Random Mom Things - Aren't They All?

For some reason your five year old randomly telling your eight year old, "Ben, you are up for the challenge!" is enough to send him into a fit of rage (because "That doesn't make any sense!!!").  Of course, this is now one of her favorite things to say to him...repeatedly.

Halfway through dinner your youngest daughter stands up and sings a top-of-the-lungs medley of "Jesus Loves Me", "Mary Had a Little Lamb", and other un-discernible lyrics all mixed together.  It was enough to entice big sister to join in the singing festivities.  Who would have guessed that steak sub night would turn into "Showtime at the Kitchen Table"?

You now know that shopping online for pre-Black Friday deals for your son whilst baking is not the best idea.  After an emergency trip to Publix for more eggs, your pumpkin roll is 100% better, or at least, less burnt this go round.

The likelihood of a poop catastrophe is inversely proportional to how late you are running to get somewhere.

Your two year old calls it "Mitch".  Your five year old calls it "The Griddle".  You and the rest of the world know it as "The Grinch"...and even though it's only November 30th, you've watched it at least two dozen times already.  During one viewing, your five year old quipped, "I don't think he likes Halloween or Thanksgiving either."

That loud boom you heard in the foyer was your two year old's forehead hitting the corner of a column.  If they ever remake Scarface, you're totally going to make her audition for the role.

Your "favorite" part is the perfect outline of a bandaid rash that showed up overnight while you were trying to control the bleeding.  Apparently she's allergic to those.  Like her mother.

Last year for Christmas your mother-in-law gave you a super cool advent calendar.  When you unpacked it this year, your two year old ripped two doorknobs off the tiny doors before you even had a chance to fill it with activities.  Maybe she thinks they're actual doorknobs and need to be twisted.

To make the story even better, she left one of these tiny doorknobs on your floor, which you immediately vacuumed up without knowing.  This provided you with 30 minutes of fun digging through vaccum cleaner waste products which all-too-closely resembled  those owl pellets you dissected in middle school.

Good news though - you found it.  Plus a Box Top for the school collection which starts tomorrow.  Hello 10cents for the elementary school.  (I bet they'll really appreciate that one.  At least you got all of the hair off of it...)

This concludes 30 days of National Blog Posting Month.  I'm guessing my posts will be fewer and farther between in the month of December (you're welcome).  But then again, maybe not.  I'm becoming spontaneous in my old age.


A Humble Brag (if there is such a thing)

It's no secret Sam and I are frugal.  I mentioned it briefly on my Black Friday post, but I am beyond excited about our most recent savings on gas.

I realize prices here in central Georgia are pretty good compared to lots of places around the country, but I have to say, I haven't paid this price since the early 2000's.  It's been nearly a decade.

We got this discounted price thanks to ciphering and calculating, and an ingenious plan of Sam's.  I made the shopping lists for Black Friday complete with price lists.  Just before we left, Sam said, "Let's stop at Kroger and buy gift cards."

That was the ingenious part.  We prepaid for our shopping spree with giftcards purchased at Kroger for 4x the fuel points, a promo that they started just before Black Friday.  The normal deal is that for each dollar spent in Kroger, you get 1 point towards discounted gas.  When you accumulate 100 points, you get 10 cents off per gallon.  Right now, for every $1 spent on giftcards, you get four points towards discounted fuel.  That means a $25 giftcard earns you 10cents off per gallon.  Every $250 in giftcards earns $1 off per gallon (this is the max discount).  We managed to get an additional 10cents on top of the $1 because of another promotion for having and using a Kroger credit card to pay for gas.

We took both vehicles and two gas cans, and walked away with every drop of the 35 gallon maximum they would allow us for the amazing price of $1.98/gallon.  We saved $38.50 in gas on that $250 giftcard purchase, which works out to an additional 15% savings on top of our mad Black Friday shopping skills.

I'm not sure if you can tell how exciting this was for me.  Apparently, saving money is my drug.

I think you should try it.

