Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Okay, I am old. I admit it. New years to us is no longer about great outfits and parties not to be believed. It is about jammies and playing games and movie marathons with our kids. I usually don't make it to midnight either. See? I am old. But I am also not willing to risk life and limb to go out and make a fool of myself. At least not on a night when everyone else is doing that.
When the kids were little, Scott and I would sometimes go out on New Years Eve. In our old neighborhood, Lesley and Scooter would have a games night and all of us would have three or four sitters at one house and all the kids there. That was so much fun. As our kids got older, they wanted us to stay home and do games, so we started a new tradition. It's kinda silly, but fun.
We make all of our favorite hors devours for dinner. Cowboy dip (sometimes called Alpo dip), bacon wrapped water chestnuts, fried everything, potato chips and onion dip, and shrimp and cocktail sauce. That is our dinner and snacking for the night. We either have a movie marathon or play games like monopoly all night or both. Sometimes we make it to midnight, sometimes we don't, but we are together and happy and not out their with all the drinkers trying to get home. I love it.
New Year's Day we sleep in and watch football and eat leftovers if there are any. Simple but wonderful. Our kids look forward to that now and ask what we are eating, make their suggestions and get out the games. Good times and wonderful memories.
What do you do on New Year's Eve? Let me know.
God Bless you and yours.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
I am blessed with some wonderful friends. We as women need really good, really close, girlfriends. I mean, giggling for no reason, know where all your skeletons are buried (mine are directly behind the Devil House in Tempe, AZ), call at 2:00a.m., friends. I guess I feel so incredibly blessed because as I sat to write this, at least six gals came to mind. You know who you are.
I do feel that you have to be a good friend to get a good friend. You have to giggle for no reason. You have to help bury the skeletons. You have to take the call at 2:00a.m. I once read that a good friend will bail you out of jail, a great friend will be sitting next to you saying, "I can't believe we did that." I am little past the jail thing. Friendships evolve over time.
My oldest and dearest friends, along with myself, would have laughed long and hard at the thought of me being married with four kids, writing Christian literature, being active in my church, all the things I am now. Of course, we were twenty-one and going to the bars and being stupid and young and stupid. I do not live with regrets, I feel that all the things I have done in my life have brought me to the place I am now, the parent I am now, the friend I am now. But I do want better for my kids. My friends don't go to the bars anymore either. We do have an occasional girls night out, but we all still have to get up the next morning and face our very active lives, and our children. We have evolved.
Great friendships only get better over time. Miles between friends can never diminish their love for each other. I can always call one of my best gals and pick up where I left off. There is no recriminations for not calling or emailing every week. Great friends don't keep score, there is no score, there are only giggles over tea in your living room. Usually with dogs in our laps, even the "you are not a" lap dogs that weigh 200 pounds. Giggling over the nothingness of something stupid that happened at the PTA.
Great friends encourage you and can be totally honest with you and you move on and keep going. I am truly blessed by great friends and I hope I am a great friend in return.
This is a reminder to all of us who are really busy in our lives, take a minute and call your girlfriend, she loves you and cannot wait to hear from you today. You know who she is.
Take an hour, because you know it will take at least an hour, and call your girlfriend. The dishes can wait.
God bless you and yours.
Monday, December 29, 2008
I sit here befuddled (always wanted to use that word). Anyways, I sit here looking at my Christmas tree and the question comes to mind....when do you take down your decorations? I spent a long time decorating and I love the glow from the tree. I have a fake tree, so fire is not an issue. What to do? I love the Nativity scenes I have around the house. I admit to hating the chore of taking everything down. It takes a day to put it up and a day to take it down. But there is no pretty reward for taking it down. I will just step on one of the hooks from the ornaments and hop around mumbling.
I remember leaving it up until February one year, that was just pure laziness. I do get that Christmas let down. I love the season of giving and the happiness of everyone, even if they are faking. I adore the lights on the houses. I am truly impressed by some of my neighbors efforts on the outside of their houses. It makes driving at night a joy. I love it. Obviously.
I always wait until at least New Years day, sometimes past that to Ty's birthday, January 6th. I think it is just lazy anything past that. I do put it all up Thanksgiving weekend, so six weeks is enough. It is the end of the most wonderful time of the year.
When do you take down your decorations? Does it make you sad? Let me know.
God bless you and yours.
Monday, December 22, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
This is going to be short. I have a complete houseful. The snow is coming down at a rate of two inches per hour. My brother in law knows our house has the most food, so he is on the other couch. He actually got a text message that he did not have to come to work. We cannot see the house four doors down. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.
I usually write my blog at around 5:30 in the morning. I slept in after looking and seeing that my kids have a snow day. Now I am surrounded by noise and cannot concentrate. There is no silence in my house. Video games are on, tvs are blasting, conversations are surrounding me. I love it. I am going to make some beef stew, and play some monopoly with my kids.
If you have a snow day today, spend it wisely, snuggle down with family and watch a Christmas movie and bake some cookies.
God Bless you and yours.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
God's Grace has always fascinated me. The dictionary defines grace (in the Christian belief) as "the free and unmerited favor of God." It astounds me that we get something we don't deserve, just by being God's children. Unmerited, that means we can do nothing to earn it. It is a prize that we have won by believing in God. That's it. God's grace. How can we extend grace to those around us?
I like to use the word when talking with my children. Here is an example. My oldest son had been asking for a couple of dollars here and there to go with his friends to get a pop at our corner store. I gave it to him, never saying it had to be paid back. A little later in this same time frame, I hear him loaning his younger brother five dollars, explaining exactly when it will be paid back, and that he owed interest. Fascinating. I calmly say to him, "Let me get this straight, in the past couple of weeks, I have given you about ten dollars, and extended grace to you by not asking it to be paid back, and now you are extorting money from your brother?" He sat there for a minute absorbing the parallels and then told him brother he could have the five dollars and don't worry about paying it back.
Grace is not deserved, but granted. Sometimes in our hectic life, we need to focus on the graces given to us and what kind of grace we can give to others. It is easy to give grace to our children, we love their pointed little heads and even when they don't deserve it, we can extend grace to them. It is harder to wrap our minds around this concept when we are dealing with difficult people. I work at Starbucks. This a a "service" job. I love it. But, sometimes, in the course of a day, we get a difficult customer, my answer to their question is always, "Absolutely". Absolutely I can remake that drink, get you more soy milk, whatever. Even if they are rude, you have to put on your happy hat and kill them with kindness. Maybe I am the only person who was nice to them that day, who knows?
What can you say "absolutely" to today? If you are in a work environment, maybe you have a difficult co-worker, kill them with kindness. Be as nice as you can be. If you are a stay at home mom, put the dishes aside when your little one asks you to watch a show with them, or play a game with them, you don't get that time back. I watched "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas" last night with all my kids. Let your heart grow three times too big today and extend some grace to those around you. It will make you feel awesome and it might make that difficult co-worker wonder if they could be a little nicer.
God bless you and yours.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
The snow started falling yesterday and the kids went into overload. Praying, putting a spoon under their pillow (this apparently appeals to the snow angels and they make it snow more) and looking at the sky. They woke up this morning and waited to see the news. Alas, no snow day. They trudged around grumbling and watching the news, but then, to their horror, the high school bus went by. That means school is in. Awwwwwww, maaaaan.
Mothers, of course, in their holiday terror of last minute baking, shopping and wrapping, are waiting, waiting, and then, YEAH, no snow day. We have far too much to do. We cannot have these kids tromping in and out of the house, full of snow, crying because someone smashed them with a snowball. They will want hot chocolate, and lunch and snacks and stuff. Then, just as they have dried off, they will want to go back out again.
We as mothers do not have time for this. We live for the time they are in school. We accomplish ten times as much when they are not around. I am not being mean. I am looking forward to the Christmas break and all that stuff, I just don't want it to happen right now. I am finishing baking for all the teachers and neighbors. Kids will just eat up my gifts. They have to try everything.
Does that make me a bad mom? No, I love my kids, I just need my alone time. If your kids are really small, you can do all this around naps or if they are really small, you can drag them Christmas shopping, they won't remember what you bought.
So, no snow day for the kids, big snow day for mom. It does make the whole world look like it is coated in powdered sugar. I love the look of it. And I just finished shoveling the driveways, so I am free to bake.
