Monday, December 21, 2009

It'll be the perfect ending to a perfect day

This weekend my dear friend Megan came to visit and her and another friend and I went to Marshal to shop.  Marshal is one of those towns that seems like it stepped out of a black and white film, especially at Christmas.  It was so fun, I love those little shops, bakeries, and antique stores it's such a welcome break from the cookie cutter shops and merchandise of the mall.   After our shopping day we went to a birthday party for another dear friend (it was a weekend of dear friends).  It reminded me of the line in sleigh ride that goes "There's a birthday party at the home of farmer grey, It'll be the perfect ending to a perfect day..." and while we didn't eat popcorn, pumpkin pie or tell ghost stories it was a nice ending to a nice day (Hunter beat her husband Mike at wii boxing that was very entertaining).  Makes the holidays seem so warm, does that make sense?

Sunday was the ugly sweater party.  A girl with a sweater with a row of cats followed by a row of hearts followed by a row of bows followed by a row flowers followed by a row of mice was narrowly defeated for best ugliest sweater by a girl with a sweater that looked like a sweater factory had thrown up on her.  It was good fun and we had a decent crowd and all the kids were friendly.  They brought a good amount of stuff for project santa which we'll deliver today.

I am busy every night which isn't really my style but it's all fun things.  I just hate that Christmas gets over so soon, I feel like I just got the decorations out.  I'd like to slow things down sit in front of my imaginary fire place, sip tea and embroider something (no I am not ninety.)  Oh well just have to enjoy the moments.

Friday, December 18, 2009

But nothing seemed very different at first.
There was the usual big mess all over the place--baby angels getting poked in the eye by other baby angels' wings and grumpy shepherds stumbling over their bathrobes.  The spotlight swooped back and forth and up and down till it made you sick at your stomach to look at it and, as usual, whoever was playing the piano pitched "Away in a Manger" so high we could hardly hear it, let alone sing it.  My father says "Away in a Manger" always starts out sounding like a closetful of mice.
From the Best Christmas Pageant Ever.

Sorry it's been a while but the christmas rush has descended upon my home in a full blown way.  That and we're all getting over another round of colds (yuck!)  We've been doing a lot lately the kids and I wrote letters to Santa and mailed them.  I've made one apron that I hope to show you and another that's almost done (but I can't show you right now for reasons...)  It's crazy last year I made five aprons for christmas plus cookies and dinners and all that, this year I'm making two and I can barely get it done, having a baby seriously impairs your ability to get things done especially things of the crafting nature.  I made spiced nuts and man did they smell good, I'm going to make another round of those Monday so maybe I'll show you some pics and recipes then (I can't make any promises as the rush is only getting faster).

And finally we had the christmas pageant and it was. . . fine.  Sorry for the let down, but nothing super hilarious or naughty happened by the children they were, well, little angles.  Hunter was especially good he sang and clapped and was very good.  It was funny though because before the play started there was mass chaos and baby angels were actually getting poked in the eye by the wings of other baby angels, I found that to be quite amusing.  I bought a copy of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for the three adults that did the most in the play (oh shoot I just thought of someone I forgot) and gave it to them as thank yous I really hope they read them because there were so many things in the book that I saw come to life right in our own multi purpose room.  Sorry there are no pictures but Brian said it was too dark the video didn't look very good, and I forgot the camera (bad mom!).

Friday, December 11, 2009

"... Joseph with his espoused wife Mary being great with child..."
"Pregnant!" Ralph yelled
Well.  That stirred things up.  All the big kids began to giggle and all the little kids wanted to know what was so funny, and mother had to hammer on the floor with a black board pointer.
"That's enough, Ralph," she said and went on with the story.
"I don't think it's very nice to say Mary was pregnant," Alice whispered to me
"But she was," I pointed out.  In a way though, I agreed with her.  It sounded too ordinary .  Anybody could be pregnant.  "Great with child" sounded better for Mary.
--From The Best Christmas Pageant Ever



