I have thoroughly enjoyed October from start to finish. We have the rest of today and a whole lot of family fun...and then tomorrow, we change from Halloween to harvest. I'm excited! Maybe I'll sweet-talk my Boy into taking pictures of our Halloween decorations since my camera is dead...
I've been working on this scripture for the past two weeks. It's one of my favorites, actually. It wasn't until the last day of the two weeks that it HIT me, though: this is about so much more than not being selfish.
When I start putting work and outside commitments ahead of my family's needs and my needs...when my house is filthy but my PTO book is perfectly organized, or I don't have time to cook but I have time to bake for this commitment or that commitment...things are out of whack. This shows up in my attitude, in my time management, in my relationship with my husband and of course, the behavior of my children. My attitude--ugh. It has NOT been a good one for the past week or so. And it's shown in my relationships and my home and my life.
As long as I keep first things first, life is good. If I make time for God each day, and time for my Boy, and keep talking to both of them, life is good. If I do those two things, the kid part is infinitely easier. If I take time for quiet time each morning, my spirit is quiet and I can be more patient. If I can put my selfishness aside and serve my husband and children with a happy heart, our house is happy.
This doesn't mean I deny myself everything and never take time for myself--it just means that I need to work harder at keeping first things first...and spend less time looking for things to be unhappy about. Am I the only woman who gets a little grumpy, then starts mentally cataloging ALL of the things I COULD be grumpy about, then all of a sudden my life feels like a mess and I'm unhappy and it's probably my Boy's fault so I get grumpy with him and then he's grumpy and then everything goes downhill...all because I got stuck in a self-centered rut and started listening to the unhappy lies in my head instead of looking at the truth of it all: my life is good. I am blessed beyond imagining. The petty stuff is just that--petty. Petty distractions that don't matter in the grand scheme of things, yet it's so easy to spend time focusing on those things and not looking at the big picture of blessings.
Life is good. Shame on me for looking down and losing sight of that.
Yesterday, I met a little guy who, from behind, looked so much like Noble it was a little freaky. Down to the way he wore his t-shirt, kinda hanging off one shoulder. I met this kiddo in one of our classrooms, and he was born with some physical issues that make it difficult for him to do everyday tasks. He's absolutely gorgeous, and funny, and sweet...he's a month older than Bubby, and they are so similar. I find myself wondering if they will be friends when they meet tomorrow, and if they'll look at each other and see the similarities I see. Not many three year olds are that self-aware, I know. But part of me suspects they'll look at each other and see a friend. I hope. I pray Noble sees past the physical differences, like Kayci has always been able to do. I love that she has my heart for special friends, and I know that Noble is a totally different knucklehead and he may not be as accepting as she is. We'll see. And if not, we'll work on it, because I think it's important.
I think maybe it's because of my work, but I always wondered if God's plan for me included a special needs child. Now that both children have been born and are growing up so healthy and whole, I fervently pray that they stay that way. But seeing a child so like Noble, and so not, hit too close to home--I never want to take him for granted, the things he thinks and says and does. And the same for Kayci, of course. Life can change in an instant. We pray it won't, but it can.
So, this morning I'll take a moment and take stock. Are the things I'm worrying about right now big things, or little things in the grand scheme? Am I taking time to appreciate what (and more importantly, who!) I have? Am I spending enough time with the important people in my life? The answer to some of those is no, which means I've got some work to do.
But for now, back to enjoying my kids. And saying a prayer of thanks for their health and happiness. And also saying a prayer for the kids this morning who are lacking in either...but don't get me started on that.
This Monday morning, I am thankful to be HERE. Here at home, surrounded by dirty laundry and stuff that needs to be unpacked and stuff that needs to be done, running behind schedule already this morning and off-schedule because of a little crazy outside this morning...but here at home, nonetheless. It's going to be a crazy week on top of last week's crazy week and busy weekend and heading into a busy week next week, but none of that matters. What matters is that everyone is safely off to where they're supposed to be, they all left smiling and fed, and it's a beautiful day. We're prepared for the planned crazy this week and excited about the crazy to come next week. And if some unexpected crazy comes our way, well, we'll roll with it. But right now, I'm here. And I couldn't be happier.