All of my desert friends, are you laughing at the thought of me shoveling snow? I was giggling a little myself.
God bless you and yours.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
For whatever reason, the theme of faith keeps rotating around in my mind. I am sure God is putting in on my heart to write about it, so here goes. I have many friends who frequently ask, "How do you do it?" They are referring to my life and kids and life and stuff. I always say, "Faith." So that brings up the question, what is faith?
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see." Hebrews 11:1
Being sure and certain. Hmmmmmm.
Hebrews 11 goes on to start 22 sentences with , "By faith"..... and the last paragraph starts with, "And what more shall I say?"
What more shall I say? Faith in my life has gotten me through tough, tough times. My faith has been stretched, tested, walked away from, and forgotten. Well, never forgotten, just pushed aside by my pride. Faith is the cornerstone in my life. It keeps me grounded and encourages me to fly. If you look around yourself, most of what you see is a miracle, we just don't take the time to realize it. Simple and complex things are miracles. The seasons, miraculous. The human body, miraculous (the God made one, not the man made ones). Our children, miracles that test our faith. We are constantly reminded in our every day lives of God's grace and goodness in our lives.
This Christmas season we have much to be thankful for and feel very blessed. This is not about money or prestige, it is how my family's faith lives have grown in the past year. My fourteen year old went on a mission trip and came back a changed person. My sister-in-law who was raised by a very loving mother, a wonderful mother, but a mother who does not believe in God, my sister-in-law accepted Jesus Christ as her personal savior and is going to church and reading a bible every day. My husband goes to church with us and prays every day. This is growth. This is faith. This is hope.
What do you long for in your heart? Usually what is burning in your heart is what God wants for your life, we often let fear quench that fire. Let your faith take it back. Seek God's face today, He just wants you to show up and trust Him. Be sure and certain.
Have faith and have hope, miracles happen every day. God bless you and yours.
Monday, December 15, 2008
So I hibernated on Friday and went to work, and did not pour a latte on anyone. See?? Hibernation works. Just some quiet time under the covers and you can usually come out the other side in a better place.
This brought up a wonderful memory to me. It's going to sound so weird, but......I was remembering when the kids were little. Before school age. I was thinking about when I would get sick. Really sick. Pneumonia sick. Sick. The house would fall apart and it would take almost a month to get it back. Even a stay at home mom can't really call in sick. You slump your way through the day, the best you can, but at the risk of passing out, you don't do your normal clean up, the laundry, anything but the bare minimum. This leaves you at least ten days behind. If a mom takes one full day off, she is ten days behind. This is a fact of life. But that's not my memory.
I was remembering the first time all the kids were in school all day and I got sick. I took them to school in my robe and slippers and came home and went back to bed. No one asking for juice, no fighting over what movie to watch next, no getting up to make lunch, I took a nap. When you are sick, you need to sleep. It was like someone granting me permission to be sick. Plus, no small ones messing up the house, now I am only behind on the breakfast dishes and the laundry. That is do-able. Definitely. It was so wonderful. And so quiet.
How crazy is it that now that the kids are older, I don't mind being sick? I can handle it. I can catch up.
It does not take much to make us happy. Just a little down time when we truly need it.
God bless you and yours.
Friday, December 12, 2008
In my life as a wife and mother I have found the need from time to time to hibernate. I do not do this to avoid life, but I recognize that I am not in a great mood, and to spare the feelings of family and friends, I hibernate. I did not learn to do this until I hit my thirties. Could have saved a lot of hurt and confusion if I just hibernated.
Hibernating consists of taking a day to be quiet, not kill anyone and not yelling. Because that is all I feel like doing. I seriously want to hurt someone. I realize that about once every six months, my PMS is raging. Not good. Small things can throw me over the edge. At least I recognize it and attempt to control it by hibernating.
I usually am up early, read my bible, do my blog, make the lunches and the breakfasts, sign any and all homework and agendas and go and start my day. Today I got up, refused to do anything but the necessary and then went back to bed. If I had stayed up and dealt with my children, something horrible could have happened. You think I am exaggerating, but I don't think I am.
I feel the need to still be in my jammies, drink my coffee and do nothing. I do have to go into work today, so I have to get the mean out of me, I cannot dump lattes on rude people, I would get fired. And it's just not nice.
I guess I am saying we don't have to be nice all the time, but we should try to be nice to our friends and family on a consistent basis and when that is not manageable, we should hibernate. The covers are our friends and a good pillow can muffle our screams.
Hibernating, it's not just for bears anymore. And if mommy is hibernating, don't poke the bear. Never poke the bear.
God bless you and yours.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Being faithful does not just apply to our marriages. It applies to our lives. The dictionary defines faithful as: loyal, constant, and steadfast. Isn't that just about every mom's daily life? We are loyal to our commitments, whether they are with the PTA or our family and friends. We are constant in our chores and kids discipline and everything else under our sun. We are definitely steadfast, how else would the laundry get done?
Take a minute and apply faithful to your everyday life. You are faithful. Faithful in love, faithful in life, and faithful in faith. We don't give up on the first day or the next or the next. Sometimes being faithful to our world is just getting out of bed in the morning. Faithful is a state of mind. I believe, as women, especially women of God, it is also almost automatic in our minds and choices.
There are so many references to being faithful in the bible. God being faithful to his people and people being faithful to God. One of my favorites is Psalm 145:13
".....The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made."
Wow, he made us, so he Loves us. Just like we love our children. That is amazing. We think God is so far from us, but he is with us and loves us. He is faithful. He is faithful in our daily lives just like we are faithful in our lives. About everything and anything in our lives. This is an a amazing comfort to me. When I can't handle it, He can. Some days I turn to Him in a constant way. That is all God requires of us, come to Him, rely on Him. He desperately loves us and wants us to have a personal relationship with Him. That always knocks me on my butt, how much God wants us to be with Him. Amazing.
What are you faithful about? I know as a woman, you do a million things in your life everyday. You are faithful. And God is faithful to you, seek his face, He never disappoints.
God bless you and yours on your faithful day.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
Is there anything worse than a sick kid? I mean the stomach flu sick. The washing sheets and carpet in the middle of the night sick. My fourteen year old did not attempt to get to the toilet, just rolled over and barfed on the carpet Sunday night. The bigger the kid, the more barf they can produce. Yikes. I do not resent my kids for getting sick, but after sickness has run through the house, usually the mom is dead tired. My mother-in-law remembers when all six of her children had the stomach flu, she fell asleep on the washing machine.
We have all had those moments. I think I finally have learned how to stop it from spreading, if possible. After I clean up, I wash my hands up to my elbows like a doctor, then I use hand sanitizer on them in the same fashion. Let's face it, if momma goes down the whole ship can sink. Then, before returning to the bliss of my bed, I Lysol everything I can think of, the stair rail, the door knobs, the couch, the remotes, the game station controllers, everything. Then I use Oust to kill the germs floating about. In the morning, I repeat this process. I also rinse and throw into the washing machine any and all towels, sheets, whatever has splash on it, as soon as the child is settled with a bowl and new blanket. That stuff cannot sit around, no matter how tired you are.
Even after all of that, I still have a fifty-fifty chance of the other kids getting sick. A virus is a virus. I think after four kids, countless bouts of croup, flu, ear infections, I should be able to just call a doctor, tell them what is wrong and get the medicine (which I know by name) prescribed without leaving the house. Because if your other small children that you have dragged to the doctor's office aren't sick yet, they will get sick from all the sick kids at the doctor's office. Can I get an Amen on that?
By the time my kids were all in the first grade, I had sent my doctor and his entire family to Spain on vacation. It didn't seem that long ago that you could get a doctor to come to the house, or maybe that was just in the movies. They should not tease us like that, unless it can happen to us. I really have to stop watching old movies.
Well, Ty is back at school and no other kids barfing at this time, but I am not out of the woods for at least four or five days, you never know. I pray that none of your kids gets sick this season. No one should have to deal with this, but we do as moms.
God bless and keep you and yours. Stay healthy.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
At the risk of angering all of you. I am done. Done with Christmas Cards, done with shopping, done with wrapping, done. I have to be done this early or I make myself crazy. Literally crazy. It has only taken me ten years to figure it out.
