Lutheran Schools: My Family

Every year when Zoe starts school I get a bit emotional. This is not really because she is starting another year of school. This year she is going full days which is fantastic news because of the baby on the way. I am elated that she will be having fun all day at school, I'm not the greatest entertainer at 8-9 months pregnant or with a newborn. The reason I get emotional is because she is attending Lutheran school. Lutheran schools have shaped my life probably more than anything else. I know I have written about this in the past but it never hurts to tell the story.

My parents decided to send me to a Lutheran school from an advertisement they saw in the paper. They were not regular church goers, not Lutheran, they just needed a preschool. Thanks to my preschool teacher, they started attending church and became VERY involved. My mom ended up working in the school as a before and after school childcare employee. This put me at school ALL the time. I was at school from 6:00AM to 5:00PM. St. John's Lutheran School in Arnold, MO was my home. I spent all of my time there. My parents were friends with the teachers. I would help the teachers in their rooms because I got bored from being in childcare all the time. There was even a summer where my mom helped work a summer childcare program there. I was ALWAYS there. I was putting up bulletin boards, helping sweep and clean chalkboards (back when we used those). This was my safe place. We moved to Cincinnati, OH and had a similar experience at our church and school there.

It didn't stop with my mom just working there. Both of my parents volunteered. When the chicken dinner, sausage dinner and church picnic rolled around, my family was there with other families. The kids played and the adults worked. I saw my parents have all kinds of fun with the other parents. It was not just friends, it was family.

I attended a Catholic high school in Cincinnati, OH because there were no Lutheran High Schools in the area. I went on to attend Concordia University Wisconsin which is an LCMS college just north of Milwaukee, WI. I went to become a Lutheran school teacher, after all Lutheran school was my life and Lutheran school was how I knew Jesus. Of course I am going to continue that life. The choice to go to CUW was one of the best I had in my life. My professors were some of the most caring, loving and hilarious people I've ever met. I still keep in touch with a handful of them 10 years later and they still care, or at give me their time to update them on my life. Yes, it was expensive and I had loans, but I would not in my life say that I wasted a penny on that education.

When Nate and I started dating, I mentioned  to him that I wanted (needed) our kids to attend Lutheran grade school and if the opportunity arose, also Lutheran high school. I don't send my kids to Lutheran school because I am the pastor's wife. I send my kids to Lutheran schools because they made me who I am.

Because of Lutheran schools:

  • I love and know Jesus
  • My manners are top-notch.
  • I was well prepared academically for high school or college.
  • I know what it means to work hard in your profession, I watched my teachers every day.
  • I attended Lutheran college and married my husband.
  • I ended up in the wonderful town of Hoyleton.
  • I have a built in family for myself and my children.
  • I don't have to worry about my kids at school because I know their teachers care deeply.
  • I have a network of friends (family) all over the country.
  • I keep in touch with my teachers from years ago. My second grade teacher attended my wedding. 
  • I attended Lutheran camp which was one of the best experiences for my faith.
I could go on forever because Lutheran schools shaped my entire life.

The thing that kills me these days are the ways our Lutheran schools are struggling. They struggle financially because education costs a lot. They struggle financially because they want to provide healthcare for their teachers and it is an astronomical cost. They struggle because people love to gossip. They struggle because making the sacrifice to pay tuition is not an easy choice to make and sometimes not possible without financial aid. They struggle because the devil likes to attack the work of the Lord. 

Despite the struggles, they are still a place that teaches the word of the Lord and prepares students for their long term academic career. They still produce smiles on students and teachers. They still produce quality students who become leaders in our communities and churches. They have wonderful, caring and qualified teachers. These schools are doing an excellent job.

So why do I love Lutheran schools? They are my family.

That's all for now. God is good.

The Women Go to Mobile

If you are part of the Lutheran Church -Missouri Synod church body you most likely know what the LWML is. LWML stands for Lutheran Women's Missionary League. LWML has been around since 1942 and has raised over $100 million for missions around the world. When Nate was at seminary, I worked as the receptionist at the LWML national office in St. Louis. Since then, I've had a soft spot for the LWML.

