Friday, December 30, 2011

Alexander Values for 2012

As most of you know, Paul and I are planners and organizers by nature and we have even planned out some family values that we'd like to try and instill in our little monkeys! Now, we know that life surely does not go as planned; but we revised out family statement and hoping to be a bit more specific, beginning in 2012! Of course we still believe in our family statement that "God created the Alexanders to love Him, imitate Him and serve others first." But we have added another section. If we could have one wish for our kids or a snapshot of what we want them to grow into.........this would be it. Our desire is that the Alexander family:

Would listen to God's voice and obey Him (through His word and prayer), put others first, and attain a self-confidence in their identity that reflects God's image and a life-style that reflects what He created them to be/do.

What more can a mother and father ask for? Now that we have a target for them, it allows us to aim for something that is meaningful. Part of that is adapting a common language in our home. These are top statements that our kids will hear until we die.

Alexanders always tell the TRUTH.
Alexanders show COMPASSION to everyone.
Alexanders are RELIABLE. We keep our word.
Alexanders use SELF-CONTROL, no matter what.
Alexanders are HUMBLE. We don't brag or show off.
Alexanders are STRONG. We never give up.
Alexanders make WISE choices. We reflect Him.
Alexanders like to have FUN!

A Peek at 2011...........Top 10

A New Year means a Fresh Start. Imagine if there was never an end or beginning with years and months kept going and going?? God certainly knew what He was doing by giving us 12 months at a time and then allowing something new to begin again. As humans, I believe we need a fresh start, an opportunity to begin again. Each December, I begin to fill out my new calendar with birthdays, anniversaries and important dates for the new year. As I skimmed over 2011, I was amazed at all the transitions that took place. I found myself flipping back to the month of February of last year......can't believe it's almost been one whole year since our path changed in Atlanta. Even though there were some tough moments and difficult challenges to maneuver, I was able to find lots of blessings that also took place last year. So, here is the Alexander top 10 list of memorable (whether fun or challenging) for 2011........

10. Girls learn how to ride bike without training wheels in about 15 minutes
9. Experiencing snow days in ATL (out of school for 1 week)
8. Ringing in the New Year with Jason and Jacqueline Barieau!! Whoot Whoot
7. Driving with a dog, guinea pig, and 3 kids in mini van from ATL to PHX
6. Spending Halloween and Thanksgiving with Nanna and Pappa
5. Spring Break in ATL with the McGinnis Clan!!! Best time ever!
4. Closing on our house in Gilbert, AZ 1 month before Paul lost his job! LOL
3. Being Fired for 1st time ever.......from a church! crazy!!
2. Celebrating 15 years of Marriage and going to Hawaii!
1. Being asked to come serve at Sun Valley Community Church in Gilbert, AZ

So there you have it! Our lives in a nutshell in 2011. Bring on 2012!! What is in store for us?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Teeter Totter of Materialism

Balance, balance, balance. Why is that so hard sometimes? I'm so cool and calm all year about spending and buying toys for my kids...........I just don't do it. Then Christmas comes and yikes!!! It's so hard!! My 7year old daughter asked us for an i-touch and I about had a heart attack. Paul calmly looked down at her and responded "Kennedy, I don't even have an i-phone.....dream on." We give the kids 3 gifts on Christmas morning. So, it takes some serious thinking to decide which 3 gifts to give them. They do get stockings too and those have some pretty cool items but then that's it! Just 3 gifts!!! No Santa gifts under the tree; just 3 gifts from mom/dad and then some gifts from Grandma and Grandpa. I"m not gonna lie; it's super hard to stick to that agreement but I'm glad we do that. I'm so inclined to buy every cute thing out there for my kids.
Christmas isn't the only time in life to keep that balance. It's challenging all year. Each time we have company over, the kids want to give away a toy or some trinket from their room. Sometimes they go into their piggy banks and give their friends money. A few years ago, when they first started doing this, I was inclined to step in and politely ask them not to give. But then I realized that there isn't a toy in their room that they can't live without. They are just toys! They aren't always so giving when it comes to 'eachother', but so glad to see them sharing with their friends. Glad to see them letting go of their possessions so easily. Wish it was always that easy for Paul and I.
Two experiences that stick out in my mind and remind me to chill out, happened last year. We were at a friend's house and my kids were wrestling on someone's 'new furniture' and it bothered the owners greatly. I couldn't help but wonder what on earth the couch was there for. When kids visit our home, I try and remember that it's more important that the guests feel welcome than my house remain in perfect condition. People are always more important than my stuff. Another situation was when Linc. wanted to hold an older boy's book last year. The mother bent down and whispered for the boy to put it away cause Linc. would probably break the book. Wow! I know kids do have valuable possessions and keep those put up from toddlers. But when we encourage our kids to hold tight to those simple things that can easily be replaced, what will happen when kids have something more valuable, like money? Will they share it?
Of course these are random experiences and I'm sure both situations can be properly defended to the death; but generally speaking, you get the point? I think we can always find an excuse to hold tight and keep things to ourselves. It's hard to let go, share at all costs, and play adults. Our kids are direct reflections of us, often. They learn from us. We can be amazing teachers...if we want :)

Santa or Not

Well, before we gave birth to 3 wonderful kids, we "knew everything about parenting"; so we decided that we would not celebrate Halloween or do Santa. Okay, so 8 years later.........we trick or treat and allow our kids to leave cookies for Santa and sprinkle oatmeal/glitter on the lawn for the 8 tiny reindeer. Do we celebrate Santa? No, not really. Do we believe he is from the devil? No, not really. It's been interesting to see our opinions and customs evolve over the last 8 years. In fact, Lincoln LOVES to go see "Ho Ho". He calls Santa the "Ho-Ho" and it's pretty stinking cute. However, this year Linc seemed to be a bit disappointed with Santa; and because he has my sense of smell, he picked up on some beef and cheese whiffs. After he leaped down from Santa's lap, he said "Mom, Santa Sinks!!" which means, Santa Stinks! I guess he smelled like beef and cheese, as in the movie Elf!
Our kids have always been told the truth. Christmas is about the birth of Christ and Santa does not exist. Do I regret omitting Santa from Dec. 25th??? Sometimes. Whether you celebrate Santa or not, the important thing is that the kids walk away appreciating the birth of Christ, not just knowing that it happened. Santa can be fun, like anything else that is magical and/or pretend. It's just a matter of balance and moderation. As parents we get caught up in the minor details and can become distracted in any event, whether it's Christmas, bdays, Easter, or just plain old life! The birth of Christ can be celebrated every day of the year, not just Dec.25. We love the Jesus Story Bible cause it is always pointing the reader back to the coming of Christ. Everything we do with our kids including cooking, riding bikes, arguments, bdays, shopping, funerals, cleaning rooms..........whatever it is..........there is always time to talk about Christ and what He is doing in our lives today. So Santa or not? Does it matter? This year we want to take time to appreciate the birth and the resurrection in all we do and in all we have.