Monday, December 5, 2016

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year......

If the last week has told me anything, it has screamed in my face, "WAKE UP! THIS CHRISTMAS THING MEANS SOMETHING MORE!"

This brings me to my first point. That friggin' ELF! UGGG. I hate that fake little #$%^&*@. The last few years, I have dreaded to see December 1st coming because of him. In our household, it is difficult to remember to move him so I wake up in a sweat in the middle of the night or in a fright in the morning because we forgot to move Rob, the elf. My husband actually remembers better than I do and has saved me many times. Because Lord help us all if it does not move. I even entertained the idea that I read about where you wrap it's leg in tape. I could leave a note that it won't move spots all month because it fell off another elf roof. And yet, I find myself caving to the peer pressure aka Facebook. What kind of mom would I be if I didn't hide that damn elf every night. All my friends are doing it. Bad attitude and all, I watch my youngest child wake up on December 1st last week and he is immediately on the hunt. And then I see it. It's the magic. It's excitement. It's the wonder of the season. His little face is just so bright and happy and he see's Rob sitting in our tree, like an old friend. He cannot believe that the elf is watching him. From that moment on, I realize, this stuffed elf is actually a one way ticket to see Christmas through the eyes of a child. Something that we, as adults, so easily forget. This elf is not going to sabotage my month. It may be a pain in my neck, but the wonder I see when he finds the elf every morning or the discussion of where he may be in the morning, is worth the fear of waking up to realize I did not hide the elf! Ok, it's just for fun. I get it. My bad.

I started back to teaching this year after a ten year hiatus and can I just say, yes, I have cried in the bathroom at work. Pathetic, yet true. It has been a wild ride and basically, I have just been swimming in the ocean with no island in sight. Survival, people, it has been four months of survival. Going back to teaching after ten years is a thrilling and somewhat insane story that I will tell another time. But let me just say, there are more days than not, I get in the car and wonder how I just made it through another day. Was that a work day or was I just involved in a riot of very small people who cannot yet vote? But you do. You power through and go another day and wonder each day why small friends can't seem to write a complete sentence. And just when you think your head might explode because four small friends think that it is not important to put there name on a multiple choice test or that people love for the pencil sharpener to run constantly while they speak, you have that one student reign you in before your mental breakdown. That one student in your room who tells another teacher that he doesn't want anything for Christmas because he won't get gifts anyways so it doesn't matter. Go ahead, just walk all over my freakin' heart. Not all students have a great home life. While my own children cannot fathom why Sonic forgot the vanilla in their drink or why I will not let them wear the shirt with no writing, there are some kids who come to school and didn't eat the whole weekend. They don't have a coat. Life isn't all that great and Christmas present's aren't going to be waiting under their tree, much less an elf watching them. Life is harsh and it is real. And when you take a minute to realize the true meaning of giving and helping others, it all seems crystal clear.

Our lesson at church this morning was on point. It struck a chord with me and I was like yep, you are so right, preacher man. He said we let the stress of the holiday season get the best of us and we forget the real meaning of Christmas. Raise your hand if this is you and say I. I. Guilty. Yep, me.  Why, why do we do this over and over and over? Why are we frantic with all the decorations, and gift giving, and holiday parties. And I'm not saying we shouldn't do these things, but shouldn't we just enjoy them a little more? I mean there is some pressure for us to decorate the most beautiful tree. When I see other people's decorations and look at mine, I'm like when did I miss the decorating101? On Pinterest, I see these awesome decorated cookies and Christmas themed party foods all the while I'm buying some red and green wrapped Hershey kisses and calling it a win. Pinterest makes me frantic- so much so that I shut my computer and think to myself, I have got to run to the store immediately and get the ingredients to make Chex mix or this holiday season might not go on. And what about this Hatchimal craze? Dear. Lord. It has made my heart happy reading all the excitement and insanity seeing my sweet friends try to track down one of these critters. Kudos if you got your hands on one, btw. All day I have been thinking about what he told us at church this morning. Guess what? My tree is perfect with all my sentimental ornaments that mean something to my family and my friends tree is perfect that looks like it came from a beautiful display at Nordstroms. Bought cookies and Hershey kisses are just as good as homemade Chex Mix and Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls. And whether you find that one toy that your kid wants or they are sold out and your move to #2 on their list, Christmas will still be Christmas. When Hobby Lobby runs out of your favorite, thick grade wrapping paper, that is merely a first world problem. Those things don't really matter in the scheme of the holiday season. Stop. Take a breath, and enjoy the little things that mean the most.