Last night, we ran into a friend of James' from high school. They were talking about preparations for their 20th class reunion, and that started me thinking...
...MY 20th class reunion is just a few months away. We had a great time at our 10th reunion, and I've really been looking forward to seeing my old friends, and seeing my Facebook friends in person. But here's what had me stressed last night: career-wise, I have no clue where I'll be after this school year ends. People are going to ask, "what do you do?" Hmm...that's kind of a tough one already. So, I had a little freak out on the car ride home last night. James is sooooo good, and he so gets me. He said exactly the right things, and reminded me who I am isn't about what I "do."
I woke up this morning with that in the back of my mind, feeling a little pressured. But on my drive in, I heard a great segment on KSBJ about success. I needed to be reminded to hold to God's standards and do His work, not worry about the world.
Sometimes I lose my focus--but hopefully I'm back on track as I head into my workday today. :)
I know, I know, my phone camera StInKs! But...I couldn't NOT take a picture of these stinkin' cute kids this morning. Noble's dressed up for picture day, and Kayci's decked out in her new jeggings and tall boots. Sigh. So cute...I'm really struggling this morning with my impatience with Noble and the whining and the arguing...it's so much easier when it's someone else's kid, isn't it? You'd think I'd have enough tools in my teacher/parent toolbox by now to handle anything...but not so much. Hence the second sigh. I need to work on ME.
For years, James has wanted to have a graveyard in the yard for Halloween. Years. This year, he and the kids got busy and made his dream a reality.
I think he and Kayci had a *lot* of fun thinking of epitaths, and names. Some of their rhymes are pretty clever.
Here lies Cousin Biff. He fell off a high, high, high cliff.
Noble got to help, too. A teacher note, here: on this particular "stone", Noble drew a cross and wrote an M and an O. Daddy and Kayci were quite shocked...and impressed!
When it comes to projects like these, sometimes I sit out so Daddy and the kids can spend some creative time together. I decided my role would be to make a fun Halloween-y dinner while they put the finishing touches on the graveyard yesterday. So, on the menu, we added FINGER FOODS and GRAVEYARD GOODIES.
We borrowed some ideas from Kayci's Halloween party a couple of years ago, like these Mummy pizzas.
And then there were witches' fingers and a couple of mummy fingers...hey, wait a second, that was a whole finger a minute ago...
And zombie fingers, but they're hard to see in the picture. These are actually pizza rolls that I made too fat and then the cheese...don't get me started. But the pepperoni fingernails? Inspired.
Noble was a little freaked out by the eyeballs in a jar.
But he loved the finger bones dessert.
And that graveyard? Pretty spooky, if you ask me! Great job, Daddy! (And I'm so happy you finally got your Halloween wish!)
The soundtrack of our life...
1. Sitting down to dinner, I guess I got a little impatient with Noble's questions. Kayci said, "ooh, I know when you call him 'friend' he's being really special." Ouch! But so spot-on and so freakin' funny...
2. Noble wanted to pray. We were prepared for a long one, but this is what he said:
"Dear God, thank you for today. And thank you for when Jesus died on the cross.
3. When I noticed there was a half-eaten mummy finger, Noble looked up and said, "Oh, I ate that." Niiice.
Today has been a good day. The morning was a little hectic (because, ahem, I slept in), but here smack in the middle of the day, I'm pretty happy with what I've done and not done.
Today is the last day of the time management experiment, and the challenge is to make time today to do what you love. The first thing that came to mind was something I've been trying to write for months. The second thing was yoga. So, I cleaned house after I took Bitty to school, went to piyo (Pilates/yoga mix), ran errands and grocery-shopped, picked up Bubby, fed and loved on him before putting him down for a nap, enjoyed a leftovers lunch with my Boy, perhaps indulged in some Mexican Praline with him while watching an old "Friends", then finished cleaning and putting away groceries when he headed back to work. Oh, and I've washed all the towels and rugs today. I finally got to shower and dress for real, and now here I am in my favorite spot with my notebook and pencil. Wish me luck!
