Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What a ride?

What a roller coaster ride that was for all those who stayed? I personally spent the days prior to the storm fretting over what to do…stay or go. After deciding to stay, Glen and I stayed up most of the night wondering if the wind was going to tear off the roof and leave my family and house exposed to the wind and rain. We put the girls in our interior closet where there were finally able to get some sleep. At some point in the early morning hours after I woke from a short nap, I thought the sound of the wind would never end. Then to wake up the next morning to mixed feelings as we gazed at the mess all over the yard, street and neighborhood, but thanking God we were all safe and sound and had no major damage to the house. Over the next few days after the storm, I found comfort in making contact with friends to see if they were okay, helped family and neighbors clean their yards and homes. I found joy in spending days with my kids and watching them play in the front yard for hours with their friends on the street. Like any great amusement park ride, there are things that thrill you and things that almost kill you, and I can honestly say I was glad to see Hurricane Ike screech to a halt. But this time, I won’t say “Let’s ride it again!”

My review of this trecherous ride...excellent. Surprised? You shouldn't be.

I learned a lot from my decision to stay in my home during the storm. Other than learning what doors and windows leak with horizontal rainfall, that I really should board my windows, and tall pine trees really can bend to where their tops practically touch the ground and don't actually break in half, I learned their are some truly great individuals who live with and around me.

In my unofficial survey, almost everyone I spoke to after the storm who stayed to "hunker down" in their own homes said they would evacuate the next time a hurricane heads our direction. I too was among those in that camp. But thinking about it now, I would have never experienced the true gift of a good neighbor in those days following the storm.

The folks on our street are normally very social. And I have to say I know most everyone on our street. And unlike most streets, we all know each other and occasionally spend time together. But in the days that followed the tumultuous storm, I was overwhelmed by all the care, concern and help each of us showed toward the other.

There were folks who cut down trees, raked yards, helped remove boards, shared space in generator-powered refrigerators, repaired roofs and the list goes on.

The person of which I am most proud is my husband. He spent hours helping our neighbors, some of whom he had never really spoke to, rake their yard, cut down trees, as well as straighten them. Then he spent more hours helping his parents and their neighbors do the same. He is truly my hero and such a great example to our girls.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Simplify: Why?

Over this past year, I have realized, we as Americans, have way too much stuff and I, personally, have too much stuff as well.

For me the quest for more stuff began as a child. I grew up in a lower middle class family. We were well fed and well kept, but there was not a lot of money for any extras. My toys would all fit in a small toy chest which my dad had bought unfinished and then painstakingly painted himself. All my wonderful treasures were kept in that small box. But as I grew I realized other kids had more toys, clothes and things than I. I realized their parents lived in nicer homes and drove newer cars. So my quest was to, at least eventually, have more. But did I really realize the consequences of my mission?

Now I have a house full of stuff: my stuff, my husband’s stuff and my kids’ stuff. Everything seems to be spilling over out of boxes, closets and cabinets. And my biggest fear is that I am teaching my daughters’ to want and need stuff too. I look at the spread of toys that not only fill my daughters’ rooms, but also spill over into about a quarter of my 400 square foot living room; frustrating me as I walk by since they are typically messy and unorganized. I look at my kitchen filled with gadgets, cookware and cups that we rarely use. My hobby room is full of supplies and gadgets. We have a collection of electronics, games and movies. More stuff than we could ever need, want or use. More clothes than we could ever wear.

I ask myself almost daily, “Do they really need all this stuff?” Several rationalizations pop into my head…“No, but we (or family or friends) spent good money on this stuff, so I just can’t get rid of it.” Or “Well, we may need this stuff later and I don’t want to have to buy more. So I can’t give it up just yet.”

So, how can I release myself of these ties to material possessions? Why do I worry about having things that make me happy? Why don’t I believe I have everything I need? Why do I store things thinking I may need them in the future?

I was recently reading an article about this subject that quoted this verse from the gospel of Luke: "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions" (Luke 12:15). Read more of Luke Ch. 12... And in the rest of this chapter of Luke, Jesus tells us not to worry about our lives, and God will take care of us.

Do I have all of these things because I don’t have faith that God will provide for me or take care of me? Maybe. Maybe I have become too reliant on myself rather than on God. Maybe my faith has weakened as I have aged. As I think of the possibilities, I think of how I can revitalize my childlike trust and faith in God.

I think my first step is to simplify my life, but first I need a plan. More to come…

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Print Your Pictures!!

Are most of your images still on your camera, your hard drive or your photo card?

Here is a great deal from Walgreens Photo Center...50 prints for $5. Hurry the offer ends on August 30. You have to order 50 prints and type in the coupon code GETFIFTY. You can order up to 5 times per account.

