Saturday, September 30, 2017


I blame all of this on the lack of pumpkin spice coffee. I was cooking scalloped potatoes (top) and a ham (bottom) in casserole glass pans. I reached in to take out the potatoes and I heard a cracking noise. I realized what was happening shut my eyes, threw the potatoes on top of the stove and slammed the oven door shut with my knee. It still covered my entire kitchen with glass shards it happened so fast. Some big enough to carve your way out of Angola. The oven was smoking because all of the ham juice was then laying at the bottom of the oven. Shut it off, opened the windows. I had to shake the glass from my hair and clothing. Clean the floors, counters and sink and double check the carpet by the living room entrance.  So, I am thinking dinner is going to be delayed. Don't judge, those potatoes look amazing.

Josh came home from working all day and cleaned up all the glass for me. I used Awesome Orange, Dawn Dish Soap and Bar Keeper's Friend. No wait and wiped everything, grease and all,
 up immediately. And it looks brand new!

My kids thought it was ridiculously entertaining. Scary is  more like it.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Kombucha Burping Day

 Kombucha Burping Day goes something like this.
My husband : Babe, you have a whole lotta kombucha in the pantry.
Me: I know, isn't that awesome?!
My husband: Babe, I am glad you feel that way. Do you remember what happened last time you had a whole lotta kombucha in the pantry?
Me: Oh.
My husband: Babe, oh is right. That was the worst smelling vinegar disgustingness I have ever smelled in my life.
Me: You think it smelled disgusting, I think it smelled heavenly.
My husband : Babe, you and I clearly have a different definition of heavenly.
Me: I will burp them today. I have always just had a ton of fizz in my batches and those brown bottles are just a bunch of over achieving show offs.
My husband : Babe, I have no idea what you are talking about. Just do what you gotta do so I don't come home from work to you crying because of an explosion and then all the weird slimy boxed groceries and canned goods sitting on the counter and kitchen floor yet waiting to be cleaned.

I suppose I should have prefaced this story with the fact that my husband calls me Babe. 🙄

Coffee or Chic fil a

Here's the deal. Everyone is all excited about National Coffee Day. Everyday is coffee day for me. What am I excited about? 4 pairs of jeans for my gentle giant man sized child for $57 bucks total (tall dude jeans are expensive!) and enough home made chic-fil- a sauce to last my family til Christmas. Win / win. Also, you should know, I drank coffee while shopping for said jeans and making the  aforementioned chic fil a sauce.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


This kid. Lily has gotten in trouble the last 327 times I haven't been home because of cooking /baking/craft incidents that have occurred. Either she made a horrible mess all over the counters and floor, didn't clean up, left a ton of work for me when I got home late, or used my gluten free mixes and added food coloring which I then can not consume. (I kid you not... The child loves food coloring) Tonight, I got home after 930 after a very full day and found this. So... Do  I thank her for making me a gluten free treat? Do I reprimand her for baking and using a gluten free mix when she has been told a million times not to? Do I thank her for not using food coloring? Do I tell her they are rock hard and I can not consume them? So I remind her of the no cooking /baking/craft rule when mom isn't home? The answer is yes.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

How Lovely

I love the changing of seasons. From winter to spring, from spring to summer, from summer to fall , and from fall to winter. A full circle of 4 Minnesota seasons, all meant to be enjoyed, explored, savored and experienced. I would have to honestly say that summer is my favorite season. I love to swim, hike, spend time outdoors. Minnesota is often hot by noon during the summer,  and the cooler evenings make for great meals on the deck,  fun times listening to music on restaurant patios and the desire for summer to never end.

Even though summer is what I enjoy the most, fall is actually what I look forward to, what I continually anticipate.  The drop in temperature.  Kids return to school. Fall work schedules return to normal. But it is also the magnificent display of colors as the leaves change and fall. It is pumpkins and gourds and front door wreaths. Apple cider and spiced rum. Bonfires and S'mores.  It is leggings and jeans and boots and gloves. Scarves and cute layered jackets. Fall is a wonder to behold here in the north. A season desired.

Spring is often viewed as a time of growth or rebirth. The flowers spring up with force from the ground, the trees bud and display the most beautiful green. The lilacs burst forth in fragrant blossoms.The grass fills in and displays a soft carpet of green. We pray for rain to nurture this beauty.

