When We Forget to Appreciate the Mundane


If you are anything like me (and many of you have already stopped to say a short praise to God that you are NOTHING like me 😉 ), you sometimes reach many moments in your life when you forget to be thankful for the mundane.

My husband has been busy getting his knee all operated on…which has left me realizing that there is FAR MORE MUNDANE that he cares for than I sometimes see, realize, but, most of all, appreciate.

We do that, too often.  I say we, but perhaps you are unlike me.  But I do that too often.  I forget to appreciate the mundane.

I forget to appreciate it–which means that I forget to say Thank You.  Thank you, Richard, for taking out the trash.

Thank you, Richard, for helping bathe the kids.

Thank you, Richard, for stoking the coal.

Thank you, Richard, for putting gas in the cars…and helping clean the dishes…and letting me go pee all alone…for changing diapers and helping make snacks.

Thank you, Richard, for helping pick the clothes up off of the floor.

You see—none of the above are exciting.  They are daily tasks that require effort.  Effort that I sometimes take for granted that I share—with my husband.

And I most often do not thank him for being a part of the mundane.

It’s funny—the mundane.  It’s so mundane that we fail to appreciate it—yet it — THE MUNDANE — is what basically makes up our every day of life.

And, therefore, it should be something that we remember.

My hubby the builder.

We have been married for 14 years. Going on 15. In all of these years, we have lived in many places. Two countries. And plenty of cities.

Did you know that the summer before we moved to Poland that we lived at a camp in Prescott, Arizona? It was a part of my husband’s job at the non-profit where he worked. And, part of working at the camp, he had to live there. The thing is—we were still in our honeymoon phase and wanted to live together.

I had the summer free, as a teacher, so they consented (they being his work) to allowing Rich and I to go to camp to live there together. The difficulty was the lodging. Of course, summer camps are made for cabins with the campers.

SOOOOO…they sent us to the top of the mountain, past many large bouldering rocks perfect for mountain-lion lurching or coyote running, and stuck us in a very remote and very old cabin.

We had holes in the walls. Spiders, every day I had to clean them out of the bathroom tub. And mice made their home in our refrigerator—which was unplugged and was serving dual-fold. 1 as our wardrobe, as we had no wardrobe. And 2 as home to Mickey and Minnie—thankfully our clothes and their home resided on different refrigerator shelves.

Anyhow.  It was a fantastic summer on a mountain, living with mice, walking dangerously past mountain lion boulders (or so I always imagined them to be), watching families of javelinas trespass on our front door stoop, and making a hot tub out of an old horse trough, under the stars.  Twas fun indeed.

Then we moved to Poland.  It was fun there, too.  Our first flat I wrote about in a blog posting on simplicity and contentment.  It was on the fourth floor.

Our second flat in Poland was on the third floor of a new apartment but fully UNFURNISHED 😉  Which means we did a lot of laundry washing in the tub and a lot of supper eating on the floor.  And a whole lot of sleeping on the floor—good thing our backs were young back then, too.

Our third flat was in an old part of Poznan near the center of the city that was very famously known for the 1956 uprisings.  I will write about it one time.

Our fourth place in Poland was a house.  Connected to our landlord’s house.  AND his über crazy wife.  And when I say UBER.  I mean UBER UBER.  And the neighbor was just as crazy.  Perhaps it was a qualification to live in that area?  Anyhow, our across the road neighbors redeemed the neighborhood for us—and they even had wandering hedgehogs that they would feed daily.  So that was always a thrill for our daughter to see.

And our last place is our current place.  It’s an old farmhouse that was brick gray when we first moved in…like communist brick gray.  The grounds are extensive, and the neighbors have had the land in their families for the last 150 years.  It’s a small farmhouse—with a basement that floods.  Believe me===I have sloshed around in a good 5-6 inches of water in the basement just to stoke the coal so that my daughter and I would have heat during the dead of the winter during one of Poland’s worst Siberian storms.  WORST!  And, of course, my husband was traveling through the States being fed steak and potatoes from so many lovely friends and supporters.  Let’s just say, he came home via train (due to the car battery being frozen dead) and two frozen popsicle girls that have yet to stoke the coal EVER again—well, until he leaves me again and I am forced to keep my children warm, that is 😉

Anyhow.  In the process and time of living on this farm lot—we have done a lot of work.  And our landlord has had the outside painted.  So now it is white with a red stone-looking base.  It looks great—and the yard, in great hopes, will be next.

