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Monday, October 31, 2011

For those who have ever wanted to bite their husband's head off...

Oh, yes I did...

My fellow soccer moms and I cackled with glee when I noticed the opportunity.

Cute team picture cake!

Look at my sweet hubby

Come on, you know you want to!


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Thursday: Glitches

The unexpected can be beautiful
Usually when we think of glitches, we get upset that our plan has somehow gone awry. At least I do. I do not like things not going as planned. I need everything to be predictable and just as I expected. Which we know seldom happens in life. I've learned to go with the flow, but I still get irritated if it's not the flow I planned on.

So today, I had mega work stuff to catch up on. After Tuesday's bee sting incident knocked me out and I've spent the past couple of days on antihistamines that make me a little wacky, I really needed today to work solid. HOWEVER, the site I use was messed up, my boss wasn't around, and everything I tried to do couldn't be completed because of a glitch on someone else's end. GRRRRRR After doing everything I know to make things work, and failing miserably, I realized that I could instead use my time for something else.

And so I chose to do something I haven't done in a while. I spent the whole afternoon writing. Ah, bliss! The opportunity for unscheduled writing that got me a little farther ahead in this book I've been trying to finish for ages. Rather than being frustrated about my inability to get my work done, I was able to enjoy the freedom of working on a story that I absolutely love and wish I had more time to spend on.

Instead of resenting the glitches that prevented me from working, I was able to be thankful and enjoy the blessing of an unexpected afternoon to write. Of course now, I'll be up late catching up on work since the site's back online. But I don't mind. I had such a lovely afternoon that it's worth it.

How do you respond to the glitches in your plans?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Not as bad as I thought

Nothing to "bee" afraid of!
I have a confession to make. I am terrified of bees. Bee stings, to be exact. Which is strange, because I'd never been stung by a bee. But I have gone to ridiculous lengths to avoid getting stung. Including going to a plant expert to find out how to minimize getting stung in my garden.

Which was why, as I was walking through the Denver Botanic Gardens on a field trip with my little one, I was completely surprised by a very painful stinging sensation on my neck. Yep. I'd been stung by a bee. My first thought was, "God, please don't let me die in front of this group of second graders I'm chaperoning. They'll be traumatized for life." My second thought was, "hey, I don't think I'm dying." We walked to the main visitor's center, and the lovely lady at the desk told me what to look for (in case I was allergic), and then gave me some stuff to put on it.

No big deal, right? Which led me to walking through the gardens, marveling at the beauty, and thinking about the things we fear. I had "bee sting" so far up on my fear list that when it happened, it was no big deal. I think about all the things I've missed out on because I've been so terrified of getting stung. Incredible flowers not in my garden because they attract bees.

What a waste!

I will admit that later, I did have a little worse reaction to the sting, and I called my doctor, who assured me that I would be fine, and that because of where I was stung, my symptoms made sense. But I have been miserable. Mostly because I'm allergic to Benadryl, the one thing that would make it sooo much better. Even this inconvenience isn't nearly as bad as what I feared. In fact, it really has opened my eyes to thinking about all the other things I fear. Sure, being stung by a bee isn't something I want to repeat. But it's also not so bad that I can't go through it again. Which means I can live my life in new freedom.

What are your irrational fears? How have you faced them?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tuesday Tea Time: How I have missed thee, my beloved

A surprising find- yummy tea at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
I've been on this icky horrible nasty diet for the past couple of weeks, and one of the things I haven't been allowed to have is tea. Yes, my beloved tea. It was a horrible two weeks. And, in the spirit of honesty, I should admit that I did have tea twice. Once was herbal, and I think it was okay, but I'm not 100%, so I'll count it as a cheat. The other time, well, I had a tea date and I couldn't pass up real tea.

The thing I love about my tea love is that I can enjoy tea pretty much anywhere I go. Now there are teas that I don't like and would prefer not to have. But I'll drink it. And I'm usually surprised at what I find. Some teas have seductive flavor names that make you think you're getting a real treat but end up being real stinkers. Other teas aren't cleverly named, or are from a mass producer like Lipton or Tazo, and end up being absolutely delicious.

