Days of gratitude…

I’ve never been good a New Years resolutions. I make them but don’t often keep them. One year I did read the Bible nearly everyday and I am striving for that in 2015. Yes I have made some resolutions. Most involve getting more organized, getting back to my regular workout schedule, learn something new, but mostly emerging from my hibernation. I want to accomplish this in many ways. I’m not even sure how it’s going to look like yet. I just know it will be better way of living for me.

My husband and I were talking in the car today. He said that he and my daughter were talking about making resolutions this morning. He said my daughter wasn’t into making resolutions bc she felt people just fail at them. They chatted a bit about it and during the convo he suggested they make a resolution of gratitude. Of course! This is so simple and perfect at the same time . Let’s resolve to find things to be grateful for each day. It’s one of those little things we can do that gives us a gift each day. I want in on that.

I may not get more organized or get my workouts to where I want them but I can find something to be grateful for. I already do this a lot so can it be a resolution? I say yes bc I’m the boss over my resolutions. And if it’s my resolution and my husbands and my daughters ( have no idea about my boys. They are 14 – enough said. ) then it’s something we can share. And that is what matters the most. The sharing with each other the things we are grateful for. The bonding with the 16 year old. The time talking about it.

In a year where I’ve had a lot of ups and downs and I’ve been stuck inside myself , I long to come out and focus on other things. So focusing on things that I’m grateful for will be a good start.

So I’ve decided to start a Grateful365 album. It’s a simple thing but will make me more focused on things outside myself. I hope my daughter will give this a try too. It’s a start on a real resolution this year that is really a gift to me.

Oh and somewhere around 2am January 1,2015 I decided to try to learn crocheting again. I did this many years ago and never got past the beginning steps. I am putting this in the learn something new column. We will see how this goes.

Happy New Year!!!

Thanks for reading….

My first grateful picture- my best friend, husband and partner in crime -Kevin.

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Getaway

Everyone needs a little time away sometimes. For my husband and I this was the time. We had spent months talking about it. We pondered what we would do. A night away in a hotel. A dinner. Sleeping in with no dogs to let out or horses to feed or kids to deal with. It sounded so fun. But could we do it?

We had been getting out on regular date nights. The kids -now all teens -can handle nights where we go out for a few hours and get home before the carriage turns back into a pumpkin. But we hadn’t been away from the kids for an entire night in over 13 years.

I had a lot of nerves about trying it. We have one special needs teen and I was hesitant to commit to a full night away. My fears of getting a call informing me of some disaster and I being too far away to get home in time to save the day were winning. So the dream became a pipe dream. One that we would talk about sometimes but basically had put it on the back burner. Until a week ago…

I was on Facebook and I saw a post about a band that I used to go see in my younger days. They were playing locally (40 mins away) at a dinner theater and just a few seats were left. Just for fun I looked up the venue -it was the old movie theater that I used to frequent it had been changed into a supper club and they hosted live acts. I loved that theater. So I went a step further and clicked on the ticket info. Next thing I knew I had purchased 4 seats at a table. Impulsive – yes- but maybe thats what it needed to be- a quick decision where no foreboding thoughts could win. The next thing i knew I was playing the bands music on YouTube. I decided to check out Hotels.com and just see what a room would cost. Pretty cheap it turns out.  So we decided to add a hotel room to the evening and BAM we had planned a night away. As it turns out this plan came together just in time for it to be my birthday present.

I was pretty excited but the day we were to leave I began to worry about everything – everything that could go wrong and leaving my teen kids alone for the night. We were only going 40 mins way. But still… I was nervous. I sat on the bench in our room and kind of froze. I would pack some then freeze a bit again. I’m sure other moms out there can relate. I was determined , though, to not let this worry wreck a much needed break. Turns out that as soon as we got out the door and a few miles down the road my worry began to leave and it was all about our night.

And it was a great night. There were laughs with friends, nice dinner, great music, and dancing. Sleeping in a king bed and no dogs to let out at six am- bliss. We had a few texts with the kids..mostly them asking if we were having fun. We had breakfast at a pancake house and we headed home. I could have used another night away but I was good with the one.

Our children didn’t meet us at the door to hug us on our return. The boys were still asleep. Teens! It was almost 11am!  My daughter had done all the morning barn chores on her own. That was very sweet. I think they missed us -but I bet the break did them good too. I’m thankful they got along ok because I know I’ll be ready to do it again in the near future. With three teens it doesn’t take long for me to need a break. They drive me nuts -but I love them to the moon and back. Am I ever thankful for small respites.

