Monday, August 1, 2011

A Thankful Heart is a Happy Heart

My 15 month old son is obsessed with Veggie Tales. He asks for "BOB!" all the time and knows how to turn on the BluRay player in our living room that connects to NetFlix (where there are lots and lots of Veggie Tales on instant). We have CDs in the car and in his room, and the girls color pictures and do projects of Veggies partially because their baby brother loves them so much. So, needless to say, I have Veggie Tales songs in my head ALL THE TIME. Often that is annoying and enough to drive me batty, but I have been reminded of some very simple truths by listening and watching Veggie Tales. One that has become my mantra as of late is "A thankful heart is a happy heart." I have it written on a heart above my desk. And it is something I remind myself on a regular basis.

I am using this simple phrase to remind myself (and my children) that when we look at what we have to be thankful for rather than what we wish we had or wish we could change, our perspective brings us joy rather than sorrow, peace rather than anxiety. It sounds easy, right? Of course it's never that simple, but by stopping myself from thinking of things in a negative way and forcing myself to hear Madame Blueberry say "A thankful is a happy heart. I'm glad for what I have; that's an easy way to start. . . " I remind myself that I have SO much for which to be thankful!

Just the other day I was thinking about a job opportunity my husband had last fall. We were SO certain it was the answer to our financial difficulties and would possibly be the CAREER job he so desperately needed. It should've been his job. His dad worked for the company; my husband knew 2 out of 3 of the people doing the hiring and had worked with the company while doing another job. So, needless to say, we were devastated when he didn't get the job. We thought he had it in the bag and were blown away when he wasn't given the job. After that time we went through some even more difficult financial times. My husband had a couple other jobs, none of which have proven to be the career job he is looking for. But some new opportunities are on the horizon for him, opportunities that would better suit his talents, skills, education and passions. These opportunities were made possible through a part time job he had last winter, a job he wouldn't have had if he had been given that "perfect" job last fall. (A job we found out later was only a 6 month contract position.)

 It's so hard to see when you're in the middle of a situation, but there is a bigger picture. God has a greater plan, and HE can see where each path leads. When I think of this particular situation with my husband, it makes it a little easier for me to be thankful. I should be thankful that he didn't get that job. God knew there was something better coming along. Sometimes we have to be patient. (My father always said "Patience is a virtue," which I never understood as a child, but yes, dad, I get it now!) Answers to prayers are not always immediate, not always what we expect, and not always obvious. some times the answer is "no," and many times the answer is to wait and be patient.

I'm trying to keep my heart thankful about starting my new job. Obviously, it is a tremendous blessing for our family financially for me to be working as well. My tendency, however, is to think about missing my kids. I won't be able to see my oldest daughter off on her first day of school or be home with my little ones during the day. That's heart breaking to me. But when I remember to be thankful, I focus on the fact that I have a wonderful husband who is a fabulous father, and my daughter will have him to send her off on her first day and take pictures of her for me. And my little children will be at home with him, not at a day care center with a stranger. And THAT makes my heart happy.

"I thank God for this day, for the sun in the sky, for my mom and my dad, for my piece of apple pie. For our home on the ground, for His love that's all around. That's why we say thanks every day! Because a thankful heart is a happy heart! I'm glad for what I have; that's an easy way to start. For the love that He shares, 'cause He listens to our prayers. That's why we say thanks every day!"

Friday, July 15, 2011

Things I Learned From Storm 2011

I had originally intended to write a TOP FIVE THINGS I LEARNED list, but the more I mulled over what this storm has taught me, the more things I began to come up with. And then I realize one lesson was not more important than another, so there really was no way to rank them. So, in no particular order, these are the lessons I learned during the Great Storm of 2011:

       Prior to the storm I did not know what one was, what it was for, or that I even had one. For future reference, when my power goes out, I cannot run the water. Otherwise a tank fills up, cannot eject out to the sewer, and poop water fills my laundry room, therefore turning my house into a sewer. Fun times at 9:30 at night when there's no power and the kids are freaking out in their towels in a room barely lit by candles because mommy gave them a bath and didn't know it would make the house stink.
      Who knew? In the almost year we've lived here, we haven't talked much to many of the neighbors. There's nothing like a natural disaster to bring everyone together. Turns out we live by some really great people, and hopefully now that we know them we will spend more time hanging out together.
     This was a really rough week. That's putting it mildly. Sleeping on the floor of the conference room where Ryan works with all the kids (while people were working), having the house covered in poo water and cleaning it up with no power, trying to use a borrowed generator that didn't end up working, running out of money, not being able to flush a toilet, Faith throwing up all over. . . Every time I thought I was about to break, God gave me strength and I managed to make it through this week in one piece.
    I actually already knew this. But to see him rise to the challenge and be a strong, supportive provider for our family in a time of crisis made me fall in love with him all over again. He rocks my world.
   Who in the world would take in 4 kids and a stressed-out mom in a hotter than Hades mid-July power outage? The awesome Boyd family. I am forever in their debt.
    My parents have a much nicer house than we do. I envy their backyard. But man, I was so happy to come back to my own house today. And I will be really happy when I finish typing this and crawl into my own bed.
   I can manage (even with 4 kids) to survive without lights, internet, AC, TV, fridge, microwave, fans, etc. But I draw the line at toilets. Apparently that was my limit. Didn't know that until this crisis. Thank you, power outage, for teaching me.
  Yep. Once I knew everyone was safe, my next concern was finding myself some coffee. Day 2 I went until 11:00 without any. That was the scariest day. Mommy must have coffee. Lesson learned.
  They put up with a lot of craziness this week: sleeping in weird places, living out of bags, eating weird combinations of foods. . . But they did really well. I'm impressed. Nicely done, kiddos.
   Each day is a flash of time, and every season comes to an end. If I get too caught up in the moment I'm in, I'll forget that it's not forever. In some cases, it's a blessing that each moment will pass, but other times I need to savor the moment.
   Sometimes it's hard to see, but if we look hard enough, we can find surprises in the strangest places. Blessings come through tough times.

I certainly wouldn't want to relive this past week, but I know that in a year or two we'll be looking back on this crazy storm telling stories about it with smiles on our faces. God has a greater plan, and if we get too caught up in the trial of the day, we forget that there's a bigger picture. As I process the week, I can see that there were lessons I needed to learn. I hope they sunk in, because I don't want to be taught these lessons again any time soon!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Advent: Day 2

The activity in the envelope today was "Make a list of 10 things you are thankful for." My goal this year is to help my children be more focused on others, on what they have, and on family time rather on themselves and what they get out of Christmas. I am looking forward to sitting down with the girls this afternoon and helping them write their lists. I have been thinking about what I will write on my list. There are so many more than 10 things for which I am thankful.

This list is in no particular order and is my no means a complete list, just what my little brain could come up with this morning:

1. My husband. He is an amazing man, who traded in a life of bachelorhood to take on a whole family, including drama surrounding the biological father of my 3 girls. He loves me, inspires me, challenges me and makes me laugh. I can't imagine a day without him.

2. My 4 precious children. Moms know, there are no words to express how you truly feel about the little people God has entrusted in your care. I would give up everything to ensure their happiness and well being.
3. My parents. They have been amazingly supportive through some incredibly rough years.
4. My in laws. My mother and father in law have taken my daughters and me into their family with loving arms. They are fun and caring people I love to be around, and they are fabulous grandparents to all 4 of my children.
5. My friends. As a mom, I spend most of my time at home (or working my part time job). I am rarely without my children, or at least one child, so time to cultivate friendships is very limited. Friendships at this stage of the game have to survive on much less face time than friendships earlier in life. But at the same time, they are so much more important.
6.Coffee, my first love. I can't imagine a day without it, either. ;)
7. The exersaucer. Our house is not baby proof and our infant is mobile. Need I say more?
8. The internet. How did we get along without Google for so long?
9. Facebook. Honestly, I get questions answered, set up playdates, find out about sales, hear the latest news about friends. . .
10. Texting. It's how I stay connected with my hubby, even when we have such opposite schedules.
11. Eggo Waffles. It's the easiest and fastest breakfast for all 5 of the non baby food eating members of this family.
12. DVR. It allows Ryan and I to watch our favorite shows together, which, let's face it, is as close to a date as he and I are going to have right now.
13. IMDB. Just ask my hubby, EVERY time we watch a show, there is at least one time I say "WHERE do I know that guy from???" IMDB to the rescue!
14. Karen, my hair dresser, who has been so generous and has been donating her services to me because she is generous and knows how difficult things have been for me over the past few years financially.
15. Babycenter. I don't go on that website anymore, but nearly 5 years ago I joined a group made up of other pregnant mommies and they have proved to be the most wonderful, supportive, amazing group of women I have ever "met."
16. The library. Free movies, video games, books. It's the poor family's best friend.
17. "Handydowns" or borrowed clothes. My kids would pretty much be naked without them.
18. The fact that my 3rd child is potty trained. I can deal with a baby in diapers.
19. Second (and third and forth) chances. I'm living proof that the second time around things can be totally different.
20. The things we as Americans take for granted: access to health care, clean drinking water, freedom to chose things like how we worship and where we shop.
21. That it's the Christmas season. Even when we are struggling so badly just to make ends meet, the Christmas lights outside, the music on the radio, the Christmas DVDs from the library all add an element of cheer to our lives.
22. My sewing machine and the fact that my hubby WAY over bought fabric last Halloween. I gave him SUCH a hard time last year, but without it, I wouldn't have been able to make our stockings this year.
23. That I married a Bears fan. I see what happens when Bears fans have the misfortune of falling in love with a Packers fan (**shudder**).
24. That while we have come dangerously close, we have never have had to know what it is like to be without food, shelter, heat or electricity.
25. Last, but most certainly not least, for God, through whom all things are possible.