I used to shop for the kids, throw it in a locked room and wrap on Christmas eve. This made me totally crazed on Christmas eve. And gave me a sore back and I started hating my husband. He would be doing stockings and I would wrapping gifts. Something is wrong with that picture. We also used to do different shopping and have different presents for the kids and he would have his staff wrap the presents. This also makes me super crabby.
We used to send out over 350 Christmas Cards, that is nuts. Scott worked as a Golf Professional at a very high end course and many of those were to members. I always wrote a letter with the year's events and highlights. This again was crazy. On the flip side of that, just friends and family and I am still mailing out over 100 this year.
Scott and I now shop together and the minute we get home, I wrap it all. The kids are older and not above sneaking about and ruining my Christmas by seeing all their gifts. Sneaky, sneaky children cannot see through wrapping and if they rip it I tell them I will take it back to the store or give it to Toys for Tots. I do it too, I am not going to give in to the kids on my Christmas joy.
So here I sit, done and happy. I did just remember teacher gifts, but I am making them carmel corn, even after the ten hour marathon for the Christmas Tea. Homemade gifts are a nice way to say thank you to the teachers and the bus driver, etc. etc. I also make stuff for the neighbors. Fun stuff. I truly miss my neighbors homemade stuff in Arizona, Kim's redhot cider (made with those little yummy red hot candies, yummo), Lisa and Lesley's carmel rolls, the Angel's Christmas decorations, totally over the top and I loved it. I do miss my desert Christmas.
With all this said, there were years that I refused to do any of it except the kids. There were years when my life was so insane that I could not rally to do the Christmas letter and cards. When your kids are little, it is okay to take that year off. Rest. You need it, they will get up at the crack of dark on Christmas morning.
How much do you have left, can I help you? If you live by me, I will. I promise that I will help to spread the Christmas cheer. I love this time of year. Craziness and all.
God Bless you and yours.
Monday, December 8, 2008
So you may remember the crying in Target and my remorse that Tatum had picked brown for her Christmas outfit. Well, yesterday in the Christmas Pageant at Church, she looked amazing. I know she is my kid and all, but she looked beyond cute. Even in brown. She asked me to put her hair in those sponge rollers the night before and with the hot pink headband, she was a curly cue cutie. I am glad I let her pick her outfit, she was so confident and gave the performance of a lifetime. She was not nervous, she never stuttered, she never wavered, she did not forget one line, amazing.
I am constantly amazed by my children. I don't doubt them and I constantly encourage them to fly, but that does not mean you can't be amazed. My children go out every day and try new things, some things that I could never do, and they excel at them. Amazing. Tyler on his mission trip, Grant's absolute fearlessness, Tatum's performing, and Cooper just getting through his day somedays. They amaze me and I am proud. Even their "mistakes" can be amazing and a learning experience.
As my children grow older and with a lot of prayer, they are becoming wonderful little people. It seems like just yesterday I was holding them in my arms for the first time and now they are the lead in the Christmas pageant. Time flies.
Take some time today to look at your kids are appreciate exactly where they are at in their life. Before you know it, they will be in college and married and you will be grandparents. Take some time to enjoy the now.
God bless you and yours.
Friday, December 5, 2008
It's the most wonderful time of the year. Jingle your bells and get ready for a wonderful season. We put up our tree on Tuesday, what a great day. I admit to having fake, but I like to put it up early and keep it up late, so no fires or Christmas tragedies. I love opening up the box of ornaments. So many wonderful memories.
I keep everything the kids make at school. I have to admit Grant's cheerio on paper Christmas tree is getting a little gummy, but until disintegration, we will still hang that baby up. I have an enormous paper wreath with a picture of Tyler when he was in preschool. It's hard to believe he now stands a head above me. And has crazy blonde afro hair.
I also collect ornaments for the kids. Whatever I decorated their nursery in, that is what they get. Tyler is Winnie the Pooh. Grant is Noah's ark (ironic since then I had twins). Tatum and Cooper are Raggedy Anne and Andy. Love it. They all love putting "their" ornaments up on the tree. When they move out of the house, they can take their ornaments with them. That was my official tradition that I started for my family. I hope it continues on to the next generation.
My mother-in-law did give me the ones that Scott made in grade school. I love the little ice skate with the paper clip blade. Classic. Our tree is a mismatch of everything under the sun and I love it. I makes me happy just to turn it on and look at it. How can you not smile at the elves from my mother's tree and the pasta on paper from one of my kids preschool. Puts me in a great mood.
What does your tree look like? I would love to know. Keep your smile on and when things get hectic, shut everything down, turn off the lights in the house and turn on your Christmas Tree. What a beautiful sight, we're happy tonight.........
God Bless you and yours.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
We have all done it. Unclaimed our child. Look at your husband as the child lays on the floor screaming before bedtime and declare, "That is your child." When our kids display a behavior that is uniquely your husbands, you unclaim your child. I mean, I never melted at bedtime, I was the perfect child. Whatever. We all do it at one time or another. Being a mother is hard and we love our kids so much, but every now and again we long for escape. Or the ability to be invisible.
I would settle for the ability to be invisible. When you get a call from the principal, "I'm sorry, Kay is not available at this time, please leave a message and when she reappears, she will contact you according to embarrassment her child or children have caused." That would be sweet. Standing in line at the store, your child is screaming for candy, all of sudden, you are invisible, still able to pay and walk out, but no one can look at you. Nice.
I guess my point is that every kid has a bad day and the ability to make bad decisions and we have to face them eventually, we cannot be invisible parents. We need to be seen and make sure our kids know they cannot embarrass us into their will. Somehow, in the last twenty years, we have all missed a step. My mom would never have hesitated to swat our butt in a store if we were misbehaving. Now we all cringe at the thought of someone reporting us to child services. I say, take back the swat. If by some blip in the universe, some nosy busybody calls you in, the cops will probably applaud your behavior. Believe me, I know several police officers that bemoan the fact that kids today have no discipline. Cops know what real abuse looks like, a swat on the butt is not abuse.
I do remember one time when Ty was about two and trying to climb out of the shopping cart while we were in line at the grocery store. I told him to sit down on his bottom or I would spank him. Behind me was an audible gasp. The young lady behind me gave me a look and was appalled. I looked her straight in the eye and told her she could raise her children in her own way, and I would raise mine with discipline and respect. Of course I was shaking in my shoes, but I stuck to my guns.
So, claim your kids, warts and all. Okay, most days, if the school calls you can send your husband in to deal with the vice-principal.
God bless you and yours.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10
I have had five different people, in five different ways, on separate occasions, tell me they had a bible verse for me and it was always Psalm 46:10. Be still. That is a tough one for us moms. We have much to do in our every day lives and it seems that we never have enough time for it all. I always thanked the person giving me the verse. Usually when a bible verse and a person come to mind, it is God's subtle way of speaking into your heart. When I look back on that now, I think I must have looked like a chicken with it's head cut off running around blindly for five people to give me that verse.
I was the mom who tried to be everything and do everything. I volunteered, helped with school parties, taught catechism, would watch my neighbor's kids if they needed help. There were no voids in my life, I was full. Sometimes too full. I think that we as moms think we need to be the "be all end all" to everyone. We don't. We really don't. I was on a roller-coaster that never stopped at the station so I could get off. My husband finally looked at me one day and begged me to stop volunteering. He literally begged me. So I did. For two years I told everyone who asked that my husband had forbid me from volunteering for anything and I could not help. When you throw around a word like "forbid", people take you seriously. If you waver in anyway, they will worm their way into guilting you into helping. I was forbidden, pretty strong stuff.
This actually was the very best thing to ever happen to me. If you are running a hundred miles a minute, you have no time for yourself, for God and for your spirit. You need to be refreshed. You need to be renewed. You need to be still. This is not easy to do for mothers. When everyone in the house is awake and moving, they usually require something from you in some way. Mom's work harder and longer than anyone on the planet. Moms work without sleep, they work sick, we have to show up, so we do. Everyday. Rain, snow, sleet, the postmen and women have nothing on us, we show up barfing. This can wear a soul out. Try to find some time to center yourself. Center your day. It may mean getting up early or staying up a little later. Refresh yourself, you will not regret it.
A great book is Breathe by Keri Wyatt-Kent, it is about taking the time as a busy mom to be still. She spoke at a retreat I went to a couple of years ago, totally amazing.
In taking the time to be still, you are taking the time to be refreshed in your spirit. We as moms and wives and women, need to be refreshed. Take a moment today, sit down, turn off everything in the house, and be still. Take just five minutes, be still. You will find amazement and refreshment in that moment.
God bless you and yours.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
I will never forget my quest for the perfect Christmas picture. The twins were six months old and Tatum being my only girl, I had plans. A perfect little velvet dress for her, nice little outfits with velvet vests for the boys. All in a beautiful burgundy. It would be our perfect Christmas Picture. I could not wait to get it taken and get it in the mail. Wouldn't everyone be sooooo jealous of my perfect little family in our perfect little picture. Perfect.
I get all the children dressed and ready to go to the best photo studio. Of course, it was Kiddie Kandids and they do not take appointments, it is first come, first serve. No problem, I am standing outside, fifteen minutes before opening and I am ready. The kids cannot eat or drink anything, they could mess up the good outfits. We get into the studio, get set up and...........not one good picture. The twins were crawling in different directions, Grant was trying to get off the podium, Tyler was making bunny ears. One painful hour later, not one picture, not one.
Do I do what any normal person would do and just give up? Heck no, I just figured it was because I was by myself in the excursion. So I did it all again the next week, with my mom in tow. Surely between the two of us, the photo gal and four children, we could get a good photo. Just one, I only needed one. Velvet dress, good outfits, just one. Two hours later, not one picture. The kids are exhausted, I am just about in tears, and not one picture.
We ended up that year, putting the kids in white turtlenecks, overalls and a pink bow scotched taped to Tatum's head and taking the picture on our sectional couch. Just Scott and I and the kids, looked pretty good. Amazing.
Why tell you all of this, to save you from yourselves. We all have delusions of grandeur this time of year. We have a quest. It could be for the perfect toy, the perfect picture or the perfect gingerbread house. We all do it. We say to ourselves, "If I just do this one thing, everything else will fall into place and we will enjoy our perfect Christmas." Let me tell you, there is no such thing. My mother-in-law almost achieved it one year, had the house completely, beautifully decorated, everyone about to arrive and one of the grandkids (who shall remain nameless) was going around blowing out all the candles. Missed it by that much.
My favorite part of the Christmas story is Luke 2:19, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
That is what we need to do in the midst of this holiday chaos, ponder and treasure. I can ponder and treasure the silliest and most unique moments. Laugh instead of cry when something goes amiss. Try hard to do just that, take a moment and watch the snow fall, or a sunset (for my desert friends), or go to the mall and YOU sit on Santa's lap. Be silly and forgiving and have fun. Keep the smile on, no matter what.
God bless you and yours.
Monday, December 1, 2008
Good Morning. Tonight is our church's ladies Christmas Tea. This is the first year I am involved in it and I am so blessed to be a part of it. I did do something that while I do not regret, I definitely did not think through. We were in a planning meeting, what we were going to do, who was going to speak etc, and we came up with the idea of everyone having a little treat to take home with them. Nice. I volunteered to make carmel corn and put it into little bags for every seat. Sounds simple, I make homemade carmel corn every Christmas for neighbors, teachers, etc. etc., and I enjoy doing it. Simple enough right? That was until we sold more than 100 tickets. Seriously, that is so much carmel corn. But I persevered.
I started Saturday with the intention of it being carmel corn day. But wait, the boys want to go play football with our youth group, they need a ride and have to be picked up. I did get one batch in between the dropping off and the picking up. I was figuring 20-25 bags of carmel corn per batch. Wrong. I only got 15-18 bags per batch. Some quick math and I knew I would be cooking carmel corn all day. Fine. I am so good with that, I will decorate a little in the house for Christmas, and make my carmel corn.
Carmel corn, while it seems simple, needs to be stirred every fifteen minutes for one hour to be completed. I do not have double ovens, one stove, one oven, one batch, one day. I wanted the corn to be fresh so of course I could not make it before the weekend before the event. One batch at a time, I plugged away. I came to dread the timer going off. It became confusing, was this the first or the second time I had stirred the corn? Was this the last batch or the next to last? Was I ever going to enjoy this again?
I truly enjoy Christmas baking. I love homemade gifts, they make the holidays. I love it. I could not allow this to become a chore. I would not do it. By the time the last batch was bagged, I realized that it was worth it. Okay, I snarled if the kids wanted a taste, I have to make 120 bags, they could have eaten well over 50 if I let them. I did let them have the crumbs, which at the end of every batch was about a bowl full. A small warning, carmel coating, when hot will stick to you like glue, if you get some on your finger, make sure you have flicked it off before you put your finger in your mouth, or you will burn both body parts. Also, you cannot stick your finger and your mouth under cold running water at the same time. You can, but the whole kitchen will get soaked.
As the holidays approach, what task or tasks are we all coming to dread? Make it fun, sing a song off key, get the kids involved, make your hubby join. I truly enjoyed making carmel corn and will make more for all the friends and family. In a season filled with consumerism, make something from the heart. And no swearing, have a cheerful heart.
What is your family's favorite homemade treat for the holidays?
God Bless you and yours.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Good, bad or ugly, tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I will be cooking all day, and I truly enjoy doing it. Time to spend some time with family. This can be challenging. Maybe you don't like Great Aunt Ida or your sister-in-law hates your guts. We still have to be in the same space together for a period of time tomorrow. What's my advice? Kill them with kindness. Let everything roll off your back until you or they leave.
Think about it, what memories of this day do you want your children to have? The adults glaring at each other over the crescent rolls or smiling. Look, you either married into the family or he married into yours and both of you have some crazies in the closet. Every person walking this earth has a crazy in their family. I say embrace the crazies, they make the holidays memorable. You don't have to see these people 24/7, just a couple of times a year.
Tomorrow as the family gathers, try to find at least one good thing about everyone, even the person who makes it their personal goal to find fault with you. It can be fun and you will have a small smile on your face. Maybe Aunt Ida is full of vinegar, but she makes the babies smile. Maybe your sister-in-law hates your guts, but she loves your children. Every person has good qualities, try to focus on those tomorrow. I know this can be a challenge and require a little glass of wine to fortify, but all things in moderation and all that.
I hope you have a wonderfully crazy holiday tomorrow. I am taking the rest of the week off to focus on family and the black friday sales. God bless you and yours.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
We all know that kid. The one with no discipline who ruins everyone else's day. You could be at the store, the park, a birthday party, whichever, and there is usually that kid. He/she is crying, screaming, whining, and making everyone around them miserable. The problem is, at least one time in our lives as parents, that kid is our kid. Every child has a bad day, some more than others. Every parent has the embarrassment of that day permanently etched on their brains. Sometimes our kids just melt down and they will do it anywhere they can. We have all been in the check-out line with the screaming kid. Makes you want to crawl under a rock.
If you have never experienced this and are sitting on your high and mighty horse, brace yourself sweetie, your day will come, and when you least expect it. I have been high and mighty. This usually happens before we become parents. Foolish things come out of our mouths. Things like, "Why can't you control your child?", or better yet, "When I have kids, they will never act like that." Be careful, you are just one skipped nap away from what you are witnessing. Brace yourself, you too can become the victim of the "look" from another shopper.
I am mentioning this because we are about to embark on a busy shopping season. Many moms have to take their little ones with them or they won't get anything done. Show compassion to these moms. Give them a little smile, a "I've been there" look, some kind of encouragement, they really need it. No one wants to cart a screaming kid around, but if you don't, who will get Aunt Margie the perfect scarf? Who? Most stay at home moms cannot afford a sitter every time they need to go shopping. So be aware, give encouragement and even maybe a little touch on the shoulder, with a little, "Hey, we have all had days like this, you will make it."
Hosea 11:8 states, "My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused."
Let's all get our compassion aroused in this season of love and gratitude. It is the most wonderful time of the year after all.
