Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Magnum Birthday

Magnum? That's what Chris called it, don't love it but he's the author in the family. He's also the witty one so maybe I should accept his title as good. Yes, I turned 44, as in Magnum 44. I don't mind the number of years, each one of those years has helped shape me into the woman I am today. So why wouldn't we celebrate...all month long? 

Starting October 1st I begin reminding my family, "it's my birthday month!" I don't really get any special treatment but I sure try. Finally a few days before the big day, I do kick it into gear. Since I am the one who is behind the camera typically, there are very few pictures from my birthday celebration. We have one more birthday celebration this Friday night so one more chance for a family picture.

Below are some of the hightlights of my birthday week(s)!

Chris and I had a late night chips and salsa date.
You may be able to see Trump's red tie on the television in the back ground. We tried to avoid the nastiness of our childish presidential candidates. No such luck!

VIP party pre-opening of the Container Store
I have been so excited for the Container Store coming to Omaha. The grand opening was my birthday weekend. Thanks to my friend Mary who is well connected, we got in to the party. This event was hysterical. [Band, Bar, Amazing Food, Dance Floor and Browsing but NO PURCHASING] I was in my happy place and my husband was thrilled to know my credit card did not see the light of day.

Laurie introduced me the "Growler" of my fav brew
Sharing my birthday celebration with Lexi
On the DAY of my birth we had a late breakfast at my favorite little hometown spot then soccer and finally dinner at Carrabbas. Spending time with my family makes me so happy! After all this my favorite moment was reading notes from my girls. What a blessing!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Spooky Orchestral Outing

Vala's Pumpkin Patch is a big deal in Omaha. Back in 1988 the Vala family opened a little pumpkin patch (I am assuming) to off set their income as farmers. Fast forward almost 30 years, that little patch of land with a few fall activities has turned into an amusement park of sorts. I love fall and pumpkin patches but this place is way too commercialized for my liking, not to mention the $18 entry fee is ridiculous! None the less, if we can find discount or free tickets, we partake. 

Last night the Millard elementary orchestra students performed a couple scary pieces. Liv and I enjoyed a little extra time at the patch, sharing stories, hot cider and a popcorn ball. One on one time with any of my girls is always very special.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy Birthday Dad!

October is one of my favorite months of the year. Fall just makes me happy! The weather, the lack of humidity, the colors, the flavors and the birthdays. Dad and I share a birthday month. His is early and mine is late in the month so by now he probably doesn't even remember he had a birthday celebration while I try to celebrate the whole month. For example, today I am meeting a friend for birthday lunch because I have a birthday reward on PinPoint. (if you don't have PinPoint you've gotta get it)

Chris and I took the day off to meet mom at the nursing home to celebrate another year with dad. To be honest, I don't know how much he understood. For starters, he introduced me to his son-in-law, Chris. I get it...I get it! It still hurts.

Dad doesn't need things but I love to give gifts so I brought some of his favorite items. We had smoked ribs with all the fixings and a yummy cake that mom made but he really wasn't interested in eating. I bought dad two lottery tickets, one chocolate covered cherry and a senior picture of Emma. I can't say that any of those things meant much to him either. Oh the first two items may sound strange to most people but dad LOVED playing the lottery and eating those nasty cherries. Conversations tend to be difficult so we enjoy watching the birds in the aviary down the hall. I realize this picture doesn't show any birds at all but there are about 16 in there. All colors, flying around at speeds that I guess my camera on the phone can't catch. 

The girls weren't able to make it to see dad. It's hard on them to go and also to stay home. I pray that God gives us the wisdom to know what is best for Dad and strength for Mom. Lord, be merciful.

On a side note, as I am writing this post a week past dad's birthday, today would have been his sister's 77th birthday. Oh how I miss Aunt Delma! Maybe we will eat cake at our house tonight. 

Happy Fall! 
Recognize and enjoy the beauty our Creator gave us. He cares about the little things too!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Freshie at Fifteen

Birthday Breakfast
I don't see big smiles early in the morning all that often but on birthday morning she's a pretty happy kid. Birthdays are fabulous! Celebrating is what I do best. We have all our traditions: balloons on the bedroom floor the night before, donut or muffin for breakfast, lunch at school, favorite meal, extended family dinner and some kind of friend event. Prior to this year I have also made treats for school and soccer but that ended this year. It's a relief and yet I have to admit I missed making something creative to share.

