Back to School: Teacher Questionnaire

It’s August, so it’s time to start thinking back to school! For several years now, I’ve sent the boy with teacher questionnaires for his teachers at the beginning of each year, and we have used it throughout to treat them with things they actually want and enjoy!

You guys must use it, too, because it’s certainly my most asked for resource. I’ve updated a few things this year. Same basic things, just some formatting and wording revision. Head here to get yours.

Feel free to share!

Summer Routine

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I love the low-key summer vibes around our home. Music on the speakers most of the day, lots of time at home, very few hustle days. Books, games, outside time, water.

I’m a big believer in routine, though, so helping the boy create his own groove for a morning routine (or at least some semblance of one) is still high on my priority list. In years past, I have made a checklist for him to work through each day. This year, I wanted to modify it and couldn’t find the file, but I found a great one that worked for us on Etsy. Work smarter not harder, right?

Already off to a great start!

Do you have a morning routine? Your kids? Do you keep it up during the summer?

A Very Merry Christmas to You!

Wishing you and yours a merry Christmas!

We hope your 2020 winds up well and finds you happy and healthy. May your 2021 be filled with blessings, laughter, and love.

“For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
–Isaiah 9:6

Back to School: Honor Your Teacher

Back to school around here means I start thinking of ways we can honor our teachers. This year, especially, I feel like they’re going above and beyond for our kiddos.

I have done a teacher questionnaire in the past, and it has been such a great way to ensure we are gifting things the boy’s teachers (and nurse) love.

I didn’t have to do much updating this year because I felt like last year’s questions served us well. I updated a font I wasn’t happy with, and that’s it!

Click here to print and send to school or upload and email. The teachers are always more than pleased to return it to us.

Feel free to pin or share!

Just Add Water

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We moved into this home in October of 2015. (When my hair was still brown–dark, dark brown.)

Once the weather started to warm up that spring, I started dreaming of adding a pool to our backyard. Granted, we had just built a home, and creating a backyard pool oasis wasn’t really in the budget.

I scoured the internet for pool ideas that didn’t cost as much as a car. That’s the first I had seen of the stock tank pools that were being created to meet the similar needs of other families. My husband wasn’t as impressed with the idea as I was.

Enter quarantine and the closing (and possible not opening) of many of the public pools we frequent. Some friends began their own stock tank pool. And that was all it took!

Mr. Gray kindly hopped behind my idea, and away we went.

I read and researched several places, but Stock Tank Pool and The Joneses (can’t beat the fact that she correctly made their tricky last name plural) have been my main resources.

I ordered all the “pool” parts, purchased the tank at our local feed store (shop local when you can, but Tractor Supply has them as well), and now we wait. Amazon shipping times to our little town are a bit off in this pandemic, but that didn’t stop me from filling it up last night to take a test dip!

Fill your cart to get started:
Plunger valve
Jet replacement kit (currently out of stock on Amazon; I purchased this one)
Chlorine tabs
Chlorine dispenser
Test kit
We did not order the tool and fitting to cut the holes in the tank because we already had that, but you’ll need it, too.

I’ll be back with an update and maybe some how-to’s once we get it all settled and situated!

Hays’ Type One-Derful Journey

Shortly after the boy left the hospital with a diagnosis of Type One Diabetes, he began writing a book. (Remember, he was five at that time.)

He wanted to share his story with others in hopes that they wouldn’t feel alone in their own diagnosis.

It’s taken us some time, but they’re finally finished! The story has grown and changed, just like he has, and today, he unboxed the final product:

You can order your copy via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or let us know you’d like a signed copy via Facebook. (some affiliate links used; thank you for supporting our site)

We couldn’t be more proud of this boy and all that he does to advocate for himself and help others.

Full Circle Faith

I shared on social media a few weeks ago that we had taken a step in a new direction regarding our impending adoption.

