Monday, August 15, 2016

Welcome to my Mess

"I am not equipped to handle what they have - both bad and good."
There is nothing like a weekend pity party and down time to scroll facebook to cause the green eyed monster to begin to roar.
As I sat at home this weekend, in gastro madness, I got to "watch" how *everyone* else was out. Eating things that look fabulous- things I haven't even considered eating in years. Adventuring with their family. Taking adorable group selfies of all the "fun" they were having.
I stepped away from that world to watch Big Bang Theory. Guaranteed to cheer up the nerd dork that I am. As we watched, the Princess and I decided we adored Howard and Bernadette's living room. Pretty grey walls. Beautiful couch with adorable colorful throw pillows. A coffee table. It is precious. Seriously.

You see once the green eyed monster of comparison has risen her ugly head, she's hard to extinguish.
I woke this morning and looked around my own living room. There are blankets strewn all over our partially hand me down, partially bought on clearance mismatched couches. Those couches hold my family. Those blankets are a sign that we like to snuggle in, all together. There is no coffee table - that left when we had our first crawler and it became a source of more "boo boos" than pleasure. Now, we have a soft, rounded edge ottoman that can be used for board games but mostly stays tucked to the side so Peanut has plenty of room to build tall castles with Daddy each night. There is usually laundry on my couch - mostly folded. For my big kids know that folding a load of laundry means they get to pick what is on the TV. I'm not above bribery. A huge piece of drawing paper stays out - a place for everyone to doodle. And toys, well, what's a living room floor without emergency princess supplies - we usually have wings, a wand and a tiara at minimum.
I'm not equipped to handle a fancy living room. Trust me. I've met me. We LIVE in our home. Everything about our home says we live here - we school here, we fellowship here, we rest here. We use it. To it's fullest. 24/7/365. I don't fuss about sippy cups on my couches or crumbs on my floor. It's not in me (if you've met my mother, it should be - but it's not  - her domestic goddess skills just skipped me).
My devotion read this morning challenged me to say to myself "I am not equipped to handle what they have- both bad and good."
I don't know the back stories of every awesome fb picture I see. I don't see the struggles behind the happy date night picture. I don't see the past - just a glimpse of a posed moment.
I am only equipped to carry MY good, MY bad, My victories, MY burdens.
I'm only equipped to be ME.
28 “Come to me, all you who are tired and are carrying heavy loads. I will give you rest. 29 Become my servants and learn from me. I am gentle and free of pride. You will find rest for your souls. 30 Serving me is easy, and my load is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
"My load is light" - I've been pondering that this morning because let's face it, some days my load feels anything BUT light.
I'm thinking if it feels heavy, I'm not carrying it right. I didn't lay it down at the cross in prayer - I'm toting it around. Dragging it. Or often just being swallowed by it while sitting on my mismatched, blanket covered couches.
Mama Warriors, the world of comparison is so easy for us. It's right there. It's me in my wrong size yoga pants, messy pony tail (and not that cute purposeful kind) standing in the Kroger wearing a fake smile trying to figure out how everyone else can throw on leggings and look WAY better than I do? It's me in my house trying to figure out why our home looks so..........lived in while everyone else seems to have had Chip and Joanna over recently? It's me feeding my kids the store bought rotissiere chicken and trying to figure out how everyone else has time to actually make Pinterest meals AND their kids eat them willingly?
It's so easy to berate ourselves. Because truth is hard to believe when you've lived years with the green eyed monster. You are equipped to be YOU. You were chosen to be you. Hand picked, fearfully and wonderfully made. You are equipped to carry your good, your bad, your victories, your burdens. They are YOURS. You want what HE wants you to have - you want what you are equipped for. Messy living room and all! 

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Birthday Continues

I've got to say that this year's birthday is the one that just keeps on giving!

