Tuesday, December 28, 2010

New Year. New Undertakings. New Goals.

I've been thinking. (Yeah yeah, collective groaning...I can hear it-even if no one actually comments ;) ) There is so much in my life that is total chaos. Mayhem. And so much of it is my responsibility. I'm the mom after all. I know (from experience) that my mood and my actions set the tone for my family and household. Actually, I read that somewhere and started paying attention. It's true. If I'm in a mood everyone picks up on that mood. I hear my own attitude (tone) coming out of my kids' mouths and my husbands. Who'da thunk? But it's true.

Example: When I get really irritated with Haley, because she's being, well, 3 and Haley...I see that everyone takes that on. Everyone starts "yelling" at her (maybe not in volume but in tone they are yelling). They don't tend to see the cuteness of her. Just the annoyances. The bad stuff. However, if I set the tone for seeing her cuteness (and let's face it, she is stinkin' adorable!) others in the family tend to notice that more and the bad stuff less. (And we're working on the bad stuff.)

Another example? Okay. (And I know from talking to other moms that I'm not alone here.) Sometimes by the end of the day you're done. Done being "mommy", "mama", "Moooooooom", and so on. So, you are maybe a little grumpy at the kids-okay, so maybe you're not, but I am. By the time my dear husband comes in from a long day at work I'm ready for him to come in and NOT be grumpy at the kids. After all, he hasn't been with them all day. Dealt with the squabbles and tattling and constantness that is parenting. Right? But, if he walks in and I'm grouching at the kids (hoping he'll take the hint and step in...) he begins grouching at them right away!? What happened? My plan didn't work! Because I set the tone. Instead of saying "Hey, I'm really at the end of my rope here, can you take over for a few so I can breathe?" I've in essence told him that the kids are rotten and he should be mad at them. Or maybe it's that he's instantly mad at them because he's come home to a less than happy wife, a less than peaceful house. And that's not good.

So, there's a lot going on in my mind right now about how to make my world-and therefore my family's world-a lot happier in 2011.

1. Time management. I've gotten really sloppy in this area. I haven't been reading my Bible. I haven't been making time to exercise. I wait til the last minute to get ready for things-and then get mad at my kids if something goes wrong and makes us late. Ummm, I'm thinking I shouldn't have given us (a family with 4 kids) no room for error, huh? I should allow plenty of time for looking for that lost sippy cup or Scooby Croc.

2. Finances. We did the Financial Peace University class (Dave Ramsey) but we haven't put much into place regarding the program. I don't think that sitting in a classroom once a week for the duration of the program instantly fixes your financial woes. I think you actually have to FOLLOW the plan. So, we're really going to go after it. (Other than the trip to Disney World that we had already promised our kids...but we're not charging it....it will just cut into how much we can pay down our debt right off the bat). He calls it "gazelle intensity". Meaning every penny that we can scrape up goes into paying off our credit card debt.  This will mean sacrifice. This will also mean prioritizing and budgeting. Ouch.

3. Health. I've been really slacking in this area. I had started to get it under control (weight that is) and then I messed up my knee and had to back off of the exercising to let it heal. Well, it's better now. The excuses are gone. But here's the deal. Just like I said before, I see that I can set the tone in my household. It's my job to lead them into more healthful thinking. Exercising more. Eating less-and definitely less sugar and junk food. Desserts should be a special thing, not because it's a day of the week that ends in "y". I need to think of ways that are fun to exercise with Lindsay-soccer, running together, walks. Because at her age (she's almost 11 now) she needs time with me as well as to learn better how to care for her body.

4. Organization. Ugh. My house is a perpetual mess. I have 6 people, 1000 square feet. And a lot of stuff. That does not equal peace and order.  Thing is, I'm an "all or nothing" kind of person, so if I get self-control in the other areas (food, exercise, time, etc) I will naturally start to be more orderly and organized. I want to start keeping track of goals-long and short term and dreams and plans and working towards them. Checklists if you will. Things as simple as small updates on the house, weight loss goals or as big as trips we'd love to take later on in life, completing my education at some point...

And I think I found something that will help me to accomplish a lot of this. It's a new-to-me website! I'm so excited!!!! Ready?  Here is where you go to see it! It has directions for a Family notebook. That almost made me wet my pants! I love notebooks. Anything that involves school or office supplies just excites me. I'm a self-admitted nerd. I can't wait to print off my notebook an show you what it has in it. And to start chronicling some of the changes in our lives. The other thing I found is this. An online tool/website that will help me lose this nasty weight I started putting on when Haley was about 2. (As I weaned her I forgot to cut back on my caloric intake which equaled weight gain. Then I got pregnant. That didn't help-in case you wondered.)

