Thursday, November 15, 2012

Those Who Have Crossed Over........40

When I was in my 20’s I started longing  to be in my 40s? It wasn’t that I didn't  have any fun. I was having the time of my life: married, no kids, double income, busy in ministry, traveling the world to help other people. I loved my life. But something seemed to be missing as I soaked up the words of my 40 year old friends. First of all, the fact that a 40 year old (mature) woman would spend more than 5 minutes in conversation with me…  total miracle! Why? because as a 20 something year old, I was a “know it all” who viewed life thru the eyes of today with no care for the future. Voting was optional, kids were definite and I was gonna be a definite good mom. I was always right, you were wrong.

As you well know, not every 40 year old woman embodies these traits below. Goodness, I know women in their 60s that still don't have their heads on right. Then again, I've met women in their 20s and 30s who peeked early in on them! :) These are merely my young observations...not facts! So what was it that I saw in those 40 year old women that caused me to temporarily wish away my 20s? I noticed a few things about them.
1. They don’t care what others think. It isn’t that they are unmindful
of othes' opinions; they are just not allowing those opinions to clout or leverage their fashion, values, or physical shape! They are untainted by the insignificant values that pour out of culture of today.

            2. They are resolute moms with a passionate purpose in life. They don’t seem
            to be mindlessly wandering through the forest of morals/values. Their minds are made up on what
            is best for their kids.

            3. They know what they want to be as a grown up! They are actively pursuing
            their dreams, hobbies, and job of choice. It is never too late to start back to
            School or start training for a marathon. Why not?

            4. Dating their hubby is a deep conviction that they wouldn’t sell. Date nights
            are precious, common, and most of all fun. Because they actually live with their man
            and choose not to merely co-exist, they respect their best friend. They choose not to 
            degrade him in public or private. They protect him at all costs and boasts of his strengths.

            5. They are at peace with their feminine shape. They have gracefully accepted the
            battle scars, stretch marks, and any other mommy ‘medals’ that come along with
            age and parenthood. That doesn’t mean they embrace the idea of letting the body die to waste and
            junk food. It just means they don’t fret over the scars, wrinkles, and shapes that
            they cannot control or change. Fix what they can, welcome the rest.

            6. They stop taking theirselves so seriously and instead take life a little more
            seriously. Voting is important, recycling is a good habit, and visiting all
            the food groups, not just the breads and desserts, becomes a healthy life style.
            Diets don’t exist, just healthy eating plans.

            7. The need to be heard and liked by everyone at the party becomes obsolete.
            They are the ones at parties that have conjured up a small group of other
            women and are just enjoying the conversation of a few instead of the eyes of
            many! Listening is more important than speaking.

            8. Topic of conversation seems to be less about decorating, new toys, and
            fashion and more about the future of  family, our country, and compassion
            for other people.

            9. They are open to others' opinions and are not always bent on being right. They are willing to
            hear what others say before expressing theirselves, and at times holding back
            and wisely choosing their words.

10. They see the big picture in life! Life isn’t about her but Him and understanding how He uses her to serve everyone else. Life is bigger than her.  She is only a part of this temporal time on earth. Bottom line- she gives everything over to God. 

Now, I still have 3 more years to go before I cross over and thank goodness! I could barely cross out 2 of those traits listed above. So there is hope; I have 3 more years to grow! But I am enjoying today and looking forward to tomorrow. No looking backwards.........that causes serious tripping and knocking into things like pride, self-pity and other ugly traits. 

I have been graciously blessed by many seasoned women who have entered life ahead of me with elegance, wisdom, and a spirit of humility. They continue to leave deep impressions on my soul with their gentle guiding and leading. Thank you Lori, Janie, Sheryl, Robin, Maryanne, Lisa, Julie, Barbara, Marcia and Amy, Kineka, Helen, and Mom. If their names don't give away their generation, then what does! I love it! I was inspired to write this as my friends Julie and Diana approach a new decade in the next few weeks. They are amazingly beautiful women who have greatly inspired me :)

And yes........that is me when I was in third grade with my BFF. Here I am many decades later with a daughter the same age as I was in that picture. Life really does fly!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Making Money Matter

Christmas is around the corner and lots of talk of gifts, charity, and cookies in our house right now. Every year we always help out another family in need. It's been fun to watch and encourage our girls to buy for someone else during a season in which the focus is on them (kids in general). We have been trying to shift the focus more and more each year. Even though we have always given only 3 gifts under the tree, it still seems to steal away the real reason of the celebration. In our home, we celebrate this time of year due to the birth of Christ. We not only focus on the birth of Christ but how fortunate we are this time of year and how desperate the rest of the world is. Talking about kids in other countries isn't just a one time thing in our home. We are always finding ways to talk about the less fortunate and opportunities to help others in America, Africa, Asia, or anywhere for that matter!

