Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Carlee's Chandelier

Lately Carlee's favorite thing has been to put on her (too small) swimsuit and her (too small) tutu... and dance!  dance! dance!
She has been driving us crazy for two months now dancing to the same song, Chandelier by Sia,  accessed from the iPad. 
In case you haven't watched the video, it features a dancer from Dance Moms.  
This video is beautiful to watch, but you have to really understand the lyrics to understand the dark undertone.  The little girl in the video is a true talent!

While we are sick of the song, I have enjoyed watching my Carlee dance.

I made a video for her. She just loves to watch herself.
Dance Moms... here we come!

Wild about Reading

When I first started my blog I really wanted it to be a place to share books I enjoyed reading.  However, my reading time was cut pretty short-

obviously I had more fun things to do.  :)  
With Carlee upon her THIRD birthday (yes 3) and Connor in intermediate school, they have become so much more independent. While I am most certainly needed, I have a few more snippets of time now and have been reconnecting with one of my hobbies.  
I’ve noticed over the past year that when I pick up a book, my mind doesn’t let me sit down with it very long.  Being busy, I’ve trained myself to not focus on anything for too long but rather focus on a little bit of everything at one time.  That doesn’t work well for an afternoon of reading, or prayer, or thoughtfulness (or editing). 

While Christmas Shopping, I was interested in finding the book WILD:  From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail a memoir by Cheryl Strayed for my Aunt J.  Since the movie is out and it was an Oprah Book Club read, I thought it would make a good gift. I never could find it (because I waited until the last minute to buy it), but I did decide to purchase it for myself on the kindle afterwards.

I was a little hesitant to get it because I really didn’t enjoy Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.  No offense to anyone who did love it, but I just could not connect to the story in anyway.  It was very self serving and unrealistic.  The main character described her husband as a wonderful and loving man, she was just tired of being married to him and embarked on an unrealistic journey through three countries without having a job. 
The difference is that Cheryl Strayed's journey was brought on at age 22 following some pretty devastating events.  Her style of writing flowed for me.  
“It didn’t go that way. I was who I was: the same woman who pulsed beneath the bruise of her old life, only now I was somewhere else.” -Strayed, Cheryl 

All throughout the book I hung onto Cheryl Strayed’s words. She did not come across as narcissistic, but I recognized her as an Empath like myself and Carlee.  Carlee actually cries when she hears touching music and will say 'that song makes me sad'.  At Cheryl's age, if I had encountered loss, rejection, and abandonment to her level, I don’t think I would have been able to filter all of the emotion from it.

Cheryl Strayed with a tattoo of her mother's horse.

The story begins with Cheryl getting ready to begin her hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.  I had never heard of it, but I found myself googling pictures and maps as I read the book.  I was so fascinated by someone who had never hiked or backpacked deciding to take such an extreme journey.  At age 22 I could see myself impulsively doing something similar.  If I didn’t have anyone to rely on me, I could understand needing to do something drastic.
Cheryl was very, very close to her mother and siblings.  They grew up with many challenges.  It was an enormous blow when Cheryl’s very healthy,vegan mother was diagnosed with lung cancer.
She died 7 weeks after diagnosis.

To make matters worse, Cheryl’s family dealt with the grief by turning their backs on her, including her stepfather who was remarried a year after.  She states in the book that she was “an orphan”.  I cried like a baby during this part in the book, because I have brothers and I got it.  I wanted to scream at her siblings, YOU BUNCH OF SELFISH JERKS. I also understood, they were dealing with grief by pretending it wasn’t happening.  The scene where Cheryl and her brother had to care for her mom’s horse broke my heart.  I wanted to scream at her family all over again.

Why, had my good mother died and how is it I could live and flourish without her? How could my family, once so close and strong, have fallen apart so swiftly and soundly in the wake of her death? -Strayed, Cheryl 

Cheryl  married young.  While she loved her husband and he was a very good man, she couldn’t be married to him after her mother died.  She really didn’t know how to be happy or to work on a marriage while her world was falling apart.  
(sidenote:  I found her real ex-husband online.  He is remarried and won a ton of money on Price is Right.  They own a coffee shop.  I feel better knowing he is ok.  *google queen)

Cheryl’s mom shielded the kids from any type of religion or teaching about God.  I felt the whole time this contributed to Cheryl’s pain.  She didn’t believe in a loving God, though at times she tried to pray.  How could she believe that her mother was taken care of in a better place? How could she deal with her pain without knowledge of something greater than herself?
After her divorce, Cheryl spiraled down the toilet.  She abused drugs, sex, and stomped her feelings down deep.  Trying to numb the feelings always resulted in another painful event for her.  I wanted to jump in the book and be her adopted little sister and comfort her.   