Writer's Block & Time Management

Somewhere between writer's block and poor time management, I've found myself in crunch time for my annual Christmas newsletter.  For some reason, it's very important to me to include some sort of creative, original newsletter in our Christmas cards.  A regular, boring letter simply will not do.  The problem is by the ninth one, I'm kind of running out of creative, original ideas.  I had a couple of fleeting thoughts that didn't pass the brainstorming test earlier today.  And I'm pretty sure this is the latest I've ever thought about it.  If only I were back at work so I'd have time to do stuff like this (wink, wink). 

Anyway, while I sat at the computer googling "creative Christmas newsletters", I looked up to see this...

I think we have our Christmas picture at least. 

They're watching The Grinch (the original cartoon).  Sarah particularly loves Max (of course, she's a puppy fanatic).  The sound of half of the ornaments falling off of the very tips of each of the tree branches hung with "care" by my girls is drowned out by Sam's traditional performance of "Welcome Christmas" complete with "Fahoo fores dahoo dores" and what nots.  That is undoubtedly one of my favorite parts of this season.  (I'm pretty simple.)

And with that little bloggy break, I'm going back to brainstorming...

"Welcome Christmas!"

Scatterbrained Sunday

I don't even know if that counts as alliteration because the beginning sounds are different, but let's just go with it anyway.  I'm on day 27 of 30, and I'm just doing what I can to finish!  (That's quitter-talk, isn't it?)

We had a great Black Friday experience, a less than great Saturday experience thanks to, most likely, messed up sleeping & eating habits and a combination of hormonal reactions on my part.  That's life.  Sunday has been a mixture of all of those things wrapped up together.  After church and lunch, we've spent the better part of the day decorating for Christmas.  Without sounding too grumpy, it's just kind of hard to get in the mood when it's in the 70's and we're wearing shorts and t-shirts.  On the other hand, it was a beautiful day!

A focal passage from our Sunday School lesson this morning has been playing over and over in my head throughout the day:

I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. ~Philippians 4:11-13

I'm going tell you, folks, I'm in a season of plenty.  And I can tell you this, too, contentment is not always easy!

Here comes the scatterbrained part:

For those of you long-distance friends who've been asking - here's a belly picture at 25.5 weeks.  Maybe those cashiers were justified in their horror.  Either way, I show you this not because I want to show off my hot pregnancy bod (HAHAHAH!) or because I want you to notice that my belly looks like it is giving birth to my belly button or because I am succumbing to peer pressure (okay, it's that one slightly), it's because at this point with Sarah and the others I'd taken lots of belly shots for posterity.  This time, notta one.  Poor 4th child!

And to the random man in the hallways at church this morning who told me I looked great and I was beautiful - thank you.  I ordinarily don't take compliments well, but today I needed one.

The rest of the night we'll be decorating this tree - which has remained lit, but naked all day waiting for little girls to wake up from their naps and kids to return home from choir.

Plus there's this stuff just begging to be littered throughout the house with Christmas cheer...

Don't you just LOVE this season!!!??  It's truly the most wonderful time of the year!

(And just for a giggle, I got a huge chuckle as I hummed this tune to myself over the Thanksgiving break.  I finally understand the part of the song where it says, "And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again!"  wink, wink)

Happy Sunday, all!

Tales from Black Friday

I'm not going to lie.  I'm one of those Black Friday shoppers, and I'm not ashamed to admit it.  Although, I have certain restrictions.  I won't step foot inside of Walmart.  I will not "camp out" in front of a store for a certain item, of which they probably only have 2 or 3.  And I don't get emotionally involved in my purchases...if it's out when I get there, well, "bummer", and life goes on.

I do it because I love to save money.  I do it because I'm not reliant on having to do it.  I do it, now, because it's a tradition that Sam and I have started and kept going for years, even if last year we weren't able to go together - we still went, separately.  It's fun.  And I don't particularly like crowds.  I just really enjoy checking things off my list at maximum savings.