So, I'm excited to make these changes. If you'll notice I didn't use the "r" word (you know: r-e-s-o-l-u-t-i-o-n) cause those are only made to be broken by, oh January 4th. ;)
P.S. Look for some changes in my blog too...I've got some brainstorming going!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Ok, seriously people. I have over a thousand hits on my blog in just a few months (not too shabby--makes my day in a "I need the approval/interest of others kind of way") and yet my comments department is pathetic. Does the stuff I write just not invite comments? Or do I say so much that there's nothing left to say? And the funny thing is that usually when I'm just sure a certain post will invite comments...that is invariably the one with a big fat goose egg of people saying anything about it.

What would you (my readers) like to hear/see on my blog? I love my blog. It started out just for me, but I also love that people read it. And I get (real life) comments and compliments on it, so I hover between thinking it's uninteresting and the hits on it are accidental...and thinking people really do like it and come here on purpose.

More pics? Recipes? Things we do? Thanks in advance!!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

'Tis the Season

to be busy. I never really understood that part of people's complaints of the holidays. Then my kids became involved in their first ever Christmas play. (more on that in a minute). We were runnin'! Constantly. Literally, I used up the same amount of gas in about 4 days that I normally use in a week and a half! We had Christmas parties, Christmas Fest, Christmas shopping, Christmas.....and so many of the things I wanted so badly to do got pushed aside. I'm sad about that.
Christmas Chain. I wanted to make one with Haley. A real one with lots of links-alternating colors. And a star at the top for Christmas Day. With glitter. Lots of glitter. Even though it gets EVERYwhere.

Elf and Owl Ornaments They are so cute! And I think my big kids would like to make them. And they'd be so sweet as a garland kind of thingy.

A Garlandy kind of thing  for Christmas cards and various pictures/crafts. Although in the busyness of the Season people seem to have eschewed Christmas Card sending. That makes me sad. I love Christmas Cards-the newsy, picturey kind!

Drive around looking at Christmas lights.

Make gingerbread people cookies. I've never done that. And I promise, I was going to let my kids decorate their own and not touch 'em. But, fair is fair...they wouldn't be allowed to touch mine either!

Watch Christmas movies. Polar Express, It's a Wonderful Life (can you believe I've never seen that?), A Christmas Carol, How the Grinch Stole Christmas...and on and on.

But my kids were so cute in their Christmas play that it was worth it all. Lindsay loved it. Such a drama queen. Jared....he decided he was going to sit next year out. We'll see. My rule is he had to try it one time. And he had to do it with a happy heart. Then, if he hated it!? Never again. So, the ball is in his court now. He only freaked out a couple of times-due to costume issues. He was way too cool to be in a lion costume. And definitely too cool to have an eye-liner nose and whiskers. (I gave in on the nose and whiskers-baby wipes took 'em right off.)
Lindsay played an Indian Princess (thankfully she got that part because she had a costume I made her for Halloween 2 years ago! It still fit-barely-but it fit!)

I took my camera with me. But my camera stinks. It has a special red-eye feature. It makes sure there are red eyes on every person in every picture. And if you're trying to take pictures in a place like a sanctuary...forget it. It actually takes better pictures in a DARK room than one with overhead lighting like most sanctuaries have. Bah. (Yeah, I've missed pics of all of my kids scouting award's ceremonies.) So, no pictures for you. :(

Next year the plan is to do an advent calendar. For real! Not with gifts so much as with activities. Simple, homemade fun. Things that remind us to slow down and spend time together. I'll be looking for ideas for making or buying (cheaply) an advent calendar through the year so that it actually gets done.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Puppies or Kids?

Something that amuses me is the way my kids (and other siblings) can play or lay in a tangle. They're like a litter of puppies. I grew up with only 2 brothers. And they are much younger than I am. I was an only child until I was 10. My first brother was born then. My second brother wasn't born til I was 14! So, all the touching is, well, it's weird to me. My family is also not super touchy. So, it's fascinating to me when I see people touching all over each other.
A few summers ago I babysat for 3 boys that were 8, 9 and 11 years old. They would get to my house in the morning and often lay on the couch and fall asleep. Their mother is the sweetest person-she would let them stay up half the night so they'd rest in the mornings. Ha ha! Anyways, they would lay in this tangle on the couch-arms and legs all over the place.
I think that this leads to people being more inclined to touch. Or maybe it's nature!? I don't know for sure, but I know I'm not very good at it. I'm more of a "personal space" kind of girl. It's one of the things I regret about myself as a mother. I hear friends talk of enjoying cuddling up on the couch with their kids or welcoming kids into the bed in the morning. That's just not comfortable to me, let alone pleasant. Once my kids are past babyhood, I feel super awkward with a lot of huggy-kissy stuff. And even if I fight off that discomfort...I'm sure my body language and hesitation shows it.
I wonder if there's some way to learn to be "touchy feely"!?
Does anyone know?

