Saturday, November 19, 2011

Keeping it Real and Thankful


Well, I missed Friday, but since it's Saturday, I am going to say close enough!





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My friend Kira at Kissing the Joy as it Flies inspired me to get this blog written. I have been in a "BLOGJAM" for weeks... I have several floating around but none seem to find their way to the computer.

  • My 3 yr old has now moved on to explaining in very meticulous detail why I am a bad mommy for not letting him do whatever he wants. I have had to move past the "time out" consequence to something a little more impactful. I must admit though, I am moderately amused by his ability to articulate his distress and sometimes I let him finish expressing himself just to see where he ends up. Often, "I love you Mommy!" is the final thing that comes out of his mouth. I think he is pretty sure that will reduce the consequence portion of our "moment" together, but it doesn't. It never really has. But, he keeps trying. 
  • I have had a migraine and tension headache combo for 5 days now. My patience is short and my dish pile is high. 
  • I'm holding down the home front while my Love labors elsewhere
  • I am tracking my calories and trying to workout. I did have to leave spin class before I puked or fell off earlier this week. But I did manage to swim 700yards yesterday - I just needed to MOVE!
  • We made it through our parent teacher conferences (so glad my fellas have great teachers, I know their job isn't easy)
  • I had to miss ministry commitments 
  • I am trying to keep up on the house (except the dishes ;)
  • I keep beating myself up. A lot. About how I am not doing enough for my kids, how I should be training them better about life, about how I am only mediocre at many things but should be excellent, etc. I can't seem to shake it off sometimes.
  • I watched an info-mercial about a product I already have and thought, "hey, I should do that"... duh.
  • I love the snow. 
  • I hate when people complain about the weather. Seriously. BE THANKFUL for WHATEVER comes! NOW!
  • I am not expecting a thousand comments telling me I am a good mom. I just have to keep it real here. 
  •  I am worried I won't make my goal weight for my last weight loss challenge. I am SO close, but stress, and not eating it (which is what I usually do) is really messing with me!!!!!!!
  •  In keeping with the above comment about BE THANKFUL --- Here they are!
    I AM THANKFUL FOR:
Bedtime, sleeping cherubs are soooo very amazing!
Silly faces and pretending you don't need your sleeves.

Snowball fights with the trailer and the side of the house.

Ohhh, I just love him. Our marriage isn't easy, but it's worth it.

A carpet of glorious leaves. A birdhouse gift over 10 years old that still blesses me - every day.

Getting to fall in love - every single day.

Life is hard sometimes. And I may not always have the best attitude. But really, at the end of the day, I am thankful. So very thankful.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Halloween Education and Humiliation and Wonder Woman Wannabe

This week's "Fess Up Friday" is a little different - a few funny revelations and some important ones as well.



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This was a wild week.

Kicking off the week with a 9 day cleanse (on this wonderful nutritional supplement I take) focused me on what I need to be committed to. A few days in I wrote this blog outlining what those things are. It helped clarify and direct my purpose. I am so glad... because several things would come up...

FESS UP 1) To "celebrate" Halloween or not? - Well, we don't. Mostly. I hate the holiday and am always annoyed when it shows up and so glad when it's over. But this year, little boys being older, they had good questions...

---- Mommy, can we put a graveyard in our front yard too?
---- Can I be a vampire?
---- When are we going to decorate for Halloween?
----- How come I can't watch "Scream"?

