I’ve been cleaning out my closet

I got a sweet text message today. An ex- co worker I have not heard from since August sent me a message because she had a brownie at the bake sale. Brownies made her think of me. Being associated with brownies is super fantastic. I was always the “odd” kid in elementary school who brought Brownies to school for her birthday treat instead of cupcakes. I never liked cupcakes. My mom went the extra mile to make brownies and put the little valentine hearts on them for decoration. So when you see brownies and think of me that’s awesome.

Photo by Ella Olsson

I am however trying to make some changes in how I am looked at/thought of.

I’ve been cleaning out my closet. So much of my wardrobe was for “Mrs.Gandara” the teacher, and not Christy, the person.

Mrs. Gandara the Teacher – Example of horrible outfit.

Christy would NEVER wear most of those clothes. She picked them because she was expected to look a certain way for work or I was dressing to match my classroom theme.

In 2012 when I returned to my position as 4th grade teacher at the school 1 mile from my home, and where I had actually begun teaching 18 years before, I was looking for a classroom theme. I wanted it to be appealing to both girls and boys, but not babyish. The first AVENGERS had just been released – Superheros was the PERFECT theme, and being a Catholic School, Jesus is indeed the ultimate superhero, right!?!

I had an artist design this set of clip art:

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Melonheadz

I went ALL out – and added to it over the years.

But back to my closet…

Needless to say my wardrobe consists of more super hero shirts than most men have!

I even have “dress”shirts I could wear to mass with a superhero motif on them.

Guardians of the Galaxy shirt purchased to be more formal at work.

I made myself 2 skirts to wear on the first day of school and even my own superhero shoes one year.

Super Hero skirt- With assistance from Good friend Emily
Wonder Woman “star” Skirt- who am I kidding – didn’t sew a stitch, my sister – i- law Ana did the whole thing!
I used comic book pages over black shoes to make these. They hurt like the place opposite Heaven – but I wore them by golly!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge fan, but I don’t want to dress in superhero clothes every day…. I was somewhat of a character actress —“Mrs. Gandara” – the one who did everything on campus they affectionately called Wonder Woman is soooo over playing superhero dress up.

I would receive many super hero gifts ( see MRS GANDARA in background) as well as fun dress up elements.

Part of finding myself again is shrugging off that connection with the character I was and reinventing myself. New Job, new wardrobe! But yikes, a complete closet makeover is quite pricey!

So, like most of what’s happening in my life now, I’ll take it slow and steady. I used some birthday money to buy this from Amazon:

I plan to wear it on my next trip to Disneyland. I’ll have to hang onto a few of my favorite super shirts to be ready for the opening of Marvel Land too! I need my Thor shirt for THORS-day (Thursday), and I picked up a Linda Carter Wonder Woman Shirt – that’s a total Christy item.

But moving forward… more floral

This one is one of my favorites with Jeans

Blue seems to be my color lately!

I will have to keep my eye open for more Christy-like clothing and continue to purge my closet of the past.

Off to make some brownies!


  • Christy

Teaching in-between the lines – Sharing from February 2017

The following popped up on my facebook memories today. It was written on February 3, 2017. It brought tears to my eyes. I summarized my teacher life so perfectly. I was the perfect look back at myself without the tarnish of being let go. I thought I would share it with you.

This is what I do… it’s not glamorous at all. One of my students took this picture. My desk is a mess. I have no idea when she took it or why, but this is the CrAzy they see all day…. I would not change a thing. I wore my slippers to work yesterday…because I knew the kids would love it.

I’m supposed to teach state standards and at some level I suppose I do. It is more important to me that my students feel important and loved. We have fun every day. I tell them EVERY DAY how much I love being with them, how much I love my work. I want them at some subliminal level to learn no matter what we are doing, just make it your best and everything else will follow. I have told every class that when they grow up and win an award, or are “rich and famous” to remember in their speech they owe it all to their fourth grade teacher…. What I really mean is, as they go through everyday ordinary life: think back and remember the fun, the love and laughter, from ALL your teachers. (but mostly me, ha ha)

They won’t use the state standards I may or may not be effectively teaching. I hope they will use the crazy everyday chaos I pawn off as a fourth grade education.