But in the process, because the home didn’t have a functioning kitchen, has been a huge work in process.  One that my husband has done a GREAT job at…for ME!  And boy was I surprised when I walked into our home after my short trip to the States.

Is it complete—well, nearly.  I still desire a new oven hood.  But we all have dreams, don’t we?!

Now, putting the dream on hold, I would like to present for you—for the 1st time in our 14 going on 15 years of marriage—my very own kitchen!  It’s a big day, my friends.  A BIG day!!!  All kudos to my husband that built and our God that gave…


Yea for me (can I proclaim that?!)!!!

eatour house

A few signs propped here and there just for fun!

happycoffee and friends

Coffee is a pleasure—and DOES make me happy.  So does my family.  And food.  All fitting signs for my kitchen!

chalkboard cheffamily candle

My daughter wrote on our “Chef” (the theme of our kitchen) chalkboard before Christmas…It has been a little busy since.  But the message is still beautiful for every day—the message of the gift of Jesus!  And, of course, FAMILY reigns again—the photo of our 3!  Blessings from above.

love you morekitchen nearly done

Here is our dining table.  yes, it is extremely small.  It was purchased when we had 2 in our family.  Me.  Richard.  That’s it.  As our family expanded, our table magically did not.  We have not found one that we like yet–and so I am in the process of painting and renovating the table.  It looks as if it would be easy work.  Well, any painting project for me is not easy.  Or quick.  So, it is a half-painted table with half-painted chairs…with GREAT hopes of being a black and white border checkered table with a white bench and red chairs that should bring pizazz to our kitchen!  Yippee!

*If you do notice, our kitchen leads to our living room—which has yet to be painted and will still need photos of our family hung.  But it is looking GREAT, too.  And, obviously, yes.  We believe in foam and nerf weapons in our home.  They are great amounts of fun!

And last but not least…my lovely kitchen (not seen in its entirety due to my lacking photographic skills—but you can get a gist of the loveliness to it all)…


kitchen by my hubby!

Home.Sweet.Home…Especially in my kitchen!

Thank you my better half of crazy!

xo always,

your b

Living a life of “half”

the littlest

Living with multiple little people, you enter a zone called the “half” zone.

Currently I walk around in a state of stupor, shaking my head and mumbling under my breath.

Room to different room I walk and I see the same thing!


Half painted dining room chairs.

Clean laundry half folded.

A half-clean kitchen.

Half eaten cereal.

A half dressed child.

Half sleep.


It is literally driving me insane. But this morning after I sent my 8-year-old daughter off to school I had a real epiphany moment.  I am the one that needs to readjust my attitude and celebrate the half full.  Not the half empty.

I have 3 littles that run around my home like a whirlwind.  My home will look like a tornado for quite some time.  And while I walk through the tornado, I need to remember to see the furniture that is still standing.

Even if the other half is knocked over.  On the floor.  Next to the remainder of the half-eaten cereal.  Which my pint-sized littles, that are currently half the size of a grown human, put there.

Half full, my friends.  Half full.

What about you?  What are you thankful for—even if it’s currently in a state of half?

Orphan Train


There are so many thoughts swirling through my mind today, and they all come back to Maxwell. Today Josephine celebrates her second month of life. She is as cute as a button and big as a bear. I understand that she was born at nearly 11 pounds, but I would lay money on the fact that she is 16 pounds today. Her 2-month appointment is next week, and I look forward to her stats.

So, if today is Josephine’s big day, how do I continue to circle around back to Maxwell? It’s simple. As each day is simple. And it’s simply this, every day I reflect on Maxwell’s milestones and compare them to where Josephine is today.

Is that okay? I don’t know. It’s hard to know because they are close in age, and just as I was recovering from our first year with Maxwell, we find out we’re pregnant with Josephine.

It’s hard to go from watching one baby slowly die, be revived, and fight every day for his life for months on end. After he makes it, you still watch him. Daily. Fiercely protecting the very air he breathes.

Once out of the hospital, you gladly sacrifice sleep as his apnea mat, tucked protectively under his crib’s mattress, ticks methodically soothing your very spirit. The very tick keeping you awake is the same tick keeping you sane. There you have to find your balance between sleep and sanity. And that’s when you realize that sanity wins because sleep eludes you so that you can continue to hear that tick, tick, tick, tick.

Because there is the tick, you know that your son lives another moment. He is with you. The sun has set, he is sleeping, and you have made it through another day. A day with him. You should be sleeping to prepare for the next day, but you can’t. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

And then it’s hard to find out you have another little one coming.

