries and they keep doing it so all I can tell myself is that if they keep doing it, it's surely a big pay off. (please don't comment here and try to cheer me on...it's not encouraging to hear from others that they think I can do it for whatever reason...I'm kind of the one who has to put my big girl stretchy pants on and face the monster in front of me) The fear of being a parent is shaded by the fact that I'm a step-mom. Now this is where I'm not going to be perfect and put together whatsoever. Step-parenting is the HARDEST, I MEAN THE HARDEST job I've ever done. Here you have this person who is very much not like you and you are supposed to love every minute of being at their every beck and call with the boundaries they get from their other home and are expected to be nice and patient and perfect at all times bc that small person is only in your home sometimes and you want to make it count. Plus you want to instill in them qualities and knowledge they will only get at your house. It's pretty overwhelming and I don't do a good job being patient. I know having my own child will be such a different experience but you always question your parenting in general when the experience you're having is not rewarding or fun most of the time. And then I finally slowed down and every scripture I've read lately has had somethimg to do with God being with me and understanding me and giving me the strength I need. And it all stops being so scary. If I have a Creator who's got it all figured out, I really don't have to try so hard. My job is to let Him do the work and for me to rest and praise Him for it. My time to work comes and He gives me the power to do what's needed but never expected me to have it all figured out. He expects me to shut up, rest and let him show me how it goes. So here goes. see you back here for the next lesson I learn.


End of my Summer

Tomorrow I start a new job as an elementary school counselor. I've been off work for 6 weeks (thanks to my husband for understanding), and its not been what I'd expected, but it's been what I needed. I had every intention of completely deep cleaning my entire house, finishing the bathroom tile that we've been procrastinating, biking long distances, visiting many friends, blogging often and even learning to make fondant for a cake. Guess how much of that I accomplished? Well, I deep cleaned a few parts of my house... My previous job was less than wonderful, and because of that, I spent a ton of time not doing the things that make me smile or feel whole. 3 years of working somewhere you are concerned about your job security most days and expected to be something you're not can really take a toll on your happiness. So this whole time I was thinking that once I got some mental health days in, I'd be rearing to go and would get all those above things accomplished. Turns out I'd lost a little bit of who I was, and I needed to decompress to get that back. Instead, I spent lots of time watching reality tv, cooking meals for my husband, maintaining the cleanliness of my home, going for walks with my dog, tying up loose ends like getting things ordered and put away in the office, and sleeping. I was fortunate to have both my siblings visit for a week each, see my brother in law marry my new "outlaw" buddy, go to all Joe's team's tournaments and do a little shopping for myself. In all actuality, these are the things that are close to my heart that I had neglected, but didn't realize it. I have to admit that I'm not very excited to start this new job. I'd wanted a high school position, but this is the one that was close-ish and offered me a job. I would have waitied longer to find a high school job, but I needed out of the prevoius one desprately and was willing to do anything else for a year until another high school one came open. I think I'm also nervous since I'd had such high expectations for the previous position. My fault, I know, but I'd trusted that God would take care of me (in the way I'd expected) and He chose to grow me instead. I reminded him this morning while journaling in the yard on my swing that I need a little break from growing. I let him know that I'd been upset with how he let me struggle the last 3 years. He's always pretty good at taking my copmlaining. I've been really appreciative of my break. I joke with Joe that I could easily not work and be completely content. He'd disagree because he thinks I'm already starting to lose it. I'm sure I'm just getting way too involved in my own introversion, so its a litle hard for me to socialize appropriately, but I don't mind ;) So tomorrow I begin a new job and remind myself to continue to do the things that make me smile and feel whole.


