Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lack of Proper Planning..

Yesterday I was feeling a little behind in my mental "To Do" list. I realized that I was thinking of everything as it needed to happen instead of thinking ahead. Planning ahead is necessary for time-intensive or time-sensitive things, don't you think?

It was then that I thought of a phrase I first heard from my then 15 yo who heard it first from a teacher. "Lack of proper planning leads to poor performance." I cleaned it up as the instructor used an expletive as an adjective. :O

So, I feel as though I'm not performing as well as I could in my roles as wife, mom, co-coordinator, friend....the list goes on. Suffice it to say that I am feeling rather "less than" in my performance ratings these days.

Maybe it's a case of "jack of all trades, master of few", but I don't think so. I think I'm struggling with poor time management and prioritizing. I also think I have a case of procrastination.

I resolved to get some things done. I decided to stop over thinking and make decisions. And then I read a few stories, played some board games and well..I decided to embrace the season for what it is..a waiting game...waiting for Jesus, that is.

You see, on Sunday we did put the Advent Wreath on the table and we did do the readings and pray and sing. It was our first step in the right direction as we enter this season of preparation.

As I focus on the "To Do" list and the shopping list and the school prep and everything else I should be doing, I smile when I think about waiting for the birth of that very special baby so long ago.

I will still be shopping and baking and hoping to see joy-filled expressions on the faces of my offspring...but when I remember why we're celebrating, it comes into perspective. I recall that much like awaiting the birth of my baby, the plans I try to make when awaiting the birth of The Baby won't really impact the outcome. What matters in it all is what condition my heart is in...and a joy-filled, thankful and loving heart will override any plans I do or do not make.

Wishing you much Joy and Love in this beautiful season.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

The best laid plans of mom...go awry when she gets the stomach flu the night before Thanksgiving.

I thought that 1. the mom wasn't allowed to get sick and 2. that if mom did get sick it would be after the children. This mama is crossing her fingers that the kiddos and the Husband avoid the sickies.

I am so very thankful today for a gracious and loving God, a wonderful husband, amazing children and tremendous family and friends. I am thankful to have this forum to share my wandering thoughts and I am thankful for people who read and comment. I hope that at least once in a while those who read it get a little nugget of something good.

Prayers for a safe and blessed day, week, year for you all.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

When You're Lost..Stop.

I'm a planner, a list maker, a thinking-out-loud kind of person.

I function best when I have a plan but I have a hard time making decisions, perhaps because once I decide something, changing my mind, well would that look like I made a mistake? (Appearances, you know? ;) )

A lot of people have been writing in blog land lately about setting goals. Writing things down, most agree, helps you realize the goals. It's like a commitment to yourself which prods action. I tend to agree. I also know that until I told people about my plan to go back to grad school, I was putting off the application. (I could get a job thinking up excuses. Do you think there's a living wage in it?) )

One day I mentioned it in front of a friend who offered to encourage me to get it done. Best thing I ever did. She also offered to proofread a goal statement. I valued her opinion and I appreciate the time she invested helping me to achieve my goal.

The other day I was talking to someone near and dear to me about goals and dreams. I asked, "If you could do anything, what would you do?" The response, "I don't even know anymore." My heart sank. Those 5 words said so much, some of it quite possibly not even realized by the one who spoke the words.

It's difficult to discern the way you should go sometimes. Sometimes all the noise of the world; the stress, the unrealized dreams and unanswered prayers can rob you of your vision and the detours in life might make you lose all sense of direction.

Stop. It's like being lost in the woods. Stop. Pray to God for guidance and strength. Blow a whistle. Reach out to your friends. Rescuers will find you. People will listen and care and might even have solutions or suggestions.

Most importantly, know that you are never alone in any of your struggles whether you're lost in the woods or have lost direction in your life, God is with you.

I struggle with my decision about going back to school, whether I should do it and where to go and could I juggle it all. I found all sorts of excuses and "noise". Only when I stopped and prayed and looked for guidance did things become clear.

