Feeding the Birds

I went out to feed the birds this morning and one of their bowls was gone… Completely gone. It’s the one that typically gets knocked down in late afternoon by the squirrel or the jay digging…but I always find it , refill it and put it back up on the top shelf of the stand I have so I can watch them.

Interesting…. I bet the possum carried it off. I noticed if I don’t go pick up the left over bird food the possum liked to come, eat the sunflower seeds and spit out the shells. I also noticed if more than one possum show up at night where I put fruit, they drag the bowl away. Is comical.

Percy has begun watching the birds in earnest this week. He sits with me for about an hour each day, glued to his spot.

Well the bird seed bowl isn’t the only thing gone this week. I’m mourning the loss of our Disney Passes as well.

I suppose with 2 in college and 1 about to enter college Disney passes were my way of hanging onto their childhood. Disneyland was what WE DID. Since Douglas was in the womb, lol.

This was taken our First Disney Trip. Douglas was brewing! I never let him say we went without him, because we didn’t!

I can’t count the years we held passes. They all mesh into one another. We also did the San Diego Zoo/ Wild Animal Park and Sea World for a bit. We did have a time we couldn’t afford passes, but as soon as I went back to teaching full time, that was my “reward”, or my stipulation – we get Disney Passes!

I wonder what I would have done differently if I had known our last trip as a family was “our last trip” . It’s for sure not our last trip ever…unless God Forbid something happens to one of us. But it will be awhile, and our family is only going to grow (not immediately, but my babies are not babies and the natural progression is to have significant others) .

Our very last trip as a family was in February for my Birthday. Ironically we had a reservation for the Friday before Disneyland was scheduled to close, in March, and chose not to use it. I mean Disneyland was CLOSING because of the virus – what did THAT say? It said something to us.

We went to Downtown Disney in March as a family- cousins and all and got this great picture at one of our favorite restaurants!

I have PLENTY of pictures to scrapbook and memories to cherish. New chapters are just waiting to be written! God must be bursting with excitement to show me all he has in store for us!


As you know, my all time favorite bible verse is Matthew 6:26

Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?

In the case of my backyard birds- God sent me to feed the birds …and in time I’m sure he will send me back to Disneyland! I will not worry how nor when!

May your worries be few my friends!

Christy

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New Year, Same me

I don’t even know how to feel. Foolish for not knowing how my daughter got the virus. Comforted she isn’t the only one who, after being “careful” actually caught it.

You see after being brave and posting my daughter got the virus – friends also said – oh we had it too at such and such time… I didn’t know because they hadn’t said on social media. So here I was thinking our family was the only one’s who had thought they were safe, but caught it anyway.

So much for this theory…caught it anyway!

I still feel dumb because I don’t know how you get it. everyone who gets it has a completely different story. We are seriously in the twilight zone. My friend died. Who else is going to die? It could be anyone.

I know 6 people with current cases – today. I couldn’t get a test until Monday so for all I know I’m spreading it to the squirrels.

I have had a migraine this entire year. (ha ha – that is entirely true!) Today is day 8. Is is stress? weather, hormones, the virus? I keep watching my medicine go down every day – that causes stress. I hate running out. What if I get another one later in the month? I will just have to lay in bed and writhe in pain because there will be no medicine, and no trip to urgent care. I won’t go in alone, and I won’t risk getting sick.

There has been so much JOY this year as well. That damn cat Megan, Anthony and Douglas brought home is the funniest thing ever. He is like a pinball machine when he plays. He bounces all over the house with toy mice, balls, dust bunnies, whatever he finds. He still fits under the couch.

This is my brand new screen door. I’m outside, Percy is trying to get to me.

Douglas dropped a small potato while cooking a few days ago. Do not ask how it got from the kitchen to under the couch. Teenage boy should be enough. Needless to say Percy darted after it and rolled that potato out, with teeth marks, scratches – and I could hear the laughter of Megan and Douglas through my closed bedroom door!

No one will sleep with Percy except me. I didn’t lose this much sleep with all three kids combined! He puts his nose on my eyelids about 3 am because he is bored and wonders if the alarm is going to go off soon so he can have breakfast. You know the wives tale about cats stealing the breath of babies – that’s Percy. He gets so close to my face and mouth I can taste his breath. It’s unbelievable. There is no snooze button. Yet, like a mom, he stole my heart. I get up, put food in his dish and lift him up so he can eat. (We can’t put the cat food on the floor or Penny will eat it and Percy can’t jump onto the counter yet!)

The New Year isn’t this “Magical Solution” to problems. I still have the pandemic pudge. Damn. I went to bed on Thursday and woke up on Friday. December turned to January in the way any month changes from one to the next. The birds visit their feeders. The Squirrels too. (I do to haha ha ha ha)

My New Devotional – the pink one.

I started a new devotional and started an online Bible Study. I paid my business taxes and polished my business plan. I vowed to live within my means and avoid using the household money for business expenses. I have cooked (or heated canned soup) every night except for one so far. The night I didn’t was not laziness, but a special occasion.

Everyone buys Chinese food to celebrate stuffed animals birthday’s right?

Opening their fortune cookie!

You are all in my prayers- I know God’s will is working in our lives and in the world.

Until next time – Happy new year

Christy

For most 2020 was A perfect Storm… not me!

2020 was a year filled with JOY!

I’m like the Supreme Court Justice always with the different opinion about 2020. Those that know me best of all know – I’m seriously living my best life.

I DO get dressed every day. That would be the ultimate If I wore my pajamas…but I digress……

My Adventure in Words began back in 2010 – the same year we started a Family Time Capsule!

Opening it as the New Year began was fun for all of us!

I see the bright side in everything and enjoy the first few months. None of us know what special adventures are to come. I would not have done anything differently even now that I know. (Except maybe go to Disneyland more, ha ha!)

When California became one of the first states to place public safety as a priority and issue the stay at home order… I was essentially out of a job (AGAIN). There were only 2.5 months left for the high school anyway (At that point) so it didn’t seem so bad. It wasn’t. Mrs. Bri is a go-getter and went out and secured herself a job in 2.5 seconds flat. She didn’t wait to see what was going to happen. I sat down and started writing curriculum like my life depended on it…

My biggest concern was running out of coffee. I casually mentioned it on social media. My dear friend and “Partner in Crime” Tammie drove by and delivered my restock the next morning. Crisis averted.

Coffee, writing curriculum, and I’m surrounded by my children. I am seriously living my best life. CHOOSING JOY IS NOT HARD.

I needed to make one small adjustment. You see my older brother is disabled and lives here with us. He’s been living “his best life” for quite some time. His routine involves playing online games with people all over the world. He uses headphones – but talks NON STOP about all sorts of stuff that can be distracting when one is trying to concentrate and design… My office was in the same room as his video game system. It never mattered before.

My office has been relocated! This is now my view as I work. If you look closely on the bottom you will see “Nutsy” munching his peanuts.

The girls adjusted right away to “homeschooling” – it’s a been there done that kind of situation for them. Douglas on the other hand feels like we invaded his space. It didn’t take him too long to adjust.

So many GREAT things have happened. Sure they may look DIFFERENT than they would have if they happened LAST year… But they are still GREAT things!

Here are a few of my favorite JOY FILLED moments from 2020:

I think The greatest source of JOY the stay at home opportunity has afforded me has been our family game night and dinner. Your family may be different than ours, and that’s ok. We were not in the habit of eating as a family. It stemmed from my working late and having very independent, children able to care for themselves. Very often when I was working they had already made themselves dinner. So now – in 2020 I get at least 1 – 2 dinners a week where we all sit down together and I make something everyone will eat!

2020 also brought be back to teaching. In September I began teaching for an alternative school whose focus is on educating the whole child in an environment of love and kindness. My High School friend Emily has been working on this dream for many years, and since 2019 I too have been assisting in helping bring her dream into reality.

In the best interest of the children served by the school it was decided to teach remotely, and I developed a program to help foster independent knowledge seeking as well as guided instruction.

