2012 in review

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The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

“Up North”

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This weekend we took a mini vacation from my in-laws to visit relatives of mine that live up in “the sticks”…aka “up north”. It’s called the sticks because it has a lot of trees. Trees upon trees upon trees with farms scattered in them. It is quiet, peaceful, and cold. As we drove up the driveway Sasquatch remarked, “Wow! They live in a forest!” So true. The weekend was filled with lots of good food and fun in the snow. My uncle tied the sled to his four wheeler and pulled us arumd through the woods. All the kids absolutely loved it! Then we went sledding, which Sasquatch loved. Urpling and King Toot not so much. King Toot tolerated it and seemed to neither enjoy nor dislike the experience. Urpling, however, cried at the bottom and instead spent the rest of the time in typical Urpling fashion. Sneaking up behind others and stealing their sleds and sending the sleds down the hill…empty…cheering the entire time they slid down the hill. Of course no one else cheered, but that mattered little to her. After the weekend here is my list of a few of the things I love about visiting my relatives up here:

Never have to lock my doors. My aunt says they lock the house occasionally to keep the bears out. But apparently they haven’t mastered car doors yet.

I think I have spent the entire time laughing. They are a jolly group and have great senses of humor. I can tell because they all laugh at my jokes. 😉

Everyone knows each other. Sasquatch leapt out of the car when we go to the sledding hill, ran up to the top, and some family up there gave her their sled to use while we were unloading. She then skidded with their kids as well. It’s a nice feeling to know the other people out there have your back.

Awesome food. My aunt cooks a nice feast. Ham, potatoes, stuffing, gravy, rolls, Carmel rolls, waffles, spaghetti…the list goes on and on. I think I gained ten pounds in two days.

Lots of kids. Most of my cousins live nearby and their kids are all relatively the same age. So it’s nonstop playmates for my kids for the entire weekend. They’re rambunctious and hopefully it will toughen my kids whining up a bit. (hopefully after a weekend with energetic, wrestling boys Urpling will no longer wail and cry about owies she gets from running into a wall, bumping her elbow on some soft, squishy surface)

The wildlife. Didn’t see as much this time around, but I did see deer in the ditch on the way up (alive…not road kill…) and a whole herd of wild turkeys on the way back. It was entertaining to say the least.

They bend over backwards to make me feel comfortable. Cooking large quantities of tasty food, chasing my kids around for me, and cleaning up after my family. I tried to help pick up and my aunt yelled at me. 🙂

So now I am driving back to the in-laws and then a few more fun filled days with their Grandma and Grandpa before we head back. Visiting various relatives on the way back, this is a last hurrah before Sasquatch starts kindergarten!

Flashback: Planning the Surprise

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About a month ago, I had a crazy idea come to me while trying to figure out presents for my in-laws. Why not drive half way across the country and surprise them on Christmas with a visit from their grandkids? It seemed crazy, but the more I thought about the more I wanted to try it. This started an insane month of planning and scheming. But as it was a surprise I couldn’t blog about it. So this week I’ll have some flashback blogs mixed in where I will finally get to post about the adventures in this crazy undertaking. This first one is about the initial planning. This idea seemed impossible. Mainly, how to make sure Sir Smiley’s parents (we’ll call them Mr. and Mrs. Optimistic) didn’t take off that week, or have extra visitors and such. Also, with Sir Smiley’s schedule, in order to make it by Christmas we would drive like crazy and get there 1am. Not a great surprise for them at that time of night. So we needed a spy, and that’s where Sir Smiley’s sister came into the picture. She lives a few blocks from their parents house so she was a perfect candidate. I called her and announced we were coming to visit, that her parents didn’t know and oh…could we crash on your floor the night of Christmas Eve? Luckily Sir Smiley’s family is pretty easy going and she agreed to be our eyes and ears for the next month..and keep it all a secret! Thus begins our one month journey of making this all work.

