Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

well, i debated as to whether or not to have a tip this tuesday. but the one i thought of seemed fitting, so here it is:
know when to not bother posting.

really, this works with all sorts of things. you can have wonderful ideas and clever schemes, but sometimes, even time-saving methods are not as productive. i'm a big lover of schedules and lists, but i've learned that spontaneity (shudder) and flexibility are just as valuable. for example, when i decided i would post Tuesday's Tips, i was determined to do it every tuesday. even the tuesday before christmas when no one is bothering to read anyone's blogs. then, i thought about it, and i realized that doing so would be counter-productive. anyone with a blog knows that they get quite neglected over the holidays. mine sure does. so much so that my husband, after reading my last few ignored posts, decided to leave a comment - only he did it in my name since he doesn't have an account, making it look as though i was commenting on my own blog in an effort to make it seem read by someone. it made me laugh.

enjoy your christmas... and throw caution to the wind.
i'll try.

Monday, December 21, 2009

4 days and counting

watching our christmas chain wane this year has almost been surreal... i realize that the busier one is (or feels), the faster far-off dates seem to approach. but, 4 days! wow...

the amazing two feet of snow we got over the weekend has really added a fun and atypical feel to our christmas this year. while we've always dreamt of a white christmas, our maryland reality has usually been a 50 degree christmas. so the added thrill of snow to our already excited week-before christmas house has brought it all to a new level. the kids and chuck are home today which means they now have only 2 days of school this week - great for them... but if these kids don't get out of the house, i'm never gonna get their presents wrapped! usually, we do it in the evenings once they're in bed, but they've been staying up later since they haven't had to get up early in the mornings and i've been exhausted by bedtime! in the past, i've had all the presents under the tree by now... oh well. the slow addition of gifts day by day seems to add to their excitement and anticipation. (yes, my kids' presents show up under the tree before christmas morning...)

my shopping is done... with the exception of a few gifts for my side of the family with whom we are not celebrating til january 9th (so i have time). i know there are a few odds and ends i still need to pick up before friday, but it always feels like there is something else that could be done. cookies are made; i even remembered the loaves of breakfast bread in the freezer that i wanted to use for the holidays.

on friday night, the kids and i waited outside for our local fire company to drive by with santa. we weren't exactly sure what time they were coming, and since they don't drive all the way up our hill, we had to walk to the corner to make sure we didn't miss it. it was cold. pre-snow cold. and right about the time we decided to give up and go back inside we heard the sirens approaching. i'm not sure what was more exciting - the fire truck on our street or the candy canes, but they enjoyed the fun of it all. tonight, we're taking our annual trip to the mall - for no other reason than to experience the mall at christmas. we never have any real shopping to do, but my family has been doing that since we were kids, and it's a fun way to see each other and hang out.

the further possibility of snow on christmas day adds another bit of excitement but it also leaves us with the possibility that we'll be home-bound for the first time. depending on how bad the weather is, we may not be braving the 4 hour drive through the mountains to be with family that day. not sure what that will be like. different. very different.

i feel abnormally laid-back about everything this year. oh, i'm excited, but i don't feel uptight - and, unfortunately, that word has described me all too often in the past. the fact that i tend to gradually prepare for big events, helps... but i've been thinking a lot about my christmas last year. and, after everything i went through last year at christmas, doing all this on two able-bodied feet seems to be no big deal. i'm not saying a broken ankle is a major health issue... and my ultimate lesson in that instance was that an injury is nowhere near as devastating as poor health, and for that, i'm grateful.

every year, i try to see past the fun stuff of christmas (which i don't downplay or dread - it's FUN!) to learn a lesson. and, something i've thought a lot about this advent season is that my joy is not dependent on my circumstances or on the people in my life. it's dependent on me and my choice. and, today, i choose joy!