...but then I don't, because both cameras on my phone are jacked up now. So, I can either not post pics at all (okay, or use "real" pictures from the "real" camera that I'm too lazy to use, upload, etc.) or post pics with halos and all-around fuzziness from my cracked camera.
If I could post a picture *right now*, I'd tell you about how we decorated for Halloween on Sunday, and show you the fun banner Kayci and I made.
Okay, so it stretches across the living room/dining room doorway and it's ghost-bat-ghost-bat-ghost-bat-ghost and the ghosts spell out "BOO!"
Which Noble, of course, learned to spell this weekend. All fine and good until he got confused and was walking around muttering "B-O-O-B!" So didn't want him taking that to the Christian Day School...
I need to get my camera issue straightened out or be less lazy.
I found this picture as I was cleaning up my desktop this morning, and I just had to stop and write you a note. (Because, you see, this morning I'm in the middle of an experiment...and it turns out, I suck at monotasking. Focus on one thing? Haven't had much practice with that in the past decade. But, I'm working on it...)
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know just how blessed you are. 13 years later, you still love your Boy with all your heart and then some. You won't understand this, but you love him even more every day. It turns out that you're still best friends--only now you've learned how to put his friendship first, and that has made all the difference. You've got amazing kids, and you'll have no idea how they got to be that way. Just give the glory to God, because trust me, it can't be you--you screw up all the time. :) But, you love them and you try...and sometimes, that's all that matters.
I know you're busy right now making plans for the future. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you're not going to strike it rich by the time you're 35. There's no big house, you haven't traveled the world, and you still shop at Target and Old Navy. You don't know it yet, but other things will be more important to you. You're lucky, you know, that the older you doesn't have any regrets. But if I could just tell you a few things, here's what I'd say:
-in this picture, you're 10 pounds heavier than you were when you got engaged. DON'T gain another pound. It *won't* be easy to lose it, and every pound you gain will bring a friend or two. So, stop the madness now.
-you know how you spend so much time working out? Don't ever let work or life get in the way of that. As you get older, you'll be glad for your strength.
-just between you and me, you know how you like to be right about everything? Get over that. Like Lynn says (now Lynn, not then Lynn...she's learned a lot, too): you can choose to be right, or you can choose to be happy. Choose to be happy.
-don't sweat the small stuff. Sounds silly, but it'll save you lots of heartache.
-put people first, not things.
-don't try to keep up with the Jones. Don't even try to BE the Jones. Just BE.
-if you don't have the cash to buy it, don't buy it. Debt isn't wealth. It's not even money--it's just a pain later.
-"...give to God what is God's, and to Caesar what is Caesar's." Jesus said that, and it's probably the best financial advice you won't listen to until you learn the hard way.
-live in each moment...they are fleeting.
-spend more time listening to your Dad's stories. You'll miss that someday.
There's so much more I could tell you, but we both know you won't listen. I wonder what you'd tell me if you could?
Anyway, I've used up my "blog break" time. Back to the grind. Who'd have thought it would be so hard to just accomplish one thing at a time?
Last week, Kayci went to the annual Cubs cheer clinic. It's a fun afternoon when elementary school kiddos get to work with the Cub cheerleaders and learn several cheers and a dance, and then they perform at a football game. Well, last night was the football game. Kayci was stoked--she knew the cheers, she knew the dance, and she'd done it all before, so she was really comfortable with us dropping her off at the fieldhouse with the other kids. She did such a great job, too! For some reason we didn't take any cameras, but just believe me, she looked so cute out there and she didn't miss a beat. I was so proud of her, and just in awe of how much more coordinated than I am she is!
