Monthly Archives: December 2011

Winding down and gearing up…

As we wind down Christmas and our tree accelerates the dropping of the needles daily as ornaments desperately cling to crunchy branches, my mind turns to the coming of the new year.  While I’m not big on making/keeping “Resolutions”, I DO always seem to become reflective on things I’d like to improve upon in the coming year.  The New Year is always full of promise and hope, like new school supplies….unsharpened pencils, reams of paper, crisp folders; ready, willing and able to be molded to our choices.

Even though I am quick to claim I don’t make “Resolutions”, the truth is, of COURSE I do.  I just realize that I am only good at keeping them for a couple of weeks.  Since the gym is generally crowed until about February, I also know I have a lot of company in short-lived resolutions.  However, in the blissful, wide-eyed moments of promise and hope to come in the New Year, I feel propelled and motivated, especially after reading “5 Keys to Making and Keeping Your New Year Resolutions” @ The Hill House.  

My course of action for 2012 includes a few things:

  • Eating more healthy and exercising.  Quite the popular one.  Of course I’d like to lose weight, but the reality is that I’m not getting any younger and as my patients tell me daily, “It’s a B**** getting old!” I want to be in a good place to face those physical challenges getting older brings.  I want to run and bike and play with my kids and BEAT THEM in their games–yes, sometimes I AM competitive!  Therefore, in keeping with “defining the win”, my workouts will primarily occur at lunchtime, 3X a week and my eating will consist primarily of clean-er eating and learning how to ditch the processed stuff AND incorporate that into my family’s diet as well.  A HUGE task for sure, but some truly astounding payoffs as well. 
 Just as the story of Daniel (Daniel 1:8-15)  shows how eating clean makes for stronger, better, faster, it’s also indicative of the fact that everything we need to be properly nourished and strengthened is provided by nature, not Publix. 
  • More focused “Quiet time” in prayer and seeking time with Christ.  While my morning routine begins with The Daily Readings, it often ends there as well.  Since I am trying to cram EVERYTHING into my mornings (Quiet time, Exercise, Writing….) there is no singular focus on any one of them.  My quiet time has long sustained me, given me strength, peace, clarity and guidance; it’s time to return, focused and un-hurried to that precious time.  When I begin my day in prayer and focused on His will for me, everything else seems to fall in place.
Matthew 6:33  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
  • Reintroducing hubby to the finance side of the family and tightening up.  As we can finally begin to dig out of debt with his job adding to the household income, his TypeA personality will be crucial to my tendency to slide…..it’s a team effort for certain and certain to experience growing pains, but  we will be able to balance each other  as well as the budget along with becoming better stewards of all that God sees fit to bless us with, and bless us He has.  Abundantly.

Luke 6:38  Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

In reaching for my main goals this coming year, my writing may or may not blossom.  Time will tell.  However, as this has always been more about keeping in touch and therapy for my heart, I’m sure I can always find time to bang out a post now and then; it’s just not a huge priority.  Yet.

Kayakin’ Christmas Eve (Day)

Because nothing says Christmas Eve like taking the kayak for a spin, right?

We are borrowing my friend’s kayak for a while (she hasn’t used it and we have a nice little home with some use from time to time for it, so it’s win-win for all of us) and after a month or so, we finally had a free day to take it for a spin.  Sadly, the day before it was pushing 80degrees and bright blue skies and sunny…the day after (kayak day) was pushing mid 70s, grey Eeyore kind of skies and breezy….BUT….all for adventure…and minus one kid, we hit it!

First up was our youngest son (who also helped heave the beast up and off the truck with dad). It’s WAY too hard for me to take pictures AND manage the kayak and bungie cords!  Besides, isn’t that one reason we enjoy our children?  They make our lives so much “easier”…<wink, wink>

The marina was a great spot to put in, protected from the wind and no traffic=great introduction for the kids!

Next up was littlest, who turned out to be a pretty good little rower once she got the hang of it.

Big sis rounded out the kid-turns and was THRILLED to be kayaking.

Here I am…WHAT!?!?  You kidding me???  It was “cold” and I was not up for getting my booty wet!  Especially when we forgot towels.  yeah.  don’t got there.  oversight.  won’t happen again!