When we moved to Hoyleton, the LWML/Ladies' Aid wanted to throw me a baby shower. Since I knew they were planning on doing this, I thought it would be nice to attend their meetings. Turns out, they have a social time with desserts at the end of every meeting. I'm there. I love hanging out with our mature in age women and I love food. They had me hooked.

Fast forward to last year sometime, my buddy Norma mentioned to me that the LWML convention would be in Mobile, AL. As a Midwesterner, I love the Gulf Coast. After all, that's where all the St. Louisans go on vacation. I told Norma we should go on a road trip! A little while later, Norma mentioned to me that our district would send me as a Young Women Representative. So this road trip became a real thing. We also enlisted our buddy Gerri to go along with us. I told them that since the both of them had surgery this year and I am pregnant, we were all prone to blood clots and would need to take some walking breaks. Needless to say, we had a hilarious time in the car.

Now, I love a good church convention because it always turns into a reunion. Because many of my friends are church workers, they are all over the country and I don't get to see them a lot. I got to spend time and catch up with some great friends when I was in Mobile. I also was able to make new friends.

Terry Keischnick and I. I love Terry so much. We got to know each other when I lived in Texas. She is a phenomenal woman and such a great support to pastor's wives.

My friends Lauren and Brianne. I worked with Lauren at Camp Wartburg in Southern Illinois and then I worked with Brianne at Camp Lakeview in Southern Indiana. Brianne and Lauren went to college together. You're only one LCMS Lutheran away from knowing them all.

These two young ladies were Young Women's Representatives with me. One is currently attending Concordia University Wisconsin and the other just graduated. We had to get a CUW ladies picture together. They made me feel old because I am at least 10 years older than they are.

Another picture of Lauren and I. 

I also was able to again see and better understand how the LWML serves the world. Most people know that the LWML's color is purple, is made up of older women and they make sure the church gets fed. The LWML is so much more. Every 2 years they have a convention to get some business done, but to most importantly, decide what mission projects they will be supporting for the next two years. These mission projects are foreign and domestic. Some of the projects selected were: a clean water project for rural schools in Kenya, a program for teaching preschoolers with special needs, outreach for at-risk women in Africa, a program that is restoring homes and living conditions for families in Detroit and the list goes on. The projects added up to a total of $2.1 Million. Then women all over the country collect funds to support these mission projects. The LWML has supported missions in 74 countries. My eyes were opened about how much our offerings from our meeting of 15-20 women in little Hoyleton, IL can support people all over the world. These women of our church body raise so much funding for so many people in need. It's incredible. Even though I worked in the national office for a year, it never really hit me how much the LWML does. This convention was very eye opening.

I am so very glad I went. I did get a break from the kids but I was very busy while I was there. I am very thankful to Nate and his parents holding down the fort while I was gone. I had a great time!

I think this guy was happy to have his mama home. He sat next to me all morning on Monday. Mama missed him too. I missed my bug but she went off to VBS on Monday so we had our snuggles the night I got home.

I introduced Norma and Gerri to Whataburger on the drive back. They, of course, loved it. I was over the moon because I LOVE Whataburger. 

That's all for now. God is good.

Riding the Summertime Mama Struggle Bus

As many of you are aware, it is summer break from school. Zoe has been out of school for two weeks already and we're feeling some adjustment pains. I think mostly Mommy is feeling those pains. I preface this post with the fact that I love my babies and am very blessed to stay at home with them. When it comes to blogging and social media I usually keep it up beat with happy pictures and stories. One day last week was was not a happy picture and story day. Nothing in particular went wrong, it was just one of those days. So I'm here to share with those of you that need to know you're not alone riding the struggle bus sometimes.

