Motivation Monday – New Year Attitude

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Julie, over at Less Than Perfect Life Of Bliss wrote something in  one of her first posts of the new year.  I honestly don’t remember what the rest of the post was about (click on the link to find out – poke around over there if you have a chance, she has some really neat projects and thoughts), but this line, I find -

inspiring

freeing

hopeful

Oh – I guess you want to know what that line was, huh?

BUT- there’s an exciting year ahead of us,

full of things that have never been.

Sit with that for a moment.

Does that line make shivers go up and down your spine or does it fill you with dread?

Does it open vistas that you never imagined or does it make you want to climb back in bed and hide?

Does it encourage you to charge out your front door and find those things, or do you want to lock the door in fear that what is to come is worse than what has been?

Last spring I would have answered dread, bed, and worse.  But as I have written in the last few months, there was some sort of switch that was clicked in me this past year.  I know that God had a lot to do with it.  You see, I am a slow learner when it comes to His lessons and I was trying to take charge of my life without consulting Him.  He was allowing me flounder, to learn some lessons.  When I finally looked up at Him and asked for His help, gave Him the problems to fix instead of trying to fix them on my own, allowed my heart to be fully embraced by Him.

Now I am eager to find out what is in store for me this year.  I am looking forward to identifying the blessings that I am given each day.  I am anxious to set out on the path called 2011 and see where the journey leads me and who I meet and what I see and do.  I am really interested to discover who I am going to be at the end of the year!

So how about you?

What sort of emotion does the phrase create in you?



Family Friday

I love crafts.

Between my gramma having a crochet hook in my hand from the time I was 5, and her ability to make anything fun, and her depression era frugality – well, I was destined to craft.

But I got hung up somewhere on rules, “doing it right” and all the other things that can stifle creativity.

Then along came the girls – those wonderful, fun, creative and MESSY children who did not listen to instructions.   At the time I was way too into my perfectionistic phase to even consider letting them do something that was not going turn out perfect and showcase their perfect genius.  (Do you notice a trend there)

This past year of financial chaos has really made me appreciate moments instead of things.  It has allowed me to not try to be perfect and just have fun creating with my girls.   They love the creative process.  Many times they teach me a new way of doing something because they aren’t limited by the box in which we so often place ourselves.  And you know what else – sometimes I actually come out looking like a superstar when something actually works!

We recently did a craft using crochet thread, water balloons, glue, water, salt and food coloring.  This is NOT my original idea.  I know I got the idea off the internet.  As soon as I find the link I will put it on my Favorite Links for Kids page.

The premise is that air inflated water balloons are wrapped with crochet thread.  Then a mixture of 1/2 glue and 1/2 water is brushed over the thread until saturated.   At this point glitter is sprinkled on the project.  You then hang up the project until it dries, pop the balloon and you have a really cool ball that can be used as a Christmas ornament, hung in a window (they make really neat shadows)  or whatever you want to do with them.

My only original thought to this was a glitter substitute.  I did not have any glitter on hand.  I also hate that once glitter is introduced into our house it takes up permanent residence in the carpeting, on the furniture, and on any surface that could be touched by little hands.  So I was trying to come up with something that might be a little less invasive.  I put about 1/8 – 1/4 cup of table salt in 4 small bowls (like fruit bowls), then I (or rather my oldest)  added 3 drops of food coloring to each bowl.  I sent her to spread out our craft sheet on the entryway floor while I mixed up the salt until the color was evenly distributed.  (By the way, our craft sheet is the plastic sheet we used under the high chair for both girls. Now we use it as their craft sheet – it saved it from the landfill, wipes clean, will cover my kitchen table if there are only 2 people working on the crafts, and lets me remember their baby stage!

So here they are – our decorative balls.

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I swear that I will post the link to the tutorial when I find the website.

Motivation Monday – Personal Growth Update

The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.
Robert Cushing

 

Well, I did it.

I made it through the church social function.

I drove there – BY MYSELF

I entered the venue – BY MYSELF

I walked around all the tables and looked at the decorations – BY MYSELF

I initiated a conversation with a woman I had never met before – BY MYSELF

And you know what –

I had a great time.

