Sunday, December 30, 2007

Since it's not quite 2008...

...it's still appropriate for me to share our Christmas Day festivities with you. Right?



"Mom! Dad! Wake up! WAKE UP!!! It's Christmas! Come ON!!!"





"Dad, seriously. Hurry up and let us come down stairs!"





We try to organize the chaos. They all open one at a time... together.





I was wrong. There WERE legos under the tree.





"Can I open this one now? Now? NOW?"





"Finally!"





"What in the world is..."





"Awww... SWEET!!!"





"But, I don't know what it is! Mom, what is it? Can I open it? Is it REALLY for ME?"





Pure joy. Prayed for and greatly anticipated. (A huge you'll-never-know-how-much-this-truly-meant thank you to her benefactors... if you ever read this.)





The kiddie table.





The grown-up table... complete with two sets of grandparents, a cousin, and a good friend.





Rockets can't just sit in the package, they need to be launched!





Our gifts may differ from Christmas to Christmas. We may share the day with different people each year. But we always end the celebration the same way. Happy Birthday, Jesus. We hope you like Cherry Cheese Pie.
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Saturday, December 29, 2007

May 16th, 2008

Do you even KNOW how EXCITED I am??!!!???!!?
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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Un-Decking Your Halls

The "putting it up" process is so much more fun than the "taking it down" one. But, the latter is every bit as necessary if you decide to go ahead with the former. I found a few helpful tips in this little gem of an article from the geniuses at Real Simple. Because they're real... and simple. And even though I don't have a paper shredder, I can wield my masking tape and marker well.
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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

The children are nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of hoped-for toys dance in their heads.
The stockings all lay by the chimney with care,
Since we have no mantel they cannot hang there.
And I in my lounge pants and Nate in his shorts
Have once more become Santa's secret cohorts.
A prayed-for piano is wrapped by the wall
And presents are piled 'neath the Christmas Tree, tall.
Remote controlled cars, a bike, and some clothes,
Barbies and pirate swords, yet no legos.
We'll retreat up to bed for a few hours sleep
Before morning sun brings us those scampering feet.
But somewhere amidst all the wrapping and gifts
This house will remember what many will miss...

Happy Birthday, Jesus. Our God is MIGHTY to SAVE!!!

Merry Christmas,
from the White House

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Come On, Ring That Bell...

Last night we had the wonderful chance again to ring the Salvation Army bell as a family outside of Albertson's. Funny how few things change, save for my shoes and the height of my children.


2007


2006
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Secret Santa

What a fun article. Giving changes people... both those that receive and those that give. You may not have $100 bills to hand out, but you have a smile, a wink, a hug for a stranger.

"How do you change the world? One random act of kindness at a time."

Merry Christmas.
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Difference

Nate was getting ready to leave for work. I was standing in our closet staring at my clothes.

"What are you doing?" He innocently asked.

"I don't know what to wear to your Squadron Christmas Party."

"You have plenty of time to figure that out."

"No, I don't."

"Yes, you do. You have a WHOLE DAY."

"Exactly! I ONLY have ONE DAY!"
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Thursday, December 13, 2007

To Have Someone - an addendum

It seems an earlier post may have caused some friction among my readers. While friction is not always a negative thing (remember that iron sharpens iron), I wanted to clarify some thoughts and maybe add a few more.

I am not saying it is better to be with the wrong someone than to be alone, in any kind of relationship.

What I am saying is that relationships take work. Lots of work. Friendships take investment. Marriage requires more than anyone initially going into one fully realizes. Relatives require openness, honesty, and lots of love.

Love is a choice. Our society has turned it into an emotion, and while certain emotions are at times attached to the action, staying in love requires a commitment to a choice... whether that's staying in love with a spouse, a parent, a friend...

But, let me reiterate, I am not saying it is better to be with the wrong person.

Having said all that, let me say this:

"If God doesn't build the house, the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn't guard the city, the night watchmen might as well nap."
-Psalms 127:1-2 (Message)

All relationships should be built on a solid Foundation. A relationship built on any other foundation can be easily washed away come hell or high water.

All relationships should be submitted to Christ. Our ultimate relationship is with Him, and all other relationships should be under His leading.

I have seen marriages that God built. They were beautiful and strong, but slowly these people pulled away, not allowing God to continue to guard their marriage. They fell apart for lack of care. After 25 plus amazing years, tears fell from my eyes as those who I looked up to separated because they had "grown apart." 25 years!