Since we usually do Operation Christmas Child with World Vision, we also received a magazine about different ways to help provide for kids in other countries. This year the magazine made a huge impact with my 2 girls. They stared, flipped, and gasped as they contemplated the possibilities of purchasing cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, and fruit trees for other families. So, we decided to start saving now for next December. The girls decided they wanted to purchase a dairy cow, since it wouldn't be 'killed' and the other animals would be eaten and it made them sad. They are still grasping that concept! LOL... So, they give part of their allowance each week to 'giving' (church) and this year it will go to the 'Cow fund'. I'm excited!

This is a tough concept to teach in a country that wants for nothing and has more than needed. I speak mostly of our family. We are spoiled beyond measure and blessed. Because there is nothing wrong with blessings and wealth, we have decided to share what God has given to us. It may not seem like much at times but it's what we can do. Will our kids still receive gifts? Of course!! We've just tried to scale down and possibly move past the 'large' gifts and stick to simple needs/wants so that more time/money can be given to others.

Instead of focusing on being thankful in November we are gonna try something new this year. We are gonna use the advent calendar to focus on what we are thankful for in our family each day in December. It is only natural to be focusing on the many Christmas parties, cookies, and gifts for our family and what we want to do and buy this month for us. Being thankful for  the blessings given to us by God and the biggest blessing of all, His birth, can really change our view. It would be so cool to one day prepare enough in advance so that we gave something away each day in December. This year we will give away of our time, words, and Alexander 'treasures'. It's a start. My guess is that our kids will either be amazing givers one day and turn into selfless people or end up in years of counseling cause their parents deprived them of the traditional Christmas Treasures! LOL

Christmas is my favorite time of the year! I bake, decorate, and always, always, always buy a real tree the day after Thanksgiving. So yes, we do participate in the spirit and culture of Christmas in the USA as much as the next person. It's just that we are hoping to keep the focus on Him and not us. :) 

Monday, October 15, 2012

Look for the Real Treasure

Yesterday while at Mia's soccer game, a stranger tapped me on the shoulder and asked "is that your son?" as she pointed to my crazy Linc. I wondered if I should admit to mothering such an energetic ball and then I answered with confidence "yes!". She informed me that he was licking the dirty trash can. Oh, good to know, I thought. His defense was "I didn't lick it mom!I was about to though." I choose not to be embarrassed. Oh well. These moments happen to all of us all of the time! It's just that some of us are confident or stupid enough to admit it. Or how about the time our entire family went to the OB-GYN to hear a heartbeat of baby 4 and my daughter/son went into the restroom and dumped out the fresh urine sample that some poor woman had just squeezed out? She now had to do it again. Most kids ignore the little door in the wall of the restroom but not mine. They are curious and thought the little cup of urine needed to be touched and dumped. ewwww. Or the time my middle daughter pushed out an enormous amount of air from her bottom while in the yogurt  shop and then belted out laughing as other moms stared in amazement at the volume of sound that came out of her little body. Maybe they were just disgusted.........I"m not sure but oh well. Growing up in a lower class neighborhood, I used to hear kids say "hells bells" in place of "oh well". In these moments I feel like yelling out "Hells Bells" to everyone staring at me!

I used to get caught up in these moments but I've learned to focus on the proud moments. For example, when my daughter attends a city-wide Girl Scout function and volunteers, along with her friend, to push a stranger around in a wheel chair (peer) cause no one else wants to be bothered with the inconvenience. My daughter was a hero in my eyes that day. Or the time my daughter told me about how much she loves the little special needs boy that she works with every other week and referred to him as her friend and not a 'special needs child'. I'm the goofball that calls him 'special needs'. She just sees him as a friend. She is my hero. Or the time my son told a friend of mine that her meal was the best meal he had ever eaten! It made her day and he didn't complain about the the things he didn't like but focused on the parts he enjoyed. He was my hero that day.

