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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

November 26 (plus a whole bunch of missed days!): Head Lice

Holy cow am I behind!  And I have exactly 10 minutes for this so please excuse all typos and hard to understand sentences!

Today I'm thankful for head lice or maybe more accurately I'm thankful for the perspective they can bring.  We found the nasty little things on all 3 girls Sunday late in the afternoon.  All of my plans for things I wanted to get done that evening flew out the window so the girls could be treated (including me because guess what?!  I had them too!), bedding could be removed and the whole lice extermination could begin.  Though lice is never something a person wants to have I tried to keep my chin up and here is what happened….

- I found myself thankful that I do not work.  I had a terrible sore throat and didn't feel well Sunday night.  I went to bed at 9:00 because I knew that I could continue Lice Kill 2013 in the morning.  If I was still teaching I'd have stayed up all night long and would've faked myself happy and awake for a full day of teaching.

- I was thankful that I could cancel almost everything that I was supposed to do Monday morning.  I pack my Mondays full while Lucy is at school.  Just a couple of emails sent explaining my situation and I had prayers coming my way and friends picking up where I had to drop off.

-I was thankful that I have a washer and a dryer right in my house, and that I didn't have to get to a laundromat to do the…..wait….are you ready?  15 loads of laundry.  I'm not kidding.

-I was thankful that our budget could handle all the hot water, suds, and dryer heat I used washing everything in our house, and that we could buy Lice killing shampoo, new combs, brushes, pony tail holders and pillows.

-I was thankful that it was just lice.

- I was thankful that I am organized and can work fast.  In fact I love hard work.  Our friends from Colorado were in town and coming to dinner and no icky, itchy bug was going to stand between us and them.  Our house was clean as could be and homemade soup was on the stove when they walked through the door.

-I was also thankful that I know my limitations and so store bought bread and cookies also graced our dinner table!

-I was thankful for my health and the ability to be able to take care of my family.  Yesterday a friend of mine attended the funeral of a friend of hers.  Her friend was 36, a year younger than me, and 6 months ago she was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer.  What a reminder that every single day is a gift.

I guess yesterday wasn't the best ever but it sure wasn't the worst.  I really did find myself over and over again realizing the gifts all around me.  Sometimes you need a little lice in your life to realize just how good you have it.

Best Friends! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

November 20: Small Moments

If I'm not careful my days can go by in a blur.  From the time my feet hit the floor until my head hits the pillow my days are pretty planned, a complete maximization of time; there's a lot I want to do.  I don't want my days to pass in a blur though. I find I'm happiest when I remember to see the small moments unfolding in my every day.

Lucy goes to school on Monday and Wednesday and there is a lag in time between the start of Emma and Eleanor's school and the start of Lu's school.  It's not a big deal but this morning  I found myself feeling a little irritated in waiting….wasn't there something I could get done in those 20 minutes? Lucy and I pulled up to her school and she unbuckled, hopped out and came up to the front of the van.  I left the music on and we listened to her favorite song right now "I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas".  Lucy searched until she found the source of the sound….speakers near her feet.  It amazed her.  The next 20 minutes passed just like that, Lucy finding amazement in little things and me finding joy in her just being her.  I'm thankful for small moments and for reminders to tune in to them.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November 19: Pizza, Pizza!

Tonight I'm thankful for an easy dinner!  When I made our weekly menu for this week I gave myself a little gift….a no cooking night!  On our way home from El's dance class we picked up a pizza.  And now we're off to basketball practice.  Hooray for the little things in life that make things easier.

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 18: Christmas Music

I've been playing Charlie Brown's Christmas for the last week, it's Christmas music without being too much (or so I say).  Today though we've crossed over to the fully leaded stuff….the radio is now playing Christmas music!  I'm so thankful for this happy time of year and the music that comes with it.

In other Christmassy news Lucy wants a dog, a real one, for Christmas.  Today at Target a nice older couple was chatting with Lu when she told them, "I'm getting a REAL!! dog for Christmas and I will name her Clara".  Oh, geez.  She then proceeded to beg me for the rest of our trip to please get her a dog.  She had it all thought out, she told me-I will play ball with her, I will not let her chew ANYTHING, I will take her on a walk.  She also told the crossing guard and our principal about her real Christmas dog.  They looked at me with eyes that said "you're in trouble" and I think they're right.