I have seen marriages that God did not build. They were rocky and tumultuous, and then one day they realized they didn't have a firm Foundation. They turned to God, allowing him to rebuild what had been torn down and continuously guard their hearts. I am inspired by the glowing relationship that has resulted.

The bottom line is that if God is not at the center of our relationships, they can easily crumble.

"But what my mind is lingering on is, what about those people that DO have the option? Why is our divorce rate so high? Do we throw in the towel too quickly? Do those that truly have an option just get tired? Tired of dealing with whom they're with? Do we just get tired of mending relationships? Confronting friends when they hurt us? It's as if our friendships have grown disposable. If it doesn't work the way we want we throw it out and hope the next one is better."

All relationships take hard work. Our society wants things fast, easy. We're not really ever quite ready to make a commitment. We want the benefits of what we want, but not the solid 'til-death-do-us-part part. That way if things get too tough we haven't made QUITE the investment and don't have as much to lose. Our society seems rarely willing to make the commitment and put in the hard work that ANY relationship requires.

We've been given the blueprint for success, we simply think our ways of doing things are better.

We make mistakes. Other people make mistakes. There is infinite grace for every situation when we turn to God for wisdom and insight, but how often do we do that? And there will always be consequences. Infinite grace does not mean natural consequences are taken away. Amidst the fallen nature of our world, we will suffer consequences for others' actions as well as our own. That's a hard pill to swallow.

God does have infinite grace for those who turn to Him. Infinite. Never-ending. Never-ending grace. It does not end. Because we WILL make mistakes and others' mistakes WILL affect us. But, I want to follow HIS blueprint so I will make fewer mistakes, so my relationships will be built on a firm Foundation. I will face trials. I want to face them with Him as my center. If He wasn't at my center, Lord knows I would have left Nate and his "everything has its place in the pantry and the pantry has a place for everything" self a long time ago. And you know what? If He wasn't at Nate's center he would have left my "I can't remember what you said to me two seconds ago let alone two days ago" self even longer ago. And if God wasn't at a certain friend's center, she never would have persevered with our relationship after Montana misunderstandings and distance tried to separate us.

"If God doesn't build the house, the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn't guard the city, the night watchmen might as well nap."
-Psalms 127:1-2 (Message)

I am so thankful God is my center. I will screw up... others will screw up... but He will protect the city He built.
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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Entryway

Finally! The inside of the house was *mostly* decorated, but I never feel like things are quite Christmas-y until the outside has a touch of lighted cheer. Not that there are white icicle lights adorning the eves. We HAVE white icicle lights, they're just not doing any adorning right now. I wish they were, but that's another blog for another time. At least my entryway is looking bright and festive.

Don't you think it needs a bench? A bench to perch upon in my entryway? And maybe a table? A table to set a cup of tea on in my entryway? And maybe some potted plants? Maybe ones like these? Or like these? And maybe something fun and bright, like a little antique tricycle? Or a snow shovel, to remind me that there is snow somewhere in the country? Or maybe an old wooden sled? Hmmm? Yes. Me, too.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

To Have Someone

A busy day. A very busy day. It's quiet now, but tomorrow will be very busy again.


I heard words spoken this evening that just rang in my ears. You know those times when something in you catches, your heart beats a little harder in your chest, and your brain lingers so long to process thoughts that you forget where you are and what you're doing? Your eyes glaze over and you're seeing, but not really seeing because you're too busy with the pictures inside your head?

"I think it's better to have someone. Even if it hurts... even if it's the most painful thing you have to do... even if it's the most painful thing you ever have to do. I think it's better to have someone."

I'm watching a divorce happen. I've just come across a divorce that has recently happened. I'm a witness to someone deciding whether or not to go forward with a divorce. And I see the pain, the loneliness. They hope there will be others. The grass is always greener...

I'm watching a friendship be thrown away. I've just come across a friendship that has recently been thrown away, never to be recoverable. I'm a witness to someone deciding whether or not to go throw a friendship away. And I see the pain, the loneliness. They promise themselves there will be others. The grass is always greener...

The thing is, I'm not judging what's happening in these situations. I'm not saying that there was an option for these people, because sometimes there's just not. Sometimes there's just. not. an. option. Sometimes we do what we can to survive, to help our kids survive.

