As I write this blog, I am fighting the urge to run to my children's school and bring them home. Sometimes those Mama hormones work double time, particularly when we hear news of another deadly shooting at a high school. I know sitting here in Montana it can seem a world away. It wasn't that long ago when I lived with my small children in the town of Springfield Oregon, just minutes away from Thurston High School and hearing the news of the shooting. I remember fighting back the tears waiting for news of our lovely neighborhood babysitter, praying she was safe and unharmed. We watched in horror as the events unfolded for our small community. The candle light vigils, the media attention, and the aftermath. I remember even then there was vehement argument about the right to carry guns and making laws to prevent these types of things from occurring. 

Right now, as I write parents, community, children and families are mourning this tragedy and are dealing with the  first few hours of shock. Parents are holding tight to their children who just this morning they sent "safely" off to school. Already blogs, news coverage and TV shows are talking about this. Already the words are flying about gun rights and safety. I used to be firmly in the camp of believing anyone with a gun was an idiot and then I married a man from Montana.

Once of the first times I interacted  with my mother in law when Seth and I were dating, I noticed she had a pistol strapped to her side and was marching with intent up to the barn. I remember asking him what she was doing and he replied putting a sick or injured  animal down. I stated "Sure hope I don't get sick around here." Some of you may gasp at a farmer or rancher putting one of their own critters down, but out here sometimes a vet cannot get here quickly and you cannot allow an animal to suffer. 

I remember hours and hours of heated discussion between Seth and I about having guns in our home, and when the kids were small he respected my discomfort enough to keep them across the driveway at his moms house. Eventually I took a gun safety class and became more familiar with them and gleaned a deeper respect and understanding of this tradition of guns. 

As I see postings on the sites about this current tragedy in Chardon, Ohio, I am already struck with how this is rapidly becoming a gun argument. I've even discovered the favorite term for those who believe in the second amendment seems to be "Those Yahoos" 

So, this YAHOO is going to weigh in just a little. Guns have to be carried by someone with intent or negligence to be dangerous (most accidents involve some sort of negligence such as not being stored properly or at the very least tragic human error ). The shootings at schools and other tragic situations are awful and just plain heart breaking. I just get plain tired of folks  using it as an excuse to want to ban guns. Now granted in well populated areas I can understand the concern with guns, but still hold to the fact we have the right to legally own them and I equally respect your right not to!

In Montana law enforcement is anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours away.Just last week a wolf was seen running through a well populated city and I have neighbors who have had to protect their goats from a Mountain Lion.  I have also had the unfortunate experience of pulling a gun out with the intent to defend my home and small children, in order to warn someone with ill intent not to enter my home. They thought better of coming in after hearing my verbal warning and the chickchick of the shotgun. To this day I would repeat the same course of action, and would not lose an ounce of sleep over it. Having grown up the way I did, I almost feel shocked writing that.  

So in the event of these tragedies when one person uses something we all have the right to own, to cause harm, it is natural and normal to want to go over board and shout the evils of guns. Evils come in all sorts of packages. Let's lay the blame where it belongs and use some common sense.  It's kind of like saying stop all sales of cars because so many people die in them. There are even people who intentionally hurt people with cars but you don't hear everyone shouting...stop the spread of car ownership. jeesh! 

Let's keep this what it is about and that is a tragic situation which deserves attention.The focus should be on helping a small town in our country mourn and improving school safety. Keep the focus where it belongs...on the families and communities affected. Those with ill intent will always find a way to cause harm even if we lose our second amendment rights. I know tonight I will hold my kids just a little bit tighter...and I am really thinking I am going to go to the kitchen and do what I do best....makes something sweet and wonderful for them to come home to so we can celebrate what we have as another family far away in a little town in Ohio mourns the loss of a loved one. 
 
 
Stilettos will be transitioning from a blog which focuses on life on a farm, to where ever life takes us in the upcoming year. We are moving in June, as many of you know and I'm sure my family will give me lots to blog about. It will be quite the transition moving from farm life to town life but I'm not quite ready to give up on keeping things a little rural! We have chosen a rural area with lots of outdoor activities to come...yikes! I am hopefully our new place will allow me to have some backyard chickens and a garden.. so Ill still be getting my toes in the mud!