You become a tornado of emotions. Joy being the forefront followed closely by fear. Joy. Fear. Joy. Fear. And sometimes they mesh together and you don’t know where one begins and the other ends.

That’s when you have to make a decision. To stop. To stop living in fear and to focus on joy. But it’s harder than that single word, Stop.

I just finished reading an amazing book, Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline. It parallels the stories of two girls that go through the foster care system during drastically different times of American history. One, Vivian, goes through during a time of immigration in our country followed by the Great Depression. The second, Molly, is in present-day foster care. Their lives differ. Their lives imitate. One is 91. One is 17. Decades may separate who they are, but circumstances resonate who they are.

And it is in this book that I saw a bit of where I am. Who I am. And why I am. Today.

Vivian is asked a metaphorical question by Molly. Does she believes in ghosts? It is then that Vivian pauses before she responds. And her answer is simple, “Yes…They’re the ones that haunt us. The ones that left us behind.”

Later in the book there comes a part when Molly is pondering over Vivian, her statement, and her life. And Molly has finally understood what Vivian had to say, coming to this conclusion, “…Vivian has come back to the idea that the people who matter in our lives stay with us, haunting our most ordinary moments. They’re with us in the grocery store, as we turn a corner, chat with a friend. They rise up through the pavement; we absorb them through our soles.”

Bam! It’s ironic that on the very day that I am rejoicing upon Josephine’s second month of life and mourning where Maxwell was at that exact moment in his life, that I read this passage.

Today I am in a car, driving to the mountains, to spend quality time with family during Sprint Break. Happy 2nd-month of life, Josephine.

With Maxwell, I was in a hospital, sanitizing every ounce of my being, still having to put on full hospital garb, mask, and booties, while finding myself fortunate that I could grasp his very finger. That his finger still pulsated with life. Very weak, unstable life. But life. Praying to God that one day he would make it out of where he was. Happy 2nd month of life, Maxwell.

Vivian didn’t believe in literal ghosts, but the way that Christina Baker Kline describes the weight of Vivian’s past and the people that traveled with her daily in who she was and how she lived reminded me exactly of where I am today.

Celebrating Josephine. Reflecting on Maxwell. Intertwined. Forever.

I will never be the same person. Woman. Wife. Mother.

I will never be the same human being.

I watched my son take his last breath. I ran into the hospital’s hall screaming for anyone to come and help bring him back to life. He was revived. After that it was a waiting game. A waiting game for life.

And a year and a half later as we celebrate Josephine, I remain haunted by Maxwell.

His life has made me who I am today.

A different woman. A different wife. A different mother.

Fear. Joy. Fear. Joy. Fear. Joy. When will it stop?

It stops long enough for me to celebrate Josephine while playing peek-a-boo in the mirror with Max.

For God does not give us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

Teaching your children an attitude of gratitude

Helping your children learn the art of THANKS!

Our son, Maxwell, is 18 months old and he is finally starting to string a couple words together.


Before now, it was mostly singular words.  His favorite appear to be:

BaBa for Blankie

BoBo for Pacifier

Crack-a for Cracker

Mommmmmmmmmma!!!! (Imagine it shouted with great excitement at the top of his voice)



Ada for Sissy’s Polish name

Woof-Woof for puppy

Hop Hop for bunny

& Hot dog (he probably believes it’s one word)

Well, you get the idea…

But now it’s progressing.  He said “A ball” the other day.  I know.  Genius!  And, “Bye-bye, Sissy!”  I’m telling you…straight to university for this kid.

Problem.  The two words Thank and You put together to make “Thank you!”

As much as we use it with EVERY instance that he is given something or does something or completes a task as asked and we say, “Thank you,” the adorable little booger does not say it back.

We serve him food and say, “Say ‘Thank you’, Max.”  And he stuffs his face.  Nom, nom, nom!

Those two words simply do not roll off of his tongue.

And, in my humble mom opinion, I think it comes down to this…He says what he is excited about.

So what I need to do is teach him Gratitude with the right Attitude!

I need to help my son become EXCITED about Gratitude.

How do you do that?

It’s a great question!

My daughter is 7, and she has, since about 6 weeks of age, been involved in our foundation for the homeless and poor in Poland.

At first, of course, there wasn’t much she could do.  I mean.  They (the people at our soup kitchen) could hold her, and kiss her, and cuddle her.  They considered Adelyne “their” baby!  And it was precious.  And she was a blessing.

But she was a baby.  And it’s hard to teach a baby gratitude, even though the bundle that she was brought great joy to the people that came for breakfast.

