Wednesday, December 8, 2010

31 Days of Joy ~ Day 8

It is only 10 p.m., but I am typing this with one eye open due to extreme fatigue, so I hope it reads well, or at the very least, is understandable. 

As I was blog surfing last night, I came across this wonderful blog that I've never read. I was instantly hooked by Sarah's writing style and honesty, and was stoked to find that she's doing a similar project for December on her blog. She's going big though, looking for at least 100 things that God uses to bring her joy this month. (See her One Hundred Joys post for more info.)

Being the challenge-seeker that I am, I have decided to step up my game and increase my joy-finding for December from the 31 I had chosen to at least 100. I love the idea and, frankly, have been finding it difficult to nail down the ONE thing each day that has brought me the most joy. There are many highlights to my days, and this will be a great way to share each one and not cut God's joys down or prioritize them to fit my little human mind. 

So, here are my joys for today (in no particular order):

8. My husband is home from a three-day business trip. Yahoo! I don't love it that he has to travel, but I am so very grateful for his job and the fact that it allows me to stay home with my son, so I count it as a blessing. Whenever I feel bummed that he's not around, I just think of all the troops sitting in foreign lands, wishing they could see their families after MONTHS and YEARS of not seeing them face to face in the flesh. That is hard. My life is not. 

9. I love packing suitcases. I began packing today for a trip back home to KY next week, and I was already getting excited to see family and friends and make memories my son can cherish the rest of his life. I love to travel, but getting to visit my family is beyond travel for me. It's going home; it's a pass to be a daughter again and to know I'm being looked after just as I look after my son. It's warm and cozy, and full of love ... and the occasional weird relative. :p

10. Hearing my son say, "Hey, Mom." Answering, "What?" and hearing him say in the tenderest boy voice, "I love you." That alone could be the only joy I experience the rest of my life and be quite alright with me. There's just nothing like it. He could've just crashed a priceless heirloom and thrown a tantrum that would make King Kong blush, but if he followed with those three little words, I'd melt, as I do every time I hear them. It's like he's giving my heart a hug with each utterance of that phrase. It's not just that he says it; it's the way he says it. There's so much sincerity in it; it's like he recognizes, at the tender age of almost 3, that it's one of the most important phrases he will ever say to me. 

11. Forgiveness is a joy I often take for granted. It's hard for me to extend to others at times (which I know is not biblical and I'm truly working on), but I experience it daily. Not just from my Savior, but from my little family. I wish for the day where I won't have to say "I'm sorry" even once because I've been that on point that day. Alas, I think that day will remain elusive to me, and that's OK. Perhaps it's a gentle reminder from God of the ultimate forgiveness I've received, a chance to humble me and bring me to forgive someone or something else. In that case, I'm thrilled at the growth opportunity, no matter how painful.

I'm thankful that I've got some great role models to learn from: my husband and my son. My husband is the quickest person to forgive I've ever met and my son's not far behind. They just say, "It's OK," and move on. They get it. They love me unconditionally. Why? Sometimes I'm not sure, but they do and they're better for it. They don't carry a burden of what I did or said around with them, letting it weigh them down. They release it with those two words, and for that I'm eternally grateful.

12. The little man and I watched Charlie Brown's Christmas tonight. We sat by the glow of the Christmas tree lights, laughing together at Snoopy's dancing and snuggling. It was just the kind of peace I needed after a long day. I know I'm here to take care of the kid, but there are some times that I swear he's taking care of me. 

In reviewing this before I post it, I am realizing how great this project really is. I could look back at my day and remember the tantrums, timeouts, frustration and grief (which can be abundant with a toddler), or I could choose to see the beauty in it. By decompressing and analyzing my day, I've chosen the beauty. I've witnessed the thread of joy woven ever so carefully throughout my life. Thank you, Lord, for this thread of joy. Please let it be strong and continually growing. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

31 Days of Joy ~ Day 7

As Mary says on Jack's Big Music Show, "What a day!" Today was eventful and fun. It moved so quickly I almost forgot to stop this evening and post my joyful item. :)

Today, the thing that brought me joy was having a full house. Our moms' group had a playdate today at our home. We had four mommies and seven children hanging out in our modest house, so it was a bit noisy, but the kiddos were all pretty good. 

In my old age, I've come to realize that I love to entertain. I would've never thought this about myself. I thoroughly enjoy inviting people over, cooking and baking all kinds of goodies (because what's a party without food, right?), and hearing the sounds of life in my house. 

I think it's comfortable for me because it reminds me of my family. Growing up, we always had dinner together, around the table, as a family. Many of my fondest memories are from these mealtimes, where I was typically trying to gross my dad out by insinuating that I had touched his food (germaphobes don't like this apparently) and we were often laughing and carrying on like a bunch of jackals. It was loud, and oftentimes disorderly, and it was wonderful. 

