Solving Problems and Celebrating People #100HappyDays

Day 32:  Solving people’s problems makes me happy.  This was my last day of customer class this week, and I love seeing how our software will solve the problems people have at their organizations.  I spoke with a woman who was very excited about the provider suspension workflow she saw in class–apparently it would make her job much easier–and her excitement made me excited.  I know I didn’t develop the software, but being able to share it with customers and see their delight makes me happy.

Day 33:  Finalizing decisions makes me happy.  This day was a rough one.  I had a headache that just wouldn’t go away, a rough morning class, and a million things on my mind.  However, something did make me happy–I signed papers to purchase a new car!  I love my current car–I’ve had her since I graduated college–but she is not the best car for Wisconsin winters.   I’d been stressed about my car situation all winter, so finally making a decision on which car to get and getting everything signed was my happy point of the day.

Day 34:  #HomeownerProblems make me happy.  I know it’s odd to be happy because of a problem, but that’s the case for this day.  🙂  This summer I finally decided to do my lawn maintenance myself, only to find that my lawn mower wouldn’t start.  I was initially very frustrated by this–once I made up my mind to mow the lawn myself I just wanted to get it done–but the situation taught me a lot.  I learned how to change a spark plug and that a clogged carburetor can cause small engines to refuse to start (#TheMoreYouKnow).  I got an exercise in patience and realized that I have a great support network.  And now I’m extra motivated to mow the lawn myself sometime soon.

Day 35:  Boyfriends and moms make me happy.  This day was twice as special as most days–it was my boyfriend’s 31st birthday *and* Mother’s Day!  My mom is the most spectacular human being–she is my role model in life and I love her more than anything.  My boyfriend is such a great man; he’s kind and patient and funny and actually lets me be myself.  Honoring both of them on the same day was so powerful and I’m so blessed to have both of them in my life.

Day 36:  Travel agents make me happy.  I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to plan my sabbatical, but thanks to the advice of my officemate I now have a travel agent to help me!  Originally I thought that a travel agent would be too expensive, but her rate is very affordable and she’s got decades of experience too.  Planning this trip has been stressing me OUT and the thought of someone doing the heavy lifting for me makes me so very happy!


The Thought That Counts

After a brief holiday hiatus, I’m back with another post! Sorry for the delay, but in the rush of Christmas, New Years, and heading back to work it’s been difficult to find time to post.

This Christmas I decided to make my mom something special to show her how much she means to me.  As I’ve gotten older I’ve come to appreciate the thoughfulness of a handmade gift.  It is so nice knowing that someone took time (as well as money and other resources) to create something just for you.  Anyone can go buy a gift–it’s truly special to make something for someone.

With that in mind–and an ever growing Pinterest addiction–I found the perfect project:  a word punch collage!  (You can find the original pin here.)  A quick trip to Goodwill and a few hours of my time later, I had a gift my mom loved.  Here’s how I did it:


  • Picture frame
  • Photo mat
  • Old book or dictionary
  • Paper punches (one for the words, another for the accent square at the end)
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Two-sided tape
  • Glue stick
  • Small paint brush (optional)
  • Paint for frame (optional)

I picked up the picture frame (which included a photo mat) and an old dictionary from the Goodwill down the street.  I purchased the paper punch (a small square with scalloped edges) from Michael’s; you can use any shape punch you want–just make sure it is large enough to get your entire word.  Scrapbook paper, glue stick, paint brush, and paint I already had at home, though you can grab those at your local craft store.

First, I painted the picture frame black.  This step is completely optional–the frame I bought was a lighter wood that DEFINITELY wouldn’t have matched my mom’s bedroom.  I anchored the scrapbook paper (a burgundy color to match my mom’s bedroom) to the photo mat with two-sided tape..

Then came the most helpful part–I punched out some “test” squares to see how many I needed to fill my frame.  This was extremely helpful as it gave me the number of words I needed to punch out as well as helped me get my lines straight before I started gluing.  If y’all are anything like me, don’t skip this part–I didn’t want to make my mommy cross-eyed because I can’t make a straight line.

Once I knew how many words I needed, I proceeded to the most fun part–going through the dictionary and finding things to describe my mom.  I frequently describe her as a “badass”…but I couldn’t find that word in my dictionary.  I did, however, find things like fearless…warrior…kind…foster (since she was a foster parent)…and the list goes on.  I honestly could have done this forever; my mother is such a wonderful person and there are a thousand great adjectives for her.

After the punching was complete, I laid out my squares; I rearranged the words a number of times to make sure I didn’t have a bunch of words that started with the same letter near each other, I didn’t make any weird phrases, etc.  I then proceeded to gluing the squares to the scrapbook paper;  just rub the back of the square on the glue stick and place it where you want.  This part actually went fairly quickly; I did one row at a time to make sure they stayed straight.  I also made an “accent” square at the end of the last row (just one of my test squares and a flower from another paper punch) for a little pizzazz.

Once my frame was dry, I reassembled and voila!  An easy, affordable, handmade gift for the most important lady in my life.  This wasn’t the only gift I gave her–she’s had her eye on a new blender for quite some time–but she truly seemed to appreciate it.  It is already hanging in her bedroom next to a collage I made her years ago for Mother’s Day.  🙂  Check out the finished project on my Pinterest page!

Christmas should be a time of togetherness, of good cheer, of peace on Earth.  Please remember the real reason we celebrate–not for gifts, but for the birth of God’s son and the gift of everlasting life for those who believe in Him.  Remember this each day, love one another, and be blessed!

No Greater Gift

Wednesday evening, two packages were delivered to my house.  I was heading out the door to run some errands with JB so I didn’t stop to open them.  One I expected–some hair care products I ordered online.  The other was a mystery.  All I knew was that it came from my mom in Kentucky.

Fast forward through another long day.  After finishing errands, visiting a friend, and fixing supper for JB and me, I finally got the opportunity to open the package from my mom.  It was a small box–probably the size of a paperback book–and wrapped in brown paper.  As I ripped through the paper I thought, “What the heck is Mom sending me?”  I hadn’t asked for anything and she hadn’t mentioned that I’d have a package coming–which is part of the reason I’m writing this.

Once I got through the paper, I saw a box for an assortment of greeting cards.  At that point, I got really confused.  I knew I hadn’t asked for greeting cards.  I had no clue why she’d just send me some out of the blue.  I almost called her right then to ask why she sent me a random box of greeting cards because it just didn’t make sense to me.

And then I opened the box.  A greeting card with the handwritten message “Enjoy this holiday season in your own home!  Love Ya, Mommy”  and a Christmas ornament with the inscription “There is no greater gift than the love of a daughter.”

She worked two jobs to make sure we had the things we needed and that I had the things I wanted.  Notice I didn’t say, “we” had the things “we” wanted, because I’m certain you wanted one job to be enough.  But it wasn’t, so you did what you had to. Who has a greater love?

I see girls every single day who didn’t go to college because they weren’t encouraged to read.  Girls who don’t have their own homes because they weren’t taught how to budget and save.  Girls who became mothers to children while they were children themselves because they weren’t taught to respect themselves, they weren’t told that any man worth having will wait for you.  And I know that, in a different place and under different circumstances, I could have been just like them.

Fortunately, I was blessed with a mother who wasn’t afraid to be a parent instead of a friend.  Who pushed me and encouraged me and punished me when I did things I shouldn’t have done.  Who might not understand the choices I make in my life but who does understand that they are my choices to make.

So this holiday season as you’re celebrating, take time to remind those that you love why you love them. Appreciate every gift, great and small. And give love greatly.

Ornament from my mom (right) and and ornament of my dad