God bless you and yours
Monday, November 24, 2008
Seemed simple enough. My one and only girl, Tatum, needs a dress because she one of the key kids in the Christmas pageant at church. She will also wear the dress to the Daddy/Daughter dance. Very exciting. This was so very easy before, find something pretty and poofy and velvety and she will love it. Not this year, something had changed. My little girl is ten and apparently that is the age when they won't wear poofy. Or velvety or anything you or I might have in mind. My daughter, my mother-in-law and myself go off to do a quick shopping trip yesterday. Simple.....dress, tights, shoes, maybe some jewelry. We head off to Target because quite frankly, they have a nice variety of Christmas dresses that will not break the bank. I cannot pay $100.00 for a dress to be worn maybe three times, it would kill me and my checkbook.
We hit Target, Sunday afternoon, busy, but not crazy. Head over to the Christmas dress section. I pull out a gorgeous dress......too poofy at the bottom. "I don't want anything poofy," says Tatum. That nixed out every dress on the rack. We went all over that department, skirts, sweaters....we went to the junior department, nothing. Back to the little girl department, she finds it, a plain brown sweater dress. It becomes all she wants. Brown. Brown. It is brown, not a sparkle on it, not another color on it. She wants brown tights to match, brown shoes, all that stuff. Brown. The color of dirt. As I try in vain to get her to look at something in at least a pink or blue, she starts to cry. I tell her she can have it, we will get some tights with polka dots in bright colors and pull the pink out for accessories. Brown tights, polka dots, brown and pink plaid shoes (Hanna Montana shoes) and a pink headband. Cute little necklace with a pink star, some earrings to match. Brown, I cannot fathom it.
That is not the funny part. I call my mother for some sympathy. She is in hysterics. I guess I was the same way, had to have my own way when it came to fashion, but I started in first grade. My mother made me a blue gingham dress complete with sun bonnet for Easter. Think Little House on the Prairie. No I am not joking. Little House came out that year on television and everyone was obsessed. Think Holly Hobbie dolls. That is what she made me wear. To get the complete picture, you have to imagine the home perm in my hair (Orphan Annie had nothing on my blonde curls). I looked hideous. Seriously. But........I got my picture in the local paper next to my first grade Easter project, cotton ball bunny on paper plate. So my mother will throw in my face for the rest of my life.
Since sharing my story, I have heard of every kind of kid insisting on wearing all kinds of things because they "had" to wear it or they would die. Weird. I guess my point is, let them wear what they want. You have to pick your battles. Crying in Target is not worth it. If I bought the poofy dress, she would have cried when wearing it. I would have loved it, she would have cried. It really is about her being happy. Besides, twenty years from now, she'll call me from Target, crying because her daughter wants a green dress, or purple or whatever. And I will laugh and tell her about the brown dress. Oh well, life goes on.
God bless you and yours.
Friday, November 21, 2008
With Thanksgiving arriving next week, I feel I must talk turkey. My children go into hysterics every year because I literally talk to the turkey that I am about to cook. I feel you need to coax the bird to be good. I know you are doubting my sanity, but seriously, Thanksgiving is a day I am cooking all day and I have to crack myself up. I am on my feet all day.
I mean aren't we all getting ready for our individual dysfunctional family get together? I don't think that any family today is not affected in some way by divorce or addiction or whatever. I used to host our dysfunctional family brunch followed by a full on turkey dinner. By the end of the day, I need a drink. And I don't drink. I used to get so worked up about everyone being happy but finally realized that God is in control and I am not.
So many of us rush around to get to at least two family get-togethers. Some of have to do more than two. Rush, rush, rush. Kids have to look nice and be good at everyone's house. I cook dinner so I don't have to run everywhere. I also tell everyone coming to my house that it is a casual holiday, pajamas and sweats. I refuse to dress up my children to have them wreck their new clothes, let them wear sweats. It's what we all want to be wearing anyways and the first thing we will change into when we get home from the frolicking. I say start the day comfy and just keep going.
With a rebel yell, take back your turkey day! Let it be what your family wants it to be. You don't have to make turkey, make pizza, just enjoy each other. Holidays are for family and for love, not chaos. Take back your holidays and make them yours, not the neighbors, not your mom's, not your sister's, yours. Own it. And if you are making turkey, talk to it, it really does make it turn out yummy. If the turkey starts talking back, put down your wine glass.
God bless you and yours.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Okay, raise your hand if any of your kids are or were biters? Be honest, there is usually one in every family. This happens in the eighteen month to three year old range. I have had a couple biters in my family. They are sneaky about it. Biters can also be quite shameless about it.
My first born started biting the new baby, not right away, but when Grant could crawl around and touch his stuff, the biting began. At first, I did not know what was going on, just that the baby was crying and Tyler was running the other way. Sneaky, sneaky. My niece was a biter too, but she was beyond cute as a toddler. The Sunday school teacher actually told my sister that they had a biter in class, but did not know who it was. My sister, being an honest but embarrassed mom, told the teacher it was my niece. The Sunday school teacher refused to believe it, "she is an angel in class." Sneaky sneaky.
Have you ever been bitten by a little one? They always manage to get the smallest piece of skin in the most sensitive spot. My niece, the biter, took a small chunk off the top of my shoulder, I almost dropped her it hurt so bad. Then I did what I believe stops biting and what all the books tell you never to do, I bit her back. Then I told the precious, shocked looking angel that I would not bite her if she did not bite me. She never bit me again. Quit calling 911 and reporting me, I did not break the skin, but I did make my point.
I did the same thing when my little chomper started to bite and I caught him at it. I bit him back. I know every book out there says not to do it, but it works. My kids always stopped biting by the second bite back. Their actions have to have consequences or they will just keep on doing what they are doing.
Some of you are thinking I am nuts, and that is okay, but I truly believe it is the only thing that works with biters. I had a neighbor who had a biter that was biting all of our kids at play dates. I told her the only way to stop it was to bite him back. She was appalled, and put her child in time out. He came out of time out to bite again. And again. And again. Pretty soon, our kids did not want to play with the biter.
I understand that today most books are touchy feely and never hurt their feelings type books. Sometimes, you have to go back to the good old days. I am a recovering biter and the only thing that stopped me was my mom biting me back. Action, consequence. Pretty black and white to a three year old. I do not advocate any type of abuse, a little swat on a diapered butt is not abuse, neither is a small bite on the arm to prove a point.
Your little guy or girl, and the age of eighteen months understands every word coming out of your mouth. They are way smarter than we give them credit for and will manipulate a situation to their advantage. I have seen this with my own eyes, it is true.
I totally understand that not all will agree with me on this, and I appreciate you knowing your own mind, I truly do. I am just being honest about something that worked in my world of biting.
God bless you and yours.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Where does that word come from anyways? Toddlers....... sounds like weebles, and the both wobble before the fall down. I would say toddlers are two to three year olds. That is my guesstimation.
Amazing what a child of this age can get into. They get into stuff you did not know they knew about. I came out of the shower one day to find one of my children (who shall remain nameless) making "eggies" on my carpet in front of the television. A dozen eggs broken and ground into my carpet, stirring with a spoon of course. All I did was try to get the stink off of me and I come out to this. Shells everywhere, and he was so proud. What can you do except, get dressed, get some spot-shot and clean up? Seriously, where do they come up with this stuff?
I truly think it is just them trying out their little world. Everything is new and wonderous to them. What will they come up with next. I used to lie in bed at night and tremble at the thought. Kids really are amazing at this age, they also need to have boundaries. Boundaries, which I have discussed before, help your child, they do not limit your child. Rules are good. Trust me on this, mother of four, rules rock.
Ask all of your friends today what was the weirdest thing their children did at this age, brace yourself, you will laugh so hard, you will cry.
God bless you and yours.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
So yesterday I shared that I have a son with Aspberger's Syndrome. I hope that all of you did not think that I sounded too flippant about it. We have had four years to accept and deal with this challenge in his life.
For those of you who do not know, Aspbergers is on the mild side of autism. They sometimes call it the geek syndrome because of the lack of social graces these children have. Cooper used to have a hard time looking you in the eye, cannot discern facial cues in conversations, things like that. His world is black and white and the world we live in is full of shades of gray. I used to have so many worries about my little guy.
When Cooper was first diagnosed, I admit, I was ticked off at God. Seriously, four kids, why can't they all be relatively normal? Then I asked myself, "What is normal?" Then I googled and researched anything and everything about it. Knowledge is power after all. Then I prayed.
