Finding the Calm in the Chaos

A wife, mother and teacher choosing to live intentionally.

2016 – The year of intentional living January 3, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — rfiske @ 5:00 am

This year I will make time for and focus on the things that matter most to me.  Looking back, too often I found myself frustrated because things didn’t go as I wished – but I made excuses, got angry, blamed outside forces, and generally found myself anxious, agitated, and disappointed. This year I am taking responsibility and will use my time and energy in a focused manner to make a positive difference in my own life and the lives of those who matter most to me.

This blog has been used (and mostly, unused) in many ways over the course of its life. This year, I am using it as a way to set goals, hold myself accountable for meeting those goals, and to reflect. Having this space as an outlet for my own thoughts and writing is one step toward making time for self care which I believe is part of being healthier.

Speaking of goals, I have set yearly goals to keep myself focused. All goals are categorized into the four categories that are most important to me this year – Self, Relationships, Home, and Work. The yearly goals are broad, but provide a guideline for my own priorities. I will then set – and share, monthly goals which are designed to help meet my yearly goals.


Self Relationships Home Work
Focus for the Year * Be Healthy – physically and mentally
* Focus on Christ
* Quality time with kids and husband
* Show my family how much I love and care for them through my words and actions daily.
* Create a nurturing calm home.
* Be welcoming
* Provide timely feedback to my students
* Develop and implement plans and systems to increase student success.  


And, because there is no time like the present:


January Make breakfast at home.
Move daily.
Read scripture daily.
No phones or screens while I am spending time with kids and husband.
Stop and think before yelling.
Get clothes out for kids for kids on Sunday.
Tidy the house before bed every night.
Spend one entire planning period grading every day.
Reinforce  argument introduction.
Finish argument essay planner.


Some of these things are things I need to simply get better at and do more consistently, some of these are simple adjustments that need to be made, others are a complete shift in how I am currently living. Whatever the case, this is my plan for January. I will let you know how it goes!


To my daughter’s teacher on her first day of Pre-K August 17, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — rfiske @ 11:05 am

Dear Teacher,

You are a saint! Spending all day, every day in a room full of 4 year olds is an impossible task! Thank you for dedicating so much of your time, energy, creativity, knowledge, time, and, well, let’s be honest, your LIFE to our babies.

I know you are the expert when it comes to pre-k education. But, you see, even though you have years of experience, degrees, certifications, and professional development, I am sending you my baby. My unique, special, beautiful, baby girl. And, as the expert (or as close to an expert as one can be when it comes to intricate individuals) on her, there are some things I want you to know when she walks into your classroom.

  1. She is brave. She doesn’t back down from a challenge. She slid down the big slides before her older sister, jumps into deep water, and wants to ride the big rides at amusement parks. She makes friends easily and quickly. She loves to go on adventures in the woods with her father. But she is terrified of school.
  2. She is determined. She has goals, ideas and OPINIONS (when you meet her, you’ll understand the need for all caps). I know she can be frustrating and stubborn but please see these qualities as strengths and try to harness them to help her succeed. Trying to squash this side of her will give you a headache, and it will break her spirit. Determined strong willed 4 year olds can be trying, but determined strong willed young adults will change the world. She will be a world changer.
  3. She is creative and optimistic. She thinks she is going to grow up to be a princess. And, yes, she may color pigs green, clouds pink, and grass purple, but I promise you she knows her colors and sees reality. But she also still believes the world is capable of doing better. This optimism comes out in her imagination and her art. There are so many necessary and important rules in school – but please don’t over regulate her creativity. She is too young to start thinking she “can’t” or “that’s impossible”. Those thoughts are bound to creep into her mind too soon but you and I can work together to help her believe she is capable of anything!
  4. She is not her older sister. Her older sister has already made her (positive!) mark on the school. You may be well aware of her strengths and talents. While my girls share many things – they are very different people. If you are expecting her to be just like her sister, you will be disappointed. But, there is nothing disappointing about my 2nd Get to know her. You will find she is goofy, athletic, strong, hysterical, smart, kind, sensitive, compassionate, loyal, and observant in her own special way.

