Enchanted Railroad

>> Thursday, December 23, 2010

My mind has been a bit scattered this Christmas season- distracted by thoughts of moving and trying to get life a bit more organized. But now Christmas is starring me in the face and I feel like I haven't done enough to create a magical feel of the season for my boys. So this morning we headed over to the Arboretum to see their Enchanted Railroad exhibit. They have filled the entire room with trains carrying miniature Christmas trees and presents and candy canes. There are little villages and trees nestled among the tracks. The boys were just mesmerized by it all! Of course, they were a bit bummed that they couldn't touch the trains or eat the candy canes off one of the cars. But overall, it was a great way to usher in a little last-minute holiday magic. And it's free!

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O Come Let Us Adore Him

>> Friday, December 17, 2010

Lucas had his Christmas Play at preschool this morning. It was precious and perfect. Lucas (one of the three kings) sang all the songs and did all the motions (last year, he just stood there) and smiled like the adorable boy he is. I am a sappy, sentimental fool at things like this. I cry during the movie Polar Express and the end of Elf. And watching my little boy sing about Jesus and the miracle of Christmas brings out so much more emotion. So I was definitely wiping some tears this morning.

He is getting so big and grown up. He holds my heart, this precious "king."

And this one too! :)

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Housing Woes, the reprise

>> Thursday, December 16, 2010

I have been thinking a lot lately about how much my satisfaction or dissatisfaction with my current status depends on what others around me have or don't have.

I took this picture with my cell phone the other day (sorry for the crappy quality). It is a house I pass on my way to yoga every Tuesday night. I secretly lust after this house. I love the wrap-around porch, the cute yard with fence, the big trees out front... it is your perfect little suburban house. The perfect place to raise a family and have people come stay with you and decorate for Christmas. *sigh*

After trying last spring to rent out our town house with no luck, a housing miracle seemed to drop into our laps a few weeks ago. A potential renter came to look at our house and LOVED IT! She wanted to move in ASAP. Praise the Lord!! ..... sort of.....
We immediately started looking for houses to move into. Not much seemed to be available, but then we found THE PERFECT HOUSE for us. The space we need, the fence we need, within our price range.... Could this really be happening??? A renter and a house we would LOVE to live in??? Somebody pinch me!

While our credit application was being processed, the owners of my perfect house signed a lease with someone else. Boo! Also, we had some hiccups in the process of working things out with our "tenant" and it seems like that is now falling through too. Boo! It just doesn't seem to be in the cards, again. I have already cried about it and had my little moment of "it's not fair!!" It does kinda seem like God is teasing me with this whole moving thing. But God isn't really in the "teasing" business so I know there has to be some sort of greater plan at work here... just one that is not so visible from where I am standing.

I want a new house because we need more room. We have realistically outgrown this space. We need a yard for my boys and the pooch. I want to be able to host people and give my parents a room to stay in when they come to visit. And while those are the biggest reasons, that is certainly not the whole story. Nearly all my friends have upgraded their housing in the last year or so. Two of my best friends have bigger, beautiful homes with yards and rooms for all their children. How much of my housing discontent is because I judge my current situation against what my friends have that I don't?
A move for me just isn't gonna happen right now. And maybe not for awhile. Being a landlord kinda freaks me out and I certainly don't want to jeopardize our financial stability by taking on too much risk. And I don't want to go through the hassle of moving unless it is the right house (which was stolen from me and doesn't seem to exist anywhere else...).

So there you have it... my current housing woes. I am disappointed, for sure. Maybe even a little pissed. But trying to keep it all in proper perspective and trust that this is God protecting me and not teasing me. And not base my contentedness on things I cannot control.

But if the person who lives in my dream, suburban home pictured above happens to be reading this and wants to rent your house to me..... just sayin'.

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Rooting Out the Weeds

>> Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hubby and I recently dived head first into Dave Ramsey's philosophies of budget and debt management. In one of his books, he says "If you are apathetic because everything seems 'just fine,' then you will be unwilling to make the huge changes needed to get huge results. ... The enemy of 'the best' is not 'the worst.' The enemy of 'the best' is 'just fine.' "

I both 100% agree with this and yet kinda disagree. When it comes to strict budgeting to eliminate debt and build wealth, he is totally right. But I am not sure this phrase applies universally. When I try to apply this philosophy to my marriage and my parenting and my relationships with my family, I start to see how it leads me down a dangerous road. Let me explain. (To be fair, Dave Ramsey is NOT applying this phrase to my marriage and mothering abilities... that is all me... and I am preaching only to myself here.)

I am an all-or-nothing kind of gal. I always read the preface of a book because either I am reading the whole book or I feel like I have cheated. I am not good at skimming or "maybe" or "we'll see how things go." I like a plan, I like things to fit in the boxes I have made for them. Things and people.
Before I was a wife or a mother, I had pretty sure ideas of what both marriage and parenthood would be like. (*wink*) My husband would always passionately pursue me, we would talk about everything and usually agree, and sex would never be dull or routine. Then would come motherhood. And I was sure that would be filled with joyous moments of watching my children grow into respectable little humans who adored me and only occasionally tested their boundaries. I am exaggerating a bit, but you get the idea.
Reality is usually different than the world I envision in my mind. Relationships too. We all know that marriage and motherhood are hard and that no one is perfect at either one. But how much mediocrity do we say is part of the reality of life and how much should we be striving for things to be "the best" or at least "better?"

It is easy for me to look at my husband and see things that I would like to change. Little behaviors or personality traits or sometimes even bigger things. It is very easy for me keep a running tally of those things in my mind and gather more and more ammunition each time.
I have this habit of taking my less-than-stellar motherhood moments and harping on them in my mind until I am convinced my boys will need therapy before they reach puberty. I have gone to great lengths to preserve my days at home with the boys and have visions of how those days should go. Yet when the boys fight and I lose my cool and we didn't get to the Advent craft I had planned, I feel disappointed and a little like I have failed them.

What I am getting at is this: My marriage could be better. My mothering could be better. My relationship with my mom and my sister could be better. But I am afraid I am paralyzing my ability to enjoy and appreciate those relationships for what they truly are by always looking at the ways they could be "better." I am not saying I don't need to work on things. I certainly do. In fact, I met with a good friend this morning for coffee who lovingly challenged me to look at my own sin of finding fault with others and how that can be so detrimental. Especially to my marriage. I am just saying that always focusing on how things "ought" to be and the ways in which my Hubby or my boys or my family need to change in order to better fit into the boxes that I have created for them might actually be hurting my ability to be content. I tell myself "if only ... blah, blah, blah." Fill in the blank. If only Hubby took more initiative. If only the boys were less wild. Whatever.
My habit of finding fault is a weed. I have to root out this weed. When such a thought pops into my head, I have to get rid of it immediately. Root it out. Don't even let it grow.
Because when you really get down to it, even though it could always be "better," my marriage is "just fine." My relationship with my boys is "just fine." My Hubby loves me and I would never doubt his loyalty. My boys are sweet and forgiving of my out-bursts and truly do adore me. We have some great times together.
This is one instance where saying things are "just fine" is not an indicator of apathy. It is an acknowledgment that we are a work in progress and might never reach "the best." But as long as we stop constantly finding fault but are still willing to see areas where we need to improve, it is better to be content and find joy in the 'just fine."

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>> Thursday, December 2, 2010

As his tree grows, so do I.

I am a work in progress, making steps forward and steps back.
And just when I think I can't take anymore steps at all, that life is too hard...
God's light starts to shine through my dry and brittle leaves.

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