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So, this week we took a step. It was unexpected and not the way we thought we were going, but we have felt 100% at peace about it since. • We have felt for years that we were supposed to wait on a phone call and adopt privately. Lately, though, several opportunities have arisen that we felt the need to check into. We never wanted to look back and feel like we missed steps we had been led to while waiting. After checking out one avenue, Mr. Gray and I both felt very clearly that it wasn’t the way for us. When we got home, I sent an email to an agency we had been interested in for several years. Previously, they had a waitlist for families and we took that as a sign we were not to pursue it. This time, they didn’t. They were updating some of their processes and told me they’d get back with me when the new information was ready to roll. I considered that a probably not and went on my way. Within days, I received another email from them with the new information. We took that as our go-ahead and officially submitted our information this week. • We still don’t know anything about timing or place or any details, but we know this felt right. So, here we are. One step down a different path and still waiting.

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We were excited, but not quite convinced this would be the ultimate path to our baby. I mean, we don’t know what the path to our baby is, or we would have already taken it. Basically, we pray through any option that is presented and then decide whether to step forward or continue holding. In this instance, we stepped forward. We found out Friday that we were not going to be moving forward with that agency, and while it wasn’t surprising, it still kind of sucked. ( I don’t have a better way to say that; it did.)

This morning at church, when Pastor started the message, I knew exactly where he was going with it: 1 Kings 18. I started nudging Mr. Gray and tapping him on the shoulder before the scripture was ever up on the screen. While still taking today’s notes, I was scrambling to notes from several months ago. (This is all going to get a bit choppy here; hang in there with me.)

You see, one Sunday several months ago, I was at church by myself (it may or may not have been raining–I’m not 100% on my memory there), and Pastor wrapped up a sermon on having faith with a piece of the story of Elijah sending his servant to look for rain seven times. That morning, there in the front row, it had never been more clear to me that we were looking for that rain cloud.

‘Go and look toward the sea,’ he told his servant. And he went up and looked.
‘There is nothing here,’ he said.
Seven times Elijah said, ‘Go back.’
The seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.’
So Elijah said, ‘Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.””

I started listing off the times we had been approached about adoption and it had never been right. Before taking the time to do that, I likely would have told you the number was astronomical. It seems like so many missed connections. But. It was just under seven–an encouraging number below seven. A place where we could see that even if seven wasn’t the end-all-be-all magic number, that God was with us. He saw us. He knew we were there in the wait and trying to lean in and listen. So, for the past few months, as I have seen Elijah references pop up, my ears have perked up. It’s been worth the time and the listen to see what God’s got in this.

As he started in on it this morning, I got my old notes and re-read while I listened. I flipped back to my new notes and kept jotting. The sermon series we are in is titled Coming out of Your Drought. It was pouring down rain this morning, which seemed fitting. This time, instead of simply talking about sending the servant seven times to check for rain, Pastor was more focused on what Elijah was doing in this time. He was on his knees, with his face between his knees. He couldn’t see what was going on around him, he was removing himself from all the distractions and focusing on his faith. He knew the rain would come. But he didn’t know when. As Pastor illustrated that with a few moments of awkward silence, it was resonating so much. That awkward silence is where I feel like I’m sitting sometimes. Just me and God in a quiet room, with nothing to do but hold on to the faith that I know we will someday have another child to call ours. We talked about seeing things in faith and using  that to build our hope. To hang onto what we know is planted, even when we can’t yet see. There in my notes from today, I wrote as I heard, “The drought is about to be broken.”

Tears streamed down my face as I wrote that. On the heels of what could have been discouraging news Friday, God was using this message to remind me that He is still good. He still keeps His promises. (Did I mention we saw three rainbows in two days last week as well?) What the devil would use to discourage us and bring us down, we can see as just another stepping stone in our path.

As we served second service, the worship leader began one song with a reference to Elisha (new prophet here–the apprentice of Elijah–part of the story in Greater). And it took me back–to a time where I was broken, hurting, and grieving in the late summer, early fall of 2012. In August of 2012, my brother-in-law passed away. It was a tough kind of grief for me to process–different than anything I had been through. That week, as prayed, read, and journaled, I read Steven Furtick’s Sun Stand Still. The week of his birthday (just under a month later, still in 2012) I had the opportunity to go to a conference in South Carolina with other leaders from our church. While there, I received such a word of God and a ton of peace. In a room of thousands, it was as though God was speaking directly to me.  (Steven Furtick, Perry Noble, Craig Groeschel, Judah Smith, and others were there.)