And then...when she came up into the stands, it was obvious she was miffed. Beyond miffed. Not talking to us, not taking any compliments, not having any of it miffed. As it turns out, there was a mix-up down on the field. We noticed that Kayci was in the back of the group when she was in the front of the group last week, but we didn't think anything of it--if anything, we were grateful because we could see her better. Oh, but she was MIFFED. The thing is, when she finally did talk about it, she wasn't upset because she wasn't front and center--she was upset because she was expecting to be one place and ended up in another. She is so articulate once she calms down, and I'm always interested in hearing what's on her mind. Last night? She said, "it's just hard for me when I think things are going to be one way and then they turn out a different way."
Wow. How many of us, as grown-ups, feel the same way? (My hand's up.) This was a great teachable moment, and I reminded her of all the times I've given slinkies to my team as "happies." Of course she remembers, because she usually scores one. I told her why I give out slinkies: as a reminder to "be flexible." And how when we're flexible, we can bend with the situation and make it work...without breaking. But when we won't bend, it just hurts...and sometimes, we can break.
I don't know if she walked away feeling any better, but I woke up with this on my mind this morning. You see, yesterday I had a very, very long meeting with our CPA. It turns out, Daddyboy and I were so focused on paying off our debt, we didn't pay our estimated taxes as we should have. So, it's gotta get paid, and it's time to pay up. Only, we don't have enough in our tax account so now we're going to have to find some money...and money, quite frankly, is already plenty tight around here.
Driving home yesterday, I just wanted to cry--it doesn't matter that we knew that it was coming, and that it's our own fault--I'm just so tired of worrying about money. Wah. But the truth of it is, we are incredibly blessed. Our budget each month is just exactly enough to cover what we need and allows us to do fun stuff as a family. And it allows us to give freely, which is very important to me. When I'm not being the "I want more!!!!" brat, I understand all of this and I am so grateful because I know it's God's math that makes it all work, because if it was just my math, we'd be broke 2 days after payday. (You know it's true.)
So, once again, it's time for me to bend. Here I thought we'd pay off our debt and have *all* that money to save for a house, catch up on things we've been wanting to buy, etc. Nope--exit my highest paying job. Okay, so we reevaluated, and it's working. Phew. But now it's time to "give to Caesar what is Caesar's..." and it's time to bend again. We'll find the money--it'll be the money we usually take our fall weekend trips with, James' freelance money, a big chunk of our Christmas money, etc. I'm even thinking of a part-time job, but that's last resort. We'll find it. It'll hurt, because we wanted to DO and BUY with that money. But, we screwed up--and this whole tax thing has been a monkey on our back since I left the classroom. Every year we pay, every year it hurts. But this is the end of it, because we've found a wonderful CPA (one of Dave Ramsey's ELPs if you speak FPU) who has really been helpful in holding up a mirror and letting us see where we can make better choices. She's made a huge difference in the way we do things, just since April. I haven't talked about this with many people, but the whole getting our taxes in order 12 months a year thing has been the last piece of the financial puzzle that we needed to work on. It was one area where I was still doing the, "if I don't think about it..." thing that got us into debt and kept us there for so long. It's kind of ironic that in focusing so much on paying off one debt we essentially created another debt to ourselves and the IRS, no? Maybe I'll laugh when it's paid off, right?
It's gauche to talk about money, I know. Now you know the truth: we are not rolling in it here in the little green house, and we struggle to make good choices with what comes our way each month. But, we're working on it. And I know from talking to LOTS of my friends that some of you struggle, too, and have made the same exact mistakes we have. That's why I talk about money here on my blog--because if you're not in control of yours, I hope this will help you get in control of yours. And if you have any tips for me, please, for the love, tell me! :)
And now, it's time for me to go celebrate October with my family--I could say this every season and I probably do, but I love, love fall! The kids have been looking at pumpkins and skeletons and stuff in the stores, and I've been telling them--when it's October, we'll decorate. So, this morning we're going to try making pumpkin pancakes and then we're going to start decorating for fall. What a great weekend to be home!