Faith · Parenting · Perspective · Uncategorized

Christmas List – Oh wait! It’s only November….

This morning during a lull at work, I typed up an email with a Christmas list for my kids and sent it off to my sisters’ and parent’s email addresses. My kids won’t end up with every item on the list. (THANK GOODNESS!) These are just ideas.

Last weekend, my girlfriends and I were discussing Christmas lists and how/if/why you give or don’t give gifts for kids. We were all of the consensus that we are flooded under with toys. Three quarters of our group never buys the “Christmas toys of the year” as they are so ridiculously hyped. I looked at the top 12 “must haves” for this year and didn’t see a single one that even slightly piqued my interest.

Let’s be honest – Gremlin (80’s) to Furby (90’s) to Hatchimal (now). Seeing any resemblance???

 

giphy2giphy3giphy4

Half of us ask those who are planning to give gifts to do one toy and then contribute to the future educational fund. I might be the only one who doesn’t do a “Santa gift…” but my 7 year old asked if Santa was real a few years ago and I broke it down for him – history of the holiday and the real spirit of giving freely and generously that we should all have.

Call me the Grinch? What can I say? I told him I’d always tell him the truth. I did ask him to keep that information to himself so that other kids (sister included) could ask when he/she is ready.

giphy

Without further adieu – the Christmas list:

S kids for Christmas

From mom and dad – bikes and lap desks, new family board game


T would like some sort of mp3 player (hand-held music that he can download songs and plug into his radio/speaker that mom and dad got him. Will need bluetooth or ability to attach cord)

new bike helmet – not child sized, but probably adult small? 
more cows for his toy farm, Schlaag size (the ones at Orschelns)
Grain truck for his toy farm
Contigo, Camelbak or similar short flip top water bottle
Tall sports socks – size medium big boys
bath color tablets
Circuit snaps or Simple Robotics kits

M would like barbie clothes, doll clothes, a new stroller for her dolls (she has totaled two… the babies get hauled around our house a lot!)
lip gloss
Melissa and Doug pizza kit
underoos
Contigo, Camelbak or similar short flip top water bottle
Kelsea Ballerini CD — any of them
bath paints – Crayola. we had another brand that left hives on the kids soooo, I know Crayola doesn’t
bath color tablets
Fancy Nancy books- we have fancy classroom, fancy day, and fancy cupcakes
stick on earrings

Please no fidget spinners, Shopkins, Num Nums, or Tsum Tsums. OUTLAWED in our house.

If you have never heard of Snap Circuits, let me introduce you. These are fantastically designed for the child that loves to create and spends hours working on Lego creations. Only these come with a twist – electricity via a couple AA batteries. Can be done independently or with a friend or adult!
Both my children have outgrown their bikes. The seats are adjusted all the way up. They ride all year round when the weather permits it. Miles and miles of bike riding within a few miles of our home!
If you noticed, we tend to mix in things that they need such as special socks (not just your standard white or black), new packages of underwear, sometimes a new character based toothbrush, and a new water bottle. Our school encourages kids to bring their own water bottles to keep in the classroom, thus ours are used all twelve months of the year and at least 5 days a week.
Who doesn’t love bath paints, bath color drops, and stick on earrings as little throw in items or stocking stuffers?
stick on earrings
We also like to shop for others both in our family and community. This is our first year to pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child. The kids are excited to do this! I’ve gathered suggestions from our friends for the ages that we are packing for. Looks like we will likely be putting in a water bottle, wash cloth, crayons, stickers, toy car – boy, hair pretties or a jump rope – girl, little bars of soap, and …. What are you favorite things to pack in an OCC shoebox?
What’s on the Christmas lists at your house? Do you celebrate Christmas or give gifts?
Family · Parenting · Perspective

Overheard in the Car

Photo credit to Philmckinney and beyondtheobvious

Mom, if I had a choice between a puhmillion pieces of gum and one, I’d choose the puhmillion. (5yr old)

me: Ok, didn’t we have a talk about there being no such thing as a puhmillion?

Yes. So mom, if I had a choice between a thousand pieces of gum…

….. 5 miles down the road ……

me: Hey! I just saw a shooting star!

7yr old boy: Are you going to make a wish?

me: Yes I already did. I wish your dad to be home safely from his trip.

5 yr old girl, completely matter of fact and without missing a beat because obviously she’s been thinking of this:  I wish to be a mermaid.

me: What do you wish for T?

7yr old boy: Mom there are wish rules. I can’t tell you. But, I wish for everybody to just be quiet!!!!

And so ended our conversation as we pulled into the yard tonight.

