Project Gratitude – Summer 2017

These boys are amazing.  I am so proud of them.


This summer, I started something new with my boys.  Project Gratitude.  It’s been amazing to watch this unfold in our family each week.  What is Project Gratitude?   Well, let me explain.

Each week, I sit down with the boys at the table and we discuss our next recipient.   We choose people we are extremely grateful for in our lives.  Our lives go by so fast during the school year, so we are careful to take the time now to thank those we truly appreciate.  We sit down and write thank you notes to the person we select each week.   I usually write a thank you note explaining our project and then thanking that person as well for the impact they have had on our family.   The boys then write thank you notes as well listing the reasons they are thankful for the person.  (I scribe Kirby’s as he is only 4, but Punky writes his own each week…  Sneaky Teacher-Mom making her kid write during the summer!  The horror!  (Seriously, the boys LOVE this project.)


We then put our cards in envelopes and head to the store.  We know the recipients love our notes and kind words, but we add in a kind gesture back to them as a token of our gratitude and bring them a bouquet of fresh flowers when we deliver our cards.


We have spent more time sitting and chatting with the people who are dear to us this summer than we ever have!   The stories, hugs, and laughter are priceless.  Punky loves that we get to talk with people more than we ever have.  He likes telling people how important they are to us.  He soaks up the stories and our visits like a sponge.   Kirby, like his big brother, gets so excited to visit people.  He remembers everyone’s homes and always points out to them on our next encounter after our visit that we were at their home.

The sweet kind words in the kids’ own writing and in their own words is precious.   I’ve learned so much from reading their notes.  Watching my kids interact with our recipients is awesome.  The boys talk about how good it feels after every delivery.  They are learning all about saying thank you and the importance of telling people how much they mean to them.


Today was priceless as the cashier at Hy-Vee Floral wrapped the flowers up we got to talking.  She works at Edinbrook Elementary.  I said, “Wow, the boys’ grandpa worked there years ago.”   She asked us what his name was and when we chimed, “Kenny Schad” her face lit up!   She knew him.  “Oh, I loved working with Ken!  He was such a nice man!”  Punky did a double-take and said, “Wait, you knew my grandpa?”  His smile was from ear to ear.  She then told him how much his grandpa was loved and was a huge part of their school family.   Punky was BEAMING!  I couldn’t have planned that encounter any better!   It was perfect… God’s little sign that we are doing the right thing each week.   (We then walked out of the store with our beautifully wrapped flowers and promptly saw a dragonfly…which we KNEW was a sign from Grandma Miriam!)

This project has been more than I ever wished for with my kids.  We will continue to spread kindness and express our gratitude each week.  The boys always have their next recipient in the back of their minds during the week.   We’ve had a few revelations in that car about next recipients or more ideas to improve the project.

Today’s recipients were our daycare provider (Kirby’s choice), Punky’s 2nd grade teacher (his choice) and then the boys also wanted to acknowledge our neighbors across the street, so we did them as well.   The best part was when Punky added tonight as we were writing our neighbors’ cards that he wanted to make them dinner and deliver it to their deck one night as they always sit out on their deck each evening of summer.  So, we added that caveat to their card!   He has already made plans with them!  It’s so refreshing to see how the kids are taking this further and wanting to do this more and more.

I see this becoming something we just do… and for that I am grateful.





My Mantra these days

** Disclaimer – I never hit post after I wrote this the other night!   I guess you’ll get to read a few different things from me tonight! **


I have this sign in my kitchen and I look at it every day….take a deep breath…. then go discover things that bring me joy and happiness.


My parents are visiting this week to see Kirby play tee-ball and of course, visit Punky!   It’s so fun to have them in town!   Today, we went swimming at the hotel they are staying at in Maple Grove.   The boys and I had a blast!  After swimming, we headed home to a yummy Greek salad and Ahi Tuna grilled lunch.   To.Die.For.

