Saturday, December 29, 2007
I would like to just blink my eyes and my house will be restored to its pre-Christmas state without me having to lift a finger. I honestly do not know how I did this with small children. It is all a blur...maybe I thought I decorated for Christmas back then, but I really didn't. I vaguely remember threatening one year of going on strike and not getting out any decorations except tree ornaments, but I'm not sure I actually followed through with it. See? Those brain cells of mine are evaporating by the minute!!
But, January 1st is the deadline for the tree to be gone and all remnants of Christmas to be stored away with only the pictures to remind us of how we spent the month of December (and, this blog, of course!). By the time the kids get on the school bus Wednesday morning all will be "de-cluttered" and organized. I just am not looking forward to the process!
Friday, December 28, 2007
Last night we went to Christmas Candylane at my beloved theme park, yet, the visit was bittersweet (get it? bitter SWEET? I just crack myself up sometimes!). The sad part is that we will not be getting season passes next year for a variety of reasons. The most important reason being the large sum of money that would require. The second reason being that my kids cannot agree on any rides they all want to go on with the exception of The Reece's Cup Challenge. And, lastly, it gets so crowded that if we don't go a dozen or so times in May and June we just won't get our money's worth since we avoid the park like the plague in July and August. With soccer and softball, camps and VBS I don't see us having a lot of time to go over to the park in the early summer.
But, a break is good. Absence will make our hearts grow fonder and I may volunteer a few times to get a couple of one day passes that we can use for a marathon day from open to close since it will be our only trip of the summer. Wow, that was a long sentence. Sorry. I'm a bit on holiday recovery. Seriously, I've slept long and hard this week.
Without further ado, here are some more pics from our lovely stroll through the sweetest place on earth. In honor of our last trip of the year to HP, we bought the girls gigantic custom made cupcakes afterwards at Chocolate World (don't worry, we only let them eat half a cupcake, the rest is saved for today).
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
I am sick from the rich, fattening foods that I would never dream of eating any other time of year! Like cheesecake, chocolate peanut butter ice cream pie, and fried queso cheese. Right now if I think about eating any of it I will throw up. I've also eaten more shrimp than a humpback whale and speaking of whale....yup, that's about how much I weigh right now.......
Other than the bloated, uncomfortable feeling I am experiencing in my abdomen right now, our Christmas has been wonderful and I'm looking forward to posting pictures!
Monday, December 24, 2007
This drama ministry at our church was probably one of the coolest things I participated in all year. It helped my family and me to remember the names that God gave us and not the names that people and satan try to give us.
I pray that you embrace the name that God gave YOU this Christmas. When you are walking in that name and identity you will undoubtedly influence the world around you for HIS KINGDOM and HIS GLORY.
God bless you and MERRY CHRISTMAS!
Friday, December 21, 2007
Apparently I'm not the only "different kind of crazy" in the neighborhood!
This is a photo of what I found inside the faculty lounge at our elementary school this morning. It is a boxed jewelery set made by two MALE teachers. Rumor has it, one day this week the chicken poppers went flying in the teacher's lounge (shhh! don't tell the lunch ladies) and this was the result by the end of the day. The picture doesn't do them justice! You can't fully appreciate the BLING!!
I think I saw something very close to this on Etsy only they used tater tots! Just kidding!
Thursday, December 20, 2007
Lately, I've gone back and forth from feeling pretty icky in a spiritual sense to flying high with the knowing that I'm obeying what God is telling me to do. The "icky" part comes when I start doing things for my own recognition, admiration and praise. The "flying high" part comes when I do things that honor and glorify and point others to Christ. Sometimes it is almost like I'm driving down the road and all of a sudden I find myself drifting over the yellow line and I better make a quick adjustment before someone gets hurt.
If only the mind of Christ were under my tree right now, waiting for me to unwrap and use it everyday! How glorious! But, then again, if it were that easy, would I place it on the same forgotten shelf as my vacuum sealer I got for Christmas a few years back that has lost its appeal? Hmmmmm.....
I do know that God is stirring something up in me....to change this world around us for His Kingdom. I truly want that to be my focus and when it is, my heart is soft. I was prayed for the other day in a prayer tunnel at our church and the one thing that stood out was someone said, "she has compassion, now give her PASSION".
Now, that is a gift I'm ready to receive!!!!!!!
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
With the Christmas season upon us there is a lot to tackle. This, by far, has been my most organized Christmas ever! I guess that was the upswing to moving this past summer. I know where everything is and having the kids in school helps with getting things accomplished, too.
My cards and packages are mailed (ahead of schedule I might brag) and now let the baking begin! Having the power out for a few days has set me back a bit, but I'm going to tackle it so I am not in a panic when it is time to present the bus drivers and soccer coaches with a gift in the next few days! I bought my industrial size bag of Nestle chocolate chips at Costco yesterday, so I'm ready to bake the day away!