For me, tea is something I love that I can have no matter where I go. It's a simple pleasure that never fails to bring a smile. So to give it up for two horrible weeks, well... I may someday recover from the trauma. I think the point of giving up the tea was to give up the caffeine, but that's actually not what I love about tea. I usually drink decaf. I just love the warm drink and how it warms me everywhere.

Someday, I'll write an ode to my beloved tea, but for now this blog post will have to do.

Do you have a favorite food or drink that never fails to make you happy? What would you do if deprived of it?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Loving the body God gave me

Oh previous french fry, I will never forsake thee
I finally got sick and tired of my weight. I don't talk about it a lot because there are still a lot of people who think I'm just fine, and I love you for that. But the reality is that my doctor wants me to lose 30ish pounds, and he's probably right. And yes, I know, compared to a lot of other people needing to lose weight, it's not a lot.

But it's still hard.

So here I am, on this diet recommended by a health care professional, and I'm miserable. I hate it. I got to thinking the other day that there is no way I can eat like this for the rest of my life. I'd rather die of having a fat-related illness than live like this. Which led to even more moaning and groaning about why it's so easy for everyone else, but not for me. I should also add that I don't eat bad to begin with. Part of why I went on the diet was that with exercise alone, I was gaining- both weight and inches. Yes, I know muscle weighs more than fat, but really? Inches too? My pants were getting tighter and I had to go up a pants size.

Then God had a little chat with me. He wanted to know how I would feel if this was my body forever. Would I still be able to love my body if I never became thin again?

Ouch. Because that's the question that I think so many of us never ask ourselves when we think about losing weight. Could we love our bodies as they are? Like God loves us? Sure, it would be better for our bodies to be healthier. Just like it would be better for our souls to be more spiritually healthy. But are we loving ourselves, our bodies, for what they are now, rather than the someday we hope they become?

I'm still on the diet. The good news is that I have a few more days before I can add back in some of the things I had to cut out. I'll do that a while longer, and then I get to add back in a few more things. There are things she says we should never eat, and you know what? She can bite me. I'm not going to completely take away the joy of yummy food. Will I do it in moderation? Yes. But I'm going to balance the ideal me with loving the me that I am. I have a few more curves than I'm supposed to, and I jiggle in places I'd rather not jiggle, but this is the body God gave me. And I'm going to love it for what it is.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Thanksgiving Thursday: Paying it forward

My two workers!
Today I am thankful for the ability to pay it forward. That might sound strange, but for me, it's a really big deal. Several years ago, hubby was struggling to find work. We had two small children (one was a baby) and two teenagers, with no prospects in sight. Then hubby met this guy on one of his jobs who said, "are you ever interested in doing any side work?"

A beautiful partnership was born. Hubby did a lot of work for this guy and for a long time, those jobs kept us us in diapers. After a few jobs, however, they got stuck doing this house and the people were jerks, and long story short, hubby and his friend did a ton of work they never got paid for. Such is the life of a contractor. Fortunately, work for hubby had picked up, so he had a job to fall back on. The other guy ended up giving up his contracting business and getting a job.

Fast forward to now. We've stayed in touch with the guy, and the economy is hitting him hard. He's facing foreclosure, and work has really slowed down for him. One of hubby's side clients recently came to him with a big job- too big for hubby to handle on his own and still work the day job. So he called this guy, and now his friend has a little extra work. It's not a lot, but it's enough to make me feel absolutely blessed that in this economy, we're able to put someone to work and repay the favor he did for hubby all those years ago. Plus, because I still remember the difference those jobs made in our life, I know that even what I see as a small amount is probably huge to them.

Is there someone you're thankful for being able to help today?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I think they have the wrong idea...

I seriously meant to go back to my Tuesday tea time blogs. I have the ideas in my head. But right now, I am so tired that the Skillet song, Comatose, is playing constantly in my head. For some reason, that song in my head is the signal to go to bed!

Instead of hearing about great tea, let's talk about something else that's yummy- ice cream!