Brother was cozy in the car waiting while Daddi-O took the girls for a spin and ventured out for a short trip into the river before loading up to go home!

Heading under the little car bridge!!

Checking out the birds while waiting for the crew to pass by..

Under the BIG bridge into the river!

Heading home for some hot chocolate!  (and the traditional Christmas Eve Family Mass, of course, but a great way to enjoy an afternoon).

Friday….or the day before vacation starts!

— 1 —

It’s Friday, the end of a long week and the last day of work before I have a week of STAYCATION enjoying Christmas break with the kids, hubby and my sister and nephews…(Bro-in-law has to work—boooooo hissss)!

— 2 —

We had our parish priest over for dinner this week. We let the kids decide the menu:  Chicken Enchiladas.  They decided that all our priests and deacons should be served some sort of Mexican dish.  Taco stuffed shells, Tacos, now Enchiladas.  It was a hit. I think they just want an excuse for lots of cheese and sour cream.   It was a great dinner and plenty of entertainment provided by our two youngest who had the MOST to talk about and ask questions of our very gracious guest.  Dinner was followed by peach cobbler (yum) and the girl’s “performances”.  Lots of them.  Cheerleading tricks.  Complete with one sister (accidentally) dropping another on her head.  Magic tricks that weren’t quite magic.  and lots of “Father Chris, Father Chris…”  It was fun.  And it was funny.  Will have to have the conversation with the girls on hogging the priest next time…

— 3 —

I.  Finished.  Our.  Christmas.  Shopping.  (I think)….need to go to all my secret places and take stock and double-check that the boxes I received (hopefully safely after the whole FedEx and UPS videos lately, OY!!!…) from UPS contain what I ordered.  Otherwise….it’s going to get interesting.  I probably should do that tonight.  Just in case….

— 4 —

I.  Am.  Over.  Food.  After our pizza lunch today, I am certain that I am breaking up with food.  Or after our Christmas dinner tonight at my brother’s house.  Or after Christmas lunch.  Yes.  That will be when.  For sure.

— 5 —

I was able to get in THREE days of exercise this week.  Yup.  Sanity is somewhat intact, peeps.  My friend and I have even begun strategizing our post-Christmas workout plan in between coffee and cookie breaks.

— 6 —

Next week I am going to pretend to be a Stay-at-Home mom.  Which means I’m hitting the gym.  Or some kind of exercise all week-long.  And then I won’t be at home.  At all.  Because SAHM’s really DON’T stay home.  They are everywhere else, doing all kinds of errands.  I’m SO out of practice, but I feel up for the challenge!!

— 7 —

Tonight we build the gingerbread house.  Yes.  It is tradition.  And with onlyTWO. DAYS.  LEFT.  We are running out of time to complete our traditions!  YIKERS!!  Don’t worry, the tradition of mama (and now papa) staying up quite late with the finishing touches on Christmas Eve is sure to continue!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Expectations.

As your life is likely as busy as ours this time of year, I’m sure you are familiar with the reality of things not always working out as expected.  It’s life.  The planets are NOT all aligned for every event to occur without a hitch and if one can’t practice some flexibility in life then it’s going to be one bitter horsepill to swallow on a regular basis.

This weekend I was sure that we were fairly open in our schedule sans for two events:  1.  Walk through Bethlehem on Saturday evening  2.  Children’s Christmas program at our church Sunday afternoon.  Now, in hindsight,  one would think my spidey senses would have been tingling…ERROR, ERROR, ERROR at the complete ridiculousness of an “Open” schedule at this point in December, however, they failed me.  My calendar, the one right on the wall of the kitchen.  The one that we write our life on.  The one I pass a million times a day.  Yes.  That one would have reminded me of all that was planned this weekend.  And that would require looking at it.   live and learn.  live and learn.  Fortunately, I did look at it Friday night, so I had a few hours to mentally prepare:

  • Routine Saturday chores, cleaning, grocery shopping, etc…..AND get our youngest to her liturgical dance practice.  It is the 3rd Sunday (Family Mass) and they perform a little dance and have practice the day before.  Oops.
  • “Happy birthday, Jesus” annual lunch with my grandparents.  At our house.  Menu????  Oops.