We enjoy nature and all that summer entails.  And fall temperatures arrive and those leaves show off their beauty before they begin to fall. When leaves fall, to me, they aren't dying. They are letting go. They have provided their shade for the hot summer,  and shown us their glory in the change of colors. They let go of the old and then the trees slumber for the winter before this breathtaking cycle begins anew.

I believe there is beauty in letting go. Letting go of hurt, of pain, of disappointment.  Of struggles, of broken relationships, of sorrow. Feelings of bitterness, longing , fear, resentment.  When we let go of the junk that burdens us, we are making a choice. A choice to make room for the things that make us smile, what brings us joy, what helps us grow, learn, and give of ourselves.  We make room for thankfulness and gratitude.  We make room for love and adoration, for laughter and for happiness.

This fall, I plan to learn a lesson from the trees as they show me just how lovely it is to let things go.


I was busy in the kitchen early last evening trying to hurry and get food ready and the kitchen cleaned before going out for the night.  Lily had gotten home from school,  was a bit discouraged and it took her a bit to start telling me what was wrong. By leading the conversation, she started talking about choir and this little girl wasn't being very nice and said snotty things to her twice. The child sounds like areal piece of work. I asked if she had ever had problems with this girl before. Lily screws up her face and replied, "Well, her name is Lexi, so she totally sounds like someone I could have had problems with before." #lexi #whatthewhat #cantmakethisstuffup #missthing #loveher

Thursday, September 21, 2017

A Message of Hope By Scott Fisk

A message of hope.

1 Peter 3:13-18

“Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good?  But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.  “Do not fear what they fear, do not be frightened.”  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ maybe ashamed of their slander.  It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.  For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the body but made alive by the spirit,”

A couple of weeks ago Kevin spoke to us about taking out our trash and allowing the garbage man to take it away.  He used comedy to demonstrate the point that he was making and he did an amazing job at encouraging us to leave our ‘trash in the trash can so that garbage man can take it away’.  Another analogy of this is backing our dump truck of sins up to the cross, pulling the dump lever, driving forward.  Getting out, grabbing the front end loader and reloading our dump truck.

I sat and listened to him speak and the question came to mind my; “what if I have willingly left my stuff in the trash can and I am waiting for the garbage man to come and take it away?”

I want to talk to you about my personal story a little bit, some of the things that I have been going through for the last few years has come to a head the last 12 months.  I want to talk about my family, the struggle that we have encountered, the mess we have repeatedly brought to the garbage can and waited sometimes not very patiently for immediate removal of the trash.

I have been divorced from my first wife since 2009.  We have 3 daughters, they have all lived with me since the separation.  My oldest is 14, she has significant mental, emotional and behavioral issues.  She has had 6 hospitalization since 2014.  Last September she went to live with my ex and came back home in January.  It was not safe (homicidal ideation) for her to be living with my other children due to her threats, impulsivity and her inability to always talk before acting.  She would frequently lose her ability to reason.

In the last 9 months there have been Child protection involvement, guardian ad litem reports, mediation three times, court a number of times, appointments to determine an appropriate diagnosis and an order for protection on the behalf of my children against my ex.  My oldest and I slept in an apartment since we did not want her to have the opportunity to hurt anyone.  We have had multiple professionals in our house, sometimes two or three at a time.  There have been emotional highs, the county finally seeing the need for group home placement.  Emotional lows, my ex not willing to allow my daughter to get the help and stability she deserves.  Finally, the only way my ex would consider a group home is if I gave her my daughter for six months.  “Here you go God, here is my trash, I have to trust you with it even though I know what needs to happen.  Please God, get my daughter the help she needs and deserves.  God, she is your kid long before she was my kid.  I ask that you protect her and keep her safe.  Give those people wisdom who can make decisions for her.”

This is where hope comes into play.  We know that we are more than ready for God to take away our trash.  We desperately are waiting, yearning for the garbage man to come.  We put our trash out, we wait a week, we wait two weeks, we wait a month, we wait 6 months, we may even wait years.  We call the company, they ensure us they are coming.  They cannot give us a time or day that they are coming.  Meanwhile our garbage starts rotting and stinking.  We cannot stand to walk by it or drive by it.  Our neighbors are wondering what is going on.  The police are stopping by daily to see if everything is okay.  You have a few friends who come over, accept you where you are at, stinking garbage and all.

