Thankful Thursday – July 17

My next posts will chronicle in detail our recent “Vacation Gone Awry”, but today y’all can suffice it to say that we are so thankful for the following:

Ruby's Dwarf Hamster, "Cookie" (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Ruby’s Dwarf Hamster, “Cookie” (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

At last, the hamster was adopted! We left for a “weekend” getaway the next day, with James, our 5 youngest kiddos, and me…and had the adventure of a lifetime!

Funnel under hood after oil change. "Tommy Boy", anyone? (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

Funnel under hood after oil change. “Tommy Boy”, anyone? (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

While en route to Chicago, a kind driver flagged us down on the freeway because our vehicle was smoking!  We had just had the oil changed and front end alignment done.  We stopped at a truck stop and found the “hidden treasure” which had been left behind.  Removing it didn’t solve the whole problem, but it did eliminate the funnel-under-the-hood-syndrome! We drove a bit further and discovered the only garage open in Michigan City, IN.  It was a Dodge dealership!  Just what we needed.

Michigan City Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

Michigan City Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram

Kelly, of the service department, was FABULOUS! She arranged a ride for all 7 of us to a restaurant while they checked out our vehicle.

Smile (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

Smile (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014

We adopted the attitude, even if most of the delicious food had milk in it.  We walked to Denny’s (R) instead!

This said it all. We heart Denny's(R)

This said it all. We heart Denny’s(R)

We returned back to the dealership to wait some more.  The kids were AMAZING! They patiently waited.

Balancing Act - Entertained  without complaints (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

Balancing Act – Entertained without complaints (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

We are thankful for a new (and much awaited) pet, an honest and kindhearted staff with the utmost professionalism at Michigan City Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram and the delicious food at Denny’s®.  More details on our story will post tomorrow.  What an adventure!  Thank God for kind strangers who are now friends!



“The brightest flame casts the darkest shadow.”
― George R.R. MartinA Clash of Kings  

Lightplay 1. copyright Gracie K. Harold 2014

Lightplay 1. (c)Gracie K. Harold 2014


Shapes and shadows speak to me.  My artist heart is easily drawn in by unexpected beauty.  I enjoy discovering how the light plays in the shadows.

I was delighted by the images that I captured the other day while the kids were playing.

Lightplay 2 (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

Lightplay 2 (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

lightplay 3

Lightplay 3 (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

lightplay 4

Lightplay 4 (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

Lightplay 5 (c) Gracie K Harold 2014

Lightplay 5 (c) Gracie K Harold 2014

I’m beginning to see the deep truth in the quote above.  If I only gaze at the darkness and shadow, I miss the point.  Life isn’t about being intimidated by the dark.  Life is about dancing and playing in the light.  Beauty is found where light overshadows the darkness.

The following song “Beautiful Things” by Gungor was played at our wedding, and it captures our story so eloquently:

My hope, desire, and prayer this week is that the LIGHT plays in real ways for you, and your eyes are opened to see the darkness being overshadowed by love.

Stunning Lightplay (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

Stunning Lightplay (c) Gracie K. Harold 2014

Matthew’s Joke


Our son Matthew had a hard time accepting humor at first.  He would laugh at funny things on television or in movies; but he did not understand how to process teasing.  This brought on some very tense moments which required an extra dose of compassion and patience on our part.  We are, by nature, a family that thrives on practical jokes…and gentle teasing is one of our love languages.

By gentle teasing, I mean the following example: Rex walked into the house yesterday after playing out in the dirt.  I smiled widely, winked obviously and said, “So, mister man; were you going to wash the backyard off your legs?” He giggled, shook his head and said, “Ummmm, nope! Uh-uh. I wanted to keep it on me to remember the yard!”.  We laughed together as he walked out to clean up.

This whole interchange was a completely foreign concept to Matthew until a few months ago.  I remember one of the first “humor breakthroughs”.  I was driving alone in the car with Matthew and Marissa.  Matthew made an outrageous statement about something, and without thinking, I teasingly said, “Ohhhh, I see, Mr. Spoofer.  You are telling a Tall Tale!” as I winked at him in the rear view mirror.  *Cue tears.*  I felt awful.  He said, “My name is Matthew, not Mr. Spoofer!”.

