Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks in All Circumstances

“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (RSV)

It’s easy to be thankful when things are going our way and we’re comfortable. But what about when our circumstances are less than ideal? Sometimes it’s not so easy to be thankful when the situation we’re in doesn’t quite match the expectations we have.
Some of us have a lot of expectations this time of year about what the holidays should be like. Commercials show smiling families around beautifully set, food-laden tables, the warmth of a fireplace in the background. These images stir certain emotions within us, and we strive to create a reality to match the images placed in our minds. Some of us go to an awful lot of trouble and create a lot of stress for ourselves trying to attain these ideals.

For some of us--Ok, for a LOT of us--this ideal just isn’t our life. I know that I am one who has a life that’s decidedly un-idealistic a lot of the time. I can either stress myself out trying to force it into a certain mold, or I can simply embrace what I have and enjoy it for what it is.

This year, in particular, I caught myself whining about how rough I have it. Can you believe that? I was actually thinking that *I* have it rough. How ungrateful I can sometimes be! Today, instead of whining about the (trivial, insignificant) difficulties I faced, I decided to look for the blessings hidden in them.

Last night, I had to opportunity to go to a job I like and get paid a decent amount of money, which will help my family buy necessities and also comforts and entertainments. At this job, I cared for three adorable little babies. I gave them baths,  rubbed sweet-smelling lotion on them, dressed them in snuggly jammies, rocked them, and fed them. The unit was more quiet and peaceful than usual.
This morning at the end of my shift, my husband brought four healthy, beautiful children to me so that he could go to his job.  Thank you, God, that they can all use their voices to communicate! lol 
Thank you, God, that my husband has a stable job to go to that keeps us fed, warm, and clothed.
When Gem vomited on the way home, I was thankful that I had spare clothes in the back of the van, that I had baby wipes to wipe the seatbelt off, and that there was an open gas station with warm running water to clean my Gem up. I’m also thankful that it wasn’t a serious illness that caused her to vomit; apparently the junk food that her daddy fed her for breakfast didn’t sit well with her. No more signs of illness for the rest of the day.
I am thankful for a stepmom who is willing to babysit the children. For free! I was able to drop the boys off with her for the day so that I could take a nap. I decided to keep the girls with me; Mojo has been congested and has had a slight cough, and Bear told me that Gem was coughing a little this morning. I wanted to keep any germs they might have away from Grandma. But thankfully, the girls were just fine today. I heard hardly a cough or complaint.
I am thankful that the girls felt well enough to play and keep each other entertained while I rested. And in a warm, comfortable bed, no less. When I woke up, they were both in a good mood, and Mojo told me that they watched a movie, listened to music, and made crafts while I napped (pics to follow.) My kids are normal kids; they are not perfect kids. But they are good kids. I’m thankful that they are mostly happy kids. 
I am thankful that when I am super-tired, a big cup of coffee will kick-start me into the world of the living. I even had vanilla spiced rum creamer today! 
I am thankful that I didn’t get called in to work tonight. Because I got to stay home with my family, I needed to find us something to eat for supper (we have a big dinner with a turkey planned for tomorrow, when we will all be together.) I am thankful that we have a 24-hour Wal-Mart that was opened and selling food, and that I had the money to buy food. I am thankful that they had great sales on their pies and rolls. I am thankful that we had a good dinner tonight that I was able to pull together in about 30 minutes, that the kids were as just as excited about our “feast” as they are about any of our other special meals, and I am especially thankful that I didn’t have to cook most of it!
Most of all, I am thankful that my husband came home from work safely and that the day ended with us all together, loving each other, enjoying each other. All healthy. All fed and comfortable.
Seriously, if y’all ever hear me complaining about anything, please slap me. I’ve got it good here!

And now, here’s a picture of our Thanksgiving feast. I can’t help but get a kick out of it; in my redneck upbringing, this was considered “living high on the hog”. Tonight, I felt like I am living high on the hog! Paper plates, cans of soda, and all (and I’m thankful for paper plates making for a worry-free cleanup). I couldn’t help but think of those mama friends of mine (not naming names, you know who you are!) who were running around like crazy, stressing about minute details and getting everything just right. To me, it just don’t get no better than THIS!
I especially cherish the turkey decorations, made from tracings of the children’s hands. Good job, kids!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunshine’s Sweet 16

Sixteen years ago today, I was becoming a mother for the first time. When the nurses handed her to me, and she was crying her little head off, my first thought was “I don’t think she likes me very much.” To be honest, I didn’t quite know what to do with her! Sometimes, I still don’t. ;-)
I always thought we’d have a big blowout for her sweet sixteen party, but we have a tradition in our house that Birthday Person gets to choose how to celebrate her birthday, the dinner, and the birthday cake. Although in our house, Birthday Person often chooses a birthday non-cake, so we’re non-traditional traditionalists.
Sunshine preferred a quiet celebration this year; she wanted to watch a movie with Reesie and me and eat dinner at one of her favorite Mexican restaurants. It was the opening weekend for New Moon, so guess what we went to see? Anything but that. We decided to see Planet 51, and it was a cute movie. We all laughed.
And her birthday non-cake was a tub of cookie dough. Yes, you read right. Cookie dough. We all ate it uncooked (no, we didn’t get salmonella.)11-22-09 Sunshines sweet 16 2 11-22-09 Sunshines sweet 16 12
11-22-09 Sunshines sweet 16 8
Here she is goofing off with her crazy mama. Seriously, the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree.

