Saturday, January 25, 2020

Dibbs17 Part 1: Full Circle with CPR

To every story there is a beginning and an end.  But with this one, our Dibbs17 Journey, is a full circle.  My Unplanned Purpose is what I love to call it.  This story is a million little pieces all coming together, all playing out to be pieces to a bigger puzzle that neither you nor I could ever piece on our own, or alone.  This story you may say, doesn’t have an exact beginning, not even a definite end or a start and finish line. You could absolutely say a story of life and death, but I say this is a story of a million angels working hard at placing every moment, every person, every challenge, every heartache, and every triumph into the right place at the right time.  So I begin our story in the middle, with a man that loved his life, especially his wife and children, and all the pieces that were placed just perfectly for him. Even when he looks back and tells the story of when his world fell apart as his youngest 18 yr old daughter collapsed on their front porch…

Walter was very involved in the community, a well respected man. Constantly on the road traveling a lot making time for what filled his heart most; the Green dale Lions Club, Boy Scout events, and family weekends every chance he could.  With 4 daughters and a beautiful wife, Walter was certainly outnumbered in a house of girls. Community time with the Boy Scouts and Lions Club was Walters way of having some fun with the boys, ever so often bringing his daughters along when able to.  His girls eventually were following his footsteps with the outgoing, friendly, loving spirit their dad showed as he spoke and worked kindly with others. A family- community- hard working- man best described Walter; taking pride in all he did and embracing all the people around him. 
Walters wife & daughters

As he walked in a Lions Club meeting one day, he spoke with a friend briefly as they both walked to their seats together. Suddenly, the friend Walter had just exchanged greetings with fell to the floor and collapsed.  Walter stood their stunned as well as many others, not knowing what to do or how to respond. Before they could blink another moment, another gentleman came out of nowhere. Walter says, “I can’t remember if he jumped over the table, under the table, or maybe flew right through it! But this man came out of nowhere and began pushing our friends chest hard and fast.”  The ambulance finally arrived in what seemed like forever to Walter and his friend was taken to the hospital. They all followed and met one another in the waiting room, that is when they realized the man that came out of nowhere, was not only a Lions Club Member but also a paramedic, who took immediate action giving their friend CPR. Days went by before they knew if his friend would wake up living the same life he had before that day he collapsed, depending how long this man went without oxygen once his heart stopped. This man walked out of the hospital days later, walking and talking to share his story of how CPR saved his life.

The Lions Club took action following the incident, Walter made sure of it, and offered CPR classes to their community sharing their story of how CPR saved a members life.  The paramedic that saved Walters friend was now the CPR Class Instructor. Everyone felt the need to make sure they knew what to do if a situation like this ever happened again.  Walter brought his youngest daughter, Jen, to the CPR classes being offered. Together, they helped host, organize, prepare, and greet people coming to the classes. They also took the time to learn this life saving skill together. 

“Don’t breathe too hard into Annie, You’ll blow her away!” The class laughed as the instructor told Walter to breathe gently into the “Annie” Manikin as they practiced the 2 breaths and 30 compressions together. Walter was a big guy and just couldn’t help his strength! Maybe it was his determination when reliving that day his friend collapsed and now knowing what to do...2 strong breaths, 30 compressions… 2/ 30, 2/30, pushing hard and fast into the practicing manikin.  Walter felt helpless when his friend collapsed into cardiac arrest. He wanted to make sure he never felt that way again. He wanted to be prepared and know what to do; if and when something like that ever happened again and he knew others needed to know it too.

A year went by and life went on for Walter and his family.  Jen had started not feeling very well and a couple doctor visits left her with no answers as to why.  She was very involved at school and especially during her senior year with all the excitement of wrapping up different clubs and projects needed.  Maybe too much going on all at once and a little anxiety was creeping in? No medical answers were found. Walter was home for the weekend getting things ready to head back to his regular weekly travels on Monday.  

