Merry Christmas To All!

(Taken in iPhoto.)

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Planning – Christmas edition

I just realized that I didn’t do my Monday planning post.  Maybe that’s why I feel lost and crazy this week.  I’m going to do a shortened list for the rest of the week.

  1. I am planning on making cinnamon rolls and dinner rolls for Christmas day today.
  2. I’m planning on going to the store this morning and getting supplies for said baking.
  3. I am planning on running two more times this week. When? Not sure yet.
  4. I’m planning on cleaning my house before we have company on Saturday.
  5. I’m planning on keeping my house orderly before an old friend from high school stays with us next week.
  6. I’m planning on getting the Christmas presents wrapped before Christmas morning. (I swear this is my real goal. I’ve yet to wrap one present and I don’t think it will get done until after the kids go to bed tomorrow night.)
  7. I’m planning on enjoying my kids and family even if I want to kill them periodically.

So there you have it. My goals for the week.  Now, it’s time to drink some coffee so I get moving and start on this list.

The Christmas Spirit

I think I live in a world with rose-colored glasses.  Or maybe I just grew up that way. I know that my childhood could be described as one stereotypically with a white picket fence.  My parents are still married after 38 years.  As kids we always had enough – enough toys, enough clothes, enough food, a house, enough love, etc.  Do I remember bad moments of “hating” my parents and thinking they were totally unfair?  Of course.  That means they were doing their job, right?  I mean, I pride myself on being “mean mommy”.  My dad would say that I am getting what I deserve with three girls.  And I remember making decisions, especially in high school, to NOT do things because I didn’t want to cause my parents grief – my brother caused them more than his fair share.  So I thought that when I had kids I would do my best and that would be enough.  Lately? I don’t think it’s enough.  Lately I feel like no matter what I do, I can’t win.  And I know that I just have to really do my best and it will be okay in the end.  But I question that sometimes.  I know my parents did their best (and really they did a pretty awesome job when I think about some things in hindsight), but I know they shake their heads at my brother a lot and me sometimes (even though I never hear about when they are shaking their heads at me, I know it happens).  They made decisions based on what they thought was best for the family as a whole.  T and I do that constantly.  Yes, we look at what would be best for T career-wise, and that is sort of personal to him, but his happiness in his job can make or break our day when he walks in at the end of his workday.  All of the decisions I have made with regards to school and work have been a direct result of what I think is best for my family.  And as some of you may know, I think and evaluate things to death before I make a decision – almost to the point of driving myself crazy.

So my heart is heavy when I feel like I can’t win.  That nothing I do is enough.  And then I wonder if there really is a limit to the amount of love I can give.  Everyone always says that you will love all your kids and there is enough room in your heart to give your kids what they need.  I’m not sure about that.  Sweet Pea is constantly crawling into our bed in the middle of the night because she “wants to snuggle” – obviously she doesn’t get enough love during the day.  And SmartyPants?  Well, she was meant to be an only child.  Unfortunately we are 2 kids too late for that.  I periodically ask her who she wants to go live with because she’s obviously not happy here.  She has yet to find me an ideal situation.  (Is that too mean of a question to ask a kid? Because I’ve asked it multiple times, sometimes in jest and sometimes in exasperation.)  Not that I really want to get rid of her.  When she’s great, she’s really, really great.  Unfortunately, when she’s not, she’s really, really not.  My heart aches for her.  It makes me sad that she seems so unhappy with her situation.

I was talking with a friend on Saturday night about it.  Her daughter is the complete opposite of SmartyPants.  At 6 her daughter wanted to become a missionary so “she could help other people”.  How sweet is that?  Their church does many humanitarian missions throughout the year.  Things like helping people in South/Central America build a house or build a church for their local community.  We were thinking that we could kill two birds with one stone and take the girls on one next year.  That way her daughter could get a taste of the reality of helping someone else and mine would get a taste of how good she really has it.  Is that cruel?  I want my daughter to participate in helping others for the sole purpose of telling her to get over herself?

I’m trying to hang on to my Christmas spirit.  The spirit of being kind and loving.  Do those two things have to go hand in hand?  Can I do something hard and loving?  (Crap, now I’ll probably get spam for that one sentence.)  On that note, I hope this week moves in a positive direction.

Confession, for real

It’s a confession about confession! Ha!  I haven’t written much about RCIA lately, but that is because there hasn’t been much to share or much I’m willing to share.  But last night’s class was attending the reconciliation service.  I am going to admit that I haven’t been to confession for about 15 years.  It was about this time that I didn’t feel a connection with the church and didn’t regularly attend mass.  And you know, it’s hard to get back into going to confession because that good Catholic guilt about NOT going gets to you and you just put it off and put it off some more.  And, as I’ve said before, I have issues with being vocal about my faith.  So it felt weird to want to go to confession and either tell T that I was going or to hire a babysitter to go.  But last night was part of RCIA, and I’m not one to be neglectful of commitments.  Receiving reconciliation wasn’t a requirement yet for T and the other candidates, but everyone else, of course, was welcome to participate.  I decided that I would just get over my fear and guilt and do it.

