Monday, December 26, 2011

How was your Christmas? Ours was fantastic!

Things that made it awesome:

1.My parents and Jeff's parents(you both know why)

2.Two friends from church that dropped off a huge box of goodies and gingerbread houses for my kids.

3.Another good friend who is trading vinyl for curtains so that I could make signs for my girls' rooms.

4.All the friends who dropped off (or mailed-Janet!)goodies and made us feel loved.

5. My children for being SOOO grateful and happy with every thing they opened.

6. My husband for making Christmas dinner.

7. And most of all, my Savior, for giving us a reason to celebrate.

Our day was merry and brite, how about yours?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

My house is not wrapped in tinsel galore.
Most of my presents come from the store.
My windows are dirty, my furniture is dusty.
My elbows need grease, they're a tad bit rusty.
My young ones are messy, chocolate on their face.
My older ones think posing with Santa's a waste.
My bank account's empty, my car is old
My clothes are wearing out, I'm told
My tree is crooked, my ornaments broken
But something in me has awoken
I am happier than I've been all year
Could it be the joy of Christmas cheer?
Whatever it is, I wish it for you.
May this be your best Christmas,  too!

*photo by Becca Kidd

Thursday, December 22, 2011

On Tuesday I went on another field trip. To the Seattle Center. For Choir.

This time it was for Julia's choir, and thankfully, in all seriousness, nothing out of the ordinary happened, no one died.

It was just a bunch of 7th graders singing at Winter Fest and then ice skating afterwards.

Did I go ice skating? Nooooooo. I like to be able to walk. I like not falling down and breaking stuff.

But Julia ice skated and looked adorable doing so.

And double bonus, she WANTED to sit with me on the bus. Even though her best friend went too.
Am I a lucky mama or what?

She fell asleep on my shoulder on the way home. To keep from possibly embarrassing her, I refrained from kissing the top of her head like I used to when she was little.

But I wanted to.

Thanks for asking me to go Julia. I love you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

A change of my heart

Admittedly, I have had a very tough time getting into the spirit of Christmas this year.

More embarrassing to admit is the reason why.

Money. Yup. I have been a bah humbug because funds are in so short supply right now.

So as I have used grocery and gas money to buy Christmas presents, I have done so with sadness in my heart, rather than the joy that normally accompanies the purchasing of presents for my children.

I know we're not the only ones. People all over the country are struggling. But I suppose I was feeling extra sorry for myself when I considered that most people have only a few children to buy for, while I have been trying to figure out how to buy for 6.

This feeling had me close to tears all day yesterday as I grocery/Christmas present shopped. I was already in a state of high anxiety knowing that buying Christmas presents with grocery money means that 5 days before we get paid again I will begin hearing, "There is no food mom! When are you going shopping again?"
(And not that there really is no food, just not a lot, and none that they like. )

As I walked the aisles of Walmart, comparing prices and generally being in a cruddy mood, I kept finding myself near the same couple. I don't know if they were husband and wife, brother and sister, or a man and his caregiver. But every time I turned around they seemed to be shopping in the same aisle as myself.

The gentleman was probably in his fifties, in a motorized wheel chair, limited use of his arms, and from listening to him I figured that either he had been in an accident that caused him not only his mobility, but also caused some brain damage, or whatever had caused his mobility had changed his perspective and given him a more hopeful child-like outlook. I couldn't tell which, and it ended up not mattering, but being a huge blessing instead.

In the toothbrush aisle, I first heard him asking his companion why there were so many people at Walmart today. She told him they were all Christmas shopping. He smiled big.

In the band aid aisle he was asking her when the Charlie Brown Christmas special would be on. "It should be soon. " she told him. "Oh good." he replied. "I LOVE the Charlie Brown Christmas special."

In the middle of the main aisle, as I perused the overly processed contents of a goodie shelf and as she looked it over as well, he started singing. "And every mother's child is gonna spy, to see if rain deer really know how to fly!" And you know what? The grinch's heart grew. And I started singing with him. We finished jubilantly with "Merry you!!!" He smiled at me, she gave me a grateful look, I told him good job, and then I walked away and promptly started crying. Because as we are all learning, I cry. A lot.

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried folks.

I realized, that in the entire store of Walmart, that man understood the spirit of Christmas better than all of us. As we all hustled and bustled, he was experiencing pure joy at what Christmas is. And why should he be happier than me? He couldn't walk, he could hardly use his arms and my impression was that money did not grow on trees for them either. But yet, he was the one breaking out in song. And I was the one sulking.

