Thursday, December 17, 2009


My sister in law, Chip, and I are both mothers of 2 year olds who have been testing our limits lately by throwing some pretty good tantrums. Chip, whose 2 year old is her oldest child, told me yesterday that she finally understands why some people call this age "terrible": it is frustrating, to say the least. Chip also posed an interesting question to me yesterday: do you think that Jesus threw tantrums?

We know that Jesus was 2 at some point in time, right? We decided that Jesus probably did throw tantrums, just like any other child asserting his independence, trying to figure out where the boundaries lie, and not having very sophisticated communication skills. After all, the whole point of Jesus coming to the world as a human, as a baby, was for him to have the complete human experience, the good parts and the not so great parts. And I figure it's impossible to really be fully human until one has thrown at least one tantrum. It's hard to imagine the God of the universe kicking and screaming on the floor, but to tell you the truth, it makes me feel better to think of poor little teen-age new mom Mary dealing with 2 year old Jesus throwing himself down and screaming his head off.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Christmas greetings

Week 4
Yes, I felt the need to add a third ruler. Hubby told me, as I was taping, that he has a yardstick I can borrow...Anyway, you can't really see, but it's now up to the 5 (+12+12=29). Crazy tall. We're interested to see how big it can get before it collapses
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We sent about half of our Christmas cards electronically this year, in an attempt to conserve resources (those of you who read this blog regularly are getting a little extra something with yours, so yours are coming snail mail, that is, if I can ever get to the post office to see if they require additional postage). I've experienced a side benefit that I wasn't really anticipating. Recipients are clicking "reply" and we're hearing from people that we haven't heard from in years :-) And they're actually taking the time to tell us what they've been up to. Fun.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


One of our family's Christmas traditions is to count down to Christmas by reading books with winter and Christmas themes. I wrap 23 of our books (in old newspapers, which we'll be recycling anyway), and we open one each day, and read it, until December 23. On the 24th, we unwrap the Bible and read Luke 2. This is a great tradition for a number of reasons: we get to read all of our Christmas books every December (if we just left them on the shelf in general circulation, we'd forget to read some of them), we can see that Christmas is getting closer, as our stack of wrapped books diminishes, and the kids don't go insane with waiting to open a gift--they each get to open one every 3 days.

The other night, as we were all snuggled together on the couch, with Scott reading the Christmas book of the day, I thought to myself, "who does this?" What a joy it is to be in a family, and what joy it is to sit quietly together at the end of the day, reminding ourselves what all the craziness is really about at this time of year. In that moment, I wished for someone to take our picture, so I could remember that feeling forever. I guess I'll just have to tuck that mental picture away in my heart for the future.

Friday, December 11, 2009


Bubby will not keep his mittens on. This is not such a big deal when it's warm out, but when it's 5 degrees, you kind of need to have your hands covered if you're going to be outside for any length of time. Poor Bubby. He loves to be outside, but gets so upset (understandably so) when his hands get cold, and they inevitably do, because he refuses to wear mittens. And I've discovered (I know you're going to be shocked by this one), that 2 year olds won't listen to reason, and have little regard for cause and effect. We even tried those mittens with the long sleeves on them--Bubby takes even those off. The issue is lack of independent finger control. Bubby wants to be able to move his fingers individually for a better grasp on the shovel or truck or whatever. The only hand coverings the kid will keep on are those little knit "magic" gloves. Better than nothing, but not much. He now has three pairs of them, so we can switch them out when they're wet. We looked and looked, but surprise! they don't seem to make waterproof gloves that small. I did find some fleece gloves that claim to be wicking to stay dry, but I'm a bit skeptical, and even those are too big for him. *sigh* Anyone in the market for some cheap toddler mittens?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snow Day!

Week 3
My husband laughed at me when I added the second ruler. Its numbers aren't as easy to see, but the plant is up to the 9 (21" tall).
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I was awoken this morning at 5:52 a.m. by my phone ringing (playing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"). I managed to pull it together enough to answer the phone (the phone in our bedroom is not in easy reach to discourage a certain 2 year old from calling who knows who when we're not looking), and was told by a recording that school was cancelled today due to inclement weather. Sure enough, there's about 6 inches on the ground and more coming. It's blowing, too, which I think must be why they decided to cancel.

Here are some pictures of my favorite boys enjoying the snow.The man in black... Bubby's first time in snow pantsCode-man shoveled a race track Bubby's wearing gloves this time :-)
We set up a snack and hot chocolate station in the garage

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I should...

I find myself saying, "I should..." a lot. I should wash the dishes. I should vacuum. I should fold the laundry. I should play with Bubby. I should make lunch for Hubby. I should buy a gift for [fill in the blank]. I should stop playing with my kids and make supper. Do you do that? I've realized that all of the "I shoulds" in my life leave me feeling empty, and, at the worst of times, worthless. There are so many things that I should be doing, but only a finite amount of time in which to accomplish them all. I simply cannot do all of the "I shoulds," nor do I want to.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered a helpful tool for dealing with the "I shoulds"--replace them with I choose, or I choose not. I choose to play with Bubby. I choose not to fold the laundry at this time. "I should" degrades; "I choose" empowers. "I choose" returns control of my actions right back to where it should be--with me, rather than handing control over to some vague sense of guilt-induced duty. "I choose" makes me responsible for my actions and attitude; "I choose" enforces my values, as I choose which activities are most important to me. I doesn't seem like changing one little word in your self-talk would make such a big difference, but it does. Try it--it works.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The MOPS meeting that almost wasn't

I went to my MOPS meeting this morning. I almost didn't. When I looked at the clock and realized that I had to leave right then if I wanted to be 5 minutes late, and Bubby wasn't even dressed yet, I thought, "I should just stay home. I can't do this today." The drive gave me some time to calm down and think about my morning, and I realized that not everything went wrong that could have, but it was definitely not a happy morning.