I am excited for my daughter to get to know you and for you to get to know her. You are both going to have a great year!

All the best,

A nervous and proud mama


Saying Goodbye March 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — rfiske @ 10:18 am

Saying goodbye to Ken and Vickie Pell is one of the hardest things I have ever done.  If I am being honest, I must admit that I have not exactly wrapped my brain and heart around the reality that they are no longer going to be living nearby, no longer going to be in our daily lives. You see, there are few others so entwined in my life as the Pells. While our relationship is certainly based on the fact that they pastor our church, our friendship with them reaches far beyond the walls of the Naz.



When I moved here in 2005, I found myself surrounded by people, yet strangely alone. This is a difficult place to penetrate and build relationships. Blessedly, Ken and Vickie moved here just a few short months after I did, and they quickly became like family to me. There has not been one milestone of my adult life in which they have not been intimately involved.


When Josh and I got engaged, they were one of our first phone calls.


Vickie and I were a wedding planning match! Her daughter was far away planning a wedding and my mom does not live locally, so we entered into this wedding planning thing together.


Ken performed our wedding ceremony. Image


The day I was offered my job in Malone, Josh and I drove to the church to tell Ken (though, Ken had hoped my “big news” was a pregnancy!)


We trusted the Pells with the news of our pregnancy with Meredith three months before we even told our parents.


Vickie was the first person, other than Josh and I, to hold Meredith after she was born.


When I struggled with medical issues when I was pregnant with Charlotte, Ken and Vickie took care of Meredith so Josh could be with me at all of my medical appointments.


Vickie stayed the night with Meredith the night Charlotte was born, flying to our house in the middle of the night so if Meredith woke she would have a friendly face to greet her.


After the shock of learning we were having a third, I picked my self off the bathroom floor, showed Josh the two pink lines, and called Vickie.


On Meredith’s first day of school, I was 50 miles away in Malone. But my heart was calm, because I knew Vickie was taking care of my baby.


 Every step. Every milestone. Every hardship. They were there with their unwavering encouragement, truth, acceptance, and accountability. 


One day, Josh and Ken were in our driveway and I was inside with the girls. Charlotte, who was about one at the time, looked out and said, “Mama! Look! Grandpa!” I looked out he window, saw Ken, smiled at her and said, “No baby, that’s not Grandapa, that’s Pastor Ken.” She cocked her head to one side, and said, “Yes, Grandpa Ken!” I thought about correcting her, but couldn’t. She was right.


Truth is, I’m scared about them leaving. I honestly don’t know how to be a wife or a mother without them. I’m scared. I’m desperately sad. But, I am so so thankful. Thankful that my life has been blessed by them. Thankful that I have learned so much from them. Thankful that my children have been loved by them. And thankful that others will be blessed as I have been. There are other young mothers who need a Vickie. Other newlyweds that need their guidance. Other kids who will have their lives enriched by their presence in their lives. And, souls that will spend eternity in heaven because Ken and Vickie continue to listen to and follow the direction of the Lord. 



Norah is 1 February 4, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — rfiske @ 9:05 am

Dear Norah,

I am so late at writing this, but these days “late” seems to be the norm. And, you, with your sweet laid back personality will surely forgive me. You are more than a year old now! 13 months! Before you were born I panicked about life with three kids. Your oldest sister, Meredith, was still only 3, Charlotte a mere 18 months, and I was not sure how I was able to balance everyone and everything.


But, then, you came. You entered our family peacefully and quietly and in your very entrance you calmed my heart and quieted my fears. The nurses were obviously anxious about your quiet nature – for they flicked your feet and rubbed your back until the doctor stopped them saying, “Leave her alone. This baby is happy, healthy, and just wants her mother.”