This was why no one had swooped in when she died, I supposed, why her friends had left me in peace in my inevitable exile. Because she had not held any of them very close, none of them held me.  -Strayed, Cheryl 

I think the turning point is when she made a series of bad choices that resulted in further mental anguish.

That’s what fathers do if they don’t heal their wounds. They wound their children in the same place.”  -Strayed, Cheryl 

On her way home, Cheryl stops at a little store and picks up a book that calls to her:  The Pacific Crest Trail Vol 1: California by by Ben Schifrin (Author), Thomas Winnett (Author), Ruby Johnson Jenkins (Author).  This guide stays with her as she sells her belongings, purchases the latest and greatest in backpacking, and begins her journey all alone!  She is one of the few women who attempt this journey alone.

Cheryl Strayed

...yet again doing the wrong thing, for being the same idiot I’d been the very day I set foot on the trail. The same one who had purchased the wrong size boots and profoundly underestimated the amount of money I’d need for the summer, and even maybe the same idiot who believed I could hike this trail.  -Strayed, Cheryl 

There were so many parts that made me laugh.  First, the girl’s pack is so heavy she can barely place it on her shoulders.  She later states that sometimes you just have to carry your heavy burdens.

What I loved about her journey is the community of hikers that become like family, the scenery around her, and the way that she just moves forward one step at a time.  She becomes fearless.

The one I’d fostered all through my young adult years while trying on different costumes—earth girl , punk girl, cowgirl, riot girl, ballsy girl. The one for whom behind every hot pair of boots or sexy little skirt or flourish of the hair there was a trapdoor that led to the least true version of me.  -Strayed, Cheryl 

There are times I cheered this girl on and was proud.  She carries that darn pack all the way through that trail, even as her shoulders, hips, and feet bleed!  She remembered to buy a mini saw but didn’t buy a hiking pole (so me).  Low and behold in the hiker’s trade box she found:

It was a ski pole fit for a princess: white, with a bubble-gum-pink nylon wrist strap.  -Strayed, Cheryl 

My vision of Cheryl in my head went between her real picture, Reece Witherspoon, and myself.

Reece Witherspoon (One of my favorites.)

Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told.
-Strayed, Cheryl 

There are other times, my vision of her was my Carlee at age 20.  I wanted to shout, ARE YOU NUTS!!!  WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?!  YOU COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED!!!

When I scanned the trees with my headlamp, they caught on something, and I froze as the reflection of two bright pairs of eyes gazed back at me.  -Strayed, Cheryl

Her challenges include wild animals and once she encounters a possible sexual predator.  That scene bothered me and I wanted to go into the book and choke her.

I enjoyed the ending of the book.  It gives us closure but not in a way that she is healed and perfect at the end.  It ends in a way that she allowed herself time, friendships, comfort leading to a place where healing can begin.

I had nothing but generosity to report. The world and its people had opened their arms to me at every turn.  -Strayed, Cheryl

I can say with certainty, when one has experienced true rejection, God will place other people in your life.  It may not seem real in the moment but for me 'the world and its people have opened their arms to me at every turn in my life' too.

Cheryl Stayed Camping

I don’t know if I will get to watch the movie.  Its not local, so it will be hard to find a sitter.  I hope I can before it comes out on DVD.

After this book, I am sooooo ready to go hiking.  I’ve never actually hiked before, but I definitely would love to try it!
(side note: Cheryl still loves to hike.  *google queen)

How wild it was, to let it be.  -Strayed, Cheryl

Cheryl Strayed with one of The Young Bucks, she has stated she is so very happy at this point in her life.