It's nice that my kids excel in sports and make all As in school but those are not the moments that melt my heart. I"m looking for character traits: compassion, integrity, responsibility, servant hood and so forth. I love to see my kids give away their treasures to other peers when they are visiting our home. I am also reminded daily that it is a miracle when my kids do these things. I can take little to no credit for such wondrous things.I am a parent full of flaws and daily ailments. God is good to come in and shape the hearts of my kids. All I can do is daily seek Him and beg for His Grace as I make many mistakes. I can also listen to Him each day and continue to grow myself as the kids grow along side of me.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Camping With Friends= Fun!

Camping is one of our favorite things to do. When we talk about camping we are talking about REAL campers, no hotels, no cabins. We are talking tents, people!!! Tents, sleeping bags, coleman stoves, camp fires, and no showers! I know I don't have to explain that to our friends in Ohio but out here, in the wild wild west, lots of people consider campers to be camping! hahahhaah.....that's what we call 'fake camping!" LOL

So we loaded up the min-van and followed our friends up the mountain. Instead of walkie-talkies we kept talking on Hey'Tell, which probably drove the men crazy! But, it was entertaining! Our adventure consisted of fishing, Corn Hole, homemade chili, cutting wood, camp fires, hot cocoa, bug hunts, scavenger hunts, and late night snacks. We found Sammy and Lincoln trying to brush their teeth IN THE TENT! The girls found pet rolly-pollies and caterpillars and named all of them. Fishing was a success and Paul cleaned/cooked the fish. Derek set up a rigorous scavenger hunt involving a compass, walky-talky and prizes! Glad Paul took the kids on that one while Jaime and I sat by the camp fire.

What makes these trips fun? Just being out in the woods with family.......doing nothing, keeping no schedules, no T.V., no phone calls, no distractions. Just friends, food, and fun! It was a much needed trip for our family. Even though we packed up at 8:00pm (a day early) due to a hail storm headed our was worth it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Underestimated Encouragement

An unexpected reality came knocking on my door today! Isn't that how it usually goes though? It's not like we plan for bad attitudes, cancellations, or sickness. I always assume the best and live in my happy/positive world. But when my plans don't go as hoped for I turn into a grouchy bear that was awakened much to early. I had plans of Paul dropping girls off at school and me dropping Linc at preschool and then racing to the gym to get my first class in of the Fall semester with no kids! I was then going to hit Starbucks for a healthy refresh hot tea and head home to organize my scrapbook closet and listen to Pandora radio......with no kids in the house. Yes, a much needed reprieve from the busy schedule of life. Obviously, that isn't happening. Linc was in my bed before 7:00 with a headache and tummy ache. Kennedy bounced around the kitchen making her breakfast and notifying me as to why the missing child, Mia,  was still in bed and not going to school.........more sickness. Ugh!!!!!!!No this can't happen.....not today!

I regrouped my thoughts and checked my heart. Seriously, no biggie. My kids are sick. They need me and my "mommy day" can wait. Here's the ironic and very shameful thing...........this is the month that I'm supposed to be working on encouragement with our 7 month stretch of 7 fasts etc...........I thought this would be the easiest and most enjoyable month but it has hit me between the eyes like a migraine! Reality is that I STINK at encouragement and have lots of room to grow. Good to know! Truth kids will only be this age today. They will only be exactly like they are now.....just today. Tomorrow, they will grow, change, and one day leave our nest. Everything changes. Nothing stays the same. Life happens. Sickness approaches. Sin destroys. Little bodies grow up. Hearts are changed. Opinions form. Relationships either grow or die. This month I am being reminded of the unremitting attitude that I must choose to keep as I love my kids. I will continue to accrue these enduring moments and learn from them as I grow and changes as a parent.

Big sigh........something I didn't expect to acquire from this month of encoragement.......God is still moving in my heart and reminding me of His undying love for my broken and bruised soul. Only He is able to make something beautiful out of this messy substance. We are ALL broken...........born into it. Yet, not allowing it to be a crutch and taking this opportunity to seize His hand and allow His love to transcend above my expectations, forming me into something pleasing. I am most encouraged and thankful.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The 7 Month Fast! Yes, We Are Crazy!

You must be wondering what on earth does that blog title mean? Well, let me explain. My good friend, Aime, bought me a book for my bday called 7! Yep, it's about a family that took seven months and fasted 7 different things during each month. So, we decided to do the same and simplify our lives. We will focus on eachother, other people in less fortunate situations, and dejunk our lives! Month 1 was in June and we didn't necessarily fast anything but we did spend every day soaking in the New Testament. Paul and read the entire New Testament of the Bible in 30 days. We also spent the evenings reading the bible to our kids. Well, we were successful at reading the entire NT but not as successful at sitting down each night with the we are learning! My big take-aways from June: I realized how much I hunger for the bible! I didn't want to return to my usual skimpy reading. I want to remain in the bible forever. It's encouraging, resourceful and soul building! One can realize to truly appreciate the feast due to the constant famine that has been already present.  And still, I am baffled how one can return to a famine, having feasted on the Bible. Yes, I am pulling through that now. 

