Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year's Eve

Perfect happiness. I experienced it tonight. I was standing at the sink, finishing up the dishes and I looked across the room at the fire in the fireplace, the Christmas tree all lit up beside it, had another sip of my decaf chocolate coffee and realized that I have it all. I have everything I ever wanted. I have a wonderful husband who I adore and I know the feeling is mutual. I have three darling children, who at the time are watching Veggie Tales, so it's easy to be thankful for them. I am thankful for them all the time, but some times it's easier than others. I have a warm, comfortable house, which is even cozier on a night like tonight when fog is at the door, causing us to have to cancel plans to spend the evening with our friends from church. I have a wonderful church where God's word is faithfully, boldly and unapologetically preached. I have the dearest of friends, who I would do anything for and I know they would do the same for me. I have parents who are healthy and still married. I have really awesome parents-in-law, too, as well as a fine assortment of sisters and brothers-in-law, and nieces and nephews. What else could a person need? Of course, I could always use a new pair of shoes, or another sweater. Who couldn't? But right now, this evening I have it all.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Years Resolutions

I was going to write a post about New Years Resolutions. But, I can't. Because MissyLou is calling me from her bedroom, telling me she's already gone pee-pee in her nighttime diaper. Why is it that she always wants to go pee-pee when she's supposed to be doing something she doesn't want to do - like eat breakfast and go to bed at night? And, then... Hubby is working on putting the boys to bed, but Bubba is wound up like a top and they're all singing, "Awesome God," at the top of their lungs.... Oh, ok. Now it's hugs. Duh-duh is a huggy child. He's cuddly and likes to snuggle. When he hugs you, his little body just melts right into you. Bubba isn't a cuddly kid. He likes to give and get hugs, but hugging him is kind of like hugging a board. (Mom, Mommmmm, I want to go potty! Mommmm, I want to go potty! Mommy! Mommy! I want to go potty!) And the radio is playing in the background and there's all this noise clutter and I'm really wanting to attempt to write a serious post. But, it's just not happening. I'm sorry. "Mommmm, I want to go potty!!!!!!!!"

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Simple Traditions

I love traditions and I would venture to say that most families have them, to some extent. Some families have big traditions - things they do every Christmas or Easter. A lot of things we do we don't consider traditions, but they are kind of hallmarks of our family life. I like to think of traditions as kind of psychological couches. They are comfortable, relaxing places for our souls, especially if they are things we remember from childhood and have pleasant memories associated with them. Traditions give our souls a place to rest. While I think we love variety in our lives, we also love stability, we like to know what to expect because it brings us a certainty and peace about our lives.

I don't remember too many traditions from my years growing up, but I do remember going to my maternal grandparents' house on Christmas Eve. We'd go to the Children's Christmas Program first and get tutes (see a previous post) and then go to my grandparents' house after. Even to this day when I smell the certain special tute combination of smells (orange, peanut, chocolate) I go back to those Christmas Eves, so long ago.

Our family has a lot of little traditions. Saturday mornings we have bacon and chocolate chip pancakes, Fridays are taco nights and Sunday nights we have quesedillas and smoothies for dinner. I didn't start these "traditions" for the sake of sentiment, but really because I just don't like to think about cooking sometimes and these are easy things the whole family likes. We have bigger traditions, too. Like Hubby and I open our Christmas gifts to eachother on Christmas Eve, and the kids open their gifts Christmas morning.

I'm not the type of mom who makes an effort to make everything meaningful and special, it's just not my personality. But I do hope the small traditions we have in our family will serve to give my children a happy and stable childhood. And when they grow up to be adults, and they smell that combination of say... coffee and bacon it'll take them back to those Saturday morning breakfasts we'd have as a family, and no matter what is going on in their lives at the time, they'll know they are part of a family and have the love of that family, forever.

Friday, December 26, 2008

RC Fun!

The boys got radio controlled cars for Christmas and have been playing with them almost non-stop since yesterday. They are having so much fun.They're big and pretty easy to use, so we let them take them out on the driveway this afternoon and have at it!
We generally have a very strict policy regarding inside toys staying inside and outside toys staying outside, but Daddy and Mommy were outside supervising, so the rules were bent a bit.
It didn't take them long to figure out how to make them go and MissyLou had a great time chasing them around. She didn't seem terribly interested in taking her turn, which I thought was a little out of character for her. But, that was fine. By the way, did you notice the bare feet on the boys? Now, granted, we don't live in the upper regions of the arctic, and the sun was out (note the shadows) and shining, so it wasn't particularly cold, but... it's the middle of winter for heaven's sake. You'd think their mother would make them wear shoes or something.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Merry Little Christmas

Well, it's over. Christmas 2008 has come and almost gone. The presents have been opened, the carols have been sung and the last chestnut has been roasted. It's been a good Christmas.

Trucks of all sorts are always popular in this household.

This is what Santa brought me this year. I must have been a very good girl. Of course Santa had an ulterior motive for this gift.