I think praying about it, giving my little guy over to God is truly what made a difference. In reading my bible I came across Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful." Wow, that is my Cooper. He may be different, but he is wonderfully so. Cooper is a work of God and God's works are wonderful.
Okay, we face challenges with him, but he has so many gifts. He has an incredible sense of humor. He has "Cooperisms" that come out of his mouth that make perfect sense and tickle my sense of the ridiculous. He is incredibly smart and will probably cure some horrible disease or invent some microchip we all cannot live without. He looks at things differently, truly uniquely and that helps all of us look at the world through Cooper's eyes. What a great view.
Not everything we face in our lives as mothers is filled with wonder, most of it is really hard. But we need to try to find the wonder.
What is special and unique about each of your children? What is the silliest thing they have ever done? Laugh my friends, laugh.
God bless you and yours.
Monday, November 17, 2008
It snowed yesterday in Michigan, big fat flakes that are meant to be caught on your tongue. The children were thrilled. Especially my little guy Cooper. I don't think I have shared that one of my twins, Cooper, has Aspberger's Syndrome. That is a form of autism. He is amazing. We have done so much with him with his diet and with supplements that he is really coming out of his shell.
So my school day starts with trying to get him to swallow a pill that nine times out of ten, he kind of barfs back up. I give him a kiss for luck to get it down. He also has to take calcium and a multivitamin because he will only eat about ten to fifteen things, none of which are veggies. Then, my kids have to walk our dogs so they can do their business. Before you yell, they have to pick it up and put it in the garbage.
Imagine what this means to Cooper, he smells things way more than other people. He hates to walk the dogs, hates it. We even give him the smallest dog so he only has to pick up the smallest amount of poo.
This morning I give the call out to walk the dogs and wonderful words come out of Cooper's mouth. "Walk the dogs!! Whoopee!!!" I must have given him a look, because then he said, "What? I love snow." He really does. We used to live in Arizona for the first eight years of his life, so snow is a wonderful awesomeness to him. He asked me if I saw all the beautiful, beautiful snow.
I guess my point is to look at the small things in your life and find the blessing. There is only a dusting of snow on the ground, and Cooper's world is complete. I encourage you as you look around your world today to find a small blessing.
There is some small little overlooked thing that might just make your day, revolving around your world today. Take a moment, sit still, and find it.
What did you find? I need to know.
God bless you and yours.
Friday, November 14, 2008
No, that is not a typo, that was the word we used to let the kids know that something was gross. Gum under the table at a fast-food restaurant, "Uckamucks, no touch." Obviously I am talking when your kids are small, I don't say this to my kids now, they are older, but it does cover a host of things. Using simple words to let your toddler know what is right and what is wrong (or disgusting). Think about it, "No", " Danger", "Hot", Uckamucks. Simple words that get the point across.
Uckamucks covered all things disgusting and nasty. All toddlers seem to want to pick up the dog poo in the back yard, "Uckamucks." We all have our words, each family and section of the country. We as mothers make up words that are original but make our point. That is something that should be appreciated, we need to be honored for these words. I mean, we aren't teaching our precious little ones to swear, we are teaching them alternatives that they understand.
Bill Cosby once said that parents sound like idiots because we are constantly censuring ourselves in front of our kids. I had a potty mouth at one time, I tried very hard to stop. I kept imagining my precious saying some like, "pass the damn potatoes" at the family Christmas table. A good friend of mine gave me the replacement for the "sh" word. I now say "Sugar." I am not proud of having a potty mouth, but time away from my very strict mother and living in my own house without her "look" took it's toll.
I will make a bet that each one of you with a boy child has a different word for his little teedle. You can't just say that word all the dang time. It is a body part they are fascinated with as soon as they can reach it. You know I am right. If you only have girls, count your blessings.
Do you have an original word that is funny or useful to the rest of us? Please share.
God bless you and yours.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
So, your munchkins are moving around and you think it is great until you realize they can climb up most of your furniture. They can also stick stuff into other stuff. Like you car keys into an electrical socket. They will find the one socket behind the couch that you did not think you needed to cover and stick your car keys into it. Bent mine all to heck. Just saw a little pop out of the corner of my eye. Thank God for the new breakers that shut the electricity off when this happens. I think they invented this just for my kids, so they don't die. Tyler also had on rubber soled shoes, he just looked a little startled.
I of course, did not realize the electricity was off, screamed my head off, ran across the room and pushed Tyler away from the outlet. This is not what you are supposed to do, according to all the touchy feely books out there. You are not supposed to be sitting on the floor, rocking your child and by turns yell at him and hug him. Only about 98% of us would do what I did.
When your child starts to move around is a great time to set boundaries and limits and to start disciplining him/her. I am at odds with the new age world of letting small children explore their environment unchecked. Those are the little monsters who are running amok at the park. Wouldn't want to impede their development with a little discipline. Wrong. Giving your child a set of limits will help them greatly in life. You have limits, I have limits, kids need limits. Our limits are called laws and having morals. All adults have these. Kids need them too.
I guess I always felt that a spank on a diapered butt would not hurt as much as a car hitting them because they ran into the street. A swat on a hand reaching for the stove teaches the child that they should not reach for the hot stuff. I do not believe in beating children, far from it. But you cannot go to the extreme of never disciplining either. No one wants to be the bad guy anymore, but you are not supposed to be your child's friend until they are forty. Someone told me that if your teenager did not tell you that they hated you at least three times a day, you are not doing your job.
It is a big responsibility raising kids. We all have bad days where our heads pop off and spin around like in the exorcist. I am not proud of those moments. Usually this happens as they start getting mouthy. I guess I always go back to Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child up in the he should go and when he is old he will not turn from it"
What or who is your biggest challenge when it comes to setting down some rules in your house?
God bless and keep you and yours.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I am not a good housekeeper. I cannot claim that I ever have been, but I do try to do my best. The key is my best. Not your best, not my mother-in-law's best, not my best friends best, my best. We all know that if we do not keep up on the day to day stuff in our house, it becomes overwhelming. A good friend of mine, my "Georgia Peach", just wrote about this on her blog, http://susannorris.blogspot.com. She called it Chemical Warfare. I call it taking back the house.
I always said that when I get really sick, sick enough to be in bed for a day, I am ten days behind. Think about it, if we as moms take one full day off, we are at least ten days behind. That is because we have little elves in our house that go around messing it the heck up. Okay, the elves are our children and husband, but you get my drift.
As I came downstairs today to read my bible, pray and blog, there is a blanket crumpled on the floor next to the couch. I did not leave it there, one of my kids, after watching TV, left it there to go up to bed. Now, I could leave it there all day to prove a point (it is just laying there, mocking me and my house) or I will probably get up after this, fold it and put it away where it belongs.
Which brings me to your "clean enough" We all have a breaking point where we feel the need to do the deep cleaning. Usually in the spring or before the holidays, so when we have people over, they don't get disgusted. I am not talking about deep cleaning, I am talking about your day to day stuff. I do have a list, it may help, it took me a while to make it right, but it is pretty good. Make your own list, because different things bug different people.
- If you have a child or many children, you gotta do the laundry every day. That commercial for the washing machine that hold six months of laundry detergent, with the big ball of clothes rolling at your house, that could happen.
- You have to feed your kids every day, and not pop tarts all the time. Embrace your crock-pot, there are great recipes that even the kids will eat.
- In the morning, empty your dishwasher so you can load dishes in it all day. That way they aren't all in the sink when your pastor just drops by for a cup of coffee.
- The big ticket stuff, bathrooms, vacuuming, all those things can usually be done on a weekly basis. If you have little babies, crawling around on the floor, I would vacuum daily, because the cheerios can get ankle deep in one week.
- You have children, they need chores, assign them some. They can dust and do the floors and shake out rugs and stuff.
- The really massive stuff, floorboards, ceiling fans, windows, that stuff can be done monthly and be kept up pretty well.
- Clear away clutter, a place for everything and everything in it's place. At least on the level of your house where company can see.
In saying all of this, I have fallen short and ended up with black rings in my toilet. We all have those times. Finding your "clean enough" is okay. My marker is if I can take the house back in a day or less. My house looked the best the summer the kids were fighting and I made a chore jar. Every time they started to go at it, I stopped them, they picked a chore and then had to do it. It was awesome.