A friend of mine showed up a little later and we sat together.  We had been friends at our old parish.  I did not realize that she was part of this parish until I ran into her dropping her son off at VBS a couple of years ago.  Life had gotten in the way and other than saying a quick hello, we had not had the chance to reconnect. She had encouraged a mutual friend of ours to come along to the event. All three of us sat together, drank wine, ate, laughed, and listened to an awesome presentation.  I even won a door prize!

After the scheduled part of the evening was over, my friend and I stood around and chatted for another hour.

We laughed some more, cried a little, learned how much we each grown over the last few years.  The years fell away as we shared as only women can.

Snow Falling at Night

Image by ♥ Crystal Writer ♥ via Flickr

As I walked out to my car it was snowing.  The world was quiet as it only is when blanketed by snow.  The flakes glittered as they passed through the street light beams.  I walked along, quietly humming Christmas carols, occasionally trying to catch a snow flake on my tongue, and praised God that He had given me the strength to meet this personal challenge and allowed me to find Him the heart of another woman.

Wacky Wednesday – Goals, Gifts and Memories

Goals

Yesterday I posted about a new goal that I am starting.  I even bragged that I had started a new habit.  Do you know how I know I have a new habit?  Do you even want to know?  Sure you do.

I use an online program called HabitForge.  It is a free program that allows you to set up your desired habit.  The program will then send you an e-mail each day asking if you followed-thru the day before.  It then has a little diagram showing how well you are doing.   I am one that loves to mark things off (to-do lists are my specialty, though I do have issues actually working them).  Being reminded each day keep me on track.  At the end of 21 days you have the option of continuing getting reminders for the next 3 weeks or ending it.

Gifts

No, this part is not about Christmas, or even about gifts for just me.  This is about the gift we can give our children – the gift of our time.   Kat over at Inspired to Action wrote about how to be a rock star to your children with 30 minutes and pink tablecloth.

Then she asked for readers to tell her things we do to become rock stars to our own children.  I submitted a few ideas.  Not only did she use them in her next article, Be A Rockstar…Today, but she even mentioned my name!  I feel like a celebrity!  She has 128 different ways to be a rockstar with your kids.  Check it out!  It really does not take much – but it means so very much to your child, and to your own heart.

Memories

The rest of this post is devoted to my youngest daughter and her First Mom.  Today our family celebrates that God blessed the world with the gift of our youngest daughter.  It is a bittersweet day for me and probably for her as she grows up.   I pray for everyone who ever was and is currently in her life. (Written last year on her birthday)

Misty weather in the low to mid 50s.

No indoor heat.

Labor pains.

The final push.

A girl – a healthy, perfect baby girl – lots of dark hair, little button nose, chubby cheeks, long fingers and toes.

A decision to be made within the next 48 hours. Not enough time to know who this little person was who had been growning inside her for 9 months.

Did she want to know this little person or was it easier to not know?

Does she cry for her little girl as her little girl cries for her years later?

Does she wonder about the woman who is raising her child as I wonder about her?

Does she wonder how her daughter tilts her head when thinking, or how she skips when she on her way to do something, or her ability to figure out math problems and sound out words?

Does she wonder what her giggle sounds like when her neck is nuzzled?

Does she share a love for all things pink and lavender with her daughter?

Today, as we celebrate with milk shakes after church, our table will filled not only with those of us laughing, but also by the shadow people – the people who gave her the precious gift of life, the people who live in the background only because we don’t know who they are and how to draw them out of the shadows and into the light of the love of our family, but more importantly, into the light of her eyes. They will probably forever live in the shadows because of circumstances beyond their control and our control – the victims of the politcal machine that controls the fate of so many in EBs birth country.

So today I send out prayers for the family who has no idea who this child has become, for the family that had to make a decision that I cannot even hope to comprehend from my warm and comfortable house in a country that does not have the same social, political, and filial pressures as theirs. I pray for peace in their hearts and in the heart of our little girl, for while she lives in my house, calls me Mama, loves me as unconditionally as I love her, she is not just mine, but theirs as well. I will say prayers of thanksgiving that they chose to bring this little girl into the world when her life could easily have been snuffed out.

