I recently took the above picture in my front yard and I love looking at it. I cannot remember a year when I was as ready for spring as I am this year. Partly b/c it is my favorite time of year and partly because winter was not kind to the Isbell family. Although the snow was fun, I now understand why my mother always sounded a little stressed when she would tell us that a cold front was coming in. Between the high electric bills and the doctors bills, I see winter in a whole new light. Don't get me wrong ....I LOVED THE SNOW!!!! However, this year the winter also came with 1 hospital stay, 2 battles against pneumonia, 7 cases of the stomach bug, 5 child chest x-rays, 14 finger pricks for blood (on a child's finger), 4 shots in the bottom (poor Elizabeth), 1 IV, 4 visits to the care now, 1 75$ prescription that had to be picked up at a special compounding pharmacy and more laundry than one women ever keep up with. I am tired just typing it. No wonder I haven't updated my blog in so long.

As my mother says, "this too shall pass" and it has. Today I took the above picture because it makes me so happy. I am constantly amazed how the smallest things can bring such joy. Today my children played outside for hours. Today my husband cooked an amazing meal on the grill.

Thank you God for knowing that we needed the seasons to change. Thank you for creating such beauty. Thank you for healing and doctors and medicine.

Snow Day

I love it when life slows down for a minute and allows for some unexpected fun. I love the spontaneous memories you make with your kids on days like these. I knew the minute I looked out my window that morning it was going to be a great day!


Back to School

Tucker and Elizabeth ready to go!

Tucker and Mrs. Melton at the school field trip.

Elizabeth in front of her classroom. She is in the Rainbow class.

Tucker at his table on the first day of school.

Tucker and Elizabeth on the first day of school.

School this year is well underway and somehow I have not had much time to reflect on how much I love what this school year has brought to our lives.

Tucker is loving Kindergarten and is learning so much so fast that I can hardly keep up. He is reading everything he can find. The labels on the food at the grocery store, every street sign, the words that come across the TV when I am trying to watch the news, my grocery list, my to do list and of course the readers he is reading for school. As one could imagine, this has put some parts of my life in slow motion. It is really hard to "run" into Wal-mart for pesto sauce when there are SO MANY WORDS in Wal-mart! Kindergarten has also brought Mrs. Melton into our lives. Mrs. Melton is Tucker's kindergarten teacher and God's personal gift to me! She has inspired Tucker and he loves being in her classroom. She truly loves children and it shows.

Elizabeth is loving preschool this year. She proudly waltzes right into her classroom and takes over. She is extremely well behaved at school and saves all of her less than attractive moods for home:) She loves her teachers and everything about being there. Her first question every day is, "do I get to go to school today?" and her second question is "can I have cereal for breakfast?" She has been seen on the playground giving a few "directives" and she is often so busy there that she can't possibly get her lunch eaten. She usually asks for her chocolate snack right when she gets in the car at 2:30. Then I always remind her that we won't be having a chocolate snack, to which she always replies, "oh, I forgot."

This school year has also put me back in the classroom! I am teaching preschool P.E. two mornings a week and I love it. It took me a few weeks to get used to my busier schedule and having to be out the door every morning, but now it is smooth sailing. I love being there at the school and getting to do things like watch the kids while they are on playground and visit with their teachers in the hall. This school year is the perfect reminder that God's grace provides more than we could ever deserve. I am daily aware that He has provided me the perfect job at the perfect time. I even get to teach both of my kids every Wednesday. Elizabeth and I go to school on Wed./Fri. and those days are so much fun. It is rare that a person gets to work in a place where the boss understands that you are a mom first and where family responsibilities are given the highest priorities. Thank you God for your unfailing devotion to me and the little details in my life!
Fielder Road ECC still gives me this "at home" warm feeling when I am there. What a wonderful beginning to Tucker and Elizabeth's education. I am confident they will have a great year.


100 New Recipes

I recently read a book in which a girl was trying to complete a "to do" list by a certain birthday. (This is a very simplified version of the novel). The novel was not necessarily a Pulitzer, I wouldn't even say that it was well written. However, I have not been able to get it out of my mind.