Don't you love that the thing about Jesus that was so extraordinary was that he came to earth in the most ordinary way?  He was born just like you and me, he grew  up, went to school, had chores... he was a man and that in and of itself is just amazing; how God could do something like that how something so big could fit into something so small and so finite.  I have several people in my life right now that are pregnant (they're not "great with child" yet but they'll get there) and it just amazes me how life begins.  One cell one tiny little cell and in only a matter of weeks a heart beat, and in only a matter of months hands and feet, it just blows my mind.  I like science and I love the study of the natural world, but I guess I just see it different then most scientists, then the evolutionists.  The more I learn about the complexities of the universe the more I am convinced their absolutely has to be a God.  Every time I felt one of my babies kick in my womb I knew beyond a doubt that there was something bigger then me out there, it was all just too amazing.  The smell of pine needles and damp earth in the woods, the pictures of the galaxies and stars from the hubble telescope it just all points to one thing, God, and man is he an artist!!!  I am glad that we're not having any more babies but I will say having people close to me "expecting" makes me miss that feeling that there is something amazing going on inside my body, the freedom that my stomach getting bigger was a good thing the anticipation and nervousness about the looming due date.  It's certainly the strangest most special thing I have ever experienced.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

christmas cookies

Mother didn't expect to have anything to do with the Christmas pageant except to make me and my little brother Charlie be in it (we didn't want to) and to make my father go and see it (he didn't want to).
Every year he said the same thing--"I've seen the Christmas pageant."
"You haven't seen this year's christmas pageant," Mother would tell him.  "Charlie is a shepherd this year."
"Charlie was a shepherd last year. No. . . you go on and go.  I'm just going to put on my bathrobe and sit by the fire and relax.  There's never anything different about the Christmas pageant."
"There's something different this year," Mother said.
"Charlie is wearing your bathrobe."
So that year my father went. . . to see his bathrobe, he said.
--from the best christmas pageant ever.

Today we made sugar christmas cookies and decorated them.  I've been giving the kids a little incentive to be good each day and yesterday's was we would get to make and decorate christmas cookies.  I thought it would be a big hassle but it was actually fun, I mean you should see my kitchen it is a HUGE disaster but it was totally worth it.  This spending time together doing little things instead of tons of presents is making things seem sweeter, more special, and you know I think it's things like putting frosting all over that the kids are actually going to remember.

Speaking of Brian and I had our shopping trip yesterday and it was so great.  We went to Lansing so that  he could have me try this really great chicago style pizza (we're always trying different pizzas, we're on a quest to find the best pizza ever).  Did most of our shopping at target and then drove around for a really long time trying to find a kohl's until we decided to just come back home and go to our kohl's.  That ended up working out really well, except we were each allowed to get a new christmas outfit (something I actually need by the way) and I tried on half the store and bought nothing.  Man is that frustrating and it was hard to not let myself feel fatter then our mini-van.  But I didn't let it ruin our day.  We then went to good will to find ugly sweaters (we're having an ugly sweater xmas party with the youth group, I'll post pics of that when it happens) and boy did we find some, along with a pair of practically new boxing gloves which was something Brian and I had looked all over for for Hunter, how cool is that?  Thanks God.  Turns out it was a good thing we came back when we did because it just started snowing and blowing and today it looks like the upper peninsula!!  It was weird and hard cutting back on Hunter I kept saying "I feel like he needs one more thing." but listen to this from proverbs 1:19 "So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain; It takes away the life of it's owners."  Yikes what are we inadvertently teaching our kids about greed?  Just a thought one that helped me keep things in perspective.  And we did get him some fun things and some great stocking stuffers because for my money stocking are the most fun.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