Month 2, July, was our fast from T.V. and most other media. I was more than delighted to let go of facebook! It's weird being in August now and I keep forgetting that I do have a fb account to check. I don't really have that strong desire to check it. Having been media free for 30 days, we became experts at Monopoly, sorry for playing Sorry, adamant readers, and spent more time together snuggling. One would think that our 3 kids would throw a fit due to the July standard but I think I might of heard 1 complaint the entire time. Instead Kennedy read the entire Starcatchers Series about how Peter Pan became Peter Pan, about 1,000 pages worth and then read the entire Emily Whipsnap series. Now she's soaking up Harry Potter, book 2. Mia spent time on the piano, and Lincoln terrorized all of us! LOL. It was music to my ears to have the t.v. off and watch my kids participate more in imaginative play, read more, and snuggle! and NO Wii! Not that we have it on much anyhow, but oh how nice to put the kids to bed at night and just talk with Paul. I would challenge every family to try this one. It's worth it! It builds in more play time for the family and more relational time for spouses in the evening :) 

Month 3,, that would be now. We chose 7 foods to eat this month. Well, the kids decided they wanted to be apart of this too! So they had to choose 10 foods. Veggies counts as one and fruit counts as another. Paul and I did the same. Basically meat, veggies, fruit, oats, eggs, water, black beans, coconut milk and the kids have chips and fruit snacks added to theirs. No desserts, no bread, no beer, no sugar. We are loving it too. I am tempted to get a Starbucks drink or eat a Pirate Booty Chip but I won't! I'll let you know how we survive. So good! Our motto this month is "lean and clean" .We are also using this month to learn about Kenya, India, and S. Africa. We are going to study what they eat, how they live and what their lives are like in those 3rd world countries. Paul and I have visited those countries and they are dearest to our hearts. 

We have some exciting new information to share with you all soon. God is moving and changing our hearts each day. We can't wait to share what has recently been placed in our hearts and in our lives! No, we are not adopting...........I wish! Maybe one day in the future :)

Memories in the Mountains

Ugh! I haven't blogged in awhile cause I'm trying to set up a new blog on Wordpress and I haven't been able to complete it. So for now, I'll keep using this yucky site! Sooooo...........lot's going on. You just read about our 7 months of fasting and we are now in month 3. Last month we fasted most media and it was amazing. Vacation was last month and we hit it just right! We took off to Pinetop in northern Arizona and spent a week in our dear freind's cabin. At the end of the week we were supposed to meet the Greens at a campground and spend 3 days camping. But the weather would not permit such activity and instead of canceling, we decided to all hang out in the cabin! Having a blast, is an understatement. 5 kids, 4 adults, 2 dogs, hiking, campfires, hail storms, no electricity for a few hours, carry-out Red Devil Pizza, homemade peanut butter cookies...........shall I say more?!!! It was almost sereal to be up in the north with cool weather, tons of wildlife, and great company. The kids played in the leftover hail and weren't phased a bit by the coolness of the storm. I on the other hand, was bundled up in sweatshirts and thick socks but still thankful for the cool relief. My favorite part of the trip was beating Paul at corn-hole, eating Wendy's cookies, and watching all our girls play together. I love that we are rooting down here in AZ and building life-long relationships. :)

Monday, June 18, 2012

Making the Most...........a Real Legacy

Some things are just so difficult to write about and yet one must. Having Paul's dad here this weekend and watching him share his experience as a father up on stage was emotional. David is an amazing man. Having known him for 18 years, I've really been able to peel back the many layers and unpack the person that he is. It takes years and years to really know someone and then you might still feel like you don't know him. It's incredible to watch someone grow and strengthen and yet still dip down into the low valley and then come back up a better man. I was 20 years old when Paul and I married! I was 20 years packed full of glee, extrovert ideas, immaturity, spontaneous combusiton, and more immaturity! One of my first experiences with my father-in-law was right after Paul and I met. We went to home to meet them and were taken out to dinner at a Mexican restaruant, my least favorite food. Just for fun, I thought I'd revisit my teenage pranks and told the waiter that it was David's bday and he'd love to be sung to. Of course the waiters and staff all dashed over singing in happy birthday in their spanish accent and plunged a giant sombrero on top of little David's head and took his picture. To say that he was slightly embarrassed and ticked off might be an understatement. At that time he worked for the government in D.C. and was a pretty serious and straight forward man who liked his shirts double starched and tucked in.............not the type to play pranks on. And that's how our beautiful relationship started and has bloomed since!

