Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve 2011

I had the incredible opportunity to leave my family and my cell phone at home for over four hours last night! I enjoyed the company of two friends immensely. We had real conversations about our struggles and our personal journey; all of admitting shortcomings and areas we need to work on. It was just so refreshing to be held accountable for my Christian walk, how I care for my family and once again have pointed out that I must make taking care of myself a priority. All things I knew, but just needed to hear from loving friends. I am blessed to have made such rich friendships in what I still consider our new town, even after five and a half years. It just isn't home. It probably never will be for me but it is where I make a home for the people I love.

While at dinner, I shared an analogy I stumbled upon recently as a way to describe living with Psoriatic Arthritis. I don't like to admit that I need to slow down occasionally and that I do have limitations because I am a mom (a stubborn, OCD, uptight perfectionist mom) who appears to be lacking her super hero cape. The article describes a lady being asked about living with Lupus, another chronic illness and how it effects her daily life. She handed her friend a stack of spoons and said, "these are your spoons for the day, use them wisely". Getting out of bed will cost you a spoon as you are not able to just step out of bed like everyone else. Your body is stiff and in pain and so it will take a toll . Showering costs another spoon as does getting dressed if it is a day with additional pain and stiffness. Simple actions like cooking, cleaning and running errands cost have to plan and prioritize because you only have a limited number to work with, of course if you don't end up with a flare that depletes them all without warning. So, I don't stay up as late, participate in playgroups or run for every extra curricular activity because I am limited and those items no longer make the priority list. There aren't enough spoons. It was also a great reminder that I need to prioritize my personal health so that I have the energy  and enough spoons to care for my family and the children entrusted to my care.

That reminder was timely as I woke up today with my second flare in eight days. I am pretty disappointed as my family is all in route for a New Year's/Family Christmas celebration. I'd love to host a "Martha Stewart" level experience for everyone but I am not able. Even basic preparations went down the drain with my energy today. Frustration levels were mounting as my pain levels climbed and I started snapping at my family. I surrendered to the computer and a break. I need it and no one wants the perfect presentation at the expense of stressful and strained relationships. So I am starting my 2012 New Year's resolution with these promises to myself.....I will learn to accept limitations, lean on God for my needs, allow myself the care I need and continue to grow in my relationship with Christ, Greg and each of my children.

Reflecting on my gratitude journal (1000 Gifts) makes me so much more aware of the amazing blessings God's given are a few of my favorites from the last few weeks......
29. first snow flakes
33. kindness of a stranger
36. reminder that God makes something beautiful out of my broken pieces
42. strength of my daughter
61. open windows in December!
77. restoration
80. a massage
99. pure joy in Lauren's face while watching Ty play
103. true friends
106. my marriage

I have struggled in finding the balance of what I deserve and what I owe. God has blessed me and I live among the richest in the world. It is so easy to say "I deserve" when in reality, I don't. Where is that line of filling my cup so I can give more and excess? I suppose the short response is that I need enough. I have enough.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

crazy day

You know things have not gone well if your son looks like this......
Actually, that was yesterday and it was a good day! Kate had a play-date Ty demanded joining.

Today, I had lofty plans of taking all of my kids to the mall for jeans and then to lunch because it was beautiful outside and I didn't have any extra little ones. Our first issue was the traffic. We hit standing traffic six miles from the bridge and had to eliminate Louisville from our adventure. Everyone took that news well but from there, the bickering began. All three of the big kids argued every last minute of our afternoon. Kate picked up on the tension and had a great time annoying one sister in particular. By the time we were an hour into our day, Ty was having typical two year old meltdowns far too frequently for this stressed out mama! Jean shopping is less than pleasant in general but the attitudes made it ugly. All three of the girls who needed them found some that fit and they were almost reasonably priced so that aspect was a success but I came home feeling defeated. I am not sure why they were so hateful toward one another and wonder if I should have just gone home empty handed to teach everyone that we simply don't act like that. I knew my plate would be fuller next week and jeans cannot be easily purchased if the body they are intended for isn't available for a fitting. So I pushed through the miserable afternoon disappointed we couldn't enjoy the outing with each other.

On that front though, Kate has shot up to an ultra skinny size 7slim! I spent the evening packing up her "almost new" size 6 wardrobe for the donation box. Greg would like me to add one very cute tu-tu to that box to protect his son from future photos like this.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Her favorite part

While tucking Kate into bed last night I asked her to share her favorite Christmas memory. She sank deep into her pillow and ever so sweetly answered, "helping you with dinner when you were in a hurry after church yesterday". I couldn't help but smile, satisfied deep in my soul. She counted down the days until Christmas, eager for the gifts but in the end, she just wanted to be needed and feel helpful. Her favorite part was being with me.

Kate wrote Santa a note explaining the true meaning of Christmas. It said " Santa, Jesus was born on Christmas Eve in a barn and a angel came to the barn and people came to the barn to see him". To which Santa replied.....

