Thursday, December 31, 2009

Well, here we are...the last day of 2009.

Normally I eschew all New Years Resolutions. I'm a pretty rigid person to start with, so adding structure to my coming year is rarely something I need. But this year I am considering setting a resolution, but I'm not sure what it should be. I think it would be fabulous if I could think of something that wouldn't be a temporary change, something that would actually stick in my life.

I could make some kind of resolution about exercise or weightloss, but seems an especially temporary resolution. It isn't that I don't think having a healthy body is important, but I think that goal will ever be before me. It is easily a goal that I could imagine having every year. While I am starting a 8 week diet/exercise plan on January 3rd, it won't be this years resolution.

I'm tempted to make my resolution something about my laundry room. It is always such a mess and right now I can barely walk into it. seems like a good cleaning it probably just what the doctor ordered...I'm not sure it rises to the importance of a New Year's Resolution. I suppose my resolution could be something about not just dumping stuff onto my laudry room counters and making sure I put things where they really go instead, but it is such a useful way to quickly "clean" when people are coming over that I'm not sure I want to commit to not doing that.

Perhaps learning to pick up as I go, or making sure I clean the dinner dishes before I go to bed at night, or something about not leaving the half-folded laundry laying around could be my resolution. I do think that I would benefit from those things. But I don't know if I feel inclined toward any of those things. I'm kind of attached to my bad habits. Someday I want those things to stop being a part of my life, but I don't feel any impetus to fixing it right now.

The one thing that I do feel an impetus to change is my tendency to say things that I think are funny, but really shouldn't be said and might hurt another person who heard me joking around. I don't want to be someone who makes others feel bad for the purpose of making other people laugh. I don't know how to wrap my arms around this goal. My friend Zach taught me 5 "P" words to making a good goal. I can remember 4 of the P's. One was Personal...the goal has to personally relate to you for it to be effective. Another was Practical. There is no sense in making a goal that is too big to be practically completed. Another was it within your control? Another was Provable. You have to be able to show that you succeeded at a goal. I can't remember the other P word. Hmmm...

So, does this goal of watching my smart-mouth comments pass the "good goal" test?
* It definitely passes the personal test. It definitely relates to me personally and is something that I want to work on.
* Does it pass the practical test? While I think it is a big goal, I don't think it is too broad. I'm not trying to work on every single thing I shouldn't say...I'm just trying to work on the things I say to be funny that aren't funny to the person I'm referencing. I'm going to say it is practical enough.
* Is it possible? Yep. Challenging for someone who likes to be comical, but definitely possible.
* Is it provable? I'm not sure how one would prove improvement in this area. It isn't like I know how often I actually do this...I just know that I do. I sure don't inform people that I said something terribly funny about you to another person and he/she really laughed. Snarkiness just sneaks up on me...

This goal has the possibility of being my resolution...but I'm not committed to it yet. I've got 16 more hours to think about it.

Your thoughts?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day

Tis 7 am on Christmas morning and I sit alone, watching the lights of my Christmas tree. Tomorrow that tree will be laying out in the cold, stripped of its beautiful lights and ornaments and no longer the fire hazzard that it currently is (a result of buying our tree in November).

My Spunky Girl just got up, so this blog post will be shorter than I intended. She is so happy this morning. We tricked the kids into thinking Santa came early so we could open presents and stockings last night. She looks so cute in her new jammies.

I am astounded by how much my kids believe in Santa. When the girls were little, I told them Santa was just a game and not real...but that it was fun to pretend. Yet, still they believe. They write their letters to Santa, they wonder about what he is going to bring them, they constantly talk about him and look forward to his arrival throughout the holidays. Both last year and this year, my Sweetness said "Look mom, Santa uses the same wrapping paper that we do!". Uh...yeah...sure. They always wonder about how Santa knows what presents will go along with what they already own. I've stopped telling them it is a game and let them believe if they want to. We like to open our presents from Santa on Christmas eve, so we always make an excuse to leave the house and one of us will sneak back in as we are leaving and quickly set out the Santa gifts and stockings. Then when we return, we let the kids enter the house first and they find that Santa has visisted. Yesterday when we were returning to the house, Scott told the kids that he saw Santa's sleigh driving away. They were thrilled! It just makes me laugh to think of how much they believe when the evidence (the same handwriting on the presents...hello?) suggests otherwise.

Tis 7 pm and I'm tired and happy. We've spent a marvelous, food and present filled day with family. My kids are all playing quietly (?!?) with each others presents without fighting. I feel so blessed by our family and how much love we are showered with.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Fell off the wagon so hard that my tailbone hurts

My resolve has been slipping away over the last few days, worn down by awesome cream cheese dip with fresh cranberries...or homemade peanut brittle...or the Ferroro Rocher that I won at a white elephant party. It isn't the daytime that gets me, it is the post 8 pm I-quit-working-for-the-day-and-now-I-am-going-to-have-some-me-time attitude. Last night my resolve was no where to be seen.

