Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Our Happy Halloween Decor

With the leaves and acorns sprinkled atop our browning grass, and the decorations finally making their places in our home, it is finally starting to feel like fall around here! Mom's happy, and so are the kids.

As I mentioned in Monday's post, I do not participate in the creepy side of Halloween, no matter how many times my six-year-old son claims that it's all "fun" and not at all scary.  So when looking for ways to make things festive around here, I have to get a little creative!  Thank you, Pinterest, for your many inspirations!

Here are a few of our ideas:
Giant Candy Corn (Hobby Lobby)!
Orange Pumpkin Faces (Pinterest)

My kids' funny creations.

Our centerpiece napkin holder

Our entry table (when it's not cluttered).
$5 craft pumpkins sawed in half (Walmart)
$1 Foam sticker kits (Hobby Lobby)
$5 pumpkins to carve this weekend (Walmart)
Leftover craft pumpkin half & old picture frame.
A little small, but inexpensive & cute!

I am still missing a few of my favorite pumpkin decorations packed away in a bin still trapped somewhere in our garage since our recent move, but I would say this is a decent start!

Want to share some of your happy fall decor?

Post your pictures on my Facebook wall!  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Why I Love/Hate Halloween

What I LOVE about Halloween- 

  • Dressing up
  • Community events
  • Candy
  • Carving pumpkins, 
  • Decorating for fall
  • Making family memories.

What I HATE about Halloween- 

  • Gory effects
  • Scaring of children, 
  • Celebrating dark themes
At this time every year, I warm up when I see the pumpkin-scented candles and happy scarecrows that signal the beginning of fall, but then immediately tense up at the sight of skeletons and bloody appendages displayed on the shelves of various stores I shop in.  I mean, what a contradiction!  On one hand, we have the beautiful changing of seasons and all of the fun activities that follow- apple picking, pumpkin patches, football games, and family gatherings.  On the drastically different other hand, we observe shockingly gross images of tragic death and alarming red-eyed beings glaring at us in the front yards of our neighbors.  It has always been such a difficult combination for me to process, like eating too many strange foods at once.

Pardon me, while I step upon my soap box for a minute...I wonder why this is fun for people. Why do we glorify horrific and disturbing acts during the month of October?  If someone chased me with a mask and a chainsaw in real life, I would probably be traumatized for the rest of my existence.  If one of my kids discovered an unattached human leg underneath a bush or a decapitated head hanging from a tree branch, they would probably suffer from nightmares for weeks! And only with the help of some prayer and counseling would any of us be able to process something as distressing as that.

Our minds are so vulnerable to negative thoughts already.  My children's developing brains and emotions are even more susceptible to unhealthy thought patterns.  Why in the world would we intentionally contaminate them with such ugly reproductions of the horribly worst possibilities?!

So for the entire month of October, I shield little eyes as much as I can from the evil imaginations of others.  We do not watch as much TV, and when we do, we skip commercials.  Our decorations around the house are fun and uplifting (picture post coming later in the week), and when we go trick-or-treating, we pass right by the houses with skeleton hands reaching up from their graves.  When my son asks me why he may not dress up as a zombie for Halloween, I refer him to one of my life verses:

 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. -Philippians 4:8 (NIV)

Other verses to consider when setting our minds on what is "pure, lovely, and admirable" this month:

There really is already enough sad tragedy in our world, and I see no reason to re-create the damaging effects caused by them.  

And now that I've gotten that off my chest, I will step down from my soap box. Thank you :-)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I Knew I Was Going to Need More Patience

It just isn't possible.  To be patient for all of those 14 or so daily hours with the kids asking me questions, ignoring mine, forgetting things, and telling me what they think.  Alone, I can't. 

 As I faced three days manning the house while my husband was on a work trip, I prepped myself for the endless demands.  The pressure starts to get to me, and I can imagine a version of this mom hyperventilating or running away.  It's a lot to handle by myself.  On my own, I get tired.  I run out of patience and hear my responses snap like dry twigs. It seems like there is no respite, always being on the clock.

