Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Happy 11th Birthday *C*!

Today we celebrate the birth of our second son who effectively put the kabosh on us going out for New Year's Eve.

However, we have never gone out for New Year's Eve, even the year we were engaged, we got Chinese takeout and watched movies. I assure you that celebrating the birth of our sweet, funny, creative, imaginative son is a pretty great way to ring in the new year.

So today I will remember that day 11 years ago with it's joy and humor and love and I will wish him another year of growth and learning and joy! We love you *C*!


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pack Up Your Troubles

"In an old Kit bag and smile, smile smile." From a WWI marching song, used in many instances, or so says Wikipedia.

This morning I was "singing" it as I thought about our basement..except I was singing "Pack up your troubles in a great big box.."

You see, our basement is full of boxes, some half-empty, some overflowing, some falling apart and All. Over. the. Basement.

It's ugly down there folks. And we've only live here since August 2008! We sort of unpacked as we went and the kids *ahem* helped. Whenever they decided a toy was missing they started opening boxes.

But there are boxes down there that just plain need to go. There are troubles and unhappy memories and unrealized goals packed up in those boxes and I do believe they're getting in the way of progress.

They're also getting in the way of the train table to built as one of *N*'s Christmas gifts.

But really, they're getting in the way of moving forward. I would go down there and clean it out. When we lived in OH I would go downstairs a couple times a year and whip things into shape, tossing and stacking and putting things in order.

This time there are heavy things I cannot move blocking in the messes and boxes. I just don't have the physical strength to move them. I have commented, suggested and yes, I have nagged at the Husband to address this issue. He goes down, sorts, and throws away a bag of trash and I cannot see a difference.

Maybe he can. I cannot. And to be honest, I cannot get to the things I am trying to get to. Things like bins of children's clothes and my books. I can see the bins, but I have no place to stack them so I can get to the ones on the bottom.

It occurred to me this morning that these big boxes and stacks are a symbol of other things going on. The stuff is a problem, but there is some emotional baggage packed up in those great big boxes. If it's packed away, we can smile for a while but we still have to deal with it, don't we?

Do you have some stuff weighing you down. Is it anchoring you to the past and keeping you from moving forward?

Lord, I pray that each of us can lean on you for strength as we break old habits and toss off the burdens of the heavy baggage we carry. We can give it all to you Lord and stand up tall in Your mercy and grace.

May this new year before us be one of renewal and growth, of tossing away our boxes of troubles and finding some new goals in the cleared spaces.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Today a friend asked a question on Crackbook Facebook about how much time people spend actually doing things with our kids as opposed to existing in the same house with them. My wiseapple answer was, "you mean when I'm not folding their clean clothes, putting their dishes in the dishwasher or playing short order cook?"

I think I spend a decent amount of time with my kids. You know I write about them a lot. If I'm being honest, I could be doing more with them. Every night I go to bed thinking of missed opportunities and every morning I wake up thinking that today I will focus more on the kids and less on other things. Then I repeat the previous evenings regrets again at bedtime. It's a vicious cycle really.

I have heard all the "quality v. quantity" arguments. I think it's just one more way for moms to compare themselves to others in that gloriously evil way we do, either building ourselves up or putting others down, or a combination of both.

The truth is, we all do the best we can in the circumstances we're living in. I am not supermom, or super housekeeper, or super wife. I am just me, human Stacey, doing the best I can with the gifts God gave me. I do what I enjoy doing; baking (sometimes), knitting, reading and sharing these gifts and other gifts and interests with my family and those I meet along the way. We play games, do puzzles, build with Legos, color...all that jazz. Just not all the time.

Sometimes instead of playing trains or scrubbing the toilet I need to spend 30 minutes reading a mystery or knitting or even on that addictive social networking site catching up with my peeps. ;) That is OK. (Or I'm just trying to make myself feel better. ;) )

At any rate 40 years ago my mom didn't spend hours playing board games with me or coloring and to be honest the only adult I remember sitting down to play with me is my dad occasionally. My mom and SIL taught me to crochet, knit and needlepoint, but I was playing on my own and I think overall, I turned out OK.