After lunch, we hit some awesome stores in Anoka – Happenstance and the Big White House.  I could seriously do damage to our checking account in minutes in either store!   Then we hit WalMart in Maple Grove… it’s a fave of my dad’s…and mom also manages to find treasures there as well!   This day, I too found some treasures we had to have……TMNT pinata and paper goods for Kirby’s 5th birthday in a few weeks… and a bathroom scale (which my mom and dad hijacked and bought me as a surprise, but more on that later!)

After WalMart, we headed home.  No one was really hungry after our yummy lunch, so Hubby and I headed up to Verizon to check out our plan and new phones as neither of ours was really holding a charge).   Mom and Dad watched the boys.    Gotta say, it took an hour and a half, but I liked being with Hubby!   🙂

When we got back, we decided to head out for dinner to save some time and energy.  It was already past 8:30 PM!

It’s so fun to catch the little things and truly take a deep breath and enjoy.   It’s something I am working on and am hoping to teach my kids this summer as well.   Moments I caught the past few days:  my dad watching Kirby and Punky play and smiling.   My mom eating up her time alone with each of my kids.  The giggles and laughs in the pool this morning.  Sitting next to hubby for over an hour tonight in the Verizon store… just being there together.  🙂

Enjoy the little things.



A check-in post…

Those people that say July 4th means the summer is half over are CRAZY!   We have LOTS of time left to spend together!  We have been busy and productive these past few weeks.  Really.  🙂

The kids playroom has been over run by “stuff” for almost a year now.  That “stuff” has been organized, gone through and cleared out.  A few trips to goodwill have occurred so far… let’s see what else happens when I invite the  boys to go through their toys to clear out stuff.   I can see our playroom floor again……but I need a few more things cleared out before I can declare it a “WIN!”   I will keep you posted!

I spent two weekends ago in Illinois giving a shower for my brother and sister-in-law to welcome the TWINS that are on their way!    Such an exciting time!   It was so nice to see the many people who came out to express their love for Mike and Jeanne.   We are also very excited for these babies!   It will be the first granddaughter for my parents and of course, we welcome boys with open arms!  This will be the 5th grandson and 1st granddaughter!  So exciting!   I can’t wait to go shopping!!!!!!   🙂

It was nice to spend time in Illinois with my parents alone.   I came down by myself as Punky had a baseball tournament those days.   It was nice to just chill and chat with them… uninterrupted!   🙂   I had so much fun just sitting and chatting on their front porch – just like I did years ago when I would come home from college.

This summer the boys and I have created Project Gratitude where each week we choose a different person or persons who we want to thank for what they  have done and continue to do in our lives.   This week’s recipient was Rev Gene and Mary Ann Rick.   The boys were super excited to write them thank you notes citing what it was they liked about them and thanking them for the important roles they’ve had in our lives.   Each week we sit down and perfect the project just a bit more.  This week’s perfection was handwritten notes (scribed for Kirby)  detailing for the recipient exactly what we were thankful for …..right outta their mouths.   The conversations we had at home were priceless as was the joy we brought to our friends as we shared our notes and fresh flowers and a balloon with them today.  We visited for a bit over 2 hours with them.  The kids had so much fun, and it was so nice to sit back and relax and just talk with them.  Our lives are way too busy these days, so this summer has been the perfect time to take a step back, relax, and just enjoy our friends.  #projectgratitude

Here’s to nearly 7 more weeks of this bliss!   I am loving this time with my boys!  We’ll keep checking in on our summertime progress!   😉







Duluth – 2nd annual trip

What a great get-away to kick off summer!  Our only wish was that the weather would have been more summery, but hey, we’ll take time away when we can get it!

