That is what I've told myself this week as I've been tempted to get overwhelmed at all I want to do before Christmas morning.
You see, my grandma almost always served butter with crackers as an appetizer. She isn't much of a cook. I love her dearly and say that with a heart full of love.
Despite her culinary challenges, my grandma and grandpa's house was always open to us. I don't remember what she served for dinner. I have no idea how much of it was from scratch or how much of it was simply heated and tossed onto her own dish to make it look homemade. I don't recall what else was served as an appetizer besides the old standby of butter and crackers.
It doesn't matter.
My children likely won't remember (or even know this year for that matter) if the cupcakes to celebrate Jesus' birthday were made from scratch of if I bought them at the Target bakery. They won't remember if we had homemade cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning or a quick breakfast of waffles and scrambled eggs.
Will they recall if the packages were perfectly wrapped with tidy little bows?
I doubt it.
Yet, will they remember the time we spend together playing games, baking cookies, and visiting the most festive parts of the city?
I dare say they will.
So, if in order to make Christ-centered family memories , I have to serve butter on crackers, so be it.
If my children feel half as loved in my house as I felt in my grandma and grandpa's, I'll say our Christmas was merry indeed.
In fact, I've lost count of how many times I've received this little survey via email. I've noticed it posted on blogs and was even tagged on Facebook with it. So...
1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Both. I'm starting a new tradition this year with my two oldest children. We went to the store and they each picked out a roll of wrapping paper. Their gifts will be wrapped in the wrapping paper they chose.
2. Real tree or artificial? Artificial. Is there any other kind when you have young children?
3. When do you put up the tree? Sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Usually closer to Thanksgiving)
4. When do you take the tree down? Sometime between Christmas and New Year's.
5. Do you like eggnog? Occasionally.
6. Favorite gift received as a child? A My Child doll. She had a blue dress and that is about all I remember.
7. Hardest person to buy for? Most of the males in my family.
8. Easiest person(s) to buy for? Ann because if it is adorned with a princess, she likes it.
9. Do you have a nativity scene? We have one and it is the Fisher Price one. I'd like to add to it.
10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Mail.
11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Decline to answer because it was given by someone who may read this. (Ditto to my friend's answer here.)
12. Favorite Christmas movie? Elf
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? It varies.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Yup.
15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Nothing in particular.
16. Lights on the tree? White.
17. Favorite Christmas song? Holy Night.
18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? We do both during the season.
19. Can you name all Santa's reindeer? Um, I sometimes get my kids' birthdays mixed up.
20. Angel or Star? Star
21. Open presents Christmas Eve or in the Morning? Christmas morning. However, we do open up new jammies on Christmas Eve.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? The unrealistic expectations I put on myself followed closely by my kids' constant sugar high.
23. Favorite ornament? This year it would have to be the ornament with Tony's picture when he was 4, Ann's current age.
24. Favorite Christmas dinner? Anything involving shrimp.
25. Favorite Christmas Tradition: Advent Calenders. I have 4 different ways we're counting down to Christmas this year.
26. What do you want for Christmas this year? A watch and a date with hubby.
27. Who is the most likely to respond to this? I don't want to put that kind of pressure on anyone. :)
28. Who is least likely to respond? Well, if I was emailing this, I'd have to say my brother.
29. What does Christmas mean to you? It is Jesus' birthday. I can't think of anything better to celebrate than God sending His Son to save us!
Five years ago today, I didn't know if I'd be able to have one baby, much less three. That day, my first pregnancy ended in miscarriage. My heart broke that morning.
Meanwhile, my heart still breaks. It breaks every time I hear of a woman who lost her baby before she had a chance to meet her little one. It is for those women that I pray today. If you happen to read this post, would you mind stopping and doing the same?
So, today as I meandered my way through Walmart, I found myself in one of the home decor aisles. Okay, I walked there on purpose, but whatever. My couch now looks much better, don't you think?
