Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!! (almost)

The tree is up and decorated, the lights are on, the shopping is done....what else to do but WAIT?? I've been counting down the days until Christmas with my children (well, mainly my older one since Gannon doesn't really "get it"yet) and I'm so excited that today is Christmas Eve! I really love Christmas Eve, especially going to church and then coming home to sit in awe by the tree, knowing that in just a few short hours Christmas will be here.

We spent the day cleaning. Not the most exciting way to spend the day before Christmas, but it was really the best opportunity we had to all pitch in and just get it done. We leave for vacation on Saturday (going to Lake Lure, NC), and I don't want to come home to a dirty/messy house. I also am happy that we got the chance to all just hang out together and chill right before the crazy and wild havoc that comes with Christmas Day.

I know I get all excited about the holidays, but I can't help but always stop at some point and realize that there are lots of folks that aren't celebrating this season, whether it's by choice or not. There are a lot of people who don't have family with which to celebrate, or have lost someone close to them and just don't feel like celebrating. I really feel for those people and I always wish I could do more than I do. I usually do a good job of charitable giving around the holidays, but lately it just doesn't seem quite enough. Some people want a hug, some people want a shoulder to cry on, and some people just want to find that lost joy. The message I get from this is that maybe I need to start finding ways of giving other than monetarily. Maybe I need to go work a soup kitchen, or go pass out toys to little children in the projects. I'm not sure.

I do remember one of the best feelings I had (it was actually at Thanksgiving, not Christmas) was when I had the opportunity to actually give something other than a "new, unwrapped toy" or write a check to a charity organization (not that those aren't good things to do..). I had a client a few years back when I was working full-time, and she had no family; in fact, she was an elderly lady who was a shut-in. She had no transportation, and actually did not even have the desire to be out amongst the general population due to a severe anxiety disorder. Anyway, she came to see me every week despite not wanting to leave her small apartment, and she was very poor. She was also Jewish, and felt ostracized during the Christmas holidays by those people living around her. Well, this great agency in town prepares a box of everything you would need to cook a Thanksgiving meal for yourself and family, and they take applications for needy people to receive these boxes. They let professionals in the community fill out these applications and then they deliver the box to the agency working with the needy person. Well, when I learned of this outreach, I immediately filled out and application for this particular client and I got the box of food (it was a LOT of food...a WHOLE turkey, no less!!). So, I load it all in my trunk and the day before Thanksgiving I haul it all over to my client's apartment. I hadn't told her I was doing this, and I just showed up. The look on her face was priceless! I unloaded it all for her, gave her a hug and went on about my holiday. When the holidays were over, she told me about how touched she was that I did that, despite her oven not even being big enough to fit the turkey!!! That moment sticks out in my memory as the best feeling I've had about giving during the holidays. It was very special to both of us, I think.

So, I'll be enjoying my Christmas, but as I do I will keep in the back of my head those people that may not be enjoying it so much. I will say my prayers for those unknown people, and I hope they will feel that love somehow this season.

Merry Christmas!!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Traditions

I've been thinking about traditions recently. Friday night I was at our Sunday School party, and we each filled out a name tag that included our Best Christmas Memory. As I thought about it, I came up with many, but I finally wrote, "sitting around the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve". I think I picked that particular memory because generally after our church's Christmas Eve service, we would come home and still have all those warm fuzzies from singing favorite carols and lighting candles and praising the birth of Jesus. It was nice to come home in the dark night and sit with the lights off around the colorful tree, maybe drinking some hot chocolate or hot tea. It was just a peaceful memory for me, and I am all in favor of peacefulness during the rush of the holiday season. I think I also envy those days of being a child and not having the feeling of being rushed or frantic at the holidays as I sometimes do now. I certainly enjoy the season as an adult, but there is something about not having a care in the world and being able to sit in front of a beautiful tree to reflect on Christmas.

I've been trying to come up with some traditions for my immediate family. I think I've brought some of the traditions I had as a child and Jamie has brought some of his from his childhood, but I'm trying to think of some for us as a family unit. Of course we do the tree decorating while listening to Christmas music, reminiscing over favorite ornaments, attending special services at church, etc. However, I'm trying to find that one thing that makes our family's Christmas extra special to us. Maybe it will be attending the Nutcracker performance every year, or a Christmas play. Maybe it will be going to paint our own ornament at the pottery store (which is what we did this year). I'm not sure yet. I'm trying new things to see what that one thing is that sticks with my children as their favorite tradition, and what makes their eyes light up with the joy of Christmas. I'm really enjoying the process of finding out, too! I'm not sure what it will be, but I know that all of my attempts are just small ways of showing my children the love of Jesus through the Christmas season. Tonight we are going to a service at church in which my husband is singing and playing drums (he gets to sing "Little Drummer Boy" and he's very excited :) ). I hope we establish new traditions every year, and I think every year will be special in its own way. I can't wait to find out (when my children are grown) what the kids will say was their favorite family tradition, just as I had that opportunity this year to share mine.

Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Most people view change with trepidation. They approach it warily. I've been guilty of this in times past, but sometimes I find myself totally comfortable with it and even seeking change of some sort. While part of me likes routine and ordinary, another part of me seeks adventure and spontaneity.

I like watching the seasons change. Sometimes it can be so gradual that you hardly even notice when Spring becomes Summer. Other times it hits you in your face, such as when Fall becomes Winter too suddenly and you are scrounging around for your winter coat and long johns. I think I prefer gradual change, personally. It's much easier to accept and acclimate oneself to a slow process of change than something unexpected.

Change is necessary for growth to occur. I can't imagine if I still thought and reacted the way I did when I was 18. Change helps us mature. Change helps us experience the world in a new way. I think I'm starting to like this thing called Change.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I'm Not Who I Was

This is such a powerful song for me and some things I have been thinking about recently.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

It's a beautiful day for a duck.

Quack! That's what the cashier said to me today at Target. Pretty funny! However, as I was walking out I found some deeper meaning, as usual. I thought about how sometimes I complain about the weather, but it really depends on one's perspective. It IS a nice day for a duck. It's gray and cloudy and rainy. But it's warm. Not bad if you consider that it COULD be really cold and everyone would get sick from the cold rain. So, it really just depends on how you look at it.

I'm the type of person who tends to try and look at things from different angles. I had a professor in grad school who drilled into our heads one semester, "it's all in how you frame it." Basically, there are many ways to look at any given situation. Try changing your perspective and see how it looks differently. I find this helpful when I'm counseling people, but I try to do it in my own life as well. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes I'm so caught up in my own negative thoughts and experiences that nothing else can change that. But, I feel much better when I AM able to change my point of view and evaluate things in a more positive way than before.

That's my food for thought for today!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween Candy

I'm so thankful that my children aren't old enough to want to eat all of their Halloween candy.

My daughter is 5 1/2 and my son is 2. It's his first time trick or treating, really. He has caught on pretty quickly. Tonight we had Trunk or Treat at our church, and yesterday we went to a fall carnival at the Botanical Gardens. The kids got to wear their costumes twice already, and so far they are doing well with them. Melody is a witch and Gannon is Thomas the Train. So, anyway, they got a load of candy tonight at Trunk or Treat, and after they went to bed I went thru it all and took out the stuff I know they won't eat..mostly the hard candy or really chewy stuff they don't like. I'm very lucky in that I don't have kids with major sweet tooth's (like their Mom), so they don't miss it if they don't have it. Both of them like M&M's and fruit snacky stuff, so I kept all of that. All of the Jolly Ranchers, Sweet Tarts, and bubble gum got ditched. I wonder at what age I won't be able to do that anymore? Unfortunately, I really like the chocolate stuff (candy bars), so I end up eating it. Why don't I just throw it out with the other stuff??? Huh, huh?? Because I feel like it's sacreligious or something.... :( Halloween is not good for me, but hey, at least it's fun!! We'll go trick or treat around the neighborhood on Wednesday night, since it's our first Halloween here and we have a great, kid-friendly neighborhood. I can't wait!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

It was a dark and rainy night...

That's the weather right now in Huntsville. I had to drive to work in it, and I'm not a fan of driving in the dark, much less in the rainy dark. I've learned that people can't drive in the rain, at least not very well. So, I try to avoid the streets when I can while it's raining. I'm happy for the rain, though.

Kids are funny. I've always known this, but it was reiterated to me today when I was the lunchroom helper at my daughter's school. This basically means that I help open milk cartons and pass out straws. Anyway, the kindergarteners and 1st graders were all about playing jokes today. A few in particular would raise their hand for me to come over, then they'd just stare at me and grin. I'd ask, "do you need help?" and then they'd shout, "tricked ya!!!'. Ha really, I got a kick out of it. They are cute. Another cute kid called me over then asked me to open his chip. Yes, his chip. I told him he had to open it with his mouth by biting it. Then the rest of the table caught on to the joke, so several more kids asked me the same thing. If nothing else, it gives me an appreciation of what our hard-working teachers have to endure every day whilst they try to teach our children. Go teachers!!!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Oven Woes continued...