Monday, December 17, 2007
So, the party went well (the candlelight was beautiful and I did not need a stitch of make-up or to mop my floors) but, we were freezing this morning and my groceries slept outside last night (I had terrible thoughts of grizzly bears on my back porch). We're good now and I'm appreciating things I took for granted before. I actually muttered these words to GAS as we realized the power was back on....
"I can't wait to flush the toilets". Ooh! Merry Christmas to me!
Friday, December 14, 2007
I am not looking for a pat on the back. I'm actually hoping to challenge you (and myself) to look for every small, seemingly insignificant chance to glorify God and show others why we are "different". When I say different, I mean forget "religion" and look at what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ looks like. I know so many of you who read this overflow with generosity that it is like preaching to the choir, but I'm going to share it anyway! I'd be interested to hear if you have any similar stories to share, too.
Okay....now with all that out of the way let me set the stage. Our elementary PTO hosts a "Santa Shoppe" where kids can bring money to school and buy inexpensive gifts for their family. I filled out #2 and #3's "budget" and sent some money in with them. I also included a $5 bill in a separate envelope to give to each of their teachers with a note explaining I wanted them to use this money for kids who may not have had money sent into school. This was the email I received this morning from #2's teacher:
I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. When I opened that extra envelope from you with the money for Santa Shoppe I started to tear up. In my five years of teaching, no other person has ever offered to help the kids who don’t have over the holidays. Santa Shoppe is always a tough situation for me when I have kids who were not sent in with money. I always feel terrible that they have to sit and watch the other kids shop when they can’t. What a true example of kindness to show your children. (#2) is an extraordinary young girl and through your example, will no doubt be the same through adulthood. Merry Christmas!I cried like a baby after I read this! I wept because of the kids she spoke of. I wept because in five years no one cared enough to spare a little extra change to help someone else. Not because they wouldn't have if someone asked, but because they were too preoccupied to think about it. And, I wept at the kind words she expressed over #2, that she sees fruit in the seeds God has planted and continues to water in her heart.
And, that, my internet friends is why I decided to share this little story. To God be the glory.
They must get their weirdness from their father! Ha! Ha!
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
That was what #3 felt like for the entire 1.5 hour Christmas program at our church tonight. She would not be still. I brought nothing to entertain her with because after all, she is the ripe old age of six, and she should pay complete attention to everything happening on stage. Especially all the talking. Because she really understands exactly what everyone was talking about, particularly the African rendition of Noel (which was FABULOUS). Can you see your screen dripping with sarcasm (except the fabulous part, because that was true!)? No, it did not hold her attention and I think I spoke too many times through gritted teeth, just like I do at all the events I expect her to quietly be a spectator.
If I'm going to be doing this Mary-thing I better pay closer attention to my kids instead of treating them like scenery sometimes. Half way through the program I finally smiled down at #3 and then at The Husband, realizing this little wiggle worm would be all grown up someday and she is just wired a little more rambunctious than some other kids. In combination with a full day of school, a long car ride and then straight into church should have raised a red flag. But, as usual, I was mission oriented. Feed the family, get seats, talk to my friends, clean up the food we didn't eat and uhh-ohhhh! Where is #3? She was bored and I can't say I could blame her. I only tried half-heartedly to keep her occupied. I will plan better next time by trying to give her some wide open area to run around in before she is confined into a tight space and expected to be quiet and still for almost 2 hours! Thankfully, we snacked on some cookies after the service and she had some wide open space to explore with friends, so the night ended on a good note!
I'm so glad this child adores me, because I am not the best of mommies some days! But, His mercies are new every morning and I get a fresh start to make a difference in their lives tomorrow. It is really time for me to go beyond the status quo on a more consistent basis.
The morning after: I have to add that the Christmas program was wonderful and my other girls enjoyed it and sat calmly. This post was never intended to imply that #3 was bored because it was not interesting enough to hold her attention! It was probably one of my favorite ones!
And, then this whole thing happened. And, every serious, deep thought was sucked from my body. Instead, I've randomly laughed out loud about a dozen times today.
So, I find myself between a rock and a hard place, or more accurately, between the downfall of American society and penguin poo.
I'm just not sure what I should talk about today. So, I'm going to go eat a cookie.
Monday, December 10, 2007
Since I became a born-again Christian, I've had several "discussions' with my Catholic friends and family about Mary-worship. I never intended to do anything other than prove that Mary cannot answer our prayers; that it is fruitless to pray to her. I've said this phrase over and over more times than I can count and some of you probably have, too: Mary is not God, she was just a woman. Well, part of that statement is true. She is not God. But, Mary was not "just" a woman, either, and God has really been showing me some things. Watch The Nativity movie and it may stir you up, too (although I saw it a year ago, it has really stuck with me).