Ultimately, I’m on a path set before me according to God’s will and after 3.5 months of teaching I know that I am a Homeschool Instructional Designer and Consultant with the skill set to help families educate their children. I can provide them with formal curriculum resources as well as the Holiday learning resources I develop. After much prayer and discernment I resigned my position as Lead Teacher with Love Source School.


This year has been hard for MANY. I’m not downplaying that. I do not have a money tree in my back yard. Thankfully my husband is employed, it won’t be enough for long. But I know God has a plan. I will continue to develop curriculum and advertise my consulting business.

I look forward to 2021 with HOPE… with God’s PROMISE that he knows what we need, and that he will care for us.

The rainbow I saw on Christmas Eve was my reminder from God of HOPE – hope isn’t cancelled!

One of the other things that has given me joy this year are all the memes. I could do a complete blog just on all I have collected. I plan to scrapbook them. I will leave you with a favorite – and wish you a Happy, Healthy HOPE-filled New Year! – Christy

2019 is going to be my year to SHINE!

There was a BIG part of me looking forward to my surgery. It WAS a gift from God. A time to reset and step back from responsibilities.

My word for the year was Happy Habits ( I know it’s 2 words meshed together like 2011s Little Things). The concept comes from the book: The Slight Edge.

The author describes things you should do each day, there are 5 of them. He recommended starting with just one, repeating it until it was a habit, and then adding another one. Performing his suggested tasks will help to rewire your brain and help you to be happier on a daily basis!

I wasn’t exactly unhappy, but I wasn’t exactly happy either. I was very frustrated and felt very taken advantage of at work, and I never felt that I had time with my family. I was constantly working until 5 and 6 pm and THEN bringing home papers to grade, answering messages about students in all grade levels, etc. Remember I had RESIGNED in JUNE… and nothing had really changed.

I needed to REST, and surgery was going to do just that. I could work on my HAPPY HABITS.

The year started out nothing short of miraculous. One of my former students was expecting her first child. There were complications with the baby’s heart to name one, and it was touch and go and very unknown what the outcome would be. I worked closely with the baby’s grandmother and again – if it had been my year for prayer, would have won awards in 2018 for my prayer efforts for the baby.

When I was awoken by the text message in the middle of the night with the news of my grand-students birth… I cried, I woke Anthony with my sobs, saying she’s alive, she was born alive! Our Little miracle blesses us to this day. I visit her, get videos and she even tells her mommy what to write in cards to me! Just last week she became a BIG SISTER!

A few days later, I went in for my repair work. Initially I had told work I would be off for 2 or 3 weeks. Well, there was more damage than the MRI showed, and they had to reattach my bicep. I would be off work longer.

That fluffy thing was HEATED. Boy did I love it. I still talk about how fast it heated up and kept me warm!

Well, I had time off, I wasn’t bedridden, so by mid February I was itching for adventure. I’m pretty sure I had already watched all the Walton’s episodes. That was a FANTASTIC reset for the soul. Now I needed Mickey Mouse.

I obviously couldn’t ride rides, so the kids agreed to do Disneyland recovery style. We had a FANTASTIC day. We went to see all the things you don’t see because you are too busy riding rides! We saw Great Moments with President Lincoln, Explored the Main Street Cinema, and took our time in Starbucks. We enjoyed the show in the Tiki room and felt I could handle the Jungle Cruise as well as the train around the park. Things like that made the day one of our best ever. At the end I even got a balloon!

My days were relaxed, with just a few things to do here and there. I prayed and I really liked the slower pace. I realized, deep down I deserved to be respected at work. I went to a meeting at work even though I was on leave. That’s how dedicated I was to the school, to the students and families I served.

At that meeting, when the Principal introduced the 4 of us present, he just introduced us as “teachers”, not as members of his Leadership Team, nor I as his discipline coordinator. This was a spinning merry go round at the park moment. That’s all we were to him, just teachers. All the extra we did didn’t matter, or he would have let those NEW families know, together WE, those present that evening, were the LEADERS of the school.

I had the doctor extend my leave of absence so I would be off for 8 weeks instead of 4. I needed more time to get my focus. I am contemplating asking for the position of Vice Principal myself when the time comes.

I returned to work in March … the same week Lauren flew IN AN AIRPLANE to Arizona to visit Grand Canyon University. I died a thousand deaths. But honestly, She was one of the last to board. Because she was a minor I was allowed to go with her to the gate. As she boarded and my tears flowed, a woman noticed and spoke to me. I will never forget her kindness that day. She could easily have ignored me. She asked if it was the first time my daughter was flying, and I replied yes. She told me she would be okay. That’s it, that simple – like an Episode of Touched by an Angel – then she boarded the plane too and i knew she was right.

In April 2019 I turned my life over to God’s Will, and I can honestly say haven’t looked back. … When I turned in my letter of intent to return as the 4th grade teacher, requesting to be given the title of Vice Principal as well as a specific dollar amount in financial compensation I knew God would handle it. I knew with a sense of peace I’ve never felt before in my life.

I’ve got Prayer, yes I do! 2 years later, I can say that purposeful, daily prayer is 100% part of my life – it may even be – a HAPPY HABIT!

Mid month We lost Anthony’s Uncle. He was hospitalized with a serious case of the Flu. (hindsight – could this have been an early case of the current pandemic?) His death rattled our windows a bit… he was blessed with a daughter. Unfortunately they were estranged. I felt I needed to find, and inform her that her cousins loved her, and that her father had passed away. It was 4 days of searching as she was very stealth on social media!)

I didn’t get my dream cousin reunion, but I still pray it is in our future.

In May I received a wonderful surprise. At one of our morning assemblies, a parent had the honor of presenting me with an award called the Dandy Award. This award had my name written all over it, if you will pardon the pun. In all 13 years with the Diocese, I was never recognized as one of their “teacher of the year” recipients. That was fine by me when I became an “administrator” and found out how they were selected… but then it kinda still did sting… UNTIL THE DANDY AWARD!

The reason this award is so special is because of what it stands for – KIDS, all kids, regardless of ability. I was nominated, and chosen for that ward because I advocated and accepted all students despite their different abilities – I mean SUPERPOWERS! – Oh YES I DID!

I also received an offer of a contract – but it was not God’s will that I sign it. The contract was not for the position I requested (vice principal), nor did it contain the fair amount of compensation I requested. In fact, they tried to use the 2% raise I was already getting as part of the “look at this nice raise”, just keep doing the job offer. I did not sign that contract because it was not the salary of the 4th grade teacher. I was expected to continue as a member of the leadership team, but would not be the Vice Principal.

I left for the school year with no contract, as the business manager was out of town. I had no reason to believe I would not get an updated contract to sign, after all I was now asking for LESS money.

In June Lauren graduated from High School. I have no idea how that happened. I want a do-over. Her smile says it all.

I spent the remainder of June working on my lesson plans for the 2019-2020 school year. I wanted to get as much done a humanly possible so my school year would be streamlined. There were advantages to teaching the same grade for 7 years!

On July 1st I received a text message saying I needed to come in at 9am. You know what happened. Whoosh… they sugar coated it: “Your contract isn’t being renewed”. I was fired, after 7 years because I had the GUTS to stand up for myself.

My HAPPY HABITS were about to begin!

We had 2 major camping trips planned. We went, and I’m forever grateful.

In 2019 I said that reading the book A Mother’s Rule of Life, along with basically getting fired, had “awoken me from the dead.” – No truer words have been spoken. Getting fired was painful for sure. It still hurts to think I was disposable. But to GOD – I was WORTH EVERYTHING and he saved me – allowing me to dive deeper into the things that TRULY make me happy – being a wife and mother.

I was trapped thinking God wanted me to dedicate my life to Him in the classroom. I had my priorities all backwards. I was giving far too much of myself to other people and ignoring my own family. God freed me so that I can LOVE HIM. I was created so that I can LOVE HIM.

