Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Handmade for the Holidays

I admire this so much. This woman's children are SMALL! I can picture *maybe* doing some of this when my kids are both in grade school. But I post this as a reminder of a wonderful goal for the holidays. If you're reading this, maybe you will take the "challenge".

The passing of time...

I started this blog on January 3, 2005 - a little over a year before my first child was born. So it is pretty wild to read one of my earliest blog posts.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, my last post was intended to be a list of all I'm thankful for, and while I did mention a few things, I used the excuse that this blog is "about my children" to avoid sitting and really thinking deeply about *all* the things I am grateful for. Maybe because it is because its such a long list, it's embarrassing to think about how often I gripe. But this blog, as I've mentioned, is as much to tell my children "how their Momma felt about things" (to steal a quote from Amy Grant, again) as it is to share things about their childhood I want us all to remember. So here goes:

I'm grateful for my children. For their cheery dispositions, and sweet personalities (among other things).

I'm grateful for my faith community, and for this rich Spiritual time in life. I wish that I always felt this way about my faith, and the growth and maturing of my faith...but I'm grateful for the fact that in times when I'm frustrated by my lack of Spiritual growth or excitement, I now know and remember that it always comes back, eventually.

I'm grateful for my dishwasher. We didn't have one during our 10 years in Arlington. :-)

I'm grateful we could afford a lovely home, with all the space we need, and an attached garage so I don't have to walk over an icy walkway or climb icy stairs in the winter time.

I'm grateful that my children, especially Evan, seem to be growing up *very* aware of Jesus and God. I made it to adulthood with a vague understanding of God that served me just fine, but I'm grateful my children will hopefully grow up always knowing that God is always there for them. People will fail them, as I have more times than I like to think about...but God never will.

I'm grateful for my childrens' Godparents, who are thoughtful, caring, devout people who actively help us in our efforts to raise our children knowing God. And have taught me a thing or two too. I'm grateful for their "god sisters" too...who are sweet and loving, and love my kids too.

I'm grateful for the big beautiful window in our living room. Right now there is NO sun coming in through it...but in the fall, it gives us a view of a gazillion beautiful leaves. (OK, I just have to say I am socked that spell checker says gazillion is really a word - I thought I'd made it up! LOL!).

I'm grateful for Springtime at our home, when our front window will be filled with the pink flowers from the tree right in the front of the house, and our *two* lawns on either side of the house will be awash with color from all the flowers we'll have.

I'm grateful to my husband, mother-in-law *and* my kids for planting all those bulbs!

I'm grateful to my husband, who does such a lovely job in general with our "landscape" - its big, and its a lot of work. I'm grateful he strings lights on a tree in our backyard and that our kids think its so cool we have TWO Christmas trees.

I'm grateful for Facebook. I've spent too much time on it this past year, but it got me through a rough patch of being stuck in the house with the babies too much, and my grief over losing my aunt.

OK, so more specifically, I'm grateful to all of my FRIENDS on Facebook and the chance to reconnect with some of them, and to be in more contact with some others. I'm grateful for all the helpful advice and support, especially from my fellow mom friends. But I'm also grateful for all the "littler" interactions of just hearing about peoples' days, and lives...and sharing mine.

I'm grateful for our master bathroom. I just love having a bathroom door *in* my room! (I especially appreciated it when I was pregnant ;-)

I'm grateful that my son, who was born too early, did just fine and never had any lingering problems as a result. I'm grateful for my friends and family, especially my husband, for supporting me when I was so nervous before he left the hospital.

I'm grateful for music. It has blessed my life with joy, encouragement, comfort, and inspiration. I'm grateful that my children love music.

I'm grateful for hot drinks in the winter, especially cider and the lovely flavors of coffee there are in the fall & winter. :-)

I'm grateful for the YMCA. I haven't lost much weight, or gotten in the shape I wish I had by now...but I know that I'm healthier for all the pounds I've lifted and the cardio work. I'm grateful to the staff there who are SO encouraging and helpful, and to the pals I have there who help pass the time.

I'm grateful that my Dad and my aunt were in my life, that their spirits live on in me through their example and all they taught me, and that I'll see them again someday. And for my half sister Bev and the poetry she shared with me, and especially my half-brother Rick, who never felt like "half" anything.

I'm grateful for my mom, especially for all the support she's given me since I became a mom.

I'm grateful for my "light box" and being able to handle dark winters better.

I'm grateful for how appreciative and joyous my kids are. Especially the way Evan points out everything he thinks is just so great!

I'm grateful for my daughter's sunny disposition, the way she loves to help, how much she's talking these days and the way she wanders out here to the living room in the morning and asks to be picked up.

She just did that, so that's the end of my list....at least for now. Happy THanksgiving everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Gratitude

I hope I am raising my kids to be grateful. I've been working on this blog entry for quite a while now, probably because I am guilty of forgetting all of my blessings, in the midst of keeping up with two toddlers...but now its just in time for Thanksgiving, and to share this video of Moose A. Moose from Nick Jr. singing a song about being grateful for having so much to share! I am blessed that I have very grateful, appreciative children. They are always so excited by every little thing we do, so grateful for anything we give or do for them. They're setting an example I hope to live up to someday.