Today I’m going to take my class to Mass, stay and pray the Rosary, and then we’ll come back to what they have affectionately named HEADQUARTERS…and have a dance party, with our 2 disco balls and limbo set…. it’s not on the lesson plans… just written in between the lines…. February 3, 2017


If you had the pleasure of being in my class, (or having a student in my class) You know how often I veered off those lesson plans…how much fun we had EVERY DAY, and how I sincerely LOVED being YOUR teacher. Just think how special it was that God blessed your life in that way, and now no others get to be among the lucky who can truly call themselves Mrs. Gandara’s Super Saints! I hope wherever you are you are doing well and listening to God’s will in your life! I do cherish our time together.

Love,

Your favorite 4th grade teacher

It's my Blog-a-Versary!

This was by far my FAVORITE thing – a heated puffy blanket thingy. It pumped continuous warm air over me. I was toasty warm! My husband is normally an excellent photographer – but I happen to see his finger in this photo….

I began this blog (I have others I used for years) to record my journey through rotator cuff surgery. It’s been a year since my surgery and this blog’s debut!

Rotator cuff surgery wasn’t my first surgical procedure….I had had 3 cesarean sections, but those didn’t require anything from me and I got an adorable little baby each time.

This time I had post surgery restrictions, like no driving and months of physical therapy. (Actually I probably wasn’t supposed to drive after the cesarean sections either, but I had to get my staples out somehow!). All the research I did said the recovery was worse than the initial injury, so I was prepared to work hard, and I did.

While I didn’t return to work in 3 weeks as I had hoped, It took more mentally than expected to recover from this particular surgery. Getting dressed took double the usual time. Try pulling up your pants one handed. It’s totally doable, just takes a minute. I also had a 45 minute exercise routine to do 3 or 4 times a day. You can’t exactly do that in the middle of teaching math or science.

Using the pulley system to pull and stretch my arm. I lifted my arm up as high as it would go stretching the muscles and teaching them it was ok to go up, up, up. I did this 3 times a day. I watched TV on the tablet while doing it to distract myself!

So I extended my leave a full 8 weeks. It was glorious. Like summer in the middle of the school year. I continued to develop a strong relationship with God and trust him in all things.

I’m not the work out type, but I gave everything I had to my physical therapy appointments. I wish I could have had more. I knew in order to get full mobility back, It was up to me.

I still lovingly refer to my left arm as my t-rex arm. One year later I have what I feel is full mobility of my t-rex arm. It doesn’t *quite* reach all the way straight up tip top like my right arm does, but I think I am GOOD!

Poor guy and his short arms. But he was called the King of the Dinosaurs…

I wanted 4 things from my surgery according to my blog from a year ago:

Personal = health -seriously. enough. lose the weight. keep it off for good. every step should not hurt.

Mental = grow closer to God. take time to pray & reflect. establish routine without distraction of work

Work = re-train staff, separate myself from position of “power”, leadership, authority. Establish Mr. L as the boss. – Allow him the freedom to lead without interference or a middle person. Help him see his vision for the school.

Arm = pain will be worse before it gets better. Months!


So to make it easy, WORK has taken care of itself, as I am no longer in the position that caused me to reflect in that way. Mrs. Bri and I only worry about how much chicken to cook and if I have ranch for my precious ranch cups.

ARM: all better!

MENTAL: in progress,(and always will be) my relationship with God has never been better. The distraction of work again has been removed and in the past 7 months I have grown in ways I never thought possible.

I actually took one of those silly Facebook Quizzes the other day to find out who the love of my life was… this was the result:

With god as my priority, everything else falls into place. Even when faced with Trials.

The area that is left is PERSONAL. I hate to admit that I have not made any progress in the past year. This isn’t a reason to be disappointed or feel defeated. 3 out of 4 in a year with the help of God is fantastic!

So now I shall ask God to help me focus on my weight. Done. I’m not afraid of a long journey. From December 2011 to October 2013 I lost 100 pounds. I gained 80 back because of one simple thing, I lost the weight without God. This time with God, I have no doubt I will win the weight battle for good. It will be a journey to a healthier me!

Anything we struggle with – the answer is indeed God, because our life (our body) is from Him! We are not our own, and it is glorious knowing I have all that POWER behind me to rid myself of this once and for all.

I can’t wait to see where this Year of Joy takes me !

May your journey be blessed and your struggles be lifted!

  • Christy

The year of the Mouse, and how I forgave the people that fired me.