I explained that Daddy and I called each other silly names just to show that we love each other…not mean names, but silly ones, like “Little Miss Pees a lot” or “Mr. I had Onions tonight”.  I explained that if the names change, the person still stays the same in their heart.  With a sinking feeling of dread in my gut, I asked him if he was starting to understand.  “*Sniff* I think so…since I was pretending to cry, Mom! I knew you were kidding!”

He got me.

About a week later, the five youngest kiddos were heading upstairs to bed.  It was a chilly night, so I hollered up to ask who needed an extra blanket.  3 little voices answered that they did.  I went all the way to the far corner of the basement to retrieve the warm layers.  My arms were heavy laden when I tromped back up the two flights of stairs.  I handed out two of the blankets, and went from room to room asking who requested the third one.  Total silence.  James said, “Are you sure that you counted right?”  I replied, “Three of the kids answered me.”  We heard snickering behind us, and turned to see the cherubic face of Matthew, dissolving into giggles. “Ha! I got you, MOM!  I asked for the blanket but then acted like I didn’t. I.TEASED.YOU!”

James and I shook our heads as we smiled.  “You sure did get me, buddy!  Way to go!”

That boy.  What a Spoofer!

Thankful Thursday July 3

I am thankful for

#Freedom #Soldiers @GracieKHarold 2014

#ThankfulThursdays @GracieKHarold 2014



Love, plain and simple. @GracieKHarold 2014


Same Purpose, Different Appearance. @GracieKHarold 2014

Same Purpose, Different Appearance. @GracieKHarold 2014

If you are feeling thankful, share it!  #ThankfulThursday

Facebook: Gracie K Harold

Twitter #ThankfulThursday @GracieKHarold

or comment below =)

Pigs in the Blanket

The humidity was high, the a.c. was cranked, and our house was packed with our 5 kids who ALL wanted some “date time” with mom…as I was attempting to finish the final edits on my book.  There is nothing like a deadline to bring out the insatiable, unquenchable desire in every family member for personal, uninterrupted attention.

I grabbed Marissa and Ruby, our daughters, and announced; “If you girls want to spend time with me before I start the final edits; please grab a pan and start greasing!”  They obliged, and we started pulling apart the pre-made dough and rolling up the breakfast sausages.  We giggled and teased each other as we worked, simply enjoying each other’s company.

Ruby whipped through her assignment quickly and hurried to take her turn with the video game controller.  Marissa and I continued wrapping the “pigs”, and then discovered that we had one extra chunk of dough left.  Marissa was quick to suggest that we give it to James, since he is the “Daddy who takes care of us all!”.

I agreed, and her next idea triggered a string of snickers from me.

“Let’s make it into a beer bottle, so he can have a biscuit and beer at the same time!”

We crafted our “beer biscuit”, and I obligingly carved into it with a knife so it read; “Dad only”.

beer biscuit


I love the creativity and imagination of children!

We placed the pans in the fridge, the girls snuggled in to watch a movie; and I was soon tapping away on the laptop right in between them.

James taught me a while back that headphones are indeed a gift of God.  I turned on my ‘get off your butt and write” playlist (seriously, that’s really what it’s called), and got to work.

I am not exaggerating when I say that every 90 seconds or so Marissa proceeded to air type over my keys, or say, “Mom!  Did you see that? Pretty cool movie, huh?”

Each time I would gently poke her or hug her or tickle her or mess up her hair and after answering her question I would say, “I see you , love.  I am right here.  Even though I have to work, I still love you and I am SO Glad that you are our daughter!  We are so glad that you are ours!”

There are a lot of different issues at play in her life right now.  She finally opened up to me a bit, and then after supper, James and I took her on a walk so we could dig deeper into what is bothering her.

Through our talk, we realized that adjustments take many different forms.  All parties involved need to consciously be aware of other people and their feelings.  One child may very well have needs that are completely different from another.  I need things that James doesn’t.

That’s okay; it’s all part of adjusting to normal.

Maybe I spent too much time yesterday in the air conditioning, but it seems to me that our individual needs are kind of like the pigs in the blanket.  Some of them had an extra thick blanket of dough wrapped around them, some were exactly symmetrical, some had barely any dough around them.  We all followed the same recipe and instructions, but our individual personalities shone through.