May 15, 1983 Jen walked into the kitchen and motioned to her dad that she was having a hard time breathing.  He led her to step outside and get some fresh air while he went back in and called the paramedics to come and check her out.  He walked back outside and noticed Jen was lying on the porch, her face a color purple. Walter immediately went to his knees recognizing she’s not breathing.  His CPR training immediately kicked in and he began chest compressions by pushing hard and fast. He then gave Jen two huge breaths and she then let out a huge gasp for air.  

“I’ll never forget the sound of her breath that day.”  His eyes filled with water and a tear streamed down his cheek.  He gently paused as if reliving that very moment, silently hearing her breath again as if he were on that exact porch almost forty years ago.  

He heard the ambulance grow nearer within only minutes. To Walter, again, it felt like an eternity.   

At the hospital, tests were done and this time more thorough than her past doctor visits.  The scans showed a tumor wrapped around her windpipe, leaving only a pin needle of an airway for Jen to breath through.  No prior doctor visits showed this because of the internal exams they were doing in her throat, not the outside of the throat area.  Doctors said they were amazed at how Walter was able to blow oxygen into her lungs with that small of a windpipe. Walter thought back to his CPR Training, when he was told to take it easy on the manikin and how him and Jen found that part of class so funny.   Those hard breaths is what saved her life working its way through her pin sized windpipes. Walter saved his daughter’s life. Walter took one experience, learned from it, and made sure that he was never put into a helpless position again. Never did he realize until then how it would save his own family.

Jen with her Mom & Dad today
At 18, Jennifer went on to begin chemo, focusing on killing the cancer that nearly choked her to death that fateful day; Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.  She went on to graduate, embracing her second chance at life. What are the chances; the chances of her dad being home with their family that night and not leaving for the airport sooner for work,  the chances of the cancer never being found at previous doctors appointments, the CPR classes never being taken if Walter had took it for granted thinking, “someone else will always be there knowing CPR” and especially the chance of Walter having enough breath to breathe through Jen’s constricted airway.  These are all chances, little moments we embrace throughout life that make a difference. A difference that Jen would never be with us today, impacting an entirely new and growing generation, almost forty years later. Angels working in full circle, carefully placing each piece of the puzzle in position.  

St. Thomas
As we sat with Walter at the nursing home hanging onto his every thoughtful word recollecting these memories of his past so long ago, he held his wife’s hand with her sitting at his side.  Jen sat on the couch next to the both of them and let her tears flow as she smiled proudly of the man who saved her life, that she was blessed to call Dad. Photos of family and 8x10’s of seven beautiful grandchildren surrounded the room.  A gorgeous painting of St. Thomas hung above their television. Jen laughed as she told us, “Dad didn’t care where any of the furniture or other pieces went inside their new home, only this photo had to be placed above the TV where he could see it everyday. “ 

“Doubting Thomas is a great story that we could all learn from,” Walter looked up responding to Jen and he said it with such a smile as if it that photo guided him through life as a guardian angel.  

Walter, Karin & their 7 grandchildren
“Every little piece of action you make in this life, every little thing you do, makes a difference in some way or form. You may never ever know the difference you make in a person’s life.  The paramedic that day at the Lions Club Meeting may never know how many lives he saved by taking the time to teach our community. But I know it saved our family. I have a beautiful daughter, four of them, kind and thoughtful grandkids and a family I’m very proud of.  I have a wife at my side who made sure our girls knew how to treat others and respect one another. She worked hard at home raising them well, while I was traveling and always on the road working. This is the life I’ve been given and I can look back and say how very proud of it I am.”
- Walter Rolfs shares his thoughts with us as he looks back at his life and continues moving forward.
Connie, Cameron & Jen 2019
It was the first time I was back at work outside of the home and I knew working with kids was where my heart felt full.  A little anxious and excited at the same time, I met my new co-workers throughout the day. Kids loved one teacher assistant in particular and I kept hearing her name as the kids excitedly talked of her and how anxious they were to see her for the first time since returning from vacation. Parents and teachers alike all spoke so highly of her kindness and love that she spread throughout the school, the impact of a woman and I was anxious to meet.  “Is she here yet? Is Mrs. P here?” as the kids chattered throughout the morning. A smiling lady with a full, shiny heart beamed through as she turned the corner and headed my way.  Her smile so excited to be with the kids again and a gentle hand reached out to me, “ Welcome! You must be Mrs. Connie?” “Yes I am.” replying feeling like I’ve already known her for years.  “My name is Mrs. P! I’m so glad to meet you, call me Jen.” 