Isn't it amazing what a simple thing like pillows can do for making a room cozier?
Though technically, they are interested in all aspects of cooking baking except the actual baking part. Waiting 10 minutes seems excruciatingly long if you are a preschooler.
Their favorite part of making cookies is decorating them. I'm pretty sure this is because they like to lick the frosting off of their hands. Still, they like to make their cookies as festive as possible.
Thanks to my aunt, I now have new way to let my kids frost their cookies. Instead of a knife, I'll be letting them use a decent size paint brush. The stiff bristles are perfect for "painting" the cookies. I tested this tip on my two-year-old and it worked like a charm. He was able to more evenly spread the frosting as we made our first Gingerbread Tree.
Now, if only they made frosting that tasted awful while you decorated the cookie and then reverted back to its sugary goodness once mommy stashed the cookies in a hard-to-reach place, cookie baking would be a frequent activity at my house.
I can only handle so many days of being cooped up with children who've ingested too much frosting!
As I contemplate that post in my head, I have to laugh. Every single time, and I do mean every single time I reflect on Jane's babyhood, I hear a little soundtrack. (And I do understand if you write me off as crazy and stop reading right now.) I always think of the song "You are My Sunshine." It is cheesy, I know. I can't help it.
The other thing that I always think about is my guilt. I sometimes have guilt over enjoying Jane's first year so very much. I don't love her any more than my other children, still I feel guilty admitting that I've enjoyed this year so much.
I know part of it is that I'm at ease with being a mom of little babies. I mean I've practically been that for four years straight. But, the other thing is that Jane is the most easygoing baby I've ever met. Sure, she is getting to be more of a handful now that she moves and gets into every. single. thing. Yet, all things considered, she is much easier to care for than Ann and Chris were at this age.
There, I've said it. I do feel a bit better about being honest. No one ever told me about the guilt of having an easy baby. Moms frequently see me with just Jane and comment about how their babies would never sit and do such and such. I never know how to respond without feeling like I've been a bit disrespectful to my other children. I mean, saying "I've paid my dues," doesn't seem right.
Besides, high maintenance babies don't mean those same children won't turn out to be lovely. They are simply babies who cry a lot. We mamas don't love them any less.
Perhaps it can all be summed up by what my grandma used to say. She sometimes said that "she loved us, but she didn't always have to like us."
I don't always have to like the stages my children are at, but I will always, always love them. Who knows, Jane might be a bit of a challenge as a toddler. I reserve the right not to like that, but I will love her. I might even kiss her while I put her in time-out.
This motherhood business is a tricky thing.
Now that I've written this scattered excuse for a post, maybe I can write guilt-free about my days enjoying Jane's first year. After all, there are less than two months until she turns one. I won't get started on that. I'm tempted to boycott her first birthday party because I'm in denial that my baby could be so old so soon.
I do believe that is enough rambling for one day, don't you think?
Perhaps it is because, in my mind, the perfect blogging moment is a clean and quite house. I see myself with a hot cup of coffee or cocoa in my hand as I leisurely write a few posts and read some of my favorite blogs. Um, yeah.
So, I'm settling for lukewarm coffee and a slightly messy house. The kids are happy and we've had a good day. Now that I think about it, it may just be the perfect moment.
As I sat down to write, I realized that it has been a year since I started blogging. So, I have a favor to ask. If you read this blog at all (and I know some of you who do) would you please kindly leave a comment. I'd love it. And little brother, I'm also talking to you. I love getting your comments. They truly make me smile.
And now, I leave you with the first post I wrote. I originally posted it on December 1, 2007. That was before I even let my mom know about my blog.
I thought I'd start out by explaining my blog title.You see, as a mom of a three-year-old girl and an 19-month-old boy, I'm usually quite busy. Add to that the fact that I'm sporting a pregnant belly and you'll be able to imagine that I can make quite the entrance into a public place.Usually, I'm holding a preschooler by the hand and clutching a squirming toddler on my hip. I'm also desperately wishing I had a free hand to put my maternity pants back in place.