Our little girl has so much to offer this world of ours. She is incredibly smart. She has a wickedly funny sense of humor. She is sassy. She is loving and giving. She is physically beautiful – saucy eyes, soft hair, long, strong limbs. She has a gentle heart, though it is often hidden by her childish desire to ALWAYS get her way. She loves to avoid manual labor, but will work for hours on an art project. She knows how to push her sister’s buttons and drive her crazy, but will staunchly defend her if someone is picking on her. There is so much of all 4 of her parents in her it is impossible to separate the characteristics that each of us have given her. Together we are creating and molding such a sensitive, wonderful young girl.

So when the flicker of the candles’ light illuminate EB’s face as she makes her wish over her cake, I know I will catch a fleeting glimpse of those people standing in the shadows. Maybe one day the light will reach far enough that they can step out of the shadows and we can fully share and enjoy this miracle that is our daughter.

 

 

Flexibility

Magic of Elegance

Image by khalid almasoud via Flickr

I really wish this post was about how wonderfully fit I have become and how flexible and strong I now am.  Unfortunately, that is not the topic.   Today I am writing about life flexibility.

We live in a 2 story house.  The top of the stairs open into a loft area which acts as our playroom.  My office door leads directly out into that loft.  I often finish up my work day after the girls are home from school and my youngest is occupying herself with her dolls.  I have been privy to doll conversations and serenades of Selena Gomez songs.  Tonight I am sitting in here listening to both of my girls and the little girl from across the street who is here for a sleep over.

This afternoon as I finished up work I had no idea that Dove would be riding to Brownies with us.  Her mom sent me a text asking if I would mind.  I did not mind at all – I was honored that she would trust her daughter with me.  During some free-time during the meeting my oldest and Dove came up to me arm in arm and asked if they could have a sleep over – at our house.   My immediate response was “sure”.   Phone calls to Mr and Mrs Bird were made and arrangements were finalized.  Driving home, listening to them alternately whisper to each other and belt out “Morning Report” I contemplated how my evening went from minimal plans to an extra person sleeping over.

I thought back to my childhood.  Sleep overs were not something that I ever really did.  I honestly did not have very many friends until I was in 4th grade.   I am not sure I had even been to a sleep over at someone’s house that was not a relative until I was in 5th grade.  I never felt that I could just ask someone to come over at the drop of a hat.  I am not sure if that was my personal insecurity or if I was picking up something from my parents.  Either way,  doing something spontaneous like that was not something that seemed welcome in my family.  In my parents’ defense, my father worked shift work since he was a police officer – so our family time was governed  by his schedule.  It was not like he had every evening off, so we made the most of the ones he did have off by spending the time together.  It was precious.  But I learned something that I don’t think my parents intended for me to learn.   Family time was not to be intruded upon by “outsiders”.  If they were not from the family (I have a massively large extended family), they were not to be relied on.  As an only kid, that made for some lonely times because I did not develop a strong social network until I was much older.  That leads to the question is my social awkwardness and shyness a result of not having lots of social interaction as a child, or did I not have those interactions because I was socially awkward and shy?  But I digress – that is a topic best left for another day.  I did not perceive my parents as being very flexible, able to roll with the punches of a changing schedule.  Maybe they had enough of a changing schedule with dad’s work.  Maybe it was just how they were.  (I will say that they are MUCH more flexible now that I ever remember as a child!)

But that leads me to the person I am today and the person I am trying to become.  The interesting part of becoming more comfortable with myself and establishing more routines and organization is that I feel freer to deviate from those very routines.  I find that I am more flexible because I am willing to embrace the moment.  Embracing simplicity in my life is allowing me to concentrate on other things.  I am not as encumbered with all the things that are not getting done.  I am not drowning in and being overwhelmed by all the undone things around the house.  Dove does not care that the floors are not mopped, that the carpets were not vacuumed this afternoon, or that I don’t have a gourmet breakfast planned.  My girls are not paralyzed by what Dove thinks of our house.  They just enjoy being together.  And I am so happy to be able to give them that time.