What is your awesome cleaning tip or way to get your house in shape? I would love to hear it.
God bless you and yours.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
My neighbor just told me that she is finished with all of her Christmas shopping.......and it is all wrapped. Okay, so I hate her. Seriously, totally dislike her. Why would she tell me this? I guess if I had accomplished this, I would probably keep it to myself to avoid the house being egged.
Are any of you out there dreading the holidays? When the kids were small, I was overwhelmed with it all. We used to send out over 350 Christmas cards. That is not a typo. Talk about going crazy. I always refer to my "Delusions of Grandeur." We all have those moments. I think we bring it on ourselves with phrases like; "Christmas cookies must be made from scratch." I am going to make a list that will make your life easier. Kind of a point/counter-point. Let's start.
Point: Christmas Cookies should only be made from scratch.
Counter Point: Your kids really only want to decorate the cookies, so buy the tube and roll it out or buy them pre-made and just decorate.
Point: I am going to make a gingerbread house from scratch and decorate it with home-made frosting.
Counter Point: But the box or pre-assembled, again, all the kids want to do is decorate. If the kids are really small, this should only take about ten full minutes of their time before they are bored.
Point: I will hand write all my Christmas cards and send a family photo.
Counter Point: I will buy the cards from Costco with the pictures already on them, get my Christmas letter copied at Kinkos and use the address labels from last year that I printed and never sent out.
Point: My child must have the "must have" toy this year.
Counter Point: The kids will probably play with the box longer than they play with the toy, OR the toy will take you four hours to set up, and the kids will knock it down to play with the three dollar plastic bowling set that you got as an afterthought.
Point: We should all dress up for Christmas/Thanksgiving, we all need new outfits, we should have matching pajamas for the photos, etc. etc. etc.
Counter Point: In less time than it takes for them to get dressed in their "good" outfits, they will stain, rip, destroy, or pop off a button. I say pajamas or sweats all day. Suggest this to your family, they will love to have a "casual" holiday.
Do you have a point/counter-point? I feel I could go on forever about this. The real answer to all of this is to simplify. I have truly simplified my holidays. We used to go out to four to ten holiday "have to be there" parties every December. I spent at least $500.00 that month on babysitters. We have frittered that down to one or two. The kids are happier and so are we. Simplify. The holidays are about spending time with the people who matter. So do it. Choose to have a family cookie decorating night (simplify with the tube stuff, trust me). Choose to donate what you would have spent on babysitters on the homeless or get one more angel off the tree at the mall. Take your kids along with you and let them choose a child their own age. This is a valuable lesson for them and for us.
As our family get together this year, we are wrapping presents for the needy at the Kiwanis Club my brother-in-law is a part of. Then we are having potluck at my sister-in-law's house. Simple and giving.
In these present economic times, we should simplify not only for our sanity but to save money. I am not trying to be preachy, I have gone into debt many a year for the "perfect" Christmas. I have just learned that the kids can be just as happy with less gifts and more time. It only took us seven or eight years to figure that one out.
God Bless you and yours.
Monday, November 10, 2008
I do have a little more advice for the mom's of newborns and any other children floating around the house. Having a routine will calm your household. When our babies were little, we did the same thing every night at the same time. Work this around your timetable. My husband used to get up every day at 5:00 am, so we started our night time ritual at 7:00 pm, but adjust yours accordingly. The routine takes about an hour, maybe more if you have more than one, but one hour is a pretty good timeline.
We called it: Bath, Bottle, Bed. In just that order. First bath, then the bottle, then bed. Simple, but wonderful.... after the first few nights. The first few nights can be challenging. Any new routine requires the patience to stick with it until you see results. Once you and your baby get the hang of of night time routine, it is better for everyone.
And guess what? You should put your happy baby down in the crib while they are still a little awake. They learn to wiggle themselves to sleep. I promise that you will not injure their little feelings by doing this. Putting them in the crib while they are a little awake will not put them into therapy, trust me. Letting a little baby wiggle around and learn to comfort themselves at bedtime is a great habit for them to master. They will master it, trust me, I promise.
Don't get me wrong. There is nothing better than having a little baby asleep on your chest. That is a grace moment for moms. I let my babies sleep on me during the day, it is a great and special bonding time for moms and babies. I never did it at night though. I felt it really interfered with the night time routine, so that was a daytime activity only.
Try a routine, make up your own, but babies love routine, it calms them down. Be flexible for sick babies or teething babies, but for the most part, stick to your routine, you will both be happier for it.
Just one more sweet spot for moms to find comfort in. God bless.
Friday, November 7, 2008
I have given this as a present at many a baby shower. Once I have explained it's use, at least three moms come up to me and say that they have done something similar. It is my best and most useful invention ever! It's actually pretty simple, but will make your life so much better. It is called the Baby Box. Make at least two, especially if you have a two-story home. Have one on every level. Keep it handy, if you spend a lot of time in the living room, keep it there. Wherever you and the baby are, that is where it needs to be. Here are the requirements for the standard baby box.
- One plastic shoe box, available at Wal-Mart or Target or where ever, usually they are about one to two dollars.
- Five to six diapers, replenish as necessary----and it will be necessary.
- One box of baby wipes. Give up on the whole washcloth thing, it is gross and just creates more laundry. You have enough laundry.
- A tube a Vaseline. Not a box, but a squeeze tube. You only need this if you have a circumcised boy and only for a couple of weeks.
- One small box of gauze squares....again, only if you have a circumcised boy.
- One small cup or shot glass full of Q-tips. You really won't have much time to use the shot glass anyways.
- One bottle of rubbing alcohol.
- On clean onesie, replace when necessary.
- One small bottle of hand sanitizer.
All of these things, properly arranged should fit in the box. Now you have everything you need, in a portable box to change your newborn. Here are your step-by-step instructions on that whole scenario. These instructions come kid tested and mother approved.
- Open diaper, do not throw up. Use top of diaper in a downward motion. Use wipes as necessary to clean up the goo that will not get off your baby. Check all crevices. Once all wipes are used, use the tape from the diaper and form a leak proof little package of poo.
- Squeeze a dollop of Vaseline onto gauze pad. Put gauze, Vaseline side down on the poor circumcised little teedle (that is our family name for it you can call it a wee-wee, tinkle, whatever). Put a new diaper on. Fasten it tightly. Of course, if you have a girl, you don't need the gauze or vaseline.
- Take a Q-tip; dip it in the rubbing alcohol and wipe in a circular motion around the nasty stub of the umbilical cord. Put icky Q-tip into dirty diaper, you should be able to tuck it in.
- Put clothes back on or new outfit if old one is wet or poopy.
- Put baby in a safe place and sanitize or wash your hands after you have thrown out the diaper and put the icky outfit into the laundry.
By the time you are done with all of this, your child will have had a major "explosion" and require you to do it all again. So are the days of your life.
I figured it out one time, I changed diapers for eight years straight. Eight years. You can become a doctor in eight years. Me, I was up to my elbows in poo. So were the days of my life.
Just one of my more helpful inventions, which I really didn't invent, but I will take credit for. God bless, have a great day.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
I am going to give you new moms some advice. You won't listen until you have had your second baby, but I will tell you anyways. Here it is.
Listen to your friends with kids.
They have been where you are at. You will read countless books on motherhood. You will talk to your pediatrician about motherhood. (I think I sent mine to Spain one year, on questions alone). But you will not listen to your friends. "What to Expect the First Year" will become like your bible. It is a great book, but it is not the end all be all. With my first I referred to this book a lot, but they don't know everything, and if they did, it would not fit into one stinking book. Let me give you a perfect example.
My first child was nine pounds ten ounces; basically, I had a three month old at birth. He would nurse for forty-five minutes every two hours, 12:00, 2:00, 4:00, etc. He was a big baby. My OB/GYN still calls him Bubba. I was preparing to go back to work and we started the breast-bottle-breast routine. He ate two formula bottles in a row and looked at me like, "No thanks, those things attached to you are not as good as this thing."