Another change you will see is more and more household DIY projects and crafts. It is something I love and plan to really focus on those things this year! No matter where I live my home will reflect a lived in farm feel! I hope you will continue to follow the blog as we make some drastic changes in our lives! Still hoping to share a few laughs and blunders! 

 
 
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My career of choice has been motherhood. In just a few short years the hands on ... day to day tasks of raising children will be behind me and Ill have to focus my energies on something different. It is the hardest and yet most rewarding job I have ever done. I'd like to think I have been fairly successful at it. I have well rounded, polite , adjusted kids who are rapidly becoming young adults. I have done some things in being a mom I am super proud of and others I think "yeah...don't try that again."  

There are people who have encouraged and supported me every step of the way. They have challenged me in loving ways when they see me falter and encourage me to get up, dust myself off and try again. Last time I checked I was human and make a lot of errors. I am super thankful for the honest support I have been blessed with. 

Then there are those people who think they know better than I how one should raise this brood of children. They interfere on every possible occasion, and act as if this hoard has somehow miraculously raised themselves to be polite well rounded people in spite of my craziness. I have discovered life is full of crabs in the bucket and it saddens me when someone I thought was a support turns out to be a crab in disguise. 

Every now and again we have to say "You're fired" to people in our lives. Sometimes there is no way around repairing damage done, or allowing room for more damage to occur. I don't like firing people. It is uncomfortable but the older I get the shorter life seems and the less willing I am to allow hateful angry energy in my personal space. Part of being a parent is modeling how to do this in a healthy, non angry and "avenue of least damage" way as possible. It isn't easy. 

I want my kids to learn how to recognize toxic relationships, how to avoid them in the first place when possible and dis-intangle when need be. I never imagined myself asking my child about questions about adults they interact with as I assumed adults would behave like...well adults. Communication is the most important key in raising kids. Do the adults your children are surrounded with support you as a parent? It doesn't mean they have to agree with everything, but do they encourage your children to listen to your instruction and heed it? Do they treat you respectfully or do they have a certain amount of disdain? Worse yet, are they negative about you to your children? 

I've learned the lesson of assumption over the years...never assume anything! Never assume a person in a grownup body is mature.  I have given a certain amount of benefit of the doubt even when I had a hunch something shady was occurring. I have pushed down my feelings and disregarded my intuition there were unhealthy interactions and in the end I usually find out my feelings were right on target. 

Recently I had a pretty negative experience with a couple of people I had been intuitively knowing were being a negative influence in my children's life,  however circumstances being as they were we had to keep a working relationship with those involved or risk my child losing an activity they loved. At first I was pretty wounded and taken aback by their behavior. I felt hurt, and humiliated as they chose a very shocking and public way to express their feelings. I had no inkling things had progressed to the point where they were done having polite interaction. In essence, I was fired. 

The curious thing was the people involved felt our children should continue their involvement and relationship with them despite  their very strong feelings toward us as parents. In short, if these people did not care enough about the children witnessing their public verbal dressing down of their parents, nor how the child they were involved in would feel having this occur to their parents...how would one go about trusting their most precious gifts under their care and supervision? As a mom, I spent the whole rest of the day wrapping my head around what the outcome of this meant for my kid. 

 I did what I always do...I called my Best Friend, Mama, and Sister and let them know what happened. This trio of women gives me honest answers and good solid support. They reminded me I had been feeling there was dishonesty involved for a long period of time and these people saved me a lot of continued stress and heart ache by ending our relationship. They encouraged me and let me cry. They also supported my feelings and beliefs it would be very toxic and maybe even damaging for my kids to continue their relationship particularly since the reason for continuing it is no longer relevant due to our upcoming move.

Sometimes being fired is the very best thing that can happen, even though it wounds our pride and hurts our feelings, it allows us the opportunity to heal, learn and move on in life. It gives me the chance to live my faith...to create action and learn more readily how to forgive. It allows us room  for growth, and time to reflect on how we can become healthier, and kinder human beings.