My MSN messenger that I'm signed in to for work had this article pop up. A group of ultra-conservative Jews vandalized an ice cream shop for being lewd. Apparently, licking an ice cream cone in public is immodest.

Me, I would break into an ice cream shop. But it would be because I want some of that frozen deliciousness all for myself! As for vandalizing, I think I would only do it if they were out of my favorite flavor.

So... if you had the opportunity to break into an ice cream shop, or *gasp* vandalize it, why would you do so?

And, okay, I would never break into or vandalize an ice cream shop, but let's pretend...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Am I ready for this?

Over the weekend, we had a birthday party for the 11yo- a house full of pre-teens and I survived! I think a deserve a medal for surviving all the craziness. Actually, it was a lot of fun.

However, it got me thinking about how my daughter is facing changes that I'm not sure I'm ready for. Out of the twelve kids we'd invited, TWO brought cell phones. Maybe I'm just not with the times, but I think 10 is a bit young to have a cell phone. I finally had to make the rule that the kids had to leave their phones on the counter during the party.

So tell me... am I just not with it? What is the right age to give a kid a cell phone?

Friday, October 14, 2011

The value of volunteering in schools

You don't have to wait for field day!
Yesterday I blogged about helping out in my daughter's class briefly as I moved on to having lunch with my other daughter. But as I was blogging, I thought a lot about the value of volunteering in our kids' schools.

My older daughter's class has 30 students. That's a lot for one teacher, and certainly not ideal for learning. Years ago, my response would have been, "well, they need to hire more teachers." Ha! In this economy, there's just no money for more teachers. To which my response would have been, "well, they need to do a better job spending my tax dollars." However, after spending the past few years helping out in my children's classrooms, I know better. I watch as the teachers as careful about what they print, using both sides, and every scrap of paper. I have to hand it to our teachers- they're amazing about squeezing every penny out of every supply that goes into the classroom.

But economics aside, I've realized there's even greater value to being in the classroom than just helping the teacher. I'm establishing relationships with my children and their peers. For many children, they are finding one more safe adult to have in their lives. I know the kids who drive my kids nuts. I know the bullies. I know the popular kids. I know the kids who are starved for attention. I know the kids whose parents are really active in their lives. I learn so many things about their lives- like the kids who are upset about their parents' divorce, or the ones who feel like they don't fit in with their dozens of siblings. I can tell you who gets along with their siblings, and who thinks their siblings are pests. I wish you could see me chuckling here, because yesterday, I went into the library, and met a little girl for the first time. When I found out her name, I smiled and said, "oh, I know you! You're X's sister!" Of course, I knew that because I'd just had lunch with her and her friends complaining about what a pest she was. But boy, you should have seen how proud that little girl was to know that I knew her.

Why is all of this so important?

Because we live in a scary world where people do some crazy things that make it a really unsafe place for our kids to grow up. But by building relationships with the children around mine, I can make it safer. And, I can share values with those kids who may not realize that not all families have multiple marriages, parents who hate each other, parents who are too busy with their own lives to spend time with their kids, and that the ugliness they face at home does not have to be their story. I'm not talking about abuse here, that definitely belongs in the hands of authorities. But do you know how many kids in my kids' school feel like they don't matter? And I don't believe it's because they have bad parents. They just have parents who are really busy or are dealing with their own bad marriages, or bad situations, and they don't notice.

Parents, find a way to be involved in your kids' classrooms. This does not mean you become helicopter parents and smother your kids. But take the time to be there. Get to know the kids, and let them reveal themselves to you.

For those who don't think they have the time, make the time. I realize it's easier for me to be involved because I work from home and have a more flexible schedule. But I still do have a job. So the time I take to be in the classroom, I do make up later. One of  the moms who always helps in our school works nights, so she takes her daytime sleep time to spend an hour a week at the school. Another mom uses her day off and takes one hour from that day to come in. I also know a mom who can't get a lot of time off, so she uses vacation days to go on field trips. Even those few special days mean a lot to the kids. So get creative! Your kids, and their peers, need you.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thanksgiving Thursday: Lunch with little girls

Who can resist that grin?
I volunteer in my older daughter's class on Thursdays. For an hour every week, I help a bunch of 5th grade students with their writing. I'm amazed at how these teachers are teaching the kids nowadays. So many cool things they're learning. If ever I had hope in our children's futures, it would be on the days when I get to sit in a classroom and edit their writing.