Today we celebrate the Chinese New Year. The year of the Rat, and also other small rodents like the Mouse. I know this because I am fortunate enough to work with AMAZING exchange students from China in the lunch room. As they wished me a Happy New Year yesterday I was delighted to continue to learn and share from them. I asked one of the young men what exactly the year of the Mouse meant. He told me it was a year of blessings, for money. Amen to that!

It has been said even 2020 will be a year of renewal, and a chance “to turn unfortunate events into fortunate ones.” I believe I am on the path to do just that.

I have some very supportive and perceptive friends that are helping me as I journal/blog and share my life. The first friend noticed right away, before I did myself that I was grieving. Another friend recently took time to pull me aside and advise me to look up the stages of grief, so I could better understand and move through them. (Not that I wasn’t doing it well – just so I could keep moving forward).

It seems my friends think I need to move on to forgiveness. Jesus died to forgive our sins. I am forgiven, and I am very grateful for that gift, but forgiveness is often seen as the “last step” – and that is not necessarily true. I do believe forgiveness is necessary to being able to move forward, which is why I have already forgiven those who did not renew my contract.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean everything is resolved. Forgiveness is just PART of the process. I forgave EVERYONE involved 3 hours after it happened. True story.

As soon as I got the text message that fateful morning July 1, 2019 I knew I was going to get fired. My soul knew. I can’t imagine what the principal thought as he watched me react to the situation, because I was at peace. God was with me like the footprints in the sand. I knew it was God’s will. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. It wasn’t my will, that’s for sure!!!

After I got home from cleaning out the classroom, I sat down and I wrote the principal a thank you note. I could not imagine how hard it must have been for him to let me go. (I hoped at least it was hard) After all, I was his wing-woman for 4 years. We spoke multiple times daily and even some weekends to make the school the best it could be. He helped me grow and blossom into an amazing administrator, and he deserved my gratitude. That Thank You note was my forgiveness. The others involved in my non-renewal also had my forgiveness, because they TRULY do not understand what it takes to effectively run that elementary school, nor what a dynamic team the principal and I were. They were all business. That is easy to forgive, my non renewal was not personal for them. If they understood I would be the Vice Principal.

Let’s look at it objectively – they think they were doing what was best for the school. I was NEVER going to get the position of Vice Principal, because for whatever reason, the pastor and business manager didn’t think the position was necessary. Having me on campus was going to be awkward and perhaps if I can borrow the term that was used when I was let go – “problematic”. Can you even imagine me keeping my opinions to myself when they re-organized the leadership of the school and had someone else doing the jobs I did? How complicated would it have been if I HONESTLY look? Good gracious it’s laughable.

I know my ex-co- workers and they would have been knocking on my classroom door and questioning me about every last detail of how things should be handled. There would never have been “only” a 4th grade teacher. That was a pipe dream. Even without the extra duties I would have been drowning in the details of transitioning OUT of the job. It hurts like HELL, but they SAVED ME!!!! So yes I am grieving the loss of my job, the teaching career I had, and the interaction/difference I made with students. That part of my life is gone/transitioning. I am no longer a Catholic School teacher. So, understandably, I am grief stricken as I would be with a death. But I have forgiven all involved.

I forgive my Mom for choosing to smoke, getting cancer and dying – does not mean it does not hurt or impact my life, daily.

I forgive my baby brother for being annoying as a child. His death was just because his big (dumb) heart decided to stop. What is there really to forgive there? Completely beyond his control. Hurts like crazy and impacts my life daily.

So forgiveness has been accomplished – but the hurt is still raw.

One of the stages of grief is denial – so perhaps I’m in denial – denial that I have to forgive, but I don’t think so. Forgiveness is not forgetting. I am allowed to hurt. I had to forgive myself for the sacrifices I made that impacted my family, that was my last post. But there is no one else in my opinion to forgive, as they were doing the work of God as he commanded them. I recognized that quickly and moved on.

This experience has allowed me to have a spiritual change of heart – a metanoia if you will. A change of mind and heart through the grace of God. I have to continue to move forward and see all that I have to be THANKFUL for.

I have $2.35 in my Teachers Pay Teachers account. Creating curriculum has brought me joy worth a million dollars. I am working closely with my Husband on products for my etsy shop and stocking up to do craft fairs in 2020. I see my life for the gift from God it is. God can handle the burdens. When I feel the pain of this life transformation, I simply remind myself: Jesus I trust in you. That $2.35 is proof God’s got my back! This is the path he has me on, I’m choosing Joy during this year of the Mouse. I’m going to visit Mickey and Minnie and I’m counting on that exchange student and his telling me that it is a year to be blessed financially!

May your week be blessed, your forgiveness be true, and your sorrows short lived and your Chinese New Year Financially fruitful!

Looking back on my teaching career

I have been looking back at the years I spent teaching with regret. Regret over what I lost and sacrificed with my own family, not what I gave to others. It’s complicated to explain. I gave everything to other children and feel like I missed out on the lives of my own children. I could have been home being a wife and mother, instead I was a teacher. If you knew me, teaching came first. Being the best teacher I could for the students I served was essential to me. Everything and everyone else came second.

So understandably looking back I ask myself why, when *poof* It didn’t matter enough, and I’m not a teacher anymore. I could have dedicated all that awesomeness into my own family.

As I drove past the Church/ School intersection and watched students I will never have the honor of teaching cross, it suddenly hit me… If God didn’t want me to spend those years teaching, he would have changed my path sooner. My life has always been according to his plan, whether I accept it or not. Accepting his plan and will in my life without worry just makes it more beautiful.

My steps then and now are from the Lord.

The reason I’m struggling with my children may or may not have anything to do with my working years. Without those working years I would not be ready for a new chapter of life, including the teen / adult relationships with my children. At the time I believed I was in the classroom because that was were God called me, I need to remember that!

I don’t get a do-over with their childhood. God never intended for me to be a full time stay at home mom. He intended for me to be a Catholic School Teacher who was also a wife and mother. My children have acquired many skills as a result of being homeschooled by a working mom. That is a gift.

This week I am beginning to tutor a younger sibling of students I had when they were 4th graders in my class. What a blessing this family trusts me with this task! God intends for me to help him develop into a strong learner.

Douglas, innocently asked what was wrong with the boy, and I answered quickly by saying he couldn’t read, then I corrected myself and said:

“ I should say nothing is wrong with him because everyone learns differently…He needs me to help him with his reading and writing, but there is plenty of time because he is only a 1st grader. “

Lauren piped up and recalled how I helped “Butterfly Scarf” read when she was in 6th grade! (name changed to protect her identity – but I am very proud of the woman she has become! I hope she may in fact read my blog 🙂 This young lady was a non reader in my 4th grade Faith Formation class. I assisted her Mom pull her out of public school, homeschool her and allow her the time she needed to blossom into a dynamic reader. She went to High School and was very successful – and continues to be – because she was given the space to learn at her own pace. I know my little tutoring friend will be much the same. He will read.

I could go on and on with stories of students I know beyond a shadow of a doubt I impacted. Because that’s exactly what God intended for me. He placed me on that path, and kept me on the path.

Slowly I will still impact the lives of students, not 30 at a time on a daily basis. But God will continue to send me those (if any) I need to work with.

I can have no regrets in life if I truly believe that God is in control, Even when I don’t specifically ask Him for his will, he is guiding my life to be in accordance to his will.

I always told my students when they grew up to become famous to remember to tell the world they owed it all to their 4th grade teacher! I suppose they will ow *some* of it to God as well because in his wisdom he made ME their 4th grade teacher, but those darlings know who to give credit to – wink wink!

For now I will continue to find Joy on the steps of my path and worry less. I don’t need to understand the ways of the Lord, just trust in Him.

Here is a download for you to remember that you too are on the path God intended for you! Feel free to share your thoughts with me!

May your day be filled with Joy!

  • Christy

A fresh Year ahead!

Happy 2020! I pray this year brings you many opportunities to choose joy! As I sit and listen to the sleeping house, the squirrels play in the yard and the birds sing their early morning song, I am indeed filled with Joy.

I spent my last day of the year removing Christmas from the house. I know – GASP – before Three Kings Day, however I decorate for the New Year – and the two clash. I can’t help it.

I did not stay up until midnight. You’re not surprised I’m sure. But I have been up since 5am, doing my thing…including compiling a complete set of all the 2019 Bible Verse posters I created. I have a goal for 2020. I would like to remove the .wordpress from this blog and create an actual website called Gratitude-Little Things-Contentment. I figure I will use one of my FAVORITE verses of all time and let it guide me: to summarize, Christy style: God will provide food for the birds, but he won’t put it in their nest. I’m not much for sitting back and letting life happen, I’m a full blown participant. I like to create. I don’t believe in get rich quick schemes. I believe in hard work, and I believe, most of all that God has a plan for me.

Video footage of a sweet bird eating from a home made bird feeder in our backyard.

Therefore, I will continue provide FREE downloads of the bible verses I create, but I will also load them into my etsy store and make them available for purchase without my blog branding across the bottom. My goal is NOT to get rich or scam people out of their money. I plan to earn my website with quality blogging and quality products.

Let me tell you, I am done reading article after article telling me how to make $10,000 a month blogging only to come to the end of the article and have to PAY to get their “secret” . That’s the secret! They get people who want to make money blogging to pay to buy something that says this is how you blog, but it seems to be nothing. You have to sign up to be an affiliate to this and that and load your site with liposuction advertisements. I do not personally KNOW a $10K a month blogger. I’m sure they exist. My goal is to be a servant of God, to follow his will. I like writing and I hope you like reading.

If you are so inspired to buy my craft items in my etsy store, digital downloads, TeachersPayTeachers curriculum or to hire me as a Homeschool curriculum consultant, I hope you do it because of the person I am, or you want the stuff 🙂 no strings attached. I am also an amazon affiliate. I made $2.47 in 2019. Totally awesome. If you want to support me that is one of the EASIEST ways to do it. Just use my link to buy what YOU need. Done.

Another great way to support me that costs NOTHING is by leaving comments. If you know me, you know I do not need likes, comments, feedback, etc for myself. I pretty much do my own thing without a care to what others think. The reality of it is this: Others are attracted to a blog that is interactive. I now you are reading it because when I see you IRL you tell me, and I can also see how many page hits each post has. I’m not re-reading them my self-centered -self that many times!

Let’s start by sharing goals for 2020. Leave a comment and let me know what your goals are for this wide-open year ahead!

Here is the link to ALL the 2019 printables. They are just $2.00 in my etsy shop. (In fact they are on sale from Jan 1st – 15th 2020 for 30% off, so they are just $1.40. That’s just about 17 cents each!)

I look forward to a joy-filled 2020!

  • Christy

2019 Year in Review

My very first post of 2019 was titled FEAR. I was 3 days away from rotator cuff surgery on my left arm. A “nothing event” in life really. A minor procedure, not life threatening.

But this line:

I want it to be the turning point in my life.

Good Golly- looking back over the past year I’d say that surgery was indeed the turning point.

It’s common at this time of the year to look back. It’s easy to read my blog posts about DECIDING TO APPLY TO BECOME THE VICE PRINCIPAL, or How working as the Assistant Lunch Lady is LIKE BREAKING IN A NEW PAIR OF SHOES. You can even re-read my most viewed post of the year – when I figured out WHAT I DID WRONG and why I didn’t get promoted and got fired instead.

Way back before photo cards were a thing, I spent hours on a picture filled family newsletter to send with my Christmas card. Think back, there was no Facebook for family and friends keep up with every activity.

It was my blog before blogging!

So, as the year winds down it is time to highlight the great things God has done for me, beginning with the catalyst of change and growth: My shoulder surgery and recovery.

JANUARY: I had my rotator cuff repaired and my bicep reattached, causing me to be off work for 2 months instead of the 3 weeks I had hoped for. I used those 2 months to pray for God’s will in my life. . . to REALLY turn myself over to His Will. I watched the Walton’s and Little House on the Prairie. Life was calm and good.

FEBRUARY: We took an epic trip to Disneyland. Because I was still on disability, the things I could do were extremely limited. But it was SO NICE to see Disneyland at a slow pace! We saw President Lincoln and reminisced about homeschooling. We watched cartoons in the Main Street Cinema, explored Tarzan’s treehouse, rode the Rivers of America on the Mark Twain Riverboat, fed the ducks, explored Pirate’s Cove, rode the train all the way around the park, and so much more!

I even got a Balloon! It was a sweetheart balloon!

MARCH: In March I grew as a Mother. I put my oldest child on a plane by herself. I have to be honest, I cried. She was going to Arizona to tour a college campus. We both survived. I left the college decision in God’s hands. I most certainly had to. God gave her to me, she is really His. Thankfully she chose NOT to spend 20K a year on college and is happily attending Junior College and living at home. Smart Girl. Happy Momma! What struck me most about this day was the kind woman in line that noticed my tears and took the time to tell me it would be okay. The words of that other mother- a perfect stranger made a HUGE impact on me that day.