That’s what family is like.  We all are following the same guidelines, but we need to be aware that we will not all look the same, or share the same exact needs.  It’s been fun to rediscover that truth this week as we have learned how to serve and love one another individually.  I understand that there will be moments when it doesn’t seem like any forward progress is being made, moments when the kids forget that they are to think of each other first; but all in all, I think we are becoming a “pigs in the blanket” family! (Beer biscuits and all!)

Pigs in the blanket

Pigs in the blanket



“Golf is a good walk ruined.” – Mark Twain.  I loved repeating this quote once upon a time.  Now, however, it’s  obvious that I must recant publicly of that.  The reason? Today, James took me golfing. He set up the tee time; (which I knew ahead of time was different from TEA time), and we flirtaciously texted  each other throughout the day about our “date”…no kids, free golf, not a family member in sight, and an afternoon to golf.  James, being an avid golfer, was rather excited.  I was nervously excited; and very thankful that the man has a sense of humor, since I am well aware that athletic agility is not always my forte’.

This is as "golf-ish" as I get

This is as “golf-ish” as I get

First, I went to google and searched “hip golf outfits for modern women”.  I am not joking.  Why must they all wear spandex or skorts? I’m sorry, but it was humid today; what would ever possess me to wear extra  layers between my thighs?  I was also confused by the plethora of polo-styled shirts, again, it’s a question of sweat.

It was so humid that I made an executive decision and skipped most of my make-up, mostly because I don’t buy it to wipe it on the back of my hands…but today it would have melted in streaks; leaving me to look like a strange warrior of golf.   I decided to wear a nautical inspired tee shirt and a comfy skirt which I could freely exercise in.  (For the record, my tee shirt had an animal on the pocket…although I still am unsure about which animal it is…it’s definitely NOT a horse).

Second, I packed the golf clubs as James had directed.  I packed us each a sports drink, and I even changed into tennis shoes instead of sandals.  Away we went! We arrived, checked in for our tee time, and James walked me over to the first hole.

My first moment of confusion happened after James explained that I got to tee off between the front markers. (PS I just learned that they are the same color on every course; that’s thoughtful of the golf course designers to color-code!)  I thought that I had to hit off the top of the concrete part…mercifully I was stopped before that disaster! My first lesson in swinging a club while on a course commenced; and we were on our way.

We eventually found a comfortable rhythm which consisted of James reminding me “Remember, baby, it’s golf and not baseball….swing your arms like a pendulum between 2:00 and 10:00.”  I did pretty well, all in all…especially once I found my “golf song mantra”.  I kept singing, “England swing like a pendulum do, bobbies on bicycle two by two, WestminsterAbbey, the tower of Big Ben, the rosy red cheeks of the little children.”  (Roger Miller 1965). The cockney accent helped me remember to swing my arms properly like a proper British person; and the Big Ben part helped me remember the clock positions for my swing.

I was just starting to feel rather pleased with my progress when James grinned and said, “C’mon baby…hit that golfball!” I did…and somehow managed to chip it backwards photo 2 (2)between my legs.  I am NOT kidding.  I looked over to see James doubled over.  He gasped, “All-my-years, never-seen-that-one”. We laughed, and kept on.

One of the holes, I chipped it beautifully….into the mud bog.  Another hole, I drove it about 75 yards…across the two lane road next to the course.  My favorite, though, was the hole with the quaint little creek that  ran under a footbridge.  I didn’t land my ball in the water once; nope…I did it twice.  From the same spot.  See? I have MAD golfi-sh skills!

About this time, we were laughing and feeling rather romantic from all of the goofiness.  We had just mildly made out, and we looked up at the people on their golf cart a few holes behind us.  “Huh! That looks like my parents,” I said.  It was my parents.  Yup.

James quipped, “Well, I was going to sneak you out to the woods over there…but your parents are behind us!” What are the odds? Overall, it was a fun day just chitchatting and having fun frogging around without (mostly) any supervision.

Sometimes, as parents; we just need an escape from “normal life” and we just need to be a “normal” couple on a date. I can’t wait for the next tee time! photo 3 (1)