As a family we decided I did not have to find a teaching job – there were not many available in July – trust me. I went on 1 interview thanks to a DEAR friend. I nailed it – but with 19 years experience – they would have to pay me a king’s ransom…or I just wasn’t a good fit. I mean – I’d wonder why after 7 years someone’s contract wasn’t renewed. I told them WHY – but they don’t know me.

One of my best friends in the WORLD owns her own Food Service business – and low and behold she was in need of an assistant. It was part time and a fraction of my teaching salary – but absolutely PERFECT.

Working with Mrs. Bri healed me. I told her when we had to stop for the virus, and I meant it – she saved my life.

As a Family, also decided to renew our Disney Passes even though I would be making far less in my new position as a Lunch Lady. We needed something HAPPY and Disney magic is always it for us!

Douglas wasn’t thrilled to be taller than Mickey…but he endures.

I slowly began to make my own way in the world, and in November of 2019 I purchased a domain name and a website package and launched a full blown business – Happy Hive Homeschooling. I write short pieces of curriculum for homeschoolers, teachers and parents who are looking to increase engagement and add celebration into their everyday curriculum. The activities focus on the quirky as well as the commercial holidays. I currently have over 100 products in 3 different marketplaces!

God gifted me with plenty of time with my family. I worked daily on developing my HAPPY HABITS… a practice I continue to polish into 2020 and hopefully beyond.

I’m ready to move past the pain and sorry of losing my brother and losing my job. I’m ready to greet 2020 – the fresh NEW YEAR that it is determined more than ever to live my life for God and CHOOSE JOY!

As 2020 actually comes to a close…so does my Adventure in words series. Tomorrow I will show you how Indeed I have, each day let God be my light and my words: CHOOSE JOY determine my mood in everything – even when – HA HA I loose another job!

Until next time

Christy

Time to get my life in order!

Losing your younger brother because his heart just stops in in 40s is one of those moments that makes you survey your life. It really was time to make changes, grab the bull by the horns and PRIORITIZE. I absolutely had to put the things that matter most above all else.

The universe has a way of coming into alignment, and the volcano of my world was now at the “earthquake” stage. In 2018 I began to make decisions that would eventually lead me to being fired from my position as the 4th grade teacher and “highest ranking member” of the leadership team. I certainly didn’t know they would lead to THAT.

You see I can’t SAY I was the Vice Principal because I wasn’t the Vice Principal… however I was in charge whenever the principal was off campus. I attended all the meetings a Vice Principal was required to attend. I was in charge of school – wide discipline. Many staff members relied on me to problem solve for/with them, and when high ranking administrators call the school and ask to speak to the vice principal -the call transfers to MY classroom… What on earth was I???

I was indeed the Vice Principal, only I didn’t carry the title, nor the financial compensation to support the role I filled for the school. Oh, and I taught 4th grade full time on top of all that “other stuff”. I believed I was serving God. In many ways, I was. By the end of 2018, when It was confirmed I would need surgery and be off work, I realized it was the perfect opportunity to PRIORITIZE. Responsibility could (would have to) shift back to the principal and other members of the leadership team. When I returned from surgery I could choose what responsibilities to take on. It was all as if … what???- GOD HAD PLANNED IT. . .

INDEED!


2018 started like many years before it, although I was masking quite the blanket of grief. I wore my Wonder Woman t-shirts. No one could tell.

We took family pictures – including some great group shots of Anthony’s godparents and all the grandkids. Look for Douglas. It’s worth it.

Grandma and Grandpa Rosas and all their Grandkids 2018

I didn’t DO anything about my word. I was operating on automatic pilot.


At some point in March or April 2018 it became too painful to sleep on my left shoulder. I couldn’t reach or lift in a certain way without a jabbing pain. Something wasn’t right. I should probably have it checked out. I didn’t rush. I was very busy at work and would NEVER take a day off for something like that.

I think my biggest step in PRIORITIZING came in June of 2018 when I resigned from the leadership team and as the discipline coordinator for the school. I recognized the spiral and that I was overworked and not going anywhere. I turned in my keys, wrote a letter and EVERYTHING.

That’s when my boss dropped a bomb on me. He said I couldn’t resign because HE was recommending me for the position of Vice Principal. He has to go before the Parish Finance Council and would let me know.

At that time I did not receive the position due to “low enrollment” , so I agreed to stay on leadership for 1 year. (The 2018-2019 school year.)

Now that summer arrived, I could go to the doctor. He ordered X-rays that were taken in July. They were nice and clear, Not even Arthritis or bone spurs. So off to the orthopedic department I go.

The first step was a cortisone shot. I had to wait 3 months to see if it worked. Fast forward It didn’t. Next MRI. This should be good. I can handle that. Only I have now gained so much weight I can’t get my wedding ring off… great. I tried to lose weight to get it off. Are you laughing? Getting a ring off a fat finger is no joke.

On November 25, 2018 I experienced the scariest thing EVER. I was so ready. I was brave, I was going to do it. Everyone was going to be so proud of me… Nope. That MRI was HELL on earth. for some reason i opened my eyes the tiniest of little bits just at the last moment before going in and THAT WAS IT. F R E A K out city.

But I laid there as calm as could be holding still, PRAYING ( too bad this year wasn’t prayer, I think I broke records!) At least I thought I was holding still. After awhile when I think I’m under control, the technicians voice came on: “CHRISTY, YOU HAVE TO HOLD STILL”

(My PG blog is about to go Iron Man Language… actually more like Wolverine….)

My robot voice replied politely: Okay, sorry.

Inside my head I screamed: What the bloody fuck is he talking about, if I hold any stiller I will fucking shatter into bits?!!!

Besides negating any prayer points I was earning with that f- bomb rampage in my head, I then realized I WAS moving. I was so scared I was shaking violently!

As soon as the hatch opened and I was out I sat up as fast as I could to get the (That Wolverine word again) out of there and back to Anthony. The sweet technician saw may face and said, wow, were you sleeping? My eyes at that moment were closed so tightly and I was breathing so controlled because if I stayed in that room 1 moment longer I was going to burst into HYSTERICS that the likes of that young man had never seen. I politely told him no and to have a good day, using my BEST robot voice.

If I’m ever in need of an MRI again, I honestly don’t know what I will do. I’m going to have to humble myself and admit that there is no way I’m getting in there without serious drugs or something!

So… Turns out I had a torn Rotator cuff that needed surgery to repair it. 2019 was going to begin with a nice shake up in my world and the world of the school.

I already had my word for 2019 set and ready. I got it from a book I was reading as part of my “Vice Principal” leadership training put on by the Diocese. TRUST ME.. 2019 was going to be my year. This time, and with all my other words and experience under my belt – I knew what I was doing.

Until next time –

Christy

Prayer

This post is dedicated to my Scrappy Sister Julie who lost her battle with the virus yesterday. Julie joined our group when I was advertising on “meetup”. She said she needed us… I think you were wrong Jules… We needed you. You doled out love and friendship without strings. Give Patrick a hug from all of us!


You wouldn’t think I needed to make Prayer my word for ANY year, but for 2017, I chose PRAYER as what I wanted to work on most of all.

Religion, Faith, Prayer was important to my Mom. She raised us Catholic. Made sure we received all our sacraments. I married a Catholic man, we are raising our children to be God- loving, faithful, believers in Christ (Who have received all the sacraments a mother can guide them to).

I even taught in the Catholic school system faithfully for 15 of my 19 year teaching career. You would think Prayer was a habit, something I had down cold.

N O P E …. like many of the words that preceded it PRAYER was truly something I needed, no WANTED to work on. So I set my self up with a GIANT prayer binder and I was going to copy scripture every day. By January 1st everything was in order! I had pens, my paper, the journal prompts, the scripture passages – all of it was R – E – A – D – Y !

Like any “resolution” I was good for a short while. I’d actually go in little spurts, but never managed a daily prayer routine in 2017.