But that's not what I'm writing my thankful post about today.

You see, I usually also help in my little one's class, but her teacher hasn't set up a schedule yet. So... I haven't been in that classroom. My little one is quite bitter about this fact, and so today, when I was looking at their daily schedule, I realized that I finish in my older daughter's class right at the time my little one goes to lunch.

Today, I had lunch with a table full of second graders. When I walked into the cafeteria, one of my daughter's classmates recognized me immediately and informed me that she was still in the lunch line. So I went to the lunch line and got to surprise a little girl. I love that she immediately wrapped her arms around me, and  smiled that goofy toothless smile common in second grade. We walked through the lunch line hand in hand, and the lunch lady tried to feed me, so I finally accepted a cup of sliced oranges. On the way to the table, my daughter informed me that another friend was saving her a spot.

I had no idea a table of little girls could be so crowded, yet still have room, but sure enough, when my daughter arrived, they scooted over to give her a spot. And the little girl charged with saving my daughter a spot cast me a mournful, apologetic look and told me she didn't save me a spot because she didn't know I was coming. So I squatted near the end of the table, and took in the noisy gaggle of girls while eating my orange slices. I realized, as they all chatted, that I know the little girls in my daughter's grade. I could look around the lunchroom and pick out the different cliques (yup, they exist in second grade), and I knew almost every kid in there. Well, the girls at least. And the cute boys they giggle about. And the bad boys they scorn.

And I was thankful.

Because there will come a time when she is too embarrassed to hug me in the hallway, walk with me hand in hand through the lunch line, or have me sit with her friends. As she gets older, I'll know the crowd she hangs with because I've been having lunch with them for years. Each time I have lunch with them, I learn a little more about them, from the kid who is involved in way too many activities, to the kid who is painfully shy but terribly sweet, and the innocent looking one who instigates most of the trouble. And okay, by the time she gets to high school, I won't know ALL of the kids she'll be hanging out with, but I've made a good start. I'm really thankful for that opportunity.

I should also mention, to all the moms and aunties and dads and uncles, that it really does mean a lot to the kids when you take the time to have lunch with the kids. They love showing you off to their friends, and their friends love it when you take an interest in them, not as a parent, but as a person. I know not everyone is lucky enough to work from home like I do, but if you can find a way, do it. Because every little girl at my daughter's table wished her mom or dad could have come to lunch.

What seemingly meaningless task can you be thankful for today?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Happy Birthday to the best little creature on the planet

Last day as a Tenderfoot at Westernaires

Look Ma! I can ride bareback AND barefoot!
This is my little cowgirl birthday girl.

You'll forgive me if I'm a little weepy today, but wow... I can't believe how fast she's grown. I'd post baby pictures, but that would send me over the edge. 

I have to say that I truly like my little girl. She's such a good person, with a good heart.

Part of me is more than willing to let her grow up, because I can't wait to see what kind of person she turns out to be. But part of me is enjoying her so much that I don't want her to grow up at all.
So for now, I'll just share my sweet girl. And enjoy each of these moments while they last.

Also, if you're so inclined, she's selling tickets to the Westernaires annual show. You can find details here. It's the annual fundraiser for the organization, which provides kids with the opportunity to ride and learn about horses at a very low cost. So it's great for my little horse lover who lives in the 'burbs and doesn't get to be around horses nearly as often as she'd like. They have shows on October 29 and October 30, but if you can't make it, you can also buy a donation ticket that will be used for someone less fortunate to attend the show. Tickets for all shows are $8. So if you're interested in buying a ticket to support this great organization, please let me know!
Tenderfoot graduation!

First day as a sophomore. Notice the permagrin.