Great grandparents

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I had a wonderful morning with my Grandparents. They live nearby and we headed over to their house for a yummy breakfast of freshly baked monkey bread and Christmas presents. The kids had fun playing with them. I just kept thinking about the fact that none of my great grandparents lived long enough for me to play with them or make memories with them. Many of my school friends growing up didn’t have grandparents around anymore, let alone great grandparents. Yet my kids not only have all of their grandparents to love in them, they still have six great grandparents as well. So I sat there and watched my kids…my highly energetic kids…dragging their great grandparents all over the house and yard to look for treasures, having a tea party, and swinging on the patio swing. My grandparents still even pick up King Toot and hold him, which at 30 pounds is no small feat. My grandma made handmade gifts for all thirteen of her grandkids, comes to all my kids birthdays, and even reads this crazy blog of mine. (Hi Grandma!). So today I am grateful for the long life God has blessed my grandparents (and Matt’s) with. The term is spot on…they are GREAT grandparents.

You make bath time so…not fun

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The kids love bath time. I have no idea why. It’s awful. I have yet to discover a way to bathe them where it doesn’t end with at least two out of the three kids screaming or crying. I also have yet to discover a way to wash them that doesn’t kill my back. The biggest problem is washing hair. King Toot has none so he’s easy. Get him a little moist with a washcloth, lather, rinse. Boom, he’s done. Any crying lasts for a few seconds and then playing resumes. But the girls are another story entirely. I only wash their hair a few times a week, so some bath time experiences are not as bad. But on the days I have to get their hair clean because they’re starting to look they’ve had a bucket of melted butter dumped on their heads it’s awful. First, I have to get their hair wet. But I have to make sure it’s all the way to the scalp, and appearances can be deceiving. It will look soaking wet on top, but after I put the shampoo in I’ll discover that it’s bone dry at the scalp. So then instead of lathering up and getting soapy…it turns into a pasty goo that I cannot seem to get to their scalp. Then I have to rinse it off. My girls have enough patience to hold still for about 15 seconds and then it’s a wrestling match. 15 seconds is about enough time to rinse their forehead off. Trying to rinse the top of their heads without soap or water in their eyes while they are slippery and squirmy is like trying to put lipstick on a fish you just caught. Only fish don’t scream. By the end I’m soaking, my back is killing me and the kids are all crying. Yet they ask for baths constantly. I’ve tried showers but the kids fight over who gets the water, I still end up soaking, and my back still hurts. I think I will shave their heads and then hose them off in the back yard every morning. Any suggestions would be awesome.

We should try praying…

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No slow build up on this one, no catchy titles, no witty remarks to lead in to this post…I’m just gonna cut right to the chase. This is a call to prayer. This is my response to all that happened Friday. There has been so much…stuff…swirling around the Internet and social media. Arguments over gun control, mental health and services, health care, the list goes on and on. People are distraught and angry (as they should be) and it is exploding towards all the wrong people. As though tearing to shreds that commenter on some Facebook post will make it all better.
I have been absorbing all these arguments and of course instantly start trying to form my opinions. But as usual my approach sucks. I take my political stances and then try to meld them into a cohesive argument to win the other side. Yeah…like I said…it sucks. But when I really got honest with myself I discovered something. This whole experience wounds me. Those beautiful children, the age of my oldest, are not returning to their families. But not just that, it’s the routine of it. These kids weren’t at some large, well publicized event. They were just going to school. I’m angry that anyone could look into the face of an innocent child and pull the trigger. I’m filled with sorrow for those parents. I’m confused about what would cause someone to do this. Most importantly, I can’t think of any law or lack thereof that will fix this. Because there is something wrong deep down in the heart and soul of a person that would do this. What law can fix a broken soul? How is President Obama, or the congress, or the senate going to look into the population of all Americans and know when someone is so far gone that they will do something like this. The answer is, they can’t.
So I’m left feeling helpless. I like to have all the answers. Have my nice and neat little responses to whatever political, theological, parenting, or other issue that may come up. But here I have none. But I can start with one thing and that’s seeking the heart of the one who does. I need to hit my knees first. So here it is, my request. Before we start arguing over what to do or how to fix it, we actually take some time and truly talk to God. By truly I mean honestly. No more putting up a fake front. God sees right through that. He’s God. But honestly speak to Him about what’s going on in your heart and mind. The thoughts swirling around, the confusion, the anger. If you’re pissed at him…tell him. He’s God, He can take it. If you’re hurting, tell Him. Tell every deep dark thought in your head. And when you’re done…listen. We get so caught up in rushing around it’s hard to sit still. But actually take some time to sit quietly and listen. Read the Bible and see what it says.
Today I read Psalm 199:1-32 and I heard Him. I heard Him speak about what happens when we follow his laws. The results were: blessings, prevents shame, prevents sin, revives and strengthens. To follow His laws I need to rejoice in them, meditate on them, speak of them, remember them, choose them, and cling to them. So that’s my first step. Before yelling about gun laws or mental illness I am seeking Him who sees it all. I hope you will join me.