So, though it wasn’t a lot of extra activity, the activities DID require time management, organization and calm.  We pulled it off (because generally I work better under pressure, not so great for my stress level, but TREMENDOUS for my focusing abilities).

Amid all the flurry of activity, the biggest disappointment was our Walk through Bethlehem.  Having never been to this particular event, nor had I spoken to anyone who had an idea of how it all operated, we went in blind.  Sadly, we made the call to exit the line after realizing we were looking at least a two-hour wait before we got it.  We don’t do lines well.  When we are ill-prepared for the line, it’s even worse.  However, we regrouped, and drove around to look at Christmas light displays and ate cookies in the care (Dad totally rocked on THAT little preparation!!).  So Plan “B” was a hit.  Mostly.  At least it restored harmony to the family.  Mostly.  And we were able to salvage the evening.  Mostly.

 

 

 

 

The Roman Soldier casing the place…the only part we sa

 

 

 

 

Some of the lights from our drive 

 

 

And because we weren’t busy enough, the baking bug hit me Sunday.  Between Mass and the Christmas program, we baked away:  Poppy seed bread.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.  and our family favorite, Buckeye Balls.  I’m done.  done.  done.  done.  done.

Good lessons learned this weekend:  Check the calendar.  Always.  Twice daily when it’s December (or May).  Roll with it and be prepared to modify the “Plan”.  Expectations are destined to fall short.  Flexibility is king.  Have plenty of preparations on hand.  Or a decent time frame whilst the bread is baking to make an impromptu trip to Publix to re-stock.  Enjoy.  Every.  Little.  Moment.   It will be January before we know it!

 

December goal: SANITY!

We’re a little over the half-way mark for the month, finishing up an amazing year of “FIRSTS” and looking forward to seeing what 2012 has in store for us.  With my recent blog posts of December mayhem and “busy-ness” it’s been a one-foot-in-front-of-the-other kind of month, and I’m not alone.

commiserating with friends the other day on the runaway-train called “December” we decided as a group to come up with a plan of action to get us through the last few weeks with some semblance of sanity intact.  Collectively, we realized that NONE of us were really getting any good exercise, a.k.a. endorphin release, in and THAT was a HUGE problem.  Agreeing that a realistic goal of a MINIMUM of three days a week for the remainder of the month for some type of exercise in our schedules, we now have one whole week under our belt.

For myself, it’s been a great stress reliever.  Last night, I realized that a walk was an absolute necessity for my sanity and general peace in the household (meaning, me not stressing on everyone in the house) and at 8:42 p.m., I laced up and hit the streets for 25 minutes.  It felt good. My head felt clearer.  My heart calmed down. My body thanked me.  I was nicer to my husband.  I was able to peacefully tuck in my children.

This morning, I accomplished the goal of DAY 3 by hitting the gym with my good friend (because you REALLY have to like someone to agree to meet them at o’dark hundred to work out), and I’m feeling good going into Friday.  Now, truth be told:

  • the kids are out of school and my mornings just got WAAAAAAAY easier for the next 19 days
  • softball and flag football are finished which means my nights just opened up
  • the majority of my Christmas shopping is done
  • Christmas cards are sent out…..with all SIX of us present and accounted for….God is so good!
  • we have only 2 functions this weekend, both fun!
SO.  As long as the Christmas treats continue to taunt my complete and total lack of self-control and things like this (show up)………
I’ll just keep on keepin’ on with our December goal and come January…..well, let’s just continue to take this one-day-at-a-time.  No need to get all crazy with resolutions, it’s WAY to early for that, but let’s just say we already have the beginning of a sanity plan with added health benefits come January….wink, wink!


The merriment continues…or…how much more can I pack into this month???

We are half-way there, baby!  Should that strike fear into your heart if you haven’t begun your Christmas shopping, fear not…..there are still 12 11 shopping days left!!  This gives me GREAT pleasure as currently we have only purchased ONE gift for 3 children with the 4th child’s gift to be procured today.  Which means at some point I need to get crackin’ on the online shopping…….but let me stop there, because I feel my anxiety level rising at the thought of it!  Let’s move onto other things that December is bringing…

We’ve enjoyed the Christmas parade………

A middle school Holiday concert, it was actually pretty good.  Now at the end, we were unknowingly seated RIGHT where the percussion section marched to, the video I was going to upload** does NOT accurately convey the LOUDNESS of this seating arrangement, but perhaps the lady plugging her ears does somewhat.  I know.  My life is good.  Please don’t hate.  **at this time of year I have neither the time nor the patience to figure out how to change to format to be included…forgive me...