I don't think of myself as a particularly UN-grateful person, but lately I know I have let little annoyances and small, temporary inconveniences make me grumpy and negative. I'm grateful that it isn't very long after I'm in one of those moods, one of the kids or Kevin does something so cute, funny or just plain sweet that I snap out of it. I only wish that I was better at remembering just how blessed my life is when I am stressed or tired, and let out my "less-than-best-self".

I'm always thinking and talking about how I want my kids to grow up realizing that not everyone has all of the blessings we do. Around the world, and right here in our own country, there are people who have to struggle for things we just take for granted. There are people who don't have enough *food* to eat, or who can't afford to have a doctor take care of them. How wonderful it would be if my kids could live long enough to see a time when this world has figured out a way to work together to make sure everyone has what they need. How much more joyous life would be, if we had a more just world.

Evan is singing the Moose Thanksgiving song right now. I hope they always realize the blessings they have. I think they will. And I hope they always know (and I always remember to tell them) how grateful I am for them, and the joy they've brought to our lives.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Our childrens' play lives

Pretend or fantasy play has been a part of our children's lives for a while now. Evan likes to turn over a little tot seat that they've both outgrown, and call it his "Coffee store" (He is very in tune with his mother's love of coffee ;-). And he and Amelie both love to play kitchen with their Dora kitchen (although Evan will use it just as often as his drum set).

Amelie has also always loved to line things up, from her little people ("MY people" she calls them), to lining up all the tea cups and plates that Grandma gave them in a row on the table. Kevin and I both laughed last night when she lined up all the cards from her Dora concentration game in a nice straight, Looong row across our bedroom floor. (This was during one of her more and more common nights of insomnia.). And just now, I walked into our room to find her with the cards in nice little rows...and she had all of the garden tools Nana gave the kids neatly packed in the pockets of her overalls, and holding the play watering can, she was WATERING the Dora cards. She seems very proud of her pink, red and purple garden.

Something must be falling 'into place' around here amongst all the craziness. I'm noticing these sweet moments more and more. And we're starting to get into CRAFTS. God help me. I think it is a good sign that my copy of Rosie's Crafy U that used to overwhelm me, is actually getting me excited. Off to browse Michaels.com and some other sites for some craft supplies. Or maybe not...here comes my little gardener with all of her "flowers" tucked neatly in her pockets.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Christmas is Coming - be part of the Conspiracy


I was not brought up at all religious. My only experiences with church were at my cousins' major Catholic services, but I never was taught about them, so I just felt weird at them mostly. I didn't even know the Lord's prayer, and when it was recited in church, I just felt awkward.

Since then, I've come to a strong faith that makes me want to try to live as best I can, using the lessons from Jesus as my guide. I've participated in bible studies, attend church regularly, and developed my own Spiritual take on Easter and the other Christian holidays, rather than the fundamentalist perspective I'd heard about, or just a secular view of family get-togethers and eating lots of food.

But I only recently started to learn about Advent, and to try to make it as meaningful a time as Christmas Day. Hope Church has some wonderful resources (for Lent too, btw), and we have some advent calendars But really...more than just observing Advent, I feel called to make Christmas more about Jesus's birth and life than about all the other (albeit it lovely) "stuff". OK, not all of it is lovely. Christmas can be a very stressful time for a lot of people because of the misguided importance we put on presents and other "things".

This is where websites like Advent Conspiracy and its sister site Rethinking Christmas might be useful to folks who want to simplify their Christmas so they can spend more time and energy really connecting with family, and giving thanks for Jesus.

I for one have been trying to do this for many years. Its just too easy to fall prey to the worries about "the perfect Christmas" (think Norman Rockwell), and giving the perfect gifts - especially if you are on the receiving end of incredibly generous Christmas gifts. But I think perhaps the key isn't so much in working to make the Christmas season NOT be something, but putting so much time and attention into the things it should be about, there just won't be as much time to worry about those other things. And in trying to simplify our lives, we can "live simply so that others may simply live", something Jesus would certainly approve of.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Ritual & Tradition

Evan and Amelie's folks tend to be nontraditional. In fact, I think we both pride ourselves on rejecting tradition sometimes, especially when said tradition just doesn't make any sense.

That said, I hunger to have rituals and traditions in our home, mostly for the childrens' benefit, but for us as a family as well. And I'm realizing that these traditions or rituals don't have to be highly spiritual or impressive to be valuable. They just have to be honest. There are some traditions in our house, and I guess it is important to recognize the ones you already have, in an effort to develop more.

It is a ritual in our house that the end of the day ends with stories and a cup of milk. I read a gazillion books (it feels like at the end of the day), and when they start to get sleepy, they have their milk. Once they finish their milk, it isn't long before they nod off.

Even the books themselves have their own ritual. Cookie's Week (a must at bedtime) is a book about a busy cat who gets into different mischief each day of the week. And various consequences ensue - Cookie knocked a plant off the window sill, there was dirt everywhere. Cookie jumps in a kitchen drawer, the pots and pans are everywhere, etc. Well now, I read what Cookie does, and Evan chimes in with the second part with much enthusiasm. He likes "helping" read a story, and I think he's proud of himself that he remembers all of it.

There are other book rituals. The last books are always The Going to Bed book by Sandra Boynton, Big Red Barn, and Bear Snores on. And recently I've been making more of a point to read one or two bible stories from one of the baby bibles their Godparents have given them.