Slumber Party 1

Image by jstownsley via Flickr

So tonight I am smiling as I listen to the girls giggling right outside my door.  When I post this I will go make sure they are tucked into their sleeping bags and encourage them to go to sleep, knowing full well that it will take a long time for the whispers and giggles to quiet into the deep breathing of slumber.  I am so thankful that I have been given this moment in time.  I am grateful that I have learned to be flexible and embrace the special moments when they come.   I am grateful that I have chosen to set out on this journey of discovery – about myself and about the perfect gifts that can be found along the way.

Healing through writing

Ellen at fatgirlwearingthin wrote a post the other day that really struck a chord with me.  She was talking about gearing up for winter.  Winter is not  my favorite time of the year.  Even though I love the holidays with the family gatherings, the food,  the music, the lights, the traditions, the advent wreath, the wonderful Christmas Eve Mass,  I DON’T like winter.   Where I live we basically live under gun-metal gray skies from November until late March.  Those are not pretty months for me.

We have had awesomely sunny weather recently.  Very, very unusual for this time of year.  I am really, really thankful for it.  But I have just been off kilter for the last week.  It is just a sense of constant unease – like things are about fly apart.   I can’t explain it very well.   But as soon as read her post I understood where a lot of my feelings were coming from.   Here is the comment I left on her post:

I have been really bummed this week, Ellen. I have been trying and trying to figure out why. I had a terrific weekend. I have had a good week so far. But emotionally I am just really off track. It is like you have been in my head, rooting around for the cause. It is the time change and the change in weather. It is still sunny, but I know what is coming. I know how horribly depressed I can get. I have my light on my desk (which is visible on clean desk photo). My desk is situated so that I am exposed to whatever sun there is all day long. I am now pretty much in the habit of getting up and taking a shower each morning. I am doing better about eating (though I still have a huge way to go). While I was at my parent’s house I found my goal picture. It is a picture that was taken the year hubby and I met. I was at the weight where I felt my best. I loved how I looked, and I would like to get back there. So I am trying to figure out where I need to post it. Hubby and I are trying to figure out how to divide time so that I have the opportunity to work out. We are working on meal plans. I am making all the right changes. But I am still really in the doldrums. I think it is truly fear. Fear of the darkness that I know is coming. Fear of falling into that hole of depression that can suck me down so far. And anger that I have to be on medication for SAD which is one of 2 major roadblocks in adopting one more child from China. That anger is then turned back on myself and I fall deeper into that hole.

As a result of that comment she and I have been shooting e-mails back and forth.  Through writing her I have been able to clarify my feeling more and to recognize a lot of the stressors that I am currently experiencing.  I find it amazing how the simple act of writing something down can be so therapeutic.  So for today I am going to recognize a couple of gifts -

1 – my new friend, Ellen.  I hope someday to meet her in real life.

2 – the desire  to and miracle of writing.  It has been my companion, my friend, my confidant.

3 – that after every winter there is a spring.  It may take a while, but it will happen, and it will be beautiful!


Not sighing

I was heartened to see how many people feel they need “do-over” days with their children.  To me it signals several things.

One – I am not alone when it comes to being impatient, tired, cranky, etc.

Two – I am not alone when it comes to beating myself up over being all those things.

Three – That I can and do get a fresh start every day.

At the age my children are, they don’t hold grudges for very long, and they are extremely forgiving.   Seeing them forgive me reminds me to forgive myself.  And because their forgiveness is unconditional, it reminds me how much more forgiving is my Heavenly Father.

To see the love and joy on the faces of my girls when I come home;

or when one of us does something wrong and is forgiven and still loved;

or when I ask them how their day was and they curl up on my lap to tell me all about it as we warm each other and relax into a cuddle -

those are powerful reminders.

How much more joyous is God when I ask His forgiveness?

How unconditional is His love?

How glad is He when I turn to Him in prayer and tell Him about my day with all its frustrations, joys, tears, sorrow, surprises, and gifts?

Jessica over at MomLifeToday wrote about how we sometimes get frustrated with our children and their constant demands and interruptions.  She also compared how God reacts to us against how we react to our children.  I found it a very humbling article.  Yet it filled me with a profound sense of peace.  I am not alone in this walk of motherhood.  God is right there with me.  He understands the role, and He understands who I am, yet He still loves me unconditionally and will help me be the best parent I can be.  Check it out, it is a short, yet terrific article!

