Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best Belated Christmas Present Ever!

Merry Belated Christmas!!!  My Josh and his girlfriend Jessica surprised us this morning by coming home for a visit!  Josh flew all the way from Germany to be back here to see his girlfriend and us.  She knew about the surprise but was very good about keeping it a secret. :)  I am thrilled to meet her and to have my son home, even if it is for a few days.  I'll take it!  And yes, I had a feeling, call it Mom Radar, that he was coming home...our reunion was just like you see in all those videos.  Mom runs out, sees son, screams, cries and hugs him for what seems like eternity.  Best Belated Christmas Present Ever!!!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Chaos in the Kitchen

My wonderful hubby is revamping my kitchen and putting in bead board to cover the hideous wallpaper and installing a new range hood for me.  This has been going on for several days now and will continue for the next few.  Meanwhile, my kitchen is total chaos and I can't be in there for the majority of the day to do what I do best...cook!  I feel like a fish out of water and totally overwhelmed.  He is great about trying to put things back in order each day after he does some work in there (he works nights so his time is limited during the day when he can work on it) but my prime time for cooking and baking is also his prime time for remodeling.   I know once it is completed I will be thrilled.  I can already see a huge difference!  I think what is stressing me out though is that this has been going on during the Christmas break when I need to be in the kitchen and I am hosting 2 more parties this week.  Not the best timing but I know that he is working so hard to get this done for me so I am trying my best to be patient and not totally freak out. ;)  As Dori says "Just keep swimming".

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!!!

The best gift ever was Christ who gave his life for us.  Merry Christmas and thank you Jesus.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Don't Believe Everything You Hear!

   I fully admit it.  I get a bit miffed this time of year where the commercials are blaring from the TV and radio and there are large print ads stating that women only want expensive jewelry, purses, shoes, trips, etc. for Christmas.  According to these ad campaigns, it is a cardinal sin for a man to dare get his wife, girlfriend, fiance, etc. anything practical.  It might instigate rioting or make it a long cold winter for that man if he dared to slip something nicely wrapped like that under the tree.  As my oldest 24 year old son pointed out...the ads keep saying "Where have all the gentlemen gone?". Well let's just break this down.  Let's define what a gentleman is.

   My definition of a gentleman is a man with manners, who treats people with respect, is honest and hard working.  A gentleman is aware of the feelings of those around him and sincerely wants people to be happy and to meet the needs to that person, especially if it is one of his family members (ok, so I added that but you know it's true!).  So this logically leads us to believe that this man really listens to what it is his wife, girlfriend, fiance, etc. really wants and needs.  This would further lead us to believe that said gentleman would therefore want to get a gift that would meet this want or need rather than just listening to the commercials and buying "his woman" the latest jewelry craze or handbag (unless that is what she really wants).  In my book, men who really listen are worth their weight in gold and I would much rather have a good man who really listens to my wants and needs rather than getting me something random (and maybe even expensive) when he could have gotten me the gift I really wanted (and in my case spend less than he would have on that diamond bracelet that is being so heavily advertised).

   I am blessed.  I am married to a gentleman who really listens to me and to what I want.  I will never forget the year that he got me my much wanted and dreamed of Christmas gift.  Things were really tight financially and I really wanted a certain power tool.  Yes, I am the self proclaimed Power Tool Queen!  The object of my desire was a Sawzall that could cut through anything.  I had so many plans for that thing and I knew that it was something that my husband and I would use.  He was not a carpenter at that point in his life but I could see many projects that would be made easier with this much coveted tool. ;)  I shamelessly hinted, begged, pointed them out in the ads, and mentioned it time and time again.  My sweet husband said he wished he could get me one but there were not the funds for it right then.  Christmas morning came and there was a small gift under the tree for was not the Sawzall and I tried to appear grateful but inside I kept thinking that I would rather him have saved the money and put it towards a Sawzall.  We went to my inlaws for the rest of Christmas day and I was surprised with another gift there from my husband.  I opened the large box and there she was!  My beautiful Sawzall.  I will not lie...I cried big tears of happiness and hugged that thing.  My husband not only listened to me but sacrificed to get me the one thing that I really wanted!  We still talk about that Christmas and how surprised I was. :)  This year my husband once again listened...he just had me open my gift early...a brand spanking new white (to match all the other appliances) range hood for the kitchen!  I am a very happy lady!  He is also putting in new beadboard paneling  to hide the hideous wallpaper that is in the kitchen.  That is what I truly desired and he is making it happen.  That is worth more to me than all the fancy diamonds in the world!  Moral of the story...don't believe everything you hear from other people...really listen to what it is that your loved ones truly want.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It All Adds Up!