Thanks for reading…

http://www.thenighthawks.com/home.html

http://www.bethesdabluesjazz.com/

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The band – dance floor is up front.

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The room was small but perfect for us.

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Kevin and the stage behind him. Dinner was very good by the way.

 

It’s going to be ok

“It’s going to be ok”. Those were words my husband ,Kevin,said to me the other day. They came after his first sentence of “I thought this Christmas wasn’t going to be very good.” I can’t say I disagreed with his feelings.

A few weeks ago if you would have asked me about this upcoming holiday I would have told you that I was looking forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus and I truly was. But if you wanted the deeper answer- which most people really don’t want to hear- I would have said that I was feeling rather down about the whole deal. There was a very good thing -that my mom was coming to spend it with us. Something we hadn’t done in a while. But then I got sad because we were pretty tight on funds and I knew that there would be bigger limits on gifts this year. I never want my kids to feel our financial pinch the way we do. They are aware we can’t afford too many big things but we have managed to afford a soccer fees here and new glasses there. I wanted Christmas to be great for them.

Early in November I asked them for their Christmas lists. I asked them to name three things they wanted one big, one medium, and one small. God love them their lists were of things that weren’t expensive. One thing Ozzy asked for was a comb. It was sweet and sad at the same time. I used their lists and some ideas of my own to put together gifts for each of them that I hope they enjoy. I know the season isn’t about only gifts. But it is about giving and part of this sentiment for me was to make it nice for our kids.

For me, as the days until Christmas grew shorter, I began feeling a little if the old tingle about the season but there was something that was disconnected for me. Then one Sunday we ran our kids to youth group at our church. It was pot luck night and I ran our contribution inside. When I got in I realized I needed to warm up our dish. So I ran into the kitchen to warm it in the microwave. As others came I realized I could be of help by heating up their dishes as well. Kevin got into the action too. When we left them to have their meeting. I felt really good. It was just a little thing that took me outside of myself for a time. Something changed in me for the better. Some of the dread lifted. Then the following weekend the boys and Kevin put up the lights outside. Something opened up in me a little more. As I wrapped gifts I hummed some Christmas songs.

Then on Sunday, Kevin and I decided to go caroling with our kids and their youth group. I hadn’t been caroling for many years but it sounded fun. ( I sat out on the patio the day before practicing songs. Really it was to embarrass my kids but the practice was good. ) After our group dinner we headed out to our assigned homes. We would be singing to some of our older church members that don’t get out as much anymore. The senior high got assigned to the senior community and the nursing home. When we began singing at the first home i began tearing up. Where was that coming from? There was that connection inside coming to life. We continued until it was time to enter the nursing home. There we broke into two groups. When we entered the first room we began singing to a woman in the far bed. I was close to the first bed in the room and as we sang I looked over at the other woman who occupied that bed. She was a little lady with the sheets pulled up to her chin and O2 in her nose. A dim light illuminated her bed. Her eyes were closed and her lips were moving as she sang along. I kept looking at her and she opened her eyes and I smiled at her. Our eyes locked for just a few seconds as we sang together a song to celebrate our Saviors birth. It was a special moment and I know there was Gods presence in that room. Not one person came out of that room dry eyed.

As we visited other rooms one of the more ambulatory residents accompanied us and sang too. A non- church member asked us if we could sing to her mother. Of Course. It was a special night for me and my husband. It wasn’t about gifts, it was about connection. Being outside ourselves and our worries. It was about being with teens and seniors and sharing special songs about the most blessed occasion we know.

It was later that evening that my husband made that comment. “I thought this Christmas wasn’t going to be very good. But now I think it’s going to be ok. I’m really looking forward to it now.” I forget sometimes that my other half stresses too. Until he said that I’m not sure I realized his strife -I was so focused on mine. I had felt the same on both counts. At first I thought it wasn’t going to a great holiday. But then as the days march toward the big day my spirits have lifted. It isn’t about gifts it’s about connecting outside of ourselves and feeling the Holy Spirit in our midst. Sometimes when we try to reach out to others we reach something inside ourselves. I hadn’t expected it. Maybe that’s the best gift of all.

Yes it’s going to be ok. It’s going to be more than ok. It’s going to be awesome. It already has been.

God Bless and Merry Christmas.

Thanks for reading…

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Just like the Griswolds?