Her Favs: Cherry Brownies & The Parents
I remember thinking when I was a kid that my birthday should be a major holiday, as in no school or activities as should the first day of the month. Not sure where that came from, maybe it was the celebration of January 1st that gave me that idea. When your birthday is on a Tuesday in September you still have to go to school, do homework and attend practice but it also means you get to eat cake late at night after. Reagan picked my mom's recipe of Cherry Brownies...they are pretty awesome!
What a Goofball!!

Undercover Decorators
Soccer fills many weekends in the fall which makes celebrating with friends pretty difficult. I found a crack in the schedule, made a few phone calls and voila, a surprise party had been created. We managed to distract Reags with Starbucks while the girls decorated her bedroom. This school year has been a tough start for Reagan. Leaving all her friends from middle school has certainly left her out in the cold a little but when she is with her soccer team she has a great crew around her. Hearing the laugher, snorts, jokes, punching, screams and pure joy from my girls and their friends fills my love tank.

Happy 15th Birthday Reagan. We are so blessed that God trusted us to be your parents. 
Our love for you will only continue to grow. Make it a great year!

We praise God because you are fearfully and wonderfully made; His works are wonderful, we know that full well. Reagan, you were fearfully and wonderfully made!
Psalms 139:14

Raising Girls: Bullies

As a mother of three girls and no boys I have limited research to base any comparison between raising the two sexes except for what I hear from my friends, see in the classroom and observe in play groups. So I will speak of only what I know to be true with my three daughters.

A few years ago our family moved to a different part of the city which meant my youngest had to change elementary schools. Remember in the 80's when Chicago sang, "you never know what you have until it's gone." I miss that school. The new school isn't terrible, it's just cold. Now Liv rides the bus every morning. ( I LOVE IT!!) You won't understand this unless you have gone through the drop off/pickup lanes around ANY school. YIKES! Take your vitamin B so you won't yell at someone. But that is where the benefits end for me. Sure Livie has met some new friends who live close by and for the most part that is a good thing. One neighborhood girls is exceptional, she's the mean little bully who lives up the street, let's call this child "Jenny". "Jenny" is intelligent, determined, bold, fearless, driven and even cute. I'm sure she will make a great CEO some day but for the last 3 years I have watched her manipulate, ostracize and dictate her little friend group. While in our home she has criticized my older daughters and even my husband and me. What in the World? With all that said, my daughter is still drawn to her. Why? Is this a girl thing? Is this a self-confidence issue? Is she trying to just make it through the day? Is she oblivious to the ugly behavior of her neighborhood classmate?

This morning, just like many others, I watched Liv approach the line at the bus stop. She joined the little group of 5th grade girls talking and giggling. Instead of making room for my daughter, this girl turned her back to Liv to keep her out of the circle. Sadly, this stuff happens even in adulthood but here is the kicker. Friday after school "Jenny" knocked on our door to play at our house. I guess all the cool kids were busy. "Jenny" sends mixed messages, one day you are in and the next you are out. What a bully!

There are several challenges...
1. Remember that I am an adult and she is a child. It's not right for me to feel so negatively towards this child. Adulting is hard.
2. Teach my child that friendship does not look like that and yet she still needs to be kind to "Jenny".
3. Teach my child that God has given each of us gifts, talents and personality traits. They shape us into who we are daily. We are to use those gifts to bring glory to Him, not tear down others.
4. Remember this too shall pass.
5. I need to pray for "Jenny" and her parents.

Here's the deal, this isn't my first rodeo. First of all I was a brat but turned out to be a pretty compassionate adult. Second, I have two other daughters who have each dealt with bullies and they have come out on the other side better for it. Third, I KNOW that I may not see everything that happens. If any parents are reading this, let me say that again. I MAY NOT SEE EVERYTHING THAT HAPPENS. It's true in parenting and it's true in kids' relationships. Our most precious docile children can be little turds when we aren't looking. God loves "Sandy" just like he loves my Olivia. Thank goodness He loves us when we aren't lovable and He sees the goodness He created in each of us. Let's remember to love one another, especially those we feel don't deserve our love.

