Wednesday, November 24, 2010

With Great Thanks

This month I know several people who every day have listed what they are thankful for, for that day. I have perhaps participated in this activity in years past. This year however, as I look around me and at my life, I find that there is no way that facebook would allow me the space I would need to cover what I'm thankful for.

You see I am very happy. I think with great thankfulness comes great happiness. As a child I was given plenty of material things but longed for the relationships that I wouldn't experience until near adulthood. When I married I was given the gift of creating a family that I had long longed for as a child. I was always taught to be thankful for whatever I was given. I was always thankful. Even for the things that I didn't necessarily want or need. At any given time in the course of my childhood, I could take you through my room and tell you who had given me everything I owned. It is entirely possible that I could do that now, including things belonging to other members of my family. But you see what I'm most thankful for as an adult aren't things.

So sit down and grab a hot chocolate we'll discuss what I'm thankful for.

1. I am most thankful for a God who forgives. Who delivers, who gives, and takes away. I am thankful for the God who delivered me from the pit that I held residence in for so long, it didn't seem possible to get out. I am thankful for the One who gives me strength and love that I am certain I don't deserve, but gives it in abundance anyway.

2. I am thankful for my husband. He is my love. He embodies everything I could ever hope for in a man. He is kind, loving, reassuring, nurturing, and quite possibly the strongest man on earth. As it takes a strong man in body and spirit to be able to tolerate being married to me. He is the best father to our children and a great provider for our family. He is my partner in this thing we call life.

3. I am thankful for my oldest child C. She is smart and beautiful inside and out. She likes to come across as strong and mature. But she is kind and loving and accepting. She doesn't like change but she adapts and usually will admit when she is wrong. When I get sad for any reason she is there to bring the tissues. She is a great daughter and a great big sister. I couldn't be prouder of the young lady she is becoming. We like to say that she was the prototype. We made our mistakes with her, but she is amazing.

4. I am thankful for my middle child M. She is truly a wonder. She was the most difficult of all my children in the beginning. She has come so far. From not speaking until she was four to performing on stage. She is a miracle. She has a love of performing whether it is acting or playing music. She is her own person and she doesn't like to conform to what everyone else is doing. She is strong and smart and full of life. I am amazed by all she has been able to accomplish.

5. I am thankful for my son P. He was our little surprise. He is so smart and has the greatest smile. He truly cares about people. He always wants to include everyone and strives to do the right thing. He is the great peacemaker in a house full of high strung emotional women. He makes me smile daily and I look forward to seeing what all God has planned for him. As there isn't a child I know that has more faith than he does.

6. I am thankful for all of my family. My grandmother who gave me the gift of the love of reading. My parents who at least got together long enough to give me life. My every relative who has given of their time and love to help form who I would become. I am thankful for the time I had with my mother, even though it never seems it was long enough. I am thankful that I didn't get the mother-in-law that all the jokes are made from. God blessed me in that area because I couldn't have asked for a better one. She is loving and funny and I enjoy every bit of time I get to spend with her. I am thankful all of my in-laws. I am lucky to not have to refer to them as such. They are just my family no in-laws or out-laws about it. They are my family and I love them just the same.

7. I am thankful for my friends. They are all gifted in so many areas and I learn something new from just being around them. My friend Christi, who is a sister to me in every way except biologically. (Although between you and me, I'm still holding out hope that my son will marry one of her daughters.) She is there to lift me up or talk me down as the case may be. She also isn't afraid to tell me when I'm being an idiot. Which I love about her. (This happens more than you would think) She is along with each and every one of my friends a great treasure in my life.

8. I am thankful for my home. I understand what a gift this is as there are those who do not have them. I have been blessed beyond measure to have a home to call my own filled with the people I love most.

9. I am thankful for food to eat. I am never left hungry which I am so very thankful for. I understand what a blessing this is and am so thankful for this blessing in abundance.

10. I am thankful for clothes and shoes. I am thankful also that I can share some of these things with my daughters. It makes it even more fun. It also helps when you wear the same size of shoes.

11. I am thankful for the ability to see. Not just so I can get around daily but so I can look around and see all of the beauty of God's creations around me. It also helps with my love of reading and writing.

12. I am thankful for time. Time to spend with my children, my family, my friends. The time I've been given and time I may have left. As none of us know how much we have been given, I'm thankful for each second of it.