This year, we started our escapades at Toys-R-Us.  I continue to be impressed with how they run their operation.  You have to wait in line outside because they only allow 100 shoppers in the store at once.  Then, once they've checked a good many of those folks out, they let more in.  You spend all of your waiting time in the cool, refreshing outdoor air watching the folks who just made purchases try to fit gigantic Power Wheels boxes into the trunk of their Honda Accord (they don't fit).  I applaud this method.

Because after Toys-R-Us (where we got everything on our list, including one pink Leapster for Abby at $25 that I was positive would be sold out by the time we got there), we crossed the parking lot to get to Kohls.  I know all of these store are ginormous and can hold every single person waiting in line to get in without violating fire codes, but they really don't need to do it that way.  The throttle-back method would work well here as well.  You can walk straight in, grab your items, and then spend your time waiting in line to check out.  Apparently, Kohls felt that they needed to crank the heat to 100 as well, so it makes waiting in the sweltering heat (and shopping for sweaters) completely intolerable.  Our major score here was a bedding set (paid $39.99, priced at $119.99 - plus an additional 15% off) for the top bunk to match the one I bought last year for the will-be bottom bunk. 

Target has the same, let-'em-in-and-let-'em-wait-in-line philosophy.  At least it wasn't 1000 degrees in there.  They do not seem to have a large amount of "doorbusters" available.  So if you don't go there first, you likely won't get the $7 jammie sets (for example), but Target is Target.  It beats Walmart on its worst day.  (Am I right?)

After these stores we went home - to grab a nap for an hour or so before we got up and went to Staples, where we'd have the most success of our shopping adventures.  The major scores there were a color laser printer (50% off) and a shredder ($19.99 down from $99.99).  Both of these items (a printer and a shredder) were things that we've lived without for the past several months with anticipation of scoring one for cheap on Black Friday.  I'm glad we waited!

The rest of our day's escapades took us to Kmart, Sears, Lowes, Dollar General, Sam's Club, and Bass Pro Shops.  And Chili's for lunch (yum).  We arrived home around 1:45pm, exhausted but happy. 

A couple of other random tidbits:  Having made lists of items-to-shop-for before we left, we stopped at Kroger to purchase giftcards for each of the stores we shopped at before we went, allowing us to earn 4x the gas points for discounts on future gas purchases.

The only thing we paid full price for the whole day was a mattress that we bought for the top bunk at Sam's Club.  It was half the price of any other mattress we could find elsewhere, so I still consider that to be a bargain.

People are crazy on Black Friday.  For instance, a random man came up and offered Sam and me $20 when we were at the front of the line to get into Toys-R-Us to go in and buy him some sort of Thomas the Train toy (that wasn't even on sale) so that he wouldn't have to wait in the line.  We passed on the opportunity. 

During a drop-off at home before we went to lunch, we set up the printer so we could print a coupon for Chili's.  That is why I have completely and totally missed having a printer for months!  Printable coupons are my friend.

I'm thrilled to report that we could have Christmas tomorrow if we were so inclined and I think that we'd have more than enough for everyone.  In a few words, shopping is just about complete!  I'm still working on the tabulations for percentages and total amount of money saved.  I will be sure to post when I finalize.  I don't know how you're going to sleep until I do from the sheer excitement!

Black Friday 2011 = Success for Jennie & Sam


Tradition, tradition!

There are lots of "turkey day" traditions.  You know, the usual - overeating the delicious menu items from turkey & dressing to veggies and pumpkin-themed desserts, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, football, taking the time to voice our blessings out loud to the Giver of all blessings.

In our family, Thanksgiving typically involves a Wednesday night meal with one side of the family at my in-law's house, only to wake up on Thursday morning and go do the very same with the other side of the family at Sam's grandparents' house.  Some things never change.  Some things really shouldn't.  It's one of those treasures that makes it my home away from home.

What does change each year is how the great-grandkids choose to spend their time after the meal.  One thing is for sure, whether it's...

...pausing on the swing for a group photo...

 ...playing in the leaves...

...riding around like maniacs on toys brought over from Grammie's house...

