happy things

I’ve been crazy busy for a couple of weeks and have really missed keeping the ol’ blog updated.  I don’t have the mental energy or the time to do a true update right now.  So instead, I’m just going to write about things that make my heart swell with happiness…

…anticipating a late night at the family farm with my siblings.  My two out of state brothers and their families are visiting and us locals are making the trip over to my parents’ house for the night.  I love my siblings and get super happy when we’re all together.  Late night talking is a given, so I’ll be napping this afternoon and then the caffeinated beverages will flow!

…a room full of people together this morning to celebrate my oldest stepson, Calvin.  He graduated from high school on Thursday night and I had a blast planning his brunch reception this morning.  All week I looked forward to throwing this party for him.  I love that boy.

…peace that passes all understanding.  I arrived at work (the site of the reception) at 7:15 this morning (after leaving last night at 11:30) to finish a video for Calvin.  When I arrived, I was unable to log on to the computer I needed and I couldn’t get my husbands laptop to connect to the internet.  I needed the computer to actually produce the video and I needed his laptop to download music.  And…I simply did not panic or stress.  I sent out a couple of emails for help and worked on what I could.  Things turned out perfectly thanks to the magic of facebook, a new puppy and free wiffies all over town.  (I’m totally not going to explain all of that…hehe.)  But my point is, I totally didn’t stress about it.  I’m learning to roll with it.  Thanks for all the practice, God.

…a multi-talented husband, who cooked three breakfast casseroles, made many gallons of orange punch, bought all the groceries for the reception and asked me to marry him so that I could be a part of his family and a stepmom to his boys.

…extended family who will taxi the newly employed, not yet licensed driver to work this weekend–enabling us to visit my parents.

…a quiet and cool Little Light House.  I’ve cleaned up (with the help of my awesome family) everything, gathered items that need to go home, wiped down cabinets and sticky floors.  Now, I am simply sitting here, reflecting on the happiness of life, with my feet up and my hair in a ponytail.  Rob is at graduation for the high school where he works.  He’ll be back to get me soon.  And I’m only a tiny bit sad I don’t get to see him in his faculty graduation robe.  I bet he looks more handsome than ever.

…What are YOU happy about today?



a special request

It really is a blessing to be an aunt.  I have 14 nieces and nephews and I love them all so, so much!  Each relationship is different.  Some are local, some are out of state.  A few have spent the night at my house and I had one as a student for a year.  I have driven to the hospital in the middle of the night and at the end of a work day to meet a new family member.  I have flown to Oregon to give kisses and have witnessed first steps on facebook.  I am a godmother, a scrapbooking pal and occasional babysitter.  I have been honored to attend a princess party, a safari and a slumber party.

My youngest baby niece is the daughter of my youngest baby sister. 

Mary–9 months



 I loved her even before I met her.





Isn’t she beautiful?





Please add Mary to your prayer list.  She was born with a congenital heart defect and will have surgery to repair it on Wednesday morning.  Her parents (my sister and brother-in-law) are amazing, calm and filled with peace knowing that our heavenly Father is protecting their daughter.  They know she is called to live a holy life that is pleasing to Him.  The surgical team expects no complications and says she’s a perfect candidate for this procedure.

Mary’s surgery will begin early Wednesday morning and is expected to last 3-5 hours.  Please pray for the surgical team, the recovery team and the doctors and nurses caring for her post-op.  Pray for Mary to be protected from illness during her recovery, for no pain and for her to feel the peace of Christ when things are happening that she doesn’t understand.  Pray for her mom and dad, Mark and Maggie, as they care for Mary.  Give them wisdom, endurance and good amounts of sleep.  We are thankful for a network of support from family, friends and church.  Pray that the people in their life will know how to best minister to the family.

For more photos and stories about this family I love…go HERE and read Maggie’s blog.



And thank you for praying for sweet Mary Teresa.


A day of productivity!

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It looks as though Thursday will be my last day at home for a while until Saturday.  Our students do not have class on Fridays, and the roads will (hopefully!) be cleared enough for staff to arrive safely.  I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned it here, but we had a couple of snow days a few weeks ago.  During that time I was super productive with my time.  We emptied out a bedroom, removed wallpaper border and I painted the trim and the walls.  Rob and the boys built new beds for the three of them.  We emptied the other bedroom and I removed the border and painted the trim.  We had our carpets cleaned.  This all took place over the course of a four day weekend…just two snow days.

