Saturday, December 21, 2013

Good Thing . . . or "Let it Go, Let it Go, Let it Go"

I'm writing this because I should be packing. I should also be sleeping - the week ended in me getting sick. Blessedly, K was in preschool and Judah took awesome naps . . . and I feel well enough to do what needs to get done to pack up.

Karis got up this morning and I told her it was going to be our special Christmas as a little family.  It ended up as running errands (which she loved - Sam's club had cream puffs, bubble water, and Despicable Me 2 on the TVs), her playing outside with our neighbor's granddaughter, Trevor shoveling, me procrastinating & laundering & mommy-ing. I told Karis we'd have a special dinner, like, maybe Potbelly's (HA) or frozen pizza (double HA). It ended up being "clean out the fridge/freezer". Even Trevor said, "Wow, that looks like clean-out-the-freezer stroganoff".

Before dinner, we watched the Veggie Tales version of Little Drummer Boy - that song continues to be my favorite this season, I'm amazed at how God does smile at any gifts we have to offer Him, He wants US, He delights in each of us. The song makes me think about Judah and the words "then He smiled at me" makes me think of the delights that baby smiles bring and what baby Jesus' smile must have looked like.

This year, I look at Judah, who we hadn't even met a year ago, and I'm so thankful for this gift we've been given. I watch Karis delight in the tree and the lights and wearing her zebra dress to church . . . This is a special Christmas indeed and we did have a fun day and I'm beyond blessed to keep discovering what the culture of our little family evolves into.

A memorable Karis-ism was tonight during "Advent by dim-light devotion time", we were talking about David and Goliath, and she and Trev had a little disagreement about whether he used a sling or a slingshot. Trev was not backing down, and Karis very wisely said, "Well, you can call it a sling and I'll call it a slingshot". Well said.

And, as it turns out, there is the "not to do" list, and then there is the "do later" list. The things that didn't get done before Christmas - "Let it go, Let it go, Let it go". As we like to say around here, "GOOD THING . . . "

Good thing we can make spritz cookies later

Good thing Uncle Ken gave us these so we can still fulfill the sugar craving (do you see the box of Cheerios on the table? It's a permanent table decoration. And the flowers have a story for later.)

Good thing Christmas time will come again and we can hang this somewhere next year

Good thing Sam's Club is so festive and fun

Good thing these kids are just so . . . everything!

Good thing it's bedtime.


Please stay tuned for some big news that involves weddings. One real, one imagined . . .

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fa blah blah blah blah

Warning: bah-humbug post ahead . . . positive updates to come . . . later. As I write, we have a low level sick-something-ness lurking in our house and I'm willing it away by eating cookie-mint ice cream and reflecting on some choices from the last week.

A couple years ago I read a great blog post about a "not to do list". On it, I put many things, including:

- Piddly craft projects (I long got over my insecurity at being a non-crafty mom)
- Sewing
- Roll out cookies
- Elaborate gardening

I am loving the liberation that comes from deciding I don't have to do it all - I don't have to do anything. I'm all about "being" (in theory - I DO love to DO also).

Since Advent is a crazy season with all sorts of "extra" things to do, I decided it would be a great time to do several things that I don't enjoy doing (please detect sarcasm). Like, piddly craft projects and roll out cookies. Some pictures below. Self inflicted torture is a great way to celebrate the anticipation of Christ. Oh, and don't forget the extra shopping (also something I don't enjoy) and the extra (self-inflicted) pressure of using all the awesome coupons that come out this time of year: Kohl's cash! Hallmark $5 off! $10 off at JCPenney! Free lip gloss at Bath and Body Works! These places are tricky. Or I am gullible and compulsive.

Sometimes I can exercise self control, discretion and wisdom - and turn away from these impulses.

Other times, I cannot. I am calling these moments "blahs" and I have several from the past week alone.

Blah number one: I become overwhelmed with the compulsion to make a lion mask craft for Judah's 1 year "Lion of Judah" party:

For all the time they took (cutting construction paper, curling it around a pen, gluing 2 rows of strips, cutting circles in the paper plates, taping sticks to the plates), they are not that cute.  I thought of these as an investment, if I'm careful they can last for a few birthdays, until Judah is old enough to say, "Puh-lease. NOT another lion party!"

How about this blah, using the cake ball mix that was given to us (which had, I kid you not, 18 steps - gave up at the point of needing to insert a stick into the unmentionable part of a gingerbread person who was small and hard to cut out anyway). I named these "cake blobs" (Karis called them "lick pops"):

The next blah I signed up for, making gingerbread men for church. It's for the children! Trevor left the house this morning to a frustrated me lamenting my lack of roll-out-cookie skills. He gently suggested I use more flour. WHY is he always right?! I hope the children don't mind burnt hands and broken feet:

They DID make the house smell so yummy. AND, they prompted this post. AND we got to have "tea Tuesday" with the casualties.

