Monday, December 27, 2010

Keeping Christmas going

So Christmas is over. The lights look a little less twinkly, the garland is falling limp and the wrapping paper has all been ripped. No matter how you prepare for it, after Christmas let down is always a tad depressing. And in an effort to honor the season and be thankful, instead of slip into the after Christmas funk, lamenting over my children's attitudes of entitlement and the pile of returns I am not sure I'll ever get around to, I have decided to make a list of the wonderful things that happened this season!
-We had Amanda's first Christmas and she was so sweet and cute in all her little dresses.
-My sons sang wonderfully in the Christmas program and both were so pleased with their costumes...Gavin a wise man ("the green one mom") and Brayden the cow ("I say MOOOO")
-We did our annual tradition of delivering cider to those we want to honor for their quiet service to others and it was wonderful! The boys kinda got it (as opposed to last year...see december 2009 blog) and they participated fully, with grins wearing their Santa hats.
-Gavin loved (and Brayden tolerated) reading the Advent book we have and both of them have much of the scripture in it memorized, by reading it each night.
-The boys and I made a birthday cake for Jesus and they were so excited and proud.
-The boys were very patient during gift time.
-My family decided to do a service project with the kids and collect/buy items to create bags to hand out to the homeless. The kids got in the assembly line and fully participated, helpfully without complaint.
-My husband has been super dad and given me multiple hours with only one (and sometimes none) kid. The best was the day after Christmas...he took the boys so I could make a secret trip to the goodwill with old toys and clothes and put away all the Christmas stuff without little people underfoot!
-We have had the opportunity to do such fun things as a family, go ice skating, go out to eat, go Christmas light looking...
-Shawn and I have had two date opportunities and one with the boys staying overnight at Grandma and Grandpas!
-I had the chance to reconnect with a friend from highschool and meet her sweet family.
-We are getting to go up to a friend's lake house for New Years with some of our closest friend's and their kids.

We are blessed. After Christmas can be hard. All the ramp up and suddenly the celebration seems to stop. But when I look at my life, I mean really sit back and take stock...WOW! Not only do I have salvation and a God who has given me eternal life, to spite my sinful nature, but he has blessed me over and over again. Sometimes simple, sometimes awe-striking...He continues to provide far more than I can ask for or imagine...just like His word promises.
And so, when it seems so easy to slip back into the routine and the grind, I am going to work on training my heart. Because when I stop and look for the gifts, I see that God didn't just stop with Christmas and Christ's birth. He kept going and kept giving. I am going to try and do the same. Not just be thankful at Christmas, but keep going. If He did that for me...surely I can do this for Him.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Choosing Joy