All I want for Christmas is my very own dog.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

November 17: My dream kitchen

I'm lucky, I get to cook in my dream kitchen.  The lights above the island are broken (I'm to blame!), the buttons on the dishwasher have tape holding them down, the refrigerator door is covered in little finger smudges and all of the cabinets could use some organizing.  Imperfections?  No, just proof that this kitchen of ours sees a lot of use.  Countless snacks, many meals, weekly baked goodies, and lots and lots of conversation make this space dreamy.  It feels a bit like my command center and I love it so!  I think it's as cute as can be and it cleans up in a snap.    What more could I want?  (A self cleaning, kitchen?  Ok, that would really be a dream come true!)

Our kitchen on a nice, tidy day….finger smudges removed, light still intact!  

Thursday, November 14, 2013

November 14: Going out to breakfast

Yesterday was a late start day at school so we celebrated with breakfast at The Pancake House.  I don't know if there are too many things that feel more special than having breakfast out before school.  My dad and I used to go out for breakfast once a week when I was a kid and some of my best memories are  of those mornings at Walnut Street Cafe.  

They made breakfast out a breeze!  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

November 13: My credit card and a Dr. Pepper

See those carts?  I filled all 4 of them to the brim with underwear for The Christmas Shop.  Ordinarily choosing underwear isn't all that time consuming but I needed a gross each of 18 different sizes, that's 2592 pairs of undies.

Getting around the store and through the check out lane with all of those carts was a crazy task but I'd done this a couple of months ago when I purchased the same number of socks so I was prepared for the job.  Until it came time to pay.  The bill was huge, so huge in fact that it exceeded the amount available on The Kingdom House credit card.  When the cashier said the word "DECLINED" I stood there in stunned silence.  WHAT?  I fumbled for my phone but couldn't reach anyone at Kingdom House.  I was panicked, I'd just spent 3 hours shopping and now I couldn't pay for it!  The poor clerk who was helping me tried to suspend the sale while I figured out what in the world to do but rather than suspend the sale she accidentally voided it.  We didn't even talk about it we just looked at each other with defeat in our eyes and pushed the carts aside.  I shuffled over to the in store Subway where  I bought a Dr. Pepper  to drown my sorrows.  I really wanted to cry, just lay my head down on the table and sob.  Maybe pound my fists and yell "why?".  The funny thing is, even though the store was packed I don't think anyone would really have noticed if I had.  Low blood sugar was mostly to blame and the Dr. Pepper did the trick.  I was back up and ready to figure this thing out in a matter of gulps.   The tide turned,  I got ahold of someone and we made a plan……I'd put whatever amount wouldn't fit on the Kingdom House credit card on my personal credit card to be reimbursed.  Things sure didn't go the way I'd planned but thank goodness for my credit card and that Dr. Pepper.

Monday, November 11, 2013

November 11: My marriage

I'm thankful that Kevin and I found each other, amongst all those jeans 18 years ago at the Gap.  Life has changed quite a bit since those days of folding jeans between classes at Ole Mizzou.   We're consumed in a way we couldn't have imagined back then.   There are times when we barely talk all week.  Sure we exchange a few words about which kid needs to be picked up where or what meeting is happening tonight or…."please stop for milk!!".  But a week never goes by where we don't find some time somewhere and really talk, even if it's just a few minutes.  This morning it happened across the kitchen counter early, early in the morning.  The coffee had just been brewed, I was drenched in sweat from a run, and poor Kevin was suffering from a rotten nights sleep due to a nasty sinus infection.  A few simple words exchanged between us and all was right.  A strong marriage is a true blessing and I'm thankful for mine.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November 9 and 10: Weekends

