Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 Goals

I have never made a New Year's resolution, but I like goal-setting.  Here are my top to-do's for 2011.

Start running again - this time without injury.  Buy awesome running shoes if I have to.

Clean out every closet, cabinet, drawer and shelf; selling every unused item in a garage sale over spring break.  If we were sick of it 9 years ago, it is definitely out of fashion now!

Repaint the interior of the house.  Make the guys wear latex gloves if that's the only way to keep the walls clean.  Enforce the no-wall-climbing rule.  Spiderman does not live here.

Volunteer in each of the boy's classes regularly.

Show our appreciation to each of the boy's teachers.

Get completely plugged in and excited about ministry again.

Intentionally nourish relationships with friends and family.  Say no only when we absolutely must.

Love my husband and children with purpose and meaning.  Date.

Lead at least one support group for women recovering from sexual abuse.

Make myself available to speak to groups about the impact of sexual abuse on a survivor's life and the hope there is for miraculous healing and restoration.  Pursue youth and young adults.

Meet with trusted friends/associates in counseling, child abuse prevention/response, social work and education in order to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

Be prayerful.

Go wherever God leads.

Enjoy the journey!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

I thought this was supposed to be a break?

We have run around quite a bit this week.  For the first time ever, we had gobs of Christmas gifts that just didn't work for one reason or another.  So, I had seven places to return to this week!  We did four on one day, two on another, and I have one remaining.  We have replaced some of the gifts, and taken store credit for others that we'll replace another time.  We've never returned a single Christmas gift before!

We've played a lot this week, and had a friend over this afternoon.  I think we might hit the World War I museum tomorrow, and possibly do a little ice skating if the weather cooperates.  We have plans with friends on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, and Zach also has an eye exam on Monday.  Then he goes back to school on Wednesday.  His break seems to have flown by.  No one has complained of boredom.  Zachary feels that he needs two more weeks off.

Luke goes back a week after Zach, and I go back the week after Luke.

I'd hoped to read for pleasure and clean my scrapbooking room over break.  Thankfully I still have almost three weeks remaining.  I need to get reading and lounging, but just can't resist the urge to socialize and play.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A great day for the museum

The kids and I are having a really great time, enjoying our Christmas break.  Today we went with friends to the art museum.  I was pleased to discover just how great the kids' museum behavior has gotten - soft voices, no running, no touching, standing back - they are finally giving the museum security staff's anxiety a rest! 


My girlfriend is a librarian at the museum.  She always comes down to show us around for a while.  Today we took her some cake!


The boys are really beginning to show an interest in the art - asking where things come from, how the paints were made, how old the art is, why the people were so much smaller 2,000 years ago, and of course... why the statues are so often naked.

As we were there today, I was reminded of my trip to the Louvre in Paris.  I remember so clearly this aspiring artist, with his easel and paints, painting what he was looking at inside the museum.  What confidence and ambition he must have had.  I often wonder what my children will grow up to be.  Will they be artists?  Will they even like art?  I often wonder... daydream... about what interests, talents, passions and gifts they will have.

Zach & Jackson Pollock

It's fun to daydream.


It's also fun to get burgers and a gigantic skyscraper milkshake with friends.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Another very merry Christmas

Gifts?  As the kids get older, Christmas gifts change.  No more bulky musical toys...  Now it's Lego's, Bionicles, Nerf guns, books, board games and Wii games. 

A White Christmas?  Last year we had something like 8" of snow begin falling on Christmas Eve.  This year we have not yet had enough snow to coat our grass with the thinnest layer...

Parties?  We had a lot of company to celebrate Christmas this year.  We had a party with two other families the Saturday after Thanksgiving, had my mom, sister and her family over on Dec. 22, and had our traditional time with my husband's family on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We had a wonderful time celebrating with so many loved ones.

Favorite moments?  Decorating the cake with Luke.  Bryan and Zach wrapping gifts together.  Christmas shopping - alone with Bryan - while the Millers kept the boys overnight.  The boys making crafts while singing Christmas carols.  Hearing Zachary sing "All I want for Cwissmas is my four fwont teeff" (exaggerating the missing-teeth-lisp).  Wrapping Angel Tree gifts with my women's Bible study.  Taking more than two hours to get through the Longview Lake lights with only laughter and singing to keep us entertained - no movies, no complaints.  Our better-than-Rockwell night.  The Christmas menu filled with recipes from friends.


The count-down to next Christmas?  Started at bedtime on Dec. 26th.

Saturday, December 25, 2010


I love Christmas Day.  We stay home and family pops in to visit us whenever it fits into their day.  Today, Bryan's dad was here by 8am.  We opened all of our gifts together, had breakfast, hung out for a while...and then he headed off to hang out at my sister-in-law's house.  While he was gone, my mother-in-law came by with Bryan's Granny.  I finished putting the kitchen back in order, got the lunch sides prepared, and then joined the rest of the family in the living room to play with the kids' new toys.  We shot each other with Nerf guns and assembled Lego's, chatted and joked around.  After a while, the ladies made their way down to Bryan's sister's, and his dad eventually made his way back up here for lunch, cake, and more playing...  This is the way I always imagined family would be.  Of course I love that on this day we celebrate the birth of a Savior, and I love that Savior with all my heart, but I also really love the way family feels on Christmas Day.  He has given me an incredible treasure in this family.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A blessed year

This year, there is no Christmas letter or seasonal family photo ready for mailing.  Having just finished my last final on Friday - and immersing myself immediately into Christmas shopping, cleaning, baking, party hosting and touring lights - I have not yet successfully switched back into non-tasking wife and mother.