Now that I have vented a little I can move on with my day. It's beautiful weather in Nebraska, what a perfect way to start my week.

Blessings to each of you reading this blog of a mama.

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
1 John 4:16

Thursday, September 22, 2016

College Visits...Soccer Style

What on earth are these coaches thinking? My freshman daughter has been on 2 college recruiting visits to Division 1 Universities. The girl is just trying to get through her first year of high school. Making big decisions like, should she go to homecoming and which kid of donuts should she take to QT next Friday plague her, not what will her major be 3.5 years from now. Reagan has a pretty good head on her shoulders and is taking it all in stride, so far. 
We keep reminding her, "have fun, don't let 'em pressure you!"

July 2016
I forgot to take pictures at Creighton University, this will be recreated and posted here soon.

Before Reagan had attended even one day of HS the Creighton University coach brought her in for an unofficial visit. In case you are wondering what an UNOFFICIAL visit is, I had to ask as well. In mom terms it means that the student-athlete is not yet a junior in high school and the university can not pay for any part of her visit, not lunch, travel or even a school t-shirt. I think if you are about to (literally) die of thirst they can direct you to a nearby water fountain and if there isn't one, well the NCAA would prefer the coach to call 911 than to offer you a bottle of water. 
SO MANY MANY RULES!! Back to the college visit. There were very few students on campus which really changes the vibe. Coach Ross Paule gave us a tour of the athletic facilities and then brought us back to his office for a meeting to discuss where he sees Reagan fitting in the BlueJay women's soccer team and answer questions. It was a great introduction to the process and are very appreciative to Ross.

September 2016
Visit #2 was just this week.
Reagan was identified by an assistant coach at the summer Elite ID camp. I remember the day Reags met Bri Young. She came home from the camp all excited about this coach and how she reminded her of our dear friend Heidi Foland. Let me tell you, that name carries serious weight with my girls, they love and respect Heidi as an athlete, coach, friend/big sister and Christian. 

Again the NCAA makes this process very difficult. KU coaches contact Reagan's club coach who tells us to call the KU coach but if she doesn't answer we should leave a message and keep calling back because it is a violation for her to return our phone call, text or email. I'm just going to say it...that's stupid! So we started down this path, it's actually a long boring story so I won't bother typing it out. The short of it is...we went to Lawrence KS and were pretty amazed. 

Visit #1 was just Reagan, me and my very handsome hubby. Visit #2 was with 3 other girls from EGA and parents. For Reags, this made life a little easier, she wasn't the only one answering questions and she wasn't in the spotlight. For me it was nice to have someone to talk to on the drive down there. Waking up at 5:15am kind of kicked my butt! 
-toured the facilities
-ate lunch with Mark Francis, HC and the 2 asst coaches Bri & Kelly
-meet with the Director of academic and career counseling
-meet with the Director of KU LEADS This was super impressive!
-toured the campus, it's huge! Kelly Miller knows a lot of history and cool details
-toured their new stadium and new practice fields
-saw all the swag a KU soccer player gets a.k.a. Adidas goodies (9 pair of shoes+)
-watched soccer practice and met many of the players
-individual meetings

Strength and Conditioning builds better soccer players

Left her mark at Jeffereson's on Mass St
After a long fun day we decided it would be crazy if we didn't experience a little bit of Lawrence on Massachusetts St. The place to be, even on a Wednesday evening every parking spot was full and the restaurants were buzzing with patrons. We found a cool little burger joint (in a college town should I really use the word joint?) with decorated dollar bills all over the walls...Reagan left her mark right under the tv.

It's hard to know what is in Reagan's future, we are thrilled to have already been able to experience alittle bit of "wooing" by some interested college coaches. In the meantime, she's got a lot of living to do. We praise God for the gifts He has given Reagan so generously and we pray that she uses them wisely to always bring glory to our Creator and Lord. Amen!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hoco 2016

Homecoming at my house looks different for different people.
Baby Girl #1 lives for a party and lots of loud people.
Baby Girl #2 doesn't like to dress up, dance or talk to all those loud people.
And I'm happy to have daughters with different interests, it's the way God crafted them.
Emma with 2 dear friends
Emma's crew
I bet all their feet were in pain by the time pictures were over.
Reagan and her Papa spent the day at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln, NE cheering on the Nebraska Cornhuskers as they battled the Oregon Ducks. Chris gave up his ticket to what may have been the best Husker football game of the year. 
***I guess we can return Reagan's homecoming dress.***
Reagan's "hoco date" a.k.a. Papa