Ugh. At first I was annoyed. But, as I prayed I asked God to show me what to say, in their language and understanding.
Here were my answers as close as I remember:
--- Graveyards represent death. We celebrate life because Jesus is Life. So we will never have a graveyard in our yard.
---- No, vampires are not fun characters. They love darkness and we love light. You are not going to pretend to be one because you are a child of God, you love the Light that is Jesus in your heart.
---- We don't "decorate" for Halloween other than pumpkins because we don't want to celebrate "death". Pumpkin carving is something we can enjoy doing as a family and it is okay to want a grumpy pumpkin carved, because sometimes we are grumpy. (For those of you who notice the Frankenstein pumpkin, the closest my kids have come to an understanding of who he is was an episode of Phineas and Ferb. Goofy and silly style - we did not elaborate on who he is or what he means - it didn't come up-whew!)
---- Uh, where did you even hear about the movie "Scream"? Yikes, kids in your class in 2nd grade have seen it? Oh and then there was that fund raiser toy duck that had the 'scream' face... (GRRRR!!!) NO, you will not watch it. It is yucky and would give you worse nightmares than the time you watched Scooby Doo with the babysitter.

I realize these are not completely perfect answers. But, they communicated my heart and satisfied theirs. My oldest mentioned on Halloween morning he was worried about going to school that day and seeing icky and scary costumes. I asked him what he was going to do, he said he would look away. I asked him after school. He looked away.

FESS UP 2) Can I just say, I really wanted to keep them home from school that day. Seriously. To just skip it completely. But, I knew I wasn't supposed to. They go to public school because they are little shining lights in a world that needs Jesus. I love the tales they come home with and they are truly little blessings in spite of their flaws according to all of the school staff that work with them. Trust me, I have spent a lot of time with those very kind people. God bless them, every one!

Here are some photos for your amusement and leading up to the next "Fess Up"

My puppy was wagging his tail. OH MY GOSH - It was hilarious!





Air Clone Warriors
 Smores cooked over the fire pit. So fun!



FESS UP 3) We did not attend our own church's Harvest party.
I know, it seems crazy. We adore our church. Everyone there feels like dear friends and family, but this year we needed to keep the kids close to home (our church is 20min away) because they were on the verge of getting sick and so we went to the small friendly church where they attend AWANA once a week. We had a wonderful time and we were ten minutes round trip from home. As you can see, everyone had a blast. We got to meet some more precious members of the Body of Christ.

FESS UP 4)I personally loved hearing a little old guy on a plug in speaker playing his guitar and singing Gaither songs from my youth. If you don't know who the "Gaithers" are, go ahead an google them. And don't tell me you did, it will make me feel old.

FESS UP 5) I had no idea I needed to school my children on Trick or Treat protocol. Initially I was going to bag it and let them watch Star Wars for the 938th time. My Love was out of town and I wasn't going to go it alone, but another mommy with her Love working that night agreed she would if I would, so off we went to her house to troll the neighborhood for candy. (Our neighborhood bought their houses brand new and have now paid them off, if you know what I mean. But we did go across the street and they had some candy for us)

It seemed like a harmless plan until...
Two of my three children went RUNNING up to the house hitting the doorbell like they were alerting them to the Apocalypse! THEN they ran INTO their house!!! Yes, all the way in, to their living room. Total strangers. Fabulous! I was glad it was dark and they couldn't see my face and only heard me hollering for them to back out and be sure to say "thank you"! I was SO embarrassed. Again, glad no one could see me. This happened several times. I had several warning huddles at which time they quit going in houses and hitting the doorbells multiple times but then they began running ahead, around the corners, knocking other kids out of their way, another conversation, oh and then, I got a little closer and realized they were sorting through the generously offered candy informing the kind givers what they wanted and didn't want. WOW! I had no idea - none at all - that my non-shy, honest, super confident little guys would make me seriously make me consider the NEED to dress up next year.


FESS UP 6) My friend Kira, author of the Fess Up Friday, posted this blog today. She told me not to cry, but I did anyway. I don't cry often at blogs. I swear. But this one, touched me. There is something about her writing that moves me. Our lives are so similar in many ways. Her blogs speak to deep places in me that make me a better mom. She is one of my heroes.

FESS UP 7) I have been following a very important series written by a blogger Kira led me to. Her blog is called Wonder Woman Wannabe.