But as I walked away, my humbug-ness washed away. I was flooded with how blessed I am. I was so immensely grateful that Heavenly Father loves me enough to have put that man in my path. He could have humbled me in so many ways. But instead, I was shown the spirit of Christmas present, with a duet in Walmart. (And don't think I didn't realize how glad Jeff or Kate would be to NOT have been there to experience my public performance)

I tried to pull myself together. As easily as I cry, I am just as easily mortified when people notice. But I stood in line happy all of a sudden. Nothing in my financial situation had changed. But I was gently reminded of how fortunate I truly am.

I can walk. My husband has a job. Those six children I am worried about buying for? Well, duh! I have SIX children? How lucky is that? It's the biggest blessing in my life. Second only to having met Jeff.
I realized how fortunate that I even have the ability to dip into my food money to buy presents. I was reminded that my one tank of gas miraculously lasted two weeks, leaving me with more money for presents for my children. Our ENTIRE extended family lives within an hour and a half of us. All of my siblings and my parents, all of Jeff's siblings and his parents. We're all relatively healthy, discounting for age and auto-immune disorders:) I can park in my garage. I HAVE a garage. I have a house. I have heat that I can turn up when it's colder than normal. The list goes on and on, and it did, in my head, as I stood in line.

When I got back to my car, I sat and wrote down everything I've been able to purchase the past two months using my system of food money as Christmas money, plus the little bit I had left over after bills from my basement boutique.

And honestly, it should not have been possible to provide my kids with as nice of a Christmas as they are going to have, and still have had enough food to eat. Enough, meaning no one went hungry, they just didn't get the normal snacks they love.

I'm not sure how it has all worked, I just feel really blessed that it has. And I don't feel sorry for myself anymore. And please don't you either. Feel sorry collectively for all the people who don't have enough right now. Because I'm not one of them.

I have enough, and to spare obviously.

I just didn't know that until carols were sung in the aisle at Walmart.

God Bless Us. Everyone.

(Christmas tree courtesy of one of Santa's most beautiful elves. Crookedness courtesy of the Allen Family)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Yesterday was a first in our family.

Kate and Julia went shopping together. Without me.

They have both done things with their friends, without me being there. No biggie.

But this was the first time they asked to go shopping without their madre. Their mama. Their maeinha.

And it's ok. As Jeff reminded me, more than once, this is part of their development. Yes, I know that. But I can still give a little sigh at the passing of time, and at the growing up of my children.

I didn't totally understand why they wanted to go without me. I wondered if I had officially hit that annoying status as a mom to teenage girls.

But then I saw this photo they took together at the mall:

And I understood. It's not that they don't want me around, it's just that they love each other SOOO much. And now that they both have their own rooms for the first time in their lives, they want to plan sister time. Time where they bond and love each other, and grow their relationship. Not that they would necessarily put it that way themselves, but that is how I see it. And I'm so grateful.

Sisters and best friends. Just as it should be.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


There are many perks to being a stay at home mom. I get to hang out with my not-in-school-yet kids, I get to be there when the older ones walk in the door. I'm always available if someone is sick and needs to come home, or stay home from school. If I don't want to wear make up or do more than put sweats on, I can.

Before anyone was in school, our day didn't start until the first child woke up. I loved that, because, well, I don't especially like getting up in the morning. Kay?

But now that I have older kids who have to be out the door early, there is no sleeping in, ever. And next year? In our church, starting in 9th grade, the kids go to early morning seminary. It's a M-F class where they study the scriptures. What time does it start? 6 AM. Yup folks, Kate will need to be out the door at 5:45 next year. It's so early so that they can be done before school starts. And their teachers? Not paid. Volunteers who willingly prepare lessons and get up early to teach our high schoolers and give them a spiritual start to their day.

Will I be getting up that early? Ummm, would I be a bad mother if I said, only when it's my turn to drive for carpool? My mother was up and had breakfast for us every morning. Our early morning seminary didn't start until 7, but still. I have that to live up to. Not sure I will.

Anyhoo, the whole point of my little ramble is that being a stay at home mom, who doesn't like to get up, it's tempting for me, when my kids are overly tired, to consider letting them stay home. 1. because I don't have to be to work, and 2. the thought of crawling back in bed is nice.

So what happened yesterday when Anne Marie looked like this?

She still went to school. But I considered it. She looks so sleepy, and in need of a few more hours. But then I remembered how the night before, she would not go to sleep when told to. Sooo, sympathy dissipated, and lil' miss got up and went to school.

But when the days are shorter, the air colder, the sky more grey, it's awfully tempting to hit snooze,snuggle back in, and NOT wake anyone up.

Christmas break starts in 7 days, thankfully. I. CAN'T. WAIT!

Friday, December 9, 2011

How has this little girl:

Become this little girl?:

So fast? I shouldn't peruse old photos of my children. Because then I realize that time is flying waaay faster than I thought it could. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Counting our blessings

This is a difficult post for me to write. What should be just about Charlie's awesome field trip to The Seattle Center, has a tragic side story to it.

