Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Merry Christmas

So... last year I didn't even post about Christmas. I think the thought was too overwhelming... all the events, people, and pictures. So my solution? No pictures for now, I will post the highlights, and try not to leave anything or anyone out... but if I do... sorry!
This year for Christmas Eve/ Christmas morning we had Mike's entire family over.
This started with a transformation of my girls' bedrooms. I put down their bunk-beds, pushed them together, and put air-mattresses on top. I put sheets on the air-mattresses and called it good. I really wished we had at least one guest bedroom... but I'm not going to complain about having 'extra' bedrooms.. because I'm blessed to have the rooms we do for the kids.
So 'Mr. & Mrs. Sweetie' slept in the younger two's room, 'Mr. & Mrs. Red Bull' slept in the older girls' room, and 'Big's Momma' slept on the floor of the office. Big's Momma has a pretty serious boyfriend, so he came and went over the three days they were here.
We got together Christmas Eve night, and enjoyed some fabulous fondue... like The Melting Pot quality fondue. Who would have thought that pricey cheese and wine cooked in a pot could taste so divine?! They're onto something with that whole 'wine and cheese' thing!
We read Christmas stories and Luke 2. Mike's family has a tradition to read a certain Christmas story every year. It was a favorite of Mike's Mom. We also read the poem 'Christmas in Heaven' with made most of us cry... or at least tear up. Then Mike and his sis (Mrs. Red Bull) shared their feelings on the family getting together, and how close we have gotten over the past year.
Mike's parents passed away a few years ago, and we really drifted away from his siblings. It's funny how much parents hold a family together. Over the past year or two we grew much closer. Mr. Red Bull (our BIL) had a bad accident, and suffered a severe head injury. I think it took an event like that to make us realize how important Mike's family is to us.
I think that for a long time, we just didn't have a lot in common, and we felt very different. Sometimes we still feel a bit like the 'odd man out', but I think that our differences don't have to stand in the way of our relationships.
With that said...
We used to be closer to my side of the family... and over the past few years, we've drifted further and further away from them. I used to feel like my family was super close, and we were all so much alike. As the years pass, we become more and more different from each other. There have been some major events and hurtful things said that have put some major barriers between us. And as much as we try to pretend that they aren't there... it's that 'elephant in the room' type thing. I know that for me personally, I have had to put my guard up, and I have to walk on eggshells. It feels as if everyone is afraid of one anther's judgment... and nobody can accept help from each other, because that would be a sign of weakness. And none of us have weaknesses, because we are all perfect. And those dynamics don't make for very close relationships. We have to keep a certain distance to protect ourselves. Anyways... enough about all of that...
I couldn't help but think about how proud Mike's Mom would be to see all of us together like that. I can't image a better Christmas gift to her.
On Christmas Eve, all the kids slept together on the balcony. (This was a tradition from when I was little. My grandparents had a balcony and a huge Christmas tree. So we slept on the balcony overlooking the tree, hoping to catch a glimpse of Santa... after all, he was right under our noses!)
The kids woke up fairly late Christmas morning... like 8-ish. So we opened gifts and headed over the "Gee G-ma's" house for breakfast. This is a tradition of their family's... all the men make Christmas breakfast. So we saw some of Mike's extended family, and visited. Some of his family... namely one of his aunt's has really been awful towards us since Mike's Dad passed away. It's been super strange and awkward, so we had a good cue of when it was our time to go.
We headed over to see "G-Kit" but she would answer her phone... so we decided to try again the next day.
So we went to see Papa-Bear and Grandest-mah. Grandma Sha-la-la was there too... so that's was nice to squeeze her in. (in the mean time... Mike's family is just chillin' at our house... waiting for us to get home) So the girls opened aprons from Grandest-mah. Who, by the way, fits that perfect 'grandma' mold with homemade gifts every year, cookies all year round, and soft hugs and kind words every time you see her. I just love that lady! I hope to someday be just a smidgen of what she is.
It was strange to see my Mom alone on Christmas day. She dropped my sister off at her Dad's house, and went to my Grandparents house. But it never occured to me that in the not-so-distant-future she could be totally alone every other Christmas. That's terrible!
So back to the house. All the kids played with their toys... Mike and I spent the day opening those horrible boxes, trying to remove dolls and things tied to cardboard with those evil twisty ties. Argh! We were setting things up, I was trying to set up the Wii. (Yes, we finally joined the rest of the world and broke down into video game submission. There's a long story about that... but I'll have to save it for another post) After feeling like a complete loser, I got it set-up. My cute nephew thinks I'm an idiot... "Where am I supposed to plug the paddle in? There's only one port?"... "I need stickers or something so I can keep track of which paddle is #1, #2, etc."... needless to say he kept looking at me and saying "You can go get my Dad, he'll set it up in 5 minutes." No, no... I like to think I'm smarter that I look. I can set up a freakin' game!
Truthfully, I could have spent the entire day creating Wii characters. I would like to thank the creators of the Wii for pointing out the option to personalize my Mii in such detail. I mean, how would you know it was me if it weren't for my wide-set huge eyes, mole above my lip, and the extra 20 pounds on my frame. "Oh! Look... it's Mom!" Yup.
After an amazing Beef Wellington dinner and a crazy competitive game of 'spoons', everyone spent the night again.
The next day Mr. & Mrs. Red Bull went home fairly early, and Big's Momma followed shortly after. Then... drumroll please... I did something I had never done in my life. I sat down and played a video game for 8 hours straight! That's right, I went from never playing before, to becoming strangely addicted in a matter of minutes. Mr. & Mrs. Sweetie played Mario Bros. with Mike and I. All four of us playing at the same time. Trying not to die, while jumping on each others heads, waiting for each other, and our poor husbands dealing with our uncontrollable laughing and lack of 'Nintendo' knowledge.
It was so much fun, I would have never thought playing that game would be so fun. My stomach ached from laughing so hard!
They went home late that night, and we acknowledged our children once again. Actually it was perfect, they were so enthralled with their new toys, they didn't mind us leaving them to their playing all day.
It was a great Christmas! We've been nothing but lazy since. Pajamas all day long. Dinner for breakfast, and breakfast for dinner. Sweets and hot chocolate anytime day or night. And today... more snow. These are the things memories are made of!
I kind of look forward to a normal regimen next week, but I kinda don't! I'll miss having Mike home all day, and I'll have to count my points... get dressed, put on make-up... clean and cook. It was a great year, and I'm starting to think about New Years resolutions. But for today, I'll make cinnamon rolls with the girls and try to stay warm in my jammies and slippers. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Eyes Half Shut