Cameron, aka Camera Man, chatting with Walter.
Jen, Connie, Karin & Walter
And its this moment that began a friendship and that later, led us to meeting her dad, Walter.  For him to share his story of how he saved our Mrs. P, everyone's friend today, and his daughter forty years ago and how he too, feels everyone should know CPR. 

“If I could convince one person to learn CPR because of our story, then it was worth sharing it today.” - Walter Rolfs

Thursday, September 12, 2019

S1E1 Times Up! A Crazy Cup of Joy Podcast, Episode 1

Click below to listen or read podcast below!

Hey everyone, thanks for listening in or if you're reading this from my blog thanks for taking the time out of your crazy schedule to join us! 

My name is Connie Lynn and I’m the CEO of 6 kids, I always include that count as my husband being number 1, my 4 awesome kids, ages 15, 11, 10 & 8 and my dog, ORSO… woof, woof!  Ha ha just kidding, he’s next to me sleeping away! Everydays a party at this house whether I want one or not and like most parties we have days that are completely off the wall and a few days far and in between where we get some down time together.  We are in the heat of crazy sport, school and church schedules and I felt it on my heart to start a podcast knowing very well I’m not the only one in this crazy season of life. So thanks again for joining us! I hope you come back and listen in on more of what’s to come but mostly I hope a few minutes of you listening in on each podcast can fill your heart with a bigger smile and a little more love each day!

I have to start with a funny story of when I was a teacher’s aide, one of the best jobs!  Well, I was in the classroom and Mrs. L was working with a few kids when two little cuties stopped and stood in her doorway, one with a pile of napkins in her hand and the other a little boy carrying a dish of mini cupcakes.  They both looked a little nervous but caught our eye and Mrs. L smiled and told them to come on in! Mrs. L has a high energy way of teaching and puts her kids love and learning first and foremost so visitors at her door were very common.   She builds a relationship with each of her students and is one that goes above and beyond doing more than “Just her job”. So I’m pretty sure with her reputation, these two wanted to come in the big 4th grade class and share this treat they carried in. They slowly walked in both looking at each other and she asks, is this a birthday treat?  They look at each other again both waiting for the other to reply. Instead they nod their heads yes. She tries again to make small talk with them, “well is this a treat for me?” they again look at each other waiting for the other to speak and again, nervously nod their head yes.

Mrs. L and I at this point just wanted to gobble up all their cuteness.  She says to them, “which one should I pick?” and the 3 of them are all staring down at the cupcakes while I’m observing this timid nervousness or shyness of the little cuties and how Mrs. L is doing her best to put them at ease. All of a sudden, a timer goes off. Startling all of us, the little girl reaches under her handful of napkins at the small white timer their teacher must’ve set for them, they both look frantically at it, then at Mrs. L.  “Oh! Does that mean you have to go?” she says. They again nod their head yes. Ok?! Mrs. L then you better get going! And before she could pick out the treat they originally walked in to give her, they had turned around and frantically headed out the door back to their classroom! We both laughed and said, “Well, I guess it was time’s up!? And from then on we had a little inside chuckle with one another saying “Times Up!” every time there was a moment of decision making.