Grandma's little elves are helping open her gift.

Here's one happy boy. They're all a little loopy with gifts right now, but that's ok. It was a good Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

My favorite time of the day

Being a busy mom of three very active children, I get very little time to myself. So, in order to accomplish a little "me time", I get up around 5:30 in the morning to walk and then to have a leisurely cup of coffee and spend time with the Lord. My morning walks started about four years ago. It was the middle of summer. One of those awful mornings when it's about 80 degrees at sunrise and you're just dreading what the rest of the day is going to be like. I remember laying in bed, sweating already and thinking, "hmm, I might as well just get up and do something." So, I went walking. And that started a habit that I am quite regular about. I love my morning walks. I love savoring the dawn in each season - from those slightly cool summer mornings, when that's the only comfortable time of the day, to frosty winter mornings, when I can see the bare silhouettes of the trees in the starlight and the sparkle of frost on the windshields of cars. I love seeing the occasional racoon or coyote and hunting for owls. This morning I even saw a rabbit hopping across someone's lawn. My morning walks not only provide me with exercise, but also a time to have uninterrupted thought. This is the only time of day this happens!
After my walk, I make myself a cup of coffee and spend time in God's Word. A couple years ago I decided to try to read through the Bible. I read a chapter a day. Then, I bought Hubby Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible for Christmas last year and picked it up about mid-summer this year. I was in Isaiah chapter 26 when I added Matthew to my study. Six months later, I'm in Isaiah chapter 49. But, it has been worth it. Anyone who says "the God of the Old Testament" is a God of judgement and wrath hasn't been reading the Bible. I have been changed through my reading of Isaiah. I have seen a picture of God I have never seen before. Yes, He did judge and punish Israel for their apostasy. Deservedly so. But the whole book is about God's love, His redemption - both of Israel from Babylon, but also of the world through the coming of Christ. It is a book of such depth and richness; I just soak it in. It is the most precious and profitable time of my day. I also spend time in prayer. I covet this time and treasure it. Without I probably couldn't survive.
This is my favorite time of the day.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Finding balance.... it's so elusive

I'm one of those all or nothing people. All my life I've struggled with finding a balance in life. Things are either black or white, hot or cold, this or that. I've either succeeded at what I've set out to do with flying colors, or I'm an abject failure. I can't seem to find an acceptable middle ground, and this has put an enormous strain on me as I go through life. Noone is perfect and sometimes things just don't have to be perfect. But somehow I can't get that through my head. I've especially struggled with finding balance these past several months because I've assumed some temporary responsibilities at church that really consumed a lot of time and emotional energy. But, on top of those things, I also insisted (to myself) that I would continue keeping a neat and clean house, keep losing weight with Weight Watchers, continue going through the homeschool curriculum with the boys at the pace we'd been doing, find the best and most appropriate Christmas gifts (all within budget, of course), bake not one, not two, but a nice variety of cookies and candies for our neighbors, get the Christmas cards out in a timely manner, be a wonderful, loving and patient mother, an attentive and understanding wife, a good friend.... and on and on it goes. That's a lot, and I pressure and pressure myself to get it all done and berate myself when I don't accomplish what I set out to do. But right now, my house is a mess. Our bedroom has pathways from the door, to the bed, to the bathroom. There has been clean laundry in the laundry basket for a week now. I'm gaining weight because I can't keep my fingers out of the chocolate and I haven't been the most patient teacher to my boys. And I'm also stressed out about all of the above. Now, if you've been reading this post and thinking, "Ah, now she will let us know the brilliant insight she has discovered that will help her lighten up a little, for crying out loud..." you are wrong. I have no brilliant insight. I do know I'm going to try to take a little time for myself over New Year's and maybe figure out a plan of action. Maybe I should take one of my favorite quotes from Susan Schaeffer MacCauley's book, "For the Family's Sake", "You don't have to be a perfect mother, just one that's good enough" (or something like that, I lent the book to a friend and never got it back, so that's not a verbatim quote), and make a dozen copies and put it all over the house. But, I do know that I need to cut myself a little slack and try to enjoy the rest of this Christmas season.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Last night we went to the Children's Christmas Program at my parents' church. It's the same church I grew up in and there were a lot of people there we knew. Their kids were in the program. Anyhow, the program was great. The little kids even sang "Jingle jingle Happy Bells!", which is the same song I sang when I was that age 37 years ago. And at the end of the program, we got "tutes". Tutes are little bags of fruit, nuts and candies - a traditional Mennonite Christmas thing. Just as raisen fritters aka New Years Cookies are another traditional Mennonite thing. But, this was the first year our kids got to experience tutes. They loved them. They could hardly wait to open them, though we did make them wait till they got home. I remember when I was a child, we had to drive all the way to my grandparents' house west of Selma and those tutes smelled so good. It was torture not being able to open them. But, the kids managed to wait and we all opened our bags at the table when we got home.