 ...loving on (or headlocking) some puppies...

...climbing trees...

 ...or even climbing trees with one hand and still having your finger in your belly button with the other...

...we have much to be thankful for.

An Attitude of Gratitude

With what may be an entire turkey in my belly and the tryptophan kicking in quickly, I'm taking time this Thanksgiving to reflect on the daily blessings I have chosen to note this month (thus far).  It's not too late to start your own month of "Thanksliving" or "Attitude of Gratitude".  In the meantime, here are a few of the many blessings I've treasured in my life this November 2011:

1:  Today, I am thankful for a completely unexpected season of life that began almost exactly one year ago. I could never have imagined the lessons I would learn about myself, my family, and my faith as a result of losing my job and being at home.

2:  Today, I'm thankful for the uninhibited spirits of my two little girls. They are the physical embodiment of "sing like no one is listening and dance like nobody is watching". I could learn a lot from those little whimsical babies.

3:  I am thankful for Thursday mornings...Bible study, Beth Moore, friends, food, and fellowship. Perfect combination! Fills my cup weekly.

4:  Today I am thankful for a family of in-laws that embraced me from the beginning and love me like I was born one of their own.

5:  Today I'm thankful for a husband who is industrious, resourceful, and highly motivated. He inspires me to do more...than sit on the couch, eat snacks, and absorb mindless television.

6:  I'm thankful today for the people in my life who are not just like me because they challenge me to think about what I believe and why. Sometimes it's exhausting, but it's always worth it in the end.

7:  Today I'm thankful for a sense of humor and a husband with whom I can laugh and laugh about ridiculous things. I think this is one of God's gifts to us to get us through the tenser times in life.

8:  I'm thankful today for the privilege of living in a country where my opinion counts. Getting to the polls is a "minor inconvenience" that we Americans take for granted, and one for which so many of our world brothers and sisters have given their lives to procure. (In a nutshell, go vote.)

9:  I'm thankful, today, for Sarah's joie de vivre. Even as she daringly jumps from the coffee table to the couch without inhibition, she makes me smile. At least several times daily.

10:  I'm thankful today for the way God speaks to me through the leadership at our church, through my friends and teachers at Bible study, and through the little teaching moments I have with my children almost daily. It's amazing how specifically He answers my heart through people who have no idea I even *have* the questions.

11:  Today I'm thankful for a weekend escape to a place that always feels like home away from home. We're at Grammie's house! Always thankful, as well, for the servicemen & women who have devoted their lives past, present, and future to protecting our freedoms in this great country.

12:  Thankful for a long, late afternoon nap with my youngest baby at Grammie's house while everyone else played outside, went hunting, and watched football. Simple pleasures, indeed.

13:  Today, I'm thankful for a husband whose best traits complement my worst. We make a pretty good team.

14:  I'm thankful for three well-rested, good-spirited children this morning, as I listen to them spontaneously playing ring-around-the-rosey in the kitchen. I think Ben & Abby enjoy hearing Sarah's giggles as much as I do.

15:  I'm thankful, today, for the teachers in my childrens' lives whom they love so much that they consider them extended family. From Mr. Barronton, Mrs. Earhart, and Mrs. Scarbrough at LJP to Mrs. Ruth, Mr. Scott, and Miss Emily at CBC (among SO many others). It's truly a blessing to have adults in my kids' lives who love them like Sam and I do.

16: Today I'm thankful that God is revealing my talents to me, whether they are what I expected them to be or not.

17:  So thankful for the gift of laughter. I might be simple-minded and too-easily-amused, but I feel so much better after a deep-down belly-laugh. I'm pretty sure this is why God gave us Sarah.

18:  Today I'm thankful for the luxury of being able to rest when I am weary. I'm not one to make a habit out of it, but I really think a few clutch naps have helped me both mentally and physically feel better, and it's a privilege I've never really had before.