Once we reach our designated spot, which is more often than not a super center of sorts, the fun begins.
First, I wrestle the toddler into a cart or stroller and work to convince the preschooler that staying with me is a good idea. You can probably guess how the rest of the trip goes.
Usually both the children do great, but even so, rarely does an outing go by that someone doesn't make a comment.
First, the person typically glances at my obviously pregnant belly, then at my two children, and finally says something like, "my, you have your hands full."Yes, I certainly do, but you see along with full hands is a very full and blessed heart.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
As I reread this, I realized that some things haven't changed. People still tell me my hands are full and I still wouldn't have it any other way.
I especially want to thank my kind cousin who sent me a great link. These ideas, while not novel, are very useful. I'd used clipboards in the car before, but I'd never thought to use cookie sheets. It worked like a charm.
Those same tips also reminded me that a road trip doesn't have to be neat and tidy. I cut up small pieces of paper and brought along glue sticks. My son enjoyed gluing the small scraps of paper into a notebook.
Worth it? Definitely.
Now, I have one tip of my own to share. Normally I stick to this rule, but yesterday, I deviated from it.
The rule is to stick to the child's normal diet as closely as possible. Otherwise you may end up spending the first few hours at grandma's house wiping little bums. We'll leave it at that!
Though I'm sure this little visit out west will give me plenty of stories to share, I'm going to wait to do that until after we've officially celebrated Thanksgiving.
Until then, have a very Happy Thanksgiving!
My son. My darling son.
He screamed each and every time we were in the car until he was 5 months old. As he got older, he would grant us brief periods of quiet. However, car travel longer than 20 minutes was still not fun.
He was two months old the first time we took a long road trip. He screamed for 9 of the 10 hours we were in the car. I promise I'm not exaggerating.
Now, at 2 and a half, he is still a challenge in the car.
This is where I need your help. We have a trip coming up. This trip is one that takes 9 1/2 hours without children. Care to guess how long it will take us with the children? I have no idea. I'm praying for not much longer than 10 1/2 hours.
So, could you please help a girl out? What has worked for you with your travel with little ones? Oh, I guess I should mention that we do have a DVD player in the minivan. I'll also add that my son has no interest whatsoever in television. Usually, I appreciate this, except of course when we have long car rides.
Any suggestions? Please, pretty please.
Just begin the tradition of eating ice cream for breakfast on your kids' birthdays. I'd say dealing with their sugar high is a small price to pay for the fun memories made by a fun tradition.
Add to the fun by assigning a certain plate as your family's "special day" plate. We use a simple red plate that I bought at Walmart. A fancier version, such as this, could also be used.
It works for me, and it tastes great too! Please stop by Rocks in My Dryer for more Works-for-Me Wednesday ideas.
Yesterday, as I watched my firstborn wait for her friends to arrive to her first big-girl birthday party, I felt the same way.
I'm thrilled to be on this journey with my sweet Ann. It has only been four years, but they've been some of the best years.
Happy Fourth Birthday, Ann! Your Daddy and I are honored that we get to be your parents. We love you sweet one.
I have a feeling it won't be too long before she is on to what I'm doing. I better eat those chocolate chips while I can.
This is our fairy princess. Ann's costume was quite basic. However, it made her happy and that is all that mattered. We managed to talk her into wearing the headband for a quick picture, but that was it. That is probably just as well since I don't think fairy princesses usually have antennae.
In case you missed it, here is a closer shot of her choice of footwear. She bypassed her dress-up princess shoes and actual dress-up shoes in order to wear these. Do we have a budding fashionista on our hands?
Our little guy decided to be a fireman instead of a frog. The picture doesn't show how the coat reached down to his ankles. If you ask this mama, it only added to the charm.
Almost eighteen months later, Chris was born. The pale blue scrapbook was waiting. Less than six months later, I began working on his first scrapbook.