What is it about the speech of little children that causes grown adults to talk like babies? I used to give my dad the hardest time for holding on to the words my brothers and I used for everyday items as young children. At 60 years old, he still refers to the basement as the "basebip," ice cream as "ice beam," napkins as "nahkims." My mom is equally as guilty. I know she still asks if anyone wants "Carter Sauce" for their fish. However, the older I get, the more children I have, the more I refer to things by their "kid names." And my husband, who only joined this parenting game less than 2 years ago, is even worse than I am!

We eat dinner at the "tamo"  and put things away in the "cavinet." We eat such things as "cucummers," "lemontimes," and "pahnatoes." We tell the kids to "Sneeze in your Elmo!" and refer to the character from Toy Story as "A Buzz Light." Caleb is the girls' little "brudder." Long after the kids have learned the proper name for such items, mom and dad are still hanging on the little kid version and using them in daily conversation. Why is that?

My husband and I, and my parents as well, are intelligent and well-schooled adults. We have multiple degrees and can hold conversations about complex topics. Why then, do we insist on calling it "Shakey Cheese" or asking the kids if they want "whapples" for breakfast? Is it some sort of attempt to hold on to our youth? Make our kids seem younger? I do notice an increase in the adult usage of these terms the older the kids become.

Lily is nearly 3, and Faith is 4, and they still supply us with new words and phrases regularly. Our new favorite is "Abbymeal," which started as "Appymeal," which Lily insists is the name of oatmeal. Caleb, at 7 months, has yet to say more than "babababa," so I'm sure he'll be providing us with some doozies as he learns to talk. As for myself, I will have to learn to create a filter, so that I can still speak like an intelligent adult when I am away from home.

As a side note, I find it hilarious that when I do spell check, the only things highlighted are all the words my children have made up.

Faith is peeling her own "lemontime."

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like a Headache

Call me Scrooge. I hate snow. Light dusting, slight flurries, mountains of fresh white powder. . . I hate it all. I see slush, sore backs from shoveling, piles of wet mittens and hats by the door, taking 20 minutes just to get everyone dressed to go out to run a 5 minute errand. . . Yeah, I hate winter.

So, this morning, when I was already having a particularly crummy start to my day and I opened the door to leave for work and saw my van covered in white, I was not pleased. December 1st and the first true snow fall was greeting me at 8:00 in the morning as I was rushing out the door. Now, some people would find the first snowfall to be joyful, a sign of the season, pretty even. Afterall, it's usually a minimal dusting, nothing major. There's usually no need to break out the shovels or start up the snowblower. But I see right past that first snowfall and straight to the dead of winter: getting up an hour earlier just to make sure that there is enough time to clean the snow off the driveway and cars and take an extra 20 minutes to go the 6 miles to work. Sliding all over the road. Getting the driveway all cleared off just to have the snowplow drive by and block you in. . . Need I go on?

Maybe it's the mom in me? Having 4 kids to bundle up in the winter is more than I can handle most days. Even playing outside in the snow loses its novelty after about 10 minutes, 10 seconds if you're nearly 2 and can't keep your mittens on or walk in your snowsuit without falling over into the snow.

Personally, I'll take some snow on Christmas Eve and have it be melted and gone by the day after Christmas. Sure, it looks pretty on the trees, but it's much prettier in pictures or on TV than it is in my own back yard!

So for all of you who live in warmer climates, who sadly wish for a white Christmas, just remember the look on Lily's face when I sent her outside to play in the snow, pounding on the back door to be let back in the house: