Thanksday #91


(tap, tap, tap)

Check one, two…check one, two, three…

Is this thing on?


Hi, my name is Monica and it’s been FOUR MONTHS since my last Thanksday.

(My penance will be abstaining from the Cheez-It.)

I know, four months. It’s pretty ridiculous. It’s not that I haven’t been thankful — because believe you me, the thanks are thick — I’ve just been focused on some other things. Like kids and husband and kids and husband in school and this BE thing, and because of all that, I’ve let this little ol’ blog slide. But as I mentioned on one of our BE podcasts recently, I miss my Thanksdays. I miss being silly and letting loose. I miss keeping track of my thankfuls in Evernote. I miss the consistency of writing each week.

And mostly I miss your comments about what you’re thankful for. Those always make me laugh and inspire me to no end.

So I’m stretching and creaking and blowing off the cobwebs and getting this ship pointed back in the right direction. (Did you hear my knees just crack?)

Without further ado, thankfuls this week are (in no particular order):

1. 9 am School Starts. My kids’ school and preschool both start at 9 am. And it is the most wonderful, blessed thing on the face of the earth. I cannot count how many mornings I’ve blowed dry my hair at 8:15 am and thought, “Thank you GOD that school doesn’t start until 9!” Our mornings are smooth(er) and calm(er) than they would be if we all rushed around like crazy people to leave the house at 7:40. It would be pandemonium. Chaos. Anarchy! (I’d be the anarchist, purposely making them tardy every. single. day.)

2. FitBit. I got a FitBit over Christmas break and I’m in love. It’s the Flex — I wear it on my wrist and it tracks everything I do, from showering to walking around the house to sleeping. I’ve linked it to my Lose It account and so I am keeping meticulous track of activity and food, and it’s been incredibly insightful for me. (Such as, I like to eat. Who knew??) In fact, I’ve discovered since I got it that my sleep patterns are totally whack. Every single night, it seems I follow the pattern of restless sleep for 10 minutes, restful sleep for 30. Restless for 10, restful for 30. And that happens all night every night. No wonder I’m a fatigued mess and IV coffee all day long. Just have to figure out what to do to fix that. Any ideas??

3. Down Time. I started something new this week — I won’t call it a “resolution” per se, but a plan to be more intentional at home. From 5 o’clock each day until the kids go to bed, I put down the computer, phone and iPad, and allow myself to be present. This not only provides down time for me, but makes me more aware of the kids and the house and helps me to slow down and enjoy our evenings. It’s made our nights (really, it’s made ME) more relaxed and enjoyable…and while the kids might be playing on the stuff and doing other things, I’m not. I’m just there in the mix with them…ready if they need me or are asking me anything. It’s been a blessing for me.

4. Vanilla Creme Liquid Stevia. I’m trying to limit my artificial sweetener intake and use just pure Stevia when necessary. But since most coffee shops and restaurants don’t carry it, I bought a bottle in the Vanilla Creme flavor to keep in my purse everywhere I go. I’m sure I look incredibly sketch doing it — like I’m sneaking drops of liquid crack into my coffee — but it’s working for me. Score.

5.  Aloneness. I admit, I’m that weird mom who loves having her kids home from break. I was fervently praying we’d have a couple snow/bad weather days to stay home after the new year to prolong school just a little. bit. longer. I love the lack of schedule, the hanging out in PJs, the laughter and giggles, naps — all of it. HOWEVER. Now that the kids are back, my introverted self who thrives on silence and being alone has been very, very happy and has a much fuller energy tank after a couple mornings alone in her house. Just sitting here by the sunny window in an eerily quiet house with my hot stevia’d coffee warms the cockles of my heart. Yes, the cockles of my heart.

6. HCJ and AI. Listen, I haven’t watched American Idol in years. Once Simon left I couldn’t care less about the show. So I’ve had no intentions of watching Idol ever again. Until. One night, mindlessly watching TV and reading, I heard that smooth voice and charming personality leap through the screen into the living room. I looked up in amazement as I saw Harry Connick, Jr as a judge for the upcoming season. And in a split nano-second, I decided I AM ALL IN. I will be watching every single episode all season long. I’m back, I’m hooked, I might actually call in and vote. Well played, Idol.

7. Be Still Be FreeI am beyond blessed that God has allowed me to be a part of this amazing thing He’s doing with BE. Week after week, with every podcast and post, He is so faithful to us. I shake my head in amazement often.

8. Seat Warmers. It was a balmy 1-degree earlier this week. Need I say more?

9. A Hilarious Husband. There is no one — not a single one — who makes me laugh as much as my husband does. This has been a particularly hilarious week, and I’m beyond thankful for a spouse who loves to enjoy life, not just live it.

10. Grown-up Furniture. For the first time in our marriage we have a real dresser. And real nightstands. And our master bedroom — for the first time in almost 11 years — isn’t the shabbiest room in the house with all the leftovers. #whatadifference

Well friends, that felt good. Real good. I guess Thanksday blogging is really like riding a bike.

Steely. Out.

What are you thankful for this week?

That Time I Was Grateful for Fear

I’m sharing about fear over here today — at my friend Kayse’s. I’m sharing about fear.

About how I didn’t want to do it.

About how she called on a normal afternoon and we had a normal conversation, and then suddenly the winds changed and blew in from the east and the words she spoke made me shudder from the inside out,

“I’d like to put in your name as a possible speaker for our women’s event in the fall.”

And about how I sort-of-kind-of threw up just a little bit in my mouth.

And then about the good that came from the fear and how by the end, I was grateful.

Make sure you click over to Kayse’s to read the whole story, wrapped up in the amazing grace of God’s faithfulness.

Blessings, friend!

Thanksday #90

Wow, this is my 90th Thanksday.

Technically I should have well over 150 by now, since my first one was back in October 2010. But that’s why they call it “grace,” my friends. You just take a little and throw it at your feet for those times you were moving for the fourth time, or dealing with your baby just starting to walk, or moving for the fifth time, or washing your hands of this whole writing thing altogether.

Or moving for the sixth time.

Or flat-out forgetting.

The point is, life happens. And some weeks the focus needs to be elsewhere. And that’s okay.

Thankfuls for this week:

1. Rain. I’m going to just praise God for the rain and not complain one iota about the lack of sun. I’m thankful for warm clothes and socks and shoes and rain coats and galoshes. I’m thankful for afternoon cups of coffee and naps that linger on because it’s just so cozy in bed.

2. Back-to-School Shopping. I absolutely geek out over getting ready for back to school. I don’t enjoy school actually starting, but oh, I do love shopping for it. Jaana and I did most of our shopping online this year, but it was still so fun. Even more fun is having packages arrive daily just for her. And I’m beyond excited about these two words this year: saddle shoes. I canNOT wait to see her in her kicky pleated skirts and side ponytail and saddle shoes. Pinch me, for realz.

3. FaceTiming. This week, I finally got to see the beautiful face and hear the melodic voice of a bloggy friend I haven’t met in person yet. And oh my lands, are we two sisters from another mister! I adore her so much already, and can’t wait to hug her neck at Allume in October!

4. Jen Hatmaker. Because for realz, I cry with laughter when I read most of her blog posts. But especially this one right here.

5. The Letter Z. Because “for realz” is so much more fun to type with a “z.”

6. Making Lemonade. Not in the “when life hands you lemons” way, but (say it together) for realz making lemonade. Jaana wants to earn some money for church offering (collective “awwwwww” inserted here), so we spent one day this week melting sugar in hot water and squeezing lemons and lit’rly making lemonade. Here’s to hoping more money ends up in the offering plate than her piggy bank. (Y’all think I’m kidding, but I did not birth a total saint.) (True dat.)

7. BE-ing. You know what happens when you’re fully present where you are? And you sorta-kinda stop stressing about certain things? God has a way of filling in the gaps. And He’s been busy filling gaps lately. And while He’s filling gaps, I’m at peace and working hard, but not striving — and it’s a whole new world, there’s no doubt about it. But I’m embracing it with two wide open arms. Come to Mama.

8. Home Sweet Home. My sister-in-law and niece and nephew are back from a fun few weeks in Japan, and so we made an impromptu trip to The Big City to see them before they started school this week. There is nothing like seeing cousins who adore each other reunited and playing Chicken in the swimming pool. There just isn’t.

9. Extra Care Bucks. I rarely shop at CVS, mainly because there isn’t one close enough to frequent. But I go every time I’m in The Big City, and my in-store coupons that print out are endless. Well this week, I completed an online survey that earned me $10 in Extra Care Bucks, and I had another $6 in random bucks plus 30% off. So Mama got herself some mascara and such and paid next to nothin’. ‘Twas glorious.

10. And Such. I am thankful for phrases like “and such” that give no extra insight as to what I might have purchased at the CVS. It’s the “yada yada yada” of today’s youth, is what it is. For realz.


That’s about it, I believe. Life is about to happen, so it’s time for me to focus on this thing called Alone Time.

