Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Adventure and Simplicity in 2014

So here it is, a close to the year of 2013 and the approach of yet another new year.  All my life, I've always created some kind of resolution, was sure to eat a pork roast with sauerkraut for good luck and review my year of accomplished (or unaccomplished) goals.

This year, it will be different.

I'm being stubborn and I'm going against the grain for my New Year.  It all started right before Christmas when I went to my granddaughter's dance class.  Seeing those tiny little feet tap the floor with their shiny tap shoes, it triggered a childhood memory: I always wanted to take tap lessons.  Marcella was getting a violin for Christmas and that reminded me too, that I always wanted to learn how to play myself.  Looking back, I now understand that my parents had limited funds as I was growing up with two other sisters and Mom being a stay-at-home mom.  It may not even have been a financial issue, whereas a time factor as well.  There are many things I can now understand what my mom went through as a stay-at-home mom now that I am one, too.  I decided I wasn't going to just live vicariously through my children.  I'm going to take the plunge and go for it, for myself. 

My Wish List

A long long long time ago, I created a Bucket List.  I'm not even sure where it is, it's been so long ago.  I know it's in one of my hundreds of journals so it would take me a while to locate it.  But I do remember that many of the things on my list wasn't significant, or maybe they were.  I remember wanting to go on a hot air balloon ride...  Hope a butterfly would land on me.  That's all I remember.  So I decided I was going to create a new list.  And honestly, I don't like the term "Bucket List".  Seems so final, like I'm dying.  I'm going to create a Wish List for 2014.  I'm going to make a scrapbook of my wishes and then leave room for each wish to add photos and notes of when I do accomplish (or attempt) each wish.  I'm going to put severe thought into each wish.  They will not be frivolous and careless.  There will probably be a reason why I choose each wish.  I'm also not going to pressure myself in making sure each wish is accomplished in 2014.  Finances are always tight for us and most of my wishes will end up costing something, but that's okay. 

So starting tomorrow for the New Year, I will not eat sauerkraut and pork.  I hope that will jinx me into something good, something different. 

Simplicity & Happyness

One thing that I will go for is simplicity and happyness in my life.  Yes, "happy-ness".  My goal is to strive to say "no" more often.  Boy, this is a hard one for me.  When my husband came home and surprised me with a brand new computer, oh it was hard for me to say "no".  We didn't NEED a new computer (well, that's a fine line.  We were borrowing an old laptop dangerously out of memory) and we certainly didn't NEED another bill, but my eyes lit up when I saw that the monitor was more than double in size, new programs and yes, MORE SPEED and memory.  I'm going to have to work really hard on this one.

Does simplicity and happyness go hand in hand?  Simplifying life, my possessions and material "things" I've collected over the years really make me happy?  I think that's a big debate for lots of people.  Needs and wants are very different... or are they?  Do I really NEED that box full of I-don't-remember-what's-inside sitting in the closet for the past 12 years? Do I really NEED to keep my stuffed animals from my childhood that my own children don't care to love like I did?   Did we really NEED a new kitchen table?  (that was a big debate between my husband and me, but I still didn't say NO, either).  Needs and wants are very similar, if you ask me.  Sometimes what you want is something you need and sometimes something you need, you just plain want.  It's like creating a Christmas list.  I was always told to write a list of things I WANT, but what I want is something I NEED, like a wooden spoon or underwear.

So, for the upcoming New Year, I vow to create simplicity and adventure in my life.  I will work on saying "no", clear out material things I've collected over the years that I really don't need and make room in my house and my soul.  I refuse to become that "boring stay-at-home mom" that is always satisfied to stay home in my pajamas all day.  yeah....  I love those days!  I will create a wish list to better myself, learn something new, strive to live as my own person, not just my daughters' mom or my husband's wife, but me.  I will smile more, be silly more and dig deeper in my soul to find that hidden energy I've been wondering where it's been these past few months.  It's time to dig out that old scrapbook hiding in my closet that I haven't used yet.  Stay tuned and journey with me through my Adventure in 2014!


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Homemade Lotion

I wanted to post this before Christmas but it would've ruined the surprise to my friends and family who read my blog.  I try to make Christmas gifts every year.  I can't afford to spend $20+ per friend/relative these days so making gifts makes it all the more special.  Last year I made laundry soap, but it didn't turn out so great.  After a month of using this homemade soap, my towels started to smell funny.  Needless to say, there's nothing like good ol' store-bought laundry detergent.  I can't remember all what I've made in the past years but nothing turned out quite as good as my homemade lotion that I made this year.