13. I am thankful for hugs. I love hugs. Especially from my kids.

14. I am thankful for heating and cooling.

15. I am thankful electrical appliances. I don't have to use a washboard to do my laundry and I rarely have to do dishes by hand. I also am able to keep my perishables cool. I don't have to cook over an open fire. (Imagine how bad my cooking would be then.)

16. I am thankful for windows.

17. I am thankful for the ability to cuddle on a couch and watch a movie with my kids. (Tonight is Percy Jackson night)

18. I am thankful for my car. I'm scared of horses so a horse and buggy wouldn't be good for me. Seeing as the cats rarely do what I say I'm thinking a several pound animal is even less likely to follow my instructions.

19. I'm thankful for my cats. They aren't really too demanding. They are great at keeping your feet warm and (knock on wood) I have seen a mouse in quite some time.

20. I am thankful for our children's school and teachers. Without them they would never learn that "new math" as I like to call it. Also without them I wouldn't have the school breaks to look forward to, and may take for granted having them home with me.

This isn't everything. There is so much more. Things like blankets, and chocolate, and Midol. Things like indoor plumbing, and clean water, and cleaning supplies. There is so much to be thankful for. It would take forever to list them all and I still couldn't cover the depth of my thankfulness and gratitude.

This Thanksgiving I challenge you to look around. How are you living your life? Are you living it with a heart of thankfulness? I know there is pain and hurt in the world. I have suffered plenty but if I lived my life dwelling on what has been instead of what is yet to be, it would be no life at all. I choose to live a life of thanksgiving. A life full of possibilities, of imagination, of giving praises and glory to God who makes it all possible. Won't you join me?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

And so it begins...

As I think about what I should write about today, my daughter comes in to talk. She was home from school the last two days ill. So as you can imagine she has much to make up in the homework department. I asked her what I should write about and she said, your experience with me the last couple days of course. Over the last couple days two of my children have had a stomach thing. A 24-48 hour bug I suppose that makes them toss their cookies till the cookie jar is dry if you catch my meaning. So my experience with them has been keeping them in bed. Bringing them Sprite and crackers. Then we moved on to toast.

Today you wouldn't know they had been sick. They were up and ready for school and on their way. I spent the day cleaning the house top to bottom and spraying Lysol on every conceivable surface in the house. Lysol is my friend. I have wondered if you could have a form of Lysol for people. I know it's called medication. But think if you will how much easier, if you could just spray them down and all the virus and bacteria they were carrying just went away. They wouldn't be contagious anymore and everyone could just get on with it. But hey that's just me looking for the easiest way to take care of things. This is why I use frozen mashed potatoes and have never cut up a whole chicken in my life when you can buy it already cut, chopped, or diced already. It just makes life easier. It also brings your meals to the table considerably faster.

So this evening my daughter spent some time getting all of her homework caught up and then had some tests to study for. One of these tests being a vocabulary test, which she asked me to help her study for. The following is how that exchange when.

What does "retentive" mean C? It means to tent again, because re means again. (This is what I have been living through tonight during the great finish homework and study for a ton of tests fest.) So I read the sentence in the book which is "A retentive memory is a great asset for any actor, especially one who performs on stage." She says yeah I wish I had one. I said, yeah me too maybe then you could remember what "retentive" means. What does premonition mean? Uh? Consequence? NO! While she thinks about this. I'll tell you what I think. I have a premonition that she is not going to pass this test if she doesn't figure this out. So I explain it like this. Premonition Pre means to come before. Be-FORE - Forewarning. Pre-before-forewarning. Premonition-pre-before-forewarning. Of course, with my inability to keep on task while saying "fore" I had to look up The Gettysburg Address, so we could go into Four score and seven years ago. Which doesn't at all help, because then we started talking about our D.C. trip we took last school year and the Ford Theatre. So you see where she gets it.

In my previous blog I mentioned that I was looking for a job. This week I put in an application at one of the elementary schools in our district. Today I took a test on facebook that said that I should be an elementary school teacher. I suppose we should be thanking God at this point that it didn't say I should be a high school teacher, as the previous play by play of our study habits show you how good I'd be at teaching a high school student. If this child fails this test I only have myself to blame. Actually my child is very bright and gets grades I could only dream of having in school. Fortunately for all involved she gets that from her father. She also gets her affinity for jeans and t-shirts from him but that's a subject for another story.