It's now been 3 long weeks since my oven went out on me. The oven guy finally came last Friday to take our circuit board; however, he said he couldn't ship it out until this past Monday and it has to be sent to Houston. The oven guy is not the most efficient person in this world. I haven't been impressed. Lord knows when we'll get the repaired part back! As a result, my children have been craving muffins something horrible (they're addicted). I finally broke down and went to my parents house to do some cooking. My parents are out of town this week, so I have been going over every day to feed their dog, Chester. On Tuesday we all went over and I cooked dinner, muffins, and another dinner to freeze for later. I'm crossing my fingers that our circuit board is returned speedily and I can resume my normal culinary habits. :) Now, I don't cook every night, but I do try to make dinner at least 3-4 times a week. I also make breakfast for the kids several days a week so we don't end up eating cereal every day. I just hope my oven works after all this..

Monday, October 1, 2007

"Falling into God's love"

Such a simple statement by my 5-year-old daughter this morning..."falling into God's love". She was sitting at the breakfast table, having finished her morning meal, and she was idly playing with a small doll. She dropped the doll onto her VeggieTales placemat, which reads, "God made you special and He loves you very much!" She then commented as she picked up her doll...."falling into God's love." Wow. I sat in stupor thinking about what she had just said and how profound a statement it was. As I began to ponder, I stated to my child, "well, if I'm going to fall I'd want it to be into God's love, wouldn't you?" She smiled and agreed with me.

For the month of September, our church has been having a sermon series on Healing & Wholeness and all that implies. We've talked about valuing self, valuing others, managing conflict, and forgiveness. I guess since that is so fresh on my mind, the falling into God's love comment had deeper implications for me than what my child had intended. I began thinking about all of the times that we have struggles in our lives, and how many times this can turn into a big, deep, hole of depression. Well, what if we envisioned falling into God's open arms and loving embrace instead? I'm so thankful to my daughter for giving me this visual image today!

I had a great opportunity to keep it "true and real" again today...and here it is only noon. (Wow, what a day so far..) Anyway, I took my 2-year-old son to his Mommy & Me gymnastics class this morning, and afterward I had planned on going to Target to get some things. Since it was lunchtime, I decided that we'd grab a bite to eat first to ward off any whiny-ness in Target. Boy was I wrong! From the moment we got into line at Wendy's until the moment we left, I had a whining, crying, running away, hitting, stubborn 2 year old child. It was quite embarrasing to say the least. While a few people glanced our way and noted how "cute" my son is, I couldn't help but think..."yeah, right, what do they REALLY mean???" As we were packing up to go, the lady sitting at a table behind us said to her companion, "I'm sorry, do you want to move to another table?" She had been sitting behind us for 5 minutes and likely witnessed my child whining, hitting, and generally refusing to do anything I asked of him. As I was driving home, however, I thought about what was true and real. Ok, so none of those people know me or my son, so they can't know that he really doesn't behave like that 24/7. They also don't know that I'm a fairly consistent parent. I generally follow through with what I say to my kids. Sure, there are occasions where I slip, but I kept my cool at Wendy's and followed through with everything I said to my son about his behavior and the consequences thereof. So, based on that I decided that it was nothing to be embarrased about or to become offended by. I can't assume what their thoughts are behind what they say because I cannot read minds. I can now let that piece of my day go and move forward. I also decided that the best plan of action was to come straight home and put my child to bed for a nap, rather than take him to Target and place him in yet another situation to continue behaving that way, when what he really needed was rest. I could use some, too!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

A little peace and serenity

This morning I woke up with the bright idea that it would be nice to go up on Green Mountain Nature trail and check it out. I haven't been to this particular trail or area for quite a number of years....probably about 8-10 years to be exact. I went a few times in college and once with my parents and now-husband. I have fond memories of a nice picnic area and decent trail/scenery. I get kid #1 to school and later kid #2 to preschool and realize that it is drizzling rain. I didn't let that deter me, though, and I drove right on up Green Mountain anyway. Well, Green Mountain is practically in my backyard. What a treat! You'd think I would have gone back sooner..

So I get to the parking area and it looks mostly like I remember. There were lots more big houses on the drive up, however. I guess some folks around here are discovering Green Mountain and it's bluff views. Anyway, I was only the 3rd vehicle in the parking lot and I saw a guy that obviously works there. So I get out, equipped with a small water, cell phone and keys. Off I head to the very large picnic area, which is very scenic because there is a large lake beyond the tables and chairs. There is a nice restroom and a covered picnic area, complete with a multitude of rocking chairs (they won my heart immediately with the addition of rocking chairs!). I'm focused on hitting the trail first, so off I head on the trail. They've added landscape timbers to line the trail, whereas before you just had to figure it out. There are various trails leading off of the main trail that are not marked, but for today I stayed on the main trail. It was a very nice, refreshing walk around the lake. I always enjoy being alone on a trail because I'm better able to focus on the workings of nature around me; birds singing, woodpeckers pecking, faint rustling of leaves from some small, unidentified get the idea. I only met one group of hikers at the very end. There's some spots along the way of interest: a log cabin, a chapel, and a neat covered bridge. I saw several ducks and geese, and a fly-fisherman. There's a small waterfall off of the lake and main trail. It's just a very nice, serene area. I'm sure on the weekend it's packed with more people, but it suited my purposes for today. Once I finished the trail I found a wooden swing facing the lake, so I sat and enjoyed the peaceful day for a while. It had stopped spitting rain by this point, so it was cool and breezy.