So my humble opinion is that we all should just do the best we can living the life God gave us. Enjoy your time and try not to measure yourself against another person's standard. Some people might do things differently but it's not better or worse, it just is. Do what you love, love what you do, love God, love's all good. :)

Praying that I use my time wisely or at least without regrets. I pray the same for you.


Monday, December 27, 2010

And Now We Can Breathe..Sort Of.

Well, December 25th has come and gone. The gifts have been opened, the wrappings tossed away and I am pleased to report (knock wood) that nothing has broken yet.

The boys were all so thrilled with what Santa brought and what they received from mom and dad too. We heard, "This is the best Christmas ever!" more than once which was very nice.

On the way to church Friday afternoon *E* said, "I don't care about presents, I only want to celebrate Jesus' Birthday." Saturday morning he obviously felt differently after opening three clothing gifts in. a. row. He got over himself though. ;)

It feels like the month of December has just flown by and I cannot figure out where the days went. (Other than my time suck that is Crackbook Facebook.) I know I was doing things; shopping, wrapping, baking, getting my grad school financial aid squared away, playing chauffeur, washer woman and socializing on Crackbook Facebook, oh and making lists of everything I should be doing.

I am going to spend the next few days evaluating how I can be a more organized and intentional person in the coming year and beyond. I am not usually big on the resolution thing but I do want to change up a few things and now is as a good a time as any.

Do you have any changes you're hoping to make in the future? Baby steps or major overhaul?

My friend S says that each day she wants to do a little better and that is what I'm hoping for also. I just need to think about how things relate so I can actually do what I need to do. (Another friend, B, reminded me last week of what Albert Einstein said, "Insanity [is] doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.")

So I'm going to take a deep breath or 40 and relax a little, at least as much as a mom of 6 who has a son turning 11 on the 31st can. I am going to try to get control of my time suck and try to make some more happy memories and change things up in a good way. It wouldn't be good to be all insane. :)

Wishing you peace and love and the strength to change things up if you need or want a different result.


Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Whether I get everything on my "to do" list done or not, Christmas is still coming. Isn't that Marvelous?!
Babies come whether you're ready or not.

Highlight of my day so far, the boys singing carols to Miss M while she was fussing so I could make the meatballs. I'm sure there will be more...while we frost sugar cookies, sit together at church (probably providing the sideshow entertainment for those around us), and while we listen to the Husband read, "Twas the night before Christmas...".

Wishing you peace, joy and the greatest of the gifts...LOVE, today and everyday.

Merry Christmas!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Block Towers

Do you ever build with blocks? Or do you remember what is what like? You stack the blocks taller and taller without proper engineering strategies or a building permit. You can only go so high before the whole thing falls.

Sometimes I feel like I'm living my life like that. Adding things, trying to please everyone, make people happy and be what equals a "good mom" in my own imagination.

Yesterday I was thinking about how *J* used to love doing a gingerbread house and we haven't done them in a few years for a number of reasons. Yesterday I started thinking that if he got to build one this year, maybe he would find some of the Christmas spirit that he seems to have lost in being a teenager when the magic seems a little more evasive.

The problem is that I couldn't just get a kit for him because the other boys would want to do it if he did one. (I do not predict that all of them working together on one little house would go well.) It's not just the cost of 5 kits which would be done with varying amounts of care and interest (although everyone would have to have one) or that some competition (which I detest) would follow.

The problem was that I didn't want to go in search of the blasted kits on Christmas Eve Eve Day. In my head I was trying to figure out how to manage it. Who would I bring with me? Who would I leave home? What if I had to go all over town with 10 stops before finding enough?

Do you see where this is heading?

I was getting in a tizzy about something I thought might bring some joy but in thinking about it I was stacking more blocks on my tower and it was starting to teeter. In fact, the more I felt like I had to find these kits and put on my "patient mom" hat to help the younger ones, the more I felt my tower of blocks starting to tilt dangerously to the side.