 
 
I feel like as a southern woman I have spent my whole life apologizing for aspects of who I am...but there are 10 things I wont apologize for...ever :)  


10. Being a lady
9.   Being a Mama Bear
8.   Being "southern"
7.   Holding some 'good old fashioned values'
6.   Having a large family
5.   Still being head over heels in love with my husband
4.   Being a Bleeding Heart (somewhat conservative) Liberal and 
       thinking Jesus was one too!
3.    Having Manners
2.    Being a Stay at Home Mama
1.     Loving and Believing in God
 
 
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Disclaimer: This is meant to be a humorous piece and some what of an exaggeration on the subject of southern women and our charm. Please take it as such. We are all wired very differently and come from different backgrounds. Southern women form a rich tapestry of difference to be honored.  

When my handsome man married this polite girl from the south, I am quite positive he had no earthly clue what he was getting in to. There is no way a man born and raised west of the Mississippi can even begin to fathom the differences, and written in stone... as old as time customs his sweet, soft, kind gal was raised with. He says I'm a force to be reckoned ....kind of like a thunderstorm on a summer's day.  They don't call us steel magnolias for nothing! 

After 12 years of marriage he has learned me so well and doesn't have the "dazed and confused expression" quite as often. He just looks at me knowingly and shakes his head at the poor soul who has blundered into a social faux pas that they weren't even aware existed. I remember coming home from the grocery store, when we were first married,  fuming angry (which means I was bawling my eyes out)   because a person I hardly knew had the audacity to ask me a very personal question...in public no less!  (Lesson 1) When a southern woman cries... it can mean many things but often times it is to vent anger and frustration...it's the eyes or the mouth and most often we have been taught crying is more acceptable than hollering!) 

Seth had no earthly idea why I was crying...he couldn't fathom why I thought what they said or asked was personal and third he was confused as to why in the world I didn't just tell them to mind their own business. 

(Lesson 2) We don't talk talk personal things or in general "air our dirty laundry") You may think you know personal things about a southern girl's life but I can guarantee you ...unless you are in her inner circle, you haven't begun to scratch the "surface of knowing" There are things west of the Mississippi and north of the Mason/Dixon line which are acceptable topics of conversation between complete strangers or even "polite company" which would not be comfortable for someone from the south! 

When you have angered a southern woman or hurt someone we love...look out. Our memories long...and usually genetic.(Lesson 3) You mess with a southern girl...and you've signed yourself up for being the ire of her entire clan (even those you have never met!) You may not like Aunt Etna but she is family and if "Joe" down at the Piggly Wiggly in the meat department insulted her, you can sure bet the entire family will take their business elsewhere even if they have all shopped at the Piggly Wiggly for years. There are people here my clan back in the south knows all about and would ask me to point them out should they ever make a visit to Montana. They carry my stories with them there. 

 (Lesson 4) You may never know you have insulted a southern girl. We have all sorts of ways to express our displeasure. My friends here in the west say I have the nicest way of dressing someone down and wish they could learn how to "put someone in their place" like I do. I'm still not sure it is a good thing that it takes many people 20 or 30 minutes to realize they have been chewed out but many will say it was the "politest a** chewing" they ever had.

 (Lesson 5) This is not to say a southern girl wont lose her temper. There are varying stages of this. Stage one usually involves the term "bless your or their heart" I want to clarify...There are two types of southern "bless your hearts" One signifies you are thinking of another with kindness and affection...the other means you really wish they would burn in hell or can kiss your "lily white behind" but that is just something you won't voice out loud....they can be hard to distinguish between ...as the differences are sometimes subtle. ;)

Stage two usually involves tears of frustration and  large words which require many people to run to their dictionary. I can remember Seth and my first argument and his dazed expression. Through clenched teeth I told him he was "the most exasperating man I had ever met and it would behoove him to mind his manners with me if he ever expected to experience you know what ever again ... as his audacity was a serious affront to my sensibilities" As I walked away I heard him say "I don't even know what some of those words mean. 