It's not my story, but it's intertwined with his field trip that day. So I wasn't sure how to tell about our day without including what happened. But I hesitated to tell what happened because it's not my story, make sense?

Read on.

First of all Charlie was really excited to have me go on this trip. He even chose, on his own, to sit with me instead of his friends. He obviously wanted to spend some quality time with me.

He even "let" me have the window seat. Nice view, huh?

The whole purpose of Charlie's field trip was for the kids to sing at Winterfest at The Seattle Center. He is in Honor Choir, which is for 4th and 5th grade students. They go to school early every Friday to practice. Their reward at the holiday season is to go to Seattle and perform. I was lucky enough to chaperon for Kate and Julia when they went. Remember all the fainting?

This time the kids got to go up in the Space Needle first.

(Shot from the elevator going up-that's the EMP)

Charlie was very excited.

The group I was in charge of included Charlie and 5 other boys.

They pretty much ran around the outside of the Needle all excited, with me constantly telling them to "Stay together!!".

Charlie hung back with me a lot, sweetie that he is.

What a handsome boy, if I do say so myself.

After what was about 10 minutes, they were bored and wanted to go to the gift shop. No joke.

So we headed down and spent the next HALF AN HOUR perusing the over priced merchandise.

After all the coveted items were purchased, we headed over to the Center House where they would perform, and where there is a food court, to eat our lunch and hang out until it was time for them to sing.

Jeff had met us there to eat and watch the kids perform. As did many other parents. We were finishing up our own lunches so we sent the boys over to their teacher to warm up while they waited to take the stage.

Jeff and I gathered up their coats and belongings and headed over to find a seat. As we approached the stage, we saw a security guard performing CPR on an older gentlemen who was laying on the floor. We quickly averted our eyes because it instantly felt like we were intruding on something very personal, especially since his wife was standing 2 feet away watching.

Some of the children had noticed what was going on, but the Seattle Center folks were quickly erecting a curtain around the whole scene to protect the privacy of the situation.

This gentleman had collapsed right in front of the stage, and the children were just to the left of it waiting to go on.

By now, EMT's were there and had taken over working on the man. Speculation among the chaperone's and parents was growing, wondering who he was, and saying "please don't let him be there to watch a child."

For myself, I began crying. I couldn't help it. Someone's life was slipping away 15 feet from me, and the tragedy of the situation hit me very hard.

Then word came, he was the father of one of the children in Charlie's choir.

We were stunned, and new anguish for the family spread through me.

This man, his wife and their adult son, had come to the Seattle Center that day to watch his 10 year old daughter sing in her Honor Choir. They took a front row seat, and then I can only imagine what happened after that.

They worked on him for a long time. It finally became evident that it would be both impossible, and inappropriate for the children to take the stage.

But as 9 and 10 year olds, they were mostly unaware of what was going on and just confused as to why they couldn't sing. So their choir director, who was AMAZING throughout this, had them sing a few songs where they were standing.

So instead of this:

They performed right here:

No mics, no risers, and only one of the songs they had prepared. Just sweet children's voices singing as the father of one of their classmates returned to his Heavenly Father.

Yes, the man died. Right there where his daughter was to perform.

It was one of the most profoundly tragic things I've ever witnessed. 3 weeks before Christmas.

The kids were mostly oblivious, just sad that they had not been able to perform. I'm glad for their innocence, for the lack of awareness they had at what was going on. I tried to explain it to Charlie in a way that would help him empathize. But none of them really understood.  I barely understood. I had stood there praying my heart out, asking Heavenly Father to PLEASE not take this little girl's daddy. But it wasn't to be. I don't know God's plan for individual people's lives. I can only hope that the family will be ok eventually. I just know that 10 years is not long enough to have your dad. And when I think of the weddings and grand babies he is going to miss, the tears flow all over again.

As we headed back to the buses, the kids were over their disappointment and just excited to get their pictures taken in front of the big, shiny EMP.

It's hard to not ask why sometimes. Why does tragedy strike some and not others? I have faith in a loving Heavenly Father and his son, Jesus Christ. I know they are at the controls and that there is nothing of this magnitude that happens for no reason. I don't think that lessens the sorrow of losing someone, it may only help to understand and to be comforted when all feels lost.

Hug your spouses tighter, give your children and parents kisses. If I am gone tomorrow, I don't want there to be any doubt that I love my family and that they mean the world to me.

And I don't want to waste any of this life choosing unhappiness when there is so much joy to be found in living.

Monday, December 5, 2011

I'm off on a field trip with my dear Charlie. He is so cute and excited that mom gets to come with him.

I hope he always likes me this much:)
(It's an older photo of us, but I still love it!)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...