Don’t get me wrong – I prayed… but just randomly, when I thought of it. A gratitude, a request, on Friday’s when I was in Mass with the students…Sundays with the family. But I didn’t PRAY with PURPOSE, and that was what I really WANTED from 2017.

These violets are in my backyard. Whenever they bloom I think of my Mom. She loved these flowers. She would yell at my brothers if they trampled them. She got them by accident, they hitchhiked in a tree and were planted at the same time. The must have been seeds because we didn’t see them until they grew and then bloomed. Serendipitous.

When I see them, I pray. I thank God for my mom, for living in my childhood home, for my children being raised in the same house I was raised in. Sometimes the prayer is different, but along those lines. I look at that patch of ground for flowers all the time, as if I’m looking for an “excuse” to pray.

The violets in my yard remind me of my Mom

As often as humanly possible I attend Mass on my birthday. Not only was I born on Groundhog’s Day… in the Catholic Church – it is the presentation of the Lord. This is the day Mary and Joseph take the baby Jesus to the temple and “offer” him to God. I think it’s a special day and I LOVE having it be my birthday. The official name for this day is Candlemas. Many bring candles to be blessed. Well our church HAS blessed candles, they are the “stubs” that they can’t use and they put them out for parishioners to take. The candles symbolize Jesus being the light of the world.

In 2017, I brought my 4th graders with me to Mass. We received our candles. They’re 4th graders, and I have to tell you a very unique, LOVED group. (We had disco balls and regularly held dance partied!). It didn’t take long until the candles were unicorn horns. What does a teacher do with that? She gathers them for a picture, that’s what!

4th grade unicorns!

Let me tell you – I PRAYED FOR THESE BEES. The principal at the time seemed to want them hosed off and G O N E… I on the other hand was hoping they were just stopping for a rest and would move on. The principal said if they were not gone in the morning he was calling the exterminator and having them removed.

Well, we will never know if he would have made good on his “threat”. You see the next morning, the Principal had a meeting off campus… I therefore, was the “administrator in charge”. The middle school science teacher found Bob – a beekeeper who specialized in swarm rescue. I had the school secretary call Bob and get him out ASAP. The school maintenance man supervised, and the whole thing was over before the Principal returned – all at NO CHARGE. BAMB!

So while my prayers that the bees move along didn’t quite work, God presented me with the opportunity to use my “authority” as well as a cooperative staff . I also didn’t get fired ( that day, HA HA HA). I secretly thing my boss was just glad he didn’t have to deal with it.

I’m pretty sure I thank God for Anthony every day. When we were dating, I would actually pray Novenas ( 9 day prayers) for us, and that he become my Husband. When I get to heaven I wonder if God will tell me if It was my incessant praying, or if Anthony was actually his plan all along.

With Anthony came an AMAZING extended family that I am blessed to be part of. I’m “Favorite Aunt Christy”. I’m pretty sure I thank God for sending them as well. Growing up, I was lucky to be surrounded by cousins, not quite as many as THIS FAMILY has – but cousins and those bonds run deep. Our Children get to laugh, play and be spoiled by all the “favorite” Aunts and Uncles! In May 2017 we learned that one such Aunt and Uncle team were adding cousin # 7 to their family!

You can name THIS ONE after me, right?

In June of 2017, Lauren and Megan finished up their homeschool to “real” school program and were allowed to participate in the schools 8th grade graduation ceremony, At the time Megan was in 9th grade and Lauren 10th – this was truly a one of a kind custom program. As it ended my prayers were FRANTIC because, Lauren and Megan did not want to return to homeschooling. They had a “taste” of what school and the social life was – and they weren’t going back without a “fight”. I, on the other hand, thought it would get “school” out of their system.

Let me just tell you – There was a MASSIVE amount of praying going on… and by the GRACE OF GOD HIMSELF and strength from others, because I did not possess it myself, Lauren and Megan were enrolled into Encore High School for Fall 2017. They would be attending Public School.

I don’t remember what caused our little financial downturn in 2017… but things were tight. That always causes prayer right? Well, having been through a bankruptcy I knew God would provide, and it wasn’t *that* bad..just tight. We decided it was best not to Travel to Texas for Thanksgiving Break. Perhaps we could squeak it out by Christmas or If we HAD to…we’d go in the Summer, we would have plenty of time to save and we would DEFINATELY go by summer.

We decided a local camping trip for Thanksgiving would be better, so that’s what we did. It’s so easy to pray in nature!

In early December – Prayers are ANSWERED… My dearest friends are flying to China to finalize the adoption of their daughter! Our families are so close we call one another Aunt/Uncle – so for me, I’m getting another niece. I just know her name will be Christy (ha ha just kidding!)

The joy I feel to add Grace into my life is contrasted within days when I receive a phone call while teaching Faith Formation on Wednesday December 6th. It was my Sister in law’s number, so I quick texted a reply that I was teaching I’d call her back when finished.

The reply came: CALL NOW

Well, ok, that was weird so I did. I told my class of 6th graders I needed to make a phone call, and stepped outside. Mollie’s Dad answered and told me – I don’t even know WHAT he told me… I can’t really hear him because I go numb, he told me my brother had passed away. My voice sounded like a robot, he told me to call my dad. What? How do I call my DAD – maybe he asked for my Dad’s number and he would do it.

I remember I had one of the kids go get the director of Faith Formation. I called my husband and had him come to the school. I don’t know what he was going to do, but I didn’t even know how I was standing up. I was pacing and turning in circles.

I think I did call my dad. No I wised up and called Gloria. I told Gloria. I was afraid the shock was going to give my Dad a heart attack. Gloria took care of it for me.

Through all of this initial chaos, I didn’t pray. Not because I didn’t want to. I just didn’t. When I got home I called my Boss. At the time he and I were friends, at least I felt that way. I told him the loss of my brother was going to show him my humanness, not the superhero he usually worked with. God bless him. He cancelled Spanish classes and put the Spanish teacher whom I was terribly close to in my room with me the whole next day, because I refused to take the day off.

I needed to work, I needed to get things in order. We were going to Texas after all.

The support of my colleagues, Anthony’s family, my family and my friends wove a net around me that I see now, held me up. God was there : total footprints in the sand style. I was not strong enough to walk on my own, let alone ask him for help, yet I KNOW he carried me.

It seems weird to say, but it was a wonderful trip to Texas that year. We still THANK GOD we didn’t go in November, only to have to turn back around and go again in December… even though 2017 was the last time I saw my brother. As a family, we see the HAND OF GOD in our lives, and spending Thanksgiving in California that year was most definitely the Hand of God.

I didn’t accomplish my GOAL of adding PRAYER to my life daily, and copying scriptures but when I look back on the events of 2017, God was with me, showing me very clearly that he was… from the violets in January, to the Funeral in December I did pray.

I continue to do so even more now in these later years.

Until next time… tell the ones you love – just that. Don’t let the opportunity go by. Tomorrow is not promised.

Christy

Margins Matter

As a former 4th grade teacher (for the majority of my career) I can’t tell you how many times I wrote that on papers! Margins DO Matter! I need them to comment about your wonderful writing 🙂 and the printer needs them so things don’t get cut off – that’s the gist of it.

In life Margin matters as well- and for 2016 – that was the word I chose based on this book:

Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives.

Did you read that title? – Holy cow…. just the OVERLOADED LIVES part!! I’m sure many of you can relate.

I wish I had kept a journal. 2016 must have been QUITE a year. My pictures have always told the story of our lives – as a scrapbooker, they are my connection to the past. I’m currently working on 2011, so I’m very, very behind in that area of my life. I should skip ahead and Scrapbook 2016 – it will be a breeze…

The reason I say so is the LACK of pictures. If you have been following my ADVENTURE in Words Series… you know back in 2010 I began to choose a word to guide my year.

2010 – Gratitude 2011 – Little Things 2012 – Contentment 2013 -Balance 2014 – Organized 2015 Simplify

Looking at the pictures has helped me reminisce on the year, and recall the major events, so I can tell the story related to my word. Apparently the only place I left a MARGIN was in my photography.