For realz.

What are you thankful for this week?


Thanksday #89

Dear August,

I have big plans for you.

I have dreams of hot, sunny weather without rain where I can swim with the kids and not have Paxton’s lips turn blue.

I have dreams of getting my tan back that I had in June.

(Pausing in remembrance.)

I have dreams of not wanting to pull out my fall boots and sweaters — and desires of getting bright-colored pedicures once again.

Yes August, I have big plans.

Because the weather for the past month has been awesome…if it were September. But considering it’s still technically summer, a few consecutive sunny days and temps over 70-degrees would be FAB.


The Pale Blonde in the Mountains

(p.s. Yes, Mom…I do wear sunscreen!)

In other news, I have still not broken my 745 score on my Solitaire app. So, I did what any other solitaire-junkie would do.

I downloaded another app.

And this one has Easy, Medium and Hard levels and I’m proud to say I made a #1 rank in the first day. #1 rank in what though, is to be determined.

#1 in Seasonal-Affective Disorder?

#1 in Jergen’s Sunless Tanning Lotion Buying?

#1 in Online Boot Shopping?

Yes to all of the above.

Moving on!

Thankfuls this week:

1. SOZO. My husband and a handful of friends went on a 10-day mission trip to Serbia to help work the Sozo Music & Arts Festival. This is a trip I’ve done three times before (when it was in Hungary, not Serbia). And while God kept me home this time (how rude!) — I am beyond thankful that people I love dearly were able to experience what Sozo is all about. They kept me abreast of everything via Facebook, and praying for them was an enormous honor for me. But next year, I’m in. Because you know what they say about a woman scorned? Nothing compared to a woman who missed out on an overseas trip.

2. Coconut Oil. It’s awesome on hair. Did you know that? And sometimes, just to tame some frizziness, I put a small amount in my hands and smooth it over my hair. And it makes my hair so shiny and Christy Brinkley-ish (without any of her beauty) and it makes me want to whip it back and forth. (My herrrrrrr, that is.)

3. Cheez-Its. I know. Repeat! But holy cow, they are my kryptonite. And I love every bit of their cheesy-salty-goodness.

4. Flying. If you regularly visit this place, you know I just finished a blog series on Metamorphosis: Embracing a Life of Becoming. And as I just wrote the final wrap-up, I realized that (as most things do in God’s economy), the wrap-up perfectly mirrors real life. Because as I talk about being willing to take a chance and trying to fly — trusting these new, bizarre wings won’t fail you and trusting God to carry you — I’m having to live that out. How? Just look:


Yeah. So that. I’m guest speaking. At an event. In person.

Me — the introvert, hermit, hide-behind-the-screen graphic-designer-writer-lover is trusting God’s direction and going to stand in front of people and open my mouth wide, trusting God will fill it (Psalm 81:10). If you would have told me a year ago I’d be doing this, I would have looked you dead in the eye and told you, “Get behind me, Satan!” (And I actually did that last summer at She Speaks — sorry Heidi!) And yet, here we are.

Because God loves to have the last laugh.

So if you’re going to be in the area and can stop by, please do. I’d love to hug your neck in person and force you to awkwardly tell me it wasn’t as bad as I thought. (I kid.) (Or do I?)

5. En Français. I made a funny little graphic on the sidebar of my site — the one that starts with “bonjour!” and “it’s important to note I’m not French.”


Shortly after I posted it, I got an email from my mother outlining our family tree. And it turns out, I am, in fact, a small part French. Who knew? (I mean, qui a su?)

I haven’t had time to change the graphic yet, and my mom’s emailed me almost daily to gently remind me that graphic is false…but I’ll get around to it soon. I’m still working on wording to adequately express “a little bit French and pompous enough about it to be annoying.”

So it could take awhile.

Until then, enchanté mon amis.

(And I’d like to add, this explains just so much about me.)

6. Grandparents. While Greg was out of the country, I decided to get outta dodge and call in reinforcements. So I dragged everyone to The Big City to spend a couple several days with Gamma & Papa. And the kids were spoiled and loved it, and Mama got to work out and get her hair done and have dinner. With a friend! Until the street lights came on! And loved it! And we all had a nice distraction from missing Greg. For awhile. (Thanks Gams & Pops!)