But what my mind is lingering on is, what about those people that DO have the option? Why is our divorce rate so high? Do we throw in the towel too quickly? Do those that truly have an option just get tired? Tired of dealing with whom they're with? Do we just get tired of mending relationships? Confronting friends when they hurt us? It's as if our friendships have grown disposable. If it doesn't work the way we want we throw it out and hope the next one is better.

To those that don't have a choice, when there's not an option, I pray that you have other someones in your life to uphold you and support you. I know at least two of you who I'm specifically thinking about right now... you've have had other someones. I know others of you who I'm specifically thinking about right now who haven't. You've hoped a someone would come along, only to regret leaving the someone that you had. I've had these conversations. They're hard to be on the listening end of... but I can't imagine being on the talking end.

But to those who have a choice, don't throw in your towel. Don't throw away your option. Work. And then work harder. It hurts, and it's painful, and it's not easy, and you want to give up, and you think you've been forgotten about, but don't let go of your someone...



"I think it's better to have someone. Even if it hurts... even if it's the most painful thing you have to do... even if it's the most painful thing you ever have to do. I think it's better to have someone."
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Friday, December 7, 2007

The Golden Compass

I've heard so many things about this movie. The trailers look good... very Narnia like... but then I did some checking out on my own. Parents be warned. You can go to snopes.com and read about it yourself. Or here. Or here.

It's not that the movie will do so much damage, but the books parents will buy their children for Christmas. Everything starts with a seed. What will you plant? What will you continue to water?

Sometimes it's easy for me to get frustrated with our culture. Whatever impact Christians make in today's society (Narnia, for example), there is always a counter that attempts to wipe it out. But you know what?

We have already won!!! I take refuge in the fact that my God has already won this battle... for me, for my children, for my children's children...

and hopefully for you, for your children, for your children's children.

There ARE sides. Which one are you on?
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Thursday, December 6, 2007

Sassy Shoe Thursday: A Conundrum

I was at my salon today. (And for those of you involved in the ongoing discussion, no, I did not go dark. I wanted to. I was ready. It's a long story. Hopefully in January.) I love going there. They treat you well, everyone feels like a good friend. I'm sitting in the chair getting my hair prepped for my cut when I hear behind me,

"Those are great boots!"

"Thanks," another voice replies "I wear them all the time. My fiance's Rottweiler seems to like them, too, because he's always chewing on them. I don't know why. They're not real leather. You'd think a dog would chew on shoes that were real leather."

"Huh," the first voice says, "Well, good thing he doesn't destroy them. They're cute."

"Thanks."

I look in the mirror to see whose standing behind me, stretching my neck to get a glimpse of the great boots. I can see the girl, but not her footwear. Darn it. I'm about to turn around when I catch a break and she walks past my chair.

Wait a minute. Was that the girl who just received the compliment? Her boots aren't cute. They're actually outdated and boring. But the other girl just said they're cute. Maybe the boots ARE cute to HER. I glance to my right to see who it was that made the compliment. Oh, my gosh. She's adorable and stylish, totally trendy with her cute asymmetric pixie cut. Thoughts are flashing through my head. Did she really think they were cute? But she obviously has style, therefore knowing they're not. Wait a minute...

*gasp*

it was an empty compliment. She didn't think they were cute at all. It was obvious she was showing the first girl around the salon, was she just trying to make her comfortable? Was she trying to "get in good?" Compliments can do that. My mind flashes back to that scene in Mean Girls when Lindsey Lohan figures out that the head mean girl was lying when she said she liked her bracelet.

Now, it's not always fully possible to be truthful in a situation when you're cornered. A friend and I were talking about that a few weeks ago. If a friend is totally ecstatic about the top she just bought and, "don't you just LOVE it?" comes flying out of her mouth, what do you say? If they're a close-close-you-talk-about-everything-friend and you're not out in public you might be able to say, "Hmm, well... it's alright. I think that a different fit would be more complimentary." (Now, if you're at a dinner party and she asks you what you think, you tell her she looks amazing and break the truth gently later.) But, if it's someone that would be crushed by your honest observation, what do you do? Especially if they don't often make attempts at fashion and you're so proud of them for at least TRYing something outside of their comfort zone? Maybe a spoonful of sugar will make the medicine go down easier, but when we withhold the medicine altogether.