The day started out fine. The kids got up and we walked with my walking group. Zach made a mess out of some brochures in the school building so that was mildly annoying because of all the bending over my 23 week pregnant self had to do, but easily cleaned up. We then took a trip to a nearby town to get Zoe a new t-ball helmet, that is in my opinion, a pretty sweet helmet. During our time in the store Zoe kept questioning why she wasn't getting a bat and Zach wore the helmet because when he wasn't wearing it, he was screaming. (Side note: 5 year olds in the summer ask about 100 questions an hour. It is maddening.) This, however, is pretty normal for a trip to the store. We then walked to the hardware store, I came out empty handed but the kids came out with suckers. We then drove home.

Zach in Zoe's new helmet.

When we got home, we played outside for a while. Because there were no other kids to play with, my kids had to fight with each other, not play, fight. Zoe didn't want Zach using her bubbles. THEY'RE THE SAME BUBBLES!!! Zach is blowing his bubble gun in my face. Zoe is upset because her bubble gun doesn't work. Zach spills his bubble tray roughly 5 times. Zach gives up on this nonsense and wants to go inside and play with his vrooms (cars). All of this was happening while I was on the phone with my mom.

Bubble Gun Boy

We get inside and Zach eventually climbs up on my lap. He is kicking his legs around and knocks over an old cup of Diet Coke. This is when I start crying the first time. For some reason, my hormones had enough and this was the breaking point. Both kids are watching me cry. I feel dumb for crying over spilled Diet Coke (although not the first time) and a failure as a mom that I can't keep my cool over what was a seemingly normal morning. I texted a couple of friends about how I felt. One of them who has four girls, sweetly called me to talk me off the ledge. I come back from talking on the phone and my poor husband is encountering a crying wife and a two year old saying, "Diet Coke, Mommy sad." After a chat and some lunch, things were a bit better.

The afternoon was fine. Zach went down for a nap, I did some craft work on my computer and Zoe had some quiet time. After her quiet time, Zoe came and laid on my bed next to me while I took a half hour nap and she had some iPad time. I got up and around 4:30 got dinner started. Then because I forgot Nate wasn't going to be home for dinner I needed a different plan. I wasn't going to make a big dinner for my kids to pick at. So the stress is coming back. I looked in the freezer and found some chicken nuggets and tator tots. Okay, perfect, the oven was already preheating and I love tator tots. Zoe comes into the kitchen to inform me that she doesn't like tator tots and will not be eating them. This is why I think that the dinner menu should be a secret until it is on the table. So I finish browning the meat that was supposed to be for dinner and set it aside. Meanwhile I hear Zach's head hit the floor and an "owwww". Ugh, now what is going on? I peak around the wall to see that the kids are using their foam chairs as gymnastics mats and climbing all over them in a not so safe way. That's when I yelled, I yelled at Zoe because she knows that she isn't supposed to use the chairs for that and took the chairs away. Then I see her playing and smiling and get upset because I feel like nothing phases her. I made both kids sit down. And here it comes, the breaking point is hit again and I go into the kitchen and cry some more because I feel bad for yelling at Zoe. I get up and put the nuggets and tots on plates. I am reminded by Zoe that she will not be eating any tator tots and I tell her that I love them and she should really try them with some ketchup. She tried them and liked them. *insert sarcastic facial expression here* I eat my tator tots and the kids finish up.

I realize that it is probably not a good idea for us to stay inside until bedtime so we venture to the park and invite some friends along. They did really well playing in the park and I got some adult interaction with another mom. Fresh air and conversation can help many things. I realize that Zach needs a diaper change and he has informed me that he has a little cut on his finger, so I get ready to go. Of course, Zoe needs to get her shoes on before we can roll out. Zach feeling the need to get home immediately, bolts out of the park and for the road. AHHHHH I can't really run after him in flip flops so I walk as fast as I can trying not to fall in the grass and get him. He got a nice little swat on his bottom for not listening to Mommy when she asked him to come back. Running toward the road is an offense that Mommy doesn't take lightly. An employee from the Children's Home in town pulls up and tells me to keep the kids close because one of their girls with schizophrenia has escaped and they don't know if she will harm herself or others. I then worry about if I left the garage door open or not. THIS PERSON COULD BE IN MY HOUSE.