I have a lot to do, but so does everyone else. I want to have fun and enjoy the time we have together. However, I need to stop and breathe and perhaps not add more blocks to the tower but be happy with the blocks we already decorating sugar cookies on Christmas Eve like we always do.

And I also need to be sure the foundation of my tower is strong and that comes from remembering the reason for the season, the birth we've been waiting for.
That will happen whether I make gingerbread houses or not; whether the house is spotless or not; whether I've created a picture perfect image of Christmas or not.

In other words, I need to get my heart and soul in the right place.

Praying we can all keep our towers standing..and if we teeter, we can lean on others and on God for support.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Filling the Tank

What fills your tank, feeds your soul, gives you comfort and peace through the days?

I'm not talking about your Love Language although I could. I've read the book and I can tell you that mine is words of affirmation (so when people leave comments it totally makes my day. :) ).

What I'm talking about is getting recharged. According to the personality tests, I'm an introvert. I recharge in solitude and get exhausted by the social stuff. Overall, that is true. Walking into a room of strangers, or even acquaintances can fill me with dread, fear and all sorts on insecurity complexes.

However, if I can get past it and find a groove and a comfortable conversation, it feels wonderful and I feel wonderful.

Last night I went to a cookie exchange where I knew many of the women in attendance. They're all great ladies and it's a blessing to know them. Let me just tell you that I almost didn't get there. I very nearly turned around twice on the way. Once when I missed the turn (I keep saying I need a GPS, preferably one that says, "Hey lady, turn left here!") The other was when I turned into the wrong (long) driveway and had to do a 97 point turn to get out.

To be fair, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed by life all day and when that happens tears are often close to the surface. (They almost bubbled over a few times. :O )

When I finally got to the right house, I saw smiling faces, heard lots of laughter and happy chatter. It was good and nice. While it took me a little bit to relax from my inner stresses, it was wonderful to see friends; women who build up those they come in contact with. What a blessing to have these women in my life.

I left that evening after laughing and talking and eating and felt happy and relaxed and ever so grateful that I was able to go.

Maybe I'm being greedy, but I wish I could have those kinds of evenings (mornings, afternoons, whatever, I'm not picky) more often.

So last night I filled my sanity tank. ;) I felt prepared to de-clutter, tame the laundry beast and finish all the holiday preparations. (Of course I woke up this morning and realized the Cleaning Fairy had missed my home again and all my resolve turned to, how will I ever get this done?)

Praying that you find ways to fill your tank today and everyday. It might not always be an evening of cookies and conversation, but any little thing that will refill your "running on empty" tank.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Rolling Cookies, Holding Tongue

Do you ever just get annoyed with someone? They say or do something that ticks you off but you know you can't call them on it so instead you find someone else to vent to?

That happened to me today and I tried to call two different friends to voice my frustration. To say, "Would it be so hard ...?!" "Do you think they could...?!" Then they would agree with me and I would get to feel all self-righteous and have a little banner that said, "I've been wronged" to go along with my crown. (I am the queen of the castle, don't you know. ;) )

There was no answer at either number so I left "Just called to chat" messages and decided to get to work on my list.

I started rolling the devil's food cookies. That dough is sticky, even after chilling overnight. I scooped out little clumps of dough, rolled them into balls then into granulated sugar before placing them on the cookie sheet. The dough needed to go back in the freezer between baking because it becomes impossible to work with unless it's very cold.

I had time to think. At first I was ranting in my head about what ticked me off. As I worked with that sticky cookie dough my self-righteousness began to melt away, replaced by a few realizations. I know that venting never makes me feel better but it does feel good to have a friend tell me I should be angry. I also realized that like I need to take time between batches of cookies (when I'd much rather be working like a well-oiled assembly line machine) I need to take time before responding. The knee-jerk reaction from hurt would be more likely to make everything sticky, but a cool-headed response, taking my time and holding my tongue (with not only the person who upset me, but with others too) would be a much more appropriate (and Christian) response.