For two weeks Ozzy has wanted to put up Christmas lights outside. Every day he has asked and every day we had to put him off because we had a lot of other things to do. He persisted ( he is the only kid still into the decorating part of the holiday). Today after running errands in the morning we came home to Ozzy once again asking if we were putting up lights today. It wasn’t in the plan but he’s been wanting this for so long. He hasn’t given up. So hubby decided to get on it. He said “Let’s put up some lights. Is it ok if we go Griswold or do you have a plan?” He was looking at me. Oh in years past I would have had a plan. You can’t put up mixed lights. I only wanted white. Inside the box for me. But no more. I’m a changed girl. “I don’t care how you do it” I said. Have at it boys!

So out they went. I suspected Ozzy had some plan in his mind. A little while later hubby Kevin came in and reported that they were going to Ace. New lights were needed because most of all the light we had weren’t working. Ozzy tried to get them working. He’s learned a lot in robotics about circuits and such but in the end new ones were needed. They are cheap. Go for it boys.

I headed out to hang oversized ornaments on the tree in front of the house. The men were back from the store and busily putting up lights Everywhere. It is not what I would have planned. But I told them to go for it. I could not intervene and go back to my inside the box ways. Let them have fun. I did move an odd strand and suggested we didn’t need to frame the entire door with lights.

Would this be a Griswold house? Millions of lights, electrical problems, seen from space? I think not. I wasn’t really sure what we would end up with. It was a bit rough in the daylight. But it wasn’t about that. It was that the men of this house who are often in different rooms doing various things apart from each other got together in electrical creativity to decorate our home for the holiday.

As luck would have it lights just look good in the dark. When we came home from being out last night it was dark. We had left when it was light out so the great unveiling would occur as we drove up to the house. Lo had behold their effort looked pretty darn good. (Aka Lights look good in the dark). The pictures below don’t do it justice it does look better than that.  I like the tree the best. Ozzy was very pleased with how it turned out. There is talk amongst the men of adding more lights today. I’ll post updates pictures of this happens.

I’m just glad to see all the guy togetherness. Even if it meant I had to give up creative control. It worked out without me just fine. I bet the teens will be hiding when it is time to remove them. I told the hubby we were not keeping lights up all year long–no way–..hmm…I do get some control after all…

Thanks for reading.

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I had to look like I was doing something!

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At work? or is L on his phone?

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Not 250,000 lights!

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It does look better in person:)

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This horse has seen better years (as I have I) but the creative staff wanted him up.

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Christmas Cards

Our mailbox is not right out our front door. It is not just down at the end of a short driveway its a walk but not too far for living  in the country. But it is across the street from our house and lives with two other mailboxes. When it is cold I send one of my kids out to get the mail. The road can be busy at certain times of the day and I am always yelling “be careful getting the mail!”. I became adverse to grabbing the mail in the winter.

Last year I became unable to even cross the street because a rare type of cataract made me  unable to see up and down the road. I had to listen for cars in because I could not see well enough to determine if they were there. So I became fearful to even try. Now I can see the roads thanks to my intra-ocular lenses. It’s funny though because I still take an extra look or two when I get the mail just to be sure no cars are coming. Maybe that’s why I send the kids so often to grab the mail for me. But this time of year I love heading out to the mailbox. It’s not full of the usual bills and junk mail -well it is but there is more. Christmas Cards! I love looking at Christmas cards. Very few people send letters anymore – we have email for that. I’m guilty of it too. I would rather type out an email than  go to all the fuss of sending a letter. During the Christmas season that all changes. Pretty cards come in the mail daily. I love seeing pictures of the growing kids. I even like reading those Christmas newsletters (if they aren’t too long). I just like seeing envelopes addressed to us that don’t say Potomac Edison or Discover on them.

When I was a kid my mother hung our cards inside the louver doors of the coat closet in our entryway. I loved how they looked hanging there. The different colors made the closet look like artwork. There were so many! I must have gotten my love for Christmas cards back then. I don’t have louvered doors and I kind of wish I did but we put our cards in a festive basket. It is nice and it works.  Last year I didn’t send any cards out. I wasn’t feeling well and I thought what was the point – I can just post on Facebook. Then Christmas came and went and I felt like something was missing. I hadn’t sent cards and it didn’t feel right.  So I decided to send out New Years cards. I ordered some with my kids picture on it and sent them out to a shorter list of people – but I got them out and it felt complete. I think it is just tradition for me and maybe this one will be one that stays with me a while.

Our Christmas card stack is getting bigger each day. My big problem is I hate to toss them away. I feel bad tossing those pretty cards into the trash. One year I saved them and a year later I opened up  the bin where I stashed them and tossed them out then. Why did I save them? For the crafty there are a number of ideas on how to use old greeting cards. Click here for some ideas. I’ll be honest I’m not going to be making anything out of the cards. I am not that crafty! I mean what about all the picture cards? I can’t cut them up or decoupage some child’s face to something that seems odd. Nah they are getting tossed. But I’m going to enjoy the excitement of getting them. For me it’s part of what defines Christmas time.

