Archive of ‘Life’ category

Everyday Lens of Life

It’s been life moving way too fast around here. I just say, slow down already. Captured here is everyday lens of life.

Parker-Nerd

This girl really wants to wear glasses…

SONY DSC

And this girl officially became a teenager.

Alex-StockShow

Love me some goats!

SONY DSC

Getting ready for a free throw!

Parker-Ears

Brave little girl got her ears pierced.

Parker-Ears2

1, 2, 3…

squirrel

And this guy stealing bird seed from the feeder.

Which reminds me, I need to get some peanuts for my homemade squirrel feeder. Squirrels need love too.

My Big Fat Lesson in Internet Safety

I have been living with a teenager for a week now and it has been an education. As in, a big fat lesson in internet safety. Some of you may have been there, done that, but for me, it’s my first time to this rodeo. And this rodeo just kicked me in my butt!

We live in a visually stimulated culture. As if you didn’t know that. Everywhere you turn, sex sells things from shampoo to cheeseburgers. Pop stars are hyper-sexual in their lyrics, dressing, and videos.

So, it shouldn’t be shocking when my teenager sees sexual images online, whether intentional or by accident.

Yet. It is.

Gone are the days of finding a Playboy under their mattress. It’s so much more scary. There are real sickos out there, just waiting for our teens to take the bait on the internet.

Serious sickos.

Our kids can Google something seemingly innocent and porn will pop up on the screen. They can be curious about a website and get more than an eye full. They can give out too much personal information and open themselves up to an online predator.

Besides the constant enforcing of internet rules, what else can we do to help my teen navigate the internet? By using protection. Protection in the form of big, bad parental controls.

A quick Google search finds a lot of information on the subject of Parental Controls. Programs one can install that will track keystrokes, take screen shots every so often, social media controls/blocking, help prevent cyber-bullying, and password controlled programs. 

A couple of highly useful articles I found for those of us who are new at this are Digital Trends and Top 10 Reviews on Internet Filter Software. And, if you want to freak your kids out read this story about the dangers of sharing too much information online.

One thing I know for sure? Get it. Install it. Learn it. Use it.

Okay, that’s four things. 

Also. Something else happened. Let’s call this one a temporary lapse in judgement, or who-are-you-and-what-have-you-done-with-my-kid.

Trust was tested. 

Did I mention it’s only been a week?

She’s still learning and growing up. I am still learning to parent a teenager.

Just like when I held her for the first time…I admit I still don’t know what I am doing. I am still learning how to do this parenting thing. Gone are the days of time-outs. Now it’s grounding and removal of technology, which is like taking away air.

This week, living with a teenager has been a series of take-a-deep-breath-count-to-ten moments that make me think I have seriously screwed up. We are both learning together.

At least she hasn’t knocked over a gas station yet, so maybe it’s not so bad. Right?

LINKING UP | Holley Gerth, Coffee for Your Heart

Take Stock in the Here and Now

We are one month into 2015. Thirty-three days of resolutions, one words, plans, and lists.  It’s a good time to take stock in the here and now.

And, the here and now is winter. Just when I was thinking spring was just around the corner with 70º degree weather, Mother Nature slapped us in the face with 8″ of snow this past weekend. Old Punxsutawney Phil spotted his shadow, so it’s official, another six long weeks until spring.

The term taking stock originates from ‘stock taking’ when farmers in the ye ‘ol days counted their stock, equipment, tools, etc. They took inventory of their assets. Taking stock can also mean assessing ones life to decide what to do next (which is what I think Phil is actually doing); or taking stock by counting ones blessings in life.

Taking Stock

I am pausing for a moment and taking stock in all the little blessings that may go unnoticed day-by-day.

Loving: Parker being so creative and sweet and thoughtful and silly and loving and…just wants to have a sewing day with mom only. I am cherishing this before she grows up and doesn’t think I am the coolest person to hang out with on a cold winter day.

Needing: An acupuncture treatment for dog allergies. Seriously.

Meeting: Friends at Starbucks to give blog advice and chat. Really, wonderful.