Sometimes I feel like I am surviving each day instead of living each day. The book inspired me to set goals and reach towards many of the things I "have always wanted to do." I also want my children to see that I can set a goal and reach it. I have always wanted to be a great cook and I am going to start reaching that goal by 1.) practicing and 2.) trying lots of new things. So here it goes....

One of the things on my "list" is to try 100 new recipes before my next birthday. I am so excited about this new goal. I love cooking, baking, and just being in the kitchen. I have always wanted to be a good cook and although I have mastered a few recipes (previously mentioned chocolate chip cookies) I would have to admit that my cooking is limited to a few tried and true dishes that I am often tired of making. I have always thought that deciding what to cook was as difficult as actually doing the cooking.

I have already started and I am loving it!


My Mushy Brain

The other day the kids and I went up to the Farmer's office to take him a few things and visit him while he was working. He was putting in a few extra hours over the weekend to get ready for teacher in-service and the new school year. The kids and I were so excited to go that we baked cookies for all of the staff putting in extra hours along side him. We arrived just after nap time with a tray of "fresh out of the oven" cookies.

As I looked around and he showed me many of things he had been working on, I was overwhelmed by all of the creative ideas and interesting projects going on around me. I loved everything he did in preparation for the teacher training and was so impressed by all that progress the schools have made under his leadership. One of his co-workers sat down with us for a few minutes and she shared some creative ideas she had been working on and we all began to brainstorm together....and in that moment I realized how far removed I am from the career I once had. The room was getting larger and I was getting smaller. She thanked me for the cookies and I wanted to say, "That's not all I do you know....I went to mall yesterday and got three new outfits for Elizabeth for under 20$". I might have also added, "I did extensive research on getting the best nap mat for your money and I believe I purchased the very best one.."

My brain felt mushy and my resume bleak.....don't get me wrong....I love being a "stay at home mom" and I am entirely grateful for the last five years with my children. I just felt so disconnected to this whole other part of me. I have been out of the work place entirely for the past three years and I can't help but wonder if my mind will be ready when it is time to go back. Right now I spend much of my time settling an argument between two preschool children over who can jump the farthest. I knew those arguments were trying my patience, but are they also stunting my intellectual growth?

I called my mom on the way home to ask if she considered me to be intelligent and to make sure that some of the accomplishments I was remembering from my past really did happen. She assured me that all was well and I would be right back in the career world when the time was right, but for now.....
I can tell you that most people who have eaten my chocolate chip cookies swear they are the best they have ever had.


The Great Outdoors

We decided to take the kids camping during James' vacation a couple of weeks ago. We had to squeeze this adventure in between baseball practice and celebrating James' birthday with his family. Fortunately for us we live really close to a lake and a state park so we could have easily jumped in the car at any moment and make the 5 minute drive home.

I have to admit I have never thought of camping as much of a vacation. From the outside looking in it seemed that camping involved a whole lot of work for just a little bit of fun. However, my kids really wanted to sleep in a tent and the farmer practically grew up in tent so I figured it was worth a shot.

Much to my surpise I loved it! Yes, me, Sara Elizabeth Strader Isbell loved camping in a tent. We roasted marshmellows and made smores, we fished and caught one rope, we swam in the lake and we told lots of silly stories that kept us up much longer than we had intended. Don't get me wrong, it does involve a LARGE amount of creatures, most of which I never intended to see. However, it does NOT involve many other things.

I have made a list:

1. No cleaning bathrooms. State parks bathrooms are not bad and I was not responsible for cleaning them. (Thank you Kimberly for the tip about showering in swimsuits!)

2. No cleaning the kitchen....James took his new portable grill and in by then end of the trip I had only washed one pot.

3. No cleaning the floors. I just swept out the floor of the tent when I was done.

4. No doing laundry....see # 1 - Swimsuits clean and ready for the next day.

5. No bored children. They loved every minute of it.

6. No television, phone calls or technology of any kind.

7. No errands or going to five stores.

8. No figuring out what to cook for dinner - James took care of the cooking!

and my favorite...

9. No interuption to family time!

We had such a great time and are looking forward to doing it again...this time we will have a much larger lantern and more fans.

Ok - so it was luxury camping...electricity, running water, coffee in the morning....I am only so brave!