There are moments in my life when I get a good 'wake up call'. Oprah calls it an 'ah-hah moment' or 'light bulb moment'... however it's explained, it's the same.
I'm not sure how to express myself without sounding boastful or patronizing others. I can genuinely say that I have been extremely ignorant, and Christmas is always a time of year I realize just how ignorant I can be.
Now, more than any other time of year, people like to give. I can be pegged as that person who may not be the most giving, but when Christmas time rolls around I am much less selfish! I really do try to give, but honestly... it's not on my mind like it is at Christmas. Maybe it's the countless movies, programs, country songs, etc... reminding us of those in less fortunate circumstances than our own.
At Christmas, Mike and I try to give monetary gifts to people in need. We have always done it anonymously, and have tried to be discreet and generous. This year, we obviously know that with the economy in the toilet, people are in need more than ever. We were hoping to see if we could help someone nearby this year.
Last night, we became aware of a family who we could serve. I was taken back... and initially thought I heard wrong. It was someone I thought I was fairly close to, and had NO IDEA they were having tough times.
Later that same night, I came across a friends blog, to find her family was also in a tough spot. Again, NO IDEA.
I went to bed last night with many emotions... first, I have been walking around completely unaware of those around me. People I know are in need, and I have been oblivious. I'm not sure I could have changed any situations... but perhaps just understanding and being sensitive to certain things... little things. Second, I am not grateful enough for what I have been given. For things like food, clothes, and the ability to turn up the heat five degrees instead of putting on socks. I like to think I'm grateful for the extras... the spoils. But I'm not thankful for the basics.
And last (but not least) I need to be better at sharing what I have. I can't give everyone 'cold hard cash'... it would be great if that were possible, but I can't. I CAN however, invite people over for dinner, give people things I don't use or need, offer to drive places, have kids over to play and eat... so many things that seem irrelevant in my world.
Growing up, we had an opportunity to give to a family nearby. And while they only lived around the corner... I didn't know them. It was a 'sub for Santa' type thing, and it's the most specific childhood memory I have of Christmas. When I was older... like 13... we served Christmas diner at a homeless shelter in downtown LA. Again, a wonderful memory of true Christmas spirit.
Mike and I we both raised in families where we got to be the recipients of Church Welfare, and the generosity of others. Mike's family had a "Sub for Santa" year when Mike got a football, and it was all he wanted that year. The thoughtfulness of others is so important!
I know I'm still ignorant, and live in my own bubble... but my eyes have been opened a little more. I can say that I've learned, people around me need extra kindness and generosity.
I have always had a large general picture of "those in need" as it may encompass a group of strangers I don't know, or don't have faces for. And while I'll still try to keep others needs in mind... (people in other cities, states, and countries... strangers) this Christmas my heart has been turned to those close by.
I pray that my own children can understand the importance of kindness and charity. At a time of year when we celebrate the birth of our Savior... the ultimate gift given to us, I hope to better value the 'true love of Christ'. As the economy tanks, morals become corrupt, and we are facing confusing times... the things I can find comfort in are the blessings and promises I receive from my faith. I think that regardless of religion or belief... the belief in something greater than ourselves is incredibly powerful. Each of us have the ability to give, and ability to love. It doesn't matter if you call it compassionate service, 'Santa Claus', or karma... the gift of giving is in every human being. It just feels right, and it feels good!

