Friday, December 31, 2010

The best gift I've given this Christmas season...

Just popping in to tell you about this GREAT cause, this WONDERFUL little boy with Down's Syndrome who YOU can help, just like I did.

His name is Cliff, and he is alone in an orphanage in Eastern Europe.  A blogger named Janette is helping to raise money for Cliff's adoption grant fund, so that when he finds his forever family, their expenses will be paid for.

Please read about him here.

Won't you join me in helping him?

Good Bye 2010

I have very mixed feelings about the departure of 2010.  It was far and above the WORST year of my life.  It did bring the arrival of my nephew Grant, but this was it's only redeeming quality.  August 2010 included my Dad's disastrous surgery.  The next 8 weeks held a miserable struggle for him as he worked to heal and recover.  (Although it was so hard to watch him be so uncomfortable and in pain, I will be forever thankful for this extra time I had to tell him how much I loved him.)  And of course, September brought his death, an event I don't know if I will ever really recover from.

For these reasons I am not sorry to see 2010 go.  2011 has to be better, right?

On the other hand, this is the last year that held my Dad's presence in my life in a physical way.  I am so scared to leave that behind and face a whole year without him.

I spent some time this morning looking back at my 2010 goals that I set back on January 1st.  They included home sanctuary, health, and relationships.  I am going to stick with these again this year, as I don't feel like I did a very good job at most of it.  Sanctuary is definitely the hardest for me.  This year brought a change in schedule for us, as all three boys became old enough to become involved in activities.  Although I limited the boys to one activity each, it still made our evenings after school crazy!  This has made for my most difficult year trying to balance work, family time, and household tasks.  It left me with precious little time for working to make our home a clean and relaxing space.  This is a whole post in itself, but I really feel sometimes that women got a raw deal from the feminist movement of the 60s.  Sure we can have better paying jobs, but this created an economic situation where most women need to have jobs to support their families.  Now we have full time jobs on top of all the responsibilities that women have always had....raising the kids and managing the household.  It's like having three or four full time jobs at once.  And I am standing here in front of you admitting I am not very good at handling and balancing all of that.

Anyway, I'll get off my soapbox now.  I am going to keep trying in 2011 to achieve balance, and find time to create sanctuary.

I learned a lot in the relationship area this year.  I learned you never know when you won't get to see someone again.  I told my Dad in his birthday card that our experience with his surgery taught me to never waste an opportunity to say I love you, to give a hug, or to appreciate.  I am going to work hard to never forget this, and carry this forward into 2011 and beyond.

Health also took on a new perspective as my siblings and I all realized the genetic woes that are stacked against us.  I found out I am in a dangerously  high risk group for heart attack with my high cholesterol problems and genetic history.  I got a treadmill, and changed my diet even further.  I finally, finally, finally lost 10 pounds.  I am hoping for more in the coming year.

I'm going to keep plugging away at these goals this year, and I'm going to forgive myself for not being perfect at achieving them last year.  I am working every day to remember it's okay to be human and not super woman. 

I hope all of you have a wonderful New Year's Eve tonight, and more importantly a wonderful 2011!  Thanks for spending some of your time (which I know is precious!) to be with me here at The Sole Woman.  You are part of what makes the adventure fun for me.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

I can't believe another Christmas Day has passed, in the blink of an eye. I am sad to see it go...I love the holiday season so much! We had a wonderful day yesterday, filled with:

Brotherly Love

Handsome boys ready for church on Christmas Eve (with Evan singing in the choir!)

New family members

Celebrating Christmas Eve at my Mom's house... It was nice to be together, but also much harder than I thought it would be without Dad there. It was so hard to not have him with us, but we made it through one more "first". We made it through together, as a family.

More new family members...this is Lindsey, my brother's infinitely awesome girlfriend. She feels like she has been my sister forever. There are so many things that make her fit into our family perfectly, and it feels like God sent her to us as a gift.

Christmas morning Christmas Trees...

Boys ready to open gifts

...and Hot cocoa and Christmas cookies for breakfast

It was a good holiday, and we felt surrounded by family and love. If you celebrated Christmas yesterday as well, I hope that you had a wonderful day! I count all of you that come here to read my little corner of the blogosphere as one of my Christmas blessings. THANK YOU for spending time with me here at the Sole Woman!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Today would have been my parent's 36th wedding anniversary.

I have been thinking about my Dad, and my parent's marriage all day long. One of the biggest blessings that God has given me is my parent's example of marriage. My Dad and Mom were always loving and kind to each other. I can only remember them arguing in front of us kids once when I was growing up. This doesn't mean they didn't have differing opinions, but they were so respectful and kind to each other when they did.

My Dad always spoiled my Mom on special days like birthdays and anniversaries, but he did special things for her in the everyday moments too. He provided me with a wonderful example of what a husband can be, should be, and needs to be. His example helped lead me to Jeff, and I am so thankful.