(Stage 3) May involve raising the voice, possible cursing (with intermittent apologies for cursing), possible finger shaking and a lecture. Sometimes if she has had time to really examine her ire she will have a list, or letter she has penned so as to make her thoughts clear. If her anger has bubbled or exploded to the surface with out much warning for her she may be so uncomfortable with the feelings it explodes into a full blown "tizzy" ...with possible reciting of everything you and your ancestors or sex have done since the dawn of man. Often times this is due to not voicing her feelings earlier on or her subtle warnings and attempts at dealing with issues have been missed, over looked, or ignored. IF she has reached this point, you can bet she will be like a bulldog with a bone...it is in your best interest to come to a healthy compromise or give in...because no one will get a moments rest until you do. 

(Lesson 6)  Southern girls know that a mint julep and a girls night of eating and laughing, and making fun of those who have hurt you,  cure all sorts of what ails those we love. If you are blessed to have a southern girl as your friend, rest assured you will never go hungry, live without hugs, kind words, or someone who will fiercely defend you to the grave.   Southern women are loyal to a fault. To our friends, community and family. If you have betrayed her trust, it is awfully hard if not impossible to reclaim. Learning to forgive and let go, is a huge lesson I have had to learn.  

(Lesson 7) We still appreciate being "treated like a lady" I don't mind having the door opened for me...and actual expect it. I prefer my husband to drive when we are together, though I am perfectly capable. I miss the days of men standing up when I excuse myself from the table. I love being the one to get the dip from the kitchen, as long as he is willing to take out the garbage! I don't find it a front to my feminist sensibilities. I treat the men in my life respectfully and with love and care as well. I have seen women out here in Montana act as if a man opening the door is an affront to their abilities. Nonsense to this southern girl!  

Make no mistake though, we are strong. While we present a softer side of life to the world, we have back bones of steel. If we see something wrong in the world around us, some injustice, we will not usually give up or stay silent if it has come into our radar. We are very good at rallying support when needed.  It can sometimes be confusing for those around us to know which side of the coin they will be getting when dealing with us. 

(Lesson 8) There are lots of things we will not talk about even with our spouses. Now even writing these next sentences make me cringe but I assume most of my audience is women, so Ill be a little more frank. I can remember asking Seth, when we were first married, to go pick me up some feminine hygiene products at the store. He looked utterly confused...repeating the phrase over and over. Exasperated I finally whispered "You know....tampons" We were the only two people in the room and he couldn't figure out why I was whispering...and I couldn't figure out when he returned why he didn't by five other un-needed items to cover up the fact I sent him on that errand to the store. There are often times I still blush when he flirts, become mortified when he discusses things which husband and wives discuss, and whisper when there is no one else around even tough I could and should say it out loud. We are always tasteful...even when no one is looking ;)

(Lesson 9) We don't know a stranger. We can strike up a conversation with anyone in the grocery line. My husband always is shocked at what people talk to me about. He may have known someone for years, and just standing there in line I have discovered things about them he never knew. A little kindness and conversation go a long way. Don't ever under estimate our charm. Seth says there are very few things he can say no to when I get all soft and southern... lol We also know when not to abuse that charm ;)

(Lesson 10) Even as adults we most likely will still use Yes M'am and sir, Mr. and Mrs, and other forms of polite titles when we are addressing others. Particularly if we were raised to value and respect authority figures. I remember people thinking I was being sarcastic and rude when I used these early on here in this area. I had to assure them I wasn't and sadly let go of these niceties. 

( Lesson 11) We use sugar, honey, sweetie, sweetheart, love, and other forms of endearment even with people we don't know well. It does not mean we want in your pants or in your husband or boyfriend's pants. It isn't meant to be a serious expression of affection, just a common form of address like "hey you"


(Lesson 12) We are adaptable. I have learned and changed so much the last 12 years living in Montana. Sometimes I wear sweat pants to the store (gasp) and go to town with out my face (makeup) on. I rarely wear hose and only shave when I have to in the winter time. I more easily voice my opinion and displeasure and have learned the value in saying exactly what I mean. I can change a tire,  drive a tractor, start a fire, shoot a gun,  repair a fence, and hold my own in this tough beautiful place. 