But upon closer inspection – I think I DID leave MARGIN in my life in 2016. When I chose the word, I was especially concerned with TIME RESERVES… again I was getting deeper and deeper into work, staying late, going in early…handling issue after issue like the super hero I was.

Mrs. Gandara – Teaching Superhero!

Deep down I longed for TIME with my family. And to just SIT QUIETLY AND DO NOTHING… I definitely got the time with my family part 100% spot on.

I experienced some TREASURED times in 2016. I DID make room for my family in the most perfect ways only hind site can show us.

I don’t remember when exactly, but at one point Megan declared January 3rd Duck-Ducks birthday. We have celebrated every year with their favorite: Chinese Food! Often we decorate and have a full party for her best friends.

I’m honestly not sure what, or why I allowed the kids to build with Oreo cookies, but HOW FUN! I find it delightful I now sell curriculum for teachers supporting a similar activity! (OREO COOKIE STACKING CHALLENGE) Exploring, experimenting, and nibbling Oreo cookies is always a great way to spend time together, both as a family and in a classroom!

I absolutely always find the time to check for my shadow on Groundhogs day. It’s tradition.

Devin the “devil” duck… this little guy is still making his way around the house. He gets hidden and whomever finds him needs to hide him next. We have had so much fun with this game over the years! I have picture after picture of Devin’s hiding places in 2016.

Here are just a few of them:

In may as many family members as possible went to the movies together to see Civil War. Having the MARGIN in my life to allow time for this was priceless.

Summer arrived and that means I have *more time* – in theory! I use summer to catch up on everything I should have been doing all along but didn’t. AND to spend precious time with my kids.

Our local school district offers lunch for school age children everyday at the park by our house, so we take advantage of the wonderful weather and the opportunity to be together and walk to the park for lunch. GASP – some days I even let them PLAY!

This one seems like it’s more of a SIMPLE THING – swimming in a trough just like when they were little and APPRECIATING it . We drove the 1.5 hours to visit Aunt Ana and Uncle Hoob because time with them MATTERS.

Life with Douglas is never dull. His humor continues to develop. My grandfather on my mom’s side was naturally funny, and I also have a cousin that has always made me laugh I believe it’s a natural talent. Douglas doesn’t *think* about being funny, he just IS. Shopping with him often turns out something like this:

Those pictures were taken months apart – that was his FAVORITE shirt… And oh so very true. WEIRD is indeed a side effect of AWESOME, especially Douglas!

In July I headed to Vegas with a group of teachers from school to learn how to be an even MORE awesome educator. While I didn’t want to take time from my summer for more WORK related activities… we had plenty of time to play…but what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!

Anthony and I even took the kids to a local Book shop event. They were holding a midnight book release for Happy Potter and the Cursed Child. Having the Harry Potter fan in Megan that I do, how could I not? I don’t do midnight. Who am I kidding, I don’t even do 9pm! But this is MARGIN, choosing to spend time on what MATTERS MOST.

In August we purchased our trailer! This was MARGIN INDEED! the ability to get away, experience nature and spend time as a family was now just a hookup away! We took our first trip in November with some dear friends – it was a “practice” trip at a very local campground. I was able to make a list of necessities and even go home to get things I forgot!

There was no big trip for our Gandara Bug Academy Change of Grade day in 2016. I’m calling that MARGIN. We attended the family BBQ and the kids swam with their cousins.

2016 was not a “Disney” year – we did not have passes, but that didn’t mean we couldn’t work a little Disney Magic into our lives from time to time. It was Lauren’s 15th birthday… that’s pretty special, but not a “party” year according to our rules.

We drove to Downtown Disney, parked in just the right spot, and watched the Disney firework show for Lauren’s 15th birthday!

Each year the school holds a carnival type even called “the Festival” as one of it’s biggest fundraisers. It’s a 3 day event with rides, games and food. It’s a big deal. As a teacher I’m expected to volunteer at least one shift over the weekend. Many times as you would expect I put in much more, before, during and after the event. A favorite was to volunteer to be in the dunk tank. I secretly hoped I would raise more money than the principal. They never told me the results, but I had fun trying.

In 2016 I was dry for a VERY LONG TIME… then along comes No-No Roquet. This particular student was quite the talker, both in 4th grade and now…. I absolutely adored him (both then AND NOW!) No-NO was his 4th grade nick name because he was always in some sort of innocent mischief and I was always telling him no. Anyway, Mr. No-No tells me, in no uncertain terms, he is going to spend as much as it takes: I’m getting wet. The picture tells you who won. I’m soaked, it’s dark and that’s a wrap!

Setting aside the time to interact with my students, both current and former was important. I did struggle with BALANCE. I wanted to solve every problem, to BE the superhero, and often my family was left with very little room in the margins.

My children however were not just being influenced by me… they were being raised by a village. Aunts, Uncles, and even my friends took (and continue to take) an important role.

In October of 2016, this is glaringly obvious when at a fundraiser I co-hosted for the youth of my church. The Life Guard tower you see pictured below was auctioned off at the end of the event, and won by the 12 year old boy sitting in it. He purchased it for Julie, because it would be PERFECT for her backyard, by her pool. The one they had been swimming in countless times. Julie is a supporter of my 3 children in ways I can never repay. An amazing mother to each of them at times when I was not.

My business took on a partner in 2016. Finding this, and having Douglas’ help in my store area is one of my fondest memories. I still have this “shop tag”. (NOTE: In 2020 I actually changed my name from 1 Creative bug to Happy Hive, because as my wise son recognized back in 2016…it takes more than 1 to run the business! )

Homemade costumes were a necessity in 2010 because of financial reasons. I made it seem like an adventure. Over the years it became accepted, and even a challenge for the bugs to create inexpensive costumes from things we had on hand, or by purchasing things that could serve another purpose. In 2016 Homemade was a HIT. Douglas got a “new” shirt, and dressed as Percy Jackson. Lauren made the mask and belt for her batgirl costume. Megan and daddy sewed the red robe for Little Red Riding hood, and Penny played the perfect wolf!

In November we hitched the trailer and headed out to see my younger brother and his family in Texas. Along the way we took time to stop and see the sights in Tombstone, Arizona. The was something on my bucket list for quite some time. Rich in history it was well worth the “extra” time it took to tour the town.

Further along our travels we stopped to re-fuel the truck. We also grabbed lunch in the Carl’s Jr inside the truck stop. The bugs and I went into the trailer to have a bit of room to relax. Anthony thought we were inside, still using the restroom, etc. When he finished re-fueling, he moved the truck and trailer out of the way so another customer could use the fuel pump. Well… HANG ON KIDS….. We don’t have a motor home, nor the kind of trailer that allows for passengers while the vehicle is in motion, but for about a minute that was a grand adventure we laugh, and laugh about. I even made the kids reenact the vent for a cool picture, because we were holding on and laughing so hard!

In November of 2015 I gave my “Little Man” a gift of coupons – one of the coupons was a driveway campout. So, before the coupons expired, his mom, the bugs and I held and epic camping “trip” in our driveway: fire, marshmallows, and sleepover! I think the coupon gift is one he will remember for quite some time!

Each of these events from 2016 reminds me – that as far as time is concerned, I may not choose to spend it just sitting in the yard drinking coffee because I have piles of “extra” time in my MARGINS… But There is NOTHING wrong with the way I AM spending my extra time….

I could however use some of the financial, physical, and emotional margin the book is talking about. Perhaps if I re-read the book I may have a better understanding of how to accomplish those tasks, but for my “word of the year” purpose, I’m considering MARGIN accomplished!

I know what’s coming in 2017 – but at the end of 2016, I had absolutely NO WAY TO KNOW … I find is AMAZING to realize THAT was the year I chose THIS word… I hope you will join me to find out how God continued to work in my life. 2017 was a turning point. Like at the park, that merry go round ride that spins and you hang on for dear life and hope not to fall off… that’s 2017 for me.

Until next time

I hope you’ll hang out in the MARGIN with me!

