Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top Ten As We Go Into 2010

Top 10 Lessons I Am Taking Into 2010

10. Cash is king.
This debt free lifestyle is hard. No is a word I don't like but have to say to myself more often then not when I want (not need) something. However, to know that someday, sooner than later I hope, I will be the mistress of my own financial destiny and not some credit card company or bank is priceless.

9. Kids are the best and the worst.
Depends on the day. Depends on the perspective. Depends on level of sleep deprivation.

8. Husbands are an investment with guaranteed returns.
If I invest, time, attention, space I gain a return far greater than I imagined. Of course, he's a good guy, which helps.

7. Family is the best and the worst.
See #9.

6. Cheese goes well with everything.
Had to be said, you were thinking it too, you just wouldn't admit it.

5. My perspective of God doesn't change His perspective and passion for me.
Alternately blows me away and makes me cringe at the enormity of that reality.

4. A good book, a warm beverage, a comfy chair and a boo boo blankie are necessary for mental and emotional well being.
My books always have some sort of super-natural element. The beverage is often caffeinated. The comfy chair varies. The boo boo blankie is a hideous orange and brown thing from Korea that weighs a ton but keeps the warms in and colds out.

3. I am worth it.
Coming to grips with what that means and how that affects #7 and #9.

2. Just because 2009 was awful doesn't mean 2010 will be too.
I am not alone in nearly breathless anticipation for 2009 to end. Many people have expressed it's time to get the year over. As if a date will miraculously wipe away months of toughness and pain. Maybe it will. Maybe it won't.

1. Despite the challenges, lack and often hilarious ridiculousness of my situation, I am truly blessed.
Blessed beyond measure. Blessed beyond what I deserve. Blessed by a loving God. Blessed to have a husband who still pinches my, well, assets. Blessed to have children who run into my arms at the end of a long day. Blessed to have family and some friends who look me in the eye and love me despite what they may see there.

Blessed too that you read this and smile or tear up or smirk.

Goodbye 2009. Hello 2010.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday Madness

Christmas was a hurried, hysterical and overwhelming affair this year. The Christmas spirit never really hit me. However, there's still more than enough to write about.

First, never understimate the power of the 'semi-homemade' treat. A little of this, a little of that added to some random box of goodness and voila! I have amended my definition of home made. I made it at home. Thus.....

Second, Wii is the coolest gadget ever.

Third, vegetarians make killer crown beef roasts.

Fourth, sleep is gone. My bags have luggage under my eyes.

Fifth, magic and fantasy is the sixth food group to a six year old. Deer made tracks in the snow at the house. The tracks led right up to the window where the Christmas tree is set. We told Ian that Santa's reindeer did a dry run to get ready. All night he kept peering out that window to see if it was time. It was precious!

Sixth, not all babies like to rip open presents. Caden simply stacked, restacked and then threw every package he could get his hands on. Nothing broken, thankfully.

Finally, it's our first Christmas since our 'plastic-ectomy' (i.e. no credit cards for us). It was the leanest on record. Of course family helped. Yet, each gift was more meaningful as I knew it was the only one they would open. The gift is ours as we will not, as in every other Christmas, add to debt and our stress.

We are at the NaNas. A beagle puppy is alternately trying to eat Moms dog and the baby's diapers (while still on his bum). Step brothers and sisters are watching the kid/dog chaos with alternating horror and amusement. Ham and roast are on the menu. Gift wrap is everywhere (even the puppy's mouth). We are all shouting over the t.v. blaring "Christmas Vacation" and the baby 'singing' with his new guitar. Nana is randomly hugging/kissing everyone. Sister in laws (I have a gloriously awesome SIL) are kibbutzing while scrubbing pots. It's heaven.

I have lost much in these last years. I am just beginning to realize I have gained so very much more. As Dave Ramsay says, "I am doing better than I deserve." I agree.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Auntie Ellen

There are subjects we avoid with our kids. It's our attempt to protect and nurture them in the so swiftly dissolving bubble of childhood. Sometimes, however, it's necessary to talk about one of those in a way that builds resiliency and strength. Death is one of those subjects.

When the legs and body exploded apart from the hermit crab, it was tragic, it was a death, but it wasn't really-real. It was a crustacean. (Or a reptile?)