This is not to say this last year hasn’t been without its challenges. There are still days when I’m not sure I am doing anything right. (Please forgive me for these times). But, this past year has been filled with such an abundance of love and blessing!


You adore your sisters. From the day we brought you home anytime you were fussy I’d only have to hand you to Meredith and you would snuggle into her and calm. Today you want nothing more than to play with them.  We often see you trying to mimic them, or chase them around. You are crushed whenever they go upstairs to do “big girl” things leaving you behind. Everyday you become more of a “sister” and less of “the baby”. It is an astounding transformation to witness. I used to feel guilt that I wasn’t able to give you the same focused attention that I gave Meredith when she was a baby. But now I see how much greater your blessing is – you have the love of your two sisters.


You were our earliest walker completely giving up crawling in September. You learn everything so quickly! Your daddy and I often look at each other and ask, “When did she learn THAT?” Your favorite foods are yogurt, bananas, pretzels, and raisins. You give snuggly hugs and big open mouth kisses. You have perfected the princess wave and you love to play peek-a-boo (peek-a-bah!).  You can’t sleep with out a fleece blanket (You love fleece so much you will wrestle it away from anyone, including your sisters or your grandparents’ dog).


Our family needed you. I needed you. I have said that each of my girls transformed me in a unique way. Meredith made me a mother. Charlotte taught  me to laugh through motherhood, to not take everything so seriously, and to focus on joy. You? You made me believe I was meant to be a mother and instilled in me a calmness and a confidence in this calling. You are my breath of fresh air and my quiet in the storm.


Norah, don’t grow too quickly. Stay little and snuggly for a while longer. These days are fleeting and I’m not ready to see my baby grow. I will cherish when you sleep on my chest, when you reach up for me, and when you throw yourself against my knees for a hug.


We love you baby girl,





Charlotte is 2! May 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rfiske @ 1:22 pm

Dearest Charlotte,

Baby Girl, how are you two already? These years have flown by and I am astounded that my baby, is now a kid! And, what an awesome kid you are.


Your energy, fearlessness, and determination are boundless. It is hard to keep up, and your fearlessness increases my anxiety exponentially. You see, I admire these qualities in you because I do not possess them to the same extent that you do. So I, your mother, your adult mother who is supposed to have it all together, look up to you! You see no obstacle too large, no trial too daunting, and are never distracted from your goal. This is foreign to me, but how honored I am to spend my days with you and learn from you! Now, honestly, this can also be frustrating because, at two, not all of your “goals” are things I want you to meet (Jumping off the back of the recliner, or drawing on ALL of the walls, for instance). However, I don’t want to do anything that will completely squelch these qualities because, in life, these will serve you well and help you to succeed. I don’t know what goals you will set in your life, but I do know that you will not be defeated in your efforts to reach them.


Many people see you and are overwhelmed by the “energy” and the “busy” and what I fear they miss is your sweet, and polite personality. You never need to be reminded to say “please” and “thank you”. You are quick and generous with your “I love you”s and “I’m sorry”s. The other night, before bed, you whispered to your father, “Thank you Daddy for loving me.” These are the things that melt our hearts!


You are so smart. Your language skills are very good, you always speak in complete, and often quite  complex, sentences. You can count to twelve. You know all of your shapes including octagon, hexagon, and trapezoid (Ok, fine, you call squares “caboosey” but I blame Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for that bit of confusion). You know all of your colors. You can sing many songs. And (thanks, Diego) you even know some Spanish – “Vamanos Papi, let’s go outside!”


At this stage of your life you are obsessed with Minnie Mouse and penguins. You would be happiest playing in dirt while wearing fancy shoes. You only have two speeds, turbo and sleeping. You would live on milk, bbq potato chips and watermelon if we let you. You believe couches were made for jumping, walls for coloring and playdoh for eating. No one loves bath time more than you do You have the brightest most beautiful eyes I have ever seen, your smile lights up a room, and I cannot turn your down when you grab my hand and whisper, “Mommy? Snuggle me?”