Yes, that's a popsicle with the tea and cookie. Consumed at 10:30 am, right after coming in from playing in the snow. Good memories.

By the way, LOVE this quote: "The scope for failure in the last step alone [of baking bread] is so great that in every society in which bread has featured, baking has been turned over to professionals from the earliest stages."
- Bill Bryson in At Home

Let's remember the need to make family holiday memories, which leads to another blah: going out in below zero weather in bad traffic approaching bedtime . . . to use a great coupon for Don Pablo's. You know, because going to sit down restaurants with kids at this age is always soooooo delightful. I think I maybe tasted the enchilada a little bit and Karis ate maybe two bites of her hamburger. Double blah that night was going to Bed Bath & Beyond to get re-usable K-cups with a coupon and a gift card that I had . . . and forgetting to use the gift card.

I'm wondering if it means anything that our Advent wreath is sitting empty on my table? I DID try to find taper candles (and then Trevor gently reminded me that Amazon Prime is a useful tool that I should use more often).

For the record, I DID use the Kohl's cash, and that was my last blah - I ended up misunderstanding the price of some Godiva chocolates and what I thought would ring up as "free" rang up as $17. So, I was THAT crazy coupon mom who asked the nice lady to undo the transaction and ring up only as much as would use up the Kohl's cash. She was gracious but I know she was trying. As were those in the line behind me.

I'm done, for now. And I'm smiling, really I am. I think this is all funny and growing and . . . from now until Christmas maybe I'll deny all the extras and instead read Mr. Willowby's Christmas one.more.time.

Baby Jesus, thank you for being born! Thank for this season when I can laugh and learn and that these things are all humorous and that my life is really this simple right now. Thank you for my children who are joining the journey and teaching me so much about living in the moment, embracing the burnt cookies, dancing around with lion masks, doing Advent reflections in dim light instead of candlelight. I am blessed and grateful.

And to end on some more positive notes:

Some random media: 

This is a good one

And so is this

Here are some more Advent songs, by a gal with whom we went to high school

And just because, this is the cutest thing. Judah is obsessed with this hairbrush and it's cracking me up. Gives new meaning to the Veggie Tales song "Oh Where is my Hairbrush". By the way, don't judge me, the socks fall off, okay?:

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Giving Thanks . . . and Plunging into Advent

We just returned from an epic and exciting stay in Bismarck . . . and I know if I don't sit down and write some of the memorable moments and quotables, they will be lost and forgotten. This is a long one, buckle up.

The events and other happenings we enjoyed:

- My childhood/high school best friend's (sister, really) wedding. Blast from the past in so many ways,  and I was honored to be there. This also counted as a date night, which was so wonderful
- Thanksgiving feasts and gatherings with "both sides"
- Meeting a dear friend from college a couple times
- Having a date night that included two local restaurants and a dinner shared with brother J & sister C
- Going to cousin Courtney's basketball game
- Doing the Holiday Home Walk with my mom, grandma, and cousins. Followed by Perkins, always a treat
- Going through boxes of my childhood "stuff". Another throwback, and fun to pull out pictures to show Karis ("You look different!")
- Filling two homes with all our stuff, and knowing that our presence is so welcome and embraced
- Watching Karis get ready for and then return from the Turkey Trot
- Trevor got to hunt twice
- Watching Karis cook with both her grandmas
- Going shopping with Karis and my grandma
- Getting to know Marco, and enjoying my brother and sister-in-law's "first married holiday" with them. So fun
- Celebrating Grandma Carole's 80th birthday party at Peacock Alley . . .watching Karis love on the other great-grandchildren

One of the things I love about being in Bismarck is that our loved ones enjoy my children just as much (and sometimes more) than I do. I can gush about all the details of our daily lives (even more than I do here), and they are delighted to listen (not that others aren't, but you know what I'm saying). Family is precious, so very very precious. I'm grateful for many memories made to store away . . .  

Okay, Thanksgiving is now a memory, are you ready for Advent? 