(Lesson 13) You can take a girl out of the south...but you can't take the south out of the girl. The south will always be home to me. I live here...I reside in this area...I am not from here and this is not my home. Every heart beat is a reflection of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains I explored, the honey suckled air I breathed in , the Georgia peaches I  picked, the lazy summer homemade ice cream days of my childhood.  Nothing compares to her and I will spend every moment of my life missing it and wanting to return. While I may choose to light my hearth here...my heart will always 



 
 
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 I really wanted to name this blog post "Shut Up and Get Outta the Way!" but that is not very polite. I get a little cranky when  I've been up all night with the flu. It gives me too much time to think. After much though and consideration, Seth and I have decided to move our family. Just the idea of this being bounced around has sent some of those around in a frenzied panic. Some of the actions and discussions have only furthered our resolve this is the right move for our family and more than likely we should have made these steps years ago. Hind sight is always 20/20 ya know!?

I wrote a previous post on well meaning people offering and insisting my high school kids should  remain behind, and yet again I have had to open myself up to conversations about it. The bottom line is I am moving to where my husband works to have my family together...leaving anyone behind defeats that purpose. I've had to go so far as to check with our attorney about it, which to me is sad in itself and really shows me the state of misplaced values in our society. I've been insured I am well within my parental rights to move particularly due to a new job and parental interference by seemingly well meaning people isn't ok. 

I've been focusing on the future of the Beech Clan. I've been focusing on what positives this move will bring into our lives. After months of research and conversations I feel we have found a place which will be a good fit for our family and will have the least amount of bumps for the kid's transition. I've found a small town with great schools and a few more opportunities than we have here. 

The education system there provides college credits for high schoolers. They have several languages offered instead of one. Their wrestling team seems stellar and it is a sport still fully funded (I've been told they pack their gym out at the meets...which doesn't occur here) They have sports not offered here such as soccer. My youngest will have the opportunity to play Violin at school in the orchestra instead of driving two hours weekly for lessons. We will be very close to Seth's workplace which gives him more time at home with us. We will live in a finished home (My favorite perk so far!) The schools offer summer camps ...there is a 4 H camp near by and many new places to explore in the Teton area. 

Don't get me wrong, the community we are leaving has many positive attributes and there are things we will definitely miss. I am thankful for the support we have had through the years, and even for the hard lessons we have endured here. 

I spent some time with my eldest daughter yesterday, who is home from college. She wishes now we had moved when she was younger. She is realizing there would have been some positive advantages to this. It was funny to hear her say "You are the parents and there is a time when you just have to put your foot down and the kids need to follow your lead...no discussions asked." 

She also gave me some insight into my own parenting style. I tend to err on the side of too much discussion...too much allowing the kids too much room for argument. In my defense I feel it is important for children to have a voice. My Lili girl stated that kids need firm boundaries, even when they are throwing all kinds of fits and bucking the system in place. She is thankful for the boundaries and childhood she had but she voiced there were times she knew we should have been firmer. 

Moving is hard enough with a family this size. We are trying to do it in a way which allows adjustments to occur over time. Some days I want to load them up in the car right now...say screw adjustments...we are doing this now...just to get it over with. :) I've asked those in our circle to please support this move whether you agree with it or not. I've asked people not to interfere and I have been placing firm boundaries about not tolerating it. Things used to seem so simple, but I'm having to adjust and change to the world which is around me. I'm keeping my family together. One day at a time I'm keeping it together as we move toward a bright new positive future. Support that, get out of the way, or interfere. Either way, we are keeping it together. It's just what we Beeches do!

 
 
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Our family is considering a move. Coming to a decision to uproot and go elsewhere is scary, exciting and comes with a lot of soul searching. I know in our household it is not a task undertaken lightly. In making our decision, one thing really surprised me...how many times I have been asked if I am leaving any of my high schoolers behind to finish school on their own. Say what? I'm not offended...just surprised. 