I can only imagine what kind of teacher I would be. I have a friend that said she thought I'd be a good one. This friend doesn't know me well. All she sees is that I like kids and some of them seem to like me alright. Although the children she sees me with every other week are preschoolers. It's really not that difficult to look like a rock star to a preschooler. They are very easily bribed. You just give them some goldfish crackers and water and they are set. They will play, they will smile and pretty much behave like angels till the parents arrive to pick them up. It's not rocket science. High school however, is a completely different animal. Here I am fourteen almost fifteen years after having my first child and I'm just now getting the hang of the little kids. I haven't a clue what I'm doing with teenagers.

I suppose all I really need to do is talk facebook and twitter and know all my texting jargon. If you can speak the language, I figure you are at least in the game. I told my high schooler that when I was in high school I took a shorthand class. She had no idea what I was talking about I told her it was like texting only instead of using ttyl or brb it basically looks like squiggles. Texting jargon is easier to learn and I don't remember any shorthand even though I at one time could take it 60 words per minute. It must be a lost art like writing letters. No one writes letters anymore. They e-mail snail mail is out.

So I suppose we will be waiting by the phone till someone decides if they think I would do a good job working with hormonal pre-teens at the last stage school before Jr. High. To my credit I have gotten two of the three through that school pretty well unscathed. If it doesn't work out I figure I can ask around and see if I can get hired to clean OPH(other people's houses). I've been cleaning my own since infinity so I think I could handle that. Just don't ask me to work in food service. That wouldn't be good for anyone involved. When my children got their flu bug they were convinced it was my cooking and they had food poisoning. It couldn't possibly be the flu. It was the flu as none of the rest of us got sick and we at the same things. This was good news and I considered the possibility myself.

Well that's all from this side of the burbs for now. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Semi-middle aged woman seeks employment...

Semi-middle aged woman seeks a fulfilling career that she and her family can be proud of. Must fit into designated school hours and offer flexibility around her kids school functions. Ideally would entail a great deal of writing and very little math, would also be something that would require one to not wear men's clothing or high heals. Said semi-middle aged woman is also afraid to drive in snow and has a bit of an affinity for gas station coffee drinks as she can no longer afford the luxury of Starbucks and the loveliness that a four dollar coffee provides.

Qualifications for this dream job include:
1. In college she earned two associates degrees. One in Medical Assisting and one in Marketing. This qualifies her to kiss boo boos and have garage sales. Which she has done successfully for the last fifteen years.
2. In college she worked for an urgent care facility that prepared her for being able to handle many tasks at one time and also to deal with snarkiness from other adults.
3. In college she also worked at a department store. Which helped to prepare her for marriage and children. As she worked in the men's and children's departments in that store. This helped her to acquire an ability to pick out quality clothing and also the ability to wait for a sale, so as not to pay full price.
4. For the last fifteen years she has managed a household of one husband, up to three children, two cats, and at one time two birds, a hamster, various fish, a newt, a puppy and a dying mother.
5. She has planned numerous parties. Ranging from Chuck E. Cheese to slumber parties with various themes.
6. She has run a successful Mom's Taxi Service running to and fro to various events with her children and rarely getting lost as to which function she was to attend at any given night.
7. Her home is clean aside from the never ending laundry that is accumulated each day.
8. She has a love of all things written from fiction to nonfiction. She also loves poetry especially when it rhymes, as those she finds easiest to remember.
9. Her singing ability is lax but she loves to talk and loves opportunities to share what her children are doing and how much she hopes she hasn't messed them up for life.
10. Possibly the most important is that she loves people, but she loves Jesus more and will stand up for injustices. She will go to bat for the ones she loves and will not be able to arrive to work in a place full of ridicule and demeaning people without speaking up and saying it's wrong. Also if her kid is sick she is the one with the chicken soup so someone is going to have to fill in.

My husband and I have started a quest. We are going through a Total Money Makeover with Dave Ramsey. As part of this process I would love to be able to contribute to the household finances. Unfortunately there is very little that either a. fills my requirements or b. I qualify for. I'm reminded of the movie Mad Money. In that movie Diane Keaton finds herself in a position where she needs to find a job. Unfortunately she too had been home for years taking care of her family. She had a degree in art. The job placement people put her in a job as a custodian. She was appalled that after all those years of taking care of her home and her family that is what it boiled down to that she was qualified to do.