We begin to isolate and not leave our house, people refuse to come over and visit.  No matter how much we shower and wash our clothes the stench of our garbage contaminates everything.  Our clothes, our skin, our house…EVERYTHING stinks.  We might even begin to question God, his sovereignty, his plan and our relationship with him.

Hope is the confidence that we have things we do not yet see.  Romans 8:22-30 (paraphrase) says this: All creation is groaning with the pains of labor, (your not alone) longing for the promises of God to be fulfilled in us and through us.  (The garbage man comes and takes away our trash).  Hope is in things that we do not see.  There is no hope in those things that are visible.  Our spirit groans within us when we cannot find the words to express our agony, our joy, our peace, our desperation with the way things are now.

God’s spirit intercedes for us when we are unable to utter the words to properly describe the ‘affliction’ that 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 talks about.  God knows your heart.

Our hope is this:
 Nothing can separate from the love of God or the salvation that he has freely given us. (Romans 8:37-39)
He has a plan for us, a good and perfect plan, it may not be comfortable, it may not be pleasant and in fact it maybe full of persecution.  It is HIS plan, HIS perfect plan.  It is for HIS glory and not your own.  (Romans 8:28-29)
Even though our physical body maybe wasting away, Spiritually, emotionally, mentally we are being renewed daily.  There is an eternal glory that we cannot imagine or describe.  We cannot fathom the riches that God has stored away for us.  (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
God given.  Jeremiah 29:10-14 says that God knows the plans he has for us, it may not happen today, tomorrow or next year.  Israel had to wait through 70 years of captivity before they returned to the promised land.  God’s command is trust me.  The reward is living out God’s plan, hope given by God and a future directed by God.

What if the garbage truck doesn’t come this week, this month, this year, this decade or this century?  Can you maintain your hope in Christ to provide you with peace, joy, love, acceptance?

What are you putting your hope in?  The weekly service of the garbage company or the eternal promises of God?  We cannot put our hope in a broken government, in a broken church, believe me there are broken churches, broken people, or broken systems.  None of us would get into a car that had broken brakes and drive away and ‘hope’ we would be able to stop and avoid an accident.  There is a known, visible system that is broken and in need of repair.

I think our lives are the same way.  We need to get a spiritual tune-up from time to time and check our ‘hope system’.

In what ways do you need to repair your hope?

Finish the statement:  “I hope that…”
What is your message of hope?
Are you ready to share it?  1 Peter 3:15 says we should always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that we have.

My hope is in Christ and the promises that are in His Word.  There are two knowns in life, our date of birth and our date of death.  Is your hope in the new birth that Christ offers to you?  My hope is in His plans, His wisdom, His grace, His salvation (past, present and future)

You are blessed if you are eager to do good, carry out good and are persecuted for doing those good deeds.  Just like Christ.  He did good, people had to make things up to get him to ‘look bad’ and killed him on the basis of those lies.  His hope was in the Father.  The one with the master plan.  The one who created the earth and everything in it.

Don’t lose sight of the HOPE that Christ offers you and calls you too.

Scott Fisk 9/2017

80s/90s Day

It is 80s/90s day at school. I think she is ready. I just emptied an entire can of aqua net on her hair and packed her lip smackers lip gloss and charm necklace for when she wants to wear it later. I told her to beware because her teachers will love her shirt so much they may try to remove it from her person. She hadn't a clue what I was talking about. 😊

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ooohs and Aaahs

Jay Long is an amazing poet and writer. He explores the human condition, feelings of loss and utter devastation. He also describes love, longing and the desire for what is yet to come like no one else does. He isn't afraid of what he feels or thinks, and doesn't shy away from aching emotions that often threaten to overwhelm him.
Eternal Echos- Enjoy the moments, they're hidden between the ooohs and the aaahs.
One simple sentence that I have been stuck on for days.  Every day, there is joy,  laughter and tears. There are so many things to do, and not enough time to do them. Often, we get so wrapped up in what is to be accomplished,  we find ourselves more focused on the what's next rather than the right now.

There are moments when the busyness takes a hold, days that never seem to end. Where we find ourselves asking for a do over, wanting to just end this day in its tracks and just go to bed. How is this possibly a day well lived? When you wish for it to cease? Wishing for it not only to be over, but to have never happened in the first place.

Then there are the amazing ooohs and aaahs.  Surrounded by family or friends, we explore this amazing world, enjoy the final days of summer, walk until we can not walk any further, sit by fires we wish would never go out. We witness friends committing thier lives to each other as they marry, we giggle at furry friends as they play with children. We hold hands, curl up close to the one we love and lean in to each other as a new day approaches.

The hidden moments seem to be more apparent than the oooh and aaah times in our lives. Those moments are also meant to be experienced and enjoyed and treasured. Sometimes difficult, sometimes heart wrenching, often unwanted. Those moments are still a part of our lives. Those moments when all placed next to each other are what defines us. Those lows, or those uneventful moments are meant to be enjoyed, savored, explored and eventually welcomed.

Those moments are often quiet, solitary, and trying. But still, we need to welcome, nurture and cultivate them. If we live in those in between moments, if we find joy in those moments, we won't shy away from them the next time they approach. We will no longer wish for the day to end and long for a new one to begin. When we live our lives with expectation of the next oooh,  the next aaah,  we take for granted the moments in between.

I am thankful for the moments. The in between. Sometimes the lack of ooohs and aaahs are exactly what we need to then be able to appreciate the spectacular even more.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Electric Tea Kettles and Electric Ovens

In the kitchen making muffins with Lily and brewing kombucha. (two tea kettles boiling water) "Mom, when you were a little kid, did you have electric tea kettles and an electric oven?" Because she for some reason believes that I am incredibly old, I replied, "Oh no honey. We were so poor and never had anything like that. We had a small fire pit in the front yard where we had to start a fire to cook or bake any food and where we would place the kettle on top of the bare coals. The back yard fire was where we went to warm up."

 If my child asks you the same question, you better keep my nonsense story going.🙄

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Be Still

Today, I was restless. A full day turned in to a ridiculously full day before I even had a chance to roll out of bed. I was overwhelmed at the number of events I needed to attend and at the number of things I needed to complete on my to do list. As I showered this morning, I tried so desperately to hold every thought captive. (2 Corinthians 10:5)  Every time my thoughts would stray, I prayed, God, help me stay focused on you today, not on everything I have to do. As I dressed and furiously painted my face and coiffed my hair, that restless feeling returned. I left my hair somewhat unfinished and went to my bedside table and grabbed my bible.

I opened to Psalms 46:10.  BE STILL and know that I am God. BE STILL and know that I am God. God is perfect. God is loving. God is kind. God is patient. God is just. God is faithful. I started thanking God for every character trait that I know about Him.  God is my Father. He is a Strong Tower. He is the Great Physician. He is Omnipotent. He is Omnipresent. He is Omniscient. I then prayed through the Names of God and additional Truths that I know about God.  What I have found, over and over again, is that when I take the focus off of me, my troubles, my struggles, my worries, and focus on God, those troubles, struggles and worries seem to diminish if not disappear.

Yes, church was challenging. I had to pass out informational postcards for a ministry that I work with while trying to keep an eye on Zach. Zach got a nosebleed during the service, my husband Josh had to quickly take him to the bathroom and help him clean up. Lily was all over the place today but was so excited to serve in the nursery and then go to Sunday School. Target after church was extra challenging as it is Game Day and the check out lanes were a mile long. Crying babies everywhere, I had to reassure Zach over and over again that he could do it, to take deep breaths and to focus on me rather than the noise. (Zach has Autism and he already had on his noise blocking headphones. They just weren't doing the trick.)

When I got home, I had to prepare a large dish to share for the All Church Picnic at 1 pm and make Zach's lunch because he never really eats a full meal at a picnic.  I was delayed by unforeseen circumstances and wasn't able to meet Josh and Lily at the picnic until 1:30 pm. I struggled with a few challenging conversations and found I needed to just remove myself. And when we got home at 4:30 pm, I still had to fold five loads of laundry, wash and dry two more, do the dishes and clean the kitchen and pack backpacks for tomorrow.

But you know what?  It was such a good day!! Even with everything that I planned for the day in addition to everything unplanned along the way, it was a great day. Praise and Worship time meant so much this morning as Zach sang from the depths of his soul. My children had fun at the church picnic. They left with smiles on their faces and full tummies. My husband and I had the chance to visit with friends and enjoyed watching our children all play together at the park and in the ball fields. I have all my house work done and even enjoyed a solitary walk this evening.  In all the busyness of the day, I reminded myself to BE STILL. To be still in the presence of God. To pray and thank Him for who He is and all that He does.  To tell Him that I love Him. I was still in His presence. I wasn't asking for anything. I was still and acknowledging that He is God.

Be Still. To be calm. In deep silence. Stillness. Quietude. Transfixed. Still means all of these things. Why should we be still? Be Still is a command from God. Not a suggestion. When we are Still in His presence, that is when God speaks, moves, heals our hearts, encourages us, directs our steps and can be Glorified.

How I thank God for a simple, two word command that means so much.

So every day, tomorrow included. I will Be Still in His presence before I start my day. Before I let the challenges of the day worry me or my concerns take a hold.  I will Be Still before my God.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Current State of Affairs

Current state of affairs at the Gavin house. New carpet for the 2nd floor is coming Wednesday. So everything from all three upstairs bedrooms and closets is on the main floor in the dining room and front living room. When the carpet installers arrive, they will move all the furniture into the great room. What I am trying to say is... just don't stop by this week. You will be lucky to find an empty chair and I can just imagine how long it will take to put everything back. Because of course, the Professional Organizer in me wants to sort all of it and donate 3/4 of it. But if you show up and bring me coffee and greet with me with an encouraging hug, I will clear a spot for you in the back hallway. I promise.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Monster at the End of This Book

Bedtime tonight including a wonderful reading by Lily from the kids book The Monster at the End of This Book.  Zach has always loved this book since he was tiny. And when Lily discovered a love for this book, Zach loved it even more. Tonight, Lily asked if she could read at bedtime. She walked over to her book shelf and found this book immediately.  She quickly positioned herself on the floor next to Zach. 

"Zach, I am going to read you a book. And you are gonna love it." Zach drew his very long legs up in front of himself and settled in for the reading. He helped turn the pages and smiled and laughed. 

The moment Lily finished reading,  Zach shouts, "Lily,  thank you! "

I sat in awe across the room just watching my two amazing kids. This pure, real, unorchestrated moment brought tears to my eyes. Lily often just wants attention from her big brother. She wants him to be interested in the things she likes, she wants to have a conversation and enjoy his company. When you have a sibling with Autism,  the challenges are overwhelming. And for sweet , kind, empathetic Lily, the challenges have begun to burden her heart. 

I have reminded Lily that what she wants and what really happens when she interacts with Zach,  will often be two very different things. But I also remind her that Zach may not be able to participate in every activity, but we need to compromise and meet him where he is at. Rather than expecting him to be comfortable entering our world or surroundings, we need to adjust our expectations and enter his world. And tonight, that is exactly what happened. 

Lily sought out a children's book that she knows Zach likes, chose to sit next to him on the floor, and met his excitement and energy level. She met him where he was at and they were able to discover the monster at the end of the book together. 

Wednesday, September 13, 2017


My 85 year old 2nd client of the day made fun of me because I had on purple shorts that matched the purple lining on my tennis shoes that also happened to match my purple water bottle. I told her she needed to stop laughing and making fun of me, because I knew she was just jealous. I also told her that making fun of the one girl holding a water bottle on this sweltering day isn't a good idea. She laughs louder and says.... "What? If I don't stop laughing are you going chase after me in your purple shoes?" 🙄🥊🏃

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Carbon Monoxide and Dryer Vents - I Ain't Got Time For That

I made a new friend today. His name is Paul. Paul told me to open all my basement windows and air out my house. No joke. Dryer wasn't drying for a few days. This coil was completely compressed and our basement was filling with carbon monoxide. For real. This also means that our carbon monoxide detectors aren't working. So he removed the compressed coil, verified restored heat flow and got it ready for Josh to replace and clean. (home service diagnostic and then fix or replace) (Easy to fix by replacing the coil venting and clean out the vents)  But the thing is, Paul reassured me it is fine that the kids and I are home, that in a half hour , my house will be fine and aired out. And that new carbon monoxide detectors on every floor and in the laundry is the way to go. He didn't make it sound like I was stupid for not knowing this. He was kind, professional and extremely knowledgeable. Call Paul. He can be your friend too.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Let Me Show You

Zach came home today with so much tell say about his 5th day of 9th Grade at Chanhassen High School.  There were six sentences written, vocabulary words, work boxes, lunch and Zach got excited as he talked about DAPE. (Adaptive Physical Education for special needs students)

Zach said,  "We reached our hands up high and down to toes. We stretch and stretch and we do this...." Zach learned awkwardly against the wall and pushed and pushed. He smiled and said, "Woo. So strong!"