My hometown school system experienced a tragedy this past Friday night that ended up with the death of a sponsor and injuries of several other people in a terrible automobile accident. It's a sad situation and so scary for so many people involved. But in the last 48 hours, I have seen that basic human descency still exists. My little hometown has had an outpouring of love, prayers, and support. There have been people and schools from all over the state and beyond sending them messages of support. It shows you that people do care about each other and when people are in need, you help. You help in all different ways. You go out of your way and make sure another person is comfortable and taken care of. You pray with them. You cry with them. You try to lighten their burden. The world may seem crazy, and dreadful, and bleak. But when the going gets tough, fear not.  There are still good people who will step up and help. I find this so refreshing.

If you are still with me let me just end with this. I have experienced, first hand, how hard the most wonderful time of the year is for so many people. Listen and listen good. Christmas is about the people and the memories you make. Christmas is about the people you help. While you worry about if you have the right color scheme with your Christmas decorations, remember that your true friends don't care if you went with a neutral theme or a plastic blinking Santa. And when you can't find the Hatchimal and have to buy the doll instead, remember there's a little boy sitting at home looking at an empty tree.  When you forget to move the freakin elf and have to sprint across your living room and throw it on top of the kitchen cabinets 15 seconds before your kid walks in, just take a minute to remember-that elf is not here to ruin your holiday. It's seeing your child experience the wonder of the season.

I still have hope. I still believe we can all remember the true meaning of Christmas.  And repeat after me......The Elf is not the boss of me.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Next Chapter

And just like that, it is 2016. What has happened since I posted in July? Um, life happened. The good, the great, the bad, the ugly, and the what the heck it's December already?!? Maybe I will recap the Fall. I will put that on my to do list. Right after, 1. Shovel more snow. Because apparently we live in Alaska. Or at the least, Michigan or somewhere that you need to purchase a really good pair of snow boots. I'm sorry to disappoint, but Tom's wedge boots are, in fact, cute, but not so good for blizzard conditions. And while I sit and look at the irony of my pool still having a good 8 inches of snow all around the edge, I do have to get something off my chest.

It was during this so called, "Goliath" snow storm that a funny thought struck me. Blizzard conditions and and a foot of snow in Texas tend to make you slow down and smell the roses. For at least a week, I might add. I've had lots of days on my hands to ponder life's great mysteries, or at least think about if we have enough milk to make it till the grocery store opens back up. It was in these restful days that I was looking at my kids photos from our Christmas card session and the strangest thing occurred to me.

 I decided to just have the kids on the card this year, and the week before Thanksgiving this sweet lady took my kids pics. If you know me, you know I love a good photo to hang on the wall. One of my least favorite things to do, though, is to coordinate outfits for a family photo session. It's just a lot to match them all and it makes me nuts. But I did it, and we got all three ready and headed out to a place where we had never had photos taken. Kyle even bailed and said he had a meeting(hmmm I wonder if he was dreading this as much as I was), so I was on my own. I would be the the number one screamer. You know.....Look up, don't touch your sister, look at the camera, stop fidgeting, smile, dammit, smile. I always go into photo sessions with one goal in mind. Just get one good pic. That's all I need is one good pic for my Christmas card. And this was a new photographer so I was prepared to be really embarrassed yelling at my kids. Please, Lord, just let her get one good pic with everyone smiling. So with the one good pic goal in mind, we get out of the car, get everyone looking presentable, and she gets busy taking photos.