19:  I think the spirit of gratitude must be contagious - Sarah just thanked me for vacuuming the living room. (Either that or even the two year old was grossed out and ready for it to be cleaned up...) Today, I'm thankful for the excitement of the upcoming week - quality time with the three kids and the rest of the family, at least 3 turkey dinners, the Harvest at CBC, and *hopefully* some Black Friday shopping!

20:  Today, I'm thankful for cooperative kids and a clean, purged playroom.

21:  I'm thankful for the sleepy moments right after my babies wake up when they're still enough to steal a few cuddles.

22:  Today, I'm thankful for the glorious scent of roasted turkey wafting through my home, and for God's provision of food on a daily basis - including, most importantly, the Bread of Life.

23:  I'm thankful today for the public library. And kids who love to read.

24:  Pumpkin Roll - Take 2. In case anyone is wondering, haste (or, in this case, multitasking) makes waste. On a related note, I'm thankful, today, for second chances, do-overs, and mulligans.

25:  "We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction." [Harry A. Ironside]

Today, I'm thankful for the Giver of all things - the blessings, the lessons learned through difficult times, and everything in between.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! ♥

And now Abby loves coffee too...

Sarah started her coffee obsession sometime before age two.  It seems now, Abby has acquired a taste for the good stuff as well.  She helps me make it.  She waits anxiously for the beep that indicates it's ready.  And she puts her little mug right next to my regular-sized one and fills them up for us.

She came and got me this morning and said, "I got your coffee ready...but I didn't put any salt or sour cream in it."  I was grateful for that. 

Yesterday I told her she needed to go jump in the shower and get rinsed off.  She took her mini mug of coffee into the shower with her.  Apparently, she thinks that's what you're supposed to do with your coffee.  I never even knew she saw me do that.

She declared to me when she emerged from the shower, "Coffee is helfy (healthy)."  I quickly informed her to the contrary and she was slightly disappointed.  Maybe that'll motivate her to kick the habit before it turns into one. 

And I'm suddenly realizing that while I'm glad I'm a role model of hers, maybe I should be doing things worthy of copying.  Like drinking maybe drinking more milk and water instead.

Tired Tuesday

You know it's been a long day or three when you delegate bedtime storytime to Harry Potter's little blond sister.

I've made tomorrow's list, which includes brainstorming Christmas card newsletter ideas, making cute Pilgrim Hat desserts, and packing the family for Thanksgiving at Grammie's house - which is definitely over the river and through the woods. 

That said, this tired Tuesday farer is going "night night". 

Turkey Monday

I don't know why I enjoy hosting events at my house.  I'm not particularly social.  I'm not a great cook, but I do have my specialties.  For some reason, I like cooking for a crowd way more than I like cooking for my family of five.  Figure that one out.

But since I now boast membership in a wonderful, old-as-dirt family with traditions that go just as far back, I wholeheartedly believe I will never host Thanksgiving at my home.  I'm coming to grips with that.  And I know that probably sounds a little strange for a not-particularly-social, non-cook.  The traditions are great, don't get me wrong.

The thing is, thanks to my husband volunteering me to cook turkey for his office Thanksgiving lunch several years back, turkey is now what I would consider to be one of my specialties.

That's random.  But that's me.

I remember when he came home that first year, and said he'd organized a Thanksgiving lunch at the office...would I mind cooking the turkey?  I almost choked.  For a non-cook, turkey is no small task.  So I did what any engineer would do - I started my research.  I finally settled on a combination of Emeril and Alton Brown's recipes for Roast Turkey brine, consulted the Butterball website for cooking time, invested in a meat thermometer, and the tradition began.

A couple of years ago, after reorganizing their office structure, Sam and his coworkers went out for Thanksgiving lunch.  I took it as a personal insult.  The next year, they started the tradition back up.

This year, it was the first time I cooked with the three kids at home with me.  It was the first time I smelled the turkey for the entire time it roasted instead of rushing home from work to make sure it wasn't over-done.  (The smell all day, by the way, was totally torturous.)  I have to say, after so many years of doing it, I've got Turkey Day running like a well-oiled machine.  Things were going great right down to delivery time, when I realized I still had three kids to get dressed and ready to go.  Darn them.  That does add "one or two minutes" to the routine.