Here was a young woman, only a few years older than my own pre-teen daughter living in a culture where you could be put to death for having sex outside of marriage. Now, I ask you....if your unmarried daughter came home pregnant and insisted she was never with a man, what would you think? The angel did not appear to her parents or to anyone besides her and Joseph when she became pregnant. They could not turn to their Bibles in Luke:2 and say"....ohhhhh, this is where the Holy Spirit overshadows her and although she is a virgin, she becomes pregnant with The Messiah. Okay, I got it now......" No, it was nothing like that. I wonder how many nights she cried herself to sleep, her comfort being the knowledge of Who she was carrying and what it meant for mankind, but she lost her honor and her family in the process. SO bittersweet. And, basically from the time she said "be it unto me according to Your will", that is exactly what happened. I don't think it was in her plans to bring shame to her and her family, or to live with the gossip she didn't deserve, or worst of all, to watch her son die a tortuous death on a cross for sins He never committed. No, as a mother, that would not be in my plans. Yet, when she said "according to YOUR will" she changed the course of history and she paid a price for it. That makes her extraordinary and not "just" a woman.
So, as I usually do, I ask the Lord....why are you showing me this, revealing this to me right now? I sensed God told me that Mary didn't demand any "me time". You know what I'm talking about. Mommy needs a time out, that sort of thing. We often joke about it and I know that we need to be refreshed, but I never really thought long and hard about what today's culture has done to parents from this perspective before. I put myself on auto pilot and what is my sacrifice? In comparison to Mary, grocery shopping, cleaning bathrooms, and wiping snotty noses no longer seems like much of a "sacrifice". She gave it ALL. I can get so bent out of shape about stupid things, but I didn't travel miles on a donkey only to find that instead of a nice warm, comfortable hospital bed to have my baby with some good drugs, I had to lie in the dirt in a smelly stable, give birth and then basically run for our lives. And, she was called "blessed among women"! That does not sound like anything in today's society that we would call a blessing. Our definition of "highly favored" is vastly different and maybe even misunderstood these days.
So, what do we do? God put each one of us here for "such a time as this". He's not surprised by our lazy, self-absorbed American culture, but I believe it grieves Him and He's looking for a Mary-generation to stand up and say "be it unto me according to YOUR Will". I pray that I can be as quick and eager as Mary was to obey, even when it costs something or seems odd.
It was the only kitchen I wanted and I researched and researched and this was the best price.
The problem is that even if they get more in stock over the next few weeks, they do not guarantee delivery by December 24th after today. I am stubbornly refusing to "settle" for another kitchen, particularly a more expensive one, since there will be no more younger siblings to pass it down to! I've really have to be purposeful when I buy her things, because she should be allowed to have 6-year old toys, even if she is the last 6-year old to live here. My first impulse is to skip the bath tub toys and "little" girl toys because I've already been there and done that twice and she can just play with what we have! It was always easier buying stuff like this for the older girls because it could get handed down and I'd feel like I got my money's worth! But, I'm trying to indulge her this year because she has wanted one for a long time.
I will no longer rob her of her childhood (here comes the Drama Queen)....I will find her a toy kitchen that is suitable for her and in my price range. It is my mission today. So, as much as I wanted to post pictures of our weekend of The Husband pulling the girls on a sled attached to his 4-wheeler and pictures of #1's Christmas party with 10 middle schoolers at our house, I must begin my search for the darling KidKraft kitchen that is out there somewhere with #3's name on it.
Thursday, December 6, 2007
2. The Dog got an early Christmas present. A new shock collar (sinister laughter). I got to try it out this morning as she nearly bit my hand off trying to retrieve one of #3's socks that was already partially swallowed. A little zap and the sock popped out. It was a beautiful thing. Don't worry, I am using this form of discipline sparingly....when you have 102 pound Dobie she needs to know who is boss!
3. 2-hour delay. The only problem is that in my semi-comatose state I checked the computer quickly for any delays and not seeing one, got #1 up and waited for the bus. When the bus was 6 minutes late I turned on the TV, saw the delay and we all went back to bed!
4. Some pictures of #1 serving as mayor at JA Biztown. If you don't know what that is, you can check out their website here. I worked in the radio station and it was a lot of fun and the kids learned a lot (the CEOs and CFOs learned a lot about STRESS and multiple people demanding your attention at the same time). Our mayor was so busy she had to work through her lunch break (but, she did take a few minutes to scarf down her sandwich with her proud mama!).
These are the DJ's and the CEO I got to work with at the radio station They did a great job! I didn't care for their music choices, but everyone else seemed to like it!
