Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Jingle All The Way

Here's to a happy new year!

(But, of course it will be happy. It's an EVEN year. Duh.)


Monday, December 23, 2013


She had told me she was singing a solo. A few days before the concert, she had mentioned it. Kind of an, 'Oh, by the way...' moment. The all-girls acapella group she's a part of was performing that night. So I knew that at some point, we would see her take the stage.

I really brushed it off to the side as normal. Because this girl singing, is rather typical. She has a voice that I could listen to for hours. So her mention of a solo didn't strike me as unusual. It's just what she does. Well, it's actually what her soul was created to do.

But, that night, the night of the concert, I was unprepared to hear her. From looking at the program, I knew her group was next. So logically, I watched for her to enter the stage. But no one came.

Instead, through the dark of the auditorium, from behind our seats, she broke the silence with her voice. I couldn't see her, but I could hear her. And the moment she started to sing, I knew it was her. No lights from the stage, no written acknowledgement on the program. Just her voice. I felt her. And I knew she was mine.

That moment of clarity has stayed with me for days.
It felt powerful. And it felt like home.

And I'm reminded of the reason we celebrate this month. Of the truth that rests as the foundation of all that we do. That beneath the lists, the stress, the buying and the rushing, there is joy that already surrounds us. There is peace when we take the time to hear.

And we have a Savior who knows our name. He sees us when we take the stage and also when we stand in the dark and raise our voice. At all times and at all cost, He hears us. Rather powerful and a whole lot like home.

In these last few days, the calm before the storm, I hope you take the time to Hear. Because joy is there. It may be buried deep, but it's there.

Listen to it.
And welcome home.


Friday, December 20, 2013

A Generous Mother

What does a mother do on the last day before Christmas break?

She puts Rudolph antlers and a nose on her teenager's car. While she's in school.

Just thinking about her embarrassment, freak-out gives my insides warm fuzzies.

Merry Christmas to me.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Miracle(s)

Child #2 agreed to take a picture.

Without fighting me.

Or being bribed.

I simply asked that she stand by her sister while we were at an ice skating rink.

She stepped in closer and smiled.

Just like that.

I nearly choked and dropped my phone.


Child #1's choir group toured the local elementary schools today. Lots of festive singing (I warned Child #3 that she was headed her way). She was required to wear festive clothing to match all that singing.

No words, right?

And it gets even better.

She made the sweater. Darn straight.

I've used hot glue for many things. But never to attach ornaments and tinsel onto a sweater in the shape of a Christmas Tree.

I told her that I really can't decide if this is a proud parental moment.

Want her to come sing at your house?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Let's Discuss

Can we just stop the world for a second and discuss some pressing matters?

Pinterest. Oh, how I love me some Pinterest.
But, here's some truth--it's not real. Not really. Looking at Pinterest is like reading a book. You get to be transported to a lovely place with pretty people and perfect crafts. It's more of a fairyland. A really, super awesome and addicting one.

So, here are my pressing matters. I am in dire straights looking for answers:

1. Will someone please explain this new craze of Maternity Pictures. I mean, they're everywhere. Pregnant ladies standing in wheat fields. Couples cradling a chubby belly. These pictures are definitely not taken with an iphone. No selfies here. That means professional photographers are involved. I'm crazy confused. Seriously. Does anyone out there remember feeling like a rock star when they were pregnant? Rockin' enough to stand in a wheat field and hire a photographer?

2. Tattoos. This one is super-dee-duper confusing to me. I know that people get them. But why are you posting them on crafty Pinterest? Because, let's just be honest. Some of those tattoos, like the life-sized octopus, just make you look like a moron. I mean, really. Who, in their right mind, inks the entire cast of Peter Pan on their shoulder blade? For. Reals. And we aren't even going to discuss the fact that tattoos are kinda like putting permanent scratches on a Porsche. Well, in my case, it'd be more of an old Buick.

3. This last one is hard for me to even talk about. I'm having heart palpitations just thinking about it. Here goes.....Edible glitter. I just saw a picture of it this morning on The Pin. Holy Canoly. Let's take a moment and gather our sanity. Because, you've seen real glitter, right? Nasty stuff. Hate it. It sticks to everything. Everything! So, for the love of all that's holy, why would you ingest it into your body? Just thinking about it almost makes me vomit.

