Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Birth of a New Year AND a Birthday Party

I am sitting in complete and total silence. Not the kind of silence that comes when everyone is in bed, but the kind of silence that comes when everyone is GONE. It will be short lived, that is for sure, but right now it feels great.

This week has totally blown by in the blink of an eye. I totally think that statement is "the" statement of 2009. I. Can. Not. Keep. Up. I was so hoping that there would be a week this year where I would get so bored that I could hardly wait for the next week to get here.

It never happened.

I had high hopes for this last week of 2009. It has been great, but boring would not sum it up. Next year, I will be praying for comfort, peace, and contentment in this busy season of life. Enjoying every moment, and not finding myself longing for something different. Content to be where I am. Content in the busy, content in the crazy, content in the chaos, and if it just so happens, content in the quiet and peaceful.

I never intended on writing about any sort of New Year's resolution, but there. I guess that would be it.

Actually, I wanted to write about the crazy that has been this week. This week we decided to throw The Girl's birthday party. If that sounds like we just came upon that idea at the last minute, its because we did. Earlier in the month, I discussed with The Girl some birthday party options. She has been obsessed with sleepovers this past year. When can she have one, when can she go to one, and so and so always has sleepovers. I, myself, am not to keen on the idea. I think she is still a little too young. Sleepovers with grandmas sound like the perfect place to me for right now.

As the Holiday season grew nearer and nearer and with that The Girl's 7th birthday, I was starting to get a little agitated about the idea of throwing a birthday party together in the middle of all the chaos. So, I came up with a little plan. I proposed that The Girl had two choices. She could either have a big birthday party, like in years past, with all her friends from school and church, or she could have a small sleepover with cousins and a best friend.

Of course she picked the sleepover.

This meant no planning weeks ahead of time during the busy Christmas time. Just a few days ahead of time, I called up the moms of the girls that she was inviting over and arranged a date and a time. That was it.

Oh, I did spend some time organizing a craft for them to work on and take home.

Other than that. I was done.

The Girl had a GREAT time.

Here are some pics to prove it:

Here she is on the way to meet her friends at the movie theater. The flick for the evening was Disney's Princess and the Frog. Super cute.


The girls out at dinner after the flick. The restaurant of choice by the birthday girl was fine dining at Chile's:


After spending TWO HOURS working on their craft (a craft that takes that engages kids for that long is PERFECTION in my world), here the girls are showing off the fruits of their labor:


All snuggled up for bed:

HA! I wish. They were in bed, but actually did not got to sleep until the wee hours of the morn. That is what sleepovers are all about, right?

Of course, the next morning, there was a pillow fight:


I was shocked at how smoothly it all went. The girls all got along (for some reason I was freaking out about the girls being mean to one another. I must watch too many "tween" shows and movies.), and before I knew it, parents were here to pick up their girls.

I have to admit, although the whole point of having a small sleepover was to avoid the hassle of planning/organizing/paying for a large birthday party, I somehow feel like we are missing something when I think about the fact that the 7th birthday party is done and over with. It feels weird to be done. To be off the hook so easy. I almost feel like I cheated The Girl out of a birthday party, out of all the birthday fun.

But then I think back to how exhausted I was the next day, and I am back to feeling OK with it.

That quiet time I had at the beginning of this post? It has come to a screeching halt.

Just in the nick of time.

Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Wrapping Up Christmas

Yes, that put was intended.

I wish I could say that we are all put back together from our Christmas celebration, but that would be a big fat lie. So in the spirit of being honest, I will admit, our house still resembles the aftermath of a bomb explosion. Instead of spending some time cleaning today, I ran, ran errands, and sat under my new Snuggie for the rest of the night. I have a feeling that the Snuggie could be responsible for many a lazy nights around here.

Although, I guess the sleeves might allow me to get some work done.

Nah.

I have to admit, I am sad to see Christmas gone already. It seems like it went so fast! I mean one minute we were eating a Turkey dinner at Thanksgiving, and then the next Santa had arrived and we were tearing into gifts and stuffing our faces again. Thankfully, I did have some time in between to finally get into the Christmas Season, and what it is really about.