Sorry about the whine

Yesterday’s post was so whiney!  I sincerely apologize for that.   It was just one of those days.  Actually it has been one of those weeks.  I can’t honestly say why, just that I feel totally discombobulated and can’t get myself motivated or organized.

So today is a new day and a new attitude.  I AM going to get my 15 minutes of activity in.  I did make it up and in the shower and had breakfast this morning.

One bit of whining that I did the day before yesterday was about playing Candy Land and painting toe nails and finger nails.  I am ashamed of myself.  Those moments, no matter how tired I was, were definitely gifts.  How many more evenings am I going to be the best partner to play board games with?  How many more evenings will I be begged to paint her nails (even if the feet were a little stinky!)?  I shocked myself that I got so caught up in making sure she did not cheat during the game that I almost missed the grin and gleam in her eye as she tried to win.  I am not pleased at my behavior when she would not sit still and potentially ruined her pedicure.  What was I thinking?  Does a 6-year-old CARE that her nails are perfect?  Is she going to turn into a compulsive cheat because she wanted to win at Candy Land and was just having fun trying to sneak one by me, all the while knowing that I knew what she was doing?

Last night was my “do-over” night.  We did not have anything planned.  My oldest watched her favorite shows she had DVRd.  Baby girl came upstairs and played in the loft area as I finished up working.  She talked to her Barbies, she sang, she talked some more, she sang and sang.   The girls stood at the kitchen table while hubby and I finished up dinner preparations.  We ate our dinner. Hubby and I sat and had a few minutes together while the girls went upstairs and wrote in their journals.  Hubby and my oldest needed to practice their Tae Kwon Do, and the only place with enough open floor space is the living room.  Baby girl and I laid down on the couch together while the other two members of the family went through their form.  Baby girl tucked herself behind the bend of my knees and the back of the couch and perched her chin on my hip to watch her daddy and sister.  She gave me a running commentary the whole time, pausing for breath only a couple of times.  Before long she laid her head over to the side and started moving her legs around in the final fight moments before I felt her get a little heavier and her breathing slowed down and she started snoring.  We laid there for 30 minutes – I just did not want to let go of the moment.  It had been a perfect evening of family, relaxation and peace.  I am so glad that I was given a Do-Over Moment.

Has anyone else ever had the chance for a do-over?

On the go, only to wait…

The buses we rode during our stay in China were terrific – wide seats that reclined a little, private air vents, and plenty of room so that we were not all sitting on top of each other.  They also sat very high, so we had wonderful views of passing scenery.  After meeting in the lobby and taking final pictures of ourselves as a childless couple, the very kind men in top hats and scarlet tails helped us board the bus.  I obsessively checked and rechecked that we had all the red gift bags in hand and that the diaper bag was zipped and slung over my shoulder.  Even when I sat down on the bus, the diaper bag strap stayed firmly over my shoulder and I clutched it in my lap, like it was some sort of life-preserver.  And maybe at that moment, that was exactly what it was.  It was a something concrete that was in my control to protect.  Soon we pulled out of the driveway of the hotel and merged into the city traffic.  One road merged to another bigger street which eventually merged into a multi-lane, elevated highway.  When we exited the highway back onto surface streets the roads were much more congested.  The congestion was utter chaos.  Buses, mini-vans, subcompact cars, sub-subcompact cars, motorcycles, motor scooters, tricycles, pedal powered cargo wagons, and bicycles all danced around each other, horns honking, competing for every inch of road space and missing each other by mere fractions of an inch.  It was frightening, yet amazing to watch.  As we pulled up to the Civil Affairs building and started to turn right I looked down beside the bus as a bicycle rode along the right side of the bus and passed in front of the us, even as the bus was actively turning.  All of us on that side of the bus let out gasps, yet the man on the bicycle calmly kept pedaling and the bus driver kept turning and we all were safe.  At that moment I decided that driving in this country was something that I never wanted to attempt!