Back to 2018. Today. When I was flipping through my notes from church after we got home, I also flipped to 1 Kings 17 and started from when Elijah announced the drought. I read through to 1 Kings 19 where Elisha burns his plows. As I read, I remembered Sun Stand Still. Over my shoulder, I asked, “Hey, did you read Sun Stand Still after I did?”

“Yes, why?” But I didn’t respond. I was piecing.

Once I finished the passage, I headed for the highlights in my copy (albeit electronic) of Sun Stand Still. (It should also be noted I almost never make highlights in books.) I read through them all. I only needed additional context for a few.

One in particular stood out:

And it illustrates a fundamental principle of audacious faith: when what you see around you doesn’t match up with what God has spoken inside you, you’ve got to hold on to what you’ve heard. Paul said it more plainly in 2 Corinthians 5:7: ‘We live by faith, not by sight.'”

Mr. Gray was in the chair watching football when I sat down on the couch to lay it all out. I started out a little all over the place, but I finally got there. (I’m going to jump around on you one more time.)

I said, “Do you remember when we said we would wait until the boy was two to make a decision about whether we were going to have another biological child or adopt?” He did. (And for what it’s worth, it was like so much with us, we always knew we would adopt; we just needed a timeframe in which to go forward.)

So basically, the long and short of it is this. In a time of major grief and processing, we both read a book with the story of Elijah and Elisha. That same fall, just about a month later, is when we “officially” decided we would adopt. Now, within the span of less than a year, two different messages about Elijah have given me a little more clarity into the journey we are on. The boy will turn eight this month, so to say this path has been long (or short) is relative. I don’t know the end of the story. I don’t know when we’ll get an opportunity to move forward “officially” with an adoption. But I know it’s worth the wait.

Giving Good Gifts: Teacher Edition

Every year around Christmas, I realize I don’t know my child’s teachers as well as I would like and that makes gift-giving a little harder than it should be. (Some years we just keep it simple; I try to avoid anything that will just sit around, though.)

I’m a big fan of giving good gifts (and the boy is quickly following suit–he loves to give). Last year, about the time Teacher Appreciation Week rolled around, I realized I needed a questionnaire of some sort to give to each of his teachers (you can see some of what we went with for this year here). That brings me to today, when I finally had time to create such a thing.

I’ll probably let the new-ness of the year settle down, with all the filing and paperwork that comes with it. Then I’ll stick this in his folder for each of his teachers to fill out and return. I know some will be uncomfortable with the idea of it, but we really do want to honor them and show our appreciation.

Print a copy of the questionnaire here.  Feel free to pin or share as well!


Summer Checklist (Sanity Saver!)

As much as I love lazy summer days and the spontaneity of it all, I also crave a little structure. (I know, you’re surprised, aren’t you?) I started the summer with a devotional for the boy and some intentionality, but I needed a little more. I got an email this morning from Mary at Trusty Chucks with their summer checklist, and it inspired me to create one that works for our needs.

It’s pretty simple, and that’s by-design.

My biggest goal with it is to hold myself accountable. I can set out all these ideas for the boy, but ultimately, if I don’t follow through and check on his progress, it’s a wasted effort. This puts us both on the same page. He has tasks to complete, and I have to check the completion. (Our current system requires him to complete the task while I just ask if it was completed; I don’t check that it is completed how I intended or model what I’m asking about. It’s flawed on my end.)

So we’ll start here and make adjustments as needed. Everything on the list is already something that’s expected of him. It’s also the bare-minimum. This is acting as a jumping off point to move from. I don’t want to run a jail or take away the lazy days of summer, but I need a little more structure to keep myself from getting mad at things I expected but never asked for.

How do you structure chores? What is expected for your children each day in the summer?