This is where I write about my life. Marriage, children, faith, and coming to the realization that as long as I have those three things...I am home. No matter where that is.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Spending Christmas...Christmas Spending

Every year, it seems, it gets harder and harder to keep up with the demands of Christmas.And, a lot of times that is what it feels like...demands. What starts out as a time of joy and family time quickly turns into "How much are we spending?" and "Can we really afford all that?". The $10 here and the $20 there adds up to a substantial amount of money that could be saved or spent on more important things, and I am having a hard time this year finding the joy in all the spending. That is very unlike me. I usually get all excited making my lists and trying to think of great gifts that everyone will love. I enjoy the giving. For some reason this year, I can't explain it, I have not been as eager to go out and spend, spend, spend.

The girls aren't going to have a big Ta-Da from Santa this year. You know what I'm talking about. The huge kind of gift that takes up the whole living room and gets a BIG Christmas morning reaction. They are, however, getting everything that they asked for....Moon Dough and Pillow Pets included. And, thanks to Gigi and PopPop, a salon. We said that we were scaling back Christmas this year, because we are planning an upcoming trip to Disney World and would rather save money for that. But, those plans flew out the window as soon as Wal-Mart started playing Christmas carols over the intercom.

I have found a few ways to save money, though, in spite of all the hustle and bustle. I have done a lot of my Christmas shopping online, which has helped me compare prices, find better deals, and you can get free shipping almost everywhere during the holidays. Thank you eBay and amazon. And, a lot of people may disagree with re-gifting, but this year, I'm guilty! Two or three years ago it was the Christmas of Elmo around here. Sarah was between 1 and 3 years old and was infatuated with all things Elmo. When she started moving on to the next thing, we put most of the Elmo toys in the attic. This year, Rylee is at that age. She is Elmo's biggest fan. You should see her blue eyes light up when she hears that annoying, high-pitched voice! Why should we go out and buy all new Elmo toys when we have an attic full of barely-played-with Elmo toys? So, we are going to get all of those toys out, clean them up, and give them to Rylee. Poor Rylee, I know, always getting the hand-me-downs. But, she'll be just as excited about those recycled toys as she would be about new ones. That is, until she looks at the pictures 10 years from now and realizes that Santa brought her the exact same things that he brought Sarah 3 years earlier!
I am just realizing, I think, that I've spent so many Christmases getting all wrapped up (pardon the bad pun) in the things that aren't important. And, it's time now, to start remembering what Christmas is about in the first place. I don't want my girls to grow up thinking that Christmas is all about how much is spent on them and what they can get. I want them to have a real understanding of why we celebrate. I want to them to have a passion for giving. Not of their wallets, but of their time, and of their hearts. I want them to give freely all the love, encouragement, friendship, and service that they can. The things that can't be wrapped in a nice little bow. The things that Jesus came here and gave to us. And, I know that the only way to teach them the true spirit of Christmas is to lead by example.

So, this year, I don't need any tangible gifts. If you want to give me something, here is my list:

1. You can give me your prayers. If or when I cross your mind, just say a quick prayer. Pray that I will be the wife,mother, and daughter that my family deserves. Pray that I will be a better friend, who picks up the phone more often to call, and picks up a pen more often to write. Pray that I will find contentment spending another Christmas living away from home. Pray that this Christmas be our last one living here, and that next year Brian will get the opportunity to move us home. Pray that our lost loved ones will come to know salvation. And, pray that I will be the example of God's love that I am called to be. So that more will come to know His amazing love and mercy.

2. You can give of your time. Let's have dinner together when we come to town or take turns helping each other clean house or do laundry. It's only a 2 hour drive. Let's set aside an afternoon to gather all the clothes,toys, and household items that we don't use and donate them to people who really have needs this year. Let's spend a Saturday baking sugar-free Christmas snacks to take to the nursing home and/or shut-ins. Offer to come up one weekend and we'll take our kids to do something fun together.

I am not in any way trying to come off as Ebenezer Scrooge, Bah Humbug, and all that. I just think that dollar amounts should not be on the top of the priority list for Christmas. I want my kids to be excited about presents and Santa just like every other kid. But, I don't want to lose sight of what really matters. I want this year to be the last one that I spend Christmas worrying and stressing about too much Christmas spending! And, next year when I start making all my Christmas lists, someone please remind me to come back and read this post, because I'm sure I will forget.:)
p.s. Don't you love the irony of the whole post being about the un-importance of Christmas presents and in the picture my girls are wearing dresses covered in Christmas presents?!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Love is...