  Please let me introduce you to Preston. :)  Preston was given to me by sweet sister-in-law Gayle for Christmas years ago.  I have a thing for pigs! ;)  Preston is about the size of a pot bellied pig (which is the pet that I begged my husband for years to get me but alas our town codes do not allow hoofed animals in the town limits. If we lived one more block up above us I would have one.)!  My niece and other children have tried to ride Preston in the past because he is just the right size for them to sit on when they are young!  Preston also has a secret...he loves to eat change!

   Preston is a piggy bank!  Whenever we have spare change or find spare change, Preston gets fed. ;)  About twice a year, Preston gets really heavy with all that change and we have to shake the change out of him.  Our kids used to say he was pooping money. ;)  Shaking Preston is a Herculean task that involves a big towel to catch all the change on and great upper body and arm strength.  Preston is rather large, round and heavy even without change in him.  He is after all a ceramic pig.  It can be rather awkward to do and you definitely feel like you have gotten a work out by the time you are done.  My wonderful hubby decided to take that task on and got to work.  He shook and shook Preston and started sorting out the change...he then rolled all the change and came out with $26.50 (and as you can see by the picture mid counting, there were lots of pennies).  I am always amazed at how much change we have managed to accumulate in Preston over the course of time.  There have been many times in the past when we have "shook the pig" in order to get enough money out of there to pay for one thing or another.  I think it would be safe to say that over the years Preston has held about $500 or more worth of change all together.  Small change really does add up to big dollars!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's A Wonderful Life!

Don't you just love that movie?  Jimmy Stewart sacrifices and gives to others his whole life and when he finds himself in a financial bind he becomes bitter and it takes a visit from an angel to help him realize the truth of his situation.  People with very little give what they can to help the man out that has helped them throughout  their lives when they hear that he is in trouble.  It is then that he realizes the truth.  It's not in the stuff, a new home, money in the bank or anything like that that your true wealth comes from. Those things can go away so quickly as many people have found out in the last few years with our economy and stock market taking a huge hit.  True wealth is having Faith, Family and Friends.  It is measured by the impact you have on others lives and the love that you show to them. 

We have tried to teach our boys this throughout their lives.  Money has never been very abundant around here but we find ways to stretch what we have and to serve others.  We have volunteered for years as a family with an organization that distributes food to people who need it.  Now that our boys are all adults, they continue to volunteer with other organizations while their father and I continue to do our part with the food deliveries here in our little community.  Our home has always been, and will always be a place of refuge for those that are hurting or just need a place to belong and be loved.  We have many "hanai" (Hawaiian for adopted by love) kids and family that find their way to us whenever they are home visiting.  Recently we have begun hosting foreign students who are here going to college and giving them a "taste" of American home life and having them join us for holidays.  It has become a tradition to gather here for a big game night with lots of food, laughter and love.  In the past, our living room was almost always filled with lots of kids playing games, watching movies and eating several days or nights each week and almost daily during the summer and holidays.  One of my fondest memories is of my son Jaysn and our hanai son Mark (who towers over me) standing on either side of me while I made a large pot of spaghetti.  Mark and Jaysn each had a fork in their hand and Mark was resting his elbow on my head while they waited for the food to be ready to eat.  That memory of the two of them always cracks me up! :)  My husband and I are called "Mom" and "Dad" by many young people who we consider our "kids".  Our motto is once you enter through our door, you become family.  We make a commitment to love you, pray for you and hold you in our hearts and that you will always have "family" here for you.  Yes, it's a wonderful life and we are truly rich in all the ways that really matter!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

What Will They Say About You?