Then this happened. IT WAS PLEASANT. I mean, in all my life, I was shocked. Did we just take photos for an hour and IT WAS PLEASANT??? What in the world? My children were listening, getting along, smiling, and being rather sane. I kept waiting for the grenade to detonate and there was nothing. No tears, no whining, no deranged mom screaming. I mean it was purely blissful. Listen, 13 years. I mean for 13 years, photo sessions have been a dreaded, horrible, no good, very bad day. I used to be prepared to sweat. This, on the other hand, was nice. So in celebration for this momentous occasion, we went to Dairy Queen for dinner and I bought the entire CD of photos. They were all so good. I loved all the pics. This was a true miracle. This was pleasant.

My friends, I believe I have entered a new season of life. My kids are old enough to participate like normal humans in a photo session. I did not sweat nor yell. They are growing up. I realized this again when on one snowy morning last week, I awoke at 10 am. Yes, I said T-E-N A-M. I walked into the living room and Gunnar was on the computer and Finley was wrapped in a blanket watching cartoons on the couch. Who are you people, and what have you done with my children? Nobody(Gunnar) woke me up to get him milk. Nobody(Gunnar) woke me up and said mom are you awake? Nobody(Gunnar) kicked me in the face rolling around in the bed. Finley even got up and made herself a waffle. What in the world? Did I just sleep till ten o'clock and wake up on my own free will? I'm not sure I remember what that feels like. Nope, no I do not remember. I'm not sure how to respond. And as the snowy, lazy week went on, I found myself resting in my pajamas and dosing off reading a book. When I would get up and walk into the living room, Gunnar was playing, Finley was messing with her Christmas gifts. Slade is doing his own thing somewhere in the house.

I'm just trying to say that I rested my eyes. During the middle of the day. And the house did not burn down. No kid ate a plastic Lego off the floor. Nobody ran with scissors. Not one person threw a stuffed dog in the toilet. Not a soul opened the front door and ran off. This was a glorious revelation. For THIRTEEN YEARS I HAVE NOT RESTED without the fear of all hell breaking loose inside my home from a toddler running wild. I had to have another adult in charge or I did not rest. Period. So you can understand my joy. It's the small things that mean so much. A mother was able to relax in her home. This is definitely a new season of life.

In two weeks, my sweet baby boy that showed up during the noon hour, one chilly day in January, will turn 13. I will have a teenager in my home. I cannot believe this is happening. What in the world? And let me tell you this....we are totally winging it. We have no idea how to parent. We just wake up each day and hope to make it through with everyone fed and clothed and dropped off to the appropriate school. We love them and tell them things that we hope will keep them alive and make them productive members of society, even though Kyle says that probably one out of three will be a bum and live at home. But we have hope. We just want them to be Godly, kind, honest people. We are totally winging this, though. We have no idea. But we have really good intentions. We pray a lot. Like Bon Jovi says, we are most definitely living on a prayer.

So as I sit back and look at myself entering a new stage of life, I realize that it's the little things you don't really notice, that start to vanish. This year I put away baby spoons that have been sitting in the top of the utensil tray for so long. I folded two remaining baby blankets of Gunnars and stuck them at the top of the hall closet. He doesn't use them anymore. There are just a few sippy cups left in the cabinet above the dish washer. And yesterday, a lady online was wanting to buy board books for her little one. I was shocked to realize we don't used those baby books anymore. I have no use for board books. They are just sitting on the top bookshelf, collecting dust. My babies have already mastered their colors, shapes, and animals. It's just something that has been a part of my house so long, I hardly even noticed they were there. I came across a baby bib in the drawer of pot holders that had been pushed to the back. The monogrammed burp rags are now dust rags.