Praying for you as you walk through life; whether you're lost in the woods or strolling leisurely on a well-marked path, may you find peace and purpose.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

New and Exciting, Not Better or Worse

Oh how I ADORE these shoes. They were a gift for Miss M.
Even the boys think these are cute. It would just be wrong to work her whole wardrobe around these shoes, wouldn't it?
Baby girl clothes are new and exciting to me after 16 + years of buying little boy things.
I feel guilty about that though. Back in the day when I had one or two or three boys, I put a lot of effort and thought into finding the perfect Holiday outfits for them. Now I've gotten to the point where I'm making sure they have dress pants and shirts that fit and the littlest guy...sometimes he doesn't even have dress shoes. They usually all have ties though, because those get passed down and shared...and don't usually wear out. ;)
Part of it is economical and part of it is philosophical. I've realized that the perfect outfit isn't all that important, for me or for them..which is why the whole family portrait thing threw me. It's not necessary to spend hundreds of dollars on the perfect outfit to be worn once for 2 hours. (You'd think these things could be passed down, but they all seem to hit different sizes in different seasons. :P)
This is the first time I have the privilege to dress a baby girl. It's kind of neat to get to pick out dresses and coordinating tights and well, you saw those shoes. ;)
I just worry that the testosterone club might feel like they're being slighted. I don't think they do, but I worry about it. I mean they're all pointing out girly things in catalogues and on TV and insisting that we should buy whatever it is for Miss M and when I opened those shoes...I was not the only one eager to see how they looked on her little feet.
I don't think appearances and packaging are what it's all about. That would be shallow. But, this whole train of thought got me to thinking about how I interact with each of the kids and to be conscious of treating them each as special gifts, because they are.
Whether my first boy or my 5th boy, they are incredibly unique and precious blessings. Right now I enjoy picking out the girly "wrapping paper" but I just realized that the boys...they get to choose their clothes (even the three yo) and I honor each of their senses of style..fortunately nothing too crazy going on there yet. :)
I am thankful for each phase and stage and opportunity to be a parent. Sometimes what is new and different is exciting, but not always more important or more special...
But I still say those shoes are too cute!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Don't Follow Directions.

I don't do well following directions.

I can follow a recipe (mostly). Yesterday that may have been seen as debatable as I ruined my first batch of gingerbread muffins. Big FAIL. I thought the batter was pale. Maybe they'll darken more than I expect in the oven, I said to myself. Umm, no, not unless I burned them. When I pulled them out of the oven I looked at the recipe again and saw the ingredient I missed. Molasses, I forgot the molasses. The rest of the batter went down the drain and the muffins are feeding some wildlife (they tasted as bland as they looked.)

I can follow a knitting pattern. Now. I finally learned not to skip the part about knitting a swatch to test gauge because it is as important as the pros say.

However, when it comes to putting together those toys on Christmas morning, that's all the Husband's job. Because I do not follow the directions. I look at the pieces and expect it to be intuitive and then...I mess it up because sometimes what looks right isn't. Sometimes there's a reason piece 27 needs to be snapped into slot B before piece 12 gets snapped into slot f. (I didn't even know they were numbered because I didn't read the directions.) The Husband has had to save the day more than once because I think it should be intuitive.

The Husband (AKA Mr. Safety sometimes) reads the instructions..he even reads the whole thing through before beginning just like the instructions say. (He even reads all the fine print before he signs anything...and everything.)

Life should be intuitive, don't you think? There are times when all you can do is trust your gut. But...there are other times when what feels right or good or easy, just isn't the right way. Sometimes we have to look for and read the instructions. Sometimes we have to listen to what older, wiser and or more experienced people have to say on the subject.

Otherwise we'll end up getting stuck in a bad spot..just like when I got those primary-colored plastic pieces put together wrong. Sometimes it's easier to fix than others...

I know what to do when I mess up a knitting pattern, rip it out and start over. We can't always hit the rewind button on life that way. BUT...we can ask God and the people we've impacted for forgiveness and mean it. We can turn to God's Word for direction and we can get forgiveness and grace and move on and try to do better the next time....by following the directions.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Actions Speak Louder...

I cannot speak. Well, technically I can. It just is a raspy, squeaky sound and sometimes my voice cuts out like a cell phone without bars.

Last night the Husband went to a budget meeting at the school (if you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem) and *E* had a meeting at church for the pageant. I also brought along *N*, *I* and Miss M, while the *J* was in charge of *C* at home.

The home front was quiet while I was gone but I had quite a fun time. Miss M was fussy, *I* was overtired and a wild man and *N* managed to fall out of his chair in quite dramatic fashion. I tried to corral them but it doesn't go down in my book as one of my proudest mom moments.

So we came home. *I* fell asleep but *N* yelled "We're home" as I was carrying him in which woke him up. At bedtime I repeated (in my raspy whisper) at least 10 (no exaggeration) times that it was time to go upstairs and yet...no one was moving. They heard me they just chose to ignore me.

By the time they went up stairs I was pretty angry. I said a raspy whispered "good night", told them they could say their prayers with each other and firmly shut the door. (Ouch.) (Then I had another coughing fit because by this point any speaking was followed by violent coughing.) *E* dissolved into tears and *N* said, "You're scaring us." Really? I didn't yell or anything. I was very quiet.