Monday, December 13, 2010

More on Excess. Kind of.

So, I've been thinking. We're letting our activities take over our life. I know none of you have ever done that, but we have recently. All of the things we're in are good. But there are too many right now.
We're in the homeschool Christmas play. And anyone in the homeschool group where I live knows that it's cuh-razy! (Not to mention that I live about 30 minutes-on a good traffic day-away from where all these festivities take place.)
We also joined 4H (yes, the one that has cows and goats and stuff-but I'm not allowing cows and goats and stuff). We joined it because there are supposed to be scholarship opportunities available. Later.
We are in Cub Scouts (did you know it can help a guy get a better ranking in the military if he gets his Eagle Scout badge?? Later.)
We are in American Heritage Girls (because we don't believe in a lot of what the Girl Scouts do/teach).
Sports-in season.
Church stuff.
Like I said, all of this is great stuff, and scholarships and military advantage are great things....but what about if we have nervous break-downs and don't make it til "later"?
When I mentioned to Lindsay today that 4H might have to go, she reminded me of the scholarship opportunities (she's 10 people!). But I had been thinking and had a comeback. I could talk to 10 different mamas (friends with kids) and they would all have a beneficial activity that my kids should be in. And great reasons why it would benefit them now and later. But we have to pick and choose for ourselves.
I have friends that are huge into drama and speech and debate. And their kids are awesome! And it's going to take them places I'm sure! But, do I want to drive all over the country spending money I don't have for that? Nah. Point is, we all have to be who we are and do what is important to us. And if the stuff in our life starts crowding out time for God and family and friends...it's not worth the benefits it might afford us "later".
Tomorrow, Haley will be taken to pre-school (a dear friend keeps 4 little girls, including her own, 2 days of the week for FREE and does a little pre-school program with them that Haley thrives on.) Other than that? We're staying home. We're doing school (which all of the above mentioned activities have pushed aside-we're behind!). I think I'll bake some banana bread. Nathan will take his nap in his crib and not have it interrupted a bazillion times. I can find out what is going on in the heads of my two big kids. And in their hearts too. I'll also give them a few chores and some time to decompress-ie play outside! I might get some stamps and finish preparing my Christmas cards (not because I feel pressured or have to do that, but because I love to share our family's latest picture with those we don't often see and wish them a Merry Christmas). Oh, and the durn Christmas chain! We need to make that so Haley can count the days til Christmas. But, we're spending most of the day at home! Ahhhhh.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Excess = Chaos.

I'm a genius. I've figured this out. I now know why I'm always in a tizzy. We have too much stuff. And too many activities (well, the kids do). This means we're chaotic (not like Britney Spears, just normal chaotic) because we're drowning in excess. My two most common phrases (you can ask my kids!) are "Look at this place!!!" --referring to our house which is always a disaster area. AND
"Where is my phone?" --because when you have chaos things get lost. Sometimes I pray that someone will call me. Not because I'm bored or lonely but because I don't know where my phone is. And the only way I can find it is if it rings-unless it's at the dentist's office like it was last week. Then I won't be able to find it when it rings.

Monday I have a serious dilemma. My children are due at a 4H meeting at 10am. Where we will do a nice service project. We're making little gift bags for children that are less fortunate. I have even bought some of the stuff already. Problem? They are also due at dress rehearsal for the play they're in. Yep. At 10am. Same time. Not same place. And Jared needs a costume of some kind of animal for that day (an ark animal-as in Noah's ark). We've already had the suggestion of cutting a hole in the back of his pants and he can be a baboon...prob'ly won't work with the director. I think it's a family oriented play. Even if I had the $60 to spend.....I don't have time to wait for a costume to arrive now if I order it online (oh, and I don't have the $60 by the way).