Our bus driver  pulled into the driveway of the Civil Affairs building, only to be told that the bus was too large to pull through the gates and turn around in the parking area.  We disembarked on the sidewalk and made our way to the front door of the building which was located on the corner of two busy streets.  It sat back from the street just a little with the sidewalk opening out in front of it.  We walked through the lobby to the elevator.  There was a single, shiny brass colored elevator on the left with stairs winding around the shaft tower just beyond.  We were headed to the second floor.  A few people headed up the stairs.  The rest of us crowded into the elevator.  As the door closed I remember thinking about the weight limit and giggling to myself that we would be stuck on the elevator as our daughters waited for us!

The elevator opened up into a small waiting room with two couches that sat at right angles to each other along the walls.  There was a reception desk in front of the elevator, to the left of the waiting room.  A window stood open above the couch facing the elevator. There was a faint breeze coming in the window.  We all gathered in this small area, most of us standing because there just were not enough seats.  The window over the couch looked down on the parking lot courtyard our bus could not enter.  Conversation stuttered among us as we all attempted to appear calm.  Yet any close observer could see the fiddling hands and hear the nervous laughter.  Every time the elevator dinged all heads would  snap around to see if the girls were arriving.   People wandered out of the waiting room to the left to look out the window that overlooked the street below.  Standing at that the window  they turned left to look down a hall that ended in a huge wall hanging proclaiming Guangdong Adoption Registration Center.  It seemed as if we waited and moved around this small area forever!  Finally our coordinator said that we were going to move to a larger room.

We took off down the hall towards the wall hanging and turned right to go through a door that opened into another hall that headed to the left.  There were closed doors all along both sides of the hall.  The floors were tile, the walls white with pictures of children who had been adopted, the doors were  dark wood.  Though warm, the hallway was airy and wide and bright.  We were escorted to the second door on the right.  The room smelled closed and hot, the air heavy with the humidity of the subtropics in October.  The far wall was covered in huge windows.  A vinyl covered sectional couch sat along the wall to the right and under the windows.  About a four-foot space was left  between the couches  by the windows.  In the center of the room was a massive conference table.  Someone found the latches to the windows and opened them, allowing the some air movement in the room, though the breeze was not very cool.  Each family staked a claim on various parts of the couches.  We chose a place 1/3 of the way down the couch along the right wall and unloaded all our belongings.  It was the first time since we left our room at the hotel that I let go of the diaper bag.   The families moved around the room.  Emotions ran even higher than they did in the small waiting room.  Ms. Flower and Ms. Britain became tearful as they realized their life-long dreams of having a child were about to be fulfilled.  Mrs. Diamond stroked the hair on a doll that she had brought to give her daughter.  Mr Adams set up his camera on a tripod so as to capture a picture of each child as they came through the door.   I was hot, very hot, but my hands were cold as the adrenaline of the moment coursed through me.  There we sat, seven families, waiting to hear four life changing words.   Finally our coordinator walked into the room, closed the door behind her, and uttered what we had been waiting 16 long months, traveled thousands of miles to hear,…

 

 

“The girls are here”

The Mapmaker

 

Laid. A view looking to the northeast along th...

Image via Wikipedia

 

My heart and soul are ready to embark on this journey.

My mind – well, not so much.

To be honest, I am overwhelmed.  There is just so much to do, so much to wade through, that I just don’t know where to start.

So last night I met with the head Mapmaker.  I spent quite awhile discussing my concerns, and my fears.  As I laid all this on His drafting board, I found myself beginning to relax.  I started to look around and see the beauty around  me – my children, my husband, a job, the ability to make this month’s mortgage payment, the sunlight that streamed through my windows all day.  I was even able to see the beauty in the meltdown my oldest daughter had after school.  I was able to see where her journey intersected mine and how we worked together to deal with the emotions she was experiencing.   Standing there in the loft of our house, gazing out at the quiet night, I was able to breathe deeply and let go of some of the fear of the unknown.  I could feel my strength growing so that I could pick up my suitcase and head out on my journey.   Before long I was grinning, because I had just found my first gift on the first day of the trip.  It was the gift of Thankfulness.