Tuesday – we arrived in Duluth and took a Vista Fleet Cruise in the harbor.   A huge red blob on the weather radar had us only staying in the harbor and not heading into Lake Superior.   The waves were fairly choppy and the weather was not the kindest for a boat ride!   We went back to the hotel and swam for awhile before eating our yummy homemade meatloaf and mashed potato dinners I packed.   After dinner, we headed out to Betty’s Pies for dessert.   That didn’t turn out very well, as Punky ended up eating way too much and puking at Betty’s Pies.   Thankfully, they were very gracious and kept thanking us for telling them about Punky’s mishap.  We headed back to Superior Shores and went to bed.

Wednesday – it was chilly!  We saw Leif Erikson Park and visited with Marlys Wolden.  We toured the William A Irvin ship and went to Grandma’s for lunch.   We  were so full from lunch we barely needed dinner.  The tour was fascinating.  The boys loved it.   I ended up bailing half way through due to the heights we climbed on the ship.  I was ok with that!   I did take the complete tour when we were on our honeymoon in 2003.   🙂   I was braver then, i guess.   We hit a few shops in Canal Park then headed back to the pool and our hotel.

Thursday – We hit Gooseberry Falls and had so much fun hiking around the area.   The boys just ate it all up!  Henry loves to throw rocks into waters so he was in heaven!  Punky and Keith took a small excursion over to see the falls up close while Mommy and Kirby just chilled on some big rocks!  It was all so beautiful!   We hit Two Harbors to recreate a photo I had taken in 2008 with Punky with Kirby.  We then headed back to the Twin Cities for baseball and tee-ball practices!

What a quick yet oh-so-fun get-away!   LOts of memories were built!


Such a fun trip!   Glad we have turned this into an annual trip with the boys.  ❤ ❤

12 more days

Twelve more days until I can enjoy a whole whopping 79 days SCHOOL FREE with my boys!   79 Days!

During that 79 days, my boys and I will make a bucket list and slowly cross off items we do.   We will meet our new TWIN addition to the family (My brother and sister-in-law are due in August!)

It’s been a long 7 years since I have taken the entire summer off, and I am ready!!!!!

We will kick off our time off with a trip to Duluth with Hubby.  🙂   The boys and I are so excited!

Sometime next weekend, we will complete a summer bucket list for Summer 2017!  🙂  I am hoping to host each of my nephews for some time here as well!   🙂

I know we will be busy with Punky’s baseball and Kirby’s t-ball, but I have so many plans for the time around those activities!   🙂

12 more days and let SUMMER BEGIN!







This is Me.

It has been quite awhile since I have blogged, and I need to change that.   Blogging is where I find my peace… my inner reflections…and me.

I will not take loads of time here catching you up on our doings… that’s what Facebook is for, right?  And God knows, I never update Facebook!   😉

This weekend brings Spring Break 2017 to a close.   I can’t quite put my finger on my thoughts about that.  I seem to be an emotional mess right now underneath the Mom duties.

I took the boys down to Illinois to visit with my family.  My brain would not shut off…neither would my heart.

When I go home, it’s like I expect everything to be how I left it back in 1992 when I moved away for college… and it’s not.  I always see my parents as in their 40s… because I feel so young still.  But, they are not.  Hell, I am 43, so that wouldn’t make sense mathematically… but sometimes your brain doesn’t follow logic.

Things I really noticed when I was home…

I love watching my kids with my parents.

I love watching my kids period.   In a perfect world, I would stay home and be a mom.

All of our lives are so busy now.

I miss chatting with my sister as frequently as we used to chat…

I miss all the times I sat and chatted with my Dad as he grilled our dinner to perfection.

My brother makes me laugh incredibly hard.

I am head over heels ecstatic for my brother and my sister-in-law as they await the births of their TWINS!   🙂

I miss chatting with my mom as often as we used to chat…every morning on my way to work.

I miss my grandma.  She’s been gone for almost 3 years now.

Crazy how much life changes in three years.

Going to 5:00 Mass with my parents was eye opening… many people from my childhood and yet so many new faces.  So fun to see the people I remembered, but then again, realizing how time sure does fly by…

I think the best time I had with my parents was when we went out for pizza… just me and the boys and them… I just felt such a serenity and peace – happiness.  I wish I could have bottled it.