You just slowly flow into the next stage, without even realizing it. You look around and traces of baby are gone from your house. You never even noticed that you stopped buying Baby Magic. The stroller is collecting dust in your garage. It just vanishes and it's sad.

Then on some snowy afternoon in December, you realize you fell asleep on accident and when you woke up, nobody had taken an entire bottle of baby powder and shook it in the living room floor. The next stage is looking pretty swell.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Happy 9th, Finley!

My precious girl is NINE today!!! How in the world is this her last year in single digits!?! She has been a blessing to us since the day she was born! I wish you 99 more birthdays! Love you!!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Ceta Canyon '15

If you want to know what it feels like for your heart to be outside your chest, then put your firstborn child on a bus and watch it drive out of town. Mama Smart had to cut the apron strings let me tell you. It's just hard to let this precious little person you've done every single thing for and loved more than anything in this world, get on a bus and leave. Prayer. It takes lots of prayers. 

 Slade, Bob, and Preston packing all their junk under the bus.

And the whole group headed to Ceta Canyon. On the plus side, he made it home safely and he loved his week. He told me that he didn't really miss us, and wish he could have stayed another week. I say that's the sign of a great camp when you don't want to leave! Third trip to Ceta Canyon-check!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Braces, Fireworks, Anniversaries, & Fun!

It is July! How is this possible??? I want to cry because a month of summer is gone. Sighhhhhh. Whether we like it or not, we've started July out with a bang! Hello 4th of July fireworks! Ha!

 We went to see Inside Out in 3D. Loved, loved it! Even great for adults! I just don't usually love kids movies, but this was a great one! Slade went too, but he was already in the car.

 Finley was super pumped to get her top expander AND her top braces off!!! Yay! She's had her share of tears and pain, but she looks so happy. It really is extraordinary what they are able to do with teeth. They are so straight on the top now. This was phase #1. She will wear a retainer at night now and she still has the bottom expander. They will now wait for her to loose more teeth and her mouth to grow more till phase#2.  I think they were worth EVERY. DARN. PENNY!!!

 We kept our sweet friend, Laney, one day and she needed a matching side bun like Finley.

 Poolside snack break with Gunnar, Logan, & Laney.

 My sweet honey and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary on June 29th. I like to call this the photo BK (before kids). Yes, before our three children, we were so fresh and well rested..........

 We got a sitter and went out and had a nice, quiet dinner. I did not have to cut up one thing or clean up a spill. It was glorious.

 I had to take pic of myself with makeup and hair done. It is few and far between this summer.

 In other exciting news, we traded in the Burb. It served us well since Gunnar was a baby but it was a beast to back up in tight spots. I will always be grateful for the years it gave me. Many children, groceries, dirt, and food morsels were carried in this car.

 And 21 inches smaller(which is HUGE when one is backing out of the grocery store!) meet our new friend, Smokey. I drove over Friday and picked her up. She's a GMC Denali and she is very nice and sassy.  Yay! I can even call people with my voice!

 Happy 4th of July!!! Gunnar, Logan, Laney, Camille, & Finley. Slade and Payton were running around somewhere.

 Watching the fireworks show.

 My patriotic table scape which is code for pulling things out of the closet 15 minutes before our friends arrived to eat dinner. Nana's red tablecloth and a few blue vases from my hutch. Done.

 Beth and I enjoying the show and mosquitos and children running amuck.

And last but not least, I made mom's YUMMY potato salad. It was soooo GOOD!!!
No matter what, we still have the greatest country in the world. God Bless the USA!!!
(P.S. I do have a twelve year old son. He does live with us. I have no idea why he's allergic to my camera.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Art Show

In May, Finley had an art show where she takes classes. She was able to pick two pieces of art to display at her show. She picked two favorite canvases.

 Proud of her work!

 This one is one of my favorites.

 Cita even happened to be in town so she was able to go to the show.

Finley and Campbell taking part in the yummy refreshments!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

On Top

I'm the King of the World!!!