Saturday, September 10, 2016

I Am With You

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you.  -  Genesis 28:15

Soothing words for a parent in preparation to send her daughter out of our safe home and begin her journey of adulthood in college. Yes, it's only September of her senior year but nearly every day there is paperwork to fill out, a discussion to have or or check to write that reminds me she will be moving out all too soon. We pray for our children. We teach our children. We love our children. We know God is with them but still worry. Oh, why is my faith weak? This scripture reminds me that I need not worry, just trust the Lord that He has it all under control.

Here are a couple of Emma's senior pictures. Not my favorites but I post them because I enjoy the memory of the day they were taken. The top picture: We were done with the first photo shoot and heading home when Kelli, our photographer saw this building in an alley. A last second stop, 3 pictures taken and then jumped back in the van to head home. The bottom picture: Kelli wanted some candid pictures showing Emma's carefree laughter. She was struggling so I started doing cheers, something that totally embarrasses my daughters. There is nothing better than the pure unadulterated joy of a child. I love you girl!

Emma, the Lord your God will always be with you. He loves you more than we, your parents ever could. He is with you today and all your days ahead. This does not mean your path will always be easy but it will be worth the journey. In all you do, lean on Jesus for the big and little moments.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

College Visits

My first baby is less than a year away going to college. I'm in shock AND so excited! Right now the worst part of it all for me is figuring out the applications for colleges, scholarships and the daunting FASFA.  Remind me I can do this!

Emma and I had a fantastic trip to Kearney yesterday. Below are a couple pictures from her two top colleges. Next month she is visiting Northwest Missouri State in Maryville, MO. Hopefully soon after she will be able to make a decision on which school she will call home for the next four years. I know without a doubt Emma will be a tremendous success wherever she ends up. Love this girl!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Homework With A Smile

Surprised to see a teenager with this big of a smile while doing homework? This girl has been beaming since she walked in the door last night with her new school issued laptop. The freshman in our house got her device before her senior sister. Our school district is on it's way to accomplishing the 1 to 1 initiative it mapped out a couple years ago. Meaning, one device for each student starting with the high school. There are two reasons for Reagan's early laptop. #1 her Spanish class is a test group just like last year one of Emma's classes was a test group #2 she was 1 of 4 students (out of 2400) selected to represent her HS at the student-superintendent advisory team. YAY!

I have to admit something, there is another reason she is smiling so big...she is laughing at her mom for taking such a ridiculous picture. Hey, I'm a blogger. Gotta. Have. Pictures!

Life can be fun and exciting, even these regular moments are meant to be celebrated and enjoyed. I want to teach my girls that we don't have to wait for the monumental moments to make memories. It's the journey or as some people say it's the "dash" that matters most. Have a wonderful day and remember to enjoy whatever you are doing.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

College Roommates

Aw, the good old days of living in the dorms, playing volleyball, doing lots of stuff we shouldn't have and still trying to make it to class on time. My freshman year I roomed with 3 other volleyball players, Kelly, Julie and Rhonda. How our lives have changed in the last 20+ years which makes our brief reunions all the better. Unfortunately I haven't seen Rhonda since 1994. Between the four of us we have fourteen children ages 17-1. That would be a fun party we all could carve out a free weekend.
My setter Juba

Crooked fingered hitter and Her little guy
It was so great to reconnect with Julie an Kelly, now we have to get in touch with Rhonda. Time for a reunion!

Monday, August 15, 2016


Where did our summer go? I remember as a child wondering why old people said things like, "the older I get the faster time flies." It sounded ridiculous to me and now apparently I AM one of those "old people" because time does fly. Our summer seemed to be over just days after it bagan and I really do not want this school year to fly by quickly. (Remind me that I said that just incase life gets hairy and I'm complaining about kids, life, family, etc)

Below are a few back to school pictures. Reags and Liv started school a day before Em. What a good big sis, she crawled out of bed for a picture. Olivia was a little hesitant about her teacher but so far she has been pretty happy. Reagan was a ball of nerves on the first day. She found all her classes and even the lunch room. Whew! Emma was excited to be BMOC.