Friday, December 18, 2009

peace, please. just peace.

technically, this is not an orginal post - and if you've followed me since my xanga days, you may recognize it. but i was feeling contemplative, and this still sums it up...
i've been thinking about christmas...and how everyone kinda places some magical value on the holiday - not in a cheesy, commercial way - but in the honest-to-goodness-christmas-is-an-amazing-time-of-year kinda way. and i've decided that people think more about....everything...at christmas-time. pleasures are more joyous and pain is more devastating during the holidays...for whatever reason. so, i'm guessing it's for that same "magical" reason that people think more about "peace on earth, goodwill toward men." i mean, ultimately, that's something we want all the time, right? and yet...our material christmas lists seem petty and immature compared to others' lofty requests for peace on earth, so much so that we feel almost guilty for saying what we really want on christmas morning. i'm not gonna lie,...this has always annoyed me. for better or for worse, christmas has become a time when we give gifts, and i enjoy that. i think we can have both - i do. so, this year, i've thought a lot about peace on earth...and how the whole concept is just too big to get my head around and, so consequently, i give up and get annoyed. i mean, yes, ultimately, peace is from God and our prayer for world peace is one we give to Him. but, then it occurred to me, that having or contributing to peace on earth doesn't mean i'm responsible for solving each world crisis one by one. for me, peace on earth means peace in my house...peace with my family...peace in my sphere of influence. so, this year, that's my christmas wish - something that i can really grab hold of and work towards. what an amazing gift to give eachother - to let go of each and every grievance and disagreement...and just have peace. and not just to be put down and then picked back up after the holidays - but to really let it go; to remember that our love for eachother and for righteousness is so much more important than the pain we may experience at the hands of those around us. simply, that is what peace is. and yes, it comes from Jesus, but more importantly, it comes when we let Jesus work through us.

so that's it. that's my christmas wish. all i really want is peace.
and a GPS.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

what i read

home-christmas.jpg i know that there are bad books out there... but i'm getting annoyed at how frequently i seem to be reading them. generally speaking, i find that an author who is listed as "bestselling" will be worth reading... on some level. not so in this case. in fact, i decided that if this particular author is a bestselling author, that holds out a lot of hope for anyone who wishes to be the same. and that, my friends, is about the only good thing i have to say about this particular reading experience.

the story is simple... kinda. a 20-something girl on her way back to her childhood home for christmas discovers a man in the middle of the road dressed as a Revolutionary War soldier. the man claims to be from that era, somehow lost in time. after much doubt and confusion, the girl and her family decide to try to get the guy back to his time. of course, in the meantime, they discover that their home just happens to be his childhood home. and then, coincidentally, they discover secret diaries that belonged to his sister in the attic (even though they'd lived in the house for 30 plus years. good grief). on top of that, the father (a mad scientist-type) and the mother (a hippy, anything's possible Catholic Wiccan - what the heck???) join forces to come up with a potion and radio frequency that will transport the lost soldier back to 1776.

the ridiculous story would have possibly been more palatable had the writing not been so trite and cliched. about a quarter of the way through, i knew i did not like the book but refused to stop reading simply for curiousity's sake - i wanted to see how much more ridiculous it could get. the snow storm of rose petals at the end sealed the deal.

i thought christmas fiction would be a nice "feel-good" addition to the holiday season. i'm not doing trying, but i really hope my next pick is better!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

this is one of my favorite tips for this time of year, and i'm pleased to say that i came up with it all by myself.

nothing says winter like static cling. and nothing says static cling like little girls' hair (or little boys if you don't buzz 'em short like i do). when my girls were toddlers, i couldn't figure out what to do about their crazy fly-away hair in the winter. so i started carrying dryer sheets.

let me explain.

here is lucy, with a not-so-horrible case of static cling hair.
as you can see, a quick rub of the dryer sheet all over her head, and the static is gone. i actually keep them in my winter coat pocket and i've started putting them in my girls' coat pockets, too. they even come in handy when you've got static issues with pants or skirts and slips (or am i the only one out there who still wears a slip?)

many thanks to my little model. she may have a calling... what do you think?

Thursday, December 10, 2009

what i read

laugh all you want, but i am that person who actually reads books on how to properly raise a dog.
cesar millan is also known as "the dog whisperer" and can be seen on the National Geographic Channel on friday nights (or every day at 2:00 pm). i had seen enough of his show to know that he was the one i wanted to emulate with our next pet. chuck and i have had several pets, but i really wanted to know as much as i could this time around. and, honestly, this is just me. i love to research... anything. if it's something i'm interested in, i will read and research til i feel properly educated. so, having a new puppy, it made sense that i'd try to find a good book on getting her started on the right foot... or paw.

this book is a fantastic one to read when you are ready to introduce a puppy to your family. his techniques may not seem to be what most people would want to do with their pet, but cesar's approach is to not treat your dog like a human member of the family (which is what most people tend to do) but rather a pack member with you as the pack leader.