The amazing thing to me is that ALL that kindness cost me about  $20 (plus gas). My goal (being budget challenged) was to find and use things we had at home - and make things. To be purposeful in our randomness. We stuffed our easter eggs with small toys we had at home (think birthday party grab bag goodies that you don't want or need). Our coloring books were made by tearing out pages in a stack of coloring books we owned (voila decluttered coloring book cabinet - and 8 brand new home made coloring books). Our baked goods were made with staples from our food pantry - bought during great grocery deals over the last few months. 

We did buy flowers, 2 boxes of cookies and silly bandz - and vases and new crayons.

For such a small cost, me (and my children) have learned so much!

For example, I have renewed faith in people. Our mailman has never been the friendliest of folks. Sure, he delivers the mail come rain or shine - but not with with much enthusiasm. Not a waver.

I came home on Tuesday from work to find this sweet note in our mailbox

Our mailman's name is Jerry.

And, we made his day. Even our grumpy mailman can have his day made with a simple box of cookies and a kind note.

How cool is that?

I giggled as my mother reported that my Aunt was calling everyone on Tuesday to try to figure out who had mailed her money (the kids and I didn't remain anonymous for too long on that one) - but I would have LOVED to see her face when she opened that envelope! 

I might have even rubbed off on the Coach as when I returned from work Monday, not only was there this yummy treat

rice krispie cake

but He vacumned the dining room floor so it would be clean under my feet when I ate that yummy treat. 

That is a random act of kindness designed for me.

I LOVE that my soon to be 8 year old is already working on her Random Acts of Kindness list for her birthday this summer. My intention was to spend my birthday utterly happy - blessing other people. Who knew that I would be amazingly blessed in return? AND - that my kids would learn that life (even on your birthday) is about what you can give, not what you can receive. 

I love that others are inspired and interested.

Remember this lady inspired me - and isn't that what life is about?

Monday, May 17, 2010

My Birthday was AWESOME!!!

My birthday was AWESOME - I promise you that this was the BEST birthday I have ever had!

So, as promised - here is a glimpse at our Random(ish) Acts of Kindness!

1 - We left our mailman a yummy box of girl scout cookies and a note thanking him for bringing us our mail!

2- At the top of our neighborhood sits Fire Station #4 - we have been fortunate enough to never need their services, but I assure you that I sleep better at night knowing how close they are. We took them a plate of home made cookies and muffins with a hand written note from Xander that said "Thank you for helping our community."

3 - About a mile from our house sits an assisted living facility that we drive past daily - we have never been in. During the last week, the kids worked hard painting rainbows on the covers of cards and writing "Have a great day" on the inside. Today, we took those cards in the facility to the desk and asked the director to hand them out to residents who might enjoy them (we had 6 cards). She was super kind to us and took us on a tour of the facility - and allowed us to visit 6 residents in their rooms and hand deliver our cards. I shed my first tears here today - the sight of my children bringing such joy to these amazing people. (oh and I did love the one male we met who said "You two are so beautiful - you definitely take after your beautiful momma" - yeah, he's definitely a hot item in the eldery circuit!)

This was one of our favorites - she just LOVED Xander - she hugged and hugged on him.

4 - Many of you are familiar with the great saga that is known as the Coach's truck. Our fourth stop we took home made muffins and cookies to the mechanics that have not charged us AT ALL for looking at his truck repeatedly and not finding anything wrong. I think they were the hungriest:)

5 - We took two vases of flowers (picked out by Xman) to the hospital. The lead volunteer was generous enough to accompany us to the section of the hospital that she thought would most enjoy our flowers. It turns out that our hospital has a "seniors unit." I shed my second tears of the day here - how sad that these lovely people are living in our hospital - many were unattended in wheelchairs, the rooms were small (hospital size) and had all their belongings in them. One of the ladies was particularly friendly and we were all impressed by how she still crochets dresses for dolls - she herself was once a volunteer, and is now a resident.

6 - While at the hospital, we left home made coloring books and crayons in the waiting areas.