I may not have gotten validation for my anger, but that's not what I needed anyway. Instead I have a sense of peace because I remembered not to gripe. I guess the Husband's "Accept others where they are" attitude is rubbing off.

It's sweet to know that while my heart wasn't in the right place at first, some time allowed me to cool down before I got into something sticky.

Wishing you time to reflect before you react in this Advent season and always.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Rice Cereal Made Me Cry

OK, cry might be an exaggeration. Teary may be a better description.

And I didn't even have to eat any. (Blech! That stuff smells like offense to rice cereal lovers. I won't even tell you what I think of green tea. LOL ;) )

No, the girly is 16 weeks old tomorrow and she's getting to that time when we start thinking about starting her on solids. I was standing the the Tarjay aisle looking at baby spoons and bowls and the dreaded rice cereal talking on my cell phone to the Husband. (Don't you hate it when people do that? I think almost everyone in the Tarjay had a phone to their ear.)

Me: "She's getting to that age, do you think I should buy her some spoons and bowls for her stocking?"
Him: "Sure, why not. She's ready for cereal."
Me: "I want to wait until she sees the ped next week."
Him: "Why? We're going to have to start sometime."
Me: eyes getting moist "But I'm not ready for that yet."

I bought the stuff, but I'm not saying we're starting yet. I mean I know all the readiness signs and she could start but it's not like she needs it...yet.

I wonder why these milestones impact me the way they do and why different things hit me differently with each child. I get teary when the oldest performs in concerts. I get teary when #2 gets an academic award, when #3 has a great baseball game, #4 performs in a Christmas pageant, #5 brings me a catalogue and says, "What do you want for Christmas, Mom?". And yes, I get teary when #6 outgrows a dress.

I know that my goal is to move them on to the next step in life. I will always be their mom and they will always be my babies, but they will eventually not need me in the same ways. I'm OK with that but it doesn't mean that watching them grow up isn't sometimes painful.

One of the interesting things about having 6 kids of varying ages is that I know "This too shall pass, " whatever it is. (I admit that I am less secure in this fact regarding the oldest child because this is still new...he's like the test-case child. ;) )

So soon enough the girly will be enjoying (??) rice cereal and I will be more comfortable riding in the passenger seat while the 16 yo is behind the wheel (maybe?!). I might get teary about the milestones, but not because I don't want them to come. I get teary because I am thankful for each stage and phase and opportunity. Each day and experience is a gift. I might not enjoy all the gifts equally, but I do need to remember to look at them as gifts and take nothing for granted.

Thank you, Lord, for these moments when I recognize the little (and big) milestones even though sometimes I am the one feeling the growing pains.


Friday, December 17, 2010

The Bible Makes Them Cry

The other night after the young boys were all tucked in, *E* came into the hallway in tears as the Husband was heading downstairs.

I heard snippets of conversation and I heard the Husband go back into *E*'s room before coming downstairs a few minutes later.

"He's so sensitive," the Husband said, clearly moved by the exchange.

*E* was reading his Bible before going to sleep and the story of baby Moses being put in a basket to float off upset him so much that he needed some help. The Husband tucked him back in and together they finished reading the story, with daddy assuring *E* that Moses was safe and had lots of people to love and care for him and that his own mother was even able to care for him.

When I think about that story, I admit I get a little ball of hurt in the pit of my stomach too. Count those types of things among the things I don't even want to try to imagine.

13 years ago another boy in our family was attending his first Sunday School class in a church we had just begun attending. He was 3 and he heard the story of the Widow's Mite. That little boy was in tears that day and ended up sitting on Mrs. B's lap, so upset was he about how the widow would survive with no money. How would she get food? (The teacher came to tell us about it, because she said all she could think was, "they're a new family, they'll probably never come back." But we did. :) )

Those Bible stories took on new meaning for me when I read them through the eyes of my children. They were opportunities for them to learn of God's faithful provision and for me to be reminded of it. Their compassion and caring touched my heart too (and whenever the 16 yo is being particularly cranky, it helps to remember those times when his compassion wasn't overshadowed by teenage bravado. :) )

The children lead me and teach me and help me grow.