Thursday marks snow day #8…and that doesn’t include the weekend.  The days have run together and I can’t really remember what things I have accomplished.  Some of it seems so long ago!  I know I cleaned off/organized the top of my dresser.  I also arranged our living room furniture, some of which had been in the kitchen since the day the carpets were cleaned.  I’ve done lots of cooking and lots of dishes.  I also shined my sink, flylady style.

And since I know that tomorrow will likely be my last snow day…for now (!)…I want to make the most of it.  Here are some of the things I have in mind…

*Have breakfast on the table by 9:30–holy cow, my usual goal is to have it on the table a little before 7.  Reality might hit us hard next week!
More like 11:00.  I got up around 8:30, but I had to find a recipe and then it took longer to cook than I thought.  No one seemed to mind staying in bed and sleeping/playing video games until breakfast was ready.  I even had time to make fruit/snow smoothies while the casserole was cooking!
*Organize/clean my kitchen countertops and the top of my refrigerator.
Cleaned half of the counter while breakfast was cooking and the top of my refrigerator has been cleared, but the items are on the kitchen table waiting for a new home.
There are still a few things on the kitchen table.  Final sorting will happen tomorrow; new storage places will be discovered and the rest goes to Goodwill.  Currently there is a basket with Rob’s syringes and needles and a coffee cup with dry erase markers…those are the only things on tip of the refrigerator.  The countertops are cleaned and decluttered.
*Sweep/mop the kitchen floor.
Didn’t happen today, but I’ll have a boy sweep it tomorrow while I’m at work and I’ll mop this weekend.
*Clean out the refrigerator.
Delegated to a boy this weekend.
*Thaw ground turkey to cook and refreeze.
Postponed due to lack of freezer bags.
*Clean the microwave.
Done by me.
*Clean the toaster.
Done by me.
*Fix the kitchen doorknob.
Didn’t happen today, I thought there was a Philips screwdriver on top of my fridge…instead I ended up with two slotted ones.
*Clean/organize the cabinet under the kitchen sink.
Everything has been emptied out and organized.  Items are on the kitchen table due to the fact that a leak was discovered and my handy husband is fixing it.
Sink is fixed and cabinet is cleaned again.  I’ll restock it while I’m fixing dinner.
Cleaning supplies are organized and put away.  I need to put cookie sheets away, but I have another storage idea to try.
*Wipe down the cabinets and the walls near the stove and trashcan.
Riley has started this project, but it is on hold due to the presence of the handy husband.
Finished by Riley.

*Figure out where to plug in the living room lamp.
Didn’t happen today, low priority but will get to it this weekend.
*Add Valentine decorations to the shelf.
Didn’t happen today, wanted to make myself do the icky chores before decorating.  Will do on Friday or Saturday.
*Dust living room blinds and computer desk.
Riley dusted the blinds.
I organized and dusted the computer desk.
*Vacuum the living room.
Done by Riley.
*Go through the mail.
Done by me.
*Move end table to my bedroom.
Done by me.

*Clean out my nightstand.
Done by me.
*Organize books in my bedroom.
Books have been sorted.  One stack still needs a home.
Books have are in their rightful places.
*Dust bedroom blinds.
Done by me.
*Wash, dry and put away all of our laundry.
The last load is in the dryer.  It has all been put away, minus one pile of Rob’s clothes.
All of our clothes are washed, dried and put away–minus that pile of Rob’s clothes waiting to be put away; and minus the pj’s I’ve been wearing for 2 days straight.
*Organize decor items.
Done by me.
*Vacuum bedroom.
Done by me.

*Clean bathroom sink.
Done by Calvin.
*Clean toilet.
Done by Calvin.
*Clean tub.
Done by Calvin.
*Organize cabinet under bathroom sink.
Emptied and wiped out by Calvin; organized by me.
*Clean bathroom window.
Done by Calvin.
*Clean bathroom mirror.
Done by Calvin.
*Sweep/mop bathroom floor.
Calvin swept it; I’ll mop it later when I’m finished mopping the kitchen floor.
*Vacuum hallway.
Done by Riley.

*Inspect the boys’ room.
*Help them organize their closet.
Gave instructions to Calvin and Riley.

*Write down shelf measurements.

Oh, and fix something easy for lunch–probably brats; and something for dinner–maybe homemade pizzas?; and bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies.
We ate brats around 4:00 (due to the 11:00 breakfast) and I’m getting read to make some pizzas.  I might have a little help from my friend Tony.
I made 5 custom order pizza pockets and 10 mini biscuit pizzas…take that, Tony!