7- We left change on the vending machines for others!

8, 9 and 10 - Our next stop was our church - we made a donation to the food pantry, left books for a family in need, and were excited to leave special notes for our children's pastors.

11 - Muffins and cookies to our librarians - who exclaimed "Wow - someone does love us!" and promptly starting eating:)

12 - Xman and I collected carts from parking spaces at the Walmart and took them all the way into the store.

13 - We stopped at our local toddler park and gave out presents - I will say that here we encountered our first disbeliever in our acts of kindness. For the first time, I had to explain our whole purpose for the day. They were still shouting thank you as we headed back to our car!

14 - One more park stop - the kids hid Easter eggs with prizes in them all over our favorite playground. We left an Easter bucket with a note stating "Have a egg hunt - please enjoy this random act of kindness!"

15, 16 - Stop at the Dollar tree - we made two purchases to give to others this week. The kids favorite was hiding dollars in the kid's toy section. Man, I wish we could have seen the kids that found our dollars!

17, 18, and 19 - Popped into the bookstore. We purchased a book to pass on to someone else this week. The Nana and I both read whole stories and lingered - because that's what my kids love.

I spent 15 minutes in this section with a total stranger - I became his personal shopper. At one point he actually said to me "God sent you to me to help me today and I am so grateful." (I think I am up to the 3rd time I cried?).........I got to share with him that I had prayed that just this morning that God would lead me to people who need me!

20, 21 and 22 - We treated the Nana to lunch - and she got eat somewhere she had never been before!

I gave this darling princess my birthday ice cream treat - to eat all by herself!

And, we left a gift for our waitress

23, 24, and 25 - We mailed some treats to surprise friends and family, as well as a hand written note

26 - We left diapers and wipes on a changing table in a public bathroom.

27 - We ran an errand for a family member who was busy at work

28 - We picked up trash everywhere we went (even the trash our waitress stepped over at lunch!)

29 - We smiled at EVERYONE we saw today, we said hello to everyone, and generously passed out compliments

30 - The kids passed out a pack of silly bandz today. They gave them to kids in the hospital, kids in stores, kids at the park. This was one of my favorites - We got our first silly bandz because someone was randomly generous to us - came across a restaraunt to our table and said "I don't know if you guys have these here but these are really popular where I'm from - they are FUN" and gave each of the kids one. We had never seen them before at that time!

31 - I was a friendly driver (at least I think I was - I tried!). I smiled as people took up two lanes and drove toward our car - I let others go ahead of us as we approached red lights.

32, 33 - Technically 32 and 33 didn't get delivered today - the hours of both establishments didn't fit in with our schedule - but we will finish them up this week. We have donations to two local charities that have special meanings to friends of ours. Bags are loaded in the car and WILL get delivered!

34 - I worked. I know - working only barely acts as an act of kindness. But, I NEVER work on my birthday. EVER. Even when I taught full time, I always took the day off. I had two students who both have tests/exams tomorrow - and they are important to me. Their needs are important to me. So, today I tutored two of my teens!

35 - I let a very impatient lady behind me in line at Walmart this evening get in front of me. Even though she used three coupons in the self checkout lane, and couldn't find her credit card. I smiled at her. I offered to hold her watermelon while she looked!

And that my friends  is how I spent my amazing 35th birthday.

Definitely a new tradition!

I can't tell  you how amazing it is to see the best of your children as your gift. To see the joy that my children (and me) can bring other people is a GIFT. A gift that I no longer take for granted. A gift that is a teachable moment for me - because I now will always remember the look on those strangers faces and the looks on my kids faces, and know that CHARACTER EDUCATION is the most important education. My kids can change the world around us.

With one random act of kindness at a time!

It's My Birthday

It's my birthday!

I LOVE my birthday - like more than any other holiday all year. Don't judge me - I think Christmas is great, and Easter is too, there's that crazy April Fools day when I was married  - and those two amazing days in July when I gave birth to children - pretty awesome too.