Flag football and Softball games in between the merriment of December, bringing their own joy, shouts and late nights….is it over yet???

A broken toe….

The Nutcracker ballet with my girls.  A first for ALL of us and we thoroughly enjoyed it to decide it should be an annual tradition!  (our youngest really WAS thrilled to be going, she was NOT, however, thrilled with the fact that her mother was running her usual LATE and insisted on photos in spite of running late!  that’s me, always pushing the envelope–and for the record, we made it RIGHT on time!)

My annual (big) Girl’s Night Out, Christmas dinner edition.  This year at a fun, loud and delicious German restaurant near us.  Entertaining.  Relaxing.  Good laughs.  Catching up time.  And my fingers are slowly returning to their regular size after all the sausage, sauerkraut, cabbage and pork!  Only a month-ish until our Girl’s Weekend….ahhhh, let the good times roll!

Dress rehearsal for the church Christmas performance.  This year we have an angel and a dancer……

West Side Story, performed by a local high school.  FANTASTIC!  WOW!  I can’t say it enough.  The talent was truly amazing and I was crying at the end…which my husband found humorous…whatEVER!!!  It was tear-worthy!!  (and I don’t say this because my girlfriend’s son was “Tony”, either)–no pics due to copyright laws…ah BOO!!!

Christmas cards are wrapping up and should be in the mail this week.  Today.

In between school wrapping up this week and work, there’s still lots ahead….more baking, Walk through Bethlehem, church Christmas program, football, softball, and all that shopping, wrapping and eating!  Carry on with your busy selves!

The Merry, Crazy month of December!

And so it begins…..the merry, crazy, chaotic, overscheduled month of December.  Thanksgiving and Christmas are positively my favorite holidays of the year.  Thanksgiving because the focus is on family, food, friends and taking a few seconds to appreciate how much we have to be grateful for.  And blessed we are.

(Ok, this picture is actually from last year because I took NO food pictures this year, possibly because I was truly enjoying the moment, however, the bounty was similarly traditional and full!)

Hubby was truly thankful to be enjoying non-institutional food with his favorite people on the planet (US!!).  My grandparents joined us last-minute due to car trouble while driving to SC to see my aunt and cousins.  I know she was sad to have missed the trip, but it all worked out and we had a great dinner. and somehow there just weren’t as many leftovers as I had thought….and it was all worth it!!

The remainder of the month will be filled with:

  • the town Christmas parade:   2 of 4 children participating
  • school programs:  band concert x 2
  • shopping:  any time I can fit it in…lunch time is UBER productive during December!
  • church programs:  2 of 4 children participating
  • cookie exchange:  an annual event by my old roommate, her mother in law and sisters in law and the focus is on fellowship, food, exchanging AMAZING cookies and Jesus.  Yes, I said His name, Jesus.  This IS Christmas people, notice the “Christ” at the beginning of the word?  The entire season is because it is a celebration of Jesus’ birth!!!  (had to clear that out….political correctness has no place here..)  It is a fabulous time!!
  • “Happy birthday, Jesus” party with my grandparents, an annual event which we ALL look forward to!
  • tree decorating, holiday baking
  • dinner with our Priest at our house
  • Walk through Bethlehem with one of the local churches
  • Hiding Finding our “Elf”, Friefel
  • West side story high school production (date with hubby)
  • Sending and receiving Christmas cards (of which we are ALL in this year!!)
  • Nutcracker with the girls.  It will be the first time for ALL of us and  a total surprise for them.
  • finish up with regular school, work, flag football and softball and it’s a crazy month.  And I bet YOUR month looks JUST the same!!

(these delicious Peanut butter Buckeye balls are the favorite of our family for holiday baking!)

Don’t forget, the Reason for the Season.  Christmas is a day to celebrate the birth of Jesus and the days leading up to that, Advent.  The waiting on the Lord.  The anticipation.  Enjoy every moment.  Every morsel.  May your Advent season and Christmas be as joyous and filled with thanks as ours!!!