Tuesday, December 29, 2009

I'm here....just trying to organize life a little!

The whirlwind of Christmas brought lots of gatherings, late nights of wrapping presents, and the hustle and bustle of making sure we were where we needed to be with everything we needed. And with that, I am taking the week off of work to organize things in our home. I get so overwhelmed sometimes with the amount of "stuff" we have in the house and I tend to put it up on a shelf, shut it in a closet, and simply forget about it until I become aware that I could possibly end up on an episode of "Hoarders". ha! Well, it's not that bad, but it could get that way if I don't take time to address issue at least once every few months!

I hope that you and yours had an amazing Christmas season and that the magic of Santa and the blessed birth of Christ gave you a chance to reflect on your life and that you are where you are supposed to be and that you are surrounded by positive family and friends that make you better people. Most of all, my wish for you is that the new year brings you great things in your life. I have a few personal goals that I'm determined to meet this year and I have been overwhelmed with support from my family and friends.....so I'm looking forward to sharing those with you as I meet them.

One of my goals (not mentioned above) for this year is to read a little more. And in starting that already, I read something yesterday that is going to be my quote for this year and I think it's something we can all use to start the new year with - best wishes to you in all that you wish to accomplish this year.

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending." Maria Robinson

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Living Within Your Means

This time of year it seems as though every where you turn you are spending money on one thing or another. With much planning and saving we usually do okay and this year is no exception. The bigger the children get, the bigger and more expensive their toys are - so I watch sales very closely, set a budget, and you can always find me out on Black Friday snagging those deals and like this year, I got the shopping done for our children in one day.

I was feeling good about the gifts I purchased for everyone this year, including our children until a friend presented the question yesterday of "How many gifts do you give your children each year?" and in reading the responses I felt a little pang of guilt because some people responded "two" or "a few small gifts and then candy in their stocking".....our children will have several gifts under the tree.....several. Now, I enforce throughout the year and especially this time of year giving to others in need. My children know about the Crisis Nursery in our area and how we donate money to them to help children in need, they go to the Humane Society with me to walk dogs, and they know that the toys and clothes that I frequently package up are going to children that might not be able to have those things otherwise. And during the Christmas season, they are actively involved in church activities and we know that Jesus is the reason for the season. Should I feel guilty about in addition to teaching them giving and compassion for others, that my husband and I spoil them just a little bit with an abundance of gifts?

My husband and I live within our means - our home is nearly 30 years old, our car is a '98, we shop sales, and I'm a little fanatical about being frugal. But when it comes to our kids and Christmas - it's so fun to spoil them just a little bit! And it's not like I go all out and buy them whatever they want at full price.....no way, not me! ha! ha! But in reading the responses I felt a bit of guilt - are we giving them too much?

This morning during my prayers I thought about the phrase "living within your means" and I think that it can be applied to all aspects of life - are you living within your means not only financially, but spiritually, physically, within your relationships, etc. And I think that if you aren't excessive in your life as a whole and you work hard, do for others, and live your life within your means - then at Christmas it's okay to spoil your children just a little.....because nothing gives me more joy than to see the sparkle in their eye and the happiness in their voices when they see that Santa has come to our home and given them gifts. The season is magical because of all aspects and I get sucked into it because it's for my children.

Are you living within your means? Are you meeting the needs of every point in your life? If you are, then you are doing well. If you find there is excess in some areas and a need in others, make a point to make changes. There is nothing that says it's too late to make changes in your life. And after typing all of this out I feel good about how Randy and I are raising our children and on Christmas morning - whether they are getting one present or 100 presents (which, by the way, they're not....not even close) - they will be excited, happy, and full of joy and they will appreciate whatever it is they receive.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What I have learned in my 33rd year

I'm slowly approaching the age of 34......8 days to be exact......and while I had some time for reflection yesterday I realized that I learned a lot about relationships this year. Ever since I started really looking at my life as a journey each year has taught me a lot about one particular thing - one year it was a year of self-discovery, one year focused a lot on my marriage, another year focused on being healthy, etc. And this year has been all about the ins and outs of relationships as a whole.

Here are some recaps of the life lessons I have learned this year:
  • Always give everyone the benefit of the doubt. There is a saying that I love and it's "Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle" and it's so true.
  • Don't give up too much of yourself for someone else's happiness. This is a little tricky and I often find myself taking on too much for others and some times I spread myself a little too thin and as result I get stressed and overwhelmed.
  • Learn to say no.
  • When someone challenges your character, while it might feel necessary to respond, goodness, kindness, and true friendship will shine through all the time. Hold your head up high and carry yourself with dignity and grace.
  • Adversity builds character.
  • Friendships should be the least stressful relationship in your life - nothing is better than sitting around with your true friends and laughing, talking, venting, crying, and figuring out that everyones lives are crazy and that you're normal!
  • There is a huge difference when someone is creating their life story vs. living their life story. Don't create your life story, live your life story every day - living the life you were meant to live means that you are living every day with honesty.
  • Change can be good, letting go is hard, and the truth does hurt.
  • Being a good friend means following this.....the more you see, the less you should speak; the less you speak, the more you hear.
  • When someone threatens your character, their character is threatened.

As you can see.....I have learned some tough lessons in regards to relationships and I know that in my life journey I will learn so much more. However, in this new year, my goal is to pay less attention to the people/things that don't mean as much to me and more attention to the people/things that mean the most to me. The white noise that sometimes inflicts our lives shouldn't affect our life - if you don't pay any attention to it, eventually it will blend in to the background.