Lord, walk the halls of these girls' schools. Keep them safe. Please gently give them reminders that they are yours and you love them unconditionally. Help them remember to shine your light to the "least of these." May their successes draw them close to you in praise and their trials help them to rely on you faithfully. You are the virtues of Philippians 4:8, true, noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthly. Let them think on these things.
In Jesus' Powerful Name, Amen

Senior's 1st day
I love that Facebook will occasionally show me pictures that I posted 1, 3, 6, etc years ago. Look at my girls on the first day of school 5 years ago and then this year. I think I still see Liv just like that little kindergartener. Watching these girls grow and learn to think for themselves is an amazing privilege as a parent. What an beautiful gift from God!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Happy Birthday Vicki!!

I met my dear friend Vicki in 1998 when I started working at Christ Church of the Valley in Phoenix, Arizona. It wasn't until I quit working to stay home with my girls that we started talking more. And then when our family packed up and left the Valley our friendship really flourished. Vicki is a friend who is just a few years ahead of me in life and has already experienced some of the joys and pitfalls of life that I may still cross. She is full of wisdom but typically waits for me to ask for it. I truly cherish our friendship. We are sisters in Christ, wives, mothers, crafters, bloggers, suspicious, tea lovers, caring, interested in people and love to laugh. I thank God for putting us in the same office all those years ago. I am blessed beyond what words can express to have this fantastic lady in my life. 

Vicki, Have a happy birthday and know that I am praying for you my friend!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Raabe Reunion 2016

Another great weekend. 
First a few pictures.

Smelly Mud Bath

My big girls at the lake


Cousins grades 7 and down

The Warren Raabe crew
Warren and Silvia Raabe had 3 children who married and collectively had 7 children. Now we are a group of 30 Raabes. (pronounced Ray-be) No, we don't pronounce our name that way.
In this picture we are standing in Nebraska, behind us is South Dakota and off to the right is Iowa.

When we "camp", we do it in style

And I won! Which means I got a nasty old tarnished trophy...totally worth it!
We stacked marshmallows, chop stick race, cup stacking, gum in flour, donut on a string, puzzle and then several we didn't get to. I am a bit competitive so I'm proud to say I won all but the first race I was in. In the children's division Emma and Reagan did well. #braggingrights #familyfun

Blowing a bubble with flour in your mouth is tough

Biker Babe
Emma was so excited that Uncle John rode his Harley this year. Lucky for her no one else wanted a ride so she wiggled her way on the bike every opportunity she could. 

This was one of the best reunion weekends we have had in a long time. About every 3 years we change locations. We have been to Lewis and Clark State Park outside of Yankton, SD, Kansas City, MO, some farm house in Iowa, Platte River State Park in Lewisville, NE, Honey Creek State Park in Iowa, and now Ponca State Park. In order to get 3 cabins together we have to book a full year in advance so we didn't know what it would look like when we arrived. The cabins were the best we've had so far...clean, spacious, great amenities. Even though I worked a bunch I still felt like I had plenty of time to hang out with the family around the fire. And the best part for me, this year the food prep and clean up was a shared effort. 

It's hard to believe next year may be Emma's last, who knows what her schedule will be like after she graduates from high school. On a walk she talked about being older and bringing a husband and children to the reunion. WHAT? Ha I guess those days are coming. She is such a great girl (young lady), this is going to be a fun journey.

Family doesn't look the same in all groups or even seasons of life. When we lived 1800 miles from our biological family we relied on friends to be our "family." Now that we are near by we recognize how blessed we are to have these people in our lives on a regular basis. We don't always see eye to was important to avoid all talk of the presidential elections. And even though Warren and Silvia were strong Christians unfortunately we can't always discuss religion either. I suppose that's typical in most families. What isn't typical is the bottom line, we love each other and want to spend time investing in one another. I thank God for this group.

True Beauty Shines from the Soul

My first Baby is a Senior!!!!!!!!

You will have to excuse me...there are no words.

Kelli G Photography has once again blown my mind. We haven't gotten all the pictures back, these are just a few of the snapshots she text to me while we are at the family reunion. I hope this child knows that her beauty originates from deep in her soul. What you see on the outside is just a sample of the beauty God placed within her. Baby girl...oh I have no words. I love you!