She spent all of October writing a series called 31 Days to Finding Balance as a Home Manager. This series changed me. I could write an entire blog just on it, which hopefully I will soon, but basically put, since I quit working to be a stay at home mom I have shunned the idea of managing anything. A type B personality wedged into an Executive Secretary position for most of my employment career, all I wanted to do when I had babies was to not administrate, answer phones, or work in human resources... Well, we all know that is delusional, but who isn't as they approach the end of their first pregnancy! She taught me key things about auditing my time (where does it go?!) which I started and then quit because I had sick kids that made my whole world come to a halt. She challenged me to see myself in an important role - home manager. It got me thinking after roughly seven years of a survival mindset, I needed to make some changes. I alluded to them in the #1 Fess Up. She encouraged me to make a road map for my days, which I always do when I leave someone else in charge. And honestly, all 31 posts were a HUGE blessing to me. I have implemented many of them and reaped rewards of more order in my home and a clearer head when dealing with curve balls. The last ones, from 19-31 were short, sweet and powerful in their various impacts on me. I now have another hero. Another woman in my life that calls out the best in me and expects me to be all God created me to be regardless of how I "feel" on any given day.

FESS UP 8) I am not going to compulsively read this through 5 times to make all my edits. My Love is home and I'd rather snuggle. Please pardon any oversights and over-wordy-ness. 

I am so grateful for this past week!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Ninjas, Losing Stuff and Mediocre Meatballs

It has been a few weeks since my last "Fess Up". It's not like I am low on material! 




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Here we go!





My sister and her husband brought their boys over for our 20th Anniversary party a couple of weeks ago (I said I was catching up!) and one of her four taught them a new trick. Pretty slick ninja masks! I asked my sister where they got the idea. She said her son came up with it, creativity flows freely in our family... it just comes out in strange ways sometimes... but that's a story for another time.

My Love and I took a trip to Sonoma County, California for a short getaway to celebrate our anniversary. I had a couple of strange moments. No, not because of too much wine...but, too much pictures? I am not entirely sure, but here are a couple of the shots that would have raised my eyebrow... if I could do that sort of thing...
I took about 5 pictures of my sandy feet. I love having sandy feet, but how many pictures do I NEED of them, really?

This is the first picture of myself I have seen from the behind and not gasped in horror at the size of my caboose. Not that it is smaller, but for some reason, it did not strike disgust, distress, or even a negative thought. Cool huh?

During the hot air balloon ride we flew over a beautiful cornfield. So beautiful, in fact, that I took like 15 pictures of the corn. From this angle. What was I thinking? I have no idea. Guess never seeing corn from above before I went a little crazy.


Since we've been home I have been losing things. Those of you who follow me know I am constantly battling clutter. The combination of being super busy before our party, doing marginal/basic "pick up" housecleaning, and misplacing a few important items led me to do some major sort/organize/clean out projects. Here is one of them. The toy boxes in my youngest fella's room have suffered neglect. When Daddy's office keys went missing somewhere in the house, we had to look in all the potential places. We couldn't imagine where they went or what my little guy did with them since he carries them around everywhere but never puts them down where they don't belong. Until now.
 With a deep sigh, I plunged head first into the toy boxes and pulled everything out, removing toys that he'd long since grown out of, retrieving all the ABC blocks from various places and praying to find the keys some how, some way.



I did not find the keys (I did eventually - in the crack of the armchair), but if you look closely you can see the blocks I found... this must have been an "Irregular" discount toy based on the alphabet configuration. Comparing the pictures I hardly notice a difference. I swear I cleaned stuff out. Really. Honest. 

My Love has been so amused by my cleaning up/out piles of whatever to find our missing stuff he has joked about hiding my cell phone or some other key items to get me to clean out other parts of the house he finds annoying (he is pretty meticulous about how he keeps "his" stuff). I smiled. He smiled back. I am a work in progress. He loves me.


This year we elected not to spend a ginormous fortune on pumpkin patch pumpkins and so we took them to our local roadside pumpkin stand... there were LOTS to choose from. Ironically, it didn't take any less time to pick out a pumpkin...




 but there was definite happiness happening despite skipping the viney $$/lb pumpkin patch.