The Reason for the Season

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Ah Christmas. The most magical time of year. But is it good or bad magic? Racing around to hundreds of parties, shopping for presents for everyone and their mother, making Christmas cards and dinners, and mailing piles of stuff…all while the rest of the world is racing around too. Traffic is awful and stores are as busy on a weekday in the middle of the day as a Saturday afternoon. No place is safe. Black Friday (or Thursday) kicks off the festivities with a mad rush to grab up stuff and take out anyone who gets in your way. So we Christians have to fight to keep all the craziness from overshadowing the “reason for the season”. But I have to be honest, the focus still seems to be all wrong. We are still focusing outwardly. I have seen hundreds of little blurbs lecturing people about saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas, warning people not to have Santa as part of the celebration because surely your kids will confuse him and Jesus, chiding people (and Christian radio stations) for listening (or playing) Christmas music that doesn’t have Jesus in it.
So confession here: it does not bother me when stores use the term Happy Holidays. They are servicing people who celebrate many different holidays this time of year so the term is appropriate. I say Merry Christmas as that is what I celebrate. Also, I love Santa. When I was little, we had presents from Santa and stockings. My mom explained who he was and he was a pretty cool guy. I never confused him with Jesus. One was a nice guy who wanted to do nice things…a good role model. The other was God on Earth who sacrificed his life and endured separation from His father so that we wouldn’t have to. They’re on totally different playing fields. It’s like saying people will grt Gandalph confused with Merry or Pippin. There is no comparison. I LOVE all Christmas music. Jingle Bell Rock, Jingle Bells, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer as well as all the amazing and deep carols.
You know what is harder that telling others to fix these superficial things? Actually trying to make Christmas a deep and meaningful time for myself and my family. To not get caught up in the busyness and greed. To not overbook myself doing good deeds. There are soooooo many opportunities to do good (which is awesome) but makes it easy to become overwhelmed (which is not so awesome). I seem to fail every year. Instead of running around, to actually spend time with my kids. Not ignoring them as I wrap presents, clean for a party, or even cook meals for the needy family next door. Taking time every day to spend with God and ask Him what He wants me to do, what my priorities should be this year. There are so many amazing ideas I’ve heard over the years of what families do to help keep their focus on the right thing. But none of those families did them all. They chose one that really resonated with them and stuck with it. I’m still trying to find that thing that works with our family. Each year we seem to get closer. Each year I actually take notes so I don’t make the same mistakes I did the year before, Slowly, our Christmas is starting to turn into something much more meaningful. What have I learned the most? In order for Christmas to have true meaning in my life and my family’s life….I have to be meaningful in how I approach it. So instead of being reactive, I’m being proactive and hopefully by the time my kids are old enough to really remember these moments these moments will be peaceful, deep, and remind them who and what we are really celebrating…but still be lighthearted and fun.