This list seems rather long.  I think it’s actually possible for me to accomplish all of those things in one day.  However, I will have some teenage help so it won’t be necessary for me to do it all.  There are a few things I almost never do around here (take out the trash, clean the toilet, vacuum), and then there are a few things that almost no one but me does around here (organize under the sink cabinets, clean/organize countertops, bake cookies) .  All in all, I’d say we have a pretty good system.

After all that, or when I need a bit of a break, I also need think about what I need to get done at work on Friday.  I want to walk in with a to-do list for my associate and myself.  The day will go by crazy fast and I want to be fully prepared to have a great week back with my kiddos!
I did not do any school work, but I did think about it a little bit.  I may do some work early in the morning.  I”ll at least have a list of things to get the day started.

Stay tuned. I”ll update the list a couple of times throughout the day!

Thanks to you all for being my audience and keeping me accountable!  I’ve really worked hard today.  I didn’t really watch any television and spent very little (compared to my usual amount) of time online.  I’ll show you some before and after pictures this weekend.

I’m going to take a bath in my newly cleaned tub!


I have absolutely enjoyed this snow storm.  My husband has been off work every day that I have.  My stepsons are out of school and off work.  We have not lost power or water.  We are warm and well fed.

I love snow.  I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember.  Snow days were fun as a kid.  I remember my mom helping us put bread wrappers over our shoes to keep the snow out, putting socks on our hands when missing gloves couldn’t be found and newspapers on the kitchen floor to welcome us back inside the house.  At least once we were snowed in at my grandma and grandpa’s house.  If I have the story right, my dad had to drive back out to our house, hike up the driveway and retrieve my mom’s hospital bag–she was days away from delivering my youngest sister.  Cabinet doors left open with water dripping and heaters blaring, piles and piles of blankets at night, pajamas with feet and my brothers’ blanket shirts are all a part of my childhood winter memories.  One time the bus couldn’t turn down our road, so a high school boy carried my sister the 1/8 of a mile to the bus.  In high school a friend of mine’s car went into the ditch a mile from our house on his way home from work.  He walked the long, cold mile and slept on our couch that night. Although classes weren’t cancelled in college, I have great memories of playing in the snow with my friends, making snow ice cream and bundling up for the windy walk on the hill.  I lived at home during my first few years of teaching and one of my greatest memories is my aunt getting snowed in at our house.  My two sisters, my mom and I bundled up to play in my grandma’s yard and afterwards Aunt Carol whipped up one of the best batches of snow ice cream I’ve ever tasted.

Snow makes me happy.  Really.  The first time I recall actually happiness associated with snow was during my first year of teaching.  I was dealing with the recent break-up of a long-term relationship.  Muddling through, day by day, mourning the loss of my first love as dramatic as any other 22 year old facing a life of singledom would be.  I distinctly remember walking out the backdoor of my classroom across the courtyard to my principal’s office and it began to snow.  Beautiful, big, fat, fluffy snowflakes floated to the ground.  Not a snow that would cancel school.  Not a snow that brings everyday life to a screeching halt.  Just a beautiful snow from heaven that made me smile.  I also happen to be a fan of classic literature.  I read A Farewell to Arms in high school.  While I don’t remember all of the details regarding the characters, plot, etc.  I do remember that snow symbolizes safety, purity and contentment; rain represents death, agony and despair.  There have been other times in life when I was just feeling a bit blue, or maybe even really sad for a legitimate reason…and honestly, a snowfall just lifts my spirits.

So yes, I love snow.  I love the sparkly, glittery, untouched snow that covers the yard.  I love the clumps of snow in the evergreen trees.  I love staying inside and cooking for my family.  I love bundling up and building snowmen and snowforts.  I love the adventure of an ice storm and the memories it creates.  I love the quiet, beautiful neighborhood streets.  And I love the anticipation of a day off of work.

All of that to say…

I realize that not everyone is filled with love for the cold, white stuff.  My brother-in-law worked many extra hours when his patrol car was stuck for the last time early Tuesday morning.  My pharmacist family members do not have the luxury of staying home when the roads are bad.  I’m not so caught up in my own enjoyment to not realize that there were people who couldn’t stock up on food because they were waiting for their first of the month paycheck or their food stamps.  I know there are families that are not accustomed to feeding their children lunch at home every day, and their budgets are already tight.  I also know that while my husband and I are salaried employees who will continue to receive our regular paychecks, many hourly workers are wondering how they will pay their heating bills this month.