Yesterday my husband and I went to the memorial service of a dear man who lived a long and adventure filled life.  He has been a part of my husband Jeff's life since he was a child.  Larry was a man of science, a physicist who never lost his zeal for learning and was fascinated by the world that God has created for us all.  Science just proved to him more and more that God does exist! After Larry retired, he decided to study Biology because he wanted to learn more about life.  He kept studying into his 90's.

People shared their wonderful memories of Larry and how they were struck by his humor and his humbleness.  Larry was a brilliant man who made huge contributions to science and held patents on several things.  He was also part of the Manhattan Project and watched as the atomic bombs that he helped build to end WWII were dropped.  He is the only person to have seen, with his own eyes, all 3 of those bombs detonate.  Most people that met Larry had no clue that this brilliant scientist with the sparkle in his eye, love for God, quick sense of humor and willingness to help all those around him had anything to do with the Manhattan Project.  He was humble and did not mention his many accomplishments unless asked about them.

Larry was also a family man.  He loved his wife, children, grandchildren and the other people that were blessed to be a part of his life.  He made time for camping trips, outings to the coast to explore tide pools, and loved to sit and exchange ideas with people.  His son-in-laws shared about their early morning talks with Larry and how he could draw you in to a discussion about Intelligent Design with 2 sentences. :)  His former students, who later became colleagues, recalled how Larry and his wonderful family took them in for meals and holidays and made them a part of their family for life.  It seems that everyone was loved and welcomed at Larry and Millie's over the years.

At the end of the sharing of memories portion of the service, a letter that Larry wrote to everyone that was there was read.  Larry knew that his time was coming to an end here but looked forward to the next chapter of his life in heaven.  What struck me most was this last line...I hope that my wife knows that she was always first in my life.  What a wonderful tribute to the woman that Larry loved and shared his life with for close to 70 years.  Millie is indeed blessed and so was Larry to have her as his lifelong companion.  Larry knew what was truly important and where his priorities were.

When your life here on earth has come to an end, what will they say about you?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dear Santa...I want, I want, I want...

Working in the school system, I hear a lot of I want, I want, I want for Christmas. Now I can't blame the kids.  Everyone is asking them what they want, the television and print ads are telling them what they need to have to be "cool" and it seems to have become a huge competition to see who gets the most or coolest "stuff".  Black Friday sales are no longer limited to Black Friday but start weeks prior to it and my personal "bad business" award goes to those stores that are open all day and evening on Thanksgiving so that people can shop till they drop and not allow their employees to spend time with their own families.  I refuse to shop on Thanksgiving and have also decided to avoid the absolute madness of Black Friday.

Having said all this, let me tell you what does warm my heart.  The school that I substitute teach at has what they call the Motivator Store.  Kids get tokens for good behavior and they can turn them in for prizes.  The prizes are donated by staff and community members.  During this Christmas season, the wonderful woman who runs the store came up with the idea of having the kids be able to buy gifts (with their tokens) for family and friends.  The gifts will then be gift wrapped (in donated wrapping paper) and given to the kids who purchased them to take home right before Christmas break.  I wish you could have seen and heard the joy that these kids had when they got to go and "buy" gifts for others.  They were much more excited about that than I have ever seen them over buying things for themselves.  They were so eager to share with everyone what they had purchased for their moms, dads, brothers, sisters, grandparents and friends!  For some of these families, this store is the only way that it will be possible for these kids to give gifts to those they love.  What a wonderful blessing and what an important lesson.  Truly it is better to give than to receive!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Trees and Comfort in a Cup