How many of us everyday live by a timer!  Never finishing one thing, running from one place to the next.  A timer for when to leave, when to be there by, when to pick the kids up, what time they need to start eating in order to get to the next appointment on time.  How many of us our running as if Time. Is. Up!?! It’s a crazy chaotic schedule right?! And you. Are. exhausted! I’m exhausted! With 4 kids all in a million different things, a husband working long days, I’m completely exhausted!  We started our own Non Profit, Dibbs 17, I teach CPR classes, speak at different women’s groups, volunteer when I can at my children’s schools, and work part time with the Girls on the Run organization! I filled my own calendar let alone keeping track of everyone else’s!  But that’s the season I’m in, maybe the season YOU are in! Maybe a new mom just wanting to catch up on sleep or even have the energy to shower! Maybe just getting back to work after being home with little ones running around enjoying their quick years of toddler life!? Maybe you are working non stop and just keeping your head afloat working through challenges that you feel are endless each day! 

Whatever TIMER is keeping you from pausing, taking a breath and running forward without a cupcake, its OK!
This is the season YOU are in.

People ask you about your schedule for upcoming week and your response is just let me get through today.  Pause your timer, pause it a minute, take a breath and look around you.  This moment is a moment you’ll never get back again. So just “BE”. Be in the moments that you are running everywhere and in your head instead of waiting for the next timer to go off, think about the time. You. are. In.  These moments are long moments to some that they would do anything to get back. These are moments people pray for to -live again. These are moments that it’s all about YOU. You are not alone, you are doing everything you can, you may feel like you are barely keeping your head above water each day but YOU ARE! And one day at a time, you will see how fast these moments are flying by.  It’s easy to say slow down, stop and smell the roses, take a breath, but guess what?! It's HARD to do and nothing easy has great rewards. Your child will remember the conversations you had in the car on the way to school, the moments of excitement when you picked them up and listened to them talk about how practice went. The moments that you say with them and looked at their homework together or maybe just a few moments right before bedtime when they just wanted you to lay right next to them.  These are moments they will cherish forever and you will never get back.

Learn to say no, learn to say yes, which way do we go? Yes or no? All the media with different strategies on how to raise your children and manage your time… yes or no? We… I say just BE, be in your moment, set the timer for the first time in your life to remind yourself to just be. Put it on post its in your car, on your mirror, reminders on your phone. JUST BE. Your list will always be forever long! If you had 6 more hours in the day let’s be real, you’d use it to squeeze more time in!  We all have 24 hours, we all value our time in different ways so let’s just all “BE” and fill the little moments with what we need to value most, and that’s US, YOU, ME, US. Set your timer, to BE in that moment, take that cupcake, enjoy it, savor the flavor and when the timer goes off, you know you filled that very moment with a smile, a full heart and you cherished YOU.  

Till next time, raise your cup of crazy joy, take the golden nugget today to just “BE” and embrace all that life brings your way.  Thanks for joining me and can’t wait to chat again next time! 

Friday, February 16, 2018

We are in this Together...

I hear a gun shot, my heart froze, “don’t panic, don’t panic.”  I frantically find my heart racing.  I run to the light switch to immediately turn it off & the room darkens.  “Be invisible, be invisible.”  Hands shaking, I secure the door into lock- down mode.  “Take shelter, take shelter.” The voice in my head says.   I hear shouting, lots of shouting, a gunshot echoes through the halls again.  My inner voice continues, “Take cover, stay low, don’t move, be invisible, don’t. breathe”.  My soul is praying to God for the sounds to end and I feel the tears falling down my face, my mind… I am frozen in time...

I think of the sweet, smirk, smile he gives when he knows he’s in trouble.  “What?!  I didn’t do anything!” he says.  I just saw him toss a wad of paper across the room.  He loves the attention, he takes pride as the “class clown” title.  Our entire staff knows him, we all like him, and trouble just seems to find him.  He walks down the hall as if the world is at his fingertips.  Every administrator takes time with him, talking with him, resolving student conflicts with him, working through academic and social situations with him.  At school we do all we can while he is under our watch. We have him help as a class leader, since he’s got the confidence we try to put his energy in a positive manner, well, we try.  When the bell rings at the end of each day, we all ask the same question silently to ourselves, what will happen while he’s NOT under our care? School is where he feels safest, in control. Home though, how much interaction does he have with positive guidance, adults, role models, and what are THEY doing to keep him safe and cared for?  Who’s with him through the struggles while at home?  After all, when we do contact the parents, they are sure it’s a mix up of another child, not theirs, disagreeing with school rules and consequences.