Here is another coupon I just got in email from Walgreens and it can be used at the Photo Center too. http://www.walgreens.com/hotbuys/default.jsp?ec=hn583_getcoupon

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What we learned yesterday…

On the way to meet my very competent and responsible babysitter at dance class, she called in a panic. She told me that my youngest daughter, Morgan, had locked herself in the car and she didn’t know what to do. The car was running and the air conditioning was on, which is fortunate since we live in Texas and the temperature in a car in the summer can reach 120 degrees easily. I arrived about 1 minute after her call and found her frantic and my daughter crying in the car seat. I immediately called the local police department whose phone number my husband had programmed into my cell phone. After a brief description of what was happening and our location, they told me that someone would be there soon to help.

So we waited and tried to calm Morgan through the glass of the car window and encourage her to release herself from the car seat, but being so small she didn’t have the strength to push the release button on the harness and she didn’t know how to loosen the straps to wiggle herself free. By the time the first police officer arrived, Morgan had calmed herself slightly and I had found out how this ordeal occurred. Apparently, Morgan thought it would be funny to lock the door after the babysitter got out of the car to get her bag from the trunk. However, the babysitter didn’t realize the car door had shut just enough for the door lock to engage and Morgan didn’t realize the consequences of her practical joke.

At the sight of the officer the waterworks began again. I don’t think I have ever felt so helpless in my life, watching my baby cry uncontrollably in the back seat of a locked car. Usually, when one of my daughters is hurt or sad, I am right there to pick them up and dry their tears. To myself and my little Morgan, I was completely useless at this moment.

As we waited for the second officer to arrive with the lock out kit, I wished I had taught Morgan to release her car seat harness or loosen the straps. So heaven forbid, she would ever have to in an emergency, she could do so quickly and calmly. Once the lock out kit was put to use, Morgan was freed from her “not so funny” practical joke.

My oldest daughter describes this day as a disaster. It certainly felt that way at the time, but I always try to find the value in difficult situations. So what did we learn?

My babysitter learned you can’t trust a three year old. Both my daughters learned that they shouldn’t touch buttons just for fun as unknown dangers could ensue. I learned, I need to be prepared for emergencies as well as to prepare my daughters.

As moms, this could happen to any one of us. Make sure your kids know how release or loosen their car seat harnesses in an emergency. Also make sure that they know how to lock and unlock the doors of the car and teach them that the buttons and locks are only for grownups to use unless it is an emergency.

Getting it together

I think I constantly strive at this concept. Always trying to clean up, clean out and get things organized. Why is it such a struggle for me? For everyone? (Well, maybe it is just me.) One of my biggest problems is forgetfulness. As all moms know we live a life of constant distraction. The minute we set out to complete a task, here comes the pitter patter of little feet to stop us in our tracks. Not only do we loose our train of thought and abandon our current mission, we are off solving new and entirely different problems brought forward by those little people in charge…our kids.

I am always looking for ways to help my family stay organized. Last year, I started with the old fashioned calendar on the fridge. I bought the Mom’s Plan It Calendar because it came equipped with a handy magnet, stickers and a pretty cool pocket to hold all those extras like appointment cards and birthday party invites. But any calendar would work just fine, a start is a start, right.

First, I gather up all the school, work, and activity calendars we have, get last years calendars for birthdays and anniversaries, and all those little doctor appointment cards and any party invitations we have on hand. Then I sit down and write everyone’s events in the calendar. For recurring events like dance class or soccer, I use a sticker instead. It saves your writing hand and reduces the time it takes to complete this task. On a weekly basis, usually as I go through the school folders and mail, I add any new events or appointments to the calendar.

Having this right at eye level in the morning has been a tremendous help. My husband and I both check it before we pack up the car for school and work.

Please share your time saving tips!

Tip: Your calendar didn’t come with stickers? Assign each family member their own sticker and place there sticker on the calendar to indicate they have an engagement that day. This especially works well for toddlers and pre-readers. They know to look for their sticker.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Are you a Hannah Montana Fan? Not really, but my kids are.

Ok, so I do just LOVE almost all things Disney, but Hannah Montana I could live without. If you ask my oldest daughter Kaylee, she is a big fan, but she knows her HM viewing time is strictly limited.

But for those of you who just can't get enough of this little pop star, here's a cool website I found through a regular Disney Insider publication that I get through my email. It has lots of great information about the parks, the Disney store, and upcoming releases and movies, etc.

In this great email publication, I came across this link for Hannah to give your BIGGEST Fan a wake up call before school. It is sponsored by Wal-Mart. So if you are interested...try it:



I did it!

Wow. I can't believe I finally got around to starting a blog site. I have been wanting to do this for a while now. Just never had the time nor energy to figure it out. Well today is the day, and I did it!!

Why, you may ask. Well I am not quite sure myself. I think I just wanted to have an outlet to share my thoughts, ideas and feelings. I know sometimes these get losts for us moms who are always on the go whether we run a company or a household. In any event, I hope you all find this helpful yet entertaining and a place where you can share and comment as well.