I thought a TON about Mary this year. I don't know why, I just couldn't get her off my mind. Maybe because I am a mom too? What would it have been like to be her? Why did God choose her? Was she scared out of her mind? What was it like for her to know that she was the mother of the Son of God? These were the questions that I couldn't stop thinking about.

God was gracious to me by showing me so many attributes of Mary, a woman that had "Found favor with God" (Luke 1:30). He showed me that she was obedient, humble, and thankful woman who fully relied on God in all circumstances.

I thought about what I do when God asks me to do things I think are too hard, too big, or not within my own capacity. Do I say, "I am the Lord's servant", and "May it be to me as you have said"? (Luke 1:38). Not only that, but do I say it THE FIRST TIME he asks? Or do I operate out of fear because I feel as though the things He asks me to do I must do with my own strength, and all alone? Maybe I am not even a tiny bit afraid. Instead I am just too selfish to obey.

Of course, God did not ask Mary to be the mother of Jesus not knowing what she would say. He didn't go into it with a list of alternative choices just in case she said no. He asked her because He knew she would say "I am the Lord's servant". Why did he know this (aside from, you know, being God)? He knew this because this was who she was BEFORE she was called.

Sometimes I hear other people talk about how God has used them in a mighty way. I get so inspired and I think to myself, "I would like God to use me in a mighty way!" Then I wonder, "Why hasn't God used me in a mighty way?" Who have I been up to this point in time? Am I "May it be as you have said" type of a girl, or have I been the "Other Girl"?

She had to be scared out of her mind. Not just in the beginning when Gabriel first appeared to her and told her what was to happen, but through out the entire pregnancy, the labor and delivery, the child rearing days, all of it. It all had to be completely terrifying. She was pregnant before she was married, and not only had to break the news to her family, but to Joseph who was to be her husband. This type of thing wasn't just frowned upon, women DIED because of this sin. Follow that up with the fact that she was responsible for raising and protecting God's only son. Need I say more? Although she must have been terrified, she fully commits herself to God. Relying on Him only for her strength, comfort, and protection.

Where do I go when I am scared? Who do I turn to when I think I might not be strong enough? What to I depend on when I feel like I need a little more protection?

Then I think about what it must have been like when Jesus was born. All the shepherds that came along with the Magi. These people who came and didn't just say, "Oh my. What a cute little guy you have there!" These were people she had never met, some of these people where of very high standing. They didn't comment on how cute her new baby was. No, they fell to their knees and worshiped him. When Mary heard and saw these things she "Treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart." (Luke 2:19). She wasn't boastful. She didn't take the credit. She didn't gush and gush over it. She took it all in and humbly treasured it in her heart.

What is it like in my life when God does something fantastic and beautiful for me or through me? Do I wrongfully take the credit? Do I boast about what I think are my own strengths? Worse yet, do I just brush them aside like its no big deal? Or do I treasure them in my heart?

Mary knew that she was being used powerfully by God and that she was His servant. Not only did she obey Him, remain humble, and completely rely on Him in her times of weakness, but she was full of praise and thanksgiving. While visiting her Aunt Elizabeth, who was currently pregnant with John the Baptist, Elizabeth's baby "leaped in her womb" upon Elizabeth hearing Mary's voice (Luke 1:40). After learning of this Mary sings a song to the Lord of thanksgiving: "46And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers." (Luke 46:55)

Do I show thankfulness and praise to God? Do I say it out loud? When He works mightily in my life or hears/answers even the smallest of prayers, am I thankful? Do I call these things "Praiseworthy"? Or to I have a greedy heart, forget the thank you's and the praise, and just skip right on down my "Want List"? When was the last time I ran down the list of answered prayers with a song of praise? A prayer full of thankfulness and praise.

I am so thankful for the time I had to spend thinking about Mary. God showed me so much about myself. Although the timing is perfect for New Year's Resolutions, I won't wait that long.

Merry Christmas!

Oh! As if this post wasn't long enough, to go along with this, here is my favorite Christmas song this year. Enjoy!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Little Man Nuttiness

Just a few facts I don't want to forget about The Little Man this Christmas season:

1. While building gingerbread houses with his class before Christmas break, I realized that The Little Man still cannot say "Candy canes" or "Pretzels". Instead he says "Candy cakes" and "Kretzels".

I love it.

I will not correct it.

In fact, I have been offering him "Candy cakes" and "Kretzels" as snacks from time to time.

2. Somehow, he has decided that he would like a roller coaster for Christmas.

Yes, a full size roller coaster.

When I asked him where we would put such a gift he said we should just set it up in the back yard.

So, I let him in on a little secret: We live in the 'burbs, therefore, our whole cul-de-sac isn't large enough to house a roller coaster.

Oh. Small details.

Thankfully he changed his mind. Instead he would like bumper cars.

Apparently his trip to Disney has forever changed his reality.

3. We've recently had a fierce resurgence of "Baboo". I won't lie. I am kind of helping this along. We've created a little song that we sing to him at nap and bedtime. Baboo has also been known to tell me that he loves me.

Hubs is not impressed at all. He wants to know if I am going to break out his old paci soon.

I am trying to convince him that it's just a short lived sweet phase, and I will be totally guilty of soaking up every last drop of it.

Besides, it's hard to think that he's reverting back into babyhood when he is always saying (in a deep voice I might add) "Ah ya, baby!" and "Do you want a piece of me?" followed with a "Saweeet".

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

In Which I Return all Christmas Gifts and Save a Ton of Cash

I have been noticing this for a while, but nothing has made it more loud and clear than recent events. I realize that this isn't a news flash for many of you, and it really isn't to me either, but again, sometimes you just need things to be spelled out for you in order to really get the message, especially this time of year.

OK, here it is:

KIDS DON'T NEED YOU TO SPEND A LOT OF MONEY ON GIFTS FOR THEM TO BE HAPPY.

Sure gifts make them happy, but so do lots of other things. It's like that phenomenon that happens quite often when a child opens the gift, is thrilled to bits to have a gift to open, loves the gift, but then twenty minutes later is found having a blast with the box it the gift came in, while the toy lay in and amongst all the other stuff they have.

Not that this is the box the toy came in, but these new treasures were relatively free:


Here's a closer view:


The Girl's new treasure:


The Hubs gave the kids his old beat up Crackberry's that he had laying around his office that no longer work. Instead of pitching them, he gave one to The Girl, and one WITH a holster type carrying case to The Little Man. The happiness that the kids have with their new phones is more than I would have ever imagined. They have played with these things for HOURS.

People, THEY DON'T EVEN WORK. THEY ARE BUT A BLANK SCREEN.

Yet, every morning, they pick them up off their night stand and bring them with them to breakfast. The Little Man clips his to his jammies (which, practically fall off with the weight), and The Girl carries hers down with her as well. When it's time to get dressed, they have those things transferred right on over to the new outfit. I do make them leave them at home when we go out of the house, but upon returning the other night, The Little Man squealed with excitement as he was reunited with his Blackberry, crying out, "Ohhhhhh! My Blackberry! I am so happy to see you!"

I am so close to returning all the gifts we bought this year, pocketing the cash, and then dig around some more in our "junk" piles to see what other kinds of happiness we can conjure up.

Meanwhile, I got this this morning:


The Little Man did this all by himself. The little smarty pants! He knows too, sometimes free equals precious!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Age Santa

Well, I caved a bit. I don't normally push the whole Santa gig on the kids (The Hubs totally takes care of that). We don't visit him at the mall and I don't threaten them with "Santa can see you being naughty!" I try really hard to balance on the fine line of keeping Christ central to Christmas and the whole reason for the season, but also keeping Christmas magical. I always thought that it would be a relief when the kids found out the truth about the big guy.

Then, The Girl told me a boy in her class was telling her the truth about Santa. Now, it's non-stop with the questions. Somehow, we've weaseled around them very delicately without lying to her. I just want to know why she has to ask these questions in front of her brother? NEVER has she asked while we were just alone. I have to say, I am bit sad knowing that part of the magic of Christmas will be gone for her soon.

Then!

Then, I found the Portable North Pole. All you do is fill out the info, and they will have Santa himself email your child a video message. When she saw her email, I am telling you, it was like some kind of happy I have never seen! The excitement was like that of the Disney surprise...except it was free!

I wish I could share them here on the blog, but they contain some very private and personal info on the kids (which is why she totally freaked out).