I would really like to take the kids up there sometime. They'd love to explore the covered bridge and they're always keen for a waterfall and nature. We'll have to make a morning trip up there soon while the weather is cooler.

It's a rare thing when I don't have a gazillion errands or chores to do while the kids are in school, so I'm particularly glad that I took the trip up Green Mountain today. Once I got home I was much more willing to get some laundry and dishes done. I should probably make a habit of it. :)

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Oven Woes

So, our family has been without an oven for the past 9 days. This is not a good situation in which to find oneself. Thursday night last my husband and I were sitting in the office chatting when a loud beeping noise started coming from the kitchen. My first thought was that it was the smoke alarm. My husband got up to check it out, and discovered that it was our oven. It was beeping loudly while displaying the secret oven code of F1. My husband and I not knowing oven code didn't know what to do. Thus, we commenced hitting all of the buttons on the oven in rapid succession in attempt to make it stop. It didn't work. Finally, my husband went and turned off the circuit.
The next day we decided to try again and my husband turned the circuit back on. As we stood in hopeful expectation, hovering next to the oven, it began beeping again and flashing it's dumb code again. It was then we decided to call up our home warranty folks. Now, we are very lucky that when we purchased our house nearly 6 months ago, we got a home warranty included. It has really come in handy, since some of our outlets and garage light went on the blink (not literally) a while back and it took 2 electricians to repair it. We also had a main water pipe burst under our shower, leaking water into our garage. We now have a huge hole in the ceiling of our garage. Apparently the home warranty covers the water pipe, but not the big hole the guy put in our ceiling to actually GET TO the water pipe. Nevertheless, we still saved mucho money by having a home warranty.
Well, we call the place about our dumb oven (which, by the way, I have never liked and really would like a new one..). They send out a guy a few DAYS later and all he does is write down the dumb oven code and says he has to "call it in." OK, so I think this won't take long, but here it is almost a week later and NOTHING has been done. Now, mind you, I can still cook on the oven. I merely have to go out to the garage, flip on the circuit, run back inside before the code starts flashing so I can hit the Bake button. As soon as I get that accomplished, it stops beeping and I can commence cooking. Could be worse. But, whenever the oven guy comes and gets our circuit board to "rebuild" it, I won't even have that luxury. Ah goes on.

We had Family Fun Day at my daughter's school today and it was indeed fun. I got to monitor the kids on the huge, blow-up Double Slide. It was entertaining, at least! But, we all got a little too much sun. I'll be happy for cooler weather here shortly. I love Fall! I can't go through a Fall anymore without reminiscing about walking on the Quad at the great University of Alabama, when the leaves are beginning to fall and the weather is cool. I can almost hear Denny Chimes ringing out and cheers coming from Bryant-Denny stadium...almost. It's still my favorite time of year.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Why True and Real?

Hi everyone! I don't even know who would take the time to read my blog, but maybe somewhere out there will happen my way. :) Anyway, I got the idea for True and Real from one of the ways I try to live my life. Over a year ago, my Sunday School class did a study and one of the scriptures we studied was Philippians 4:8--"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praise worthy--meditate on these things". What I gained from this lesson is to in every situation, only focus on what is "true and real". In any situation, my perspective may be skewed or the other person's perspective may be off, but I can always remind myself of the facts--what is true and real. I don't have to agree with everyone and I don't have to look at situations in exactly the same way as others. Well, it's helpful to me, anyway. :)

As I type this, my 2-year-old son is flailing about on the floor, being silly. He's just thrown the entire contents of a Yahtzee game across the floor. He's had croup and bronchitis for the past 5 days or so, and today is the beginnings of what seems to be recovery. Hence, the throwing and flailing. I don't mind him flailing about when he's happy about it. It's when he's kicking and screaming along with the flailing that gets worrisome. He's also picked up the phrase, "na-na-boo-boo" from he's saying that while he's tossing things about. I just hope I don't get pegged by a wayward dice (di??) so that I can still make it to the car rider line to pick up my 5-year-old from school in a few minutes!

I guess that's a good enough start as any. We'll see how long this actually lasts--me posting comments on here. :)