We love when Zach reinacts his day. I don't know what the actual movement was that he was trying to show us as he pushed so hard against the wall. I don't know if it was a stretch or a game. But I do know is that Zach was happy doing it, showing us what he did and talking about how strong he is. We praised him for his great attitude and for talking about DAPE as he often doesn't have much to say about his day.

I made dinner, we ate and I started cleaning up , preparing for tomorrow.   I started thinking about the fact that I was completely engaged with Zach even if only for a few minutes. Eye to eye , he continued to talk and show me more things. When I am busy, racing around trying to accomplish everything, I as a mother can miss out on so much. Maybe it is a sad or disappointing facial expression from my daughter. Or an extra show off moment from Zach. Tonight because I made eye contact, Zach talked LONGER, he stayed present LONGER and engaged LONGER.  My kids just need my attention. They need my love. They need my encouragement.

More of the-- You did a great job! I am so proud of you! I love talking with you! Thank you for sharing with me about your day! I love being your mom! Sign for me another song from choir . Show me your amazing artwork!

And a whole lot less of-- I don't have time. I have to make dinner. I have a deadline. I have to do the dishes and the laundry first. Let me get this done first. Can we talk about this later?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hives Outta Nowhere

I apologize for the flurry of Gavin's leaving church today during the service. The kids and I bolted when Zach had an allergic reaction to something. No clue. He leaned into me and held his jaw in his hand and said ow ow. I looked at him and from ear to chin red on fire hives. Poor kid. The one Sunday Josh had to take my van to work, I didn't have a meds bag in his car. I only had one expired zyrtec in my purse. I got that into him asked for cortisone or hydrocortisone or benedryl. Couldn't locate any. Sweet Bailey grabbed Lily from the 4s and 5s where she was serving, and I grabbed Zach from the service and we bolted. By that time, (all of 5 minutes) he started getting more hives down his right leg near a bite he got yesterday. (maybe the bite has something to do with it.) Raced home. Filled him with liquid benedryl and anti itch cream all over his face. He wanted an ice water bottle against his face.

The immediate need for meds stems from Zach's inability to not scratch his skin. Arms, legs, face, have all been scratched open because Zach isn't able to leave irritated skin alone. When a child has autism, you want to rectify the problem and bring relief as soon as possible, because often times,  they do not totally understand what is even happening.

Zach will be fine. I will keep an eye on him and give him more meds if need be. - My Lesson Learned? Always store a med bag in both cars and check expiration dates to make sure you have the most effective meds available when something odd happens away from home. - - - Zach just said--I feel better from the itch. 💗

Update...Zach is doing great! He was so tired from the meds he laid down for a rest.  When he woke,the red was all gone and there were just raised bumps. The hives on his legs were completely gone. He was happy and said he was still tired but feeling better. He is now playing on the iPad and singing!  He even asked if we were returning to church tonight.  I told him probably,  but with a complete med bag in the glove box.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Push Ups

Sometimes, when you have a kid with speech issues and delays, words don't come easily. Zach Charades were happening today after school. He said he did a lot stretching and sit-ups. And then paused because he couldn't think of the word. He put his pretzels down, threw his knees up behind him and put his hands on the floor and proceeded to do push-ups. "I did these!" A push up? "Yes! I did push-ups!!!" He was so excited to act out the word he didn't remember and more excited that I knew what he was talking about. Amidst the garage sale chaos.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Cows and Horses Just Talking

Our family went to the Great Minnesota Get Together yesterday. Also known as the Minnesota State Fair.  Lily won tickets at the library from doing book reports for the summer reading program. It give her such a sense of satisfaction knowing that a day of family fun happened because of her hard work this summer. We left early at 6:45 am to get there for a morning show.  We were all a little sleepy, but it was totally worth it.

Lily wanted to go to the Grandstand and see the vendors. Zach wanted to ride the merry go round. And Lily and Zach both wanted to ride the world largest traveling ferris wheel. A wonder to behold if I do say so myself.  Lily enjoyed cotton candy and pronto pup and an ice cream cone. Zach devoured chicken fingers, an ice cream cone and found sprite from a fountain machine was absolutely amazing.