My boys are old enough to entertain themselves with minimal supervision.  They sleep late.  And we live close enough to their mom’s house that they’ve been splitting their time between two houses as usual.  I don’t have cranky toddlers or kids who have difficulty with a disrupted routine.  My family is healthy and we don’t have to think about getting out to go to the doctor.

I’m not trying to run a shelter for the homeless or at-risk families and wondering when the grocery stores will be restocked in order to provide food to those who need it, rather than those who are just tired of eating what they have at home.  I’m not making decisions about when Meals-On-Wheels should resume deliveries.  I’m not waiting on important mail to be delivered.  I don’t need prescriptions filled.

We started out with a houseful of food that we love.  I have a husband that likes the challenge of driving on snow packed streets, and he’s restocked our supplies.  He also took his youngest out to the movies as a break from online high school.  His classes don’t stop and in fact, he ends up doing more because we’re home to help.  Rob drove Calvin to work tonight and kept this stepmom from being worried.  The chili is in the crockpot and the family is piled into our bedroom to watch the Superbowl.  The worst we’ve got going on is a small dose of toomuchtogetherness.

I’m well aware of my blessings and am trying to be aware of the needs of others.

Please join me in praying for them tonight.

Being the church

John 3:16 Mission

Iron Gate

Meals on Wheels


In an effort to display solidarity with Duncan and Rob, who are working on online English assignments, and inspired by my sister I am declaring a self-imposed media fast for the remainder of the day.  I’m going to focus on cleaning, organizing and cooking for my family.  I will spend time in scripture and in prayer.  I might even take a bubble bath to reward myself for cleaning the tub!  I’ll probably be back online tonight–when my chores are done and when Duncan and Rob have thrown in the towel conquered the world of metaphors and similes!  I’ve started the post about the day I met my husband and I have one in my head about snow days. 

Stay tuned.

a hard day’s…er…hour’s work

We’re smack dab in the middle of the worst snowstorm in state history.  That seems dramatic, but we actually did experience record-breaking snow accumulations on Tuesday.  I’m blessed to be able to stay home when the roads are bad, which means I’m ending day two of the great snow in of 2011.  I really don’t mind at all.  We have electricity.  Rob and I did our major grocery shopping for the week on Saturday evening.  I got a few extra things on Monday after work.  We have laptops, an iPhone and an iPod, television and a stack of books and magazines.

Oh.  And I also have a messy house.

I really had good intentions of doing something about that today.  As the morning slipped away, I was still in my pjs and still in my bed.  I started sorting laundry and maintained focus for about an hour.  Even though I was certain I’d have at least one more day at home, I felt like I should probably get something accomplished.  Since I’ve spent the majority of the last two days in bed, I’ve had a front row view of this:

Seems like a good place to start, right?  And, just to spice it up a bit I posted the above picture on facebook with the promise I’d update in one hour.  I took extra pictures because I know everyone’s dying to know how I tackled this mess!

First, I cleared off the dresser entirely…

Wait…let’s take a closer look at that before picture…

(click to enlarge)

A huge pile of clutter can be a bit overwhelming, right?  I can load and unload a dishwasher all day long.  I can wipe countertops and even scrub a toilet.  But tackle a messy dresser or closet full of clutter?  Sometimes it’s hard to know where to start!

I decided to start by sorting my items into things that will likely return to the dresser…

And items that needed to find a new home…

Next, I gloved up put a lonesome sock on my hand, grabbed my Swiffer Dust & Shine (with febreeze lavender scent) and a bottle of glass cleaner.  I shined up the place and snapped a beautiful clutter free picture… 

(clutter free if you ignore the reflection and the shoe in the lower right corner)

Then I began placing things back on the dresser.  I basically start out with the same things on my dresser each time I do this. I keep my hairspray, deodorant,perfume, q-tips and cotton balls handy.  I also have a small cedar box that I got when I was a senior in high school…I think everyone in my class got one.  Do any of you have small cedar boxes?  Typically I have a candle or two, a few pieces of jewelry and some change.  I also keep a couple of memory boxes and some meaningful figurines.

Here’s the current layout…


Much better, right?