Tri-Yak-A-Thon 2014

My friend Krisi is getting into triathalons and registered for what was called the "Tri-Yak-a-thon" (run, kyak, bike) in Fort Scott. She's not a huge fan of going down hills, so when she realized that the bike part was single track, she called for my assistance. "I'll pay for half your entry fee! I just really don't want to do the bike part; I will die!". I laughed and agreed to help her out with the warning that it's been over a year since I rode single track and 3 since my last race. My last race. Ah yes. The one where I was more out of shape than I realized, but I still rode my @ss off to the point that it was dangerous and I wrecked. The race where I endo'd (went over my handlebars) and later found out that the pain in my hand was a dislocated finger. The race where I won 3rd in the state...simply for showing up. I remember that quite well. It put the fear of God in me where I lacked regarding going down hills and crashing. I used to not have a fear of going down hill or crashing. Those were good times. Ignorant times, but good times. I was really good at being reckless on my bike, crashing, bleeding and getting up to do it all over again once I knew nothing was broken. All without health insurance, might I add. Then I got married and all my feelings of invincibility were smothered to death by the idea that I'd be financial or emotional burden to someone else if I had a bad enough accident. They say 80% of physical activity is mental, and I'd have to agree with that. From that point on, even after I had health insurance, I was much less enthusiastic about riding trails, alone, with others, slowly or with trepidation. Getting married took all the fun out of my trail riding lifestyle. And it didn't come from Joe either. He was all supportive about me doing what made me happy. It was all in my head. I was worried about being a burden. I didn't travel to ride anywhere because it just took too much work and kept me from getting settled into my marriage and family life here. I do a really good job of exhausting myself thinking without actually doing anything. So when it came to race day with Kristi, I wasn't actually as excited as I let on. I didn't really want to leave home where I had dishes, laundry, dusting and gardening to do. Not to mention sleeping! I love sleeping! But I did. Kristi and I left and were amongst a small group of the 10am heat. And heat was right. I haven't worked out in the humidity yet, so just watching the bike and kyak was exhausting. Then I got onto the trail and it was even hotter. That and I'm not in cardio shape like I used to be, so I found myself practicing my deep breathing and self talk...ok it was more like self yell. I was yelling at myself, and I'm sure that everyone around me thought I was crazy, but at least I was motivating myself and everyone else who had to hear me screaming, "Come on! You've got this! Quit being a pansy!" and other explictives lol Foolishly I'd put "half clipless pedals" on recently (clipless means your shoes clip into either side of the small pedal. Half clipless means one side is flat for tennis shoes and the other is for clipping your shoes), since I'd been riding gravel and I hadn't thought to change them over for the race. Pretty sure I spent at least 10 minutes of the race trying to get back into my pedals after needing to clip out. ugh. That made me yell at myself more lol. The race was to be 6.2 miles and about half way through the track got really really smooth and was lots of down hill. I WAS IN HEAVEN!!! I can do fast down hills and jump over stuff when it's smooth so easily :) So once I'd gotten warmed up to where I wasn't huffing and puffing, my ride turned out to be the reminder of why I used to do this reckless thing we call single track mtb: because I love it. I love that its free. I love that not many females are brave enough to do it. I love that I can focus my mind one this one thing and feel like I've solved the world's problems in 45 minutes. And I love that it's a little reckless (not too bad since I have insurance now) It's an incredibly empowering thing to do and its something that is a part of me. Part of you gets a little lost when you settle down with someone, move, change jobs or any other big life change. I'm thankful to know that I've not lost the part of me that I felt like I found back in grad school when Stephanie Brown first took me out to the trails at Camp Alexander on my birthday with my brand new bike. So that's my word for the day. Find the parts of you that have made you feel empowered, dangerous, inspired, or even a little reckless and do them! You will not be disappointed that you didn't stay home and clean your house ;)



The dreaded day has come. I never thought I'd see the day when 20 miles on gravel would make me tired, but here it is. I did almost 20 today (and only half was gravel), and I'm pooped. And disappointed (okay, not totally disappointed, since I'm glad I just got out there). I know, most of you are reacting in astonishment in my disappointment in myself, but you've gotta realize that there was a day when 20 miles was a walk in a the park. The thing about this area is that there are opportunities for people to be active and get fit, but most of them look at you like you're crazy when you try to do it. That's the problem for me. Sure, there are miles and miles of gravel here, but I never biked gravel because I simly loved it. I biked gravel because I had so many friends cheering me on and telling me it was awesome, not saying "wow, you're crazy". I miss hearing, "that's awesome, I bet you can do 60 miles next time." Or even having other people to compete with. It's not very motivating when you're the fastest and can go the farthest....and you're still not going above your personal best. Honestly, working out is a tricky thing for most people. Its hard to get motivated because we make it difficult. We want to have people cheering us on, the weather to be perfect, all our housework to be already done, the perfect route mapped out, just the right equiptment, etc, etc...We overthink it and then cause ourselves to be lazy. My dad once said that overanalyziation leads to paralyzation. He's right. Its not that we got to busy, its that we relied on everything else to be perfect in our circumstances, instead of just going because it makes us feel good. I lose sight of that often. I have other things in life that make me feel good emotionally, so I often trade those for doing what makes me feel good physically. Funny thing is, you don't feel as good emotionally when you don't do something physical about it. So here I am with an aching back, feeling tired and working on inspiring. We've gotta inspire ourselves. We have to know that feeling good is worth it and that it doesn't matter if our workout is perfect. Sitting on the couch doesn't make us feel good as much as just walking around the block. Any workout is better than no workout. So go do something that makes you feel good physically! That aching stuff will go away with time. I promise you won't regret it.