Go ahead, try it out for yourself or a kid you care for...

You're welcome.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas!

You all know I could go on and on about our current weather. HELLO! Temperatures that fall below zero should be illegal! Yesterday, the carpool for The Girl's school was canceled because it was too cold.

I thought that should mean that they were going to keep the kids overnight.

No such luck.

It just meant that I had to get out of my warm car and go into the school and get The Girl. Then I had to return to the cold to get back into the car.

They said it was to protect the kids.

Hmmmmm. I think not. The kids still had to go outside. The only people that didn't have to go outside were the teachers who usually run carpool.

Then this morning, school was on a delay because of the subzero temps. You know I am ALL OVER missing school and late starts, but starting school an hour later didn't improve the temperature at all. Maybe it helped the buses? Who knows.

Besides the crazy weather, you know Christmas is quickly approaching because the kids had Christmas concerts at school. I love watching Christmas concerts (or if you are at The Girl's school it's called a "Holiday Concert"). The only problem is, this past year, I have been plagued with not getting very good seats for taking pictures. It happened in Disney, and it happened at both The Girl and The Little Man's concerts this year. Even with my zoom lens on my camera, I was painfully far from the action. I still got pictures, don't worry! I just got pictures of everyone else's kid too.

They were all just darling.

So here's a pic of the Little Man after his concert eagerly awaiting some serious cooking eating:

Here's The Girl and a few fellow classmates:

(this pic here, is actually a very small crop of the original...)

Here we have some video of both concerts:

video


video

I know, it's difficult to hear what they are singing.

I still have no clue what The Little Man sang.

Maybe next year, I'll be more prepared?

Probably not.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Happy Heart

I know in years past, I have been rather grumpy about Christmas cards and mailing labels, but this year, the Lord has been merciful to me. I was not only able to pull up last years labels, but I was also able to make adjustments AND print them out without one single glitch.

This Christmas season is already starting off with small wonders and miracles, and I am full of joy.

It's the little things.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cold Busted

In the colder months I have an article of clothing that is a must. OK, there are a couple of "musts". They all fall under the category of "Cozies", aka clothing that is warm, comfortable, and quite frankly could possibly be slept in. And, if I am going to be totally honest with you, it does get slept in.

Usually, when I come home from being out in the cold, I will immediately go to my room and change into my cozies. Some warm fleece pants, and my favorite, a v-neck fleece shirt to go over the top of whatever shirt I am currently wearing for the day. This way, if I need to go back out, I just put my pants back on and take the fleece shirt off, and it kind of feels like I didn't have to get all the way dressed again because I didn't really get all the way undressed. See? It sounds crazy, but hey, that's the way it is in my brain. Crazy.

So, I have a few v-neck fleece shirts. I usually get a new one each year because they get worn so much that they can look a little tattered. Plus, have you ever worn new fleece? It is the definition of cozy. So soft, so warm, and just plain snuggly.

Somehow, this year, I have allowed myself to come to the belief that if the fleece shirt is newer, it can totally be worn out in public, and not just as cozy jammies at home. This new belief came about because there have been days when I just can't part with the cozy. There are days that I just have to take it with me.

So here we were, on one of those days. It was just too cold to change out of the fleece cozy shirt, but we were headed out to grab some quick dinner. Mind you, it wasn't a nice restaurant. Not even close. So, I decided that it wouldn't be necessary to change out of my cozy jammy shirt. As I sat down to eat, I slipped off my coat. It was then that The Little Man decided he would take note of my outfit.

"Mommy! Mommy! Oh goodness, Mommy! You forgot to take off your jammies before we left the house!" he proclaims loudly enough for the four or so other booths around us to hear.

As I tried to hush him, and convince him that the shirt was not my jammies, but just a shirt, he corrected me with the same volume of voice he made his first announcement with.

"No, Mommy! Those are your jammies! You came to the restaurant in your jammies, Mommy! Why would you go to a restaurant with your jammies on, Mom?"

At this point there really was no point in arguing. The whole section of the restaurant was very clear on the fact that I did indeed show up to the restaurant in my jammies. I just calmly asked him to use more of an indoor voice for the rest of dinner.

Hubby just laughed. Sweet.