And last, but not least, I give you this. Just because it's so freaking awesome:
Our great friends were at the same choir concert as we were last night. After it was over, Child #2 tried to avoid us at all costs. Until The Bill Man grabbed her into a hug. And wouldn't let go. She kicked. And wiggled. And moaned. He held tight and smiled the whole time. Then The Dad joined in and they squeezed her even tighter. I can't even describe the joy this brought me. I nearly passed out from my glee. I'm a mother who finds great delight in the suffering of her children.

Maybe I'll post it on Pinterest.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Mouse Trap

Her project for Physics was to create a car out of a mouse trap. In order to earn a descent grade, the car had to travel 5 feet. 5 mini-feet? 5 milliliters? I really can't remember. 5 somethings. My genius is showing, isn't it?

It was determined that she and her friend wanted to make "sleighs" out of the mouse traps. So, of course, because I have so much free-time, I was tasked with hunting down all needed supplies. Well, that's not totally true. She went to Lowe's and bought some metal-ly stuff. Hardware? Is that the right word?

The first car she made last Thursday was super cute. I totally approved from a crafty point-of-view. But it traveled....nowhere. Wouldn't move at all. Her and her friend readjusted a few things, shortened some string-thingy. And it moved....backwards.

So, last night they were on a mission. And as the hours ticked by, they got more frazzled. They both made car #2 with no success.

By this time, the rest of the family huddled around the table gawking like paparazzi. It's was like the ship was sinking and we wanted to watch it go down. The 11 year old threw question after question their way and I had to turn my head so they wouldn't see me laughing. I just couldn't shut it down. It was too awesome to watch.

Once she started building car #3 at 10:00 pm, she announced, "Did you know they just came out with a study that says school is bad for your health....{pause}...I'm totally serious."

And because I can see she is starting to wilt and give up, I step in. I remind her of the discussion we had just days ago. "Listen. You have to get it together. Because my job as your mother is to make sure you don't live with me forever. Got it? You have to get good grades and you have to finish high school. Because if you don't, you'll be with me to the end of your days and I'll make us wear matching sweaters."

Score. Game on.
Car #3.... moves. 5 somethings. 5 milimeters? 5 furlongs?

I'm thinking of becoming a motivational speaker.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Too Tired To Be Stealthy

Christmas time, when I was around 15 or 16 years old, both my brothers came to me one night and said, "Hey, we have to show you something." So, I remained cool and neutral and followed them downstairs into the basement.

They led me to a hallway closet that was locked. The oldest brother took about 2.4 seconds to jiggle and jimmy the door and it opened right up. Inside sat all our Christmas presents. All of them. We got our very first family computer that year. And there it was, in all it's glory. Front and center in the "locked" closet.

The super stealthy older brother also showed me the cowboy boots he would be receiving. He told me he had been wearing them to school for over a week. He put them back into the closet each night. His genius stunned me silent.

I had never even had the notion to go looking for presents. It just never occurred to me as something you could do. I was the perfect child. The envy of all parents everywhere. Truth be told, I still am. Just the other day I told my mom she was "lovely" before I asked her to buy me some candy.

But now I'm the parent, trying to hide the Christmas presents. And guess what? I don't even bother with a locked closet. I'm just too tired.

This is my closet. The one that's always open. I've convinced myself that the blanket makes the presents invisible. M'kay? Just yesterday I realized that I've been meaning to tell my kids "Not to go into my closet". But I keep forgetting. I just might be the most amazing Santa's Helper ever.

If you need a place to store your own presents, my closet still has some room.
And I've got a few more blankets.

Friday, December 13, 2013

When She Teaches Me Truth

I'm sitting at the computer starring at the screen. I've somehow convinced my brain that if I stare long enough, I'll come up with a fantastic plan. One that will magically give me more time. Or how to clone myself. I feel as if I'm running 10 days behind regular life. At this rate, I should be ready for Christmas by mid-January. And I'm contemplating throwing the to-do list away and painting my bathroom instead. I'm such a deep thinker.

With my thoughts racing and the TV buzzing in the background, I notice Daughter #2 round the corner and sit at the piano. I'm sitting still as a statue at the computer, so she doesn't notice me. If she did, she would flee in a nano second. She isn't one to perform in front of anyone. Nor does she really like having lengthy discussions (consisting of more than 12 words) with any blood related relative. So, I remain silent and just turn my head to watch her.

And she plays. And quietly sings along. Her attention soley focused on her moment of joyful living. And I am transfixed. Solid focus. On her. And suddenly, life becomes so very clear. This girl of mine is showing me what truth really looks like. And what it sounds like. As I watch her, this moment feels golden and magical, precious and real. Lists and errands float away on the wind.