We get home and head straight for the bath. Zach, who usually loves the bath, was not having it. He just wanted a band-aid for his cut and I told him we had to wash before he could get a band-aid. This led to a full on bath time meltdown and Zach doesn't melt down often. Zoe realizing I need her to cooperate is very good at this point and gets washed fast. We get out of the bath, Zach is still unhappy until we get the band-aid on his finger. He was then just fine. I come out to the living room and Zoe is standing stark naked in front of the open window. Oh Zoe. I finally get her dressed and put on a show for them to watch for about 15 minutes while I take the towels back to the bathroom and empty the tub. I sit down and Zach crawls up for a snuggle. He reminds me of earlier and said, "Diet Coke, Mommy sad." I assure him that I'm not sad anymore and he shows me his ouchie. I get him in bed and then do Zoe's bedtime routine and get her to bed. Snuggles with Zoe at the end of the day are exhausting, but man sometimes they are just what I need as a mama. She still wants me to snuggle even though I was a grouchy mom all day long.

Nursing his finger

At 9:30pm I put some taquitos in the oven because I'm hungry and open up a stress Diet Coke. I turned on some Downton Abbey and relaxed the rest of the evening knowing that I should work on laundry, but guess what? Mama needed Diet Coke and TV. Nate got home around 10:30 and then I called it a day. A long day.

Now, was this the worst day? Not by any means. Was it unbearable? Not really. Was it a lot of work, tiring and at times frustrating? You bet. It doesn't have to be a horrible day to feel like one or to get overwhelmed. That's okay. There are a million other things swimming around in our heads besides what is actually happening, like bills, summer plans, cleaning the house, planning the meals, our jobs inside or out of the home, friendships, family. All of those things are active in the back of our minds while we are taking care of our kids. As many of my friends said to me yesterday, sometimes you just need to cry it out. It was true. I needed a good cry and boy did it help. So hang in there summer mamas. You got this.

That's all for now. God is good.

Moms in Vegas!

As some of you saw on Facebook, last week I took a trip to Las Vegas with my good friend Betsy. Betsy's husband, Mark and Nate went to seminary together. Now Betsy lives in Detroit with her family, so we don't get to see each other too often.

So why did I go to Vegas? Well, I have always been a huge Celine Dion fan. When I was 11 years old, my family went to Las Vegas and Celine Dion had just started a residency there. Sadly, we could not get tickets to see her then. Since that trip, I have always wanted to see her in Vegas. I had mentioned to Nate once that I would love to see her in Vegas. I figured that we could go some day when the kids were older. Well, Nate did some research and found out that Celine would be ending her time in Vegas this summer. So, for my Christmas gift this past year, he got together with his parents and my mom and they all chipped in for a quick trip to Vegas for me and a friend to see Celine. To say that I was excited on Christmas morning was an understatement. Nate took a video of me reading a note explaining the trip, this video will never see the light of day because I was fresh out of bed and I was so excited that I hit Zoe in the chest. If you ask her, she will reenact the scene for you. Needless to say, I was crazy excited.

When I opened my gift at Christmas!!

Betsy and I planned our flights to come into Vegas within 20 minutes of each other and then we were able to have the first of our flights back to the Midwest together. We had such an amazing time. We shopped. Betsy has two sons and two foster daughters all under age 7. We have zero time to shop without kids under foot. Outlet malls plus moms minus kids equals bliss. We ended up mostly buying stuff for the kids.

We were so excited to only have to feed ourselves on this trip and not several people. We went down to the hotel breakfast and were able to eat our food hot and fast. We had time to sleep in, read books and nap.