Christy

Keep Calm, and Simplify

Even with the brain fog caused by the many migraines I have suffered, I know as clear as if if it were my word of the MOMENT what my goal was when I chose SIMPLIFY for my word in 2015.

Honesty is the best policy. These posts are allowing me to look aback and reflect. If I fake it and pretend I stuck to my word for the appearance of good blogging – I may look good on the surface, but I blog for me – not you, so I must therefore stick to honesty.

1.) I have a BLESSED, life. I am so GREATFUL for all God has given me , and I do not regret one moment lived.

2.) I appreciate the experiences, big and small that have shaped me year after year into the daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, friend, blogger that I am.

Something caused me to keep choosing words year after year, yet (spoiler alert) rarely did I stick to them. (YES dear reader – hang in there – there will come a time I can admit to more than just GRATITUDE and LITTLE THINGS as successful word choices without playing word games! )

My vision for SIMPLIFY was to clean the garage, clean the playroom, the kitchen, my scraproom… I was going to CLEAN EVERYTHING! I was going to donate, donate, donate… and just live with less. I wasn’t doing to buy anything unless I needed it. (Not sure I clearly defined NEED.) Somehow I was going to sit in my Secret Garden and read with the birds everyday and sip coffee or Dr. Pepper. You can stop reading if you want.

By 2015 I had taken on much more responsibility at work. I was officially in charge of discipline for the school and loved every minute of it. I set up a program of rewards and consequences that was used school-wide. I helped transition a new principal. I started texting (GASP) – I was as far for the OPPOSITE of SIMPLIFY as you could get by the end of the year.

They say hind site is 2020 (as in vision) and I believe that to be true…. each word lead me to the next word… showing me what I NEEDED in my life, even if I didn’t embrace it at the time. I have a set of 11 magnificent words, and my commitment to following the will of God… each step of the journey was his intention, and thus not a failure.

2015 was a SIMPLE year of sorts… if you will allow me my word games again. We committed to monthly adventures as much as possible with dear friends. We agreed to branch out and try new places.

Our animals have always been SIMPLY accepted as part of the family. They get to do pretty much whatever they want. Their antics give me great pictures for my scrapbooks.

Having Kids is an active, messy, on the go thing. Because I was committed to continuing to Homeschool and work, we were constantly looking for opportunities as a family to learn together. The kids had their day to day lessons they worked on sure, but my motto has been that there is ALWAYS school, and Everything is Learning… so we never had an attitude of “break” or Vacation from learning. It’s amazing what that attitude has gifted us with over the years. 2015 is just a SIMPLE example of the 24-7 learning going on in our homeschool.

2015 turned out to be a year in which time stood still in a way you don’t want it to… a “where were you when” Time that is by far the most personal historic moment in my life thus far. It is the Third “historic” lifetime WHERE WERE YOU WHEN event of my life. I briefly touch on some “Moments that have Changed my life” HERE , but the “where were you when” events are those that impact a wider audience.

On December 2, 2015 Homegrown Domestic Terrorists entered the Inland Regional Center building in San Bernardino California . Their targets were renting a room there, having their Christmas party. 14 people were killed, including my friend and former co worker, Damien Meins. There is NOTHING simple about this day, or the days that followed… putting on a Living rosary at our school, attending his funeral, hosting the reception in our parish hall, or walking his wife, my friend and former Principal to her car. Simplify goes right out the window.

Life does have to move forward, and it did, and does. I honor my friend with stories and memories.

Another year of not accomplishing ANYTHING even closely related to my word passes… I end the year by attending my first and last Mötley Crüe concert as a gift from my dear friend Emily.

During 2015, my book club read and discussed a book that was inspiring to me… I used that book to select my word for 2016. I clearly need academic help in y life.

Until next time I hope your journey is blessed!

Christy

Where was Marie Kondo in 2014?

Actually I doubt it would have made a difference, I’m her worst nightmare, but not quite a hoarder. For your judging pleasure- let me invite you into my scrapbook / crafting area December 2020.

There is no creating going on in this space currently – just piling 🙂

I was never organized. Never. My mom would say if the house caught fire and our only escape was though my bedroom, my family would perish.

However, for your reading pleasure I will recount my adventure with my word of the year: ORGANIZED in 2014, as it was the solution to why I had “failed” to master CONTENTMENT and definitely why my life lacked BALANCE.

My intention was to get organized – picture the container store, and “everything “in it’s place.

Instead it seems that 2014 was the year I was the ORGANIZER of some pretty awesome events – so not all was lost…Perspective ha ha ha!

I started a scrapbooking business in 2004 when Douglas was born as a way to have contact with the “outside world” as well as to make a bit of income. It was then I also began my adventure as a stay at home Mom.

That business is still alive and kicking today! (So is Douglas, ha ha!) I have a group of women known as the Scrappy Sisters who are – just that – a non-competitive sisterhood of support. Together we have held fundraisers for many different causes, never seeing our businesses as competition but as complements to one another.

In 2014 We teamed up for the American Heart Association – this event lasted many years. I made friends through this event that I have in my tight circle now.

Scrappy Sisters: Christy, Tammie and Bella at the 2014 “Scrap by Me” American Heart Association Fundraiser. Bella was the head organizer, I was thrilled to be part of this event for all but it’s first year!

I continued to Homeschool the bugs – and I was mentoring other families who homeschooled their children. One such family lived nearby and were (still are) dear friends. An opportunity came up for a field trip to a friends house.. she runs an organization called Happiness on 4 Hooves. She owns Therapy Horses! The kids were invited up to meet the horses and interact with them. Well, I was working full time and had no way to make this happen, and well – Joyce was running the event and didn’t have time to chauffer – in swoops Colette and her family, whom I was mentoring at the time! It was a win-win for all! I was able to ORGANIZE a fun field trip for both families! (On a side note, Mini-Experiences are still available, feel free to contact Joyce to ORGANIZE yours for the New Year! Mention you’d like to schedule an on-site experience, and that Happy Hive Homeschool / Christy Gandara referred you! )

Douglas had to have a second surgery – only on one eye this time… he thinks he is a pro now. I felt a little better about it as well. Experience builds confidence.

Continuing on my path of ORGANIZATION…. I put together an *epic* 10th birthday for Douglas – with Lego Cupcakes, Lego games, and as many decorations as possible. He reached not only the milestone of his 10th birthday – but the milestone of no longer wearing eye patches.

Being a 4th grade teacher I have a special place in my heart for the California Missions. My maiden name is also Serra, and our family has hopes that if we worked hard enough on our genealogy, perhaps there is an actual link to Saint Junipero Serra, the founder of the Mission system here in California. In May 2014, along with our close family friends we ORGANIZED an epic 2 family adventure to visit multiple California missions as well as other historic sights in the area. We went to the most northern mission first – Mission San Francisco Solano – sometimes called Mission Dolores.

We visited San Francisco, the Levi’s Museum, Mission Santa Clara and MORE! This trip took ORGINIZING to be sure. 🙂

Summer arrives and so does my brother and his family. The events are too many to post… A favorite was our trip to the El Capitan theater to see Planes Fire and Rescue all together. While we knew the kids would love it, we also knew that my husband. “Uncle Hunny” would love it most. He would be able to recall his youth as a member of the elite firefighting crew, the “Hot Shots”.

By September I’m not even sure I remember I HAVE a word for the year – I mean what’s the point this late in the year of even trying to get organized? This makes it 3 years in a row, I pick a word and than completely *ignore* it or think some magic fairy is going to come improve me with the word as her inspiration. At this point my words are no better than resolutions. I keep making them, and breaking them…. But if you will allow me to continue the play on words- I have a few more events I ORGANIZED in 2014 we can re-visit!

Each year our homeschool celebrates “not back to school” season with a first day of school Field Trip… you know “real” schools don’t go on field trips the FIRST DAY – but homeschools can! So each Labor Day (our official first day of school) we take a field trip. It’s a “regular” school holiday, and Anthony also has it off – making it perfect!