Just watching the pure love my kids have for their grandparents… it’s almost magical as their love is so pure and awe-inspiring.   They talk about them all of the time up here, but when they are with them, magic happens.

The car ride I had with my boys – to and from Chicago.  Such fun singing, listening to podcasts, talking and laughing!   It was fun to answer all the questions about when I met Daddy and all about our wedding.

My nephews! I love them so!   I love the time I get to spend with them each over the summer!   They are such cool kids and my kids adore them!  🙂   Can’t wait to add to the cousin pool with my brother’s and his wife’s TWINS!

Sitting and paging through my childhood photo albums Mom made for me.   Wow.   I am so incredibly lucky to have so much of my childhood documented.  As I paged through the pics and quickly scanned some photos for myself, I kept think of how the pics looked so much like “This is Us”… and that made me sad and happy….and teary.

Watched the season finale to “This is Us” with my mom and dad.  Life is way too short.  I keep thinking of William and his advice to Randall before he passed away…“Roll all your windows down, Randall. Crank up the music, grow out that fro, let someone else make your bed.”  Perfect advice.

I love my hubby.  In the time I was away, we never spoke on the phone as when the days were winding down, I was chasing a certain kid and making him get to sleep.  When I would lie down and go to bed, I would think about all we’ve been through and where we are going and my heart smiled proudly.  I have a good guy, and I love him completely.   I’m sure he enjoyed his days of peace and quiet while we were gone, but it is so nice to be back in our “normal” and our “crazy.”  (And it is CRAZY!)

In my head I always strive for enjoying the little things in life.  The moments that make me heart sing, my eyes smile, and my inner-self beam… they sure do happen often. More often than I used to notice.

But, as spring break comes to a close, I need to remember that those moments only get realized when I take care of myself and de-stress the craziness around me…and THAT is what I will take away from this fantastic spring break.

Life is short.  “Roll all your windows down.  Crank up the music, grow out that fro, let someone else make your bed.”

Thank you to my wonderfully awesome family who once again opened their arms for us for the  5 days we were home!  Can’t wait to see you in 22 sleeps for my Dad’s 70th Birthday Celebration Weekend!

Love you guys!










Another first day awaiting…

wow.  Tomorrow kicks off my 21st year teaching.  How time flies. (Don’t remind me that my 1st class of second graders are all now getting married and having kids!)

tomorrow kicks off a new adventure.  Back to the classroom after 6 years being in the lead role for our department.  I’ll be teaching three Alt Skills classes and an Alt ELA (Reading/ENglish block class).   I AM PUMPED!

I don’t even remember the last time I had a Labor Day weekend like this one.  Relaxed. Calm. Refreshed. Ready to go!

Tomorrow Punky will venture on to fifth grade.  Can’t believe he’ll be at my school next year!   Kirby will still be at Kristall’s for daycare.   She does such a fantastic job with the kids, and this will be the year where Punky will be a “big kid” and hopefully step into a new role helping his friends.   We decided in the last week to hold off on preschool with him.  I have no academic concerns, but I just can’t fathom him turning 18 then a week later leaving for college.  I also don’t want him to be the “young kid” when he’s in middle school or high school, as those kids tend to stand out.  So, next year he will do preschool, and then the following year, he will start kindergarten.  This way he’ll be about teh same age as Punky was when Punky started.   No reason to rush a childhood in today’s society!

So, tomorrow I embark on a new adventure.  One I have great passion for and great ideas.   I step foot into my classroom…and hopefully make real connections with kids and help them to be better people.

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I have recycled worksheet after worksheet.  I threw out busy work sheets on building character.   You don’t learn about character by doing work sheets.  you DO.   We are going to do projects – hands-on experiences – activities – secret missions – and SHOW people our new skills.   It’s all about learning how to enjoy life, relax, and love the little things.  This is an exciting year, and I am ready for it!