She’s a great girl, plays perfectly in the orchestra, involved in every school organization, friendly, outgoing, until...  She’s a girl that gets cornered every day in the bathroom to complete her enemy’s class paper for her… or else.  She fears the bathroom and avoids it every chance she gets but she knows who’ll be waiting for her in the hall after school if she doesn’t make it happen.  She hands the paper to the one in demand of it, and once again, for the 5th time this semester.  How much more of this can she take?  She looks in the mirror, pulls herself together, puts a smile on her face and walks out as if she’s ready to tackle the day.   She’d be mortified if anyone ever found out what she was doing, if only someone would see, someone would recognize what was happening, she was the victim needing help, afraid, this secret haunts her, her fellow students look the other way.  Her parents working so hard every day, she definitely didn’t want them to know.  But what if…what if?!  …what if she settled this herself, once and for all…

He was quiet, he’d sit in the back of the classroom, hands behind his head, leaning back in his chair.  Absorbing the teacher’s lessons discussed in class for the test.  He scans the classroom with his eyes and wonders to himself if anyone even knows he’s there.  Eye contact with anyone- never.  Even his own parents spend more time looking down at their phones than they do looking into their son’s eyes; to really know him, really see what is happening in his heart, in his mind.  They would tell others how great he was, how quiet and so into his studies; good grades, kind heart.  They just never told him.  He didn’t see the point in attending school events, or going anywhere with friends, he’s just a regular kid doing “cyber play dates” with his “friends” online every night.  Never met any of them personally, why would he?  He’s a typical kid with a great family, just loving his video games, parents chat with him every day when he gets home from school, and nothing to ever raise concern about… is there??  Does he know he is enough?  Does he know that he IS noticed just for being him? Or does he know on his own, a way to stand out, catch their attention?

I know most of these kids better than their own parents, I know what they talk about, what they play between classes, outside of classes, what they say and do online. I know who their closest friends are and what their biggest fear is.  I know what motivates them, what scares them.  I know them because I spend every day with them.  I am their teacher, I listen to them- they talk.  No phone coming between me and them, no electronics in view, just chrome books for open google classroom assignments.  A lesson plan.  I teach, they talk, together, we listen & learn, most times they teach me more than you can imagine.  Some of them dealing with challenges at home that no one ever dreams of.  As for the others, well some take all the good they have for granted. I do my best to relate to them best way I know how.  Some, I can reach, others are just so far out of touch, I just can’t figure out how to meet them half way.  But I hope, I hope one day I can, if not me, someone else, guide and positively impact them, someway, somehow.  Do YOU know me?

I read online posts of parents, “What is our school doing to keep us safe?” What is EVERYONE ELSE doing to keep OUR kids safe?!!!”   I wonder to myself, have these parents taken the time to walk in the classrooms, be at a school meeting, or be involved as much as they can for any of the 12 years their kids are in the schools?  Have they ever walked the halls their child walks each day?  How are they supporting the staff and administration that is with our children everyday during the school year?

How about our own children, in our own homes, what are WE doing to keep them safe?  We open up the questions, questions we cannot avoid, as much as we can in our own home, in our own busy crazy life…

Do you know where your exits are in your classroom?  Do you know your school drill where to go if you are in the hallway and a lock down happens?  Always stay facing the door when in a public place, don’t keep your back to it.  Be aware of your surroundings at all time.  Never panic, you don’t have time to panic, you take action and get to safety.  Stand on the toilet seat, stay silent.  Know your exits no matter where you are.  We talk at a restaurant while going out for lunch, where would you take cover, what would you lunge behind?  If you ran out of the building where would you go, who would you run to and what call would you make? Would you wait? No, take action and be fearless to keep yourself safe.  Home fire drills and bullying discussions were a norm, now it’s become something more.  They cannot live in fear, they need to know how to live and be aware.