But, my birthday - is MY day.

Perhaps I'm obsessed with it because since I was 3, I have shared my birthday with my brother. HE was a scheduled c-section who decided to come early so that HE could begin to pester me! My mother did an amazing job separating our birthdays when we were young. One would celebrate the weekend before and one the weekend after. As a woman who has give birth to two children whose birthdays are 2 weeks and 2 days apart, I have a new appreciation for planning two parties in the same month.

Recently, I read this blog post and thought - YES - I'm totally doing that for my birthday!

See, my favorite thing about my birthday isn't gifts (once you're a grown up with two kids on our budget, gifts are not the highlight) - it's that everyone is so super kind to me. The kids have big smiles when I wake in the morning, with sweet cards. The Coach makes me my favorite dessert (rice krispie treats home made in case you were wondering). We eat my favorite foods (cheese dip from the Mexican restaurant).

So, I was thinking - since my favorite thing about my birthday is kindness - it would be so awesome to spend the day spreading kindness to others.

So - today, my kiddos and I are heading out to perform 35 Random(ish) Acts of Kindness - one for every year of my life thus far. My birthday wish is that you will play too - Will you give me a gift and do a random act of kindness for someone else?

It's so EASY! You can return a grocery cart for someone else (if you're a momma you know those who have toddlers/infants really appreciate it!), give that penny/nickel/dime/dollar that the woman in front of you in line is frantically looking for in their purse,  thank someone who is always fabulous to you and you love them............the list is endless!

If you play too, I would love for you to share with me! Post on facebook, comment here, or send me an email!

I have a list of some things - and man have the kiddos and I LOVED preparing for today. However, I have intentionally left some blanks on my list and have been praying that God opens our eyes today to opportunities we haven't planned for!

Come back tomorrow to see how our day went!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Erve, we were never ON aisle 5

Every day I seem to be getting older.

While this is probably no big surprise to you, I'm totally shocked.

While checking out at Kroger recently (without the children), I happily asked the cashier "How are you today?"

Polite teenager (who I'm sure has a fabulous mother) replied "Normally I ask that question, but I'm happy to be the one to respond. I'm good - how about you?"

I shared that I was great as I was shopping with no children - that normally when I shop, I feel like a bad clip from the movie "Mr. Mom" - "Erve, we were never ON aisle 5."

To which said teenager looked at me like I was from another planet.

Apparently he has not only never SEEN Mr. Mom - but doesn't even know it is a movie.


I am that old - old enough that people that drive to work no longer know about life when I learned to drive.

That got me thinking - of ten more reasons that prove that I am old.

10 - I not only care what my kids wear - but I care what other people's kids wear. Who lets their pre teen hang out at the mall unattended for countless hours wearing victoria's secrets as outer wear? Not only do I notice....but occasionally I even comment.

9 - I base ALL shopping decisions on comfort. Elastic waist pants....flip flops in multiple colors......jeans from the goodwill that someone else has already broken in for me. Gone are the days of fashion concerns (i'll admit it was a reach for me anyway)

8 - The last time I was in a bar all I could think about was the laundry I was going to have to do the next day. The smoke smell infiltrated my shoes, my purse, my clothes.....and everything in my suitcase that my shoes, my purse, my clothes had touched. I remember a time when I went to a bar to not have to think about anything - and when I am sure that laundry NEVER crossed my mind.

7 - I have children old enough to think I am old. When the kids were little, no one commented on my age. Just last week, Pumpkin told Bubbe "Bubbe - that book is old, REALLY old like when mom and dad were little. They didn't have color pictures or fancy pages back then."

6- I get excited when new furniture and appliances come into our home. A few weeks ago we got a "new to us" couch - I'm still ecstatic. I couldn't wait for the Sears appliance delivery man to show up with our new dishwasher a few years back. Like, paced around the house peeking out the windows. For a dishwasher. If your house had four kids under the age of 4 at the time drinking out of sippy cups and eating on curious george plates every half hour all day - you would miss the dishwasher too. However, grandpa from Sears - not the kind of guy I used to get excited about catching a glimpse of. Before I got old.