My dad dropped by in the evening, as he often does, to chat and check in about my day. I was asking him if I could borrow a bag of Ruffles, a jar of French Onion dip and a can of Dr. Pepper from his house...knowing full well that he is dieting too and doesn't keep that stuff around. About a half hour after he left my house, the doorbell rang and it was my dad...back from the store with a bag of Ruffles, a jar of French Onion dip and a 2 liter of Dr. Pepper. How could I not indulge in the face of such kindness?

So indulge I did. I did not set out a serving size of each item onto a plate. Noooooooo. I put the bag of Ruffles on the sofa next to me, the dip in my lap, and a glass of Dr. Pepper (which my husband poured for me, so I wouldn't have to get up from the sofa) at my feet. Munch, crunch, dip, slurp, repeat a few dozen times.

This was my second time of indulging in Dr. Pepper during the holiday season. I'll remind you that Dr. Pepper becomes a bad habit for me very quickly. I need to make sure I don't start having a glass of Dr. Pepper every day, but there is now a 2 ltr in my fridge that will be haunting me.

My friend Melissa, who created my ab workout from earlier this year, is hosting a "Fitter in 2010" group. It is basically a diet and exercise support group for the first 8 weeks of 2010, where people are trying to lose 1 lb a week. There is a website where people can sign up, get motivated, and post their joys/agonys. There is a cash pot for the winner. My husband is going to sign up, I think. I'm wavering. 1 lb a week is certainly a fine goal. It would get me thinner before my March trip to Maui. Perhaps after another week of eating like this, I'll be ready to sign up.

Okay...I need to get moving on my day. It is the girls' last day of school before holiday break and the Big Guy has another dentist appointment to discuss pulling his front two teeth. Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Christmas Pageant

I got this in an email from a friend of mine. I loved it!!! Hope you do too.

My husband and I had been happily
married (most of the time)
for five years
but hadn't been blessed with a baby.

I decided to do some serious
praying and promised God
that if he would give us a child,
I would be a perfect mother,
love it with all my heart
and raise it with His word
as my guide.

God answered my prayers
and blessed us with a son.

The next year God blessed us
with another son.

The following year,
He blessed us with
yet another son.

The year after that we
were blessed with a daughter.

My husband thought we'd
been blessed right into poverty.
We now had four children,
and the oldest was only
four years old.

I learned never to ask God
for anything unless I meant it
As a minister once told me,
"If you pray for rain,
make sure you carry an umbrella."

I began reading a few verses
of the Bible to the children
each day as they lay in their cribs..

I was off to a good start.
God had entrusted me
with four children and
I didn't want to disappoint Him.

I tried to be patient the day
the children smashed
two dozen eggs on
the kitchen floor searching
for baby chicks.

I tried to be understanding...
when they started a hotel for
homeless frogs in the spare bedroom, although it took me nearly two hours
to catch all twenty - three frogs.

When my daughter poured
ketchup all over herself and
rolled up in a blanket to see
how it felt to be a hot dog,
I tried to see the humor
rather than the mess..

In spite of changing over
twenty - five thousand diapers,
never eating a hot meal
and never sleeping for more
than thirty minutes at a time,
I still thank God daily for my children.

While I couldn't keep my promise
to be a perfect mother -
I didn't even come close...
I did keep my promise
to raise them in the Word of God.

I knew I was missing the mark
just a little when I told
my daughter we were going
to church to worship God,
and she wanted to bring
a bar of soap along to
"wash up" Jesus, too.

Something was lost
in the translation when
I explained that
God gave us everlasting life,
and my son thought it was
generous of God to give
us his "last wife."

My proudest moment came
during the children's
Christmas pageant.

My daughter was playing Mary,
two of my sons were shepherds
and my youngest son was a wise man.
This was their moment to shine.

My five - year - old shepherd
had practiced his line,
"We found the babe wrapped
in swaddling clothes."

But he was nervous and said,
"The baby was wrapped
in wrinkled clothes."

My four - year - old "Mary" said,
"That's not 'wrinkled clothes,' silly.
That's dirty, rotten clothes."

A wrestling match broke out
between Mary and the shepherd
and was stopped by an angel,
who bent her halo and lost
her left wing.

I slouched a little lower
in my seat when Mary
dropped the doll representing
Baby Jesus, and it bounced
down the aisle crying,
"Mama - mama."

Mary grabbed the doll,
wrapped it back up
and held it tightly as
the wise men arrived.