In 2014 we decided to drive – round trip to Sequoia National Park. That’s what happens when you’re married to a truck driver!

September 2014 – Megan 7th Grade, Douglas 6th Grade and Lauren 8th Grade
We climbed to 6,700 ft – the view was worth it!

2014 was a special year for Birthdays! Douglas had turned 10 in March, and Lauren Turned 13 in September. She celebrated with her first Sleepover party! Yup – you guessed it, I ORGANIZED that event too.

So we come to the close of another year, and another word…. Christmas is always just the BEST way to end the year isn’t it? Believing as I do I think God, in his wisdom must have planned it that way. We end the year and begin a new one with Jesus fresh on our minds and in our hearts.

Christmas has always been organized for me… When I was little my younger brother AJ would TEAR THROUGH all his presents and just keep opening without reading the tags, meaning he would open some of mine. He’d be disappointed to get “girl toys” – but not as disappointed as I was that I didn’t get to open my own gifts. Each gift is wrapped in paper the “color” assigned my child when they were little.

Lauren is Red (or pink as needed), Megan is Blue, and Douglas is Green. Their dishes, bath towels and school supplies all followed this color coding just as a few examples. Especially Christmas wrapping has ALWAYS, ALWAYS followed the code! There will be no wrong opening of gifts Christmas morning…. That’s what I call one ORGANIZED mom!

HA HA – well, well, well… perspective is everything…. Could it be I AM organized after all – but in my own special way? Yes! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. There is NO WAY I can get Organized and Clearly by the end of 2014 I realize this…

That’s why in 2105 I’m going to SIMPLIFY!

Simplify will be the 6th word in my series. – I’ve been back to work now for plenty of time to have the “hang of it”. I just need to SIMPLIFY – then I can get ORGANIZED, Find BALANCE and surly CONTENTMENT will follow easily. I still think I have a solid handle on those first two: GRATITUDE and LITTLE THINGS. (I mean, don’t we all?)

Until Next time – If you have organization secrets, please feel free to share them, You saw my scrapbook area at the beginning of this post – I can CLEARLY use them!

Christy

Even my schedules have schedules….

I thrive on “order”. I like everything to fit neatly into a nice box. I recently told one of my lifelong friends: “Even my boxes have boxes”. I do not like when things do not go according to plan… I have trouble adapting to change and as she would say “going with the flow”.

I recognize my *faults* – but that doesn’t mean I do anything about them. Take today for example. A memory popped up on my Facebook page about my “word” for 2015 – SIMPLIFY. The timing makes it ideal to discuss it… NOPE, can’t go out of chronological order – I must move onto 2013 and discuss my next word – BALANCE… hmmm… I definitely needed (and still do!) some BALANCE in my life…

In 2013 I decided what I needed most was BALANCE – I knew I hadn’t *really* found CONTENTMENT – and perhaps I needed BALANCE to help contentment along. Seems logical.

We started the year by taking a cruise with Anthony’s family to celebrate his Godmother’s 60th birthday. This is a significant act on our behalf, because a cruise is far out of our comfort zone. Gandara family vacations consist of DRIVING destinations so if there is a problem, we can just leave. You don’t just “leave” a cruise. However, we were open enough to recognize the opportunity to celebrate this incredible woman – with the majority of the family as a BLESSING, and decided it just was NOT something we were willing to pass up.

A lesson in BALANCING our attitudes and opinions over memory making and putting family first.

I did not balance the number of churros I consumed…..

My journey in weight loss did continue however. I even entered the school jog-a-thon.

Mrs. Gandara fundraising and losing weight!

Summer was a GRAND time for me to fill in the gaps of learning with my own children. We took special “field trips” and kept the homeschool fires burning.

No trip was more special than the Grand Surprise of Summer 2013.

I have to admit, there was absolutely NO BALANCE in this trip – just pure spontaneity, indulgence and CHILDHOOD DELIGHT. This is Disney Magic at is finest, and simply next to spelling bad words with cookie dough, my most cherished memory of my brother. I can’t imagine if we had been scheduled and regimented and said NO to his offer!

My brother was all heart. Simply the most giving, loving human ever.

Well, in the Summer of 2013, he hatched a plan to surprise my children with a 3 night, 4 day stay at the Disney Grand Californian. We had the Disney Passes, so it worked. I told my kids Uncle AJ, Aunt Mollie and the girls would not be coming that summer for a visit. Easy.

One evening after work, we piled into the truck to go for a special passholder tour of the Grand Californian. The suitcases were secretly packed and loaded. As we stood in the lobby, out of the elevator emerged my brother and his family to give us the “tour”. He proceeded to hand each of my children their own room key. PRICELESS should have been my word of the year.

Look over there – your “tour guide” – Lauren’s face says it all!

Balance goes right out the window when Disney magic comes in!

Summer continues with surgery for Douglas. They need to tighten up the muscles of his eyes. I didn’t balance anything well. I was a mess. I don’t know how parents handle more serious situations.

The school year resumes… I began to take on more responsibility at work. I was THRILLED the principal recognized my leadership skills as well as my commitment to the school and students. For the 2013-2014 school year I became a member of the “Leadership Team” and part of the *decision makers*. This fit right in with my structured , scheduling personality!

By October I had reached my weight loss goal of 100 pounds. It took me 2 years. I lost weight for several reasons…. to see if food was causing my migraines, (It was not) and to improve my overall health. This was an incredible accomplishment, at the time. Unfortunately I have not chosen to keep this BALANCE in my life, and as of this writing, December 2020… I need to re-establish a healthy lifestyle.

By the end of 2013, I’m noticing a bit of a trend…. I pick GREAT WORDS… But something keeps me from sticking to them and following through – I was only able to truly *stick with* GRATITUDE that first year, and kinda, sorta LITTLE THINGS. I mean, if we are being honest – you can fake your way through that one it’s so close to gratitude… but now – these words are GETTING REAL – I’m challenging myself to CHANGE… but am I????

Something is MISSING!

I know what it is… My Mom told me my whole life! I should have listened to her! I’m extremely disorganized. My house is always a mess. (spoiler alert, I’m not using the past tense, lol)

As 2013 comes to a close I have the solution, and my word headed into 2014 that will help me tie up the loose ends of CONTENTMENT and BALANCE – is :

ORGANIZED!

I’m going to make 2014 the year I get organized once and for all!

Look at this amazing family – even Douglas’ patch coordinates! But clearly this woman needs to get ORGANIZED! How could she let Lauren hold that PURPLE thing? What is that anyway! Bring on 2014. We’ll whip her into shape!

Until next time be blessed… have an attitude of GRATITUDE, appreciate those LITTLE THINGS, strive to find CONTENTMENT in life and let me know if you know the secret to BALANCE, pretty please!

Christy

Contentment didn’t come in 2012

My word for 2012 was contentment… It was chosen to challenge myself to be satisfied with life the way it was. To be happy with what God had set before me. . . but I’m going to be honest with you and let you know I didn’t find contentment that year. It didn’t come until much later. I think that’s why it’s a serendipitous thing I decided to “keep” each word and let them grow with me. This ADVENTURE IN WORDS was getting real….

Honestly – what kind of life would I have if I didn’t continue to nurture Gratitude and Little Things?

I never WANTED to return to work – I WANTED, with all my heart to be home with MY kids… but day after day, I went to work and gave everything I had to give to other’s peoples children, because God asked me to. I was forced by financial necessity to return to classroom teaching. When I do something, it’s go big or go home. My students got all of me. I don’t think there is anyone from 2010 – 2019 who had a child in my class that could truly question my commitment to the students I was serving, but if you knew me, deep down… I wanted to give all of THAT to my kids instead. My children were in last place. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

Back to 2012 – early in the year my older brother by 7 years was hospitalized. It was the 5th or 6th time in as many months he had been, and I had grown “complacent” with the round trip hospital adventures. I didn’t really think about the fact he hadn’t called, and it had been 3 days.