5 - TV shows that I like are on Nick at Night. And no one watches them. I think there is no better reference about parenting than Cosby. Just saying.

4 - People tell me I sound like their mother. I need a contract for tutoring for my teens to sign. Something to the effect of "I, _____, do promise to not get any zeros, show up to sessions with some facsimile of supplies, and never comment that my tutor sounds like my mother." I realize it doesn't help things when I begin a conversation with "you know, I understand where your mother is coming from." Then again, I'm old.

3 - It's 8:32 as I type and I am yawning. It is approaching my bedtime.

2 - Children I taught as sweet 6th graders are now grown up, college graduates who are married with classrooms of their own. (some are probably in prison - but one is definitely a grown up with her own classroom - so amazing!)

1 - I am always thinking. I am trying not to worry (will the children ever leave home? will we ever pay off the home that we want them to leave? will they love us enough to come visit some? and so on and so on), but my brain is always moving. I don't remember having a hard time sleeping as a college kid - in fact, quite the opposite....I slept whenever I could get away with it. But now, as a real grown up - I awake in the night, my brain switches on and I begin the discussion with myself about needing to go to sleep. Or in the midst of a movie, my mind wanders to the "to do" list of the day - did I actually do anything on it? Do we have milk for breakfast? did we show up everywhere we were supposed to today? Perhaps this is what they mean when they say "older and wiser" .......all this thinking might make me smarter???

And so, for those 10 reasons and many more - I am embracing old.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

What a Ride!

Yesterday was a LONG day.

If you are a mother - you know exactly what I mean by LONG day. I don't have to define it, or share with you how nothing went as I thought it would, and what was supposed to be simple wasn't, or that children and husbands often complicate life.

Life with children is complicated.

Now, don't start bashing me. I know some of you mommy people are all alpha moms lovin the mom thing all day every day. We've met.

I, however, am a realistic.

One of my favorite movies of all time is Parenthood.

In BK (before kids) life, it was funny.

Now, the movie is part gospel, part "oh my goodness its happening to me" for me.

The wisest character (to no surprise) for me is Grandma. I have a feeling that me and grandma are going to be peas in a pod someday. Chick is SMART. But people think she is crazy.

Perhaps that is just wishful thinking on my part.

Wander back to 1989, with me - you don't have to find your parachute pants or jelly shoes (though I see that at least one of the two fashion trends is on its way back in):

I've got to confess.

Some days - I wake up and beg with God - "God today I need to ride the merry go round."

I don't wake up every day ready for the roller coaster that is life with kids (at least not the two that live in my house....).

Yet, I know that life with my two kids is always a roller coaster.

Case in point. Today we are busy at the dining room table cutting out pictures and creating a family tree. We are laughing. We are having a good time. We might be learning something. We are coloring - we are creative.

And then, as it always does the stuff hits the fan - there is green marker all over my table (I'm still calm - the table is old), the yelling begins "he colored on me" "nuh uh - she was like ramming her marker onto my side"......then the craziness is so loud no one can hear me - that is until my heads starts spinning around, and my inside voice is .....let's just say missing at the moment.

So - here's the question:

Is the good stuff the ride up? When you know you are about to fall? When your stomach is excited and nervous?

Or, is the good stuff the ride down? Let the fun begin as you rush around - waiting for the next climb?

I guess it probably doesn't matter - the good and the crazy with kids seems to be intertwined - like one is a necessary part for the other.

I am also guessing that because moments like the marker all over the table and massive sibling fighting happen, that I then appreciate and recognize the happy coloring and creativity as a good time.

Perhaps its too much to ask for a merry go round, but maybe some days we could hang on the kiddo coasters instead of riding The Scream Machine?