We're in the thick of Advent season here. I was telling Trevor last night that as I think about it, this season becomes a somber one for me in many ways. It's a time of year when I feel increased amounts of anxiety - the ugly side of perfectionism and people-pleasing presents itself. And yet, when I think about that, what a "perfect" time to pray, to submit to my need for Jesus. For baby Jesus. To know that God's strength IS made perfect in weakness. That this can be a time of drawing near to Him. I'm thankful. I'm including a link below to some info about how the Eastern Orthodox church (and others) practice fasting during Advent. That reminds me that yes, this can be a somber time of reflection, and a true anticipation for feasting at Christmas, for rejoicing in Jesus's birth. The link below to "O Come O Come Emmanuel" is sung by a woman in our small group . . . I think it reflects the idea of fasting well, a tune in the minor chords with words that cry out for the coming of Christ. And the link to the "Drummer Boy" song I think is also powerful - sung a capella, and such an image of the gifts we bring to the altar. This morning I danced with Judah while listening to it and was a blubbering mess - thinking about a year ago and waiting for this little boy who is now such an intricate part of our lives. I'm amazed at how God delights in our offerings. Like the drummer boy, what do we have to give him? It occurs to me that He wants nothing and everything at the same time - none of our performance, all of our hearts.

And last, here's an Advent blessing that our church is praying this month (specifically for children): 

A Blessing for Advent
May you know the Son of God 
who came to demonstrate 
the love of the Father
May you believe the Son of God 
who came to be 
the Savior of the world
May you receive the Son of God 
who came to give 
you eternal life in His Spirit

1John 4-5

- I asked Karis what she wanted to chat about in the car one day, her reply was, "I want to chat about where babies come out of mommies"
- after Judah bit me while nursing, I told Karis I needed wisdom to figure out how to help that situation, her reply: "Mommy, I know how you could fix Judah's biting! You can teach him how to drink out of a baby bottle". Oh Karis, you are really almost always right
- "Sometimes, when I go 2, it startles me" (crude to report here, but true. Said while actually going - it was actually pretty cute)
- "Well, sometimes you scream at me" (said in front of both grandma's, who graciously told Karis that all mommies do that sometimes. And to which I reply, "Yes, I raised my voice . . . and I don't always make the right choices . . . and next time when I feel really frustrated I'm going to go outside". Yes, we are growing together here)
- "Here are the constructions" (which means, "instructions")
- "Let's play homemade!" (which means, "Old Maid", the card game)
- "I really, really want a Jeep for Christmas"
- "What's Judah wearing" (she likes to dress as closely as possible to him, especially for pajamas)
- "I'm building Bethlehem!" (with her "little people" nativity)
- "Mom, the tree is bending just like in the book!" (comparing our tree to Charlie Brown's. ha)
- "I have to go marry Everett at 7" (said as she laid out her wedding clothes - appropriately, all white. This is a separate blog post in the works)
- "Mommy, let's go in the maze!" (she makes mazes in the snow, and then I follow her around)
- "Mommy, let's go to the jungle!" (which is a corner of our yard with a big evergreen. She shows me the rhinos)

Judah updates: 
- He pulls up to standing on furniture, and is even taking some steps toward the furniture
- He got his two front teeth as an early Christmas present. Grand total now is 4
- He bites me sometimes while nursing. And then he laughs. He thinks this is a great game. Oh boy.
- He goes for outlets and cords and other dangerous things. I redirect him, and now he turns right back with gusto to get into the thing I just took him away from
- He LOVES the newest member to the Pandolfo family, puppy Marco Polo.  He talks to him in excited voices and his whole body goes electric
- He continues to chatter at dinner time, grasping for eye contact and interaction with Trevor
- He's eating most foods, and Karis is so kind to share with him. He loves to feed himself, and will only take food from a spoon as long as he also has something he can put in his mouth with his hands
- He pulls off his socks on every single car ride
- He is pure delight

In reading: 

From Two Part Invention by Madeleine L'Engle:
"For the human being to live is to live with the open risk of failure.
Being parents is a risk."

From Daring Greatly by Brene Brown:
"Wholehearted parenting is not about having it all figured out and passing it down - it's learning and exploring together . . . and there are times when children are way ahead of us on the journy, either waiting for me or reaching back to pull us along"

"Somewhere buried deep inside our hopes and fears for our children is the terrifying truth that there is no such thing as perfect parenting and there are no guarantees"

". . . the question isn't so much 'are you parenting the right way' as it is: 'are you the adult that you want your child to grow up to be'"

Psalm 31:24
"Be of good courage and He shall strengthen your heart, all you hope in the Lord"

Karis is loving the Christmas books we reserved from the library . . . Mr Willowby's Christmas Tree, Little One We Knew You'd Come,  Bear Stayed Up, Charlie Brown's Christmas, Room for a Little One, The Mitten

Judah ripping it up at the library . . . he can really tear a place apart,  I appreciate his curiosity