Creating & Sewing: Planning to sew new pillow cases. I have a long to-sew-list for 2015. But, before that I used Alex’s old t-shirts to make a few throw pillows (pictured above).

Link loving: #Create inspiration: Simply Me // My Art Journal // Oh Happy Day // Brave Girls Club

Watching: Alex playing basketball for the first time. I haven’t been this teary-eyed since she last competed at figure skating. Why do I do that? A good friend is her coach. So loving that, too.

Sharing: I am sharing a story for an e-book that a fellow blogger is working on. Lord willing there will be more news about that in the coming months. The Lord is blessing this woman in many ways!

Struggling: What do I write and do next? What is Your plan for me, Lord? I could use a clue right about now. Thanks so much. Amen.

Eating: More fruit in winter. And coffee.

Reading: My goal is to read one book a month. Check The Red Tent off the list. I highly recommend it, too. We are reading Junie B. Jones with Parker. We have read all of the book series with Alex, now it is Parker’s turn. And, I have started Gone Girl.

Planning: Alex’s 13th birthday celebration this week. She’ll officially be a teenager, even though I have been calling her a teen for the past six months.

So, what are you taking stock in?

When Insecurities and the Messy Middle Collide

It’s the kind of thing that leaves my fingers frozen on the keyboard, staring at a blank screen. It’s when insecurities and the messy middle collide that has me stopped cold, not knowing what to do next.

These are days when I believe my story is not big enough, or brave enough, or tragedy-to-redemption enough. It’s just vanilla.

There’s nothing wrong with vanilla. I love vanilla, especially when it’s in the form of ice cream and topped with chocolate sauce, but vanilla is predictable. It’s perceived as ordinary, boring, safe. It is the crowd pleaser. Most people like it, but it’s not going to change the world, shake things up.

And, even though I worked hard last year, writing, networking, researching, I still doubt. This writing thing? Does it really matter? Does anyone, besides my mom, really care?

That doubting voice is working hard like it is her job. “Nobody wants to read vanilla.”, she says.

So, the doubting voice is there. Then there is the messy middle. It is when you have too much time, and sometimes money, invested to give up on your plan/goal, but you are not sure what to do next.

It’s when you set goals, lofty goals, and met them, but you forgot to plan what to do after that point. It’s like when you hit a plateau in weight loss. You’re trying like heck on the treadmill but all you’re doing is wearing out your shoes, the scale not moving.

Both are equally frustrating but when the two meet? Houston, we have a problem.

That’s where I am at right now. The insecurity of the messy middle. Doubting myself and this plan. Is it His plan too? Is the plan worth pursuing?

There will always be doubt…it stinks to be human sometimes, but the doubt shouldn’t be crushing.

Psalm 56: 3-4
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?

Don’t fear the messy middle. Pray, then keep moving through it.

My dream is not someone else’s dream. It’s unique to me. Yours is unique to you. Believe that. Trust your gut and trudge through the messy middle. When insecurities make themselves at home, kick them out and move on.

At least that is what I am telling myself.

Read More Books This Year Challenge

My daughter has to read a lot of books in middle school. This school year, which has only been 5 months, she has read 10 Books! Last year, I read 5 books.

FIVE.

I read a lot but lately, not a lot of books. I recently discovered Jon Acuff’s blog. He has a little challenge for us book challenged…read more books this year than you did last year.

book challenge

Photo background: StockVault

Read more than 5 books? Sure! I got this…right?

Your challenge, if you choose to accept it: head over to Jon’s blog to get tips to make your 2015 book challenge a success.

Then, I suggest making yourself comfy…curl up on the sofa with a blanket and get started!

One more thing. I never feel guilty for not finishing a book that I hate. If I can’t get into it, I put it down and move on to the next book. Which always makes me wonder why kids are forced to read books in school that they hate. Doesn’t seem to foster a love of reading. Reading shouldn’t be torture.

I am taking the challenge. How about you?

January’s books: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant, and I will be reading to Parker The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

One Year Blogging Here

Someone brilliant once said, “You never know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.”