And then Jesus said "Remain in me." I kept repeating it to myself.  Choosing to let go of anxiety and step forward one scenario at a time, peace followed me.  I didn't allow my mind to race ahead to everything I had to do.  I resisted the urge to freak out over every misstep.  "Remain in me," He reminded me. I made my focus on what was possible in Jesus, not on all the ways I could fail.

Because of course I will fail.  I will forget to send in the lunch money or that it was pajama day. I will feel guilty for not reading bedtime stories for at least 20 minutes.  I will lose my cool when any one of my children talk back to me like they know better. Apart from Him, I can swim around in all kinds of inadequacy. But I don't have to.

The "fruits" are there on the Vine begging us to take what we need: more love, more peace, more patience, more gentleness, more self-control (Galatians 5:22-13).  There will be times when we do need an extra pair of hands, a little help around the house.  It's wonderful when we have a teammate that we can count on. But for those days when we don't have someone nearby to pass the ball to, there is more than enough patience to get us through. 

 Remain in me, 
as I also remain in you.
No branch can bear fruit by itself; 
it must remain in the vine. 
Neither can you bear fruit 
unless you remain in me.
I am the vine; 
you are the branches. 
If you remain in me 
and I in you, 
you will bear much fruit
apart from me 
you can do nothing.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

But Who's Going to be MY Cheerleader?

In middle school and high school, I cheered for several basketball and football games.  The camaraderie of the team and the rush of being part of something exciting were always thrilling to me.  Later, when my daughter was in elementary school and wanted to join cheerleading, I became her coach for a few years.  Then, it was the joy of teaching little girls how to memorize dozens of cheers and seeing them shine on the field performing much rehearsed routines that called me.  The confidence and friendships they earned from weeks of working together brought me back every week.  I loved it.

As a parent, I continue to cheer for my kids and my family, with or without the pom poms and uniforms.  When my son or daughter scores a goal or nails a routine, I'm out of my chair screaming for them!  When they bring home that classroom award or good grade from school, I'm patting them on their backs and bragging on them at the dinner table.  When they remember their manners or offer to help Mom around the house, I'm throwing all kinds of "Great job!" "Way to go!" "You're awesome!" phrases in the air.  Whether they show it or not, I know it is important for them to hear that encouragement as often as I supply it.

But what about me?  Who cheers for Mommy when I finally fold and put away that mountain of laundry that everyone notices but no one attempts to move. Where are all the "Atta girls!" when I manage to conjure up three meals a day that every family member approves of?  What about the rides, and the homework help, and the things I remember for everyone every day?  Who's going to be MY cheerleader?

It's been said over and over again, that the job of Mother is a thankless one.  Once a year, in the spring, our families rustle up some sweet gifts and cards to tell us we're loved and appreciated, but on a day-to-day basis, we keep doing things for others without much recognition.  There are times that someone remembers to say, "Thank you."  But unfortunately, even the little ones get preoccupied in their own work and play that it's more often that they forget to notice.

They forget because you're always there.  It's easy to take a thing or a person for granted when the house is running smoothly.  We keep up with the calendar and the dishes.  If the mom drops the ball, that's when we are more likely to get noticed. And that's not usually the kind of attention we want, is it? 

We just can't expect chants and cheers for every mission accomplished- at least not from the people around us.

Our cheer section is a whole heaven full of angels. We ARE noticed. As many times as I recognize the inattention from my family, I, myself, should also see how often I forget to focus on what is true. Our goal is to do the work God has called us to do, even when we are not receiving any accolades.  The encouragement is knowing that we don't have to go it alone and we are doing a great work! 


Zephaniah 3:17 (GW)- "The Lord your  God is with you. He is a hero who saves you. He happily rejoices over you, renews you with his love, and celebrates over you with shouts of joy."

Hebrews 12:1-4 (MSG)- ...all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we’d better get on with it. Strip down, start running—and never quit!...

(NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus...