It’s easy to ask what is EVERYONE else doing to keep our kids safe but what are YOU doing to teach them, to be aware?  Are you reviewing your everyday emergency plan while in public?  Are you knowing your own children; regarding what they are doing on social media, what they spend their money on, what their goals and dreams are?  Are you doing your own best to know your children and their friends and classmates?   Is your child and/or friends doing their best to show the example of strength, kindness, courage; putting stop to bullying if they see it, saying hi to a quiet student next to them in class that never says a word?  Are we teaching our own kids to say something if something doesn’t seem right or if they hear or see a post, video, or comment online that may seem like not a big deal at the time but may be a danger later?  What are WE doing as parents to engage with our children?  They are teenagers, it’s typical…  NO, WE are parents, they need us the most as teenagers, we need to be typical parents, spending time and talking with our young adults- silence?  It’s ok, as long as they know we are still here.  Teenagers?  Recognize them as young adults, that’s who they are now, Young Adults.

The door flung open, I’m frozen.  “Clear!”  I breathe, it’s safe.  My heart calms itself down and I gasp for air.  I enter the hallway with the other teachers, some just as torn up as me through what seemed to be hours, the reality of this was within minutes.  This drill took my breath completely away, it was only a drill, students have the day off.  I pray we never experience it for real.  We now know, our entire, school staff, what a gunshot sounds like in the hall, it will never be mistaken for a class experiment or loud boom, or questioned, stealing minutes of running to safety with our students.  This drill is what our law enforcement does with us to teach us to keep our kids, YOUR kids safest possible. 

Teachers may not see signs in our students of danger, but do their best to acknowledge all students; “read” them, listen to them, know when they need guidance, they need someone to talk with, they do their best to keep them safe and most of all, teachers and staff take the time with our local law enforcement with and without our students doing drills like these. But do they know at the end of each school day, if the kids have the same guidance at home? For every question others have of teachers, teachers have of others when sending their students to be home.  When you are notified of an incident at school or read a letter sent home about a drill they practiced, don't shout out online your opinion good or bad in the matter, take the opportunity to talk directly with your kids about it and learn whats going on in their mind and their reactions.

Question online all you want about authority and who does what, but most of all TAKE ACTION, talk to people and kids DIRECTLY,  be involved with the school when you can, the school board, the teachers, the law enforcement and most of all… be involved with your kids.   Post what YOU are doing to keep your community confident in safety, when you doubt out loud and online, you are doubting the people that are working the hardest and doing as much as they can. If you disagree with it, take action.  It’s not only about what everyone else is doing to keep our kids safe, it’s about the action ALL OF US are taking to learn about our kids and getting involved with our community.

A few months after 9/11 we were in the airport having a bite to eat before our plan boarded.  The pilot sat next to us doing the same.  We looked at him and said, “Please get us home safe.”  He answered, “I want to be home safe with my family too, as much as everyone else.”

Helpful Family Links:
How to talk to children about difficult news.
Explaining the news to our children.

     We are all in this together.  It's up to ALL of us.

An authors note...
**Each day I pray that our kids stay safe, I pray that students find the help and support they need and I pray that my family comes home safe each night.  My heart, thoughts, and prayers go out to all of the victims, all so innocent, also the first responders and the teachers that fight a battle everyday and especially to the families that have God with them more today than ever. No tragedy is ever forgotten. All the above was heavy on my heart with only inspired stories and a strong need to share.  - Connie

Sunday, December 10, 2017

WONDER the Movie

Learn how one child makes a special difference in so many.

Auggie, Via, Jack Will, Julian, Justin, Miranda;
a few of the special names that impact others in this story, just by silent acts of kindness.