Christmas Trees and Comfort in a Cup

I love this time of year.  There is just something magical about the sparkling lights on the tree, the old glass ornaments that bring back memories of Christmases past and reflect the world around them and the angel on top that reminds me of the love that my sweet mother-in-law/love has for me.  She bought me that angel years ago and I cherish it.  For many years we were not able to put up the "big tree" because there was no room in this small house for it, our kids and all their friends.  We forwent the "big tree" in order to have room for the kids and their friends to gather, play games, have movie marathons and to stay the night. We had a small tabletop tree that we set up on the buffet during those years because a welcoming home for our kids and their friends was our top priority.  That little tree now makes it's holiday appearance as a surprise for all in the guest bathroom.  It is also lovely to look at while soaking in a nice warm bubble bath with only its lights and ornaments to
brighten the bathroom.  Sheer bliss!

Christmas is also the time to bring out my basket full of poinsettia
flowers and set it on top of our wood burning pellet stove.  It adds such a festive touch and makes a perfect backdrop for my coffee cup don't you think?  Oh coffee, how I love thee!  Coffee is the perfect wake me up in the morning and comfort me in the afternoon drink, especially on cold days. I am not a morning person and I need that first cup of coffee and solitude to wake up slowly. At this time of year I really enjoy being able to add some Peppermint Mocha creamer to my beverage of choice.   It just seems to be the perfect companion to  the Christmas decorations, spirit of the season and it warms me up from the inside out.  This afternoon, after I took our dog Sasha for a much needed walk, I came home and was freezing.  I quickly heated up some coffee, added my holiday creamer and am now happily starting to thaw next to the pellet stove.   Comfort in a cup, life is good! :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Precious Gifts From God

As a child, I overheard a conversation between my mother and my doctor.  He said I would most likely never be able to have children due to damage to my heart from Rheumatic Fever.  I remember crying out to God at that very young age asking him to heal me because all I wanted to be when I grew up was a mommy.  God heard and answered my prayer and my heart was healed.  Even my cardiologist said it was a "God thing". :)
God answered my prayers again when I asked him to bring me a wonderful husband and He brought me Jeff.  Jeff and I knew we wanted a family and prayed about having one.

About 2 years into our marriage God brought us our oldest, much prayed for son Jaysn.  Jaysn struggled right after he was born and had to be put on oxygen.  At first they did not know what was wrong and we were scared and prayed over that little boy.  I asked God to save my son (my friend's newborn son had just died and I was a wreck) and told Him that I would raise Jaysn up to love Him.  God comforted me and told me He had a special plan for my son.  Jaysn was healed and has gone on to be very involved in student ministries and international student outreach, has a very tender heart for God and always has. Jaysn is our "technology" son who I can go to with questions relating to computers and he can always get me out of a bind when it comes to anything technical.  He works for a international engineering company and has been there for 5 years now.

When Jaysn was about 13 months old, I realized I was pregnant again.  I thought I was happy with only one child, but God, in His infinite wisdom, had other plans. ;)  I was just adjusting to the idea of having another child when I found out we were expecting not one but two babies...twins!  Chris and Josh made their way into the world and into our lives, forever changing "my" plans but for the better. ;)  What a wonderful double blessing!  It's funny how sometimes you do not realize how much you want and need something until God blesses you with it or in this case, them.  Chris, the older by 9 whole minutes twin, has always been the kid who we knew would land firmly on his feet no matter what situation he found himself in.  He became an EMT and an internationally certified firefighter by the age of 18.  He is currently a volunteer firefighter, works for police department and is becoming a reserve officer.  Chris is married to his beautiful Heather and they are Bradley's mommy and daddy. Josh, the younger by 9 whole minutes twin, is our self proclaimed "strong willed" son who's motto in life is "I do what I want".  He has always been our child who has to try everything out for himself. ;)  We've known right from the start, that whatever he set his mind to, he would excel in.  He went to college for a few year but struggled trying to work two jobs, go to school and have any sort of a social life.  He made the decision to go into the Air Force and it has been wonderful for him and he has excelled there.  Josh became a Military Police Officer and is currently a driver for the general.  This has given him the opportunity to travel and see so much of the world that he would not have been able to otherwise.  He is currently stationed in Germany and all I can say is thank heaven for SKYPE so I can see him roll his eyes at me. ;)  It's kind of our thing. :)