Now, little Jane is nearly 9 months. If you asked me about her scrapbook, I would say something like:
"Um, what is that? Could you spell that please?"
"Does that start with an 'S'?"
Tony: "Would you buy the good dishwasher detergent again?"
Me: "You mean Cascade?"
Me: "I was just trying to be environmentally friendly."
Tony: "You throw away like 20 diapers a day."
I guess I'll be adding Cascade to this week's grocery list.
Yesterday, I was encouraged that he asked to go a few times before he wet his underwear. He seemed motivated by the little pumpkin candy rewards he received.
Later in the day he ran up to me and said, "Mommy, I wet my pants. I need a pumpkin candy."
Of course, I said, "Well buddy, you need to actually go in the potty to get a candy. You can't go in your pants."
He hopefully added with a sense accomplishment, " I went in my underwear too!"
Alrighty then. It has been noted that we have our work cut out for us.
You have to break the "only-one-cup-of-juice-a-day rule."
You have to let the kids watch more than one show.
Because if drinking juice while watching a movie is what gets everyone through the rainy, cold, day with a smile on their faces, then so be it.
Those type of rules are only guidelines anyways. They aren't things that will matter in twenty, ten, or five years.
Now, my head knows these things. But, I still have this nagging guilt when we have days like this. I feel like I've failed my children because I haven't kept them otherwise occupied with age-appropriate activities.
Perhaps I'll overcome the guilt by cuddling with them as we watch a movie. Seems like a good compromise to me.
Anyways, I felt the need to do something that couldn't be undone by the end of the day. That would be why I'm writing this little post. Such is not the case with the laundry and the dishes. As soon as I think I've caught up, I turn around to find a sink full of dishes or a hamper full of laundry. I've given up on the myth of being caught up. Still, it feels good to do something that is still done come nightfall.
So, I'm using this post to share the recipe for the cookies that I'm currently baking. Tony needs to bring a dessert to work tomorrow...
This recipe makes a ton! It is super easy and though there are several batches to bake, you can easily chase babies and toddlers while the cookies bake. Older children could probably do most of this by themselves. And, the cookies are yummy. And chocolate! Need I write more?
Maybe next time I'll let him drive.
The dryer appeared to be broken. I did what first came to mind. I opened the door and shut it once more. Then, I unplugged the dryer and plugged it back in. Still nothing. So, I opened the door one more time. This time something happened.
The dryer didn't start, but a tiny piece of black plastic did fall to the ground.
It didn't look like anything important, but since you never know, I looked a bit closer at the dryer door. Sure enough, the little latch that signals that the dryer door is shut, had broken. If I stood there and pushed down what was left of the latch the dryer worked. The second I removed my finger, the dryer stopped. I'm hoping a little super glue will fix it.
Meanwhile, I feel grateful that this happened. Why?
Well, it has nothing to do with the fact that I have a valid excuse for avoiding laundry today.
You see, I could easily blame the broken part on the dryer being a somewhat old and cheaper model, but I know the truth.
The truth is that I've slammed that dryer door one too many times. Now, admittedly, today I didn't really slam it. I just shut it a bit too hard as I hurried on to my next task.
However, there have been more times than I like to admit when I've angrily slammed that door as hard as I could.
There, I said, or rather wrote it.
I have a problem with anger. Sure it probably wouldn't qualify me for any anger management classes, nor would anyone ever worry I'd hurt my children. It isn't like that.
Rather, it is the type of anger that leaves me screaming, stomping, and of course, slamming over petty little inconveniences. I guess it's rather like a good old-fashioned temper tantrum.
The dryer door had seen its fair share of slams because I thought I was being clever by attempting to hide my anger from the children. Every now and then, when I life seemed to be one annoying little thing after another, I'd simply disappear into the laundry room and work on the laundry. If distraction and prayer hadn't changed my attitude, I might slam the door.
I suppose I thought if the children didn't see me, my anger wasn't that big of a deal.