This morning, my husband went to the gas station to fill the truck up with gas. It was barely 30 degrees outside and not even 7:00. But, Sarah has dance on Thursday nights and his new work schedule means that he can't go with us anymore. So, instead of making me stop on the way to dance class and fill up the truck (with both kids in tow and like always running late), he did it for me.

While he was gone, I made a pot of coffee. I put his in a "To Go" cup and warmed up 2 leftover Krispy Kreme doughnuts for him. I also prepared his lunch for the day. And, I stuck an extra Little Debbie in the sack, because I know he loves them.

At lunch time today, he called just to say hello and see how we were doing. He does that everyday.

Tonight, my husband snuggled with our little girls and watched Snow White for the 1000th time, just so I could finish up working on Christmas dresses. And, even though he pitched a fit about me starting a sewing project, he ooh'd and aah'd over those 4 little dresses, because he knows his opinion matters to me.

It may not sound like much, but that is what love looks like to me these days.

It isn't always about the grand romantic gestures. Date nights, dinner for 2, a movie, flowers, and candles. Sure, those things are nice, but it isn't what is really important. And, when you have small children, sometimes those things can be impossible.

It's the everyday things that we do for each other to show our love. It's him listening to me rattle on and on about the random things that cross my mind. It's me listening to him rattle on and on about football (seriously...for hours!).

Love is him staying awake when he is exhausted so we can talk to each other uninterrupted for a few minutes before bed. Love is me making sure no folded laundry is on the love seat when he comes in from work, because I know he enjoys coming home to a picked-up house.

Love is him getting up in the middle of the night to make sure all the doors are locked, because I hear noises and am a big wimp. Love is me getting up in the middle of the night, turning the monitor off, and tip-toeing across the hall to quietly rock a baby back to sleep and make sure that he stays asleep.

"I love you" is not just something we say to each other before we hang up the phone. It is something that we live day in and day out. We love in the exotic anniversary vacations and we love in the never-ending work days and poop up to the elbows. It isn't always a bed of roses around here, but even when we are having our worst arguments, I still can't imagine going through life without him.

We have learned a lot of things about ourselves in the 5 years that we have lived away from our families. We have, if nothing else, learned to depend on God and each other above all. We've learned to communicate better. All in all, we know that up here all we have is us. And, it works. Because, as cliche' as it may sound, he really is my best friend.

Tomorrow morning, my husband will get ready for another long day at work, and I will try to convince him to call in sick, so we can spend the whole day together. He won't, of course. He never does, even when he wants/needs to. But, to me, that also looks a lot

"And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but, the greatest of these is love." I Corinthians 13:13

Monday, December 6, 2010

25 Things About Motherhood That Make Me Smile

I guess I forgot for a couple of weeks that I had a blog to keep up with. I don't even know now where to begin updating it. We have been on the go constantly for the past few weeks, and that means lots of things to write about and no time to write. I think that I will start with the next installment of 25 Things About Motherhood That Make Me Smile. All 25 things have taken place in the last 2 weeks.

25 Things About Motherhood That Make Me Smile:

1. Sarah riding a horse for the first time
2. Giving Rylee 3 Reese's cups at midnight so she'll stop crying
3. Sarah playing dress-up at Thanksgiving dinner
4. Rylee running to my Mom and saying "NONNI!" for the first time
5. Taking the girls to a Christmas Parade
6. Decorating a Gingerbread house
7. Rylee's fascination with our porcelain baby Jesus
8. Living room concerts on a step stool singing "Be our Guest" and "I'm a Goat"(don't ask)
9. Rylee reaching for me and saying "HOLD HOLD!"
10. Sarah thinking that she smuggled a Mr. Potato Head into the shopping cart
11. Sarah making her "Gigi Face"
12. Watching my daughters decorate their little tree together
13. Keeping Rylee from eating the plastic ornaments
14. Sarah telling people that Christmas is Jesus' birthday
15. Praying that my children will know the true meaning of Christmas
16. Singing Christmas carols for the entire 2 hour drive home
17. Getting a round of applause after each and every song
18. Trying to get a beautiful picture of my girls and the babies together
19. Babies screaming the entire time
20. Rylee running away, refusing to sit still, and playing "drums" on the spotlights
21. Sarah leaning up against a column, arms folded across her chest, pouting
22. Thinking about what to smock for Easter dresses...before Christmas
23. Making hand print reindeer Christmas shirts for great-grandparents
24. Moving "Mickey" the Elf (our elf on a shelf) every night after the girls are in bed
25. Spending a "Lazy Monday" with my babies complete with hot chocolate and movies after a super busy weekend