Thursday, December 25, 2014


I was so proud of my Connor for memorizing, practicing, and taking part in our church Christmas program.  It was extra work, and memorizing lines can be challenging during a busy school season.  With the support of his church peers he did an amazing job and so did the rest of the youth!

set design- awesome!

The night of showtime when Connor did his role, I began to shed a few tears backstage.  I was having a mom moment, and I was proud, and God is good.  It was a beautiful memory.

Don't worry, my young backstage peeps made me get over my tears by making me laugh and cheering me (and Connor) on.  

(sigh)  I love these kids.

backstage selfies (in the dark)

also backstage with the lantern keeper,
such a mature and smart young man!

What better way to recap the Christmas program than to retell the Christmas story on Christmas Day!

Isaiah 7:14. Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 

Precious R.
the same age as Connor, I have known her since age 3

Matthew1: 18. This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about[a]: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. 

 The sweetest Mary and Joseph around

Luke 2:10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people."
Sweet Angel

sister love

Matthew 2: 3. When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 

Luke 2:15-16. When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, 

"Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us."  And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger."

shepherds:  A for Awesome

Nativity Set 

Four years ago had you told me these two boys would memorize, perform, and take a play seriously.....I wouldn't be sure they could sit still long enough!
However, they were great with the third shepherd and they all supported each other.
(pictured with one adorable lamb)

Matthew 2: 9.  After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 

wise men including our own wise youth pastor

Matthew 2:  12.  And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

you can NOT talk to these two without smiling
great performance you two!

John 3: 16.  For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 5:11.  And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

I played a Mom, Pretty Easy
(these are my three darlings)

Romans 15:  3. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. 

Our Stars
I was very blessed to be a part.

God was born-

James 1:  17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve Helpers

Oh Boy have I been busy today.
Perhaps I waited to the very last minute to make cookies, wrap presents, and address Christmas Cards....  but I had lots of help.
I just love Christmas.

Happy Christmas Eve

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

2014 Christmas Card

Sechrist Christmas Letter

Hello Dear Family and Friends, 

As 2014 comes to an end, I reflect on the year and remain thankful for so many things, including our family and friends (that still talk to us).

Let me start by updating you on the youngest of the Sechrist clan:  Carlee.
Carlee may be the youngest but still tries to be the one in charge.  She brings us much joy on a daily basis.  Here my sweet darling is an angel in the Christmas play
....just like in real life (most days). 

Here she is again, ticked off because we wouldn’t allow her to eat the Germ X at church.  Perhaps the preacher stepped on her toes a bit much, but we are trying to teach her conflict resolution as a better choice over drinking Germ X.

We are very pleased to report we have said good bye to diapers but hello to Frozen underwear.  Who knew choosing between Elsa and Anna underwear would be just as complicated??

Our Sweet Carlee is learning so much in her preschool.  She is counting, singing, and her teacher has taught her how to spell her name.

Technically it sounds like she is spelling T-A-I-L-D-D
but our family philosophy is “Close Enough is Good Enough”.

Next, our Connor is quickly growing into a handsome young man and remains the best big brother.

Connor began third grade this year!  Just last week I asked him to get his pencils and books for homework and he pulled this out….

need I say anymore about third grade!?  I don’t think so.

Connor is also keeping himself busy with church and basketball.  Technically he hasn’t won a  basketball game or made a shot, but over church’s way we are lucky God doesn’t require fine motor skill to be on his team.  Connor made us all very proud as the very LOUD shepherd  #2.  

Connor's biggest aspiration in life this year is to be eaten by an anaconda (apparently you don't have to pass the EOG for this job career).
Thank you reality TV for watching my child while I cook dinner.  

Anaconda Catcher

Our part owner in the Sechrist CEO,  is still hanging out.   Darren has had a great year, though still upset about the cancellation of GM High-tech Performance because they were the only magazine that showcased Turbo Buicks, but he still bravely gets himself out of bed daily.

Darren has successfully stayed at his carport job, and he has also successfully worked through all seasons of the Andy Griffith Show for the 18th time.  Darren has also kept up his campaign to be the only living human not to set up a Facebook account.

This year Darren gave the whole neighborhood a Christmas present, two days before Christmas:

Now the whole neighborhood can go outside and actually smell roses on our laundry day!  Merry $300.00!