The beginning of the year is the perfect time to look back on the year gone by. Looking back gives us a moment to remember what great things we achieved, what we still need to work on, what mistakes we don’t want to repeat, and what we see ourselves doing in the new year.

For me, 2014 was all about leaping, blogging, and finding my voice. It was a thrilling, and sometimes frustrating, year of blogging. Moving from a free WordPress blog to a self-hosted blog with a custom URL was a huge LEAP of faith. It was as much work as I thought it would be, and then some. There were days when I wondered what I had got myself into. It was a huge learning curve. 

Blog maintenance was a big time sucker. Oh, how I miss the days of WordPress doing all the work of staying on top of plug-in updates, broken links, and spam control. I estimated I spent 50 hours on maintenance, but that is probably a low guess. There was the time I went months with little maintenance, then BOOM…I had 200 broken links that needed to be fixed after an update was installed. Learning curve.

Happily, I reached all my blogging goals for the year, including, a new blog design and logo design, learning some HTML coding, adding affiliate advertisers, and becoming a member of BlogHer Network. I know the numbers above don’t mean much in the blog world. But, compared to 2013, my organic page views almost tripled in 2014. 

I learned a lot about you too. Turns out three of my top five blog posts were about craft projects. The other two were faith based posts. Interesting.

I took on a variety of new projects and writing assignments. I connected with some really awesome bloggers around the world, some of whom I will be collaborating on blogging projects in the near future (The Warrior and the Flower). I also used the necessary evil called Social Media a lot more. And, I consumed an unknown amount of coffee. I’ve got myself a bit of an addiction.

I also launched Small Seeds, featuring bloggers who are growing in faith and compassion. I don’t know where this will take me, but I am continuing to pray about this aspect of the blog.

My whole-hearted thanks to all of you who continue to read my blog. I hope that you have found inspiration here, and continue to do so. I ultimately blog for myself, but when I see your comments and page views, I won’t lie, I feel all warm inside. Because of you too, we raised money for charities that help those in need and spread the Word of Christ. And, thanks to the inspiring faith bloggers out there (Holley Gerth, We Are That Family, Chatting at the Sky, & Faith Barista). You ladies rock!

Still leaping. I am far from knowing everything there is to know about running a blog, so I will continue to learn, grow, and, of course, leap. But for now, it’s time to focus on other aspects of my creative life, which will involve choosing my One Word for 2015.

Yep, I’ve got mine chosen, but I will reveal that after January 1st. Do you have yours?

Three Years Living With Dogs

It’s been three years living with THESE dogs. Three years ago, hubby’s best friend from high school passed away suddenly. Needless to say, it was a shock to us all.

In his will, we inherited his dogs. We just lost our beloved Beagle of 14-years, and were ill-equipped in handling an 80-pound black lab, named Thor, with territorial issues. Our youngest, who was 5-years-old at the time, was scared to death of this massive dog. The two have since became best buddies, and Thor has lost 10 pounds. He is still big, black, and threatening-looking that I don’t worry too much about a home intruder. We also call him Thor-bee-licious.

The other dog is a 10-pound toy poodle, named Rocco, who peed on everything! I had a toy poodle as a teenager, so you can imagine how much I love this dog. He has received a few nicknames as well, like cutie pie, Fluffy McKissens, and Prince.

It’s been three years of dog training, kennel training, acupuncture for allergies (for the humans), special diets, one torn ACL (Thor), and lots of vacuuming up dog hair.

They say given enough time, everything works out. Although, with the help of Bark Busters, there is room for improvement when it comes to Thor’s territorial issues, but he has come a long way. Rocco still pees on everything..so, I guess we need a lot more time there. One thing is clear, these dogs have become a part of the family.

Living with THESE dogs has been a crazy ride and unexpected blessing. Uh, most days.

rocco

Rocco desperately needs to be groomed!

thor

Thor has his eye on the prize…a Milk Bone!

Your Monday Morning Coffee Break | Life is Short, Live it

red lipstick

Because Life is short…

Rock your red lipstick.

Do what you can, let go of the rest.

Let go of regret.

Avoid drama.

spider web

Tell your story. Even if you think nobody is listening. Your story matters.