7. Girl Time. While in The Big City, Jaana  and I spent a day at the American Girl store. And when I say a day, I’m not joking. We got there at 11 am for the “make a hot air balloon like Saige’s” craft, and stayed until about 2:45 when we finished with lunch with her doll in her own seat at the bar with a tea-cup. And the in-between was filled with a visit to the hair salon for Caroline (the doll), a Saige Creativity Scavenger Hunt, and analyzing every possible outfit and how it would look on Caroline. (After all, Jaana had $10 to spend and regardless of the fact it barely covered the gratuity for lunch, we’re all good.) We made wonderful memories, and she literally had The Best Day. I didn’t rush her or push her and just let her take the lead on everything. It was a long overdue Mommy-Daughter day where she didn’t have to share the spotlight with her little brother. Worth every moment of dodging large shopping bags, loud birthday parties and frizzy doll hair. (I guess the American Girls don’t know about coconut oil — but us French Girls do.)

8. Brie and Baguettes. I could make a dinner from a french bread baguette and some brie with chutney of some kind. (And this was before I found out I’m part French. Now, I just say, “duh.”)

9. The Cooking Channel. I don’t like to cook. I don’t enjoy it, look forward to it, plan for it, anticipate it. It’s the last thing I ever think about it. Therefore, we lack awesome meals at this house. Yet lately, Jaana’s favorite thing to watch is anything on the Cooking Channel. And no, the irony is not lost on me. All I can hope is that she’ll pick up where this pot-holder left off and start whipping up fancy things on a whim. (Or at least whipping her herrrrrrr back and forth.)

10. Happy Happy Happy. Does anything warm a Mama’s heart more than seeing her kids blissfully joyful at the sight of their Daddy? Nope, not really. My kids are beyond ecstatic that Greg is back, and seeing them light up makes my heart ooze happy lava. It’s awesome.

So that’s my week in a nutshell. I could’ve saved 1,250 words and just wrote, “Need sun, love Greg” and called it a day, but whatevs. What’s the fun in that? I’m off to eat some brie and massage some coconut oil into my hair.

And perform my next sun dance.

You’ll let me know what you’re thankful for this week, bien sur?

What are you thankful for this week?


Thanksday #88

I’m not exactly proud to admit this, but I’m going to anyway:

I’m 100%, completely and emphatically obsessed with playing on this solitaire app.


It’s like I turned 82 instead of 40 this year.

And yet I can’t stop playing, because I’m stuck at this score. 745. I CANNOT BREAK IT. And yet, I’m determined to. And so night after night, I sit on the couch and spend a solid 45 minutes or so playing solitaire.

Next thing you know, I’m going to mutter under my breath about the “kids these days” and their rap music and low-hanging pants and complain that the volume on the TV is always too loud.

Or say it loudly to a friend at the local coffee shop.


At any rate, my playing of the solitaire is an indication of what’s been happening in the mountains in the summertime. Which is basically, nothing. Nothing except drizzle, rain, thunderstorms and torrential downpours. We’ve had two windows of precipitation-free weather in which to swim this week, and thusly we went poste haste to the pool to take advantage. (I have no idea if that’s the correct spelling or proper usage of poste haste. But what do I care? SOLITAIRE.)

And the solitaire is also an indication of what Mama needed this week. Because as I’ve said before and will shout from the mountaintops again, LOVE LANGUAGE IS MY QUALITY TIME. And that includes quality time with myself.

Thusly, my thankfuls this week start with:

1. Quality time with myself. Jaana has a VBS camp this week, and since she would be occupied, I decided Paxton needed his own “camp,” too. So off he went to a couple mornings of Mothers Morning Out: Summer Edition. And he loved it, and Jaana loved it, and I LOVED IT. I was able to sit alone in the coffee shop, muttering under my breath about the kids these days and their low-hanging pants and the rap music without interruption of a “mommy!” every 1.75 seconds. And I solitarily played solitaire (just a couple hands, and still — SEVEN FORTY-FIVE.)

2. Thusly. It’s Thursday’s Word of the Day. Use it three times and it’s yours.

3. Watermelon. I think I’ve eaten about 14 entire watermelons this week. I can’t get enough. It’s so delicious. (And I’m searching out the perfect toenail polish that is the exact pinky-red of watermelon and it eludes me. Not even Essie’s “Watermelon” is exact enough. I’d love some suggestions if you have any.)

4. Antibiotics. So a week or so ago, my 9 year-old suddenly came down with her very first case of strep throat. So random. And so for two nights and days, I cared for her and slept with her until she was up and about. Meanwhile, Greg taps out and chases us around with Lysol. Fast forward exactly one week later. We’re in the mega-plex movie theater watching a 3D movie that rhymes with “Hospitable Bee 2” and Greg falls asleep. And then leaves the theater to sit in the car because he doesn’t feel well. After the movie we drive a couple exits up to stop at the Target, and Greg says, “I think I need a doctor.” We backtrack to the CVS Minute Clinic and sure enough, Greg’s got strep throat. So my hat’s off to you, penicillin. Well done.