First of all, I slept until 7:04, when Bubby woke me up. Now this might sound like a good thing, to be able to sleep until 7, but it really isn't, not on a school day. Sleeping until 7 means that I don't get a shower in the morning, and a shower is pretty much essential for me to have a good day. It also wasn't good because Bubby waking me up at 7:04 meant that Logo and Code-man were not yet awake either. Especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when they take a shower, L & C need to get up at 7 in order to get everything in and not have to rush out the door to the bus. Then Logo was upset about showering, Bubby decided to knock over my bowl-ful of milky rice chex (which I optimistically poured thinking perhaps I could gobble it down while L & C were in the shower--nope), and then proceeded to throw Code-man's corn and rice chex in various directions to see what would happen (he's quite the scientist).

My goal is to have the kids out the door by 8:05, so I have them brush their teeth at 7:55, then go put their shoes, coats, hats and gloves on. But with the trouble in the shower, that meant Logo had 7 minutes to eat. Logo doesn't do anything fast, most of all, not eating. So at 7:58 I'm screaming at the older boys to brush their teeth, and by 8:02, I'm saying, forget it, just get your shoes on. They rushed out the door at 8:07 and 8:08 (the bus comes at 8:10), and (you knew this was coming) Bubby got his hand slammed in the door. I don't really need to go on here, do I? You're getting the feeling for the kind of morning I was having? I missed the bus (I assume the children made it, because when I finally got out there, I didn't see them), I still wasn't showered, Bubby wasn't dressed, and there were food and dishes strewn about haphazardly in the kitchen and dining room, but I hadn't eaten. It was just one of those days, when you feel like you should just lie low and hope that something good happens eventually.

But you know, in that moment, when I was deciding not to go, I realized that today, of all days, I needed to go. After a morning like I had, I needed to remove myself from that situation and just be. For those of you who don't know, MOPS is an international organization that celebrates and supports Moms of Pre-Schoolers (and before someone says, but you don't have a preschooler, Scarlet, pre-school means they haven't started school yet). Today I really needed that support from other moms who have been there. I needed to not be a mom for a while and just be a grown-up, a woman. I am so thankful for that group of women, who I don't even really know all that well--what I do know is, we're all moms and we're all trying our best and sometimes messing up. I am so glad I decided to go--it is such a blessing to be able to feel that love and acceptance from my peers--it's like a soul re-charge.

Well, I did eventually get a shower, got Bubby dressed, and only ended up being 15 minutes late for the meeting. I ate brunch at the meeting, and there are still food and dished strewn about (in fact, Hubby, don't be surprised if it's all still there when you come home :-P. And my day has gone so much better than I could have imagined.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Week 2

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Hubby and I accomplished a flurry of Christmas shopping on Monday, both in stores, and online. Now I know what they mean by Cyber-Monday. That was us! It got me thinking about gifts again (gifts are never far from my mind, anyway, you know). I know I've said this before, but no one has ever given me a satisfying answer, so I'll say it again: at Christmas, we're celebrating Jesus' birthday, so how come we get all the gifts? I don't believe that I've ever gotten a gift on any of my children's birthdays, even though it probably is more appropriate to give gifts to the mother on those days, don't you think? I've never gotten a gift on Lincoln's birthday, or MLK's birthday. I've never gotten a gift for anyone else's birthday...unless you count Brandi, Karen, and George H.W. Bush, who happen to share my birthday.

So what are you going to give Jesus for His birthday this year?

Well, when I give a gift to someone, I think carefully about what I know about that person--their likes and dislikes, what they've said and done, and then I try to figure out what they might like as a gift, based on that information.

Let's see...

Jesus healed the sick--we can donate to charities like the American Cancer Society, donate vaccines through organizations like Samaritan's Purse, or volunteer at a hospital or for meals on wheels

Jesus fed the hungry--we can donate food or volunteer at a food shelf, or serve a meal in a shelter, or prepare meals to be sent to hungry children elsewhere

Jesus gave sight to the blind--we can donate eyeglasses to the Lions Clubs to be used again

Jesus urged us to care for orphans and widows--we can take care of their children while women who have fled abusive situations take parenting or job skills classes, give clean blankets to people who are homeless, or adopt a child through Compassion International or World Vision

Jesus freed us from our prison of sin--we can live a life of gratitude, so that grace and Christ-love ooze out of our very being into the world

Hmmm. Seems like, what Jesus really wants for His birthday this year, and every year, is for us to be His hands and feet in the world.

Don't get me wrong--I love gifts, both giving and receiving--any occasion will do. But I think that most of us have lost sight of why we're celebrating. It's become, for many of us, all about the gifts. It's tradition. It's expected. Feelings will be hurt if we don't come through with gifts in the way that we always have before. And that is so far from what Christmas should be. True to form, we humans have sinfully distorted yet another beautiful gift that God has given us.

I guess the take-away message here is, in your Christmas celebrations this year, please be deliberate in everything you do--be sure that all of your actions and thoughts are holy and pleasing to the One whom we celebrate. Be sure that everything you do and say in this season is done and said not for man, but for God.
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