Each of our children receive two gifts for Christmas. They love their sibling gifts the most and always have a sibling in mind long before Christmas arrives. The other is typically a family gift from Santa but this year they each got their own. Simple and understated. The little ones are not overwhelmed by it all and the older treasure their stockings as we always make sure they include traditional favorites. Cinnamon rolls are breakfast and then the tree and decorations are all tucked away in the attic until next year's craziness ensues. I love reclaiming my house most! This year was my year to host my parents for Christmas dinner as they spent Christmas Eve with my sister. We rotate years so they can enjoy each family's traditions and their grandchildren. Mom was less than pleased to find our house stripped of all things Christmas before she arrived. I thought I was being polite by not waiting until they were here to enlist their help!
Brutus begged all night for his treats

Grandma and Grandpa brought Ty a train table! He loves it. My dad took the time to assemble it and even screwed the track in place so it wouldn't frustrate Ty by falling apart as he played. Ty, who is never deterred by a challenge ripped a piece off the table to see how it was attached.....screw and all. Seriously, who does that? I called my sister to see if her boys had ever and she laughed as she said, "no"! She's been waiting a few years to say that to me. She used to call me with questions about her boys when I only had girls and I apparently always said, "I don't know. The girls never did that". Now this is one of those things I didn't realize I did until my precious sister found out I was a having a son. She was almost giddy as she said she couldn't wait for me to call her with a question about him! She's on speed dial.
Ty loves the tent Kate chose for him

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve

After dinner dance party to Christmas music

Fire before bedtime, to help unwind a bit

 we can't go to bed without first reading 'Twas the Night Before Christmas
a little oatmeal, a bit of grits, a pinch of coconut, a sprinkling of sprinkles and a dash of glitter make Reindeer food

toss about the front yard to entice the reindeer to stop here!

some concern that we've already run out....should we make more?
ready for church....Greg says we have next year's Christmas card photo

he makes me laugh

so sweet

Lauren says Ty is just like her.....Lord help me.

Happy Birthday Jesus

I can't help but think about Mary when we celebrate the birth of our savior. Can you imagine being a 14 year old girl called by the Lord for such an honor, a painful, scary honor? This innocent girl risked being executed as was custom at the time had Joseph allowed for being pregnant in the first place. She sacrificed her honor and most never believed her. She was ridiculed and in months that followed was lead to Bethlehem on the back of a donkey. My minivan failed to be comfortable at nine months pregnant! Delivering our savior in a barn without anyone there to support her except Joseph, who if is anything like most of our husbands, felt helpless. She held our savior in her arms. She fed her son and loved him but knew his birth was so much more significant than even she could imagine. From the very beginning, most doubted His royalty. Those who didn't, wanted him eliminated. At the time of Jesus' birth, the chaos we have around his birthday today also existed. Few failed to slow down and notice. Most failed to celebrate.

Mary later watched her son die on a cross for the sins of the world. She knew he was on earth to save us but I can't imagine she knew how. Can you hear the ridicule? Can you see the glee on the faces of those torturing her son? Her precious son who was actively dying for the salvation of those causing his death. Being a mother who wants to protect her child and take his place during times of pain, I cannot process how she got through those days.

God calls. Some respond. Those who do will be judged. Sometimes it appears easier to remain free from the pain that comes in this world when we follow God but then we miss out on the incredible blessings too. Mary has a lot to teach the world about obedience at a cost. Her journey was painful but who else can say they held, nurtured and loved the son of God on earth? Amazing calling and beautiful blessing.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hanging on by a thread

One of our leaders at church uses that phrase often and I have identified with it the last few days! There have been a comedy of issues in our home and with our kids. It is literally to the point that I can't stop laughing or I will start drinking crying.
This photo was posed by our friend Brian who helped for three hours with the new dishwasher installation yesterday. Things could have gone more smoothly. Today, I started the new dishwasher only to have it do the exact same thing the old one did. The problem was not the old dishwasher, it was the old drain line. A twelve dollar drain line. And my kitchen got to look like that again today. But all was not lost, we got this great box.

We started our day yesterday with a notice that our water needed to be shut off for an hour so they could replace a fire hydrant. Five hours later (with 8 kids in the house) the water was turned back on, just in time for us to start the dishwasher fiasco. I had a McDonald's picnic on the living room floor at 7pm with the kids because I couldn't get into the kitchen and bedtime was all too quickly approaching.
While delivering cookies to neighbors tonight I learned we've been under a boil advisory since yesterday as well.....better late than never? Honestly, the same guy who talked to me about turning off the water is testing hers each day to see if it is safe! 

Some of us have had more fun than others. Aiden brought Ty a shirt like his yesterday. Aren't they adorable? Ty had the Lincoln Logs removed from his room today because he was threatening to use one as a weapon. He promptly threw a fit in which Erin asked him why he lost the toys in the first place. He told her it was because "Mommy's bossy."

Kate insisted I get a massage tonight which is also rather funny given that I had an appointment for one and arrived to discover I was not actually on the schedule. Once again, I laughed.

Kate asked me if I thought Santa would bring her more gifts if he saw her doing this. She's charitable like that.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The journey continues....