I am so thankful that at the end of every busy week there is a weekend.  A few of the things that I'm thankful for this weekend are:
*Grandpa Gordon's Birthday Party!  Made complete by a visit with cousin Ruby the dog.
*A 10:30 am Saturday morning showing of Holiday Inn at the Hi Pointe
*An easy going Saturday afternoon spent partially in the kitchen which meant Shepherd's Pie, homemade applesauce and butterscotch pudding for dinner
*Saturday evening church
*Camping by some of our family members in the backyard
*A fun visit from Grandpa and Kyra

Friday, November 8, 2013

November 8: The Missouri History Museum

The Missouri History Museum in Forest Park has great programing for kids.  We started going to their Friday morning story and craft in 2008.  The same woman still runs the program and even though the program has grown a a lot and we've only been a few times over the last couple of years she always remembers us and asks about Lucy's older sisters.  It's a great way to spend an hour and I'm thankful it's so close.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

November 7: 3 year olds

I really love 3 year olds.  They enjoy so many things like puzzles, swing sets, nature walks and painting.  They love to read and will have you read the same book over and over again until they have it memorized.  They are curious, and messy and loving and full of energy.  Until that energy is all used up and then they crash!

5:30pm Wednesday evening, while Emma is playing Christmas carols on the piano right next to her.

Different sister, same age, same scenario (minus the piano), same pants, too.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

November 6: Perspective

My inbox is full of coupons, super sales, festive recipes and holiday gift ideas.  Every single day for the last week I've added something to our December calendar.   I'm not complaining, I'm a self proclaimed Christmas nut and I'm thrilled that the most wonderful time of the year is rapidly approaching.    I want to go to the Zoo lights, Tilles Park, the opening of Shaw Ice Rink, the Symphony holiday concert, A Christmas Carol at the Fox, and the Teddy Bear Tea.  I want to dive into the Christmas Shop and take in all that it is. I want to say yes to every friend that invites our family over  to exchange cookies, make gingerbread houses and sing Christmas Carols. I want to sit in church every Advent weekend and remember the baby Jesus.  I want to find the perfect gifts for everyone on our list. I want to attend our  friends' grown up parties to laugh and eat delicious food.  I want to go see Santa and decorate our house inside and out, send out cute Christmas cards, find the perfect tree at Ted Drewes, and watch our favorite Christmas movies.  I want to spend time with all of our family.  I want to make a cute Advent calendar full of sweet messages and fun daily activities for the girls.  I want to bake cookies, make candy and ornaments.  I want to light the Advent candle every Sunday and have a special time for prayer.  I want to read all of our Christmas books and drive around looking at Christmas lights while drinking hot cocoa.  There have been years that we've done just about all of that.  And we were miserable. MISERABLE. Some of the most important things on that list , the part where we focus on the baby Jesus, the places where we find ourselves moved to put others first and bless their lives through what God has given us; they played a small part in the production that became MERRY X-MAS!    I think a lot of people can relate.  Years ago, Emma's preschool sent a note home to all parents about the holidays and how we might approach them and what a difference that note made for me.  Every year since I've read it and am so thankful for the perspective it gives.  It's not intended to be a downer or to turn anyone into a Scrooge.  It doesn't even focus on having a Christ centered Christmas, which is really what I most want.   But it does challenge parents to make Christmas less about our unrealistic expectations of what Christmas should look like.   It helps me to think more about what our kids really want and need and less about doing it all.  Trust me, this is a work in progress, we continue to learn and adapt and it seems my lesson every year is ---keep stripping away at the excess and then you'll get to the heart of Christmas.
Overloading our kids with gifts should be not be an issue for Kevin and me.  For whatever blessed reason our kids have very few wants.  But most years in the days before Christmas, we both start hearing little whispers of "they'll be disappointed with just those gifts" "books?  just books?" "it's not enough" and so we buy a few more last minute gifts (that nobody asked for or really wanted) to make the pile a bit bigger.  Finally, last year we resisted these silly voices (it was hard!).  Not a disappointed girl among them.  Lucy was delighted with a book, some Hello Kitty Band Aids, a new passy and some goggles.  She immediately put them all to good use.  Our kids are so often the best teachers!

Here's the letter….I hope you find something in here that will help you find what you're looking for this Christmas!

Whether we celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas, whether our traditions are French, German or Asian, most of us approach this holiday season with great expectations. 