She then turns her head and sees me. She smiles quickly and is off the bench and out of the room. But I am left, still at the computer. The place where I was trying to hold the world and slow down time just minutes ago.

And now, I smile too. The world still feels heavy in my arms and the list is still a mile long, but my focus has moved it's angle. The rushing, the stress and the doing don't feel so bold and central anymore. Life feels a bit more beautiful with her voice echoing in my head.

Be still.
Just for a moment.

And listen.

And watch.

May we have the eyes to see the magic right before us.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Signs Of The Season

I think there should be a national ban on 'Telling-Your-Mom-What-You-Really-Want-For-Christmas' after December 10th. For serious. Because Teenager #1 just blurted out, "I want sweaters. Lots of sweaters." Ah, what?

This comes as shocking news to a Santa who is nearing the end of gift buying. There are 13 days left, people. No new items are allowed to be added to the list. Nor are you allowed to change your mind about something you loved-loved-loved 2 weeks ago. Nada. No more talking.

From here on out, I'm telling my kids, "You better just cross your fingers and hope you get lucky. Oh, and being really nice to me will earn you extra presents." I'm the kind of parent that tries to buy their love.


After I made the gingerbread men, it was determined that they needed personalities before we ate them. I thought it was morbid, The Husband cheered them on. Some have bows and bow ties. Some have tap shoes, others are wearing overalls. One is a Mormon missionary (it felt a little strange to eat him).  There is also a hairy Chubakka and the final decorated cookie is, and I quote, "filled with bullet holes from being shot".

Ah, warm fuzzy family moments.


Teenager #2 sat down to eat the Christmas cookies I had just brought home from the store. As she is dunking them in milk, she says, "I just looovvvveeee Christmas."

To which I replied, "Well, for mothers it's a rather stressful holiday."

She stopped eating and just starred at me.
And finally snorted and asked, "Why?"

Ah, yes, why indeed.

I think I'll ponder that one today. And for the next 13 days hereafter.
Oh, and probably in January too when I get my credit card statement.

Tis the season to be merry.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

FMS (For My Sister)-Christmas Edition

I caught my sister taking pictures of my mantel the other night. So, this is me, trying to catch her before she sends it out into Facebook-land...

Years ago, I read an interview with J.K. Rowling. She said she is constantly asked where her magical Harry Potter ideas come from. She continues to find that question strange. Because ideas are just simply...ideas. You can't buy them at a store. They just are. There in your mind. And she took the creations she could see in her head and wrote them down. Magic transformed.

I believe we each have our own J.K. Rowling way of thinking. Everyone has their own individual way they see the world. We all create. It just takes on different forms. Ideas just simply come. And we translate that into something beautiful. Whether it's at work, in your yard, in your relationships, when you parent your children or in your home. We each possess our own kind of magic.

I decorate. Over the years, I've come to realize it's my passion. My own Harry Potter gift. It's when I feel most alive.

It pretty much feels like an insignificant talent. Sure, it's pretty. But it certainly doesn't change the world. Most of the time, my family are the only people who even notice. When you think about it like that, it doesn't feel magical at all. All too often, it feels like a waste of time.

But, maybe all gifts aren't meant to be spread worldwide. Maybe their purpose is to help us see the best parts of us. The parts that only we can offer. The ideas that only we can see. That definitely feels like magic transformed. The kind that is soul deep. Whether it's noticed by one or a million. That's time well spent.

Let's celebrate our gifts. Especially this month. The gifts that no one can really see. The ideas that make us feel most alive. Whether or not we think they're worth it. Because they are. When we use the best parts of us, magic moves. It offers more than words can give. In your home, in a classroom, at your job, in the food you make or in your life. Listen to your ideas and celebrate your gifts.

And decorate a mantel with flare :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thoughts About Scars

I woke up this morning thinking about scars. At 5:00 am. Weird, right? Because I have a hole in my head. Literally and figuratively. Well, not a hole, exactly. More like a large divet. A head valley? It's from all the cutting and stitching and stretching and nastiness of my skin cancer removal. And now that scar has had time to settle in and get cozy.

There are times when it aches. And it's red and looks rather ugly. I'm guessing this is all rather normal for a scar. To be honest, I hope I don't ever have a repeat.