I moved 14 different times in my childhood. I wasn't traumatized or damaged in anyway by the number of moves. I actually consider myself to be a more flexible and well rounded human being because of all the different communities and schools I was blessed to be a part of. Leaving any of us kids behind was never an option to my recollection. School staff, coaches, friends, neighbors, nor relatives ever offered to have me live with them in order to stay in a particular school. ( I actually think my parents would have found this pretty offensive!) In my childhood, family was the most important aspect, and it was respected and encouraged above all else. 

When did society shift? How did I miss it? When did our children's relationships with friends and school become more important than their family unit? Or maybe I am missing something?  I am not in any way suggesting moving in high school is an easy thing for any kid to do. I am however of the opinion that a CHILD (and until they are graduated from high school they are just that) is best off with their family. Maybe it hasn't shifted. Maybe we all place different things as important for our families and our children and Seth and my priorities are just different than others. I'm not saying other's choices and what they would do are wrong or offensive...they just are so different from my stand point it has caused me to pause and take a moment to reflect. 

My children have been raised in one area most of their lives. There are so many blessings and benefits to this. They have grown up around their grandparents, and have had the same friends for years. They have learned to develop roots. The roots I value and believe to be most beneficial however are those with their immediate family. My older children not only need us and the few things we have left to teach them... the younger children need their time with their older siblings. 

While there are things I LOVE about this small community in which we currently reside, I am aware there is a HUGE world out there. I have had the awesome experience of traveling this entire United States and have visited all but 8 states. I have traveled both sides of Canada, spent a year traveling Mexico and visited both England and Ireland. I have lived in large cities, small towns, and everything else in between. I have lived in and experienced amazing places. There is a whole wide world out there and it's o.k. to experience new things. 

While I know the idea of moving as a teen is hard, I also think my kids may learn some valuable skills about flexibility, life changes, and how to best get support when things are difficult. While I do not set out to make things harder on my child, I really feel it does a disservice to try and protect them from every thing life throws their way. Change happens all the time. Families move for jobs and a myriad of other reasons. 

I don't want others offering my kids a place away from home to stay and wont be open to any of the ones still in school doing so. They will be flying the nest soon enough! All but one plans to leave the state we currently reside in anyways(and he will graduate before any moving occurs), so a new residence prior to leaving for college may provide them with some adventures, a trial run in changing ones zip code, and a few last memories made with their family of origin. I'm excited for us and what possibilities lie ahead and what lessons we have left to learn. 

I am lucky. My kids haven't thrown any major fits. No one has expressed anger or dismay at this point in the game. They have graciously said they would be willing to try a new area if it is the decision we come to. We have talked about how important being closer to where dad works is and how we can best support him as he supports our family and provides us with so much. We have discussed how we can sacrifice a few comforts such as remaining here to make his life a little nicer. This move for our family is about what we can do for our "bread winner". Wish us luck and say a prayer as we venture out into unknown territory!

 
 
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Every year I make resolutions. Most years I can make it about 4 months into the year before I throw in the towel. They are your standard variety resolutions such as lose weight, stop biting my nails, grow my hair long, etc etc. 

I set myself 2 goals for the New Year. One seemingly simple and the other which will take practice and balance. First,  I set in my mind I would get our Christmas tree down on the 1st, (sigh) there it stands accusingly this morning while I write and drink my coffee. So, it's lights will shine one more day before I "brow beat" my kids into helping me get all the lights and ornaments back into their boxes. 

My second resolution was prompted in part by all the hype regarding 2012. I'm in the camp of no one knows..did the Mayans even predict their own demise? It does however get me thinking about life and how we face it from day to day. Not a single one of us knows how much time we have left on this planet. My Resolution you ask?  To live like this is my last year on the planet. I'll be asking myself: Do I really want to do this...say this... watch this..live this etc. We should live like everyday its our last/ we don't really know how many sands are in our hour glass.