We actually laugh about that past moment and the picture is framed and in David's home. He has since retired from government work and paints landscape pictures in Abingdon, Virginia, volunteers at the men's prison, teaches Sunday school at church, and helps with a host of other charitable activities. Not to mention, he's the best grandpa in the world. As you can see in the picture above, he wore the goggles that the kids asked him to wear, did cannon balls with them, and gave horsey rides in the pool. I even think he survived a eye poke by one of the girls. He loves my kids and we love him! He's more than a 'father-law-law' to me.........he is my dad too! I'm blessed to have a few dads in my life and he's one of them. Looking forward to many years ahead and many bday pranks too! To this day, he still tries to repay me for that special moment in the Mexican restaurant.

Girls Night Out.......Kennedy

Sometimes I'll say to Paul, "This is a therapy moment", meaning that whatever I"m doing at that moment will cause my kids to go to therapy one day. We laugh about it cause who really knows?!!! You know what I'm talking about; those desperate moments when you're exhausted and worn out from hearing the same question repeated or watching the same action take place and you've asked the kids not to do so. I can remember KK mentioning how thirsty she was and I was so tired of all the requests and demands that day that I stopped, stared at her and said "just drink your spit." Yep, she might be in therapy for that one! ha! So, because we already know that we are gonna make mistakes, we are also trying to create some meaningful  and intentional memories too! We have to balance it out, right?!!

Once a year, I take each girl out for the night. We get a hotel, eat dinner out, and just hang together..........just the two of us. We just started doing so this year. I read a book last summer about rites of passages in our kids lives and it challenged me to be more strategic in our kids lives with special moments and special birthdays. So, it was finally KK's turn to go out. She is so opposite of Mia. Mia was packed 3 days before we left with a suitcase full of stuffed animals, baby clothes, and her personal belongings. KK, on the other hand, barely filled a purse with some toys and  little trinkets. Before we left I asked "do you have your toothbrush? pjs? baithing suit?" All were answered with "oh, yeah!" so funny! So we headed out to lunch at a gluten free cafe called Pomegranite and enjoyed desserts, hummus, and smoothies. We then checked into our hotel room and KK and I played I Spy for about 40 minutes. go figure! Next, we headed to an outdoor mall and browsed around in Charming Charlies for 45 minutes and successfully came out iwth a watch and poodle purse. Next stop was Barnes and Nobles, where we read for over an hour and half. KK read books and I copied down recipes from Bare Contessa cook books; even took a few pictures of some recipes. I thought  I was gonna be escorted out! We then grabbed dinner from the Paradise Bakery and headed to hotel to eat and swim. We ended the night with reading our bibles and snuggling in the queen size bed. The evening was priceless and well worth the time and small amount of money spent!

Bottom intentional with your time. Plan out your time with your kids. If you don't, everyone else will and your time will be cut short. Yes, I'm sure my girls have many 'therapy' moments due to my shortcomings but I"m hoping they remember the personal and meaningful moments too!

A New Beginning, but not the End

 I had the strangest dream last night. I was at the girls' elementary school and I was crying cause I missed being there. Crazy! My mind is racing over the decision we made last month. We spent about 8 months talking and praying about where to send the girls to school next year. We were at a wonderful school this past year but felt like the girls maybe needed a little more push and didn't want them filtering into the selected Chandler jr high in the next few years. So we did a crazy thing; we switched them to another NEW school for next year. It is K-8th and uniform and seems it might be a better fit. But who really knows, right? As parents, we try and make the best choices but we are always 2nd guessing ourselves. Since we LOVE the families and friends from this years past school, we had a little p-a-r-t-y on the last day of school. It was a surprise and I didn't tell the girls until 2 days before the party! Friends from both classes came over right after school to swim, eat snack, have dinner and watch a movie. The other moms and I sat and talked while our kids screamed with joy, giggled, shared inner tubes, and cannon balled into the middle of the deep blue refreshment. We are not saying goodbye cause we are gonna keep in touch and continue to have dinner, pool parties, and movie nights together. I love my girls' friends, as if they were my own. Mia is friends with triplets and we love having ALL 3 of them over and KK is connected with a sweet group of girls whose moms all know each other. Just the other day, KK said "Mom, do you think Caitlyn and I will be friends in highschool, cause I hope so." Of course I couldn't resist texting Caitlyn's mom to share the cute saying. We both agreed that we hoped our girls stayed friends forever.