But, for some reason, in the dark hours of this morning, my small, minuscule scar brought me thoughts of larger, more important scars. Those that are in His hands, His wrists and His feet. And I wonder if Christ's scars feel like red, ugly, aching holes. Just like the one in my head.

This time of year seems to focus on the Savior's birth. We love the nativity and the star and the wise men bearing gifts. But what of The Man? The one with scars to prove He saved us all?

Maybe our actions reflect His scars. Do we honor them? Or do we set them aside for another day? Scars are permanent. His most of all. What if we could live our lives to make them worth it? That feels like a monumental promise.

"Men are that they might have joy". Christ's words, not mine. Joy. That's all He wants for us. He doesn't say that 'Men are to make lists'. He doesn't mention that 'Men are to rush and stress and hurry'. Just joy. Three little letters. One simple word that can change our souls.

There still is work to be done. Daily life keeps on ticking. Stress is inevitable. But, underneath it all, His scars remain. For me. For you. For everyone I see scattering through the mall. He rescued all of us.

I think we would do well to remember.
The scars that changed the world.
And maybe, just maybe, the real and true meaning of this season can bring peaceful calm and glorious bright.

Let's think about scars together.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The November Wrap

Yes, I'm aware we're well into December. But, I'm running behind. By the time I pull out my Christmas decor, it will probably be Valentines.

Lessons from the 'Give Thanks' month. In no particular order:

1. My brain is full. That has been my biggest light bulb moment. I can't fit one more thing in. Not one more task, not one more thing to do, not one more 'what-do-you-get-a-teenager-for-christmas-when-they-just-want-money'. Not. One. More. Thing.

2. Speaking of full....my Kindle currently has 320 books loaded on it. This fascinates me. Every time I download, I expect a window to pop up that reads, "You need to get a life. Seriously." When does a Kindle fill up? It's like a challenge now. To see how many books I can put on there. I'll keep you posted.

3. One of the sweetest sounds in my life comes from this girl:
Every once-in-a-blue-moon (translation: twice a year), she randomly calls me "momma". She is my only child to ever call me that. She has to actually be near me and like me at the same time. I'm pretty sure that's why it is such a rare occurrence. She called me momma last Friday. Around 4:45 pm. I'm holding on to that.

4. Speaking of Child #2...The other night she told her Dad, "Barnes and Noble is a stupid store. All it has is books!"


5. Recovery from a road trip requires cleaning out the car. It's amazing what can happen in that tiny space when your family lives in it for days.

So, I'm vacuuming. Every little crevice. And I notice a black box tucked way under the seat. I pull it out and discover it's a take-out box. When I notice the restaurant name, it dawns on me that this food is from Child #1's Homecoming extravaganza. In case you're wondering, that was 39 days ago.

39. Days.

6. Speaking of Child #1...
She made the school musical.

She changed the direction of her life at the end of last year for this very thing. Audition week was a bit grueling. I gave advice and prayed. A lot.

The day the cast list was posted, her joy became a palpable thing. It filled the house. It filled all of us. I wanted to bottle that joy right up and save it.

7. Child #3 stayed home from school for 2 days with strep. She used her free time to make a PowerPoint presentation for me. Of all the things she wants for her birthday and Christmas. It was rather lengthy. And for added fun, she texts me every other day (while we're in the same room together) to remind me of all the items on her list.

I'm thinking of making my own PowerPoint.
It will be short. Just 2 wish list items.

Let me know if you want a copy.


Monday, December 2, 2013

The Week That Flew

There are 2 kinds of holidays. The constant on-the-go kind, and the do-nothing-lay-around kind. Our Thanksgiving was the constant going kind. In a good way. I wish there was a magical way to mix the two. The end of this holiday brings bone deep exhaustion.

My entire family was together. That's a rare occurrence. There is something quite fantastic about watching cousins being with cousins. Family laughter feels richer. Even the food tastes better when you're with one another. Especially when you spend it at an indoor water park :)

And for the first time in 11 years, Our Baby/Child #3/The Favorite...

 Had her birthday on Thanksgiving Day. The exact same day she was born.

Time moves so incredibly fast.

And today, when I'm finally getting my feet firmly planted again, I look around and notice that all the universe has already decorated for Christmas. I can't even find the time, or the will, to lift my autumn wreath off my front door. A Christmas tree feels like a far away endeavor.

So, I think, just for the day, I'm going to pretend it's May. Boring, ordinary May. And I'll just work on the laundry and maybe buy some groceries.

Anyone else want to pretend with me?