Wishing you opportunities to learn and grow through all times and places and perhaps with unlikely or unexpected "teachers".


Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Just Don't Know...

When the kids ask me something and I don't know, we look it up. Isn't the internet grand?!

When we're making decisions about our family, the Husband and I discuss it, weigh pros and cons and usually we find an answer using our logic and understanding.

There are times when what logic says and the world say do not always sync up with what my heart and soul tell me.

We talk a lot about giving things up to God, but it's usually really REALLY difficult to totally surrender. People will follow bits and pieces of scripture but if it's uncomfortable we can all justify why we pick and choose what we're going to follow hard and what we're going to say is cultural or historical or somehow just doesn't apply to me here and now.

I struggle with it. I talk about it with the Husband. We have a lot of theological conversations and I think that's a good thing.

When making decisions, when walking through life, I try to pray first and act second but I still wonder if I'm following the proper path, making the best choices and doing the right thing.

Right now, as I embark on a new adventure I wonder if it's the best thing or if I should maintain focus on my family without the outside distractions. The truth is, I feel perpetually distracted by any number of "sparkly things" every single day. I wonder if I'm trying to juggle too much and dropping every single ball? I question, if I am following God's plan (or trying to), why aren't things coming together? Why does it feel like things are harder than they should be?

Don't misunderstand, I know that giving things over to God doesn't mean a life of sweetness and roses, but instead that I won't go through the difficult times alone. However, sometimes I wonder about where all of these brick walls and mud puddles are coming from, you know what I mean?

I guess I have a lot of growing and learning and refining to experience. As *E* used to say, "I don't love it." It makes me doubt myself and my decisions. I don't doubt God. Wonder if we're having communication issues? You bet!

So sometimes I just don't know. Fortunately, God is forgiving of my "listening" troubles and I'll just keep trying to get on the right track.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Makes a Mama Proud

You might think that my children make me proud often, mostly because I write about those proud moments more often than the times when my children make me want to crawl beneath a very large rock.

This is for two reasons, one is my own pride. The second reason is that I have attempted not to write anything here which could embarrass them now or someday in the future when my blog is famous and they're applying to prestigious firms where they will earn buckets of money which they donate to various charities while living austere lives, and giving me grandchildren (note I said in the future and I mean the far distant future.) ;)

Are you done laughing? You may now read on.

Yesterday the boys were watching a Christmas cartoon with a common theme, if Santa's bag or sleigh is lost, if Santa is ill or just in a funk, Christmas will not come.

*E* our 6 year-old ran into the kitchen and said, "That's not true mom! Christmas will still come. It always does because it already happened." "Why is that?" I asked. "Because Christmas is the celebration of Jesus' birth and that happened a long time ago." (I kid you not, that is what he said.) I told him he was "absolutely right" and I felt like my heart grew three sizes. (By the way, The Grinch is unable to steal Christmas from the Whos down in Whoville so at least they got it right. :) )

It is in these brief moments when I see that they are really listening and taking in what they are taught about God and faith and Christmas. We do not take all of the credit. We are thankful for all of the adults who model and teach this in big and small ways; their Sunday School teachers, and youth leaders and Godparents.

If you are one of those people who model your faith and share your love of God with my kids formally or informally, I thank you. You might not always see it, but you're definitely making a huge impact.

Wishing you joy in this season; joy that no Grinch can ever steal..because like *E* said, "It already happened."


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Don't Mention.. and Memories

When I was growing up I watched the show "Fawlty Towers" with my parents. (What were they thinking?!) There was an episode about not mentioning the war in which John Cleese was funny in a way only he can be. That scene became something of a family joke, particularly between my dad and I.

When I graduated from high school many years ago (gah!) we processed into the auditorium/gym and I happened to walk right by my dad as I walked in. My dad, a very quiet "don't call attention to yourself" man, leaned into the aisle and whispered, "Don't mention the war." Any nerves I felt that evening melted away.