As for me,  things are looking up, up, and up… by up I mean the scale. Someone is going to have to surgically remove the Hershey Kisses from my hands.

Being the wonderful and amazing person I am, I continue to manage the family and work, all while watching all the latest episodes recorded on the DVR.    

Work is going fantastic, just before break one of my students identified the old couple in the Gingerbread man as “Mrs. Sechrist” and “Mrs. E.”  if that tells you how well our looks are holding up.

I was very fortunate to go on a few family trips this year.  Our Disney trip still bring me a lot of great memories.  I love this picture most because Darren is smiling, and he usually considers Disney a place that rhymes with Bell.

Here my friends took me on a beautiful day trip for my birthday.  It was such a relaxing day and I was the center of attention.  It only took three of my friends to force me back in the car when it was time to go home.

Overall you see that we’ve had a great year!  We wish all of our family and friends a very Blessed Christmas, and we thank you all for being in our lives as we laugh, cry, and shout together.  We pray that you all have a year of love, health, and gratitude (I also pray you have wrapped more presents that I have at this very moment, gifts:  20  wrapped:  0).

With Love and Good Tidings,
The Sechrist Family

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Twas the Night Before Secret Santa

I was so very excited to do Secret Santa at my school this year!  I got the name of a friend and had such fun getting her things.  
We had the best time at lunch laughing about Secret Santa too.  It was really funny when people would begin to complain about their gifts in front of their very own (unknown) Santa.  HILARIOUS.  
I of course hit the Secret Santa jackpot, making my excitement at a level 11 all week!!!!
I began to get on people’s nerves right away because I just HAD to find out the identity of my Santa! 
Tomorrow we reveal who our real Secret Santa is but I have a pretty good guess who mine is already.

Twas the Night Before Secret Santa
and all the through the school, 
not a creature was stirring
except for this fool.

The gifts were all placed
in the mailboxes with care,
hoping in anticipation
that my Secret Santa was there.
I love my coworkers and friends!

The children were nestled
all safe in their desks,
while this certain teacher 
would not put things to rest.

Heeding ample warnings
and gathering my clues,
it all gave Mrs. E. 
the Christmas blues.

When out in the lounge
there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my room
to see what was the matter.

Away to the window
I flew like a flash,
I had to find my Secret Santa 
no care to being rash.

I narrowed my suspects
it had to be someone nice,
who else would remember I loved pink
not once, but twice??

lovely scarf with matching SPA socks
To what do my wandering eyes
should appear,
but the first grade pod
suddenly it became clear.

With a placement of my tiara
I was so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment
who may be my St. Nick!

I proclaimed.
Then I shouted 
calling suspects by each name:

Now Leeann,
Now Cathy,
Now Elizabeth, 
Now Beth,

On Marie,
On Ellen,
On Cindy, 

holding my breath……

my suspect lineup

To which they shouted 
To the top
To the bottom
of the floor,
Now Dash-away
Dash-away to the door!!!

suspect list II

The warning was clear:

sweet dear.

“Go away, go away, 
get out of my face….
if you mention Secret or Santa 
I will punch you in the face.”  -Mrs. E.

coal from secret santa,
this chocolate was last seen in a first grade room

BUT I’ve almost guessed it!!!
I’m hot on the trail
oops, I forgot to give out my own Santa gifts…

my gift lineup for my Santa recipient that I nearly forgot to give out per day

Now was the time to to come face to face, 
I was so excited, 
I was winning
 the Santa race!

She was dressed all in red
her eyes feigned surprised, 
she tried to lie, 
but I could see a secret in those eyes.

snowflake necklace and jeweled bracelet

A heart of gold
from her head
to her feet, 
I have the best (#1) Secret Santa 
that can’t be beat.

Diamonds, Snowflakes, Chocolate, and more
every morning was exciting, 
OH My Secret Santa I do ADORE!

Her eyes
How they twinkle,
Her smile how merry,
Her cheeks
Were like roses
The magic CHRISTMAS fairy.

She sprang
from her desk without a word or pout,
suddenly I really begin to doubt….

But I heard her exclaim
as she rushed out of my sight.....

Merry Christmas to all, 
Sechrist is crazy BUT RIGHT!!!

My Guess For My Secret Santa