When my parents celebrated their 30th anniversary, my siblings and I surprised them with an anniversary party, complete with all of their friends and family. It is one of the few times we were really able to pull one off on my Dad. I will never forget his expression of shock as he walked in the door to my house and saw everyone gathered there to celebrate them. We thought we would be able to do a bigger more formal party for them when they made it to their 40th or 50th anniversary, but it turned out to be our only opportunity. I am so grateful that God gave us the inspiration to throw them that party. I am also grateful that we had a friend who is also a photographer take pictures of that night. They are treasures to me now.

I wish that my parents had been able to celebrate many more anniversaries together. But I am so lucky to have been a witness to the 35 1/2 years they were together.

I love you Mom and Dad. You are both my heroes.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Are you making a New Year's Resolution?

Unbelievably, we only have 11 more days of 2010. I have some major issues with this, but that is a whole other post for later in the week.

In the meantime, I am thinking about New Year's Resolutions. One of mine is to spend more time with God, through his words in the Bible. I discovered when I read through the Bible this year that I am a better person when I spend time each day with God. I am going to be reading through the Bible, cover to cover, beginning on January 3rd.

I would love it if you would join me! You can read more about how to sign up here.

You can read about how I felt when I finished this program for the first time this fall here.

I am so excited about reading with the people who have already signed up! I am praying for each of you already. I encourage those of you who have signed up to start thinking about how you will fit in reading time everyday. What changes will you make in your schedule? I have found for me that it helps to break the reading up as I go through the day. I often read a couple pages here and there when the kids were occupied, or even when I was waiting for something to come out of the microwave. Other readers have told me that they did best when they blocked out a large chunk of time to accomplish all 12 pages for the day. (And 12 pages is it! That's all for each day! It makes it seem so much more like a manageable task when you think of it this way.)

I am hoping many of you will join me!! It will change your life, I promise.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Wrapping Frenzy!

I am done with my Christmas shopping, but I haven't wrapped ONE.SINGLE.THING!

All the gifts are piled up in my secret hiding spot, just waiting. Have I ever told you that I don't have much patience for jobs that take a long time? I have lots of kid patience. Give me a room filled with kids, and I can wade through the worst of problems with buckets of patience. Give me a lot of vegetables to chop, cookies to bake, rooms to paint, or lots of presents to wrap, and I want to pull my hair out. I feel so overwhelmed with jobs that will take more than an hour, that I don't even want to start.

Which is why my secret hiding spot is making me anxious. The thought of all that wrapping is making my skin crawl.

I know what some of you are thinking...use a gift bag Christy.

But I just can't.

When I was little, the big magic of Christmas morning for me was presents to unwrap, all in a jumble under the tree. My Mom, God bless her, was much more practical with four kids. She used a lot of gift bags, and when we woke up on Christmas morning, each child had their own very organized pile of presents set somewhere in the room to make for easy opening.

As a Mom myself, I can understand where she was coming from, but I have this compulsion to give my kids that jumble under the tree, and the unwrapping experience. (Don't get me wrong...I know the presents aren't the most important part. But they are fun, right?!)

Tonight, after my little munchkins are tucked in their beds, I am going to make myself tackle that pile. I wish I could ask Jeff to help, but he has always wrapped his gifts in garbage bags. Unfortunately, I am not kidding. He's lucky I found him to be the nicest, smartest, most handsomest man otherwise that first Christmas we had when we were dating when he gave me a diamond necklace in a garbage bag might have been the end. Instead, I laughed and laughed. And I still laugh when he gives me his gift every year.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

And so this is Christmas...

I have been missing my little blog. I didn't mean to neglect it this month, but December? It's been crazy.

I know it's crazy for everybody, and I shouldn't complain. Not all of it has been bad crazy. There have been good moments, like Evan singing in a trio at the 6-8 Christmas concert at school.

Or when Charlie and Sammy sang their preschool Christmas program, and neither were scared to perform. Sammy now loves to walk around the house singing "Up On the Housetop", which is cuter than anything.

Or when my aunts, mom, and sister and I all got together and baked our brains out, and made hundreds of Christmas goodies, all in one day.

Or when I sang with the choir at Mass for my first performance sing my Dad died. Music lifts my spirit, and singing in church makes me feel surrounded by God's love. It's been so very healing.

Or when I got to spend my very favorite three weeks of the year with my class at school. There is nothing more magical than spending time with small children in December. I love my 1st graders. They've helped me to heal too.

Or when I got to go out to dinner with a good friend, and just talk. I love girl time.

There have also been ear aches, sinus infections, bronchitis, and crazy schedules, but I guess in looking back, I notice the good makes up for the crazy.

The good also helps to make up a little bit for the grief. I miss my Dad. SO much. Of course, it is harder around the holidays, but the every day things are so much harder to me. I wanted him to see Evan sing (and I prayed like crazy that he could peek down from heaven and see Evan, so brave up on that stage...and I really think he did). I want to call him on the phone and ask him a question. I want to see him at church. I want to drink coffee with him at breakfast on Sunday. I want to tell him I love him.

I'm getting by. I'm still excited about Christmas, mostly because my kids are excited. I still feel joy and happiness in my life and my family. But December would be so much better with Dad here with me. Maybe that's selfish, because I know how much joy he must be experiencing in heaven. The glory of Christmas in heaven must be incredible! I just wish we had gotten to have a little more time together here on Earth first.

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