It is obvious that your hero is Meredith. You want to do everything she can do – good or bad. While she is a wonderful role model for you, I also can see how you are good for her as well. Meredith tends to err on the side of caution, she is timid, and sometimes unsure. These are admirable qualities, but, she sometimes needs a nudge to break out of her comfort zone. You are that nudge. The combination of you two is perfect! You pushing and encouraging, she evaluating and contemplating. You guys are going to be an amazing team. You were meant to be a member of our family, we would not be complete without you.


While your hero is Meredith, you are a role model to Norah. From day one you have been enamored with her! You aren’t always as gentle as we would prefer, but it is doubtless that you adore her and are never intentional with your roughness, your enthusiasm is just sometimes overwhelming.

You are a true individual and a light in our lives. We love you so much!


A Mothers’ Day Toast May 11, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rfiske @ 5:19 pm

On this Mothers’ day I would like to propose a toast. Raise your coffee mug with me to honor an inspiring group of women.

 Here’s to:

Moms who can’t remember what a full night of sleep feels like

Moms who look at their grown children and long for the nights they spent rocking their babies 

Moms who kiss boo boos, wipe faces, change diapers 

Moms who cheer on the sidelines, help with homework, and pick out prom dresses

Moms with messy floors, piles of laundry and dirty dishes

Moms who love their babies though today they are still a dream, hope and a prayer

The moms who work outside their homes

Moms who are called to stay home with their children

Moms who cry at night because mothering is hard

Every mom who has opened her mouth to speak and has heard her mother’s words come out.

Married, single, divorced, and widowed moms

Moms of one baby and moms of 10

 I toast all the mothers today. The job set before us is beautiful, messy, noble, trying, and divine. We are in this together, doing a great work. On this Mothers’ day, may we all remember that while each of our lives, struggles, successes, joys and trials may be unique, no one understands and can encourage like another mom. 

Today is your day and you deserve it. Rest with the knowledge that the work you are doing is good, you are making a difference, and you are not alone. Here is to your steadfast love, unwavering devotion and desire to get up tomorrow and give it your everything again. 


31 Blessings May 4, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — rfiske @ 4:51 pm

Today I turned 31. I figured, what better way to commemorate this day than to write 31 things that blessed me today. So, in no particular order, here it goes! 

1. A delicious lunch at Maxfield’s on the deck overlooking the river! Just Josh and I!

2. Kids covered in a mixture of peanut butter pie and mud

3. A bottle of wine that I don’t have to share with anyone! 

4. A slight sunburn on my shoulders

5. The leaves have popped!

6. Beautiful encouraging words from my sister

7. BBQ ribs and roasted asparagus

8. Further steps taken to beautify the front of our house

9. One on one time with each of my kids

10. A new ceiling fan for our bedroom (now Josh can’t hog all of the cool air!)

11. This

12. Birthday wishes from so many family and friends

13. A phone call from my brother!

14. grass that is long enough to mow (can you tell I have missed the nice weather?)

15. Birthday cards in the mail

16. My kids’ excitement over simple things like bubble baths

17. Iced coffee

18. Charlotte pooped on the potty

19. Time in a store full of breakable things without kids I needed to manage

20. Norah turned 4 months old!

21. Having Meredith read to me before bed (she has a few books memorized)

22. The 90s station on XM radio

23. Flip flops

24. Sleeping past 5:00

25. A husband who is willing to run errands late at night so I (a) don’t have to go out or (b) am not stuck with all three kids when they are cranky

26. A babysitter my kids love who was willing to watch them so Josh and I could go out together

27. We are scheduled on the landscaper’s calendar!

28. A few minutes to myself in front of an open window to enjoy a cool breeze and a quiet moment

29. The sound of my kids laughing together 

30. Sharing a snack with my girls in the back yard 

31. Knowing that it is only Saturday, and tomorrow is another family day!