Family · Parenting

Small Talk

Topics of conversation covered by my 5 and 7 year old children after school yesterday in under an hour:

  1. Sweet potatoes – do they all have to be orange?
  2. The garter snake family that we found living under our porch when we demolished it on Saturday. Where are they now? Did you know they can grow to almost 4 foot long? Found that out Saturday.
  3. “Why won’t my brother let me hug him?” – in dramatic fashion
  4. Snack options – settled on graham cracker sandwiches with a little chocolate frosting
  5. Halloween costumes – can we really mix a cheerleader uniform with angel wings? The answer is yes. It’s Halloween. #pickingmybattles
  6. “Fits don’t get us what we want.” Reminder number 8,000,531
  7. Corn dogs
  8. Will it really snow on Halloween? – Looks like a yes at this point…
  9. Did you know that there is no such thing as a “puhmillion” of something?
  10. Someone stole my tic tacs! Recovered from his bedroom floor an hour later.
  11. “Mom, did you know that B____ and A____ and L____ were told that if they didn’t stop punching, pinching, kicking, and hitting that they would have to go to the principal’s office? But not at the same time!” — The life of a Kindergartener
  12. Breakfast for dinner or pizza?
  13. Homework and sight words.
  14. Did anyone feed the cat?
  15. Hide and Go Seek in the house until the little one started crying.

Whew. Are you exhausted? I was by 6pm….

Happy Halloween! — Jen

giphy2

Faith · Love · Perspective

Anxious & Ichthus

Yesterday morning my anxiety was running high, like the Burj Khalifa in Dubai high.

daily mail burj khalifa
Photo Credit: http://www.dailymail.co.uk

After getting the kids around for school and on the bus, I told my husband that I was going for a quick 10 minute run. That was all I had time to squeeze in. He didn’t argue. I know he could sense my anxiety.

On top of our normal parent – work schedule, this week includes a lot of extras and one long car trip to a specialist. But I think the thing that really unnerved me was something our guest evangelist at church said yesterday.

His message was that God’s love is PERSONAL to each of us. (Heavy faith talk to follow)

Matthew 5:13-16 New International Version (NIV)

Salt and Light
13 Jen – “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

14 Jen – “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light” – Jen- ” shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

I thought this was all very uplifting. Not giving myself any credit, but this is humbly encouraging to do good works in whatever way possible for the glory of my Heavenly Father.

He closed his message by declaring that the signs for the Lord’s return are visible and increasing just as the old and new testament’s discuss. While we aren’t able to discern all those signs and know not the timing, each moment of time here is a moment gone and one closer to the next. The part that caught me is when he said we should all be looking toward this with joy.

I’m being very raw and honest here — I’m mixed with joy and worry when I think about this. As I internally debated these feelings for the past few days, it occurred to me that if I’m conflicted in my feelings it must partially be because I’m still holding God at arm’s length in some parts of my life. More internal reflection is currently focused on exactly where.

Absolutely I look forward to no more illness, sadness, injuries, and no more gut-wrenching evil. I desire more of that amazing joy and peace that I occasionally feel pass over me for all eternity. Have you ever felt that? It is truly hard to put into words – warm, not just happy but deeper than that – joy, light, peace, complete love. I don’t feel it with my family or friends, although I do feel deep love and comfort with them. It is much Much MUCH deeper than that.

My worry is about how bad it has to get. Am I equipped to handle it? Not alone, I’m sure. What about my children? What will their relationships look like? I know I went through a period of time in high school and college where I did things that I hoped God would just overlook. Pay no attention to the person behind the curtain (me) doing these things that I want to experience, but know are bad news… Not earned, not deserved and yet I asked and am graciously forgiven. Saved thru Grace not works.

giphy1

What about my high school acquaintance who proclaims himself an atheist, but rails angrily against God on social media? He curses against the God he declares not to exist. He is so wounded by his current situation it is hard for me to fathom. What about those who are so cushy and comfortable in their own situations that they are oblivious to the emotionally, spiritually, or physically poor and needy next door? What about the people being led astray by the glitz, glamour and empty promises of success?

I just finished a life application study of the book of Acts. I know that people will hear the message and choose not to believe in God or the Gospel. In these situations, Paul had to shake off his garments and walk away. He still cared for all people, but realized that his mission was to present the message and pray for the people who heard it. He couldn’t work in the hearts of the people. That is the job of the Holy Spirit.

As I write this, my anxiety diminishes. My job is to love the people and give them the message that God is real. He loves you regardless of your previous or future choices. We’re fallible, breakable humans. God is not the hypocritical religious leader or megachurch preacher asking for your money while ignoring the needy. He is love. His Spirit flows in the hands and feet of those serving others humbly. I suspect that almost everyone on this planet has encountered the love of God regardless of if they’ve recognized it as such.

Upon returning from my run yesterday morning, this was laying in my yard by my sidewalk. Keep your head up and your eyes open. God’s love is everywhere. Be the good and give that glory to Whom it belongs.

IMG_2467

 

Family · Parenting · Perspective

extra

I’m sitting here on my couch reviewing the past week and looking ahead to the next. My daughter is trying on clothes from the cousin hand-me-down bag (which is amazing).