(Interestingly, these same children who are thrown into trauma by having to say evening prayers without me say Grace at dinner at such a rapid pace it's unintelligible and could care less if everyone's bottoms have hit their chairs before rushing through "God is great...")

I was frustrated and pretty angry at their total lack of respect but I walked away. (Mom needed a timeout..which she used all 3 minutes of ironing the 16yo's shirt. "Did you do my shirt yet?" probably did not help my mood.)

Did they quietly retreat to their rooms? Did the 9 yo or the 10 yo recognize that mom is not feeling great and we have been really disobedient and we should probably just leave her alone? Noooooo. They harped on me through my closed bedroom door while I ironed.

But my silence freaked them out more than any amount of yelling. Change their behavior? Not really...as is evidenced by the fact they did not go to bed but stood in the hall nagging me for being "mean". Yes, folks, trying to"speak" less because my voice was shot and saying anything was sending me into a coughing fit was "mean". No, I was not giving them the silent treatment.

This is not a glowing example of a warm evening at home is it? Another flop on my mom chart, no gold star for me. I realized that my not following our normal evening routine was very upsetting to them even if I wasn't yelling or threatening the loss of video games.

After I had ironed and taken a deep breath I went in and told them I was sorry for upsetting them but that I was upset too. I gave them hugs and told them how much I loved them.

Maybe today they will go to bed when told so that we can all have our normal evening routine, because clearly it wasn't what I said that made a difference but what I did (and didn't do.)


Saturday, November 13, 2010

What to Wear?

I hung up the phone and felt fear gripping my stomach.

I need to get my hair cut. I looked into the living room and saw two boys who desperately need haircuts too. And what would I wear? What would we all wear?

Yes, you guessed it. We're meeting the Queen.

Done laughing? All this worry over...getting a family picture taken.

We haven't had a professional picture taken since 2002. Our little family has grown by three since then. The last time we all wore something in the Christmasy red and green and it looks very festive.

This time I don't want to look like a Holiday display and while I'd like us to coordinate, we don't necessarily have to be all matchy matchy but I have no idea what to dress everyone in. (Feel free to offer suggestions, PLEASE!)

If it was an outside photo shoot, I think it would be easier, but it's not. We're going to a studio where I got a great deal. They think I'll be sucked into a $200 package but they're soooo wrong. I'm taking the special and running for the hills, baby!

When the Husband got home I told him of the appointment and of my concerns regarding appearance. The man who starches his shirts to within an inch of their life looked at me like I was a little ummm nuts.

He said we should just go as is because that's who we are and no one needs a haircut and we can all just wear whatever.

What is wrong with this man I married?! Hasn't he seen all the gorgeous family photos people have in coordinating clothes? Does he not notice that one of the boys has some serious mop head going on? Has he not noticed my hair is doing an annoying mushroom-shaped thing lately? ("I am getting my hair cut! " I said to him, waving my finger in the air.)

This is a picture he wants to put on our Christmas cards. (His idea.) Doesn't he want us to look perfectly coiffed and outfitted and put together?

Apparently he doesn't see the value in looking "just so". He sees the value beyond the varnish. He always has. Sometimes I think that if he were a little more critical of my appearance I would still be the woman I was when we met; nails always polished, swimming in a carefully coordinated size two. Instead he loves me just the way I am..no longer a size two, nails rarely polished, hair looking like a wild mushroom.

I am mostly content this way...but sometimes I look in the mirror and wish for what I was...on the outside. On the inside I have grown so much since we met (and not just in the waist and hips). I know that I am stronger and wiser.

I'm just not wise enough to realize what the Husband already does..the beauty of our family is that the kids act their age and we function better as a unit when we go with the flow, not when we try to put on a (false) show of the proper Stepford family.

(Should I put in a disclaimer that I have nothing against the "just so" families I know? I admire and envy you, honestly. This isn't sour grapes either. I am happy that you have it together..it just isn't in my nature to be that way, I guess.)

I still want a good picture though, and not good in a "Funniest Home Videos $10,000 winner" way either.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

Once Upon a Time....

Once upon a time there was a dad who told his children stories.

This dad began telling his stores when there was only one little boy and one favorite stuffed animal to be the stars. As the family grew, the stories evolved and there were more little boys and stuffed animals who became part of their adventures.

Not long ago, the dad was telling some of the younger boys a "Once upon a time..." story and the oldest boy stopped at the doorway to listen. "There's no village!" he said. The dad said, "There is now." The oldest boy sputtered and said, "But that's wrong!" It made the mom and dad smile at each other, because this boy obviously had fond memories of the stories. Perhaps they took him back to a younger and simpler time in his life.

Today I overheard this dad telling his daughter a "Once upon a time..." story. Today they were picking flowers. Yet another way the story is evolving.

Sometimes I listen to the stories too. It makes my heart all warm and fuzzy.

Sometimes one of the boys will say, "Dad can we have a story tonight?" It's quite a treat. Sometimes the dad will say, "I just don't have a story in me tonight." The boys will beg and plead and often the dad will find a story in his heart to please his sons.

The dad loves sharing this special time with his children. You know what fills the dad with joy and pride? When he overhears one of his sons telling their own, "Once upon a time..." story.

I think this is one of the ways this dad is like the Father. God gives us the lessons and stories and is glad when we share those stories with others, spreading the Word.

Praying that each of us can share stories of love and joy, hope and peace with our own words and actions and by spreading the Word too, with both actions and words.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's All Good

Yesterday I was letting some of my worries get the best of me. I told a friend or two and I told the husband. I put on a grin for my kids because that's what you do, right?

Today I had an appointment with my doctor. I have had some interesting moles and this patch of skin and after reading a story in the paper about someone with a "suspicious patch of skin" that ended up being a very bad thing...I was letting the "what ifs" get to me a little bit... or a lot.

My Dr. came in and looked at my worries...and it's all fine. Nothing concerning. Phew. Because, you know what? In my mind I had created a very scary scenario...fueled by my long ago love of tanning oil and that big fiery orb in the sky.

I can cross that worry off my list for now. I can be careful and keep an eye on things but I have addressed it, done what was necessary and I am going to trust that the answers I got are accurate. (Because second guessing is going to get me nothing but a tension headache.)

I can also thank God that all was well. The other things stressing me out..well they are still always possibilities but I could walk out my front door and an anvil could fall on my head...if I lived in a cartoon world. But you get my drift, right? I can worry about a bunch of "what ifs" or I can just keep living the best life I can.

I recently told a friend that when I get overwhelmed by worry I stop and think, "What in my life has changed so much that this worry is overwhelming me right now?" Usually there has been no change to make whatever I'm concerned about more pressing..except my own thoughts. That reality check helps me cope with worry.

Then I turn it over to God and I focus on something right in front of me...like a 3yo with glue stick on his hands.

I pray that you can find peace and comfort from your worries,whether you are facing very real battles or are thinking of what may happen.


Monday, November 8, 2010

How Am I?

A friend asked me after reading my last entry..and I told her.

I bet she's sorry she asked because what she got was a list of my current stresses and worries. All those things I should just turn over to God I gushed to someone who probably wishes she didn't know now.

And I sort of wish she didn't too...but I also needed to "say" it to someone. Instead of doing the "Grin and life's great" I needed to list all of my worries and be more vulnerable than is comfortable because..I guess I didn't feel like glossing over it and it's so darned easy in an email...maybe because I don't have to hear myself saying the words and if I share the worries, that makes them a little more concrete.

Nothing horrible or anything...if I keep it in perspective so many more people have so much worse going on...but these are my feelings and my experiences and how I am doing is not always supposed to be held in relation to what another person is going through. I'm not in a "You think you've got it bad, listen to my troubles" contest.

But today, how I am doing is...kind of up and down and I guess I felt like sharing my stress. :P Hopefully it's not contagious.

As I finished up that email. Miss M needed to be fed. I sat on the couch feeding Miss M with *I* snuggled up next to me and in that time and space was peace and contentment and love. I was just present and it was, to use my friend's word, delightful.

How easy it was for me to get wrapped up in troubles and fears that may or may not become big problems and forget to embrace what is right here, right now and is good.

Thank You Lord, for taking on my burdens. Thank You for friends who listen and offer support. Thank You for the good things I so often take for granted because the tiniest troubles are often louder than some of the greatest blessings.


Friday, November 5, 2010

How Are You?

That's become one of those standard "throwaway" greetings, often used in place of or in addition to, "Hi."

Last week I was talking with a friend who was telling me about something stressful in her life and when someone walked by and said, "Hi. How are you?" as he walked by, she put on a big smile and said, "Great!"

We then laughed about how you just grin and bear it because people don't really want to know, it's just a part of the greeting. We joked about it. Because, really, have you ever wished you hadn't asked that, when you are really only greeting in passing and someone decides that they're going to tell you everything going on in minute detail. (That happened to me several years ago and I learned my lesson...I try to only ask that question when: 1. I want to know and 2. I have time to truly listen. )

Anyway... a couple of days ago I was talking to the Husband about this "grin and say it's great" phenomenon and he said that in his mind, people should be honest in their answer and that if you ask you should be prepared to listen to people. He thinks it's a shame that so often people pull away from anyone who needs to talk or is having problems.

Fascinating for me to hear from him. You see, I don't think I need more than the fingers on one hand to count the number of times he has gone to a friend with a struggle he's having. He keeps it all inside. No matter what it is, he just doesn't ask for help. He suffers in silence..which considering how much the man talks...is amazing. ;) (Love you honey.:) )

That being said, I know that if he asks how someone is and they do the "grin and 'life's great' " and he thinks they're giving him a line..he will find other ways to let them know he's not buying and he's willing to listen without being intrusive or pushy. I think that is one of his great gifts and one of the ways he acts as God's hands and feet..that and he makes terrific wings and spritz cookies. ;)

Fortunately, we can always turn to a loving and caring God with our worries, struggles and problems. God is always there and God is sincere in His care for us. It's good to know there are people who do want to know and do care to listen, but when we don't have the time or space to open up to them, God is always present. For that I am thankful.


Thursday, November 4, 2010


Sometimes I procrastinate. I admit it. I own it. I am not proud of it, but it's who I can be.

I am particularly prone to procrastination when I am nervous about how things could turn out, particularly if I'm afraid of rejection or making a mistake.

I am in the process of trying to go back to school and the only thing left hanging over my head was a personal goal statement. I sat and sat and sat and sat (sounds like the potty training book I've been reading the 3 yo) but I just couldn't get anything worthy down on paper. And I say "on paper" because our lap top's hard drive died and trying to write something so important on the desktop in the living room with my entourage whining and squealing and whatnot wasn't working for me. (Kind of like it isn't right now.)

I tried on Saturday but I couldn't do it. I got some ideas down on Sunday but nothing gelled.

I was letting my fear of not writing it well enough, my fear of not doing it "right", get in the way of doing it at all and I could find lots of distractions to become my excuses--laundry and dishes and errands oh my!

But last night I was itching to do some holiday knitting and I decided that I would not, could not, knit until I had written my first (only? wishful thinking. ;) ) draft.

So after Miss M was fed for the night and the other children were tucked in, I locked myself in the bedroom with a glass of water and a legal pad, I reread the guidelines and I wrote and wrote and wrote. And when I was finished...I had a few pages that spoke of my personal goals.

Oops..I left out one very important step. I prayed for focus and wisdom and not only that, I asked others to pray for me too. I do believe it helped.

And then...I dug through my yarn stash and pulled out a pattern for a miniature stocking and some yarn and happily cast on that 25 stitches knowing I had met the goal I set. I don't think knitting was an enormous incentive, but recognizing that I had to prioritize and could not keep procrastinating about something so important deserved to be rewarded.
The big reward will come if I get accepted which is truly the only incentive I need, however, I guess I needed an incentive to stop procrastinating and get it done.

I pray that as you go through your day, you realize the goals you set for yourself whether large or small, and when you do follow through, I hope you find positive ways to reward your success.


Monday, November 1, 2010

A Helmet? Bubble Wrap? Both?

It all started yesterday, during Sunday School. 3 yo *I* fell and hit his head on a rocking chair (that's the best anyone can figure..and the Husband was in there..on the other side of the room but still...)

He walks out of the room carrying *I* and then *I* turns his head and I see the big lump..no lie it was as big as a quarter and sticking out of his head at least a cm. I sat down and started doing that breathing I learned to do during labor...because I felt dizzy.

*I* refused to let the Husband put ice on it and he was acting fine sooo...we kept an eye on him and decided he wasn't any more lethargic than he had been during worship. (Yes, he sat quietly during worship..that should have tipped me off...)

Last evening we did the annual walk around town knocking on doors and asking strangers for candy. *I* got clumsy as he got tired but nothing serious (although my heart jumped when he decided it would be better to jump down people's front steps rather than walk..you see what we're dealing with?).

Today *I* was mellow all day, quite an unusual thing but after his wild evening playing the king of the jungle, who could blame him? Yeah well.. I took his temp after dinner and it was 102 (perhaps he was coming down with something and that's why he sat so quietly during worship?)...gave him some medicine and as soon as it kicked in he was off and running..and apparently jumping...because...he fell and hit his head on the corner of the bookshelf in his room.

The screaming sent me running in and then I saw the red stuff oozing from his head and I yelled for the Husband and traded him a bleeding child for a baby...and did more of that breathing I mentioned earlier.

As I type the Husband is sitting with *I* in an ER waiting for our little man to get stitches.. a first for any of our kids...

So I'm going to go order that bubble wrap and the helmet now.