When the Beta fish (of whom the pet store said were 'indestructible') began to spawn a disease akin to radiation burns and he, well, melted. It wasn't a death.

Aunt Ellen's passing to Heaven is a death. It's a death to someone we love. It's the end of an era when parents stayed married, grandmothers baked and family actually spent time together.

I told my six year old that Daddy and my heart was heavy. We were sad because Auntie Ellen went to be with Jesus in Heaven. I explained she had been very sick and she had lived a very long time. He asked me how old she was. I told him. Then he asked how old each of his grandparents were. It took until the third grandparent age request until I realized he was 'checking in' on when they too would go to Heaven.

My mother in law had a kidney/pancreas transplant 7 years ago. It saved her life. It may take her life. It's a paradox bearable under the incredible joy she brings to all our lives. At times like these, when death is a palpable visitor, we worry a little and hug a lot.

I assured him, with a lump in my throat, that we would have lots of time with each grandparent. We will. To him, any time is lots of time. To me, today, it's never enough.

He paused. I waited. Here's how the rest of the conversation went,

"Oh that's why the sun is so brighter today!"

"What do you mean sweetie?"

"'Cuz Jesus is so happy Auntie Ellen is with him today!"

My bubble of maternal explaining super powers burst and I began to cry.

The sun is so brighter. Auntie Ellen, we'll see you when we see you in the brightest place of all.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

The Sound of Silence Part Two

"I wonder what vision will be planted in my brain when I again have the sound of silence?"

In January of this year I closed an entry with this statement. I have now found out.

I am unnerved by silence. Completely at a loss with what to do with myself in the void of silence. I am talking about silence where there is nothing that must be done, no thought that must be thought. True silence.

I am a gutsy broad. For most things I charge ahead, consequences be damned. Drop this often misunderstood warrior chicka into silence and I am undone.

Discovered this the other night. The kids were asleep. The chores done (relatively speaking-the constant mess and chaos of the house always cries for more cleaning/decluttering). The husband was happily seated in his recliner, a laptop connected to his favorite sports/news site, Fox news and ESPN programmed into the remote. I went upstairs, got on my jammies and sat at the edge of the bed.

I could have turned on the t.v., but I didn't. I could have put on a cd. I could have read a book. I just sat there. And it was awful. Truly awful.

It may have been another one of those lovely holdovers from my childhood. There was a lot of silence in my house. It was more often than not a function of someone being mad at someone else and everyone else running for cover. There were weeks that went by with little more than perfunctory communication.

It's almost as if I couldn't stand to be in my own presence. Weird. I know. The best I can to describe it.

There's more to come on this, I am sure. However, right now, I have to turn up the radio on the laptop and turn down the t.v.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Plastic Free is Truly Free

This is our first 'plastic free' holiday season. And it's awful. And it's wonderful. Let me explain.

It's awful because the list of what I have wanted and did NOT purchase far outweighs that which I have actually bought. I really, really, really, want an inflatable manger scene for the front yard. (You know the one where Mary and Joseph are cutie patootie round figures and Baby Jesus is only a head with a blankie.) I actually googled it. It was $200. Too much.

There's the super fun techy gifts. They cost, well, a lot.

And then the toys. The glorious, bleepity, blaring boy toys. There's the bike the baby can ride to play his own toddler version of playstation. Too big. Too loud. Too much.

It's wonderful because I know that what is purchased won't be paid off over the next 10 years and at 27% extra. My pride has continued to be deflated by receiving so much family support. Less pride=more peace.

It's wonderful too, as it has forced me to be a shopping laser beam. I'm focusing on the one or two special things. I am an online force to be reckoned with. With my fellow online shop-a-nistas (thanks Shel), I am determined to do 99% of my shopping from the comfort of my recliner.

I am focusing on time. Time to bake. Time to decorate. I actually took days off work to do, well, nothing. Nothing but make some memories with the kids. To do cards. To decorate. To write.

We are plastic free because it's better. We've been ruined by the hope and promise that we can live today like no one else so that later we can live like no one else can. (Thanks Dave Ramsey). We are still on the first baby step. We have a l-o-n-g way to go. But we will make it.

Stay tuned. There's 15 days left.

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