What if a friend tells me the "truth" about an item of clothing and I don't agree with her? We all have different tastes, and "to each his own." But when I attempted to convey to a friend last spring who loves her slightly pegged, high waisted jeans that maybe she should try a lower waisted straight-leg or bootcut jean because it would be more flattering to her figure, and the response I got was something akin to, "but I've worn this style forever. It's so comfortable. And who really cares..." ugh.

"To each his own," but your "own" makes you look like you're in the Saturday Night Live Mom Jean commercial.

Now, in the salon situation the compliment was not sought out. No opinion was ever asked for. The second girl just gave the empty compliment without warning. Now, I've also had this conversation. A friend caught his wife giving an empty compliment and confronted her about it later. "You didn't like that woman's shoes at all. I'm not even a shoe person and I didn't like them. They were ugly. Why did you compliment her?"

"Oh, babe. Sometimes things like that are just necessary."

Now, this statement also seems true. But, again, I find myself wondering if people have given me empty compliments because "it was necessary." Would I want them to do that? NO! So, would another woman want ME to do that to HER? Probably not. And yet salon girl 2 just did it to salon girl 1.

If honesty is what we're striving for, then why do we do this? Over the last few years I've truly been trying not to. I've made a conscious decision to not offer up compliments unless I really think they are warranted. I don't want someone to give me one unless they really think it's true, so shouldn't I do the same for others? Sometimes it's difficult. When I'm with a group of girlfriends and compliment one on their shoes, do others wonder why I didn't compliment theirs, too? At times it is that I only notice one pair in particular, or the conversation shoots in another direction too quickly to return to the original observation. But other times it's just that, well, I don't want to give an empty compliment. If I tell friend 1 that I love her necklace, but don't say the same thing to friend 2 who is standing right there and also wearing a necklace, am I shunning friend 2? Does she feel on the outs? Is it awkward? Oh, my thoughts could drive me crazy.

Maybe we should just always, always be truthful no matter what. I mean, that's what I teach my kids! (Except at weddings, and then you tell the bride everyone is gorgeous and she could not have POSSibly chosen better bridesmaids' dresses because they are so incredibly perfect for the occasion.)

So, to salon girl 2 I say that you should have withheld the compliment from salon girl 1. The boots were not attractive, and you knew it full well. If the compliment was absolutely necessary to break tension, build relationship, change the subject, she's your boss, whatEVer... then you should have picked something better. Her green sweater was fine.

So then, that raises another issue, are we perpetuating bad fashion... or a lack of good fashion... by giving empty compliments? When salon girl 2 goes to put on her outdated, boring boots is she going to think they're just fine because salon girl 1 told her they were cute, and, after all, salon girl 2 was cute and stylish? So she must have been right. Right? But it will be wrong. And when what she really needs to do is go treat herself to a nice, stylish new pair of boots she'll keep wearing the outdated, boring ones because she'll think they're cute.

Oh, the humanity. The humanity of it all.

Thoughts?
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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

99 Balloons

Take six minutes. Watch this. Tissue required.
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Monday, December 3, 2007

It's Official.

Okay. The Christmas Season can begin. The White House has their tree up. I just thought I'd let everyone know.

Nate wrestled the glorious Costco beauty into place Saturday, and I followed with the fluffing of the branches. Sunday (after naps) we decorated. I have to say, this is the earliest we have EVER had our tree up. I do not, nor will I ever, condone fake trees. But giving in to that movement has definitely boosted my husband's decorating participation, as well as his willingness to put up the tree December 1st... since we don't have to trudge out to any lots in order to accomplish this feat.

As usual, the ceremonial Hanging of the Husky Ornament was in order. This has been a tradition in our house (I'm rolling my eyes) since our second Christmas. (I naively gave Nate this ornament on our first Christmas, not knowing it would turn into such an item of reverence.)

The kids and I aren't allowed to put any other ornamentation on the tree until the blessed sphere has been placed on the highest possible branch. Then, and only then, can we commence decorating.


























We tried to take our usual "kids in front of the tree after it's decorated" photo, but Ian wasn't cooperating. So I got in the picture. He still wouldn't come. Then Nate figured out how to get him in it anyway. Ahhhh... this is how memories are made. Twenty years from now Ian will look back and think we just didn't love him enough to include him in the photos. Then I'll pull out this one to prove that we loved him so much we got him into them anyway!































And here, for your up-close viewing pleasure, is the (blasted) blessed Husky ornament:

Merry Christmas, everyone. Officially.
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