IMG_2449.JPG

We are on Day 2 of fall break. Day 1 was parent-teacher conferences, an hour in the office at work, Cosmic Kids Space Club, and dance class.

Space club is a group of my son’s buddies that were invited to check out Saturn on one of the boy’s grandpa’s telescope.

We just finished soybean harvest. The guys are drilling on the last few dozen acres of wheat. For a blessed day, we are still a few points too damp for milo harvest.

As I sit here, I realize that the role of mother, wife and working mom isn’t what wears me out. It’s all the extras.

It’s the Ear Nose and Throat specialist we will visit in Monday for 3 rounds of strep throat in 60 days. The additional meeting I need to attend.

It makes me wonder how necessary some of those commitments are. The ENT is a must. What about the others?

At kids’ youth group Wednesday night, another volunteer from the generation before mine asked me if my parents scrambled around as much as my generation is to make it all happen. After a few days of thought, I’m convinced they did. However, I don’t think it started this young.

Is it really going to put my kids at a disadvantage if they don’t do that next extra activity?

I speculate that having a mom who isn’t scurrying, rushing and occasionally loosing her sh*t  patience is likely better for everyone.

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Family Road Trip to the San Luis Valley

I left Friday for a long road trip to Colorado for my uncle’s memorial. He was a doctor in the San Luis Valley for decades and delivered somewhere around 1000 babies over the years. He loved tie-dye, bright colors, Christmas lights, Halloween costumes, camping, hiking, celebrating, playing with us as kids and in the past 10 years with his grandkids and great nieces and nephews.

Typically a 9-10hr drive, packed into the car with my sisters, mom, dad, and mom’s cousin Jane, we meandered our way across the plains to the foothills and finally to the San Juan mountains. 13 hours later…. we pulled into Del Norte, Colorado.

mtnSeeing the mountains = winning.

Family road trip = winning.

Stellar soundtrack with my very talented musical family = winning.

EXCEPTIONALLY slow food service everywhere we stopped which added 2.5hrs to our road trip = not winning.

Fantastic historic boutique hotel with its own pastry chef providing the morning fare- 5 stars! Gorgeous room and soft bed = winning.

Hotel booked solid- only having a king, 3 people, and only a cot for person #3 = not winning. I took the first night on the cot. Multiple people commented on how tired I looked Saturday. My sister took the second night. She declared it Satan’s cot and told me I was too gracious about it the previous night. It gave her false hope.

Getting to see my cousins, aunts, uncles, and mom’s side of the family = winning.

Being able to reminisce, share memories of my uncle, and truly celebrate his life = winning. — At the end of my life, I hope people are celebrating the love, kindness and grace that I try to live with daily. Sad? Yes but definitely a life worth living!

Meeting an interesting woman at the coffee table in the hotel early on Saturday morning who practices small animal (cats specifically) veterinary medicine in Hong Kong but originally hails from South Africa and is taking 5 days to take in the scenic drives of southwest Colorado before a cat conference in Denver = winning.

I know that was a HUGE run-on sentence, but she was fascinating. We discussed different cultures and how it reflects on pet ownership, politics (respectfully) in South Africa & USA, how to put gas in a vehicle in the US (not full service as in SA), and my obese, “big boned” 15 year old, 18lb house cat who blew out a knee six months ago. Conversation with her was a spectacular way to start my day. <– I do officially strike up a conversation with almost EVERYONE I meet (Uber, coffee shop, etc) if they appear receptive after a “good morning.”

Ending the day with pizza (non-dairy sandwich for me), catching up with cousins, some intense games of pitch, and s’mores on the campfire = winning.

My family is fantastic. For all our distance, differences, and a long time-lapse between visits (close to two decades for some), they are MY family.

Missing my daughter’s cheer camp performance = not winning.

Being told by 5 different people, each in a different circumstance, that my children have “been a handful,” “kept them quite busy :(” and “are not behaving on the school bus.” All while I’m away for this memorial service… = not winning.

This was dealt with yesterday upon my return home. I did not react in a “winning” fashion. Not mom of the year. However, I do think we will see better behaviors, better choices, and hopefully less sibling nit-picking for a little while.

We packed up early Sunday morning. It was 18 degrees F!!! (Can you picture how big my eyeballs are right now!!!) So cold, or shall I say brisk with the wind coming down off the mountains!!!

Our road trip back was a bit more subdued, but did still involve a lot of singing to my DJ Jazzy Jen skills. Everyone was tired – notice the prevalence of glasses instead of contacts. My dad actually let my sister drive my vehicle = winning.

I am blessed to have the loving, supportive family I have. Nobody was forced to get out and walk on our l-o-n-g drives to and from. We did have the running joke that cousin Jane was out if we found some good antiques. All in good fun! We love cousin Jane!

Every family, every trip, every story has its bumps and curves. It’s winning and not winning moments. Fortunately, we pull together for these bumps and hold on tight for the sharp curves. If you ever get the opportunity to load up and take an adults-only family road trip, I highly recommend it!