We also went up to Greenbluff to get some apples. This was the highlight of their trip... the balloon guy.  Star Wars "helmets" and "light sabers" for everyone! We only lost one saber while apple picking for about 10 minutes. The apples were picked over and the ground was quite muddy after lots of rain. We stopped at my favorite organic orchard and got most of what we needed instead. I will have fresh picked apples for my Christmas apple pie. That makes me happy!

In the last few weeks I have tried to spruce up my cooking. There has been some success and some notable failures.
Flat, burnt or with corners - how do you like your snickerdoodles? I made my usual recipe. However, I was interrupted about three times during the flour scooping portion of the baking process and it took two tries and an oven temperature adjustment to get them right... and they still had "corners" because I had to jam as many as possible on the cookie sheet to get them finished on time for the Bosses Day celebration at my hubby's work.

Mediocre meatballs: A dear friend of mine is an extraordinary chef.
She gave me her favorite recipe for meatballs.

This is not what they were supposed to look like.

Again, my little interrupters can take some of the blame but my not reading the instructions thoroughly (like I put TOO many bread-not so exactly "crumbs" into the meat, forgot an ingredient or two, and instead of chopping the onions I lazily -she warned me not to- did them in the food processor which turned them to mushy soup texture.) also contributed to this disaster (well, they were edible so not a total disaster).

The recipe I doubled made about 16 meatballs that tasted more like "burger pops". If only they had been on a stick! I am currently considering marketing them to Starbucks to go alongside cake pops. What do you think of a ketchup dipping sauce accompaniment? Or maybe since they are ugly I could coat them  in a hard ketchup coating like the cake pops have that cool pink coating?
Hmmm.... well, maybe not.
Next time I will have ALL the ingredients and PRINT the recipe instead of running back and forth to the computer stepping over a plastic Kawasaki ride-on motorcycle, errant bouncy balls and kids wielding giant pencils (their San Francisco souvenirs I insisted on) like swords.

Awesome White Bean Chicken Chili: To leave you on a high note (like George Costanza from Seinfeld recommends) I made this. Hopefully it looks good in the picture. I know what it tastes like. It is YUMMY!!!! My chef friend didn't have a favorite recipe for white bean chicken chili, so after looking at several from Bon Appetite, Kraft Foods, and Real Simple websites I decided to concoct my own.

I had to roast and grind cumin seeds ( I bought them for another recipe that I have NO idea now what it was) since I was out of powdered cumin - a key ingredient. I had to use my protein shake blender to grind the seeds since I apparently no longer have a coffee grinder (I discovered today after cleaning out two of the most likely locations). I made a gigantic crock pot full and gave half of it to a friend. It felt victorious to make something so yummy after the mediocre meatballs earlier this week! 

I will post our pumpkin carving with my "Fess Ups" for next week, along with my answer to the Halloween or not to Halloween question... 

Blessings and Happy Fall!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

WOW!

We were talking with friends last night at our marriage group about God's favor and blessing. Some days we feel like He barely knows we exist but He is surrounding us and providing for us never the less, other days, He blows the lid off of our expectations and reminds us that the God of infinite creativity is VERY activly involved in our day to day lives...
Today, I experienced Him above and beyond what I could have imagined... WOW!
We enjoy doing word find puzzles on airplane rides. I love that even when it gets hard and I want to give up, he keeps going and encourages me to keep going too.

He also rechecked our car rental options right before we left and found THIS ONE! I can't begin to tell you how precious this gift is... we both LOVE convertibles and to be in one again was not only FUN but nourised our spirits by the fresh air, breeze on our faces and the fabulous stereo system!

On a referal from a friend I got a great deal on a hotel nestled in a vineyard in Santa Rosa. They decided to upgrade our room for free...

My Love stopped the car along the highway so we could enjoy one of my most favorite places on the planet, the California coastline...