What does all this mean to me? I guess I finally feel like we are putting in roots somewhere and growing into a integral part of our community. I'm excited to see the road we travel down. Thank you God for always looking out for us. I am taking the journey one step at a time and soaking up the relationships that God keeps putting into our path. I love it!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Huge Investment

Investments have seen some tough waters in the past 8 years. Many people have lost their stocks and/or retirement. I don't usually ponder much about such things; I leave that to Paul. However, I've been reading through the New Testament this month and investments have been sticking to my brain like bubble gum. The investments that I'm speaking of are not your normal intake. I guess I'm in that place in life where I'm taking inventory and wondering if the life I'm living will reap any value when I die. What legacy is the Alexander Family leaving behind? I've been slapped in the face with a huge reality! People(more importantly God) are not gonna remember me because I had a beautifully decorated house, intelligent/polite children, an amazing body, walls and walls of my kids awards, amazing kitchen appliances, 53 pairs of stylish shoes, hipster wardrobes, booming career, or care if I was the PTA president at school. I've met so many people in my short life span and it's always interesting to learn what they value. For some it's the initials that follow their name or high status of their husband's career. For others it may be the education and scholarships that their kids received or the amazing husbands (meaning the man makes a lot of money) that their daughters married. All of those accomplishments are great!

I guess I'm just wondering if that is the end-all for me? What if there is more to life than that? As Christians, we say there IS more to life but all we talk about are the materials or accomplishments we have gained or are missing out on. If I say that there is more to life than the material things in front of me, then I must live it right?

As I'm reading the gospels this week, I'm noticing many reoccurring themes. Jesus served people adn then he served some more people, and then he served some more people. He thought of others first and then continued to think of others frist. He reminded his close friends to think of others first and he demonstrated this by serving them too. Our family statement in our house is "Love people and Love God". Loving people is messy and far from convenient. This love is all poured into serving. I feel like I have found myself categorizing this part of my life. I'll say things like "I can help out...........if it fits into my schedule, if I have the energy, if I have lots of extra funds at end of the month (after I drink 20 Starbuck drinks), if all the stars align, if, if , if, if.............." I remind myself that it's never desirable to drive someone to the airport at 4am, mow my neighbor's grass in 100degree weather, take a meal to someone when I don't feel like cooking, take a friend out for lunch when it's my last $20, help someone move into a new location on my free day......however, each time I do these things, I might be making some eternal investments. I might have the opportunity to share Christ one day with this person. I might be able to show this person what 'real' love looks like, real friendship looks like. I probably won't receive any accolades or feel successful now, but who knows how much my time/money really touched this person. It's an investment! I want to make eternal investments with my kids. I want to help build/fund wells in Africa, provide food for shelters here in America, work with the undesirable people in our city, and love/serve everyone that God puts in my path. Just a thought but one worth considering. Investments..............

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Moms..... Pull Up Your Big Girl Boots!!