I heard this song last weekend on the radio and it stopped me in my tracks. Beautiful. It made me think of Ryan. He made it so easy to recklessly love. I am grateful God called us to love him even though it was painful to lose him. I do appreciate the way God has orchestrated his life to be used to reach struggling teens and teach my own children valuable lessons about drugs. God is good, all the time. The build up to Ryan's 8th birthday today was tough. I've struggled the last few weeks. Perhaps it is the result of his testimony being shared this fall or seeing another family lose a baby recently but the days leading to this one were challenging. Lauren shared she felt the same way. In fact, as strange as it may seem, we both feel a sense of relief today. It finally arrived and we once again saw God continue to carry us. Even in grief, we are blessed.

Makenna decided to start our local public middle school after winter break. We enrolled her this afternoon. She is really excited as she is the only one "stuck at home with mom" these days. Highland Hills has an amazing theatre program she hopes to join. We felt this was an easy way to test the public school water prior to her acceptance into the Montessori school in August. Lauren is constantly worried she may be missing out on great experiences at Floyd Central even though she is thriving at the Montessori school. She lives in a "what if" state of mind. We hope to prevent that with Makenna. I can assure you, it is always something! For Makenna though, the toughest decision was giving up her days at home with Colby. She misses him on the weekends and isn't sure how she is going to get through the week with only a half hour a day with him. She is requesting weekend visitation! He is pretty stinking cute and she is president of his fan club.

In between school appointments, a conference, errands and a haircut I managed to bake cut out cookies. Erin, her friend Noelle and Kate iced them this evening. I hope to start buckeyes and mounds bars tonight and finally pizzelles in the next day or two. Being without a dishwasher with a family our size has limited the amount of time I want to spend in the kitchen but according to the calendar, I am out of time! Sears will be here with my replacement tomorrow. Poor Greg is exhausted and will be installing it for me before we are preparing Christmas meals this weekend. Once again, even in chaos, we are blessed.

(In case the link is not working as it appears to be inconsistent, the song is All of Me by Matt Hammitt and is easily found with a google search)

Monday, December 19, 2011


Ty spends his days capturing dinosaurs no one else sees. He also makes really hot soup on his grill. His fingers need kisses several times a day as he continues to burn them on that soup. "Cowboy Woody" is his sidekick and the couch cushions turned castle or fort continue to be his favorite toys. The babies get all of his kisses. Mommy never gets one. I love this age.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Special Friends

Don't you hate it when you think you've captured a really special moment only to find it didn't work once you download photos to your computer? I cannot tell you how bummed I am to have missed the sweet connection Kate has with our friend Kenny. Pam and Kenny lived across the street from us in Ohio and they venture our way every couple of months to hang out and eat....we always have to eat and we do it well! Kate just adores Kenny and they spent the better part of an hour cozied up in the corner of the sofa talking and looking through scrapbooks. Erin thought she caught the moment and when we saw the image we quickly noted that Kate appeared to have a broken neck!.....I'm disappointed. Next time.
But all is not lost......(did I mention we eat?) They brought me a little something I miss from Ohio. Esther Price Chocolates!!! Oh yeah!

I'd show you the actual chocolates but all those empty wrappers would just look tacky;).

Our sweet friend Paige had her second surgery on Friday. Her top left rib was removed just like they removed the right in October. This recovery appears to be a little more challenging for her as her spirits aren't as high and her pain has not been easily managed. It's tough to see her in pain. We hope to have her home in the next day or so to make pampering easy....she's requested apple glazed pork chops with slow cooked green beans for her first dinner at home. I'm ready to indulge her! A child in pain gets just about anything they want from me! I love you Paige and hope to see you bouncing through the door soon.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Santa Photos

I finally found a way to make my Christmas p.j photos a reality....I booked a session with a local photographer who had Santa visiting each Saturday this month. Greg has never been thrilled with the idea of taking our kids out in public in their jammies for a shot I thought would be cute. Santa was a great guy and Kate just adored him as usual. Ty on the other hand, is a fan from a distance! It took a sucker and his sister's muscles to keep in the vicinity!
Kate decided he had to be the real Santa because he had to step outside to call the North Pole and check on the reindeer. He was a good sport and we were able to spend about an hour with him today.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Field Trip

Makenna and I took the boys to Bass Pro Shops today because I was about to climb the walls. I've been feeling a little stir crazy lately which may explain why half our Christmas decorations made their way back into the attic the other day.....11 days seemed like long enough to dust around them. But I digress.....the boys also appeared to need a change of scenery and my friend Anne reminded me that Bass Pro has a lot to offer for FREE! That is my favorite price point and they LOVED it! The highlight had to be the snowball room. For three little boys, we called it heaven. They were not only allowed to throw everything in the room but they were encouraged to throw them at each other! Even little Colby was into it! We stopped in and said hello to Santa and Ty was pretty excited to meet him but made no move to sit with him.  We'll have to wait and see what Saturday's photo session with Santa holds....

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

John Deere

Can you get enough of that cuteness? Me either.