There are always peanuts in the shell, an apple, an orange, a little box of raisens and a little bag of chocolate peanut clusters and fruit gems.

Yummy! Just like "Jingle, jingle Happy Bells" hasn't changed over the years, neither has tutes!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Old friends...

Today two girlfriends came over for lunch. Both of them I was very close to in high school. Lin and I were best friends in high school. We met our freshman year in PE class and bonded over a common disdain for physical activity. Lan and I had been friends even before high school, but we hadn't been that close. We all were pretty good friends in high school, however. Going to games together, going shopping, movies, everything that high school girls did in the 80's. While Lin and I have kept up our friendship over the past 20 years since we graduated, we'd lost contact with Lan, but thanks to Facebook, we've gotten in touch again. So, we got together for lunch today at my house. We had a great time. Got out the old yearbook and shared the tidbits of information we each had on various people we went to high school with. Had some laughs over this guy or that we had crushes on. It was a good time reminiscing. As we sat there talking I kept hoping, though, that we'd be able to bring things in to the present. I know it's pretty easy to go back and talk about the days when we had lots in common and were friends, but is there enough to keep those friendships burning into the future? I think so. I hope so. Sometimes friendships are difficult to maintain as you get older because we get busy with the kids and responsibilities and it's hard to stay in touch. But I want to make the effort. I think old friends are the best kind. There's a certain comfort in having known someone for a long long time. There's a stability in those relationships. I love my newer friends, those who have been in my life only a few years. But it's those old ones, the ones who've known me in my young and foolish youth, and still love me... those are a different kind of special.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's sunny outside!

The sun came out today. Beautiful, beautiful sunshine. Oh blessed star in the middle of our solar system, around which we earthlings travel once a year. I love you! After two weeks of gray, damp, fog and low overcast, today is a glorious winter day. So, I thought I'd take a tour of my yard. You know, get reacquainted since I haven't been out there since..... oh, uh ..... I have no idea the last time I was out there. So....

Here is my fennel. Isn't it gorgeous. All lacey and leafy. And it smells so good. I thinned it today, so it has more room to grow.

Here are my sugar snap peas. Just growing along the string. Don't they look healthy.

And we can't forget my lettuce. Yummy! I don't buy lettuce from the supermarket from November till March. This stuff is so good and so easy to grow.

And here.... here is the parking lot. I thought it was so cute the way they lined up their bikes. I swept off the patio today since we're having company tomorrow. Hopefully it'll be as nice a day as today and the kids can play outside.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Growing our family...

I find it interesting that a person can have a baby and noone asks them any questions, has them take parenting classes, or finds out their family background. Anyone can pretty much have a baby and take it home and keep it and it's noone else's business but their own. However, if you want to adopt.... now that's a very different story. Now, I'm not complaining, by any means. I understand why agencies put potential adoptive parents through what they do. There are a lot of wackos out there and they need to make sure we're not one of them. But, it's kind of strange, if you really think about it.

Anyhow, today we had our "Big Homestudy". The social worker was very nice and she was here a little over three hours, interviewing both Hubby and me. She had to do us separately, so one of us was with her in the kitchen while the other was off trying to keep the munchkins occupied. And these interviews are intense. Like, going into detail what your homelife was like growing up, relationships with parents and siblings, current spousal relationship, etc. etc. It's exhausting. And then you end up thinking your a total wacko and your family is the same way and why on earth would anyone want to give us another child. Actually, we aren't that bad, but... it seems that way sometimes. However, we "passed". Hubby asked her at the end of his interview. "Did we pass?" She said yes. So, that's good. It's all worth it in the end. Once the child has arrived everything we'll have gone through to get her will be just a faint memory.

Friday, December 5, 2008

(Heavy Sigh...)

OK, it's a typical Central Valley winter day. Cold and gray. And did I mention cold? Well, it's cold to me. But this is how my children are dressed. It drives me nuts. Our house isn't even that warm. We keep it around 70 degrees. Oh well. Missy Lou even went that way to the corner to get the mail.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Just hear those sleigh bells ring-a-ling...

OK, I admit it, I've been listening to Christmas music since the beginning of November. I hate that. I always said I'd never do Christmasy things before Thanksgiving, because I wanted to make sure that Thanksgiving got it's fair shake, but... I just couldn't help myself. I got out the Christmas CD's and discovered "Soft Rock 98.9" which played 24 hour Christmas music long before Thanksgiving. I prefer my CD's though. Here's a list of my favorite Christmas songs:

Twelfth Night Song (never heard of it till I got Leonard Bernstein and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, it's a traditional Russian carol and it's awesome)
Ding Dong Merrily on High
Gabriel's Message
The Wexford Carol
The Coventry Carol
Gesu Bambino

and, on a completely different note... "Santa baby, just slip a sable under the tree... for me. I've been a very good girl, Santa baby. So hurry down the chimney tonight!" Ok, I just love singing that song with the radio in the car.