I had a weak moment a few days ago. I had finished a 8 mile run and was not feeling up to my normal energetic self. I felt unusually sluggish and wondered what illness I might be coming down with. Had to take my middle daughter to the allergist that day adn almost fell asleep in the waiting room. I was so zonked! On the way back to school, she begged for me to come back in an hour and eat lunch with her. I just kept explaining that I was tired, not feeling well and unsure if that would even happen. A voice in my head kept reminding me that she actually wants mommy to be with her at school and I should go. So I went. So glad I did! Ended up snagging about 5 other kids to eat with us outside too! They were very grateful to escape the noisy and zoo-like cafeteria. I remember thinking that kids really do suck everything out of you and when you feel like you have nothing else to give, they manage to suck even more out of you........In a good way of course! It's amazing what we do or should do for our children. Being a mom is no easy task and not one to be regarded with ease. Motherhood is a slow and steady marathon........not a sprint. It's long, windy, up hill, down hill, full of cheering sections, absent of encouragement, exciting, boring, painful, joyful, sacrificial, and so much more. This year, I want to focus on one true point of motherhood. If I'm gonna make it and if I want my kids to succeed then I must be sure of my SELF-WORTH! Vicki Courtney says it best in her book Your Son....."Perhaps the greatest gift a mother can give her son is a proper foundation for establishing self-worth. Unfortunately, many mothers are unable to give a their sons something that they, themselves, do not posses." This is so true for raising girls too! I meet extraordinary women everyday. Now, they don't find theirselves to be so but I can sense their true beauty right away! They come in many shapes and sizes: imperfect, tired, energetic, haven't showered in days, clean as a whistle, tasseled hair, loving spirit, available, messy homes, chefs, etc..............The most attractive and magnetic thing a woman can have is healthy confidence. I'm not talking about arrogant schmucks! (yes, schmuck is a strong word and in the dictionary)Please, let me run from those women. I'm talking about having confidence in what you CAN do and not focusing on all the little things you're unable to do. So don't cook and you don't clean,you don't sew, you're not crafty, you don't scrapbook, and you're not a 'stay at home mom' and you don't homeschool, and you don't, don't, don't!!! What do you do?!! You do things everyday to nurture and love your babies. Maybe you pack their lunches, zip up their coats, drive them to school, tuck them in each night, read stories to them, put toothpaste on their brush, comb their hair, smile at them when no one else is looking, pat their head as you breeze by in the kitchen. There are thousands of wonderful things that you do. Having meaningful conversations with you kids, especially your teens, is change in your pocket! And that can be a hard thing to do with our crazy schedules. My 7 year old always wants to talk to me while she is on the porcelain potty. Not my favorite time to talk but it works for her.........just do it!
Kids want to see confident moms. Be you and don't try and emulate the other moms out there. We are all different......thank goodness. You are not a perfect mom but you are "the perfect mom' for you kids. God put you in their lives because you understand them. "A mom understands what a child does not say". Only you know your child the best. If you have unique or challenging children........embrace them. Only you are equipped with the genes, patience, and temperment to truly love them. I can never love your child the way you do. But I can love my own kids in their own special way. I don't do many of the typical mom things well but.......I thrive on the things that I can do. I can make some killer cinnamon buns. I build incredible tents out of bed sheets (better than my kids think). I snuggle the best and I drive my mini-van with skilled speed around corners, which causes everyone to feel like they are on a roller coaster. We love it!! Be you and your kids will be theirselves too. Don't you want your kids to grow in confidence?! You must model it first. God created you and thought about you years adn years before you were born. He believes in you and you should too.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Don't Underestimate Boys

As Mother's Day approaches I am constantly being reminded of the great responsibility that has been placed in these unsteady and unsure, yet willing hands. Almost makes me nautious to think about the great demands and influence that I have on these 3 delicate and kissable souls! But, I must take a minute out of my day and talk about BOYS!!!!!!! Go ahead and get ready to throw something at me for saying this but it's the truth.........."if you don't have any're missing out!" Now, I'd have to say the same exact thing to a mom who was without girls. But to be so lucky to have both?! They are so diifferent and I love both sexes in their own unique ways. Some days I feel like girls are soooo much easier but then they throw a fit over clothing and itchiness and I turn to my son, who wears anything, and I think to myself "boys are so much easier." And the balance shifts the next day as my wonderful son jumps from couch to couch, knocking over lamps, and ending in a nose dive into wall with much tears. Even right now as I type this, my 4 year old boy is climbing all over me and wants more food! him!Now don't take this blog too seriously or you'll just turn into a grouch. Just read and relax. So here are a few things that I have learned about boys! 1. If you have a secret or flaw, don't tell/show them.......they will tell everyone when you least want anyone to know! Linc loves to point out my bad breath, hole in my shorts, or arm sweat in his booming voice,and in front of lots of people. :-)
2. If you care about expensive toys, don't buy them for boys. Fortunatley we rarely buy expensive toys and we when we do......we know the possibilities. For example, the giant Buzz Light Year that we bought Linc for his 3rd bday. Buzz has been dissamebled, beat up by Iron Man (notice the red marks on him), and most parts ripped off of him. He will never fuction the same. I wonder if Linc will program Buzz to speak another language??
3. If you are hoping to take a nice snapshot for of your handsome boy to send to nanna/pappa.......think again. Expecting nice and tranquil smiles is unexpected. We settle for crazy smirks, hoping the tongue stayed in the mouth, at least! 4. If you're a mom who doesn't want gun toys in your home............hmmmm.......might be difficult. Before we ever bought Linc his first plastic gun, he was making them with his fingers, legos, sandwiches, and the girls' doll legs! It is born within them to fight and defend us! LOL Who taught him how to make a weapon? 5. Expect to be snuggled and kissed on the nose when you least expect it and need it the most. I snuggle my rough tumbler each day at nap time and I will never ask him to stop kissing my nose and counting my moles/freckles on my face. I think we are up to 13! I call them beauty marks! LOL 6. Expect to be wrestled. If you deny the boy wrestling then he will attack you, as you are exercising or bending over to sweep up dust into the dustpan. You will be wrestled! So, just pull your hair back and watch your nose, cause boys like to head-butt! 7. There is no such thing as neat or quiet bathtime. Our floors ended up flooded each time.........even when he is given a quick 5 mintue bath...........he knows every game and move that requires heavy splashing. 8. Etiquetee comes slowly and takes much patience. He doesn't hesitate to yell out that he doesn't have underwear on in the public restroom and for me to stop looking at his penis while he uses the restroom. Burping and tooting come at any moment. 9. Expect to hear wild stories from their teachers..........about you! I was at his Mom's day program at preschool and he told the teacher that mommy likes to kiss daddy (so good) but THEN he added that daddy likes to spank mommy! ooohhh my!!! 10. Finally, enjoy the roller coaster with boys. They are unique and special. Don't treat them like girls. However, they do eventually learn their mannors, learn to speak quietly in public, and they do turn into charming young men ...........just like their dads!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Didn't Know Turning 7 Could Be So Fun!