Thanks for reading…

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Our mailbox- ours is the end one on the right.

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Our basket for cards

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They are piling up!

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Look between the two cars- you can see the mailboxes in the distance.

Bubbles make me Smile

Bubbles floating in the airI saw bubbles in the shower today

When I squeezed the shampoo bottle

Out they floated and skittered through the steam

I found myself smiling and inside

I felt like a kid again.

Bubbles and crayons and cupcakes

all feed that child inside me.

I am just a child I realize –

no wonder I muck it up

with my own kids sometimes.

To childish to lead a child-

so I try to push the child in me away.

But maybe this is the point

maybe if I embrace the child inside

instead of ignoring her- then maybe

I will remember those little things

that made my heart float when i was young

and maybe by embracing that

I will be a better mom.

Because I will remember

that bubbles make me smile.

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A Cool Night

There we were- all 5 of us- sitting around the table on Saturday night at a favorite restaurant in our small town- all of us had been running all day. Kevin and I running kids around to their various activities. K worked, L had a band concert that we attended (which went over 2 hours) and Ozzy was volunteering at a robotics competition at our local community college.  We were run out to say the least and here we were together at that table and guess what? No electronics were present. This was not by request either. It was uncanny- and I struggled not to check my own phone while waiting for the food. My daughter was chatty, L was laughing and joking his face could be seen as it wasn’t bent to look into his phone(he is rather cute), Ozzy was tired from being at robotics all day but was in a good mood.

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My Hubby’s artwork- isn’t he sweet?

The table had a chalkboard and everyone was drawing on it. We were like an old time  family. You might remember- the kind before cell phones came to rule our lives. It was pretty cool.  We laughed and ate and laughed some more- nobody argued which is a big deal when you have three teen siblings sitting in the same place. I looked around at other tables. A group of tween girls sat close by…no phones in their hands either. They sat and laughed with each other.  I began to wonder if we were in an alter universe for just a short time. I was not going to say a thing at all because that would have broken the spell. I did not want to break the spell.

You see we needed that moment. Everyone needs those moments. With three teens who have various activities and one with special needs you can get exhausted and irritable. Inevitably once my kids come home their noses are in their homework, phones, or xbox, or in a book(Ozzy still goes phoneless) we become dis-connected. We need time to re-connect – and we really needed it that day.

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Friday Night Bingo

Maybe this nirvana began on Friday night when I asked if anyone wanted to play a game. Not a video game- a real board game. Ozzy is always up for a board game. God love him. I suggested Bingo. Ozzy ran to set it up. Up from his lair came L, and hubby was up for it too. There was a no show -my daughter K- but she was not feeling well so better to let her rest. (Don’t wake the beast – aka cranky 16 yr old girl). So began some rousing rounds of Bingo. Money was donated by hubby and winners took all. We decided we enjoyed that so much that we would play next time like they do at the fair -you pay 25 cents a card. I had a bag of coins from a wallet clean out so I was ready.

So maybe the magic carried into Saturday night as we sat around the restaurant table actually liking each other. When we left I was kind of bummed because I figured we would all (including me) go back to our electronics. But the magic continued – we decided to drive through a nearby neighborhood full of nice homes in search of pretty Christmas light displays. Surprisingly this hood didn’t have much in the way of fabulous displays as one might expect and of course this was reason for some good spirited jokes and laughter. We were all laughing..still. At some point L began discussing what a W.A.S.P. was – he had learned the term in history. His concept was so off that we were in hysterics trying to convince him that he had it wrong. You had to be there but I am sure you have had these moments too. They are special. They occur less and less with teens who are too busy, too egocentric, and are beginning to look for their own independence that it isn’t cool to hang with the folks.  I hadn’t planned for this to happen- this feeling of old time familyishness(made up word). It just happened. We all enjoyed being together..and the night did not even end when we pulled into our driveway..I thought it might. Someone mentioned Bingo – and I figured nobody would be up for it so I went into my room to change. A knock on the door brought Ozzy telling me that they were all waiting for me to begin Bingo (ALL!– including K). I was tired as heck but I wasn’t missing the game- I grabbed my baggie of change and headed out to continue the very cool night with my family… I wish these rare but special nights to you and yours. We parents know how something this simple can warm our hearts.

(and hubby and I were the big winners at Bingo! I am thinking game nights should be more common in our house – I like winning money!)

Thanks for reading….