He always sees. He knows my heart even when I plaster a smile on my face or get really quiet. He knows what I'm muttering under my breath even if the children can't hear me. But He also understands!
Even better, just like I love my children too much to let them misbehave, He loves me too much to let me continue in my sin.
Today, He reminded me of that with a broken dryer.
If it takes a broken dryer to fix my broken attitude, so be it. I'm grateful.
In fact, just moments ago, I buried my face in her hair (what little there is of it) as I wiped prunes from her face.
Baby heads don't even have to be freshly washed for me to be drawn to them. Actually, the baby heads don't even have to belong to my offspring. I'm thinking all the sweet baby heads are the reason I work in the nursery at church.
Finally, what is it about those precious heads that makes already-sweet-smelling baby shampoo smell a thousand times better? I know that baby wash wouldn't smell nearly as wonderful on my head. Now that I think about it, that is probably a good thing. I'd look a little strange walking around while constantly smelling my hair.
I love having baby heads in the house!
Finally, here is a picture of what I hope will make finding the spices even easier.
I took a Sharpie and labeled the top of each container. This way, I can easily glance and find what I need. Notice I put the containers with black lids at the front. Obviously, the marker wouldn't work so well on those.
So there you have it. The laundry still isn't finished, my hair is greasy, and the kitchen floor is yucky, but my spices, oh, they are in order.
Of course, I have no reason to not be happy. I simply started responding to life's little inconveniences in a grumpy manner. It was my choice.
Now, I have four more minutes before my time on this computer is up and I need to log off. And, when I do sign off, it will be a sort of turning point in my day. I'm going to choose to be happy for the rest of this day. And yes, I do realize that I've set myself up to be tested.
So, when the children break something or stain something, I will choose to not let it ruin my day. Because it will happen.
Nap time will be too short and dinner time too messy. My choosing grumpiness won't make any of that change.
Deep breath, and here I go!
Just moments ago, I put my finger in your mouth to look for teeth. I fully expected your mouth to be the same as it has everyday for the past seven months. You can imagine my surprise when I felt a tooth! That tooth is another sign that you are growing healthy and strong. I'm so grateful.
Yet, I must confess that my first instinct was not to celebrate another step in your journey. Rather, I the emotions I experienced were bittersweet. I had tears in my eyes.
You see, with the exception of a few sleepless nights, I've enjoyed each and every moment of this first year. Your first tooth served as a reminder to me that it will be over all too soon.
Then, I watched you crawl into the kitchen this evening as I loaded the dishwasher. My eyes grew misty.
Baby girl, please don't think for one minute that I'm not proud of you. I couldn't be more proud. And, to think that our family is experiencing this for the third time, well that only makes it more special.
Jane, I promise I will try to smile when you take your first step and say your first word. And when all those other firsts come along, I promise to do all I can to make sure you know just how proud I am of you. But, should I fail and tears come before my smile, please know that you are loved and your mama is so very proud.
I thank the Lord for the blessing that is your life.
I love you little one.
I spend quite a bit of my day chasing this little one. She is usually crawling over the baby toys I've given her in order to reach something more interesting like the dog's tail or a power cord.
I believe this picture foretells of what life will be like around here for the next several months. I love how she has a look on her face that says, "I didn't do anything."
Of course, the big kids are always into something. They have the best time together. Except when they don't.
They always keep me laughing. This little guy knows how to have fun. He also knows how to make his mama worry. He tends to act before he thinks.
Yes, these three little ones are certainly keeping my hands full these days. If you'd asked me a couple of months ago if it was much different having three children, I would have said no. Jane is such an easygoing baby. She was content to watch the world go by. The key word in that sentence is "was." Now, she seems to be saying, "Look out world! Here I come."
Life is certainly busy. So naturally, the old blog has been quieter. I suppose that is how it should be. As you can see from the pictures, it certainly isn't from lack of material that I haven't written more often.
My hands are most certainly full. But, my heart? My heart is near bursting with the joy of this life.