As she grew, however, we tried to involve her as a wee one in our events.  Now at the soup kitchen instead of only being held and cuddled, she began to serve the food.  Bringing plates and cups or picking up trash.


At our church event, “Don’t Go to Church, Serve Sunday!” she and many other little hands helped make banana bread, plant flowers, and serve meals.

She did all of these things with a GREAT attitude because she was excited about them.  She got to be involved.  She got to get her hands dirty.  She got to participate.  And she was made to feel like an important part of the team!

And these are a few key elements in helping your children develop the right attitude for gratitude.

Here are five ideas to help you teach your children an attitude of gratitude:

1.  Pray —Teach them how to pray with thanksgiving in their hearts for what God has given them in their lives.


2.  Passion — Find their passions and start with those.

*Are they passionate about animals?  Take them to an animal shelter to help.

*Cooking?  Help them make cookies for an elderly neighbor.

*Nature?  Take them to the local park and help them clean up.

*Christmas?  Help them choose a Christmas Angel (or other locally sponsored event)

*Clothes?  Help them choose a couple of their outfits that are too small but in great and beautiful shape to donate to a local clothing closet.

3.  Serve — Take them places that they may not initially be passionate about and teach them how to serve along the way.  Lead them by example!

*There is probably a soup kitchen in your local area that will let children participate.

*Feed My Starving Children allows kids and parents to pack food for children that are starving throughout the world (age 5 and older can participate).

*Take them to homes of single mothers and children and help them put together a program of fun!  We have always brought Adelyne with us to homes such as these.  It’s great for her to interact and see that kids are still kids.  Living conditions and life conditions may differ, but, in the end, the joys of being a child remain the same!


*Nursing homes.  Not only are you teaching your children to love, the joy you bring into a home is indescribable.


*Help take care of an elderly neighbor’s property.  Perhaps you have an aging neighbor.  Can you help pull weeds, paint a fence, or go grocery shopping for your neighbor?  Maybe it’s even as simple as making and delivering a meal to them or drawing a picture for them.  Any act, whether big or small, will bring smiles to their faces, light in their eyes, and joy to their hearts.

*Mission Trips.  Gasp. I couldn’t do that, it’s too dangerous.  Um.  I am pretty sure there are children in other countries, too.  Showing them the world may give them the passion to help change the world.

But, if you are unable to go during this time in your life, do what these amazing 6th graders in Oklahoma did for kids in Ivory Coast—they made them clothes!  So when you can’t go—send!  It still opens the world up for children and is a blessing all around.


4.  Love — Show them that Jesus loves without barriers.

Yes, it’s important to be careful but, at the same time, teach your children to shake hands, hug, or love on people that may be considered forbidden.  The Pope recently embraced a man that many would have shunned.  The depiction of the beauty in that embrace touched my heart and soul.  I want my daughter to have that same passion for every person she meets—whether they are clean and pristine or whether they are poor and unkempt.  Love should never have a boundary. Teach your children the same!

5.  Give — Help them save a portion of their money for a charity of choice.

*Adelyne saves money every year for the participants at our New Life Center.  And once a year she gives the money towards the Center (usually for Christmas gifts).  She made a piggy bank that specifically ONLY goes towards these men.  So, on top of teaching tithing, savings, and “fun” money, she has been taught OFFERINGS.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Money is very exciting to children.  So it’s sometimes hard for them to release it from their grubby fingers.

My daughter went once and robbed her own piggy bank.  She really wanted a Barbie, and she descended the stairs with a bag of money.  I said, “Adelyne, where did you get this money because I know your Toy Store piggy bank is empty?”  Eventually she told me she robbed her own piggy bank.

And so I asked, “And what about the money for the men at the New Life Center?  Did you rob that bank too?”

She admitted, “Well, I wanted to, but I couldn’t remember where I put it!”

Hahahahahaha.  You have to admit, that is childishly adorable and cute all wrapped into one.

My point is—it’s not always easy for children to learn the art of giving—but it is possible to teach our children that sharing even our money with others brings great joy to their hearts and blesses those that receive.

Pray, Passion, Serve, Love, and Give.  These are 5 words with great impact.

And with Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, it’s the perfect time to start incorporating them not only into your own hearts and lives but into the hearts and lives of your children, too.

An attitude of gratitude? 

If you raise your children with this heart of appreciation for what they have and a heart of giving to others, “Thank you” will become a beautiful part of their vocabulary…

And this is our hope for Maxwell, too!