Friday, October 04, 2013

And the Winner is... Preschool Book Giveaway

On Monday, I shared a list of our family's favorite preschool books. Each reader who left a comment was entered into a drawing to win their choice of a free book from our top ten. 

The winner is... JAMIE MARTIN! Let me know which favorite you'd like to add to your collection! I hope you grow to love the messages and rhymes as much as we have.

Thanks to everyone who commented and gave me some more children's titles to include in our little family book club. We'll try your suggestions soon :-)

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Crunch Time and Football Analogies

Like the night before the paper is due or minutes prior to your presentation, a mom faces equally critical and slightly, nerve-wracking moments every day.

1. First Crucial Moment: Morning.   My house begins humming around 6:45 a.m. during the week. Light switches on.  Toilets flushing.  Little feet and big feet shuffling across wooden floors. One last pre-dawn sip of coffee...

Bro. 2011
You can call it "go time" or "crunch time."  This next hour can make or break the day. Everything hinges upon each person doing as they're told at the approved pace without any interference.  The team players must remember their part, or the rest of us pay.  For all of you football fans out there, when a kid is still barefooted as we walk out the door, blow the whistle: "Flag on the play!"  Since it already requires a blessed miracle for us to get anywhere on time, this may result in at least a ten minute penalty (My husband is going to love this post).  Everybody steer clear of the coach!

2. Next Do or Die Time: High Noon/Afternoon. I'm going to just a lump a few scheduled priorities here.  Picking up my preschooler on time and feeding him lunch before he falls asleep definitely fits into this cram session. How much can I squeeze into small windows of opportunity without jacking up our routine?

Also, waking up said preschooler from nap with enough minutes on the clock to collect the older kids from school could go either way- with amazing ease or with "Oh-my-gosh-I-should-have-left-ten-minutes-ago" anxiety! Steady now. If I pass this important test, supplying snack and a change of clothes for dance/soccer practice really feels like earning some extra credit.  A++
Boone. Circa 2011.

Arriving to after-school activities precisely at the beginning of practice with the right shoes and gear is just as vital during our afternoon as making sure everyone is feeling confident and prepared in the morning.  It can ruin a kid's whole outlook on life if I'm the only mom that forgot to bring his water bottle or made her miss the chat fest before practice begins. Of course, this is a very narrow view on the greater worldview, but they don't know that.  And you better be sure that the mom will hear about it the rest of the evening.

3. The Final Moment of Truth: Dinner/Bedtime. It's been called the "witching hour."  From about 5:00p.m. until dinner, if we're home, this mother of three somehow has to juggle several tasks at once without fail (and without a wand).  I must patiently help each child with their homework without showing my frustration.  While the toddler loudly asks me questions and repeatedly begs brother and sister to please play trucks with him, I attempt to distract and simultaneously focus on a math problem by deflecting interruptions by another. *Heisman pose (That's for my husband again)* My brain almost self-destructs in this phase of the game every time. If my face doesn't turn red with steam blowing out of my ears, I consider it a success.  We all win.

After the papers are signed and put away, I direct the posse upstairs so I can cast a magic spell over the kitchen and conjure up dinner, with or without a plan.  And possibly with or without groceries. This is really when things can get exciting/terrifying.  While I try to cook the final meal of the day, everyone goes wild. No matter how many times I ask the boys not to wrestle, they will.  I tell them to stop jumping off of furniture, but they do.  They run, yell, and throw almost all of my happy house rules out of the window. And every single day someone comes to me sobbing and blaming the other for another injury.  The water is boiling.  Doors are slamming. The table needs to be set. Feet are stomping and voices are yelling.  The oven timer is beeping. 

"I can do this." Daddy's almost home!

I don't know how it is possible, but we all somehow survive each of these pivotal moments- A little battle weary but alive. There may have been a few outbursts, tears even, but we came through.

Around 8:00p.m. Mom officially punches her time card, and any other crises is deferred to the other parent. 

Touchdown. Extra point. Field goal!

***** P.S.- Don't forget to leave a comment on Monday's post to enter a drawing for my first every giveaway!  The winner will be announced this Friday :-) *****