You know, the one who would lovingly gather her family for a fun photo shoot (where no one raises their voice, cries, or refuses to participate) and then follow it up with an annual letter detailing everyone's accomplishments.

I have no idea where that woman is!

I do, however, have some thoughts on our year that I don't want to forget, so I'm going to attempt unwinding and reminiscing...

This year brought about changes and adventures that I never imagined.

Zachary is blossoming into quite a competitor.  He has loved soccer since the very first season, but this fall he has really wanted to learn and excel.  He is always kicking the ball around our living room, and watching YouTube videos to learn more "moves".  Of course he would like for his team to win more than they lose, but more than anything he cares about improving and doing his very best.  We are so proud of him!

Luke was once regularly referred to as strong willed or determined, but these days it's "self starter".  I never expected to say this....but he's an easy kid to have around!  (I think he kind of owes us this, after all those years of not-so-easy Luke.)  We don't have to nag, repeat or give specific instructions to Luke - he's easily motivated and quickly responsive.  He's also an excellent rule follower, making I said...very easy to have in class or over for a play date.  And, thankfully, he's still hysterically funny, ornery, creative and spirited!

Even though the economy is in the tank and Bryan's job is the type that sees a good deal of unemployment, I don't think we ever really expected that we would ever see a year long lay-off, but this year that's almost what we got!  Eleven months.  That's how long we went without a real paycheck.  I am so impressed that we didn't once lose our cool, and there was no marital strain or desperate worry - that is a testament to growth!  Our wonderful boys never once complained about not being able to buy something or go somewhere.  There were times that I semi-complained about not taking a vacation, but our children were amazingly content with the pools, parks, museums, play dates, and other free outings around town.  Even though we didn't travel this year, we found a different, special, kind of magic during this time of unemployment and shoestring budgets...  I have a husband - and my kids have a daddy - who is not above any kind of work that will help make ends meet for his family.  And, as it turns out, running a nighttime paper route frees a man up to spend all day, 7 days a week, with his family!  In those eleven months, our family spent more time together than many others will in an entire childhood.  We will forever cherish the time that we were able to spend together as a family this year.

Bryan's lay-off also led to amazing challenges and considerations that we'd never been open to before.  Bryan didn't really believe that he was qualified for any other job, and now he is leaving his options open for anything.  He has even wondered aloud, "Is there more to life than this?  Is there something else I should be doing?"  In the asking alone, my amazing husband is becoming even more amazing!  And I would never have considered a move before, but now I will go wherever we feel God is leading us.  We are finding that it is very freeing to say "You lead, I'll follow" than to dig our heels in and shout "OUR WAY ONLY!"  God is faithful; he leads.

And, of course, my return to school was completely unexpected.  I had to walk away from the sexual abuse recovery ministry at church for the semester, but found that God has an incredible ministry and countless lessons for me at school.  I was able to write or speak about sexual abuse in all five of my classes this semester (even PE Strategies!), and that is very exciting for me.  Next semester I will be taking a mass communications class which is taught by the person who oversees the school newspaper - I just realized that yesterday.  Just imagine...  Might I be able to write for the school paper?  Or will he teach me how to write better, reaching more people?  I am supposed to be preparing to be an elementary school teacher, but I keep finding that my classes speak to me about my ministry.  I don't know what all of this means, but I am so excited to see what God does with my life.

And, finally, one last amazing thing for the year came in the form of a LifeGroup.  We have been in groups off and on for the last seven years, but were not at all looking for a group when one found us.  The study focus was to "Live Like You're Dying"; living life on a mission.  I would say that I am really pretty good at that, but there is always room for growth...and grow we did!  I found that I'd become a little stale in some departments; losing traction and no longer moving forward...  We rediscovered our focus and passion for God's children, and are committed to filtering decisions through the right lens and not our own.  We have inked out goals for 2011 and we look forward to seeing how God brings it all together.

As always...  God has been incredibly generous and ever-present in 2010.  We praise Him for his goodness and mercy!

"I have come that they may have life and have it to the full."  John 10:10

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas tradition

I can remember taking trips to see these lights when I was a kid; never missing a lighting ceremony as a teenager/young adult.  I even lived down here in college and could see these lights from my bedroom window.

I have always loved it, but I had no idea that this is special.  Not every American city has such a spectacular display or lighting tradition.  This is still hard for me to fathom.

Bryan is not at all a fan of crowds, or cold, or walking aimlessly, or shopping, or contrived traditions; however, he indulges me this every year.  And he lets me point out every house that I love and tell stories about any and everything that holds a special memory for me - these stories are not new to anyone.  This year, he stepped it way up - giving Norman Rockwell a run for his money.  He packed hot chocolate and fresh baked chocolate chip cookies.  We found a spot near a fountain and enjoyed our chocolately treats while listening to a high school band on one corner and a gentleman playing a tuba on the opposite corner.  We went into all sorts of shops, talked to complete strangers, and held hands a lot - often all four of us in one long line.