Both kids have always enjoyed touring the Miracle of Birth Center (baby animals born daily), The Horse Barn, The Cow Barn, and then seeing the goats, sheep, bunnies and chickens.  Yesterday, was no exception.

Zach has always loved horses and cows. And as a sweet 14 year old boy with Autism, he often wants to just look at and talk to cows and horses more so than people. We live in the country but in a neighborhood. There are 3 or 4 farms on the way to speech on Wednesdays. The sheer amazement that Zach has when  he sees the cows at each farm is absolutely fantastic. He screams, "COWS! LOOK AT THEM ALL! WHY ARE THE COWS SO CRAZY? THEY JUST ARE!!!!"  Every. Single. Time. Every time he seems them, this is what he says. As if it is the official cow greeting.

Yesterday, Zach's special greeting was needed. The cow stalls seemed to go for miles and miles. He was in cow heaven. So many cows to talk to. So many cows to greet.  And he couldn't let any of them feel left out. What an amazing interaction he had with this cow. He sat and talked to it forever. The cow never broke eye contact with Zach.

So this morning, when Zach was furiously sorting through all of his toys in two toy bins in the living room and the toy box in the basement, I knew exactly what he was looking for. Every single cow and horse that he loves.  Oh, how I love when I see the interesting configurations of each cluster. As if they are arranged for a conversation. Zach played with nothing else today except for these amazing figurines and of course he spent time drawing and coloring. Horses and Cows. At the Gavin house, we don't stop to smell the roses, we stop to talk to the cows.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Opposite of Failure-Why I Write

I have a secret.  Well, not a secret, more so just something I don't talk much about. I am 42 years old. I have been married for 22+ years and am the mom to two pretty amazing kids.  I love being a writer. But I haven't always done much of it. I wrote short stories as a kid, often with the help of my dad. As a teen, I wrote a lot about new experiences. Space Camp, Summer Camp, Trips to Colorado and Chicago, Relationships, Heart Ache, Family Turmoil. I guess, I stopped writing anything other than poetry at the end of my senior year of high school. Poetry flowed out of me so fast and ferociously, that it actually scared me a bit.  Raw emotion found its way onto the page before I had a chance to realize what I was writing about.  But school, youth group, high school musicals, singing, relationships, and then the busyness of college made all that writing take a back burner.

I married young, worked as a Banker for years and then as a Bank Consultant and a Professional Organizer. I love being an Organizer and working in a different person's home every day. I love approaching each new task and finding a solution to the organizational woes of the American Home. But, I have only been actively writing for two years. Why? Why is it that something I love doing is something that I walked away from? Why is it that I let the busyness of life overtake me and that I let it steal what brought me joy? 

I have never been lacking in the self esteem department.  Being overly confident has often been my downfall.  I found myself struggling with jealousy.  I had two friends who were succeeding as writers and saw book after book being published.  One of my friends made an attempt at a career change from a dead end corporate job to public speaking and booked 16 gigs in the first 6 months.  And yet another friend quit her job of 21 years so that she could pursue her artistic passion and sold piece after piece.  When I sat down and poured out my heart to a dear friend about how I was feeling, watching everyone succeed around me, she said something to me that stopped me dead in my tracks. She said I wasn't a failure because I haven't yet done something amazing. Hold up. Wait a minute. Failure?  I never saw myself as a failure until she said that.  I was fully aware that she was trying to comfort and redirect me, but the self doubt set in. Was I a failure?  What have I done to make a name for myself? Is making my name known even something that I want?  Have I failed because I don't live up to everyone else's level of success? I even started to question if others viewed me as a failure or if they expected more of me at this stage in my life.

I found myself stuck in a state of discontentment, often analyzing, overthinking, brainstorming and strategizing.  I knew that many women, of a "certain age" struggled with their identity, figuring out what their role is, and how they can make changes to improve their life as they know it. I would cry talking to my husband when explaining my feelings about possibly being a failure.  He would hold me, love on me, and ask me when it was that I started letting others set the bar for me. He asked me when I started being concerned about what others thought of me. He also was very good at pointing out all that I had accomplished. My heart sang when he told me I was a great mom and wife.  He told me how proud he was of me and the fact that I had started my successful Organizing business from the ground up. He also complimented my efforts at helping others and desiring to meet the physical tangible needs of the under served local community. He told me he loved me, supported me and would help me do and accomplish anything that I set my mind to. And then, Josh Gavin, God love him said, "Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop viewing yourself as a failure because others have succeeded differently than you have." 