With Christmas approaching, I can say my stress level is starting to rise. I am doing my best to keep it at a minimum, but it seems like every time I think I've bought the last present or been to the grocery store for the last ingredient, another item creeps up. The to-do list gets two items added for each thing crossed off and my shoulders start working their way up to my neck. For some reason (namely, my three children) I do not keep mental track of things like I used to and I just start to get stressed that something important is going to slip through the cracks. And in all of this, I get stressed that I am getting stressed and forgetting the meaning behind Christmas.
Due to the various errands and to dos of the season, my children have found themselves in the van and in the grocery carts quite a bit. Drug from here to there, they start to get cranky, then I get cranky. They disobey, I punish. They get mad, I get madder. It's really quite the holiday love fest and I get so disappointed. I want to be super mom, get it all done, have all the patience in the world and be doing the fun Christmasy things I feel I am supposed to do as super mom. This is not to be.
We have been trying to crack down a bit on the defiant behavior anyway, because since the baby has been born, the kids have taken to ignoring directions and throwing fits when we ask them to do stuff. For awhile I think Shawn and I were too tired to care, but recently we have teamed up to get back on track and well, the kids are not liking the follow through and frankly, neither am feels like they are always being punished, because the are pushing every line there is! I am considering letting Gavin take up a permanent residence on his bed since he seems to be sent there so often.
And an effort to make everyone feel better, I have been trying to make a consciencous effort to do Christmas things with my kids and find opportunities to some of the things they want to do and not just fulfill my own agenda. We have made some salt dough ornaments, we went to the children's museum, we went out ice skating, and went to the toys at McDonalds (this is a biggy, cuz they love it and it's just a bit too much for me on a normal day).
It's been nice to feel like I am putting them first. I know in the back of my mind, my kid's are far from deprived and loved well, but lately with all the defiance and disobedience from them, i think we have all felt a lack of joy around here. I am working hard to choose joy and put first things first. Sadly, for me it really is work. I am hoping it soon becomes habit.
Today, after a day where the kids went to the children's museum and got to go ice skating, Gavin got out of bed and was throwing some toy down the hall, thinking no one was nearby. I was so frustrated...a full day of fun for him, it's way past his bed time and he is totally disobeying the rule to stay in bed (might I mention here, he had already had two warnings from his dad to go to sleep and it was about 2 hours past bed time). I was ready to make the kid's life miserable. I snuck around the corner and asked, "Just what do you think you are doing?"
Gavin made a bee line away from me and started heart sunk and then lifted slightly. It sunk, because he was obviously sad he got caught and knew that meant trouble. But it also lifted, because he knew he had done something wrong. I didn't have to punish him for him to know. He was already sad. He was fully aware of what he'd done and what it meant.
I had him come out to the couch and we talked. He knew what he did and that he should have been in trouble. I told him, it wasn't going to happen tonight. Instead, I held him, rubbed his back and sat quietly looking at the Christmas tree with him.
As I sat there, I thanked God for my little boy. I thanked him for how many times he chose to talk to me as I guiltily cried and ran from Him, knowing I deserved punishment. I thanked Him for Jesus who took my punishment. I thanked him for a Christmas moment where on a very small scale I could show my son the mercy and forgiveness His Son has given us.
I thanked Him that because of Jesus, I could choose joy tonight, for me and my son.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Amanda has been a pretty easy baby. She is happy, she sleeps well, and when she's awake she coos at you, all smiles with her big blue eyes. Once a routine was established, she just blended right in.
As child number three, there isn't a great deal of time to sit down with Amanda and do all the things you do with number one. We don't have hours of tummy time on the floor, where I am capturing every moment on film. She has a great deal of swing time and is often left lying on her back to look at the Christmas lights, while I run number 2 to the bathroom or deal with number 1 throwing a tantrum. It's just life as she knows it and she goes along with it pretty well.
I will say, we have had some troubles with her gaining weight. I have taken to feeding her the breast milk in a bottle, just to make sure she's getting enough and even though she gets up to 30 oz. a day, she hasn't gained one ounce in the last two weeks. Today, the doctor made a referral to Children's Hospital's special growth clinic. She seems developmentally right on track, so I haven't been super concerned, but still it was a bit disheartening to hear.
Then, today, during one of those Christmas light gazing moments, I heard a blood curdling scream from Amanda. Somehow, she got a scrape on her forehead. I am pretty sure one of the boys accidentally drug something over her, but I heard a huge wail from her tiny little self. Gavin and Brayden both looked completely innocent and confused as to why she was yelling, which did my heart some good, knowing it wasn't on purpose, but you could still tell she was hurt.
My heart ached and all the sudden I realized I have fallen in love with my little girl. Before today, I knew I loved her and I would have told anyone. But like I mentioned, there hasn't been time with Amanda to sit, gazing at her and contemplating how much she means to me and how amazing it is that God gave her to us to care for. But when I saw the big tears come from her little face, my heart kicked into gear and I realized how completely I love this little girl and how much I wanted to see the tears dried and her ever present smile return.
I am so thankful for Amanda and so glad she is ours. This tiny tiny little girl, who just three months ago entered our world. I pray God would protect her and hold her close. And though I won't be able to dry all the tears she sheds, I hope that I can dry many and even when they fall, she'll know just how much she is loved!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Here is a bit of what we have been up to, in pictures. I feel like the picture loader on this thing takes awhile, but it was high time I put a few new ones on. Of course, typical me...I accidentally got them chronologically backwards and am too lazy to fix it. Oh well...they are still cute! Brayden's year to put the star on the tree. Notice we ran out of lights, but it was past the boys bedtime and we decided to let them top the tree before Shawn ran to Bartells to get the finishing strand!
Amanda's first snow and first time in the snow bear outfit.
The boys were soooo...excited to see the snow and go out and play and soooo sad when it melted.
We now have a super smiler on our hands. This is her usual self if someone is talking to her. Lovely!
Amanda on the morning of her dedication at church.
The boys in Pastor Phil's office as we prayed before service for Amanda's dedication.

Our friend's children who are here visiting from out of the country! We love and miss them so much!