He wanted nothing to do with nursing. Formula sits in their stomachs longer, so they stay full longer. I am not telling you not to breastfeed. I am just saying that there are other options if that is not working out. Find your sweet spot in this, not perfect, just sweet. The La Leche league wants you to nurse until they go to college and you don't want to quite that long, find the right time for you. If you decide not to nurse at all, that is okay too. Find your sweet spot.
I digress, obviously, this is a sensitive subject. Back to monster baby. Tyler was a big baby and he was hungry, really hungry. He would suck down an eight ounce bottle in just under eight minutes. I am not exaggerating. My father, God bless him, would say, "That boy is hungry, give him a banana."
Gasp----"Dad" says I, "The book clearly says no solid foods until he is four months old....allergies you know." My dad would just roll his eyes and walk away. Now I am not telling you to accept all advice. I mean my mom told me if the baby was crying, to put a little bourbon in his bottle. Just a teaspoon. Works wonders. She did not say this maliciously, my grandmother, her mother did this. That generation also rubbed whiskey on the baby's gums if they were teething. They did not have anbesol and all that stuff, so they used what they had and that generation did not die out. Take the good advice though, it may save your sanity.
Once I introduced Tyler to solid food, he was sooo happy. And he slept better. A little baby cereal in their formula will help a newborn sleep through the night. When our second child, Grant, was born, I started this at two weeks. I used the oatmeal kind because the rice kind would clog my kids pipes up. There, another little tidbit that I had to figure out by myself, oatmeal would keep them regular, rice would plug them up. See, if I had listened to my friends with a two year old, I might have saved some crying (mine and his).
All I am saying is listen to your friends with kids, they are a great source of knowledge. God has placed them in your life for a reason. If you have a colicky baby and your friend had a colicky baby, that friend will have some insight. None of my kids had colic, thanks be to God, but I had a friend with colicky twins. Twins. Yikes. Here are some tricks that really do work.
- Put the baby in a secured car seat on a towel on top of a running dryer.
- Run the vacuum. Your house will be spotless and the baby will sleep.
- Take a drive in the car.
You can't drive to Canada every night, but you can actually buy this "thing" that attaches to the baby's crib and jiggles it like they are riding in a car. You just flip it on and happy baby. The device was pricey, $150.00 like twelve years ago, but can you really put a price on your sanity? I say no.
You are much more inclined to take advice on your second baby. You enjoy your second baby so much more because you are not so freaked out. We gave Grant pizza crusts to gnaw on when he was six months old, he liked them. I never would have done that with Tyler, I thought it would scar him for life. Even if you totally screw up on your first baby, guess what? They can't remember all the stuff you did wrong in the first year or the year after that, so lighten up. Give yourself a little room. You are doing fine. I promise.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I used to joke around with people when they said they didn't get a good night's sleep. I would say, "You don't need sleep, I haven't slept in twelve years." It was true and I was a mess. I don't think I got a good night's sleep until the twins were in first grade. Uninterrupted sleep.
Think about it, newborns get up at least three or four times a night, mostly more. And don't we all have that friend whose child slept through the night at birth and never cried or pooped or anything. Oh yeah, and their child was potty trained by six months, cleaned their room by age two and is currently in college at the age of twelve. We all know that secretly, we wish colic on her next child. Yes, that is mean, but we are sleep deprived when hearing all of this and more than a little crabby.
The funniest thing about your newborn's sleep habits is the first time they actually sleep through the night, you roll over, look at the clock, blink, then tear out of bed and run through the house screaming, "Is he breathing?"
Well he is still breathing and now he is screaming and crying, because you woke him up!
Yes you, the person sitting here reading this and saying (with your nose ever so slightly in the air), "Well, I never did that." Yes you did. Yes you did. Shame the devil and tell the truth! You did that, I did that, we have all done that. As my dear husband would say, and does so frequently, "you girls are weird." And we are, God made us that way.
To care and worry and love until our hearts are bursting. We have all gotten up in the middle of the night to go and make sure our munchkins are still breathing.
There is something so comforting to a mother's heart, to just see that little chest go up and down. Up and down. Up---a little sigh---then down. Comfort in a sigh. Oh the love in this little movement. Sigh with me now. Take a moment, sigh with me now. Breathe in, slowly out.
There is pure grace in that moment. Seeing the little creature that you somehow brought into this world, breathing, sighing and so completely beautiful in that moment.
That is what motherhood is----Chaos interrupted with little moments of pure grace. That is why we press on, why it is all worth it in the end. At least most days. It is a blessing, it is a curse, it is our lives and we love it and hate and endure it.
But those small moments of pure grace, those are truly a gift from God.
God bless and keep you and yours.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Okay gals, if you have a newborn at home, your personal hygiene is about to take a drastic turn for the worse. You are already crazed and doubting every move you make. Showers are about to become optional. I mean, if you are in the shower, who will watch the baby? What if he hiccups? I solved this dilemma by dragging the swing into our bathroom and sticking it right in front of the shower. I am sure I have scarred my children for life.
Even with that, I was only showering a couple of times a week. I mean, I could shower, wash my hair, put on deodorant and a clean outfit and still get puked on? Why? What's the point? You start to wonder if it really matters. Some days yes, some days no.
I will say this, you will feel better if you:
- Get off the couch.
- Take a shower.
- Shave your legs (the European look can only fly for so long)
- Put on some nice scented lotion (something that blends with spit up)
- Maybe a little make-up, but only if you will remember to wash it off later.
Even if you have to change your clothes in five minutes due to a timely explosion of some sort, you will start to feel human again. You don't want to scare the neighbors if they come over the see the new baby. You don't want to look like bigfoot in the shedding stages (I have seen this reflection in my mirror, not pretty).
Take a little time for yourself, read your bible if you can, and feel a little more human. It will definitely boost your morale.
God Bless you and keep you and yours.
In Luke Chapter two, it mentions where Mary, Jesus' mother put things in her heart to remember. In Luke 2:19, the shepherds had come to see baby Jesus and when they left it is said, "But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart."
Well, I don't know about you, but when my first little one arrived, I didn't have much time for pondering. I was up to my eyeballs in diapers and umbilical cords and stuff. Your first child is such a mystery and you are down to the bone scared. You don't know what to do with this little creature and are pretty sure you will screw this project up.
Is it normal to cry that much? And why doesn't that nasty dried umbilical cord just fall the heck off? And if you have a boy and you chose to have him circumcised, yikes. The first time I opened up that diaper, I started crying. It looked horrible and really, really sore. Tyler is looking up at me with those wise eyes of a two day old as if to say, "Why?"
Have you ever looked into the eyes of newborn? They are very wise. It's as if they just left God in heaven and wondering what this world has to offer. Amazing.
So you have your baby and half a day later, they send you home. You are drowning and your mother wants to know what the problem is. Just remember, until the 1950's, a new mother was wearing a nice bed jacket, recovering from her ordeal and had nurses taking care of her newborn. They also got about two weeks in the hospital. We do not have that luxury and I say we need it. Or at the very least, a day at the spa for heaven's sake. I digress.
You are at home with the little package and........Oh my Gosh, he is hiccupping, call the pediatrician, now.
Oh my gosh, why is he doing that?
Oh my gosh, he nurses for 45 minutes every two hours, 12:00, 2:00, 4:00, etc.
Speaking of that, what the heck happened to the chest area?? Chest of a lifetime, and the bloated tummy to go with it.
Oh my gosh, is it supposed to come out like that? Why is it green? (Poop, not breast milk)
Oh my gosh, look at that face, he looks mad. (the baby, not your husband)
Oh my gosh, can I handle this?
Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh..........
Deep breaths honey, you are gonna make it. I always tell my new mom friends, it takes about a month. About a month so the baby is not looking at you like, "Who the heck are you? Why all the light and stuff, and I liked swimming around in the dark?" About a month where you are not looking at your baby as if to say, "Where in the world did you come from and why can't you just sleep for Pete's sake. In about four weeks time you will get into a routine that works for the both of you.
Baby happy, you tired as all get out, but mostly happy.
Keep going, you will make. God bless.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Welcome to my blog, come along with me as we laugh at the chaos that is motherhood. My sister once told me that as you grow into motherhood, there will be moments where you can laugh or cry, try hard to laugh. If you can't laugh at yourself, laugh along with me. Children are weird and wonderful creatures that never fail to amaze me. I have four, including a set of twins. Let's laugh together.