Today I sat in a much larger and more ornate auditorium to watch my son sing in a Holiday Choral festival at his high school. The Men's Choir always processes in to "Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel" and the Concert Choir always processes in to "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Personant Hodie". Before we left for the concert I asked him which aisle he'd be coming down so I'd be on the proper side to see him.

He was the first man (Man? when did that happen?!) to enter for the men's chorus but in the concert choir he was farther down the line and when they paused as they do for introductions, who was standing right beside me, but my very own young man.

I did NOT lean out and say anything at all. I knew that would bother him because he takes his membership and performance oh so seriously. But I did think about my Dad and that June evening so long ago and I thought of how proud my parents would have been to see and hear him. And I know that when *J* stepped up to the microphone and sang "You're a three-decker toadstool sandwich.." my mom would have told everyone nearby, "that's my grandson."

I am very proud of my kids. They each have their own talents, quirks and gifts. I am so very thankful that I am able to see them grow up. I know that my parents are able to see them too, but not here on this earth with me. I wish I could share these moments with them so we could bask in the glow and also when things aren't so glowing, they could tell me it will be OK.

My parents may not be here to dote on them, brag on them and possibly embarrass the daylights out of them, but I think I have made it very clear to them that Grandma B and Grandpa G would be very proud of them.

May you always share the memories of those not with you as they live on in your hearts.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Ask Me When You're Serious"

That's what I said 18 years ago today. I laughed when I said it so it shouldn't have been any big surprise that my parents laughed when I told them I was getting married.

You see, the Husband and I hadn't know each other all that long, not quite 2 months and one day we were talking and he said, "Marry me, Stacey." and I laughed and said, "Ask me again when you're serious."

He was serious. He got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

And I said, "Yes." I wasn't really hesitating because, you see, I knew he was "the one".
I just knew. I guess not every one feels that way, but it was fairly early on when I knew we clicked.

18 years ago people started laughing when we told them we were getting married.

The Husband, a singer of show tunes (I know), will sometimes break into a few verses of They All Laughed when we talk about those days of sharing our news.

Here we are today, still together through ups and downs and all arounds. We've had 6 kids, lived in 4 states and had our share of joy and disappointment. We don't always agree and we don't always see eye to eye. One thing we do do...laugh.

Praying that you find lots of joyous things to laugh about and when life isn't very funny, I pray that you can find just a little bit of helps through the tough times.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Realizations in a Waiting Room

This morning I had the exciting task of getting blood work..and a tetanus/ pertussis booster.

Part of going back to grad school, at least in the fine state of New York, is proving you've been immunized against certain communicable things such as Measles, Mumps and Rubella. When I read the form in the mail I had an itsy, bitsy bit of panic because I don't have my immunization records and I couldn't even tell you who my Dr was when I was a teen and probably had to prove these things for college the first time around. I did call the fine institutions of higher learning and I give them credit for not laughing (in my ear, out loud, at me) when I asked if they would have the immunization records of a student who graduated in 1992.

I visited my very nice Dr (who has the most amazing hairstyle and I wonder how she has the time to look so darned nice every day...yes, she does have kids. My friend K recommended this Dr and warned me of this phenomena. ;) ) I got orders for blood work to prove my immunity and as a bonus, I got the booster shot because I have a baby at home and cannot remember when my last booster was etc. etc. (She did say my arm would be sore and this should give me a pass from dishes or laundry through the weekend...Did you read that, honey? ;)

I slathered on hand sanitizer in the waiting room before I saw my Dr after I read a magazine. I slathered it on when I left the office and then I slathered it on at least twice more in the lab waiting room. I am not usually a germophobe but something about being in places where sick people congregate, hearing the coughing and sniffling got my germophobia up. (Realization germy-radar is heightened.)

I didn't expect a long wait so I neglected to bring a book (and I already mentioned touching the reading materials was creeping me out :O ) or some knitting so I was looking around, not staring at people, just noticing what was around me.

I saw a few older couples, one accompanying the other to their tests or visits. They were comfortable together, supportive and companionable. It made my heart smile.

And I thought..that will be the Husband and I someday. I'm not eagerly anticipating ailments. I was thinking about our relationship and how, to some extent, we have that easy companionship now.

Sometimes I complain about him. Sometimes we disagree and he gets on my nerves and I don't think he's perfect. The other day I could have listed his faults in painstaking detail with subtopics to highlight the really little, particularly annoying stuff he did that ticked me off.

But...on all the big things and in all the major ways he is a very good guy. Life isn't always a hot, romantic movie. Sometimes it's the quiet (or what passes for it around here) comfortable moments of just being content with each other that highlight what is good about our relationship. (Realization #2-it's not a handful of rock star moments that make a great relationship, but how things are in all those other millions of everyday moments.)

Wishing you handfuls of rock star moments surrounded by millions of everyday moments filled with peace, contentment and love.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Somebody's Mom...

Today I logged onto the Internet while I was heating up dinner.

The teenager was doing homework in his room, the baby was sleeping in her bouncy seat and the other 4 boys were building with Legos, playing with Hot Wheels or a combination of both. The Husband worked late.

I read the very sad news that a very graceful, classy woman had died from cancer. Out loud I said, "Oh no." My heart sank and all I could think was...she is someones mother and daughter and friend.

I know what it's like to be the daughter left behind and my heart aches for her children. I think too, of my friends who have also lost their moms or dads or siblings or children or spouses and I wonder how they're doing at this time of year when holiday memories can be bittersweet. I hope they have people to talk to, to share the joy and the sorrow when the need arises.

Today I ache for the family grieving their mother, daughter, sister, friend. They are in my prayers.


Parenting Awards and Cookie Cutters

Yesterday I was reading the paper, actually, I browse through it and read stories with headlines that catch my eye. (My journalism teachers said having catchy headlines above the fold were important and apparently they were right, at least for this reader.)

I digress.

On Monday there was a syndicated column by a psychologist whom I respect and admire. Yesterday I discovered he would probably give me an "... Awfully Ludicrous Parenting Honor". Ouch. The only reason it's "probably" is because I haven't garnered media attention, which he says is a requirement as qualification for the honor.

What did I do? I pay my children for good behavior, specifically I have been known to pay them a dollar for behaving well in church.. This expert says that paying them for expected behavior "makes a mockery of teaching children to do the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do."

Whoops. Well, I guess he has a point. I do tell my children they should help pick up around the house regardless of whose mess it is because "it's the right thing to do" and "you're a member of the family."

I'm not mocking being good for goodness' sake. I embrace it and do it myself. We emphasize the common good and helping others. We try to teach the kids about respect for self and others and just being an all-around good person.

Sometimes though, when in a pinch, a little extra muscle in the form of very germ-ridden, specially imprinted paper helps. Call it "spin" but I consider the extra incentive positive reinforcement for behaving properly and it works better than, "If you don't behave, you're losing all your electronics for the day, week, month, your lifetime."

Just like everything, the experts may not have all the answers for every particular situation. The experts don't always agree, which just goes to show that there is more than one way to raise up a child. (The column I read yesterday was actually written in response to a column he had read by another parenting columnist about the values (pun intended) of paying for good behavior.)

Our kids aren't all cut from the same cookie cutter and neither are our families. While some things may be universal, temperaments and family dynamics are vastly different. I see it even within my own family. One child will feel the impact of losing a particular privilege far differently than another. When I try to make "the punishment fit the crime" I also take into account the motivation and motivators of the beastie in question, fair and equal treatment does not always equal identical treatment.

Because the star cookies and the tree cookies..I don't usually frost them the same either.

Prayers for wisdom through daily adventures, whether addressing the behavior of the kiddies or baking your cookies, one size doesn't fit all. Thankfully, God's love does.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh the Weather Outside..

is frightful? Maybe not that bad. It's snowing but not like last week when 3 feet got dumped on us. It's coming down at a good clip though, and windy and cold.