APRIL: Holidays always leave happy memories. Whatever it is about Tic-Tacs, the Bugs love them. They only appear at Easter and Christmas for some reason… hmm that reminds me, I better remind Santa to put some in their stocking! Douglas is the king of clowning around. I just love the sense of humor God blessed him with.

MAY: May was a big month! Lauren went to the Prom (no date, just with her friends) and Megan received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

JUNE: In June the UNTHINKABLE happened. This little girl Graduated from High School. I swear she just started Kindergarten last week. She was surrounded by family and friends and professed how happy she was to graduate from a “real” school rather than my homeschool. I was very proud, but still longed for the backyard ceremony at the Gandara Bug Academy the way I planned so long ago. It’s not about what I want. That is the overarching message of my year, isn’t it? Wait until next month, LOL – That message is going to be received loud and clear!

JULY: In July my life changed in a way I didn’t think possible. Well if you are a blog reader, you know what is coming, but for those of you just joining the show: I lost my job as a teacher in a “freak accident” of God’s Will. See when you pray for God’s Will, he actually gives it to you!

I was told keeping me on staff would be “Problematic”.

I was not given the title of Vice Principal I asked for, nor allowed to be the 4th Grade teacher the way I wanted…

I was given God’s Will – (a contract I had refused to sign in May because it was the right thing to do, it contained too much money for a 4th grade teacher and did NOT contain the title of Vice Principal – but I was expected to continue to do the work of the Vice Principal. Now in July I was NOT being offered an updated contract, therefore I had no job.)

2 days later, We went camping and I discovered my purpose in life by reading the book called: A Mother’s Rule of Life

My purpose in life is to love God. He gave me this rock as a reminder:

Then mid July, we went camping again and I saw a Bear. A Baby Bear. I have no way to describe the majesty of seeing a bear in Yosemite. It was what I imagine Heaven to be like, but I hope I can pet it! I want Heaven to be a giant petting zoo filled with animals that can talk and will let me pet them! Anthony tried to get pictures, but I just stood there, amazed. These two camping trips – planned LONG before my contract was not renewed – provided PEACE to my soul and allowed me the freedom to begin living my life as a wife and mother again.

My life will never be the same just 7 months after having rotator cuff surgery – so many blessings, including losing my job! (Don’t get me wrong, leaving teaching was not as easy as I make it sound!)

AUGUST: Just a simple day trying to be glamorous taking selfies with Megan. Notice she looks flawless in every picture, and I look like a 48 year old goof ball. I have no “back to school” stress. Just memory making. Although we are taking the financial hit of a lifetime by my choice to become an assistant Lunch Lady and not return to teaching – we decided to keep our Disney passes by switching to the new “flex pass”. This pass requires you to make reservations in advance. Being an organized person – this is right up my alley!

SEPTEMBER:I continue to seek God in the little things. Finding this spider in the bushes at Stater Brothers on my way to work was a great start to my day. The orb weaver has created a magnificent web, It works hard, and must do so over and over again. Shortly after this sighting, one of these spiders moved into the front yard and blessed us with a web daily for about 5 – 7 days. Each time was cause to stop and examine, even if it might make us a little late.

OCTOBER: Visiting with my niece Danielle before she moves to Africa with her husband Rubin for at least 3 years. I think she looks more like me than my own children do. Going out to eat together with My Dad and Gloria is a treat. He shared about his recent trip to New Jersey and we got to hear from Danielle about Rubin’s exciting job in Africa. Through technology it won’t seem so bad as we will still talk using face time. Not like when we first moved to California from New Jersey and my mom had to wait all month for her 1 hour long distance phone call with her mom. Times sure have changed!

NOVEMBER: Family time with the Studgems. We gathered for Game night. Watch out for the youngest, she is a poker champ! Spending time like this allows us to slow down and just be. Having children that range in age from 4-18 sometimes makes activities difficult, but this group makes it work!

DECEMBER: Our picture with Santa contains an extra “bug” this year… Lauren’s boyfriend Alex. They have been dating for 4 months now. I’m not sure how I feel about it. She was just in Kindergarten last week and now she has a boyfriend!

I think the teacher in me just treats him like an extra kid around the house. He likes Dr. Pepper. That’s all it takes!

I spent my year focusing on Happy Habits, journaling (through this blog) events and recording 3 things every day I was thankful for. I was supposed to walk every day, but that didn’t really happen. (Just keeping it real).