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. -Winston Churchill

Saturday, December 12, 2009

It feels right for me to write

Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.

Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.

-William Shakespeare

(Warning: I've been really into quotes lately!)

There are many reason why I'm back, just as there are many reason why I stopped. I'm not going to attempt to explain all of them. But I will say this...

I write from my experiences and I write from my heart. I know I am not an expert. I write what I know and as I learn it. I say what I believe, even if it turns out what I have said is wrong. I truly feel that anybody who thinks less of me for writing what I think is reading for the wrong reasons.... and will find fault no matter what I do or say.

People blog for many different reasons, but the only frauds are people who try to misrepresent. I may 'put out there' things that are personal, even incriminating. But I can't pretend my life is something it's not. There are good days, and there are bad days. I can be terribly cynical, and I can be ready to conquer the world. (and sometimes within hours of each other) I'm not going to deny my failures or my shortcomings. After all... if it wasn't for them, I would never grow.

We all get things wrong. I make a lot of mistakes, probably more than most... and I make them daily. Yes, I write with confidence but that is because I write what's inside of me, or I write them as they are happening.

Of course there will always be people who attack me. That is their problem, not mine. My skin has hardened, and the sting has lessened. I think that as I write, it helps me release emotions, and I guess grow my own protection. I learned a lot about myself, and about some people around me.

As Sherian or Mrs. Smith... I can say that I don’t fear what other people will say or think, I will try to write honestly and courteously and I'll keep at it. There... there it is.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fear of Failure

Fitting that everything should fall apart just hours after my last post... and fitting that I should leave that post up for as long as possible! hee, hee

Sure enough, life is back to the day-to-day survival mode. It was great while it lasted, and I will say that remembering that phase is bittersweet. Only because I think that there has got to be way to get on top of things again, and also because I don't see how it was possible in the first place.

My food storage/saving money blog sucks! I had great intentions, and it seemed promising... but I'm thinking that I'm really not qualified to keep it up. I'd rather read other blog's, written by people who put forth much more effort than I can. Oh well! Another project half-a, and moved to the back burner.

Don’t let fear of failure discourage you. Don’t let the voice of critics paralyze you—whether that voice comes from the outside or the inside. -Pres. Ucthdorf

This was the counsel given to us as women in regards to 'creating' things. I've never had much of an issue with that desire to create. If I had my way... I would create something everyday. The counsel I need is... to finish what I start to create!

So I'm off...
To start a 'to-do' list I know I cannot finish. To try and get myself presentable. To find a reason to put off the laundry. To snuggle on the couch with my Sassy Pants. (I told her I loved her this morning... she said "I know!" with a deep sigh "you told-ed me three times today... now four.") To try and stay within my points... everyday is a new day. Thank goodness!!