Turns out this trip was *the* trip and my brother had to be intubated and was in a medically induced coma. By day 5 my dad and I are there trying to make crazy decisions about his health.

I TELL NO ONE MY BROTHER IS LYING IN A COMA IN THE HOSPITAL.

I go to work – go to the hospital – go to work – go to the hospital – repeat. This goes on for a month. There is no contentment. The prognosis in grim.

My brother has conditions that complicate his care and he needs to be transferred to another facility. The facility is in Orange County.

I go to work. My dad picks me up – we drive to Orange County. Repeat. Another month. Meetings with doctors to develop a plan to try to wake him and get him off the ventilators. Still only my Sister in Law and very close family know anything is going on.

I never missed a day of work- none of my colleagues had any idea until month three. At that point my brother was miraculously awake, off life support and being transferred again – this time to the Palm Desert area. I would need a little time off to help facilitate. I finally had to tell my boss.

His room needed to be gutted, cleaned and refurbished. That fell on my husband. He would be coming home with a hospital bed, wheelchair and a host of other equipment. There was no contentment. While I was grateful beyond measure for my brother’s recovery – our lived were UPSIDED DOWN and in CHAOS.

During this time I am also losing weight. I had embarked on a very committed journey of clean eating that lasted 2 years… we will revisit this when I reach the goal. Looking back my struggle with weight is a CLEAR SIGN that I still struggle with contentment.

In late spring, early summer, while sitting at choir practice, pretty much minding my own business, a woman who knew I was teaching at another school told me that my parish school had openings, and I should apply. This school was 1.2 miles from my home, and the very first school I worked for when I began my teaching career. (WOW – wouldn’t that be amazing!)

No joke, 3 minutes later, my current principal called and told me that she received a phone call and the school was asking about me, was I interested. (WOW-WOW-WOW)

I rode my bike to the interview with a Hannah Montana back pack carrying my portfolio. I came highly recommended – including the superintendent of schools. The Principal conducting the interview said: “I can’t find anyone to say anything negative about you.” My reply was, “I can give you my husband’s phone number”. When he ended the interview and asked whey he SHOULD hire me, I replied: “Because I am awesome.”

Thankfully, he appreciated my humor and my qualifications, because in July 2012, I was re-hired by my parish school to teach my ORIGINAL grade level – 4th grade!

I saw that, and continue to see that as the ultimate gift from God, the reward for being a faithful servant and giving my all to HIS children of the world over my own. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt my return to the classroom was God’s will.

My brother continued to gain strength , and was able to become the primary caregiver of his nieces and nephew since I was less than 2 miles away each day.

Mr. Mc Nutty with the Scottish brogue was now in charge of the Gandara Bug Academy… while Mrs. Crabtree was back to full time “Mrs. Gandara.

As 2012 came to a close, our Family had MUCH to be thankful for, as always. Although I didn’t come anywhere close to understanding how contentment played a role in my life, I knew I gave it my best shot. I rolled with the punches I had been thrown, I stuck to my clean eating and I had been gifted my position as 4th grade teacher. 2013 was going to be a great year, and I knew JUST what I needed to help!

I needed BALANCE…. Perhaps if I learned how to properly Balance my life, contentment would also fall into place. If there’s one thing about me that is steadfast… I don’t give up.

Anthony, Christy, Megan (Holding Jack Sparrow) Douglas (Holding Minnie Marie) and Lauren (Holding Princess Stripes) October 2012.

Until next time.. I hope your life is filled with Gratitude, Little Things and CONTENTMENT. (if so – share your tips!)

Christy

Little Things

My 10 year adventure in words continues in 2011 with focusing on the LITTLE THINGS in life… you know stopping to smell the roses and all.

2010 started my adventures with GRATITUDE and although we faced hardships and changes big and small, I feel I did keep my attitude of Gratitude all year.

Going back to work in August 2010 was accepted as God’s will….or was it…

Things aligned perfectly, but that didn’t mean I had truly accepted going back to work. Let’s see how 2011’s LITTLE THINGS line up.

We ended 2010 by adopting 2 kittens… male kittens are reportedly the most playful, so Lauren selected the orange Tabby and named him Mr. Stripes. (She was 9). The rescue was having a sale – so Megan also got a kitten.. the black one who came with the awesome name: Captain Jack Sparrow.

As the kittens age… Captain Jack is ..uh clearly a Captain…but Mr. Stripes isn’t showing the same signs of maleness from behind if you catch my drift…

Spoiler Alert… Mr. Stripes is Mrs. Stripes! YIKES!!!We now HAVE to get these cats to a vet for some NEEDED surgery because 2 males could wait… but a male and a female is risky!

Lauren cried when she found out. But a LITTLE THING was discovered.

Only about 20% of FULL orange tabby cats are female. Ours has no white anywhere…so we consider her pretty special. She was re-named: Princess Stripes.

Douglas Presents Princess Stripes

In February of 2011 I turned 40. One of my dearest friends traveled from Indiana to spend time with me. Shannon and I met online through my scrapbooking business and had only met “in person” one other time. Her trip to see me was a LITTLE THING and still brings cherished memories of orange trees and walking on the beach. Sharing experiences of California through the eyes of another is something I cherish.

We found another LITTLE THING wandering in our back yard in April…. when a cat has a “hidden mickey” on it’s fur…and you are in the middle of a school year focused entirely on all things Disney, it’s surly a sign it’s meant to be!

The other neighborhood cats were trying to take advantage of this kitten, and we wrongfully assumed this one was a female as a result… therefore we named the backyard rescue Minnie Marie….our second LITTLE mistake with cat gender… but we decided NOT to rename him Micky.

This sweet guy remained Minnie Marie, and Douglas’ best buddy, until his passing in 2019.

Minnie Marie – a cat for Douglas. Can you spot his hidden mickey?

Anthony’s godparents had originally eloped 40 years earlier. Now they were going to celebrate their 40th anniversary by having a “real” wedding. Anthony’s godparents are the center of our family structure, the glue that holds us all together. Taking the time to participate in the planning, as well as the celebrating was extra special. Anthony and I paid for their Limousine services – just as they did for us when we were married in 1998! A LITTLE THING to add to a wonderful year.

Dancing with a handsome gentleman is always a LITTLE THING to appreciate.

Disneyschooling was in full swing. Whenever Anthony had a day off due to weather, scheduling, etc., He and the bugs dropped me at work and headed into the park. They had a routine for efficiency to get in the maximum number of rides before needing to head back and pick me up when my work day was through. I was delighted by the stories of their Jedi adventures… hours as Pirates (on what was Tom Sawyer Island when we were kids) and the countdown to the opening of CARS LAND. My reward was getting to scrapbook the pictures!

Disney without Momma

Going back to work was “supposed” to be temporary, or Anthony was going to transition to staying home with the kids. This is what I told myself to make that phone call, to justify dropping them off every morning with my Sister-in – law. By late 2011 the writing was on the wall. I was delusional. There was NO WAY we could afford the health insurance package through the school system I was working for… therefore, Anthony had to continue working or I had to transfer to a public school. That was not something I wanted.

(My hat goes off to ALL public school teachers! – I may have made less in private school – but there were benefits to be sure.)

Our version of California Fall – we’ll take it!

Looking back – the LITTLE THINGS are never, ever truly little. The Little Things that blessed our year in 2011, and continue to bless us to this day our the BIG THINGS. They our the MOUNTAINS in life that I refuse to take for granted. I was destined to be a working- Homeschool mom. It was not ideal, but my kids survived, learned and the experience has yet again given me perspective in which I can mentor other homeschool families.

Again as the end of 2011 came nearer and nearer I knew I would keep my previous words and need to add a word – something to challenge myself to grow as a person. Gratitude – Little Things – (what would my 3rd word be?)

2012 would be a year I chose a word to challenge myself…but didn’t apply the word until much later. Instead God gave me a heavy dose of life to help me grow…

Until next time, be blessed my friends.

Christy

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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