A movie that is a must see for every family.  With many classes reading this best selling novel and the #ChooseKind Campaign behind it, this is a story everyone can learn from.  So many great quotes from the movie that no doubt, we would all love to see posted in school classrooms and buildings.  Never underestimate the power of a kind, observant teacher or staff member, and the impact they make on our future generations to come.  It IS a village with the right people, the right hearts, and the acts of kindness, that lead the path of a loving community and child.

Its hard to put this movie into words, here a just a few of the gazillion impactful moments...

*No matter what a person looks like, we all face many similar challenges. 
I loved when Auggies sister, Via, talks through a "friend break up" that Auggie experiences.  "Right now, we ARE each others best friends."  These siblings stick together.

*The sun (son) is the center of the universe and they (the rest of the family) are other planets revolving around the sun (Auggie).  Nothing wrong with that. one getting all the attention, so much to learn from being a listener;  Sister Via stays quiet and kind and appreciates right where she is in the moment.  Via's kindness comes back around from a friend that distances herself from Via because of her own challenges.  Via has a moment to shine that all admire throughout the story.  

*Dreams & Wishes do come true.  Accept them in all ways and embrace it.  (You'll see...)

*A bully in the school gets expelled and instead of the parents taking action on their own child, they throw out the threat of how much money they put into the school and how many people they know on the school board; accepting of how cruel their son has treated others.  (oh if some parents could really see how much they hurt their very own child with these actions.)  The principal reacts and says... 
"Auggie can't change the way he looks, but we can change the way we see."

*Auggies friend, Jack, gets caught up in a conversation, saying very hurtful things.  He realizes what he has done and the hurtful impact he has made.   He then becomes a bigger friend after the fact by doing whats right as well as apologizing to whom he hurt the most.  

*The principal understands both sides of a situation even though one side is unsaid.  Consequences are made but doing the right thing is noticed.

*Another bully becomes the protector by finally not only saying whats right but by taking action and doing the right thing and being aware of difficult situations.   See something, say something. 

*Auggies mother, who has made him her entire universe, learns to let him out of the nest to grow and pursues her own dream, one that the family excitingly supports...

"Your heart is your map to where you are going and your face, your face shows where you've been." - Auggies Mother referring to her wrinkles and more.

If you haven't read the actual story yet, I hear, "its even better" from my Mia, 9yrs old.  Bring your child to see this movie.  As parents, we could learn just as much;  Our teen years with our kids are even more important as before and after.  Its not that they don't listen, maybe its that we stopped talking.  Respect, love and kindness all starts in our own home, at all seasons!

Here are some links to click on and learn more about our world of WONDER! Please do take the time to watch, read, and share!!

"Don't judge a book by its cover,  get to know the book and don't judge at all." 

- Julia Schneider, 8 yrs old.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Amish Friendship Bread

Thnx busy & fun momma, Kim!!
Chain letters are not our thing, this is way better! Follow this delicious & simple recipe... to enjoy the yummy results with friends and family! This is one to be easy and passed on as far as our mouth watering taste buds can take us!  My friend Kim left me a cup of the "starter" batter, I followed directions and ten quick days later, we baked the most yummy, cinnamon sugary, cake (FYI there is nothing healthy about this recipe)!  This recipe makes 2 loafs so 1) me and my kids happily devoured and 2) we shared with Angie on her special "baby" day!  Thanks Kim for sharing this Amish Recipe Love!!  Below is a copy of the "starter" recipe & here's a link to make an original (Jen@  Please share your comments and photo fun of your starters to see how far this recipe has gone! (Nicole, Laura, Marie & Kelly to start!)

Especially made and shared just for YOU! 

Important Preparations:
*Make 4 copies of this sheet before writing or taking notes on it.
*Do not use a metal spoon or bowl for mixing; keep batter in this Ziploc until 10th day.
*Do not refrigerate.
*If air gets in bag, let it out.
*It is normal for the batter to thicken, bubble and ferment.