My other son stepped forward
wearing a bathrobe
and a paper crown,
knelt at the manger
and announced,
"We are the three wise men,
and we are bringing gifts
of gold,
common sense
and fur."

The congregation
dissolved into laughter,
and the pageant
got a standing ovation.

"I've never enjoyed a Christmas
program as much as this one,"
laughed the pastor,
wiping tears from his eyes

"For the rest of my life,
I'll never hear the
Christmas story without
thinking of
common sense
and fur."

"My children are my pride
and my joy and my greatest
blessing," I said as I dug
through my purse for an aspirin.

Jesus had no servants,
yet they called Him Master.

Had no degree,
yet they called Him Teacher .

Had no medicines,
yet they called Him Healer.

Had no army,
yet kings feared Him.

He won no military battles,
yet He conquered the world.

He committed no crime,
yet they crucified Him..

He was buried in a tomb,
yet He lives today.

Feel honored
to serve such a Leader
who loves us.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I woke up early this morning, before 6 am. For some reason I couldn't sleep. I don't know if the Christmas to-do list is what woke me up, but I'm fairly sure it is what is keeping me up. Only 3 days left for me to figure out teacher gifts. Only 4 days left for me to figure out what to bring to Grandma's Christmas event on Saturday. 12 days left for me to figure out what to get Scott...but I need a plan fast!

I've made some good progress the last few days. Sunday I picked up my Christmas cards and yesterday I made great progress on updating my addresses. Yesterday I also got my bro-in-law's present mailed, Christmas pictures sent out to all the Great-Grandparents, and a holiday letter written for our construction clients.

I know I need to narrow down today's todo list, but I really want to get everything done.
* Get the address labels printed
* Get the Christmas cards out the door
* Get a plan for Scott's gift
* Purchase the 2 gifts I still need for G-ma's house on Saturday
* Purchase and wrap the teacher gifts

Oh, and make a stop by the consignment store...and maybe...costco...and

Oh, and I hear the patter of little feet. My children are up and quiet time is officially over. Let the school day ritual begin.

You were a nice way to start my day...thanks.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Be Angry...but don't act angry

This is my challenge lately. Be angry, but don't respond in anger. I DO get angry when my kids misbehave. I do get angry at the constant sibling rivalry. I do get angry when the Big Guy throws a tantrum. I can try to claim that I don't...I can even try to convince myself that I'm not angry...but I'm still angry. The trick is to not show them that I'm angry.

I love John Rosemond's book Six Point Plan for Raising Happy Healthy Children. It is a book that comes from a parenting era long past , but it resonates with my soul. Maybe that is because he talks about a parenting style that produces happy parents. He freely admits that parents ought to be angry when the kids act up. He argues that you should choose that moment, when you are angry, as the right moment for doing something about their acting up...and not to ignore it and pretend that they aren't making you mad. To ignore your anger turns it into rage, and in rage you make truly bad parenting decisions.

I know that the Big Guy responds better when I can calmly carry him to his room during a tantrum and drop him off. He doesn't respond to trying to reason with him, he doesn't respond to yelling back at him and he doesn't respond to ignoring him (oooohhh...that makes him MAD).

Sometimes I forget that I know this mantra (say it with me: Be Angry, don't Act Angry) and get caught up in the feeling that my girls should know how mad I am and then they might feel a stronger impetus to change their behavior. But I know that they will feel more respected if I can respond to them firmly & calmly, and that respect will help them to act positively.

Today my two girls have been fighting something awful. We already had several "discussions" about it when I told Sweetness that I was going to give her one warning to try harder to solve whatever they were fighting over and if they didn't make an effort, whatever they were fighting about was going to be taken away. It was only a half hour later when they were fighting over a stupid plastic apple. It happened as we were driving in the car, bringing my mother-in-law Jan back from the airport. There was no effort made to reconcile after my warning, so I told Sweetness to hand me the toy. That blessed girl actually chucked it at my head. Because Jan was in the car, my ever-so-sweet controlled self told my daughter that there would be consequences later and declined to deal with it right then. Had my mother-in-law not been in the car, I'm sure I would have lost my cool and discussed it with anger. After we dropped off Jan, I told Sweetness what her punishment would be and she accepted it without complaint and even apologized for throwing it at me. Somehow I don't think that would have happened if I had lit into her in the heat of my anger.

I wish someone would take a picture of me when I am angry and have lost my cool and am yelling about something. I have a feeling I would be horrified by how I look and perhaps I could keep that image in my head to remind me of who I don't want to be. Not that I want any of you chasing me around with a camera...