advent conspiracy

I love Christmas, I really do, but sometimes after it's all over I'm left with this feeling, like I'm not really capturing what Christmas is, kind of like Charlie Brown in his special.  I mean I know about Jesus' birth, in fact I know the story inside and out it's just sometimes the rush comes so fast and then it's gone it's done and what am I left with?  Our church is doing a series this year called "advent conspiracy" and it's spectacular.  It is trying to bring back the scandal of christmas, trying to show us how christmas can still change the world.  It encourages us to spend less, give more of ourselves, and really worship the Lord.  I think it is especially piongaint in our consumerist society and in this economy when so many of our own are going with out.  Did you know that bad drinking water is the number one cause of deaths in underprivaledged countries, and guess what it would only cost 10 billion dollars to give EVERYONE clean drinking water by drilling wells etc.  That sounds like a lot until you find out that americans spent 450 billion dollars on christmas just last year!!!!  It staggers me, and makes me feel so ashamed.

Brian and I are jumping in this year and I can't tell  you how much I'm enjoying myself.  Our christmas tree is actually a real charlie brown christmas tree (I found it at meijers) and it's perfect because it fits up in my plant stand so Conner can't get a hold of it, Hunter loves it because he loves Charlie Brown (he keeps going up to it and waving his hands like in the movie I think he expects it to change into a full tree) and it doesn't take away from my other decorations, but most of all when I look at the tree I remember "less is more" and I think about Linus up on that stage telling the story of Christ's birth.  Brian and I are not buying each other gifts instead we are spending the day together christmas shopping for the boys and I am so excited, jut to be with him all day!!! It's what I'm looking forward to most this year (it's calling for snow storms so please pray that we can go) we're going to take the boys driving to look at lights, I've made our neighbors cookies, and have done a lot of sibling shopping on line to get good deals and save on stress.  We're taking our money and buying a farm animal for a family through either project heifer or compassion international.  They take the animal and teach a family in a third world country how to care for it etc.  The youth group adopted a family from the community to buy christmas dinner for and presents for their kids.

I'm not telling you all this to sound awesome but to let you know how fun it is!!  And it is fun, and more then that something I can't describe like I'm somehow getting a glimpse of the magic of christmas for the first time.  I've heard about it; every pop star around sings about it but maybe I'm finally seeing it like I did when I was a kid.

The best christmas book is "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" I read it every year and she says something in there that really hit me this year,
"When Imogene had asked me what the pageant was about, I told her it was about Jesus, but that was ust part of it.  It was about a new baby, and his mother and father who were in a lot of trouble--no money, no place to go, no doctor, nobody they knew.  And then, arriving from the east some rich friends.  But Imogene I guess, didn't see it that way.  Christmas just came over her all at once, like a case of chills and fever.  And so she was crying..."

You know we could be that rich relative to an entire world, we have the money the resources and we have the Lord.  But mostly I hope that Christmas will come over you all at once this year, that we can all begin to see what the Christ child really was.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

peanut butter sandwiches

Thank you friends and family who read this blog, who listen to me blather on and on.  I hope you know how much your comments mean to me!!

All right now, most of you are either parents or soon going to be parents and I have a question for you.  Do you have a mission statement for your parenting?  Before your head explodes let me say I do not... have never even thought about it at least not in those terms, but I'm taking a parenting Sunday school class and this is one of our over all assignments; to come up with a parenting mission statement.  It sounds so incredibly intimidating doesn't it?  I mean I spend most of my day running from one fire to another, making peanut butter sandwiches and changing diapers, I'm not sure I have the energy or time to come up with something like a mission statement.  And what if I do?  I then have something written down that I'm suppose to accomplish on top of the peanut butter sandwiches and what if I can't manage it all?