That was it.  There isn't a specific tool that could used to measure success.  Success is determined by the person who has set a goal or has decided to pursue a passion.  My success and the path that I chose to take would be left up to me. No one would be grading me. No one would say, you shouldn't pursue your passion anymore, it is too late. You aren't 25 years old. Your time has passed.-- And if someone was shaking their head me, or tongues began to wag, I didn't care. My age wasn't going to be a factor anymore. I have had a life well lived so far!  I had experience and wisdom!  I had more stories to tell because of the life I have lived!

I found myself researching women. Specifically woman who had succeeded later in life.  In their late 30's and beyond.  I still had my entire life ahead of me.  I made the decision right there and then.  If writing had been so important to me once, I needed to pursue it again.

Viola Davis, one of my favorite actresses, dealt with extreme poverty as a child, often not knowing where her next meal would come from.  Today, at 52, her name and talent is known worldwide.  Vera Wang didn't even entertain the idea of being a fashion designer until she was planning her own wedding at 40 years of age. Julia Child didn't even start cooking until her mid 30's. Louisa May Alcott was 37 before any publisher even considered publishing one of her books. Judi Dench earned her first Oscar at 64. Susan Boyle never even sang in public until she was 48. And Laura Ingalls Wilder didn't share her stories with the world until she was 64.

My mother passed away 4 1/2 years ago. I wanted to honor her and write down my memories, but I couldn't even pick up a pen. I often ended up in a puddle of tears and at a loss for which memories I should share first.  I am a note taker. I started keeping a small writing notebook and pen in my purse or bag about 3 years ago. Each time I thought of something that would make for an interesting story, I would write it down. Sometimes it was a sentence, sometimes it was a paragraph or random words all thrown together that only made sense to me. Sometimes it was a single word. Basement. Flowers. Wood Ticks.  His smile.  Her ability to make friends. The Christmas Tree. These words made sense to me and in the notebook they went.  By approaching my note taking this way,  those tears became fewer.  I was able to see stories taking shape, and rather than being stuck on the loss, or pain of a memory, I was excited and the stories started to write themselves. The short stories were like a weight being lifted from my shoulders.

I started writing for the local newspaper, entering poetry contests and writing mostly stories just for myself.  Almost like keeping a journal or blog, but not sharing much of it with others.  I won a couple of prizes for entries I had made and loved it.  People stopped me at the library or at Target to tell me they enjoyed reading my newspaper articles. I began to write more. Not every day, but weekly.  I realized I was creating a habit by writing more frequently. I desired to write, I wanted to write. And then I realized I had to write.  It wasn't just flowing from me once again, like the poetry had in high school, I couldn't keep the stories in me if I tried.  I found myself boring friends and family with long stories of days gone by, and each time, they said, write it down. Just write it down.

What have I been doing my whole life not writing? What made me think that I should have been doing anything else?  I now enjoy blogging, I continue writing for Southwest Media (17 small town newspapers), for Poetry and Short Story Journals and occasionally still enter a contest or two. I have been published a number of times.  I enjoy knowing that something I love doing actually means something to others.  That something I have written can and will touch hearts and change lives of people I may never meet. My idea of success was never to become famous and known around the world. My idea of success was to inspire others through telling stories that matter and make people's lives richer.

Like I mentioned. I am 42. I don't often speak of my age now that I am over 40. But now I find myself wanting to share my age with others. I want to share my story with others.  It took me 40 years to find what I should be doing. Writing fills my soul. It inspires me. It makes me want to share my joy. It enables me to share stories of my life that I think others need to hear. But mostly, it means I didn't fail. It took me 40 years, but I didn't fail. I need to remember that. Daily. When I am discouraged. When another decline email or letter is received. The realization that it took me a long time, but I am doing what I love, is of the utmost importance to me.

I haven't yet written that novel I have always said I would write. However, I am pretty sure it will happen in my next 40 years.

I Know What That Means- By: Kelli J Gavin for Writers Unite!

I Know What That Means By: Kelli J Gavin After my family moved to Minneapolis three years ago, my parents refused to visit us in our ne...