These beauties were so easy to make and they didn't cost very much at all.  I found the little containers at JoAnn Fabrics and used a 20% off coupon, too.  They were .75 cents a piece.  I used ribbon, labels and bows that I already had.  I suppose I could've printed the labels to make them prettier but I don't ever have colored ink so I hand-wrote them with glitter gel pens.  The coconut oil was around $6.50 and I got three containers out of each jar of oil.  The essential oils were anywhere from $9-$15, depending on the oil.  I'm never very good at figuring out how much each cost to make but it's roughly around $6-$9 each, depending on the essential oil(s) you choose.

All you do is put some coconut oil in a mixing bowl, beat it with a hand mixer until smooth and then add your favorite essential oil and mix.  I used lavender, bergamot, sage, peppermint and lemon.  I mixed and matched different flavors.  That's it!  After a day or two, the body butter will solidify more in the container but it can be used right away.

I've heard raves over these lotions.  There are 100 uses for coconut oil, which I plan to blog about soon.  In the meantime, these lotions are fantastic for dry, cracked feet, legs after shaving and dry, scaly skin and hands.

Maybe I'll open my own shop one of these days!

My Spit Is Dry

"Mom!  I'm thirsty."

"Lick your lips," was my reply.

"... But my spit is dry....."

Believe it or not, that was our conversation with our 6-year-old daughter on our way out of the mall not too long ago. 

My spit is dry, too.... and so is my body.  This winter is killing me!  I wake up with cotton in my mouth and my skin is so tight and dry, I feel like a wilted rubber band.

On top of feeling the affects of the wretched dry air and lack of light in my life, my energy level is being depleted by the hour. I watched four movies today.  Granted, I'm also coming down off the holiday high and I told myself I needed a day to be lazy and lazy I was!  So lazy that this house is a disaster and I'm content to let the kids play with friends all day just so I can watch TV all day.  So sad.  BUT!  I did take the dog for a walk today.  The poor guy hasn't been on a walk in, I don't know how many months. Pitiful dog master if you ask me.  On top of all that, I can't stop eating crap.  I don't eat potato chips, but lately I can sure down a whole bag of chips in a day, not to mention any cookies I can get my hands on.  I've gained a few pounds but it might as well be 20 pounds cuz that's how I feel!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and I hope you all have many blessings in the New Year!  I suppose I'll be falling into that category with everyone else:  Eat all the crap I want until New Year's and then "get back on track and lose this holiday weight" with a New Year's resolution.  Ugh!  Maybe I'll just wait until Spring.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Grandma! I'm Home!

"Grandma.... I'm Home!"

I get to hear these words every morning when my darling granddaughter, Adyson comes over.  I love how she feels so comfortably at home, she knows where to hang her coat and where the cereal is.  Then when Ellen gets home from kindergarten, Adyson gets so excited to see the school bus arrive. 

"Ellen home!  Ellen home!  Ellen... hug!"

Her eyes light up over the simplest things.  She knows after lunch, her and Ellen get to play.

Most days, Ellen is so nice to Adyson it warms my heart.  Many days, it's hard to get Adyson to take a nap because they're having so much fun.

Camden is the easiest baby to take care of, just like Adyson was.  He doesn't ever fuss unless he's hungry or tired.  He'll just lay there and play.  He's so quiet, sometimes I forget he's here!

Then we get to do it all over again when Marcella gets home from school.

Elf on the Shelf - Here we go!

So, we jumped on the bandwagon and got an Elf on the Shelf.  Her name is Koda.  She's named after our beloved German Shepherd, Koda Bear.  The girls still haven't gotten over her so to make her live on, she's now our new elf.

I wish I had taken more pictures of this elf, some of the things she's gotten into.  I didn't really care if we had an elf or not.  I never was the kind of person to go along with everyone else, but this time I'm in.  I'm having a blast with this elf and shockingly, it's working!  Marcella and Ellen are getting along so well these days, I can't remember the last time I had to yell.   The first day, Koda arrived by appearing on top of the curtain rod with an arrival letter.  That very day, the girls noticed that Koda had a tag on her butt.  (insert a slap on the head here)  They thought that since Koda had a tag, then she was stuffed and not real.  Here comes Dad to the rescue:  He said that since there are so many elves and they all look alike, they have to have tags on them to tell them apart.  Then once they get claimed by a family and receive a name, the tag gets cut off and made official.  Clever, huh?  Marcella just thought the elf got a new outfit and Santa forgot to cut the tags off.