just as with raising children, raising dogs is all about consistency. we've now had Parsley for one month, and i have to admit that there were days when i though, "oh my word, what have i gotten myself into. this dog is crazy." but, now, four weeks later, i am happy to report that, no, she's not crazy. she's a puppy! and with very consistent and (usually) patient instruction, she is really making great progress. she is completely crate trained (meaning she will not pee or poop when she's in her crate) and she uses the pee pads with some accuracy while penned in the kitchen. she's even starting to master he walk on the leash with minimal tension (and this is a big deal...). i'm really proud of her and of our progress.

the kids are doing exceptionally well, too. i've been able to instruct them with what i've learned, and they are all doing a great job becoming mini-pack leaders. each of them can say "no" or hold their hand out and she will respond by sitting or stopping most of the time.
thank God for resources like this book!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

happy birthday, tucker!

i can hardly believe my little boy is 4 today. to some degree, i say that every time my kids have a birthday. but watching your youngest grow so fast is a bit unsettling.

lately, i find that he’s correcting me when i talk to him as if he’s “little.” and sometimes he’s the one teaching me the grown-up lessons.

like last week... he and i were on a quick shopping excursion to target to hit up some extra-appealing christmas deals. he was relatively patient while i searched for the right gifts (and then tried to hide them so he wouldn’t see them...) i promised him a snack if he was cooperative while i shopped, and he obliged; so we stopped at the target cafe on our way out. cookie for tucker. pretzel for me. as he sat and took tucker-sized nibbles from his giant cookie, all i could think about was how much i had to do that day... and how eager i was to get home and do it. my pretzel was gone in an embarrassingly short amount of time, but he was not even a quarter of a way through that cookie. i tried to encourage him to eat faster. i suggested he take it home with him. finally, i asked, “are you done yet?” to which my not-quite four year old son answered, “mommy, it’s not a race.”



it’s not a race.

about the same time, i noticed an elderly woman in a wheelchair nearby, waiting for her freshly ordered starbucks drink. i thought about the life she may have lived... children, grandchildren, great grandchildren. i bet she thought they’d never get out of diapers, never stop fighting, never pick up their dirty clothes, never finish their dinner. and then, suddenly,...

it’s not a race.

maybe if i slowed down a bit, it wouldn’t seem to go by so fast.


happy birthday, tucker...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

you'd think that with christmas coming, i'd have some kind of festive, yuletide tip. but, no.
rotting bananas. that's all i got...
i don't know about your family, but i seem to have a hard time figuring out who's gonna eat what when. one week, we don't seem to use up more than two loaves of bread. the next week, we've finished three in four days time. same thing with bananas. one day everyone wants one... the next day, i couldn't pay them to eat a banana. and this is what happens. i catch a glimpse of my fruit basket out of the corner of my eye and see this:
oh well... i guess i could just throw them out. but i don't. i don't feel as bad for misjudging the week's need for bananas if i can come up with some kind of use for the poor spotted, shriveled things.

so, instead of tossing them, i remove the peels and place the mushy bananas in a resealable freezer bag, labeling the bag with how many bananas are in it. then i put the bag in the freezer until i'm making something that requires bananas.... banana bread, banana muffins, banana pancakes,... smoothies. because it seems that whenever i have the desire to make one of those things, i don't have enough ripe bananas on hand. not anymore... i've got a few bags in the freezer right now.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tuesday's Tip

admittedly, this is not the most exciting of tips, but i'm hoping it's a bit more intriguing than sink cleaning.

if you have children, you've probably at some point made the decision to not tell your child of an upcoming event because you know that all you'll here from then til the "big day" is, "how many more days til ______?" that is why we use chains!

the idea came from my teaching years. i don't know of any teacher who hasn't used a construction-paper chain for something. it's a classic classroom christmas decoration, but i loved using them as countdowns, removing a link each day as we anticipated a big event (usually a break or summer vacation!). my kids now love them for the same reason.

this is tucker's birthday chain.
i usually make the chain about two weeks before the event (although christmas's chain goes up a bit earlier). each morning, the child wakes up and takes off a link - watching his chain get smaller and smaller as his birthday nears. this helps to cut out the inevitable, tireless barrage of questions: "how many days til my birthday?" it's also a great visual reminder for the rest of us that something is coming.

with four children and annual events like christmas, first day of school, last day of school, vacations, etc, these chains come in handy all year long. we're hoping to make our christmas chain tonight!