Friday, December 30, 2011

Friday Happy Hour: Year End Wrap Up

Just as I become accustomed to writing "2011" on everything, it’s time to switch it up. Just yesterday I was trying to wrap my head around the idea of a new millennium…but now we are well into the next thousand years. And it’s amazing how much has changed in just this short amount of time. We have hand-held devices that practically control the weather and I have a teenager that practically runs the house. In a blink of an eye it all changes. And if we are doing something right, we learn and grow and change with the times. Our hearts grow bigger, our minds open to new ideas, and we become aware in this finite time that there is still so much to be done and so much love to share. We must keep moving forward with our eyes set on the year ahead of us.
But like most year-end reviews, there is a place to reflect and see what went right and what didn’t work so we can make a few adjustments in the coming year. I believe in lists and resolutions, commitments and revolutions. I believe the time is now and the answers to the future are entwined with the actions of our past. I believe that in the beginner’s mind all things are possible, but the expert’s there are few (Shunryu Suzuki.)  I believe that the children are our future and we are making a mess of it. I believe there is still plenty of time to turn this ship around.  I believe that compassion is more important than how much I get in my tax return. Here are a few other things I learned this year:
·         I believe that reaffirming how I feel in a written blog has made me a more positive person. Writing regularly was one of my better choices this year. But regularly letting time get sucked away on useless internet surfing was one of my poorer decisions.
·         Living in the moment was a skill that I began to develop this year resulting in far less anxiety and worry. Conversely I have not taken enough action towards long term goals for myself or my family leaving me to wonder how we will tackle all of our plans for the next year.
·         I feel closer to my extended family that ever before, but it leaves a hole in my heart that cannot be filled when we are always so far away.
·          I have learned that art fills my soul, but sadly I must cut out the crafts if I am ever to make progress as an artist.  
·         I have enjoyed my boys and tried to soak in every moment, every hug and every wish, forgetting that I can let go and allow them to do it on their own.
·         I have rediscovered that my husband is my very best friend, but often times I forget to be a good friend to him. 
·         I have hungered for knowledge, forgetting that ignorance is bliss.
·         I have dreamt big and still fell short.
·         And most importantly, this year I have learned the secret of true happiness is wrapped up in one little word – gratitude.

This is 2011 in a nutshell. I can learn from the ups and downs and all the in-between to help make the next year even better. But the one thing I know for sure is that this was the best year ever! What about you? What ups and downs did you learn from to make this your best year ever?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday Happy Hour: No Gifts Please!

Birthdays seem to come more frequently the older you get. When you turn eight a year is only 1/8th of your life; when you turn 38 it’s 1/38th and as that number grows it just magnifies how fast time speeds by you. I’ve flip flopped all year over my feelings about being in my late 30’s now and that there is no denying that I am aging. How can I pull a muscle in my back just reaching over to put on a sock? Are those sun spots? Will I actually have to color my hair for the first time ever to maintain my redhead status? And I find that I am squinting to read every now and then. And so it goes.
But I heard something the other day about aging (not that I could remember for the life of me where I heard it.)  I heard that I should embrace it wholeheartedly, for not everyone is afforded the opportunity to grow old. And at that moment I found new resolve to never regret the experience of adding another year to my life. Every wrinkle will be the sign of a life well spent and every grey hair will be a sign of three loud boys running wild and keeping me on my toes. There is no better way to say I am alive, than another birthday celebration!
There is one catch, though, to all the confetti throwing and cake eating…celebrate with me, but no gifts please! About three years ago I canceled birthday gifts for the rest of my life. I’m serious! I imagined if I were lucky enough to live 95 years, how many bottles of smelly lotions would I obtain? How many times would my kids forget to get something and in embarrassment ignore me all together instead of just picking up the phone or stopping by for a chat? And I am sure the money could be used for noble causes like saving kittens from drowning, but the truth is probably more selfish than that. I don’t need random stuff, I just need you! And time well spent is the best gift of all; that I am serious about!
So this birthday is the best birthday ever and here are a few reasons why:
·         Everyone in our home has found the Christmas spirit!
·         I have really amazing friends.
·         My husband can still impress me (speaking of aging well!)
·         I see small miracles happen every day.
·         My home is warm.
·         I have intelligent, capable children that already seek out their future.
·         I have more creative ideas than I have time fulfill, but I’m trying!
·         I am afforded the opportunity to do the job I have always dreamed of doing - stay home and care for my family, or as I have self titled: I am Queen of the Home!
So cheers to me and another year! Raise a glass in celebration and tell me what made this your best week, or birthday, ever?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Friday Happy Hour: When My Heart Finds Christmas

There have been times in my past that I was exhausted in November just anticipating the work to be done in December. I've only mentioned the absurdity of it all a few times. The commercialism, the perfect planning on my part, the late nights and long shopping days just to pull it all off for one day!? I've even lamented the days of my childhood when magic still existed and everything just wonderfully happened (becuse of another mother exausting herself!)

But the season need not be dreaded! It's warm in our house this year with all kinds of anticipation. The kids are excited to participate. My husband has all kinds of plans up his sleeve to make it a fun Christmas season. We have already indulged in holiday activities. We even spent our Thankgiving vacation in a festive holiday theme park. This year is looking up in the grand picture of Christmases past.

How did the whole home find Christmas again? It's a simple secret....I found Christmas in my heart. Looks like when mom has it, the good spirit spreads. It's a simple secret that is applied throughout the whole year, but doubles when December comes. So, yes, I just made up my mind and made plans to get everyone involved. I wanted the whole 25 days to be celebrated. To my surprise, as soon as I asked, everyone was more than willing - they were coming up with their own plans to make the season bright!

This has been the best week ever! I must share with you the fun things we are doing:
  • I am making handmade cards again for the first time in years. You can see from the picture that it is not a quick throw together, so if you want one delivered to your mailbox, you have to put your request in now!
  • Taylor and Gavin are actively making presents for their little brother. And for their grandparents. It's wonderful to see them excited to be doing special things for family.
  • Finn wakes up every morning singing Jingle Bells. Melts my heart!
  • David has taken it upon himself to build Lego tables and platforms to slide under the beds for each of the boys. Guess when everyone decides to get making, so does Dad!
  • We started the Elf on the Shelf tradition this year. Finn named him Nickelman. Fun every morning!
  • Advent calendars for all. Yes I made that, too!
  • The movie "Elf." I watch this one year round and can recite it word for word. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear!
  • Pies, cakes, cookies, candy.....oh my!
  • We are making fleece tie blankets for the Linus charity that gives handmade blankets to kids in the hospital. Easy to do while we cuddle on the couch watching movies.
Tell me, what made this your best week ever? What are you doing to help your whole family find Christmas?