As I stood in line I kept thinking about the things I could say.  I kept thinking of the same types of things.  I had nothing MAJOR to confess, even after 15 years.  Yes, I have my faults, and I talked to the priest about those, including my absence from church.  And you know what? I cried.  Not sobbing, mind you, but the tears came.  But they weren’t tears of sadness.  When I walked back to the pew where T was sitting, he asked me if everything was okay.  “Yes, I am good.”  I was experiencing a release of emotion.  And it was good.

One of the details of the ceremony at our church is that after confession you pick an ornament from one of many baskets to decorate the tree on the alter.  I had never noticed when the tree became glittery with ornaments or why it was so.  But now I know.  The symbolism is strong that now (after receiving reconciliation) is a time for joy and celebration of the season.

Some cuteness and fun for your Thursday afternoon

You Capture – holiday-ness favorites

So, confession time here.  When I realized today was Wednesday and I hadn’t knowingly taken any pictures for this week’s You Capture, I had to go back to Beth’s post from last week to look up what the challenge was.  It was to take creative pictures of your favorite holiday stuff.  Creative in composition or creative in editing.  So I tried a little bit of both.  I’m not a big holiday decorator.  My mom always had stuff for every season throughout the house.  Me? Not so much.  I blame the kids.  Since they are schooling at home all my decorations seem to disappear into bedrooms or new spots.  My mom insinuated once that it was because of my *tongue in cheek* poor parenting.  (No offense was taken, mind you.)  I very *tongue in cheek* back at her replied that maybe my kids are more creative with their time.  *wink wink* Yeah, creative.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!  Anyway.  Stockings.  I have always loved the look of stockings hanging over the fireplace.  We have the fireplace, but we have no mantel.  So we have used stocking hangers.  Everyone has their own stocking.  I have mine that was made for me by someone when I was born. (I don’t remember if it was family or close friend at the time. I should probably ask.)  Here’s the back side of it.  Yes, I was a bicentennial baby.

Then each Christmas after each of the girls was born, my mom bought them their own stocking.  Here’s a close-up and detail of SmartyPants’.  (You gotta love LL Bean!)

Next up is Sass’.

Here is Sweet Pea’s

She loves the fact that it is Rudolph!

And last but not least.  Here is T’s.  T didn’t have a special stocking at Christmas when he was a kid, so I think it was our second Christmas of being married my mom had someone make him one.  Simple and sweet.  (My only beef with it is that the toe points in the opposite direction as the rest of ours and I can never figure out where to put it in the mix without it looking odd to me. But then again, even though I’m not mathematically talented like Barb or Jessica, I like symmetry.)

And as I was checking out my Christmas tree looking for a favorite ornament (that I didn’t have a name on it) I found this one.

This reminds me of our first Christmas together as a family of three.  I was just about to start getting sleep by Christmas time and was coming out of the “new, first-time mommy fog”.

So there you have it.  My favorite holiday decorations.

You should check out everyone else’s captures. (I’ll insert the link as soon as Beth posts!)

The silencing of an important outlet

I’m a regular follower of the military blogger Bouhammer.  Yesterday he posted about a blog-wide silence from milbloggers all over the world.  Essentially what they are protesting is the fact that many units which these folks serve in are telling them that they cannot blog about whatever they want to.  These blog provide an insight and perspective into all things military.  They are opinions of each blogger and do not reflect the “official position” from the military.  This is where the line is fuzzy.  How can the general population really KNOW what is going on with our troops if they are not allowed to voice an opinion.  Sometimes the public needs to know what is going on and sometimes things DO need to change.  But it is my opinion that these milbloggers’ voices are important to hear and their careers should not suffer because of it.  With my left-slanting views and T who happens to be military (which can sometimes conflict), I relish hearing the different opinion from my own and allowing it to enter into my consciousness and sometimes even change my opinion.

From Bouhammer himself:

Milblogs have been a vital link in getting accurate news and information  about the military, and military operations, to you.  Today, many milblogs  are gone and others are under attack from within and without.  Today, you  have the chance to imagine a world without milblogs, and to do something  about it.  Make your voice heard by writing your congressional  representatives and others, and by making donations as you see fit.

Please, if you feel so inclined, do what he asks.  Write your representatives local and national and voice your opinion so THEIR voices will still be allowed to be heard. I know I am.