Each of my boys are a precious gift from God.  Each is unique and so different from each other personality wise.  They all share an amazing closeness with each other despite their differences and they all would be there in a heartbeat for one another or for their daddy and I.  I thank God for not only bringing them into our lives but for also answering our prayers about their wives.  So far, God has outdone himself by giving us Heather as a wonderful wife to our Chris, sister to Jaysn and Josh, daughter to Jeff and I, and mommy to Bradley.  I know that God also has the perfect wife out their for each of our other 2 sons and He will bring them into their lives in His perfect timing.  God hears and answers our prayers!

Monday, December 5, 2011

We Love Thrift Stores and Garage Sales

My husband and I are trying to become debt free.  We have been working with a consumer credit agency to have our interest rates lowered so that we can get our bills paid off sooner.  Having always been a frugal family, we taught our kids to seek out the best deals.  They have been reading the price per unit labels in the grocery stores since they were tiny things.  Garage sales and thrift store expeditions were fun treasure hunts to see what goodies we could uncover and we found many!

Over the many years that we home schooled our children, we found wonderful books and even brand new science kits that helped to stretch our homeschooling budget.  Furniture (some antiques worth quite a bit), tools, clothing, games, household goods, appliances, bikes, toys, etc. all found a new home with us. It is no surprise then that our sons are so good at finding bargains now and that they have no problem with "previously loved" items.  We are also blessed that our daughter-in-law/love also was raised by very wise and frugal parents.

In getting ready for Bradley's arrival, both sides of the family have been on the hunt for items that this precious little one will need.  His maternal grandmother found him a beautiful crib and changing table. My brother and his wife gave the kids lots of things that their boys have now outgrown.  My husband and I found a Pack and Play recently that will be here for Bradley when he comes to visit us and we also have a high chair for him.  Heather and I had lots of fun this Summer shopping for baby clothing and toys at yard sales (even before we knew she was pregnant) and have been searching the thrift stores now that the weather is colder for more needed items.  Just yesterday I found Ralph Lauren Polo and Baby Gap overalls along with some cute little pants and some soft baby blankets for him. None of these items costs over $1.39.  All will be laundered so that they are fresh and ready for when he needs them.  Babies grow so quickly and I can't see paying $35 for some overalls when I can get them for $1.39.  Grammie can think of so many more fun ways to use the money saved!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Our Family is Growing

   I'm embarking on a wonderful new adventure in uncharted waters.  I am becoming a grandmother at the age of 48.  My son Chris and my beautiful daughter-in-law/love Heather are blessing my husband and I with our first grandchild.  Of course I am doing all the grandma things like proudly displaying his ultrasound picture on the refrigerator door and shopping like mad for my grandson Bradley James.  I'm making plans, adding to my "Grandma's Library", filling the toy box and anxiously awaiting his arrival in about 3 months.  Of course there are all the considerations like what will we have him call my husband and I?  I was thinking about Grammie for me and jokingly suggested Grumpa for my husband who was not at all amused by that suggestion. ;)  Will he look more like my husband's side of the family (all my boys look so much like their daddy), my side, or his mommy's mother or father's side?  Will his Uncle Josh actually be able to wait until April to come home on leave to see his new nephew knowing that his Uncle Jaysn and his "Aunt" Mollie will get to hold him before he does?  What I do know is that Bradley will be welcomed into a family where he will be loved by his parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, great grandparents, great uncles and aunts, cousins and so many other hanai (Hawaiian for adopted by love) relatives.  Grammie can't wait to meet you Bradley James...I will be the one crying huge tears of joy and praising God for His blessing us with you while I gently hold and cuddle you and kiss your little head.