We were going to keep this elf simple and just move it around the house.  Umm... no.  That's too boring.  So Koda has taken a trip to the dining room light, had a tea party with Barbie and a Monster High monster, she's made friends with each of the girls' favorite stuffed animal and she's peeked her head out of the kitchen cabinet door.

 Yes of course, zip lining.

One night we forgot to move Koda.  Completely forgot about it until the girls found her still hanging upside down on the curtain rod.  Just as I was trying to figure out how to move the elf without the girls figuring it out, Jeff told me to leave it alone and tell the girls the elf is testing them.  So I told them:  "I think she's testing you to make sure you're paying attention to her..."  With confused looks, I said, "Well, no one talked to her all day yesterday and no one said good night to her...."  BINGO!  That worked.  Ever since the girls have been talking to Koda, showing her their school work, and saying good night.

Ellen showed Koda her Nutcracker she got when her grandma and I took her to see the Nutcracker. So Koda wrote the girls a letter...

Grandma Linda has made it a tradition to take each grandchild to the nutcracker when they were young.  The kids get to pick out their own nutcracker and they were proudly displayed at Grandma and Grandpa's house every Christmas.  Marcella went when she was about 6 years old and this year was Ellen's turn.  Grandma Linda has gone to the nutcracker 9 times.  That's 7 grandchildren, a daughter-in-law (me) and granddaughter-in-law. 

I wish we were able to get better pictures.  We're not supposed to take pictures in the Ohio Theater and the lights were dark.  We were already bundled up to free hands to hold onto each other, but at least we got a picture.  As always the production was fantastic!  We almost got to talk to one of the ballerinas and ask her to sign Ellen's nutcracker box, but she said goodbye to her friends and took off really fast.  Oh well.

Counting down the days 'til Christmas....  Entering panic mode.  We haven't even started shopping yet!  We have "special connections" with Santa because of Jeff's work.  He works on Christmas day this year so Santa said he'll make a special trip to our house the night before Christmas eve.  We're already short on days.  'Tis the Season!!!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Christmas Is Not YOUR Birthday

"Sorry honey, I can't play with you right now.  I have to finish baking these pies and then start cleaning the house...."

"No, I can't take you to your friend's house to play.  I'm in the middle of waxing the kitchen floor..."

"Kids!  Out of the kitchen!  I'm trying to cook here!"

"Who made that mess in the living room?  Clean it up!  I don't have time to deal with this right now...."

Sound familiar?  The stress of the holidays are approaching us all and real fast.  Thanksgiving is over and as it took me a day or so to recoup from all the baking and cooking from the first family dinner, I'll soon be getting ready for another family Thanksgiving dinner this weekend. 

Then once that will be done, it'll be time to start the shopping. 

Oh the shopping.....









and more shopping.

What has happened to our holiday season that everyone has become too busy doing so many things all at once?  What is the season really about these days?  Family?  Santa?  Presents?  What's the first thing your kids say when you ask them what Christmas really means?

The Reset Button

Maybe it's time to push the reset button in our lives.  To go back to simpler times when family was the focus of the holiday season.  Where it's special to find two gifts under the Christmas tree instead of only one... or none.   Where moms and dads feel allowed to drop what they are doing to pay attention to the kids, even just for a few minutes.

Maybe it's time to let the guard down and make amends to those loved ones who have gotten lost.  To forget the pride of who's fault is whose, to forget the past and move on to the present. 

What is really important?  To prove a point or let the holidays slip by in a blink?

Unexpected and Undeserved

This holiday season, my goal is to try to be more creative.  To give a gift that's unexpected and maybe even undeserved.  To someone who has wronged me or someone I need to find forgiveness in and give them a gift they don't expect or maybe they don't even deserve. 

Instead of going shopping for that "one more gift", I'm going to try to find time instead.  To create that last gift with time from the heart.  I want to spend more time with my children without feeling hurried, to play a game with them, read a book and just snuggle in front of a good cartoon.  To listen more instead of talking more.  Pray more.  I invite you to do the same this Christmas.  Slow down and smell the cinnamon pine cones and take in all the blessings you have in your life. If it wasn't for Jesus being born, we wouldn't be celebrating Christmas.  Don't forget the reason for this season. 

                                                        flickr.com/Alessandro Pinna

 "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
   And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
   and to walk humbly with your God."  - Micah 6:8
Inspired by Pastor Nathan Custer, Columbia Heights United Methodist Church, 2013