We got there in time, but with all of the last-minute rushing I didn't get a picture of the finished product.  Instead, I got this shot of a practically raw turkey stuffed with butter.

And this really random shot of carrots, onions, and celery for the stuffing...because I thought it was pretty.

While we waited on the dirty dishes from lunch, the kids and I went to the lake down the street and found some Jurassic-sized leaves,

looked out over the water,

and posed for a cheesin'-on-the-bridge photo.

And even if little Sarah absolutely despises holding my hand to get from point A to point B, she'll apparently hold Ben and Abby's hands at any given moment.  I guess I have a new strategy to get from point A to point B, huh?

And that's that.  The kitchen is clean, the roasting pan is soaking, the kids are tuckered out, and SO AM I.  Tomorrow, I move on to pumpkin rolls, gooey cake, a library run, and some 75% off long-sleeved tees at Old Navy.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll make the kids do a fun Thanksgiving craft against their will.  Bwahahaha.  


A Bountiful Harvest

The spirit of thankfulness and giving is all kinds of rampant this season.  In a good way.  No.  In a great way. 

Back in August, our church voted very heavily in favor of proceeding with plans to fund and construct a Family Life Center.  Not a "new" one, just one.  Period.  Since opening the doors to our church in 2005, the people have come.  Very Field of Dreams like...in an awesome-for-God's-kingdom way.  I wholeheartedly believe God led our church to relocate onto this very piece of 155-acre property in the middle of "nowhere", because He knew that in just a few short years, it would be at the center of one of the fastest growing tracts of land in Georgia.  These things don't just happen.  (Unless prayer is involved, and there is a master plan in effect.)

This particular tract of land surrounding our church is comprised mostly of a middle-class, young married couples with young families demographic.  This tract of land is our mission field.  Our church is very serious and committed to reaching lost souls, and what better place to start than on the boundaries of our property? 

With that in mind, this Family Life Center will provide classroom space, a gymnasium for expansion of our Upward sports program and the provisions for new recreational ministry opportunities, and a multi-purpose room that will allow for receptions (wedding or otherwise) and youth worship services. 

Just a word on the youth (or "students" as our church refers to them) - they rock.  Completely.  I can't tell you how inspiring and humbling it is to see so many middle and high school students devoting themselves so wholeheartedly to their faith through support from our church members and staff and through such strong relationships with their faith family of peers. 

With all that being said, buildings aren't cheap.  So a capital funds committee was formed, and plans began brewing.  The first step was a Harvest offering that would kick-start the spring fund-raising campaign.  It took place today, November 20th, a day when each church member and attender was asked to bring forth an offering above and beyond their regular tithe for the purpose of showing our unity and vision for the future of the church.

We had a one-day goal of $100,000 and a through-the-end-of-the-year goal of $250,000.  The church has come close to raising $100,000 in a single day before, but we were hoping to make it happen this time.

As the chairman of the capital funds committee got up to speak at the church-wide Thanksgiving dinner (which was so awesome, by the way), he talked about the amount of money that our kids raised.  Each child was given a "piggy-bank" to collect their change over the past month or so. 

This morning during each service, the preschool and children's Sunday School classes paraded in to lay their buckets at the front of the church.  These kids and their pennies brought forth $1098.   He then said, "We didn't meet the goal of $100,000....in fact, we missed it by a pretty large margin."  There was a pause.  And he finished with the news --- the offerings totaled $260,000. 

You know what that is?  

That's God.

On the committee, there was a lot of discussion about how to set the goals.  Should it be low, so we can meet it and feel encouraged?  Should it be high, so we can see God's undeniable glory when the goal is surpassed?

The decision was to do one of each, hence the two goals.  Turns out, God took care of it...either way. 

You see, what we think seems impossible for us, isn't impossible for God.  I think He laughs at the mention of the word "impossible".  And I think he treasures the faith of prayerful people who believe that He can do things that are seemingly impossible.