All of these things come up and they're valuable experiences for the kids. Why can't I just realize that we can't have every valuable experience!? 4H (I've heard) has great opportunities for scholarships-which my children will need if they're going to college, which I hope they do. But the Christmas play is an awesome thing...Lindsay has found she LOVES it. And Jared's growing into it too! (P.S. Don't forget CubScouts and American Heritage Girls).


Sunday, December 5, 2010

I usually don't like enjoy reading new authors. Often you have to go through some duds before you get an author that excites you. So, I read the same author systematically until I've finished every book of his or hers that I'm aware of and can get my hands on. Mary Higgins Clark is one. I've read all of her books at least once. Most more than once. John Grisham. There are a few that are less than relaxing for me (because I find them hard to follow-Pelican Brief anyone?) but most of his books I truly enjoyed! Well, I came to that point recently where I had exhausted all I could think of that were known authors, so I started the search. In all honesty...I am a "judge the book by the cover" kind of person. I know. I know. You can miss out on some great books that way. But it's true. I do it.

I found this book, not having a clue anything about the book, or it's author. I LOVED it! It was a great book!  I've been to the place where most of it is set! I love when that happens. It's in Sanibel Island, Florida. A really pretty little island by Fort Myers-with beautiful shells by the way! I remember too, that we had a very nice family day on that island. One of those days that just worked out.

Anyways, the book...it's about a woman in her 50s-empty nest, husband gone-who finally found time to finish a book she had started so many years ago. But, life, as it often does, got in the way. She had children to raise, and responsibilities to deal with. This book within a book contrasts the seasons of life that we women face. She becomes close (as close as she will allow) to her neighbor who is elderly and alone at a time when she is in the throes of raising small children and wondering how her life became so out of control. Most of the plot is surrounding a week she spent alone. During a fight with her husband, he has his parents come and get her kids. I think she is equal parts horrified and relieved. She wants to be able to do it all. But knows it's not realistic. I can relate to that because I don't like to ask for help. Pride. Ugly pride.

So, her in-laws (parents to her not-so-great husband) take the kids for the week. And she doesn't know what to do with herself at first. She is torn between what she "should" do...housework anyone?...and what she longs to do...write!!!!!

This is all just a preface for what I wanted to blog about...if you had a week for yourself, how would you spend it? (This was one of the discussion questions in the back. And since I don't belong to a book club-although I wish I did!!!!!-I thought I could kind of turn my blog into one occasionally.)

If I had a week to myself (and my own financial-ie limited money-situation) here's what I think I would do.
The first day would be spent cleaning and organizing-okay, it might take two, but I could probably get enough done in day one to call it good. So that I could then....RELAX and enjoy the other 4 (I'm assuming this is 5 days because I can't imagine 7 without my children and husband.).

Second day...okay my house is done, right? It's clean. Now what? I'd read. I'd eat warm meals sloooowly. I would definitely spend some time in prayer and in Bible reading. I'd rest/sleep whenever my body told me it needed it. I'd write-if the mood struck me to write. I'd take a shower without fear of what I would find when I got out. I'd shave both legs in that shower. I'd lay on the couch. I don't do that now because someone will lay ON me. Always. I'd do some cooking-and put the food in the freezer for those busy days when you just can't think about what to make, let alone actually make it. I'd walk around some stores. I don't need to buy things, but I like to wander through stores sometimes....and that's the sum total of it. That would be my exciting week alone. Because when you're a mom...quiet is exciting!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Something I Know For Sure

So, in my 35 years I've learned something that I know to be true.
If you want to look stupid, try to be someone you're not. Go ahead. Transform yourself. It brings to mind those cars that everyone (well, little boys of all ages and sizes) love. Those things that aren't quite cars and aren't quite robots. And no matter which thing they are at the moment you can always see the cracks. And something is always liable to pop out of place at any time.
Think about it. Have you ever tried to mimic someone's being? Only to find that the real you pops out at the most inopportune moment?
I'm not talking about real change. I'm not talking about bettering yourself. I'm certainly not referring to the changes God can make in you. I mean if you're a jeans and t-shirt kind of person trying to wear sweater sets or suits. If you're a tomboy kinda girl trying to make yourself into a girly girl. It won't work. The first chance you get you'll have your jeans back on. Doing the activities you truly enjoy.
And if you manage to suppress it for too long (which I suppose is possible) you'll chafe.
A bookworm cannot for any length of time live the life of a party girl. Neither can a party girl (Paris Hilton anyone??) become a bookworm.  (By the way, although I"m social for sure, I fall into the bookworm category!)
As a kid I was totally an inside kid. A doll-playing, book reading (although not quiet) kind of kid. However, I began to admire Samantha Micelli-of the early days of Who's the Boss? Come on. We all did. She had spunk. And she was a daddy's girl (yes. I know she was fictional. Humor me.) I wanted to be her. It only took a very short time to figure out that I was NOT a tomboy.  I was scared to death of any kind of fighting (she came home with black eyes!), I certainly didn't know how to catch a foot-ball (the first time she had trouble with it was when she needed a bra). Basketball? Nope. Baseball? Notsomuch. Darn. And being that I'm not from the Bronx (or Italian) I could never have had her uber-cool accent. 
If you're not into fashion and make-up, you will always feel overdone and silly in the same clothes and make-up that look great on someone you know.
I know there have been times (and this is just a superficial example) that I thought how great someone looked in a style of clothing with strategic jewelry. And perfectly coiffed hair. So, I tried it. Wanna know what I get when I do that? Wasted money and I feel silly. Not because it doesn't look great....but because it's not who I am! I feel overjewelried (my own new word! yay!) if I have on anything more than my tiny diamond studs in my ears and my wedding ring. I can be okay with a watch and a small necklace....anything more (Including glasses-which I'm supposed to wear, hair do-dads, headbands....any of it) puts me over the top!
I don't think it really took this many years to know that it looks silly, it just took this long for me to accept that "I yam what I yam and that's all that I yam" (Popeye-one of my faves as a kid!)

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Happy Birthday Nathan

It's my baby's birthday today. He's turning one. And I'm not a happy camper about this. I know. I know. I should count my blessings one by one. And realize how blessed I am to even have experienced this once, let alone four times now. There were times I never thought I'd be a momma. And that was always what I wanted most in life. We struggled for 4 1/2 years with trying to have a baby. And then lost the first one to miscarriage. I was just sure that was my "one chance" and I'd done something to ruin it. Six months later we learned we were expecting Lindsay (almost 11 now). Then, two years after that...Jared was on the way (almost 9)!! Then, there was another battle...well, sort of. I really wanted needed another baby. But Harold did NOT. Now what? I knew better than to push for it. I knew he needed to want it too. Otherwise we would build resentment in an otherwise pretty darn good marriage. So, I waited. And I prayed. And waited. And occasionally broke down and cried-not tears of manipulation, but tears of true heartbreak and sadness. And just when I was giving up hope...he came to me with all of the right reasons why he wanted to try one more time!!!! (I seriously hit him because I thought he was joking with me--that would not have been a funny joke.) Shortly thereafter we got the news that we were expecting our 3rd baby! Years came off of my life during that pregnancy. I'll tell you that. I had some complications that sent me scurrying to the ER once and to the doctor several more times (where ultrasounds proved her to be okay). Now I know why. She's a spitfire. Determined to give me as many gray hairs as possible. (She's almost 4 by the way!)
After Haley, we were sure. We were done. That was it. And we told God that too. Thankfully, He didn't listen. Long story short...in April of 2009 I found out I was pregnant once again-our first ever surprise pregnancy. I was instantly happy. There was not a moment that I felt like it wasn't meant to be-even through the miseries of pregnancy (and I had a few). Amazing how God opened up that place in my heart for my little guy. My Boo. My little man that I canNOT imagine life without. The one we didn't know we wanted.
I'm reliving all of it right now because he's going to be 1 in less than 12 hours. I've never. Not once. Felt this sad about one of my babies turning one. I guess that means I truly believe in my heart of hearts that this is it. He's the last one for us.
It's been a great year...full of fun and frustrations (in case you're wondering...four is a lot more kids than three!). He's a great "little" guy.
And I can't imagine if we'd had our way and been "done" before him. I can never again say I'm done. That's up to God, in all His infinite wisdom.
He's walking-running when he has something he knows you want to get from him. He laughs. He says dog and ball. He smacks his lips when he wants to eat what you have. Tonight he made a sound like "yuck" or "blech" when he looked at the food he had decided he didn't like. HIlarious. (Yeah, I know, I won't like that when he's older, but for now? It's funny!) He loves his hammer (and uses it on us sometimes) and makes "vroom vroom" sounds when playing with cars and trucks. He loves to pull the light bulb out of his sister's nightlight. He claps, climbs, signs some words. Oh yeah, and he's captured the hearts of our entire family. My little blue-eyed, blonde haired Boo. When I nurse him right now I try to enjoy the feeling that nursing your little one gives you-the feeling that all is right in the world. Because most likely, I will never experience that feeling again.

Some pictures for you to enjoy:

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