For the past 10 years I have chosen a word to guide my year. The name of my blog are the first three: Gratitude, Little Things, Contentment. Some years I do better than others as letting my word be my guide. Now We are faced with 2020 – the end of my 10 year cycle and my “last” word to wrap it all up.

For a few weeks I have been lead to the phrase “CHOOSE JOY” – and that will be my word for 2020. I will strive to choose to see joy in all things, all people as I continue to grow as a human on the planet.

I hope you will continue to journey with me. Follow my blog. Comment on my blog. Feel free to share a word that will guide your 2020. May God Bless you!

  • Christy

P.S. This post is dedicated to my son Douglas who lost his “best friend” Minnie Marie on December 19th.

I remember my Mother telling me that when I hurt, she hurt 10 times worse. I felt that as I watched my 15 year old pick a spot in our yard for his kittie. He was thoughtful, choosing an area where there was “room for the others” when their time came. He worked diligently digging the grave deep enough. He displayed immense inner strength, courage and sensitivity I am proud of.

We brought Minnie home to be buried, unlike any of our other animals due to the financial cost of cremation on top of the emergency 11:30 pm vet visit. Part of me felt a giant burden of guilt, for if I was still working a full time teaching job, cost would not have been an issue, but I released my burden and allowed God to take over.

Douglas handled this situation in such an amazing way – and if we had simply left Minnie to be cremated as we have our other animals, he could not have displayed this amazing STRENGTH I bet even he didn’t know he possessed. Thank you God for this AMAZING year of growth for our family.

Douglas and Minnie Marie 2011

What is your attitude about Mondays ?

What is your attitude about Mondays? Are you one of those people who dreads the first day of the work week? I used to be – until I realized it was simply a choice of my attitude. My good friend Emily explained it to me this way – find some element of joy in your Monday – something to look forward to, something to be excited about – and then you won’t dread the coming of Mondays anymore. It was a mind-shift. I continue to find Joy in Mondays (everyday really!)

I recently applied this strategy to the anniversary of my brother’s death. It actually falls into a “whopper” of a week. Within a 7 day span the anniversary of a dear friends passing through an act of terrorism occurs, My deceased Mom’s birthday occurs and the anniversary of my younger brother’s death fall. This year I was dealing with the added stress of having my older brother suffer some medical issues simultaneously with this “whopper” week.

My brother AJ (in the black shirt) who is in Heaven and my brother Rusty (blue shirt) who was recently hospitalized during my “whopper” week.

As It is my habit to seek God in all things I understand God has a plan and his plan is perfect, so on the anniversary of my brother’s death as I sat and cried missing him so deeply, I prayed to find goodness because I did not want to have this forever be a day to dread. We have a birthday and a “death day”. The birthday is a day to celebrate with a party, cake and presents – our day of death should be another way to remember and celebrate for those of us left behind. I prayed to find the JOY and something to celebrate in this sad, sad day.

Time was up, I wiped my tears and went to work. Boy do I love my job. You would not think so, but it takes a steady stream of work to prepare for 2 breaks and lunch – so I was busy constantly from 8am – 2pm and my mind was full, no time to be distracted or sad. It was payday and as my dear friend gave me my paycheck, I hugged her tightly, thanking her from the depth of my soul in a way she couldn’t comprehend for saving me. God knew I needed to be the assistant lunch lady in so many ways, he knew I needed my friend to talk to me all day long about her kids and RCC, and International Students and the Senior Picture in the gym….

When I returned home I went to check the “news” on Facebook and I was greeted almost instantly by my answer from God. This is the week my dear friends received their Daughter from China! The same year we lost my brother we gained our LADYBUG!!!! There is no longer any reason for me to dread this week as I have my beautifully sweet Chinese ladybug to love and honor all that is good in the world.

These are the first photos of Grace sent from China when she was adopted by her forever family – my dear friends.

(Side note: when dealing with Chinese adoption – seeing a ladybug means your referral is coming soon. A ladybug is also a symbol of good luck in many cultures, that is why I gave this sweet girl this as her “bug” name. – Unfortunatley, “Ladybug” does not like the name ladybug and recently insisted she would like to be a butterfly! The Chinese see the butterfly as a symbol of Immortality and in many other cultures, the butterfly is a symbol of resurrection and hope.) How perfect is my ladybug – butterfly to give me the message of Joy to survive my whopper of emotion week.