We take great care to select the best gifts for our children, to bake holiday cookies, to decorate the house with homemade ornaments and to give parties for friends and family dinners with traditional holiday foods.  We remember former roommates, distant relatives, neighbors, teachers and mail carriers with special little gifts.  Yet the result of all this well-intentioned activity is frequently children in tears, adults with frayed nerves and parents who feel angry and unappreciated.  This year you can avoid this "bad aftertaste" from the holiday season by adding the following gifts to your list.  

The Gift of Less...Less Excitement
The single greatest cause of holiday unhappiness for children is sensory overload.  Too much excitement will overload your children and leave them in tears.  This year give your children less excitement.  I suspect that one reason we overload our children with excitement is to regain the excitement we remember from our own childhoods.  Because our real attention is focused on our own needs rather than theirs, we have a difficult time assessing when they've had enough.  This year, separate your needs from your children's and stop before they've had too much.  

...Less Gifts
We also overload our children with gifts. A six-year old who receives six gifts will tear open one after another and have nothing to play with when he's done.  If the same child receives three gifts he will have the time, the energy and the attention to explore and enjoy each gift individually.  This year give your children the gift of less gifts.

The Gift of Order
The excitement and fun of the holiday season become too much very quickly for a child who is tired or hungry.  For this reason it is particularly important to maintain a regular schedule during the holiday season.  By rigorously enforcing bedtime and limiting snacks you will give your child the reserves she needs to handle the excitement and social demands of the holiday season.  Your gift of a regular schedule will enable your child to fully enjoy all the other fun of the holiday season.

The Gift of Limits
Children have limited reserves of energy, limited attention spans and limited social skills.  The gift of respect for these limits will make everyone's holiday season happier.  This means controlling the family's schedule by leaving family affairs before the children become whiny and cranky, by balancing special activities with quiet activities away from a lot of people.  Respect of a child's limits makes a wonderful holiday gift.

The Gift of Giving
Sometimes adults forget that it can be as much fun to give a gift as it is to receive one.  As a result they do all the giving and don't let the children in on the fun.  Help your child shop or make special gifts for family members.  This will make him feel a apart of the holiday planning and teach him the joy of giving.

The Gift of You
The most important gift you can give your family this holiday season is the gift of your.  Not a tired, harried, over-worked you, but a relaxed, happy you.  To give your family this gift you will have to take good care of yourself.  Don't try to do too much.  They'd rather you had time for an extra story than those fancy cookies.  You can bake the cookies next year but this time with your child will never come around again.  Get enough rest.  you can't stay up late at night and go strong all day long without paying the price of a short temper and frayed nerves.  Ask for help.  Don't try to be super parent.  You can't do everything yourself.  You'll feel angry and put upon if you do this.  Plan some fun for yourself away from the family.  This will give you time to garner your reserves and you'll return to your family with the most important gift of all; a happy, fulfilled, relaxed you.

written by Barbara Kohm  

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

November 5: The best job in the world

Last week I was having dinner at Cafe Natasha to celebrate my friend Christy's birthday. During our dinner, a Jesuit Priest, who Christy works with at SLU came into the restaurant.  We talked with him and in our conversation he asked me what I do, professionally speaking.  When I told him I was a stay at home mom his eyes lit up and he said "the best job in the entire world.  So important".  It made me feel good, surprisingly so.  I guess I've become accustomed to a couple of responses to my current job choice.  One is a condescending "bless your little heart, isn't that nice" response.   The other is an "ugh, better you than me, how do you stand that?" response.   Neither leave a person feeling awesome.  I've never once told someone that I'd hate their job, that it must be boring, what on Earth do they do all day, don't they feel like they should be doing more with their life and their education?  That would be rude.  Something happens when people are talking to moms though, they think anything goes, you learn that when you're pregnant.  Over the years, these thoughtless responses to my choice to stay at home have bothered me less and less, to a point that they don't even register with me anymore.  I guess that's why it felt so nice to have someone, who I think has one of the most important jobs in the world, tell me that my job is the best job in the world.  He's right, too.  It is the best and I am so thankful that I get to do this.  From now on when people ask me what I do, I just might tell them that I have the best job in the world!