Have faith everyday.

Be an encourager. Big or small.

path walk

Walk your own path.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “You’re on your own. Figure it out.” Trust in the Lord.

Drink water. Eat right, but also eat ice cream like a kid.

Ignore haters. Be you. Everyone else is taken.

Give yourself (and others) a break.

Surround yourself with positive girlfriends.

black and white photos

Be in the moment. Put down the cell phone.

Eat chocolate…daily.

Do at least one thing a day that makes you happy.

Don’t take yourself, or life, too seriously. Laugh at yourself.

coffee

Know that you are strong.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Seriously, just stop.

Pray everyday.

Start before you have all the answers. “Say yes, and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” Tina Fey

leaves on porch

Do that thing you’ve always wanted to do.

Don’t post everything on social media. Some things are best left unsaid.

Don’t waste your emotional energy worrying about people who don’t like you.

Pause. Enjoy the simple things.

Life is short…live it.

myGFA

Join me in being a #SmallSeed. Do something small that is good. Grow in faith and compassion.

If you are reading this via email, I incourage you to hop over and check out the new look of the blog.

9 Things This Week…

I would like to say it’s been slow around here… This week has been nothing but slow. It has been C-R-A-Z-Y!

9 things this week…

  1. Two trips to the ER. Hubby has kidney stones, and anything that can bring a grown man to tears, on his knees, making deals with whomever will take the pain away, well, it’s enough for me to say, “Kidney stones suck!” You can put that on a t-shirt.
  2. One procedure to help those little ‘ol kidney stones on their way out, requiring an over-night hospital stay.
  3. One missed cross country meet.
  4. Several nights of little sleep and too tired to cook a decent meal. Do Goldfish crackers count as a meal?
  5. Forget about running the vacuum cleaner across the carpet…
  6. Planning a soon-to-be 8-year-old’s birthday party…in 2 weeks! What?!
  7. Plans for a weekend trip to Leadville canceled. We missed the Aspens turning this year. :-(
  8. One quilt and fabric show with a friend…Just a few hours to think of nothing and looking at pretty fabric!
  9. Instead of a trip to the mountains, we had a craft day.
Fall Button Tree on Canvas by Alex

Fall Button Tree on Canvas by Alex.

Craft Day Mess

Craft day mess.

The flowers making the transition from vibrant summer to fall.

The flowers making the transition from vibrant summer to fall.

A gift quilt pieced.

A gift quilt pieced.

New favorite shoes by Parker.

New favorite shoes by Parker.

The one cross country meet I did attend 2 weeks ago...

The one cross country meet I did attend 2 weeks ago…

And that wasn’t even everything!

I know we all have crazy weeks, or months, or years…but sometimes I have to ask, seriously? That’s when I am even more grateful for my framily (friends who are like family), who pick up the slack for me, without fail. Because I have no family here, these people (you know who you are) are even more important and loved. And, who I owe a giant steak dinner…just as soon as hubby is feeling up to it!

ALS Denver Walk in Photographs

Team McCormick, the small but mighty !

Team McCormick, the small but mighty! (Hubby is taking the picture)

Walk Details: 3K around City Park Lake, Denver, Colorado. September 13, 2014. To date, walkers around the country have raised over $21 million during the Walk to Defeat ALS! That is a lot of moo-la to help find a cure for this terrible disease.

City Park, Dogs Getting in on the Walk too, and Walkers

ALS Walkers   //   Dogs got in on the Walk too   //   Walkers Reflection in City Park Lake

City Park with Denver Skyline in the Background // Denver Walk Shirt and Team McCormick Pins // Start of the Walk

City Park with Denver Skyline in the Background   //   Official Denver Walk Shirt and Our Team McCormick Memory Pins   //   Start of the Walk

ALS Denver Walk

May Favorite Shirt // Enjoying Free Pancakes (we also enjoyed Ice Cream) // For Ron McCormick

My favorite shirt: “Believe. Pick a stronger word than Hope. Cure. Waging war on ALS.”

To read more about how ALS has affected our family and why we walk as Team McCormick click here or here.

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