I might have a tendency to occasionally move junk from one pile to another in the spirit of cleaning.  I was determined (and I declared it on facebook) not to do that today.  And so…

I will have a new place for these books as soon as I clean off my night stand.  Can you see those cute sticky notes in the package?  I often think it’s a good idea to have those sticky wonders handy when I’m looking through my lesson plan book, flipping through a new magazine or reading my bible.  So I bought a package, or two, or even three.  But I’ve never used them because I never know where they are when I’m participating in the aforementioned activities.  And that is why I am working to declutter my life. : )

And here…

I do have a stack of a few things next to my chair.  We are in the process of repainting every room in our house, moving furniture and simplifying our possessions.  In the meantime, I am collecting home decor items that I will want to display when things settle down a bit.  Currently, they are next to the chair in my bedroom.  I’ll get them stored away more appropriately soon, I promise.


because my sister seemed a bit concerned about the condition of my bed as seen in the mirror.

(Yes, I carefully took this photo of my bed sans nightstands.  I think that will be tomorrow’s project.  I think.)

So that’s the play by play of how I cleaned up my dresser in an hour today.  Productivity at its finest, I must say.

2011 things…just the beginning

I just sent my men to Goodwill and the dump.  Along with them I sent…

1. photo album
2. cookie jar
3-5. coffee mugs
6. snow globe
7-10. boxes of orange Christmas bulbs
11-12. Winnie the Pooh Lifesavers Christmas books
13-29.  Christmas ornaments
30. fall decor
31-33. textbooks
34. kitchen decor
35. medium pot
36-37. twin beds
38-39. box springs*
40. twin  mattress
41. television

I’m joining some well-known bloggers bloggers that I know well in the quest to get rid of 2011 things during 2011.  Hop over to Maggie’s blog to get inspired!

Where should these items go?
Donate items that would be useful to someone else.  As a general rule, I take clothing to the Caring Center at FBC Tulsa and other items to Goodwill.  If you’ve ever volunteered a similar place, you know it is important to only donate items that really would be useful to someone else.  Don’t cause more work for the employees and volunteers at donation sites by giving them your trash.
Haul off items that have served their purpose.  Broken furniture, old mattresses, etc. that are of no use to anyone.
Throw away (and recycle when possible) the smaller items you come across as you are cleaning out areas of your home, office, car, etc.  Shampoo bottles 1/4 filled, notes from your college biology class, broken candles, the lease from your first apartment and anything else you’ve been hanging on to…just in case.
Return borrowed items to their owners and work related items to work.

Any of the above mentioned methods count towards the 2011 total.  Obviously I am not counting every single piece of household trash that leaves my house, but I am counting the junk I’ve been holding on to for years that actually is trash.  Also, when the boys cleaned one bedroom today, they managed to fill a 30 gallon trash can.  There’s something to be said about that many things leaving one room at one time…even if it is all trash, I’ll count it as one item.
42. filled trash can from C&D’s room

Which items should go?
I’m a natural-born cluttery kind of person.  When I shared a bedroom with my two sisters it was messy.  At the age of 14 I got my own room, it was messy.  College dorm room with roommate, messy.  Dorm room minus the roommate, messy.  Move home after college and graduate to a bigger bedroom, messy.  Live in my own apartment, messy.  Stay with future sister-in-law while waiting to get married, my room stayed messy.  Buy a house, share it with three Zerbe men….messy.  I have too much stuff.   I don’t have a place for everything I own. I keep too many things.  I don’t know what I have, so then I buy more.  I buy stuff that is on sale that I don’t really need because it’s a ridiculously low price. 

I’m tired of stuff.  So I’m getting rid of it.

Here are some questions I ask myself when I am deciding which things to get rid of…
Is the item useful?  Is it use often?  For more than one thing?  Check here for some great unitaskers!
Do I love it?  Does the item have great sentimental value?
Is there adequate storage in my home for this item? 

And, when I get tripped up during this first line of questioning, I ask…
If I were to move overseas, would I take it with me?  Would I pay for storage so that I could have it when I return?
If I were to move to our garage apartment, would this item go along?  Would I store the item for future use?
If I were building or buying a new home, would I want this item in it?

I won’t say that this method is perfect or that I follow the line of questioning right out the door with my pile of junk, but it is helpful to me.  I’m also coming to terms that I live in a small house, with four other people.  We’re adding 2-3 more people to this family soon.  There is plenty of room for the people I love, the things we need and the items we cherish.  There simply isn’t enough room for all the junk.

 *Apparently the full-sized box springs which has been sitting out next to our carport for months has blended into the natural landscaping.  Rob just called (from the dump) to say that the boys forgot to load it.  Rather than pay an additional $20 to take another trip to the dump and to keep a promise that it would be gone today, they’ll be busting up the wood into small pieces that will fit in our trash cans for the regular trash pickup.