I can't even remember my 7th birthday! In fact I can remember very few cause times have changed so very much since Paul and I were kids. Birthday parties consisted of balloons, homemade cupcakes, pin the tail on the donkey, and a few banners. I loved celebrating my birthday growing up and mom always made my favorite meal and one gift to open. There is a lot about those time that I enjoy. Yes, I don't really remember very many specifically but I know that each one was celebrated. I'm not even sure how many of my kids' birthdays will be remembered but I'm positive that Mia will remember the 7th! Because we don't do birthday parties each year, they are very special. I have 3 kids and parties can be laborious and chaotic at times. Honestly......I'm lazy! There you have it! i don't want 20 kids running around my house, stepping in frosting, dragging out every toy in the world etc.......Also, I like keeping parties special and not having them as something 'expected' each year. So the kids never know which year they will be allowed to have one. We are spontaneous about it. This seemed to be Mia's big year. She finally won us over with tons of begging when she said "mom, you don't even have to buy me a gift, just a party!" Well, they already know that party equals no gifts from mom/dad. The party is our gift to her. So we agreed.........with terms. We agreed to invited 3-5 friends and we'd do a pool party after school on a Friday. I would get snacks and cupcakes, no meals. WE wanted to keep the cost low and yet still have fun celebrating. I have come to realize that having fun does not necessarily mean spending tons of money. I decorated the kitchen with banners and streamer that I got at dollar store and from my scrapbook closet ($1). Then I wrote 'Happy Birthday" with markers on the bathroom mirror. We decorated the table with a plastic cloth, cards and gifts from family and pulled out the baby book. Breakfast was spent opening gifts from Nanna/Pappas, siblings, and from friends far away (thanks friends for remembering). Nanna sent the most creative gift. Card with money and pictures of what Mia could buy: bathing suit and pool toys. We are taking Mia out later this month, just Paul and I and her, so she can spend her money!! Then we sat down and flipped through the baby book and talked about the day that Mia was born. She loves it and we do this each year with each kid. so much fun! Mia ate her bday breakfast and then off to school.
I came to school that afternoon and handed out cones that had been dipped in chocolate/sprinkles and filled them with marshmallows, craisins, and chocolate chips. Much easier than ice-cream! Kids came home with us that afternoon adn we had flip/flop cookies, dry cereal that was in sand castle buckets and shovels. We all felt like we were at the beach eating our beach snacks and listening to Island music. I also had fruit pre-cut in heart, star, and fun shapes. After enough swimming and splashing, the kids sang the traditional song and we ate yummy homemade cupcakes. I hate to admit it, but I think I outdid myself this year on flavor and deocor! I ate 3 more cupcakes that weekend. Yikes!!!!!!!!! They were that good! Mia was adorable and the Surfer Girl party was a success.
Since her real birthday is on Saturday, we went out to dinner, her choice. She chose Oreganos and off we went for pizza and pizzokies! Then surprised her by taking the family to a movie (rare occasion for us) and watched the new Chimps movie by Disney. An amazing time with just family and I think she felt pretty special. We felt very full from pizza, dessert, and popcorn!