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Car Conversations

We are driving down the road (with elderly guests in the car, of course!) and Sweetness asks "Mom, what does that sign say with the funny purple letters?"

Me: " says Lovers".

Sweetness: "Oh, what do they have there?"

Me: "I guess some stuff for people in love"

Sweetness: "like what?"

Me: "stuff with lots of hearts on it, I suppose"

Sweetness: "we should go there the next time we need to get a wedding present"

Me: "Well, that's an...idea"

Spunky Girl: "Do they have dummy heads?"

You can always count on Spunky Girl to come up with something completely non-sensical and a little bit asinine to change the direction of a conversation. Sometimes I love her for that.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Being Thankful for what I've got

Today I got the opportunity to go to the grocery store without taking my three kids along. I collected the groceries I needed without anyone asking for a cookie, or asking to buy junkfood, or without telling any kids to "knock that off" or "quit fighting". I didn't have to remember whose turn it was to drive the kiddie shopping cart or ask anyone to stop licking the produce (don't ask).

I selected a checkout line, and it was (of course) the slowest line in the history of mankind. I had a lot to think about while I was standing in line. The reason the line was so slow was because the lady in front of me didn't have enough money for her groceries. Here are a few of the things I was contemplating while I stood behind her:

1) Thank goodness my kids aren't in line with me.
I knew the right attitude to have while I stood in line for all of eternity: To be thankful that it wasn't me up there, trying to figure out what food I could do without. I was thankful for that, but I also knew it would have been a lot harder to remember that gratefulness if I had been at the end of a shopping trip with my kiddos. Those darn nice checkers always ask me "how are you today?" and the answer is always a crazy-eyed "fine but nobody else better touch anything or mom's gonna lose it". The thing is, I ought to be able to be patient with life's road bumps even with the kids in tow. I'm not sure I would have been. My kids are an amazing blessing on their worst day, but I think I get overwhelmed by the constancy of motherhood and lose perspective a few million times a day.

2) If she knew she only had $90 to spend, why didn't she add up her food as she shopped?
Okay, this sounds a litter meaner than I actually felt in the moment. I just felt so bad for her and wished she wasn't in this situation that she clearly felt mortified by. Then I thought...maybe she doesn't have the math skills to do mental calculation or even the math skills to add everything up on paper. I think a good education is something I take for granted. Maybe she didn't have the benefit of that, so adding up a bunch of items in a grocery store is a little beyond her. An easy time with math is something else I should be thankful for...

3) Why can't I look at her?
I found myself looking at everything in the store except for that poor woman. She was really embarrassed. She kept having the checker take a few items out and then retotal the bill and then try to run her credit card again...hoping to get under her credit limit I suppose. I didn't want to stand there staring at her, watching her trying to decide if it would be easier to do without the milk or the meat. I didn't want her to think that I couldn't bear to look at her or that she was somehow beneath my notice. I think the right thing to do would have been to give her an encouraging look...but somehow I couldn't master that and so I just avoided her gaze. I think Maybeth would have known how to be more supportive.

Just wanted to share my experience at the grocery store while it was on my mind. Just reflecting on people that have to struggle to buy food makes me want to do more to support local food banks. Let's all reach out to help our neighbors who are struggling this holiday season.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

misadventures on ebay/craigslist

As the Christmas season approaches, I find myself looking online for my desired purchases...hoping for some spectacular discounts. But...I'm pretty lousy at online shopping. I don't know what comes over me. Perhaps it is my excitement for "winning" the auction or getting the craigslist deal before anyone else, but I always forget to do my proper research. Then I find myself the proud owner of something that I thought was similar to what I am looking at in the stores, but in reality is 6 years old and lacking in features. Or...I don't notice the "like" word in the title and purchase some knock-off instead of the brand-name item that I wanted.

You would think that just one of these experiences would leave me smarter the next time. Apparently not. When Sydney was 2, I bought one of those Little Tykes climbers for the backyard via ebay. It looked delightful in the pictures, so I won the auction and borrowed a truck. I drove down to Olympia to pick it up and discovered that I didn't need the truck. It was a "mini" version of the little tykes climber. It was only 2 feet tall, instead of the 5 feet I thought I was buying. It didn't occur to me to confirm the dimensions.

Just 4 days ago, I purchased something for a Christmas present from Ebay, but realized afterwards that I didn't get the brand name I thought I was buying. I thought about writing this post then, but didn't get around to it. Then today, when I bought a different item of craigslist...and now realized that I yet again failed to determine if it was a current year model...the blog post became a reality.

I haven't learned yet if today's craigslist purchase will be a " is a current model" or a "lame...I did it again". While I am waiting to hear my fate, perhaps those of you on my Christmas gift list should be hoping that I'm not purchasing your present. =)