Thursday, May 27, 2010

Clutter

This week I am tackling my kitchen.

Our kitchen is the first room you pass through when entering our home.

Translation: Official dumping ground for all things.

Wednesday morning I gathered all things that did not belong in the kitchen and put them on the dining room table.

Voila clean kitchen?




My dining room table is now a great visual aid for my mind.

There are so many things that run through my mind during the course of the day - things to do (did I remember to schedule the kid's annual physicals? is there anything to eat for dinner?), things I want to do (like finish any project I start - such as the great kitchen clean out), things I've read (like the great facebook debate between being judgmental and having an opinion), or .............see............so many things I can't remember them all.

Clutter.

Mind clutter or house clutter - is all the same.

And apparently I'm really bad at managing both.

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!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Obsessions

I love to read.

For as far back as I can remember, reading has been an amazing escape. I can remember hiding in my closet as a child reading. Or lying in the swing in our backyard all day.......reading.

I can probably blame my terrible sense of direction on my love of reading. Every time we got in the car when I was a kid - I read.

Mstar is just like me. She LOVES to read - and has since she could read her first Bob book (Mat - I can probably still quote every page). We put both kids to bed at 7:30 with the stipulation that they can stay up an extra hour if they want to read in their beds. She reads every night. Some nights we forget to go in and tuck her in (some of those Criminal Minds episodes are really engaging..........). We will find her still reading at 10:00 or 11:00 when we head off to bed.

We fuss at her lightly for not remembering to turn off her light - but not really. For, the Coach and I - we love that she's a reader.

And, we often find her in the strangest places engaged in a book............such as this one




Xman has just shown great interest in reading in the last few weeks. A few weeks ago I checked out the McGuffy Ecletic Primer from the library to preview as a possible reading spine for this fall for him. The books were published in the late 1800's. The pictures are small and black and white. He is enthralled. He has now read through two of them. It tickles me as we have always thought he was an old soul so it seems only fitting that he would learn to read with a book from two centuries ago.



This brings me to our newest issue.

We are overwhelmed by books.

There is a bookcase in my living room. Full.

Bookcase in Xman's room. Full

Bookcase in Mstar's room. Full

Three bookcases in our homeschool classroom. Full.

Should I mention now that there are also four HUGE rubbermaid containers of books in storage in our basement?

I'm trying. Really. I am.

The last few days I have been sorting them, keeping oh like 25 and putting ....1? in our donate pile.

It started out as a small project - my intent was to make a list of the books we own that are useful for homeschooling. Mainly to keep me from buying the same book again. And, so when I plan units I will know what we have. And where it is.

But then, it became a walk down memory lane. The Sweet Pickles books that we have all 26 of that were mine as a young child. 

Verdi.........the Coach's favorite picture book

Maniac Magee...........the first chapter book I taught, my first year of teaching.

The Celestine Prophecy........the book that made my husband know he wanted to marry me.

2001 Disney World Travel Guide...........the book we took on our honeymoon. 

I Love You This Much.............the book I bought when I found out I was pregnant, and I read it to Mstar every day from pregnancy until she was big enough to pick out her own books

Rolie Polie Olie in Outer Space..........the first book my daughter fell in love with at a bookstore, and thus began the next generation of obsessive.

The Left Behind Series...........the books that my husband began reading as he grew into his faith.

Stacks of comic books...........Xman picks one every time we go to the bookstore........he lingers so intently and chooses so carefully.....each one is special to him

Peter Pan..........the book my husband read aloud on our first family camping trip.

I could go on and on - describing our family's life in books.

I'm hoping that the years will continue to bring new books and new adventures. 

At the close of each year (school calendar), we purchase each child a special hard back book. The books typically contain a story that is representative of that year. On the interior cover of the book, I paste a picture of them from that school year, and the Coach and I both write a letter in the book to them. These are some of their favorites to read. I hope by continuing this tradition that we are helping them learn to tell their story in books.

So, this week I will be shopping for new books............just two...............I think.

I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.  ~Anna Quindlen

Sunday, May 9, 2010

This is the Life I Always Wanted

I often joke and say "This is the Life I Always Wanted" - like in those moments where you have spent the last hour and a half trying to make bedtime stick with an over tired five year old.........I repeat it like a mantra, like I need reminded

"This is the life I always wanted, This is the life I always wanted"

Or, in those moments where you find your 7 year old covered in make up, make up that you have asked that she go easy on, especially on Sunday church mornings, make up that is now all over the carpet, the poor carpet that is on it's last leg..........I repeat it like a yoga deep breathing relaxing technique

"This is the life I always wanted..........This is the life I always wanted."

Or those moments when two kids are arguing over whether paper beats rock, or lizard beats spock.........while I am driving a mini van (me, driving a mini van?).........and have taken a wrong turn because who can think with all this screaming.................I repeat it like it will act like calgon and take me away

"This is the life I Always Wanted...........This is the life I Always Wanted"

At times I consider writing it on a large piece of paper and put it on my fridge.

There are moments I don't know I how I got this life? Am I old enough to now be the mother of an almost 6 and an almost 8 year old? Am I really old enough to next year celebrate my 10th wedding anniversary? I'm not even going to tell you what high school reunion I might be old enough to attend........

It really does seem like just yesterday I was walking around a college campus, barefoot trying to decide what to major in.

Or, maybe it was just yesterday that Tommy and I were married and spent 7 blissful days in Disney World with no kids. Watching everyone else with kids. Wishing for the life that we have now.

Yep, this crazy life - this is the life I always wanted.

I wanted to wake up on Mother's Day..............and be a MOTHER. To have the pleasure of sitting next to these two fine people in church. To hear about mothers - how to be a good mother, what every mother needs.



I wanted more than anything to carry this sweet angel in my body for 9 months, and spend 42 hours in labor delivering her (well, maybe not that part), to watch her every move - from taking her first breath, to her first step, to reading her first words, to just this year riding her bike without training wheels for the first time........to be her everything. This is the life I always wanted. 



I was thrilled to be blessed AGAIN with this sweet boy..........I wanted to enjoy every kick and turn for the 9 months he lived inside me, to have that thrill of hearing "it's a boy" in the delivery room, to be there for his first breath, his first roll over, his first words, and just recently hearing him read for the first time..........and yes, for now.........to be his everything. Yes, this is the life I always wanted. 

So, on this Mother's Day............I am grateful..............grateful for this life that I always wanted!