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And her little sister’s not far behind. Reesie got some pics with her camera also, so I may upload some more later.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Little Gem!

My little princess turned three years old today. We celebrated at home with a “My Little Pony” cake and barbeque meatballs, Gem’s favorite meal. We also had veggie and fruit trays and cheese dip and chips (Daddy’s request). As she was getting ready to go to sleep, she told me “Thank you for my birthday!”

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DSCF0020 Gem’s Favorite Things
Favorite color: purple
Favorite movies: Snow White, Wizard of Oz
Favorite food: birthday cake
Favorite toy: My Little Pony
Favorite Songs: Old MacDonald, Funkytown, Hot Chocolate

And of course, a trip down memory lane…

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11-26-06 003 First smiles.
Gemma in her baptism gown. 6-6-07 Gemma
10-31-07 Halloween9  11-19-07 010
4-29-08 08 5-6-08 Gemma 17 months
11-19-08 029 1-12-09 playgroup6
4-19-09 02 7-8-09 05

I love you so much, my princess!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Making Rosaries and Other Jewelry

I really admire my friends who can sew and knit and take wonderful pictures and design vinyl wall art and do other talented things. I wish I could do all these things; I love being creative and making things with my hands! I remember going into the doctors' office when I was pregnant with some of my children and watching the ladies knit and crochet while they waited, and my empty hands itched to be doing something, too. Since I could neither knit nor crochet, I thought of something else I could do: make rosaries. I began taking my pliers, wire, and beads, and I started working on rosaries as I waited. It was a good conversation starter.
I used to really enjoy making rosaries and other jewelry, and I think I’m ready to dust off my beads and creativity and get back at it. The other day, I took inventory of my supplies and discovered that I have lots beautiful beads just begging to be made into a present for someone! I plan to make a few items with what I have on hand, maybe try to sell them so that I can order some supplies to make more, and maybe even take some orders for Christmas (or baptisms, First Communions, Confirmations, etc.) if anyone is interested. I'll post pictures as I go.

In the meantime, I would like to share some pictures of things I have made in the past (click to see more detail)...

I made this “Noah’s Ark” themed rosary for my goddaughter for her baptism. The ave beads are different shades of aventurine. The sterling silver pater beads are imprinted with images of a dove, moon, star, ladybug, and cat. The crucifix and center are also sterling silver. This was one of my all-time favorites.
This mother-of-pearl and cloisonne rosary was a Christmas gift for my mother-in-law a few years ago.
Here is the one that I currently carry in my purse. It is made of glass pearl beads and pewter crucifix, center, and bead caps.
(I usually try to carry pretty but inexpensive rosaries with me. In the past when someone has shown an interest in having a rosary, I have handed them mine and then made myself another one later.)
Made similar to the previous one, except that I used black dyed fossil beads. This is the one that Sunshine carries.
This is one that I had originally made to sell, but Mojo took a liking to it. The beads are glass, and the center and crucifix are base metal.

Some that I’ve sold:
One of the ones I used to carry in my purse. This “Our Lady of Guadalupe” rosary was made with tiger-skin jasper ave beads, silver-plated rose pater beads, and an enameled crucifix and center.

I have also made other jewelry, including baby/children’s bracelets, mothers’ bracelets, birthstone bracelets, and necklaces.

This “remembrance” bracelet was for a friend who had lost her baby girl through miscarriage.

Gemstone flowers necklace, a birthday gift for a friend.

Gemstone nursing necklaces give easily-distracted babies something to fiddle with while they are breastfeeding. It also keeps toddlers busy in church.

I wore this nursing necklace when Caveman was a baby. It was long enough to slip over my head, but had a magnetic clasp in case he pulled on it too hard.
birthstonesbraceleta Sterling silver and swarovski crystal.birthstonespewterbraceleta Glass beads and pewter.

Thanks for looking. I am hoping to post newer creations soon!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Pumpkin Patch 2009

One of the things we look forward to every year is visiting the pumpkin patch with our homeschool group. We didn’t get to go last year, and we were afraid we weren’t going to get to this year. The rains caused us to reschedule twice, but yesterday was a beautiful day for a trip to the farm!

The farm we went to this year was the best yet and closer to where we live than any of the others we’ve visited. Activities included a  carousel, a hay-bale area with a slide where little pumpkins were hid for a game of “find the pumpkin”, 11-6-09 Pumpkin patch2 11-6-09 Pumpkin patch a tee-pee where the children sat and listened to a story about the first Thanksgiving, a hayride, 11-6-09 Pumpkin patch411-6-09 Pumpkin patch6

a petting farm, 11-6-09 Pumpkin patch1311-6-09 Pumpkin patch1411-6-09 Pumpkin patch1611-6-09 Pumpkin patch15

a train ride, 11-6-09 Pumpkin patch1811-6-09 Pumpkin patch19

a puppet show, and fishing. Of course, the best part is always getting to visit with our friends! 11-6-09 Pumpkin patch1711-6-09 Pumpkin patch3411-6-09 Pumpkin patch3311-6-09 Pumpkin patch2711-6-09 Pumpkin patch24 I forgot my “real” camera, so these were taken with my iphone. Of course my friend Catherine had her camera, and she will probably be posting some fabulous pictures soon.