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
My other cool story involved a wonderful Panera manager who comped #3's and my ENTIRE meal because I had called in about a bad cup of soup #1 had gotten about a month ago and they told me next time it would be on the house. So, when I tried to pay for the other food we ordered besides the soup, the manager insisted on taking care of the entire bill and apologized several times, explaining that this was the right thing for her to do and she wanted to personally make our food this time. It was delicious. And, it was FREE!
But bigger than all that. Peace. Joy. Without even realizing it I am a kinder, gentler mom when adversity strikes. I have been trying to practice what I see modeled by other Godly moms, one specifically that leads our Moms in Touch prayer group. She has a 4-year old with an iron will and loves this child firmly and patiently. I leave her house in awe some days at what she gets her daughter to accomplish when it isn't looking like anything is going to happen as planned. You see the amazing thing about this is that I am not doing this in my own strength. I'm not sure when or how it "clicked". It's just one of those prayers day after day; not my will, God, but Your will be done. I started to believe it. And, then it was like some switch flipped on and I constantly notice something that God has poured into our lives. The beautiful countryside we live in, the stars in the sky and the smiles on my girls.....like precious gifts he showers me with each day. It is much easier to be peaceful when your heart is filled with gratefulness. Just ask Madam Blueberry. Was I too stressed out, overwhelmed and busy most days to notice His amazing grace all these years? I believe I didn't stop to smell the roses often enough.....I was too busy on the "treadmill", out of breath, but going no where. Well, maybe not entirely "no where", that is a bit of an extreme. It's getting late and I get more dramatic as the night groweth at its darketh, yonder bloggers.
So, something is different, and I know that when God begins a good work, He is faithful to see it completed. I hope all my Pollyanna posts aren't sickening to some of you. Trust me, I praised Him in the bad times, too. In fact, I am thankful for it all because those events are what has gotten me to the wonderful place I am today, so I can like it or not!
I sold Mary Kay back in the early- 1990's and have used it for the last 18 years and I am starting to consider selling it again so I can get it for 50% off and earn a little money for the kid's extracurricular activities that are sucking the financial stability right out of us.
I'm not in it for the pink car, I don't want to stalk people as "recruits" or to go to endless training meetings with women who have too much make-up on. So, I laid my offer on the table and I'm waiting to see if the Mary Kay Director still wants me on my terms.
I really do like using their stuff and I'm so darn cheap I want it at a discount!
Monday, December 3, 2007
We partied 'til the cows came home this weekend! Our Christmas season kicked off with 2 parties, one at a country club and another at our house.
The Husband and I got all dressed up for the par-tay at the country club on Friday night. A lady that works in my office invited us and it was simply mah-vel-ous, dahling. Quite. Her and her husband are very sweet and they had about 100 people for this beautiful event that felt like an upscale wedding reception. We sat with boss friends, J and J and their wives, along with another couple we met who I'll fondly refer to as Thurston and Mrs. Howell III. Sitting with the Howells was like hanging out with a live Google keyword search. For example:
Mrs. Howell: Who does The Husband work for?
The Husband: Coca-cola. I ...... (keyword: Coca-Cola)
Mrs. Howell: Oh! We were in Atlanta and toured the plant the day before it closed.
The Husband: I'll bet it tastes better directly at the plant.
Mrs. Howell: Oh yes, it is much better.
Me: That is like the perk of living near the Hershey Chocolate Factory..... (keyword: Hershey)
Mrs. Howell: Oh, when Mr. Howell did business with Hershey they gave him this giant 1 pound bar of chocolate with his name on it to say thank you. And, then when they asked him back he said only if they gave him 3 of those 1 pound chocolate bars for each of our grandchildren.
Mr. Howell: Yes, I saw the Hershey Outlets seem to be doing better the last time I was in town.
Me: I think Starbucks has really helped them because..... (keyword: Starbucks)
Mr. Howell: Oh, do you know that when Starbucks was just starting up I had a shot at buying a large amount of their stock and I passed it up thinking no one would pay that much for a cup of coffee.
And, on and on this went. It was really comical. All we had to do was mention a topic and he either did business with the company, almost did business with them or knew someone that did business with them. After they said they take their kids and grandkids to Mexico every Christmas and watch the sunrise on their private beach I could hardly keep a straight face. I was thinking, do you have any idea that I have Dollar Store snowman socks on under my Payless black boots?
But, anyhoo....we had a few chuckles over The Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, secretly hoping that we can take our kids to a private beach in Mexico with their families one day.
Saturday night we hosted out Youth Staff Christmas Party and there was a ton of food and a lot of laughter. These are some amazing people. I was a little worried (I mean intimidated) to get involved with the youth group earlier this year because I hardly knew anyone on the team and teenagers terrified me. Since then, I have gotten to spend time with these people and they are kind, loving and on fire for the Lord. They have made me and The Husband feel so valued and accepted into their family. And, the teenagers no longer terrify me, they are such a blessing! Here are some picture highlights from the evening.