I realize this is rather nebulous and might be a hard one to pin down. I mean let's get real here. I'm a mom. If you are doing your job right as a mother, then there are lots of things in the day we HAVE to do...or one might not be able to make their way through the house for all the laundry and clutter which would inevitably pile up. Learning the art of "No" is the first step. Realise you are only one person and while you may be a giver or helper, there are so many hours in a day and when you over extend yourself year after year you deplete your reserves until you are running on fumes. This isn't healthy for your body, spirit or emotions. I've really practiced this "No" in the last year. Over time people realize you are a person with boundaries, and it gets easier to weed out unimportant things in your life and create a workable schedule.

Secondly,  many of us as parents spend so much time focused on our family and their well being we forget or neglect to feed our own spirits. A healthy family needs healthy caregivers. What do you LOVE to do? Is it knit but those needles are collecting dust in a basket somewhere? Do you love to hike, sing, travel...whatever it is eek out time every month. I know the excuses...I don't have time...I don't have the money etc etc. Set your sights on attainable goals. While you may not have the money for a trip to Europe, maybe you have time to visit something within a days drive. I can think of several places within driving distance I haven't made time to see. A quick internet search and that number doubles. Take a picnic and enjoy the beauty around you. Recharge those batteries! Say "YES" to you. 

I would love to hear what changes you are making throughout this year to take care of yourself. Feel free to post the challenges and successes! Happy New Year!



 
 
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When you are a mother, organization makes the world a happier place...when you are the mother of seven it makes the world a sane place. I follow a number of blogs, many of which have contests on a regular basis. I honestly ignore most of them. When I saw the contest at Not Just a Housewife featuring THIS product...I was drooling! ( You can mosey on over there to enter as well) Organizing our pantry is a joke. I manage to keep like items on the same shelf but other than that...I feel lucky all the groceries made it into the cabinet!

Whether or not I win any of these babies, I can tell you right now I am going to be purchasing some. I know it seems silly to get so excited about organizing cans, but this mama can use all the help she can get! Bring on the Can Organizers!

 
 
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Having just gotten off the phone with my sweetheart, after very little contact with him over the last week, I have been struggle with feeling a bit sorry for myself. However, I don't ever allow myself that luxury for long as my mind always goes to how much better I have it in life than most. This year, as I've often written about, has brought about many changes in the day to day operations of the Beech family. With two grown children, and now a husband/father who has to work away from home there have been many adjustments.

This is the very first Thanksgiving we will have ever spent apart from one another. My family is not the only family who will have an empty chair at the table this Holiday Season. There are many families I know who have lost loved ones and they get through their Holiday but the empty place is there. Many other friends have dear ones serving in the armed forces and will be missing them. 

My ache at the thought of having Holidays without him is like a lump I cannot swallow.  It's a constant reminder of the love we share as a family. I am thankful he is safe and I do not worry (for the most part) about his safety. I ache that he will be there in the snowy oil fields without us, and I am thankful for all the personal comforts and sacrifices he is making for our family. 

We have enjoyed 11 other Thanksgivings together as a family. After fixing a pumpkin pancake breakfast, Seth and I have always started preparing the dinner together. He makes his "famous" pumpkin rolls, and helps me prepare the turkey, stuffed squash and other dishes. The children who like to cook are in and out of the kitchen helping with their favorite dishes, and those who don't enjoy turning the spoon like to see how many times they can sneak into the whipped cream before they are banished from the kitchen! 

Much to be missed is this year is the annual late night Pomegranate Paradise Martini we share after the house is quiet and the children are in bed, and the long kiss we always steal in the crisp night air on our "guilt" walk ( You know... the one you take to make yourself feel better about all the food and pie you ate?)

So, the house will be decorated and filled with the warm, comforting welcome scents that the season brings. Hands will be joined around our table and thoughts shared about what we are thankful for, and even a text  from Seth will be read,  letting us know what he is thankful for. We will hold a place for him in our hearts until he comes home.

My prayers is that every family who is experiencing an empty chair at their table this Holiday season will be given an extra measure of peace and love. May you embrace your memories and with laughter and tears. 

HAPPY THANKSGIVING
From our home to yours!