DAY 1: You received this batter in a gallon Ziploc bag.  Do nothing and just put the bag on your kitchen counter.
DAY 2: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 3: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 4: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 5: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 6: Add 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup milk. Squeeze this bag several times.
DAY 7: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 8: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 9: Squeeze the bag several times.
DAY 10: In a large metallic bowl, combine the batter with 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar & 1 cup milk. Mix with a wooden spoon or plastic spoon. (This should yield approximately 5 cups of batter.) 
Pour four 1 cup starters into 1 gallon Ziploc bags (freezer type are best), write the date on it and give away to family and friends with a copy of these instructions.

To the remaining batter in the bowl, add:
2 cups flour            1 cup oil
1 cup sugar             ½ cup milk
½ tsp. baking soda   3 large eggs
1 tsp. salt               1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon       1 large box instant vanilla pudding

In a separate bowl, mix ¼ to ½ cup sugar with ½ to 1 tsp. cinnamon.
Sprinkle over 2 well-greased loaf pans before pouring batter into them.
Use any leftover cinnamon/sugar mixture to sprinkle on top of batter.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until done.

Variation:  Add fresh or frozen blueberries, apple chunks, bananas, raisins, chocolate chips, pecans, walnuts, or any combination you are willing to try!  Have fun with it!

(Want to make another delicious individual batter?  Learn more of a similar recipe without the starters.)
Share your fun & photos to see how far this recipe gets by going to
& thank you, again Kim M. for sharing this with our family!

GingerHomes, Ice Cream, and time together, Oh My!

If its one thing many of us don't do enough of, its enjoying our very own backyard.  Well, yes our home backyard of course, but our very own city life backyard.  If you are local and in the area, this is definitely worth putting on your holiday to do list (just try to be in the moment with me and not in the crazy hustle and bussel we are all in :) so trust me and add this on that long list!). 

With it being the last, beautiful- is it really winter-day outside, we decided to embrace the city life of downtown Milwaukee.  64 degree weather on a December 4th night was enough to hit the town itself!  The drive into the city skyline could light up any "bahumbug" spirit.  The trees on every downtown street lit up in holiday smiles.  The weather may not have said it but the beautiful holiday decorations on every corner definitely showed that the Christmas Season was here. 

We went downtown to the Market Place where there was a Gingerbread Display that college students created; their amazing talent took Gingerbread homes to a whole new level.  These homes were available to be bid on to raise money for their local community projects.  These were also Gingerbread homes that the best were voted on; this brought some serious viewing and fun into the beautiful display.  Take a look at the photos I couldn't resist sharing with you!  Never under estimate the talent of a Gingerbread Home Designer! It is also a great, simple and creative gift to give to a family or a gift that a special elf or traditional Holiday Saint (Nick) would want to share with the kids! I always love bringing the cousins together to do our own crazy gingerbread decorating! This display, however, was definitely crazy beautiful and well worth the trip to see. 

We also took the time to enjoy the Cathedral Square Christmas Display! In the summer this community square is filled with different activity.  So for the winter holiday season, it was filled with lights and different creative Themed Christmas Trees, displaying all the amazing organizations in our area and what they do just by what their tree looked like!  Our kids were proud to see their own school sponsored tree up as well!  It was all a beautiful sight and an area of how much a volunteer in the community can make a big difference as well as how many volunteers all working together a little bit can make the magic happen!

Of course we ended the night with a little ice cream treat, shopping local at "The Purple Door" with their own recipes of home made ice cream, Whiskey? Hody Toddy??  We each had a small sampling and lets just say a few of us stuck with our traditional chocolate or salted caramel flavors while the others got a little riskier and enjoyed it all!  Everything was delicious and definitely worth the stop. 

So from my family to yours, take a little bit of time out to be together and embrace the Holiday Spirit all around us.  It doesn't take anything too extravagant to be together and start your own family traditions that your kids will love and remember forever; big and small.  

One thing many of us all need more of is time.  Time is the only thing we all have the same amount of, or do we?  Spend it wisely, otherwise it can be very costly.  Happy Holidays sweet Mommas!