Of course, we were still in Vegas. We did plenty of people watching, walking on the strip and seeing the sights. We were able to walk to the Bellagio and see the famous fountains. The walking in Vegas was a lot for this pregnant lady so we ended up utilizing Uber quite a lot. Getting an Uber is an interesting adventure. The app is super easy to use. Let me tell you though, in Las Vegas, if you call and Uber you better be ready. There are several drivers and there is most likely a driver dropping someone off at your location so they will be ready in a minute. We met a lot of interesting Uber drivers. A couple of our favorites were a man from Detroit whose son works for Macklemore and Chance the Rapper and a high school teacher that is originally from Guam.


One of our favorite eating spots was the Peppermill. Apparently the Peppermill has been in Las Vegas for a very long time. It has HUGE portions, trees and other greenery growing in the dining room and neon everywhere. One of our waitresses was wearing an evening gown. It was a very interesting place. Everyone we talked to described it as "very much old Vegas". The food was fantastic and we were still stuffed in the morning.

Giant Portion

Betsy and I with all the indoor foliage at The Peppermill

The second night we of course saw Celine Dion and she was FABULOUS. I have seen a lot of concerts in the last year. She is one of the best. Because of the nature of her ballad type songs, I thought she would be a pretty serious performer. She was actually super goofy and quite entertaining. Along with her great ability to make everyone laugh, her voice was as clear as listening to a CD. Her song performance was beautiful. She has a fantastic orchestra, conductor and vocalists. She is going to be going on tour here soon. If she is coming to your town, you should go. She is phenomenal. If you would like a taste of her goofiness, look up Carpool Karaoke with James Corden and Celine Dion on YouTube. She was just as silly on stage.

So excited! 

Here she comes!!!

She was fantastic.

The last day, we did a little more shopping, sat by the pool and headed back to the airport.

Selfie with the Bellagio ceiling glass art.

In the Bellagio Garden

Betsy with the weird moving birds


Sweet floral butterfly

Obligatory picture with a slot machine

Betsy pretending she won big

Everyone needs a picture with the Las Vegas sign

When we're together we have to take a Diet Coke pic.

Many thanks to my mom and Nate's parents for chipping in on the trip. A big shout out to Mark, Betsy's husband, for wrangling their four kiddos while Betsy was gone. The biggest thanks to my husband for planning everything and giving me this gift of a dream to see Celine and a much needed mom break for my friend and I. We had a fantastic time and are so thankful for it!

That's all for now! God is good!

Zach is Two!

Last month, our handsome man turned two years old! I can't believe it. Zach is fun, crazy and loves sleep. He is growing so fast and is tall. Don't know where he's getting the tall gene but we'll take it. Unfortunately, he will probably pass up his sister in height soon, and she will not be happy.

Zach likes:

  • His family
  • Milk
  • Sleep
  • Food
  • Ice Cream
  • Cookies
  • His Bed
  • Scout
  • His bear
  • "Vrooms" - Cars
  • "Rawrs" - Dinosaurs
  • Playing with his "Shishy" (sissy)
  • Playing outside
  • Watching Cleo and Cuquin
  • Dancing
  • Running
  • Baths
  • Suckers 
  • Climbing
  • Pretending he's a ghost
Zach doesn't like:
  • Sitting in the grocery cart
  • Getting in his car seat
  • Having his hair washed
  • Having his diaper changed
  • Being woken up
  • Being given the wrong cup (his preference changes daily)
  • Zoe taking his toys
  • Zoe not sharing her toys
  • Sitting to eat (he prefers to stand)
  • Sitting still in church (If anyone wants to adopt him for church, he's all yours.)
What people say about Zach:
  • "He's so cute."
  • "He has a lot of energy."
  • "He's tall."

My Wild Thing

His First Cardinals Game

My Boy

All Boy

Mr. Personality

Every Girl's Crazy Bout A Sharp Dressed Man

His Mama is Smitten

Snow Bear

Bucket Head

He's so cool.

My miracle sleeper ready for bed.

Relaxing with a cold milk after his bath.

Celebrating two!

We are so blessed to have Zach the bear as our sweet buddy. He makes us laugh every day. He is all boy and super sweet at the same time. 

That's all for now. God is good.