5. “Hit it, Mommy!” Paxton’s musical obsession right now is Toby Mac, and when we play a song that has a “girl part” in it, I’m allowed to sing. Since he knows every single note and nuance, he’ll tell me right before the “girly part” to “hit it, mommy!” and thusly, it’s my turn to sing. Watch out, TruDog. J-Pax is hot on your tail.

6. Downton Abbey. Because I roll with the early bird special crowd, I’m a little late to this game. But back in January when everyone on Facebook was ranting about Julian Fellowes and how could he do that to Matthew???, I finally got intrigued about this show. I had heard the hype since it first came out, but the time period thing was my hurdle. But January helped me clear it. And in the past six months, I’ve finally finished all three seasons. (Took me way too long, no doubt, but I only allowed myself to watch it while on the treadmill. Or during a Canasta tourney.) I just finished the how could he do that to Matthew??? season-three-ender, and I cannot wait until season four starts. Say what you want to, but I’m a huge fan of Mary. I’m rooting for her every episode. I feel like her and I could sit in the library playing solitaire together, talking or not talking, for hours. (10 points if you get that reference.)

7. Ultra-Low No-Show Socks. One of life’s biggest jokes is the no-show sock. Because everyone knows the no-show sock actually shows. And honestly, yes. I should be more concerned with a lot of other plights across the globe. (Like I know there are some third-world countries that don’t have a solitaire app!) But I have wielded my sword and fallen hard on it, and finally (finally!) found (at Wal-Mart no less), an ultra-low no-show sock. And they really don’t show.

8. Hoosiers. Not the real Hoosiers. But my version — when my beloved Washington State University Cougars show up in Auburn, Alabama to play the Auburn University Tigers on Auburn’s home turf on Saturday, August 31. And some beloved friends of ours have offered me their tickets to this game (thusly, they are Auburn fans but unable to attend), and I’m trying to work out a way to get to this game in person, with someone who also cares about WSU football. (And those people only exist where you have to play a lot to fly to Alabama.) But I’m dying to be one of the only two crimson & gray wearers in a sea of orange and blue war eagle! (tiger?) cries, shouting out our extremely long and not catchy fight song. Because, to the death! Ultra-low no-show socks and the Cougs! Together at last!

9. Rainy Summer Cleaning. Innocently, I went to work out on the Fourth of July (to finish the how could he do that to Matthew??? episode), and when I came home, Greg met me with a “come upstairs” request that sounded decidedly not fun. I begrudgingly go upstairs and find all closets in total disarray. Apparently, my husband suddenly grew weary (after two very quick years) of living in unclean and disorganized surroundings. (As if.) Meeting me at the top of the stairs were four enormous piles of junk from all the upstairs closets. I was instructed to go through and identify what we could throw out and what we could keep. It took ages and made us really pare down to necessary things and not just board games with half the necessary items missing. And what was left behind were clean, organized closets and a husband who grew increasingly ecstatic with every “toss it” I uttered. And while it made us very late for the party we were heading to, it felt really, really good to drive to that party knowing our closets were free of all skeletons. (Except that one.) And now it feels really, really good not to have to come up with excuses as to why I haven’t initiated this all on my own, and I’m good for another two years. Score!

10. Jewelry Surgery. I’ve been known to put on latex gloves and a surgical mask to do surgery to my jewelry. I’ve taken post earrings and made them hooks. I’ve taken beads from earrings and put them on necklaces. I’m a huge fan of making Frankensteins of my jewelry box. This week I got another Stitch Fix package, and for the very first time, it was the first one where there wasn’t any item of clothing I kept. (Well, there was one I wanted to keep, but somehow they forgot I don’t spend $148 on anything, let alone a blue shirt.) But the necklace they sent was beautiful. Long, delicate gold chain with a large, teardrop-style turquoise stone. BUT, it had a starfish. Yep. I decided to keep it, because I knew I could perform surgery with these magical and solitaire-worthy fingers. So I kept it and took off the starfish. And now, I’m a happy camper-slash-starfish-killer. It’s a win-win.

So there you go. I know it’s not much, but that’s all I got.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got enough time to squeeze in just a couple quick hands of solitaire.

What are you thankful for this week?