I am looking forward to the wisdom, the challenges, the moments that will define me, and oh so much happiness in my life this year. I never really thought about where I was going to be at the age of 34 and I think that I was meant to be right where I am at this moment.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

One of my favorite songs during the holiday season - the mentions of comfort and joy; and the mention of true love and brotherhood always bring me to the true meaning of Christmas. In our community we have a place called the Crisis Nursery where children can find a safety net during times of strife in their lives. Single parents have a partner in childcare, home visits by counselors to assist with making sure their child/children are developing in the manner they are supposed to, and the Crisis Nursery meets the needs of children by helping to supply diapers, formula, etc.

In an effort to support the Crisis Nursery our family makes it an annual tradition to shop at the holiday shop where our children go in with their list and their money and they buy for us. They get to choose from donated gifts and it's sometimes very interesting when you open your gifts on Christmas day.....my husband got a toy golf set from Noah last year and it was just something that Noah had actually wanted for himself! ha! Logan, our oldest child, puts more thought into it than Noah and is very sweet with the gifts he chooses.

I am happy to report that Logan's 2nd grade class has decided to give gifts to the Crisis Nursery this year in lieu of doing a gift exchange. Logan was familiar with their holiday shop and the concept behind it, so he was really excited about this. And as a mother I am really happy that the concept of the "season of giving" is being taught in other places in my children's lives because there is a better chance of the message getting through! ha!

I urge you to find places in your area that do similar things - there are always bell ringers, the angel tree at the mall, serving food at shelters - whatever is appropriate for your children and family. Find a way to bring the message of true love and brotherhood into your traditions during the holiday season. I know that it's not always easy and if you have fallen on hard times yourself, don't forget that these resources are out there if you need them. Just don't forget to pay it forward when you get back on your feet. ; )

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Recipe For Joy

I am a firm believer in giving your time and efforts to charities all the time, however, around Christmas I think it's especially important because I simply cannot imagine my children waking up Christmas morning and having nothing under the tree and no food in the pantry. The thought of any child having to live through that is painful.

We have always made due and had a rough spot in our lives where I didn't know if we would be able to afford much for the children at Christmas. At that time Wal-Mart still did layaway and I don't think we could have managed if I hadn't been able to do that. Our children never knew how stretched we were and how we scrimped and saved to put those gifts under the tree - all they know is that they had a great Christmas that year.

With that I have been inspired by another blogger, Dawn at Because I Said So, to participate in “Recipe for Joy” through Kraft. Kraft Foods has teamed up with Feeding America to donate up to one million meals to needy families this holiday season. For every free e-card sent, Kraft Foods will donate 10 meals to Feeding America. Which is very cool and would be a blessing to many families.

All you have to do is go HERE and send a free holiday greetings e-card to your friends, family, coworkers, etc. and they will get a nice personalized greeting from you. PLUS, for every e-card sent, Kraft will donate 10 meals to Feeding America - so send as many as you can because they are donating up to one million meals.

Feeding America directly supports 205 member food banks and Kraft Foods is a long standing partner of Feeding America. Over the last 25 years, Kraft Foods has contributed $770 million in funding and food to support Feeding America and other hunger relief initiatives worldwide. By partnering with organizations, such as Feeding America, Kraft Foods provides much-needed food to hungry people throughout the United States. For more information about Feeding America, log on to http://www.feedingamerica.org/.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Living your life outloud

I have nothing to hide, I am an open book and I heard the term "Living Your Life Outloud" today and I think it describes me very well. I don't mind telling you what I think, feel, am going through.....like I said, I have nothing to hide. My marriage isn't perfect, my kids are sometimes a little nutty, I make mistakes, etc. - I'm normal - at least that's what one of my voices has told me! ha! But I live my life outloud and I don't feel bad about it.

My husband on the other hand, feels that I should be less open with putting out there that our child has ADHD with anxiety tendencies, or that our marriage isn't perfect, or that I'm even having a bad day. I don't know if this is because he's a guy who burps when he's happy, farts when his tummy is full, and grunts as a form of communication. I'm just kidding, he talks sometimes! ; ) He is technically challenged and he doesn't fully understand social networks or blogging - he just doesn't get why anyone would care that I'm hungry and looking for lunch ideas.

And I have to wonder, am I putting myself or my family at risk by living my life outloud? This goes back to my question of are we making ourselves too available to the masses and revealing personal information about ourselves that we might not otherwise reveal to others? I think that the extent of information you reveal is indicative of the kind of person you are in real life, not just virtually. If I wasn't on social networks or blogging and we were standing next to each other in line at the grocery store, I just might reveal to you that I'm hungry for a cheeseburger or that my son has ADHD.....I live my life that way - I have nothing to hide and I feel like in sharing the stories of my life might help others who are feeling the same way.

I have a friend who follows politics closely and has strong opinions about how things are run in the United States and she's not afraid to tell you how she feels. I have another friend who is very Christian and is not afraid to tell you if you are not following the word of God or offers you a bible verse to get you through a tough spot. These friends live their lives outloud and I don't think it's harming anyone, if anything I've learned so much from these women. But others that choose not to voice their opinions on politics or religion might take offense to what these women reveal.

I think that if you are active in an organization, or there is something that you are passionate about that you should voice this to others. If you have nothing to hide in your life and are proud of everything, including all of your flaws, you should share your stories so that people around you can look to you as a source of information or support. I love my husband and sons and am so proud of them all - are they flawed? Yes. Should they be judged for that? Absolutely not. But I do think that sometimes one can reveal too much about themselves and maybe live a little too outloud. And I do hope that I don't do that, I hope that the volume of information that I provide is not too loud - because I would never want to jeopardize my family, I've done that before and it's not a moment that I'm proud of.