We hiked down the hill, and I ran across the sand to dunk my feet in the water... oh how I love sandy toes... I can't even begin to tell you what the beach does for my soul. Maybe someday...

Another favorite thing for me in Cali is the smell of the eucalyptus trees...

The beauty of the world around us blew my mind today. His presence surrounds me daily, but today I specifically felt His tenderness towards my Love and I, His passion for our love and His blessing on our perserverence.



 We finished our evening with a romantic dinner at a lovely restaurant where we challenged each other to eat something "different" on the menu. It was a good stretch and super yummy...

Then, we came back to the room to this:
We know we are not responsible for all these amazing blessings today. Yes, we have chosen each other and done some hard work that wasn't always fun or even tolerable, but we lean on God for our strength. He is the reason we have made it this far. He is the reason we can face the next 20, 40, 60 years believing He will sustain and strengthen and bless us along the way.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Anniversary Eve

Twenty years ago tomorrow I said "I do" to a guy some would say I barely knew.

We met, within four months we were engaged and within eleven months I was walking down the aisle on Daddy's arm.

We were so young. Everyone said so. We knew it, but we didn't care. We just knew we wanted to do life together. NOW.


Our first year was no honeymoon. It was tumultuous as two headstrong, opinionated, leaders clashed to fight for our identities and our passions. Things got broken, hearts hurt, noisy conflict and powerful reminders of why we even thought we could do this in the first place jolted us in and out of the fantasy we imagined marriage to be.

Just before our first anniversary we moved away from our families, a change of scenery and an opportunity to find our own way together. It was painful to leave the familiar, but two adventurous spirits dove right in, just like we did on the day we said "I do".



Looking back, I know it was one of the most powerful decisions we could have ever made. We had to learn to be friends because we really had no one else to do life with. We got busy trying to figure out how to be married.

Led to a church one Sunday morning, we settled there. Our new "family" helped us establish new habits and relationships that would withstand the test of time. Our faith was built, together even as we continued to battle at home for who we thought we should be together and as individuals.

Our faith, our friends and the fact that we find each other extremely funny has held us together all this time. One of my most favorite things is to get a full-on belly laugh out of him.

Nope, we aren't drunk, just us, being silly... still.

At 40 I know who I am, in relation to my God, my Love, our sons, and my family and friends. My Love has been the key to settling that in me. Putting the Truth of the Bible to accurate and tangible reminders of my design and purpose. He holds me close with tenderness and at times emphatically reminds me when I have lost sight of who I am. My flaws are fully exposed to him and he doesn't flinch. Even when I hurt his heart.

When we renewed our vows on Saturday, repeating heartfelt words that hold fresh meaning, I saw our life in his eyes. Our victories, our failures, our wins, our losses, our heated battles, our passionate connection, our joys, our sorrows, and our hope for our future knowing there will be more of each. We have no idea how long our "future" will be together, painful reminders of how short life is have kept that reality up close and personal. So, we celebrate. Each other. Every day we have. On purpose.

Many commented at my beauty that day, the glow and radiance that came from me. The compliments were lovely and encouraging but I wondered if they knew why I look the way I do. I am accepted and embraced by the God who created me and the man who chooses to love me every day of his life. I choose to receive their love as openly and freely as I can, every day.

We were praying. The boys, they were watching. ;) I am thankful to have this one shot taken by a friend.
More to come in a future blog.



Who am I?

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I am a wife and mother of 3. I have been married to my best friend for over 25 years and our children are 12, 11 and 9 years old. I have struggled with infertility, suffered the loss of a baby by miscarriage, and endured multiple career paths. I have experienced a crisis of faith that shook me to the core and lost a dear friend to a tragic death. I have had a personal relationship with Jesus for most of my life. The Bible and my relationship with Christ has been essential to my surviving and even thriving in my circumstances. I hope you will be blessed by joining me in this process of life. I thank you for showing up to read what I have written.