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!


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 10

Life in Black & White @GracieKHarold 2014

Life in Black & White @GracieKHarold 2014

Today, I am thankful for the reminder that God is attentive to details.  He could have created one shade of green, or even worse, only black and white.

He didn’t. He created. He loves it when we create.  Here’s my homage to his creation…even if it’s only a minuscule snapshot.

Feel free to comment your thankfulness below, or Facebook me: Gracie K Harold, or Twitter: @GracieKHarold

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 =)


“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)


snowy sunset (2)“Exceptions”

By: Gracie K. Harold

Trigger Word Warning: snow, blended family, blizzard.

 Michigan is to snow and cold as the desert is to sand and sunshine. Some of my earliest memories involve this reality.  My younger brother was born in one of the worst blizzards in Michigan history.  I distinctly remember staying at my aunt’s house, and how she pulled my cousins and me on a sled.  She bundled us up, led us up the narrow pathway of their freshly-shoveled driveway; and placed the sled up on the snowbank.  The remarkable thing was that we were up higher than her head (she’s 5’7”), and we were looking down onto the tops of mailboxes and the roofs of cars.  She led us up and down their street, and we received a front row seat to all of the neighbors’ snow removal efforts.  It was like a cartoon; watching people throw the snow up over their heads as it arced over onto the ever-growing snow hills.

My birthday always falls close to Easter, and I distinctly remember the eve of my fourth birthday.  For weeks, when I was asked what I wanted for my birthday, I would answer, “snow.”  Up to this point, Michigan had experienced a rather mild spring; which explains why my mom and dad kept shaking their heads at each other incredulously; unsure how to answer my request.  Finally, my mom said, “Honey, you can pray about it; but you need to remember that it’s springtime in Michigan…the snow may be gone for now.”  So, I dutifully prayed before bedtime, asking God to “Please, please make it snow on my birthday.”  I awoke early the next morning, ran to my window, and looked out on a pristine blanket of snow shining in the first light of the sunrise.

I ran out of my room yelling, “It snowed! It snowed!  God gave me a birthday present!”  My poor dad!  He had to leave for work, and I remember him saying, “You’re the one who asked for this, huh?” as he winked at me and put on his snow clothes.  I spent quite some time making snow angels and sledding and playing contentedly in the snow that day.

For a few years until the current season, our winters have been unusually mild.  Last year in particular was extremely atypical.  One of our boys refers to it as “The year of the green Christmas…instead of the White Christmas”.    I was in a local store this last month, and a man began discussing how much he enjoyed riding his bicycle.  I expressed that my family and I enjoy the hobby; and also told him that I had seen a few diehard bicyclists out in the subzero temperatures. I giggled a little bit as I mentioned that I didn’t dare try to ride until I was positive all of the ice was gone; since I am rather accident-prone as it is.   He proceeded to tell me that they actually make wide snow tires now for bikes.  This launched him into a mini-tirade about his frustrations about not being able to ride his bike in the wintertime.  “Last year I was out every single week on my bicycle.  Now, I don’t think I’ve had it out once since November.  This is absolutely ridiculous!  I can’t believe the weather we are having!”

He left, and I was incredulous that he was so upset about the weather when he knows full well that he resides in MICHIGAN!  It’s not like winter weather is an anomaly in the lakeshore region; yet here he was complaining about the cold and snow.  James and I were discussing it later when it struck me what had happened. “Oh! He expects the exception to be the new normal.  The warm weather we experienced was the exception, and not the everyday common experience.”  James just looked at me and raised an eyebrow.

I blushed a bit, grinned, and said, “I know, love; I get it.  You and I tend to mentally reside in the past of our former relationships, and then we react out of those as if they were our new “normal”.  Instead, though, we need to realize that our past was the exception. This is a new thing. THIS is our new “normal”.  The old stuff that happened to us is not happening to us now.”

We’ve both been striving in the last few weeks to “live in the new normal”, and to move on from the exceptions.  We’ve decided to learn from the pain of our past, hope for our new future together, and live in the moment of our new relationship.

I love being at home in the new normal…no more “across the street from normal”; instead, I’m moving in.  It feels like home.

It is home.