Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

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

Hello Friends

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

To take down or to leave up Christmas

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

A little time off

Just a quick note to wish you all a Merry Christmas.  I am taking the week off, I have to work and I want to spend time with the kids doing a whole bunch of nothing.  

God bless you and yours. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

Yes, a snow day

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

Not a Snow Day

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

Hope and Faith

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

A Long Winter's Nap

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

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

Bleaching the house

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

Don't Hate Me

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

The Brown Worked!!!!!

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

That is YOUR kid

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

Being Still

"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

The Perfect Christmas Picture

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

The Christmas Tea and the Carmel Corn

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.