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4: My Core Group

Our church has 5 shared practices.  They are the practice of community (worship), the practice of giving, the practice of service to the poor, the practice of prayer, and the practice of learning in community (Core Groups).  For the past 3 years Kevin and I were part of an amazing Core Group, where we gained some terrific friends and grew in our faith in a way that we'd never have done on our own.  The group met on Monday nights and it was unfortunately becoming harder and harder for Kevin and me to both be gone on the same evening.  We hated to make the decision but this summer we knew that it was time to find new groups.   I was less than excited.  I believe in our church's shared practices, otherwise I probably would have taken a break and vowed to find a new core group sometime in the future.   We'd made such close connections with our old group, our conversations were meaningful and safe and I couldn't imagine another group being anywhere near the same.  So a bit begrudgingly I found a Monday morning stay at home mom's group and signed up for it, thinking it would be a struggle every week to make myself go…..there are so many other things I could do with that time while Lucy is at PEEPS!   Guess what?  I've not even once had to convince myself to go.  From our first meeting our group worked.    These women, every single one, are unbelievable.  I'm not using hyperbole, they really are amazing.  I don't mean that in a pinteresty," you can't believe all the things these people do" way.  What I mean is so much more.  They are honest, faithful, thought provoking, challenging, accepting, loving, smart, funny women who I am blessed to spend my Monday mornings with.  I am thankful to have them in my life.

 The above passage was used in this week's sermon.  I listened the sermon this morning while I was on the treadmill and if you have 25 minutes to spare I encourage you to listen too.  It's the culminating sermon in a series and though probably most impactful after listening to the others (and wrestling with the messages) I still think much can be gained from just listening to this one.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 3: We're not alone in our pain

 This afternoon Kevin and I attended a wonderful fundraiser organized by our friends the  Hinkle's in memory of their son Ollie.  Mark and Jenn lost their 13 month old son in January because he was sick and couldn't get better.  They endure pain beyond what most of us can imagine.  They have every right to hole up and be bitter; what happened to them isn't fair, it wasn't what they thought their lives would be like and they didn't deserve it.  Instead they are choosing to use their lives to improve other people's.  They prove to me that God is greater than our pain.  This doesn't mean He magically takes it away or that our pain is somehow unimportant.  Our pain is real but when we let Him, God can make good out of bad. I don't believe for a minute that he allows bad things to happen and I know He weeps with us when we're hurting.  We're not alone and I'm thankful to know this truth.

The I Heart Wine and Food Ollie Hinkle Event was incredible.  Such a huge outpouring of support from the St. Louis restaurant community for a really special family.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November 2: Sleep in my bed few minutes, momma

It's no secret that bed time has been rough for Lucy the last 10 months.  It all started with her crawling out of her crib in January followed by a difficult transition into a big girl bed.  Sill things aren't smooth as silk.  But one thing is for sure, every single night, as I turn out her light, in her sweet as sugar voice, I hear "sleep in my bed few minutes, momma".  And as those words tumble out, my heart feels warm,  I get a lump in my throat and no matter what else might need my attention at that moment, I make it wait.   Someday, sooner than later she'll miss a night of asking me to snuggle with her, and then a couple of more will slip by and then it will it stop altogether and this will be just a memory. For today though, it's not just a memory and I'm thankful!

Lucy has been pretending to be a flying panda the last couple of days.  Flying panda was relaxing last night in my bedroom and I couldn't resist those crossed feet.  

Friday, November 1, 2013

November 1: Emma, Eleanor, and Lucy

There is no better way to start my November thankful posts than with these three girls. They are what I am most thankful for in the whole wide world.  
Halloween 2013--rainy but not too cold
Emma- Annabeth from The Lightning Thief, Eleanor- McKayla the Olympic gymnast, Lucy- a kitty 

 This year we went to a Halloween party one neighborhood over.  It was raining and we were soaked long before we ever started trick or treating.  Lucy looked more like a duck than a kitty.

Too cool for umbrellas.  The kids got to hang out with friends and the rain didn't slow anybody down.  It was a wonderful night!