I am thankful to be snug and warm inside my little home snuggling with the two littles and especially thankful that the Husband waited at the bus stop with the boys, particularly since *E*'s bus was 20 minutes late because of traffic. He's a good guy. I had water boiling so he could have a hot cup of tea before heading off to the salt mines work.

Monday is always a tough day, but after a 4-day week-end it's really tough. When you add in snow and cold who wants to get out of bed and get moving?

Apparently, today I did. And I feel like I've already gotten so much accomplished. Laundry is going, dishes are done, I even tidied up a bit. There's always more to do, but every little bit helps. I am trying to eat this elephant that is housekeeping in my home one baby bite at a time and keep a positive attitude. Yes, there is always laundry to do but if I complain about it what purpose does it serve? Better to make it a positive.

Sometimes I try to pray for each person as I fold their clothes. Not every pair of socks gets a full blessing, but filling that mundane repetitive task with something good certainly helps me finish up in a better frame of mind that grumbling about the person who doesn't turn their socks right side out before tossing them in the hamper.

I count the blessings of this laundry just as I can look outside and see mounds of snow and find blessings in that. (Although If I was stuck on the highway for a day in the snow, I might be struggling to count very many! My heart goes out to those people stranded last week.)

I think the key to counting my blessings is to try to do the whole "bloom where I'm planted" thing. I can do the best job with the laundry, be thankful for the people who wear the clothes, the ability to do it etc. or I can grumble about it. Which is going to leave me feeling better afterward? Complaining? Not so much. I can look at the snow and see beauty, water for the earth and remember happy times or I can grumble about it, but either way it's still going to fall from the sky.

Today I choose to be thankful for the Legos on the floor (that's a common theme here), the laundry to be folded and the dinner to be planned. I have creative (if messy) kids, we all have clothes to wear, and food in our pantry. Talk about an abundance of riches!

Wishing you abundance in all the things that truly matter and that you may find joy in the little things.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Thumbs Up

It was a thumbs up kind of day which doesn't explain my crabbiness at all, but upon reflection it was definitely a day of good moments....

The first thing *C* said to me when I came downstairs this morning was, "I love you, mom."

The husband dug out the cars again, helped a neighbor get out of her driveway because she couldn't see over the snowbanks. Then...he stayed outside to play in the snow with the boys. And he took them out again later in the afternoon even though he is "hurting" from all the shoveling.

*N* went out to help the Husband shovel.

*E* picked up his Legos without being asked.

*J* was hanging Christmas lights in his room and *I* was absolutely enthralled and wanted lights "Just like *J's*." *J* took the second set of lights that he was going to hang in his room and surprised *I* by hanging them up in his instead.

Today after dinner *I* ran to get the books we use for the Advent Wreath readings. He's three and after 5 days he knew the plan. :) LOVE that.

It was a day of little things for which to be thankful on this 3rd day of December.

Wishing you much


Thursday, December 2, 2010

It's Beginning to Look..

A lot like Christmas.

We got a bit of snow yesterday through this morning. I am very thankful to not be among those trapped on the roads, stuck on the highway for hours. Wishing them a safe and speedy return home.

My little (bwahahaha) family is safe and sound at home. We have food and diapers (phew) and power.

And I LOVE THIS! I love snow. There, I said it. Don't feel sorry for me. It is marvelous to look out my window and see the drifts and the bare tree branches swathed in white. The air is so crisp and pure.

I grew up in the Adirondack mountains and in the winter, in my mind, it is supposed to snow... A LOT. People always say where we live now gets tons of snow, but since we moved in 2007 our town has always missed the snow band, leaving me feeling cheated.

Not today. :)

To me this snow ushers in the season and brings me back to my childhood when the snowbanks were like mountains to me. Aaaah.

Wishing you a safe and blessed day. If you love the snow and you don't have it or if you have a bunch and don't love it so much, I hope that you can find some joy in your present circumstance.