But then maybe I'm thinking about it wrong, maybe it doesn't have to be something huge or grand.  I mean I obviously want to raise healthy children who can function and contribute in society.  I want them to walk away from my home with a strong faith that is their own not mine.  And I want Brian and my house to be a place they always look forward to coming back to.  Maybe it would be good to write down exactly what Brian and I want to accomplish as parents maybe it will give us direction as we go along, maybe peanut butter sandwiches aren't enough.  It's scary though, I mean children aren't puzzles (as long as you put all the right pieces together it turns out) eventually they make their own decisions and think their own things, there is so much that is not in our control it almost seems like putting down what I hope to accomplish is just setting us up for failure.  Yet I know this is cowardly because I see parents living like this all the time, in the big and small things and it drives me nuts.  They don't encourage their kids not to have sex before marriage because "they're just going to do it anyway" (which isn't always true I know for a fact) they let their small children go to bed when ever they want even if it's eleven p.m. because they don't want to fight, they let their kids eat sugar all day because they just don't want to have rules or be the bad guy or listen to whining, they give up on grades etc...If you have expectations for your children they may not live up to them they may disappoint you and they most certainly will make mistakes BUT if you don't have any expectations at all then they will live up to that and you will have only yourself to blame.

All that being said I want to reach out to you all and ask; what is it that you hope to come from your short time as a parent?  What did you hope for your children while they were growing up and what were and are your dreams for your family?  If your children are grown what are some pitfalls the rest of us can avoid?  Thank you for being part of this awesome, huge, and scary adventure known as being a mom and dad.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

loosing weight for "good"

Today I am going to talk about an idea that I stole and then adapted from weight watchers.  I am not currently doing weight watchers although I have learned a lot from them and am using a lot of their ideas, It's just that I was paying for a service I wasn't really using that much.

Any way, I have always had trouble motivating myself to loose.  I mean I was in my sister's wedding this summer and lost only a fraction of the weight that I could have before I had to squeeze into that strapless gown (how gruesome).  So I have been thinking, what is something that will work, what can I do to give myself that extra push?  Well weight watchers does this thing where you get sponsors to give money for each pound lost (kind of like in an elementary school reading program) and then the money goes to a national food bank program or something.  That got me thinking of change jars and I came up with my own loosing weight for "good".  I am not asking people for money I have always hated that and am a terrible sales person (I had a hard time selling girl scout cookies as a brownie and those things practically sell them selves, not a hard time eating them though).  But why am I overweight?  Because I eat more calories then I work off.  Whether you are a low carb, low fat, vegetarian what ever... the basic science of weight is calorie intake vs. calorie burn.  If you burn off what you take in then your weight stays the same.  To put it even simpler I am overweight because at some point I ate more then my body needed to do what I do all day.  So I eat too much, and yet there are people in my community who don't have enough food who are just scrapping by and in this current economy my local food banks are going dry.  What if I put a jar on my dresser and each time I loose a pound I put a dollar in the jar and when I get a good amount, say every ten dollars, I donate it to my local food bank or shelter?

So this is what I've been doing.  It's an experiment to see if someone else's needs will motivate me since obviously the thought of me in a bikini is just way too far fetched at this point to do it.  It's working pretty good so far; for one thing my favorite and most dangerous time to eat is after the kids are in bed while I'm watching t.v. in our room.  It's the only time of day when it's quiet and I can have my food all to myself with out sharing and we eat dinner so early I'm hungry again by seven or eight.  Having a snack isn't bad unless it's ice cream and cookies which is what I always want.  I see that jar and I think "ok I'll have a graham cracker instead" and there is currently four dollars in there which is pretty cool to see, it's better then the tiny little increments on the scale and it sort of makes me want to "keep it up" certainly I don't want to take any money out.

This coupled with my new way of thinking about health and my body (mentioned in this blog a couple of days ago) I hope that I will start to see and feel a difference in me.  So lets call it the jar challenge, and I'm opening it up to any one who wants to help out and loose a few pounds.  This is NOT for those of you who are pregnant and being paranoid about your weight; your baby is more important then your thighs right now believe me (by all means feel free to give to your local food banks but don't make it about your weight) you know who you are... But for those of us who have already had a couple of kids and have a little more weight on us then that warrants lets' give it a try.  It doesn't have to be a dollar you could do a quarter or any denomination and if you don't want to take the money out every ten pounds then don't, you could do it every month, or leave it in there until you hit a different goal what ever.  But Maybe someone else's needs can get us going and help restore a little balance in our lives and in our communities, and if we all loose together and give together then we can make a real difference to a family right in our own back yard.