God heard me! He sent me the message I needed to relieve the pain of my week and give me the tools to move forward year after year.

I hope you enjoy these posters as much as I enjoy making them. Please feel free to let me know in the comments below!

  • Christy

I figured out what I did wrong

I figured out what I did wrong…why I didn’t get promoted to Vice Principal…

This morning as I was driving to work after a lovely 12 days off I was listening to the radio. They have a contest every day in which listeners call in and attempt to answer the disc jockeys statistical based question.

Today’s question was about what common thing people who are successful in getting a raise do to get said raise. I was intrigued for sure. I wonder if this was the key and perhaps what I had done wrong.

Guess #1 was to ask for the raise…for sure, you can’t get a raise if you don’t ask. Good guess, but not the correct answer.

Guess #2 was to dress up more. (If this was it I was on the fence, I didn’t wear my Wonder Woman T shirt, but I sure as heck didn’t put on make up. That would be to present myself as someone I’m not) …nope not the correct answer.

Guess #3 = smile. DING – DING – DING we have a winner…. The key to getting a raise is to smile.

Well, I have to say… There wasn’t a lot of smiling going on when the pastor was saying he: 1.) Didn’t know why I was even there, 2.) In his opinion I was doing the Principal’s job and, 3.) Telling me that I had been basically volunteering as the Vice Principal, so I was welcome to continue to VOLUNTEER for the next school year, but there would be no title.

The #1 way to get a promotion according to a radio show is to smile – Dang it, the next time I’m getting completely insulted for serving my community for 4 years and politely asking to be compensated fairly I will remember to smile. I hope you hear my scarcasim.

I can tell you I smile like the Cheshire Cat filling ranch cups thanking God he rescued me from a place that would take such advantage of another human in His name. I’m smiling now!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I remember the first Thanksgiving we went to visit my brother in Texas. Telling Anthony’s Godmother we wouldn’t be here for the holiday was SO HARD. She has a wonderful way of making every family get together seem like a holiday. …But it was Megan’s 13th birthday and instead of a party, she wanted to watch the entire Harry Potter Movie series with her Texas cousins. Off we went… and Thanksgiving in Texas became a tradition for us.

We had dinner with Oma and Opa – my sister in laws wonderful parents, who welcomed us each year with open hearts. I brought pie 🙂

In 2017 I called my younger brother an had to tell him we couldn’t afford to make the trip. We were going to try our hardest to come at Christmas, but would come in the summer for sure. I hung up and cried my eyes out. I think that might actually be the last time I talked to my brother.

As a family we went Camping the few days before Thanksgiving, and then resumed our spot with the Rosas clan enjoying a big Mexican Thanksgiving.

Camping in Big Bear California – November 2017
Thanksgiving 2017

Life went on for about a week… until I got the phone call that my younger brother passed away. Funny now how we couldn’t afford to go to Texas for Thanksgiving and now we would make the trip anyway.

God in his wisdom provided us the means. Bereavement pay for Anthony – and out of state meant he had the extra time needed to drive us there. Friends helped us too in so many little ways with gift cards and meals. We were absorbed by our village of friends.

I had no way of knowing that trip in 2016 would be the last time I would see my brother for Thanksgiving – But I am so very thankful God blessed me with the memories (scrapbookers take lots of pictures!) and that he inspired Megan to begin our annual trips. I hope next year I’m strong enough to make the trip again because I long to see my Sister in law and nieces and know my kids miss their cousins too!

I might need to make the trip a Summer thing, a new tradition isn’t a bad idea. In the meantime my hope is that each of my friends and family spend this thanksgiving listening to the stories their relatives tell – even if it is for the 100th time – for you never know if you will have the opportunity to hear that story again.

Thank you for being part of my life – Christy

November 19

Today I’m thankful for:
1. My husband. He never misses a beat with me, is always supportive, and puts fuel in my truck…the important stuff!
2. Laundry. It means we have clothes to wear.
3. Food. I have been cooking dinner since my career change impacts our income, but the bonus is it created quality family time. Talking over a home cooked meal is very different from talking over fast food.

Every year since 2010 I pick a word to guide my outlook on life. Now I'm sharing that Outlook with the world.

Homeschool Holiday

Because there is SOMETHING to celebrate everyday!

My Daily Picture

Every year since 2010 I pick a word to guide my outlook on life. Now I'm sharing that Outlook with the world.

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