Throughout the campaign, Ephesians 3:20-21 has been a central theme -
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,  to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. 
He did.  He did immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.  For that I am most thankful.  God is awesome.

I'm thankful for a showing of unity in our church today.  I'm thankful for the children who were so willing and giving.  I'm thankful for each member of the capital funds campaign.  I'm thankful for our church staff, for the men and women who served dinner tonight with such cheerful spirits, for good news, and for The Good News. 

I feel like meeting the rest-of-the-year goal in a single day is as good as a divine endorsement.

My prayers tonight have changed - from "Lord, please let us come together to meet this goal" to "Thank you, Lord, for showing us what You can do through us.  Help us to be good stewards of the provisions you have given to our church.   Please, help us remain united in our vision - to be the Harvest workers."

Buildings are just buildings - it's what happens inside, around, near, and because of these buildings that matters.  The fact that lives will be forever changed.  That is why we're building a Family Life Center.  For God's glory.

And all God's people said...



It doesn't take much...

I know I'm mostly a simple person, but today was a day full of simple smiles that completely filled my smile tank.  We're in the middle of a pretty busy couple of days, and even so, there was time to enjoy some of the most regular, run-of-the-mill treasures...

Not the least of which was a popsicle and some swing time between the girls:

It was the best day I've had with Abby in a while.  She's always precious to me, but today, she was particularly sweet and helpful - doing all kinds of chores, including cleaning her room without me standing over her micro-managing. 

I went back there to check on her progress, and found the place pretty well cleaned up - especially considering what it looked like to start with.  Among the smiles I found in there -

A made-up bed, with an extra fleece blanket that came from who-knows-where

Of all the dress up clothes lying around the room, she found a hanger for her brand-new pillowcase/Native American/handmade dress...we can't have that getting wrinkled

And without me telling her to, she picked everything up off of the floor, including her naked Barbies, dirty pajama pants, and shoes.  Even if that's not exactly where things go, it's progress.  And I took it.

Something else I learned today...a roll of pennies is way better to a five year old than a dollar bill.  Any day of the week.  (At least it is to my five year old.)

That's it, a couple of simple pleasures, lots of smiles, and a complete day.

Flashback Friday: The difference a year can make

My biggest fear when I lost my job was that unemployment would turn me lazy.  A year later, that's still my fear.  Especially, as I was looking over my photos from last November and December and I cannot believe all the things I/we did.  Last year, I was in stay-busy-for-survival mode.  It was how I distracted myself from losing my job.  A daily, overloaded to-do list was how I tallied my worth...even when I only completed 25% of the list.  A year ago, I had two little girls at home with me, running circles around me while I organized junk drawer after junk drawer, closet after closet, pantry after pantry.  A year later, there's just one little girl, the drawers are back to being junky, the closets messy, and the pantries not so organized.  There's a voice in the back of my mind going, "Yup, you've turned lazy."

Well, a year ago, I wasn't growing a human.  I should cut myself some slack based on this, but I keep thinking, "With all three of my other pregnancies, I was either in school, working, or both, and I didn't have the choice to be lazy."  Maybe lazy isn't the right word - maybe it's just succumbing to nature.  It's giving in to the naps when I have a chance.  It's getting out of the house for a change of scenery instead of pouring myself into some sort of chore.  It's sitting on the couch with a hot tea and Sarah, watching and singing along with Sesame Street or Bubble Guppies, just because I can.

Well I've done the "succumbing" thing for long enough.  While I still have a few weeks left in my second trimester, I'm going to kick it up a notch.  I'm going to take on some projects, have some holiday fun, make some crafts, bake a lot of goodies, and maybe just maybe I'll even do a little exercising.  I have a lot to live up to from last year:

I'm totally getting the list paper out.  But this year, it's not to distract me from depression or so I can feel worthwhile.  This year, it's because I want to.  Bring it, holiday season.  This year, I'm going to enjoy you to the fullest!

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