Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Recap

2011 is eight hours away, and reading my fellow blogging friends give 'year end' reviews had me considering whether or not to post one myself. This was quite a year for us, good, and not so good. I'm not one to dwell on misery, but its impossible for me to ignore others suffering and the hurts we've felt. Yet at the same time, this was the year we gave more, and had unexpected blessings in return. I opened my heart and mind, and learned a great deal about being authentic. Even now as I struggle to understand some challenges that have been placed before me and my family, I have faith I/we will figure it out-or if not, have a story to share. My kids and husband have seen the ups and downs-and so I have seen theirs, along with our family and friends. I have learned a great deal about not sweating the small stuff yet growing uncomfortable, and then angry at the big stuff. Reading "Weird" was a pivotal experience for me-it has impacted me in such a way. Indescribable. I am not sure what the future holds, yet will live it with grace and class. As someone I know recently posted, "Dream as if you'll live forever; Live as if you only have today." This is what I've been striving for, and will continue to do so. Wishing all my family and friends peace, love, and happiness this year.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Little moments

My boys unearthed my jewelry box in the back of my closet. Mind you-I was less than thrilled with that they took it out, but the fact that they did makes me think there is a reason life unfolds the way it does. I've been wearing a bracelet I rediscovered since that morning, and Rebecca holds onto it while she nurses. I also see what I'm attached to-and why I'm attached to it, and realize some stuff is not as meaningful or significant as I once thought. For others, the opposite is true.

The words of "Sister, sister" said by the boys throughout the days. I love how she toddles after them, curious about what they're doing, wanting to be right there with them as they play dress up and legos. I told Robert she's going to be sad too when they go back to school.

We went to the library and saw Finding Nemo. I found a new cookbook, and new inspiration for meals. Its not always easy to keep on track with our budget, and be inventive, but giving us leeway and seeing the big picture (and not sweating the small stuff) help too.

I love our family life-and helping others-and how karma works. A local mom I know has a daughter almost a year younger than Rebecca. I had offered her clothes before, but she got some from somewhere else. When she asked about purchasing clothes, I quickly offered her what I had from Rebecca-free of charge. What should have been a grocery bag of clothes morphed into a case of diapers size box full of clothes. No sooner do I make arrangements than we come home and there are three bags of clothes on my porch for my boys and Rebecca ♥

Lazy winter days, and long winter nights. Robert and I watched some crazy comedy last night that was something we normally would flip past-it makes me smile how my husband and I attempt (and do succeed) to spend time together alone, because more times than not, we have a child in our bed, or out on the couch with us, or something about the kids is weighing heavy on our minds and hearts.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New chapter

Life is forever different-because now I have an android smart phone. I am a complete tech geek-but now I'm not tied to my laptop when I want to blog. It will take some getting used to, but I foresee it revolutionizing how I do things at home and while we're out and about. Stay tuned for an update-Hanukkah, visits with family, school and life happenings.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Perspective over Perfectionism

Ha-in my effort to get this post up, I double checked to see if the image I had taken on Friday was on the computer-yet its not. So the story will have to get posted without it-for now. How's that for perspective over perfectionism?

I lost my cell phone on Thursday night. I realized it right after I had placed Rebecca in her car seat after leaving the store, and drove around the corner. I went back to the store, and asked if anyone turned in my phone. No-it was gone. I went home, thanking my lucky stars that only my cell phone was gone, and not my baby girl. Perspective over perfectionism.

I went home and realized once again how the last text I received was about taking tags off the angel tree at the church where Rebecca and I attend Moms Time Out. I had just gone by there that morning, and taken five tags off the tree. I had chosen a mom and daughter, and a high school student. All could have been anyone I knew in my day to day life. I was glad I had already gone out and purchased the items for those individuals, never mind the fact that I misplaced the wrapping paper I purchased along the way. Perspective over perfectionism.

Life is short-fleeting and beautiful. I work against the grain of perfectionism everyday-its just how I'm wired. I'm taking the time to enjoy the cbildren, enjoy the season. We wrapped our first big set of donations for families and brought them to the church. I think Gabriel got the most out of it-he looked and said, this is going to people who really need stuff. Bless his heart, his face said it all. I wish I could bottle that moment and savor it for a lifetime.

That's perspective over perfectionism.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas tree lane

I decided this year was the year for us to go to Christmas Tree Lane. Of course, it was a day that Robert had to work late, but it worked out okay-I picked up my friend's children after school, and met her up in Fresno after she was off of work. We had just enough car space to make it work, and it was worth it. The boys were thrilled to see Santa and Mrs. Claus at the shopping center where we parked the car. Hearing the next morning about the stabbing (gang-related) that took place shortly after we left the lane was a bit disconcerting. However, the boys did amazing, walking down 3/4 of the lane (about 2 miles?), and then back again. Miss Rebecca was passed from Heather to me, to Kelsey, and back again-the girl was ooh'ing and ahh'ing as we saw all the lights. We were safe, and made it home in one piece. It was one of the best times we've had, good friends, great conversation, wonderful activity to celebrate this holiday season.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The weirdest blessing

"May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart. May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace. May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, and starvation, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy. And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done. May God bless you with the weirdest blessing possible-his divine burden. Amen"-Craig Grieschel, Weird

This has stuck home with my family this holiday season. We're shaking up our family traditions, and thinking of others this year. In lieu of spending $45 dollars + on a tree at Hillcrest Farm, which is fun, we have opted to spend that money on adopting a family for Christmas. I'm not sure about how much the boys understand-they do understand the meaning of Christmas, and how we're celebrating Jesus' birth. They have asked whether Santa will come if we don't have a tree, and we told them that Santa comes regardless of having a tree. My friend is going to loan us a spare artificial tree that she has, and I'm hoping that will suffice. Given how we're trying to consistently laying the framework for thinking beyond ourselves, I'm hoping the boys will see the bigger picture. The family we're adopting is a single mom, and she has three children, a six, four, and 2 year old; I'm hoping to get everything squared away in the next week for them; its a welcome burden blessing another household, and I'm looking forward to surprising them.

We have two huge groups of donations headed out, clothes and food, to other great causes. I need to tidy up the rest of the order so we can get those to the families who need it. You don't have to look past the corner to see someone in need, so we're sharing the wealth. I'm excited to spread the holiday spirit with others, and show our children how its better to give than receive.

To quote my friend Nikki, who put this so eloquently as a response to me sharing a recent post about the holiday season "I heard a boy in target last night telling his mom.. NO mom I NEED this Lego set and the mon said ok fine.. Put it in the cart... I wanted to shake her and say PLEASE for the love of God tell that sweet boy he doesn't NEED that! He needs clothes, food and shelter.. He doesn't need that lego set. I am not saying don't buy your kids stuff, just tell them the difference between want and need... "

May we have more smiles than tears, more warmth than cold, and more sweetness this holiday season than ever before. Its the holidays, and its okay to be weird now too.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Adding to the mix

Last night was a tough night. We went to the holiday parade in town, and the kids participated in the floats. I took Rebecca and Elijah and G with me to the preschool float, while Robert took the older boys to the cub scout float. We came home afterwards and watched a holiday movie, and had dinner picnic style together. During the movie, I noticed G was getting restless, and I figured it was a result of the extra activity this weekend and exhaustion, coupled with missing her mom. Then the tears came. I don't think I was really prepared-although I had kept in the back of my mind since having her here that "acting out" was possible-just didn't think of it as sadness, since we hadn't seen it yet; yet it came.

G has been such a mellow child, fits in easily with our children, the most obvious change for me was adding one more plate to the table. Yet our family is just that-a family-that has rules, and nuances, traditions, and expectations. Going from your own home to someone else's you'd see the obvious differences, but give it time, and even the small decisions, such as where items go, how meals are served, and inside jokes, everyday routines surface. I'm sure it would be different if we knew how long G was going to stay here, or if she wasn't able to see/talk her to her mom whenever she wanted to, but it was still tough. It took all my strength to remind myself that God doesn't give us anything that we cannot handle, and that we were doing good by this child and her mom by welcoming her in our home. I know she misses her mom, and I told her in no way was I going to replace her. Robert attempted to talk with her too, but I think it was emotional overload. We called her mom, and arranged for an early visit this morning with homemade pancakes that I'd send over. G was happy to help make pancakes, and even happier to go to her mom's home. We'll see how this afternoon goes, when we pick her up. I don't know what to hope for, or even expect at this point. I just hope that grace and kindness lead me where I need to go, and life falls into place.

Friday, December 2, 2011

The holiday spirit

I have been reluctant to get out the decorations this year for the holidays; life is weighing on my heart, and part of me wonders if by getting out the decorations I'm going to deal with it-or mask them with pretty ribbons and bows. I'm not a grinch by any means, but a realist, and someone who wears their heart on their sleeve. There are people hurting, both near and far, and frankly it makes me think about the true meaning of the holidays. I am not sure quite what this is leading up to, but as with how I've chosen to live my life thus far, I'm going to see where it takes me.

We've had a child staying with us for awhile now. Her mom is laid up with a broken ankle and wrist, and instead of her being passed around from home to home, we invited her here to stay. Its amazing to me how another child fits right in with all the noise, but somethings never take the place of mom. Robert is loving and kind, in that he's allowed this child to stay here, and has opened his heart to helping a person who is stuck in a bad place. We don't have all the answers, and are taking life one day at a time. That's all we can do, and have faith that everything will fall into place.

With the holidays approaching, presents are not far from the children's minds. We've been talking with them about the importance of taking care of each other, and those around us. I think when they see how we're helping our friend and her daughter, they're seeing that not everything can be wrapped in a box. The children's program at the church in town is working on making a donation to World Vision, and have plans on buying an animal for a family. Its inspiring to hear, and I hope as the children do activities geared towards adding to this cause, they pull from it the meaning of the holidays. We're also doing activities with Cub Scouts and school-both with canned food drives and adopting families. Its a bit crazy with everything going on at once, but at the same time, we aspire to show the children this way of life throughout the year-its just a ton of reinforcement at once. So while the vision of Santa bringing a DS is not far from their minds, they also see how people take care of each other too.

So with all this said, it does seem like the holiday spirit is around us. There are opportunities for us to make it meaningful. I'll keep my prayers going for those who are hurting, and aspire to do good for my children and those around me.