Honey, I feel you. As mothers we wear so many hats, it rarely occurs to us that when the time comes, in the "real world" those hats aren't going to take us where we want to go. I once read somewhere that if you were to pay a homemaker aka stay at home what her job is worth that she would make roughly $117,850 per year according to That is the median. Oh if only we could make that kind of money.

My husband says I'm more valuable at home. I also believe this to be true but I also believe that if I were able to get completely debt free? I'd rather do it sooner than later. I am not going to make that big of a difference if the only job I qualify for makes roughly $65 a week.

I'm not sure how this will all play out in the end. It's going to be a long hard journey, but one worth the making. So if you know of a job that a long winded, high strung, woman like myself could do to help to contribute to the family funds, do tell. I'd love to hear from you.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Learning to make a list

My home improvement list is dwindling. I take this as a sign that the time is coming when I will be able to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor. There was a time when there was so much to do that it seemed that we would never be finished. Today I reflect that soon it will all be finished and then what will I do? The list of things to accomplish is going to be revamped. I still need to build a house for my cats who much to their chagrin have been ousted from the inside of the house. My new shed doors are lovely and once I have them painted I intend on taking pictures to show at family events and also to the man at Lowe's who wanted to be sure that I had a man to build the shed doors.

Writing lists is something that I have never excelled at. Grocery lists? Forget about it! Shopping lists in general, nah! Exercise rotation, budget, household chores, yard work list, none of it has ever really appealed to me. Daily schedules do not happen. I tend to get through a day and wonder where the time went. Which is why I need to learn how to make a list. So in order to get started with my list writing skills, I've decided to start with the top ten things I'd like to accomplish this fall/winter. So here we go.

1. Paint shed doors (Nothing says new like a fresh coat of paint)
2. Build cats a new home (Nothing says we still love you even though we don't want your pee on our new carpet like a home of their own. Right?)
3. Catch up on all my scrapbook photo albums (We should probably get the oldest one out of the second grade in the album before she's a sophomore in high school. Correct?)
4. Clean out kids closets (What better way to get rid of things you don't think they need anymore, than to clean the closets while they are in school? Anyone?)
5. Get the MOTS mothers of teenagers group up and running
6. Volunteer at Cancer Services
7. Become more adept at decorating this blog (There are so many things I'd like to add, but lack the know how on how to do it. Perhaps I should do what my son does when he can't figure out how to win his video game. He just looks it up on you-tube.)
8. Lose 15 lbs (goodbye desserts)
9. Stick to the budget (I realize this should be number one, this is also why number eight will be so so difficult)
10. Read at least one book a week (This should be a breeze unless I get tangled up in stickers and colored papers doing the scrapbooks or get injured cleaning the kids closets. Or I get so frustrated with dieting that all I can do is sit and look at picture books of food I can no longer partake.)

As you can see this doesn't seem like too difficult of a list. It should be accomplished fairly easily. I just have to make a daily list of what I'm going to accomplish for that day hour by hour. Including all the regular things like cooking, cleaning, caring for the children, running to various games and practices with the children, helping at MOPS, and maybe I'll even throw in a bit of time for writing. After all a manuscript might be fun. Why I may even get a bit crazy and learn to cook something somewhat edible.... Nah lets not get too carried away. That there is crazy talk.

Friday, November 5, 2010

A Call to Serve, A Call to Love, A Call to Give

Thank Heaven for MOPS, for who wouldn't want to delight in the smiles of a child? For those of you who do not know what MOPS is, it stands for Mothers of Preschoolers. According to the MOPS website the first meeting took place with eight women in 1973. The MOPS group at my church over the last several years I believe, has had anywhere from 30 to 50 women at any given time. It's large. Now think with me how many children these women bring with them. Are you doing the math? If you don't know MOPS is a Christian organization. In the meeting the mom's take their children also known as Moppets to their class rooms, then proceed down to breakfast. They have food and fellowship, then go listen to a speaker. After the speaker they break up into small groups to discuss what they have learned. The speaker may be someone teaching you how to preserve food, how to make a pie, or it could be a relationship speaker. They discuss the topic then take prayer requests and have a word of prayer. Afterwards, they go and make a craft. The craft could be a rice bag to ease sore muscles, it could be a picture frame to put your child's picture in. The entire meeting lasts for two hours.

While the mom's are having their time the children are being cared for by compassionate, loving, people who have a heart for children and their mothers. They are usually mothers themselves and understand how much needed this time is.

I'm not going to to tell you that the world as we know it would end if we didn't have workers to care for the children at MOPS. I'm not going to tell you that women don't every day care for their children without this particular support group and do just fine. Helping with MOPS will not cure cancer. It will not feed the hungry or solve the national debt. It will not make you any money and it will not give you a free trip to heaven.

Helping with MOPS will do the following. It will bring a welcome break to overworked, overstressed, sleep deprived mothers. It will give those mothers a chance to hear stories from other mothers going through the same things. It will help them to feel like they aren't alone in the raising of their children. It will fill them with hope and confidence. It will give them a chance to get a hug and a few words of encouragement, because being a mother can sometimes be overwhelming. It will help lighten the load for a couple hours, refreshing them for the rest of the week ahead. It will give the children a chance to make new friends. It will give them a break and help them to have yet another person who will encourage them and tell them what beautiful children they are. It will give all those women and children a sense of belonging. It will give you the same and more. It will give you joy in knowing you were able to help someone else. It doesn't cost you anything but time, a few hugs, and a lot of smiles.

I went to MOPS with my youngest child. I loved it. I have made so many friends through going and I've made more now in the helping with the MOPPETS. When the mothers come in they are tired. Small children get up early. If you have small children or have had small children, you know what it takes to get them and yourself ready to go anywhere. They are tense and hurried and mostly thankful. When they come back to get their children the tension in their shoulders has eased. They are smiling. They are happy to see their kids and ready to take on the world. For me there is nothing like the feeling of knowing that in some small way I helped with that.

I will not cure cancer. I will not be able to feed the hungry and sick in foreign lands. I do not hold any fancy degrees and I rarely prepare a meal in my house that everyone likes. All I have is time. I don't know how much I have left, but I do know that if there is a way for me to help others then there isn't anything I can think of that I would rather do. I am flawed, but I am trying. I have a heart for this program. We are all called to serve in different areas and we are all blessed with different strengths and weaknesses.

I ask you to prayerfully consider where it is you are called to serve. The life you change may be your own.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You do have a man to build that right?

In our quest to get our home the way I've always dreamed it to be, I have spent more time in home improvement stores than I care to remember. The task at hand at present is to build new shed doors. I not knowing my own strength ripped one of the doors off of the shed last winter in my then quest of getting the Christmas tree into the shed and out of my house. As soon as Christmas is over I'm ready to be done with the excesses of the tree and all the other decor involved. My shed is ten years old and the doors were already starting to dissolve in that way that they do with years of weather and animals trying to pry their way in and out of the elements. So when I and my two daughters went traipsing around the yard carrying the tree (yes it took three of us to carry it, have you carried a tree lately) to the shed I was not in the mood for it to be stuck. So in my infinite wisdom I pulled with everything I had thereby pulling it from the hinges. This is a long way of telling you that I am now building new shed doors.

Yes me, not my husband, not a contractor, just little ole me. The reason for this development is that I do not like being told that one of the afformentioned men should take care of something so simple. After all how difficult should it be really? Yesterday I went to the home improvement store in town and asked for the wood and had them cut it to the right size. For me I figure that's the hard part. I know how to use the drill I can put the pieces together. When discussing with the gentleman helping me that I wasn't sure about brackets I said "well I'm sorry I don't know the answer to that question. This is what happens when you send a woman to do a man's work." This statement followed by my little chuckle then prompted him to say "You do have someone who is going to do this for you right?" I said that I did have a husband and that he would probably do the work. But I didn't know what brackets to get I would just come back for them later. The look of relief on his face is what prompted the following.

When I got home I got the drill out and started putting the doors together. I figure that all I need now is to go get six new brackets with the appropriate screws and a lock to hold the doors shut. I will put this together and perhaps use paint making a sign for the doors to say "doors put together by a woman, feel free to gawk in awe and wonder at your leisure." I think there are plenty of women in the world today that can follow simple instructions on how to put things together. Even if said instructions are given or written by a man. In our home we usually put projects together side by side. Someone has to read the instructions after all. And all things being fair he is better at the things that require more muscle.

Today as my husband left for work I told him that I would have the shed doors done when he got home. He just chuckled. I think he gets a kick out of my willingness to attempt things, someone has said I couldn't do. But then perhaps he just is like me and would rather come home and it all be done. I personally hate to organize. He is rather good at it. I would rather not know if he throws something out in this task, only come in and see it's done. I suppose this is me paying him this is me wanting to go back to the store and tell the man that the doors are fabulous and were built by me, and me alone.