You're likely to get this same type of scenario if you eat dinner at our house now. The old man and I are both pretty boisterous, and the little whippersnapper's got a set of lungs on him, too. We can't help it. I don't think we own "inside voices." We operate on "playground voices" much of the time, and if distance or TV volume necessitate, we turn the dial up to "ballgame voices." What? You don't know what "ballgame voices" are? Sure you do. It's the voice your dad/grandpa/son/husband uses when he yells at the TV during a ballgame. Hence, "ballgame voices." I have to be careful not to use my ballgame voice when the front door is open for fear of scaring the neighbors. We have scared visiting babies in our own home with our level of noise. Some find it unsettling; I find it endearing.

When there are more bodies and voices in my home, there is more noise. It's comforting, like a good old pair of sweats. Some of my best times have been huddled around the kitchen island sharing laughs and stories. Now that we're in the parent trap, the noise level has increased and morphed. It's so much better. We have big people laughs and little people laughs, and what's better than a little person's laugh? Honestly. It's like the gift that keeps on giving. 

So, as much as the Martha in me stresses about the house not being ready for company or the amount of food not being sufficient, I snap right out of it the first time that doorbell rings. When our door opens to the smiles of friends, it's a gentle reminder of what's important in life. 

Thank you, Lord, for blessing us with a home to entertain in, sufficient nourishment, and friends and family to share in our lives.

Monday, December 6, 2010

31 Days of Joy ~ Day 6

Today, the thing that brought me joy was decorating our Christmas trees. Yes, I said trees. We have a big one in our living room, a pint-size one in our kitchen, and a miniature tree (that's also in the kitchen). I realize it is a little excessive, but I can't help it. Go big or go home, right? 

If you come to our house during Christmastime, it looks like Christmas threw up everywhere. I hang garland any and everywhere I can, we have countless knick-knacks and figurines, and I even have Santa pillows for my couch. Christmas really is all around us.

We finally finished decorating the third of our trees today, the pint-size one in the kitchen. I cheated and decorated the miniature one myself while my son was asleep because I knew his little sausage fingers couldn't handle the miniature hooks and ornaments. 

I must say I probably like the kitchen tree the most because I've devoted it to my favorite Disney character: Winnie the Pooh. All of my Winnie-the-Pooh-themed ornaments get their special treatment on the kitchen tree and it makes the child in me absolute giddy. 

The little man and I had a wonderful breakfast of pancakes and sausage, and set out to "decking" (as he calls it) the tree. We had a wonderful, relaxing time working together. Only one Pooh bear and one snowman were beheaded in the process. Again, I was thanking the Lord for Super Glue, which fixed them up fine and dandy. 

As Christmas tunes danced around in the background, I enjoyed a special time with my guy that I will cherish for many Christmases to come. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

31 Days of Joy ~ Day 5

Today, the thing that brought me joy was my son. More specifically, it's his burgeoning vocabulary and personality. When he's not busy teaching me patience, he's making me laugh. 

We spent the evening decorating our Christmas tree and had quite a nice time together. The control freak in me was reluctant to let him help decorate the tree because I knew it wouldn't turn out "perfect" and a few ornaments might get broken along the way. We have a family tradition of decorating our trees with Hallmark ornaments, so I have a small fortune hanging on my tree each year and I shudder to think of anything getting broken. 

However, I decided to let go and just enjoy the time working with my son. I'd like to thank God for the person who invented Super Glue (or, as little man calls it, "supy gwue"). With that said, I was in awe of the job he did. He took such care hanging each ornament and really handled them gently, which was a feat in itself for him. 

At one point, as I was schooling him on the finer points of ornament hanging, he turned to me and said, "Are you kidding me, Mom?" I couldn't help but laugh. He has quite a mouth on him, and it keeps us on our toes. 

Later on, he eagerly told my husband, "Dad, I have a present for you," to which my husband replies, "Oh, what is it?" He then turns around and shakes his little hiney at him, which was full of, well, I don't think I really need to spell it out. I almost had an accident myself in laughing at that one. 

When we were putting him to bed, I was holding him and about to turn him over to my husband. He looks at my husband, puts his hand up in the "Stop" position and tells him, "Swiper, no swiping. Swiper, no swiping." If you've ever seen Dora, you know what this means. All we could do was laugh.

My child never ceases to amaze or amuse me. Thank you, Lord, for my sweet little boy. 

Saturday, December 4, 2010

31 Days of Joy ~ Day 4

Day 4 of the 31 days of joy is quite a quandary for me. I have two equally fabulous things that are vying for the joyous item: one being a new haircut/color and the second being a new pair of shoes. I know, so shallow of me, right? Hello, I'm still a girl! :) 

I decided that the latter should win because they have three major attributes the hairdo does not: patent leather, leopard, and sparkles! Let me introduce you:

These shoes are off the charts on the fabulous meter! I love them. I want to sleep in them. I want to dance to "I Feel Pretty" in them. Yeah, I'm kind of obsessed! 

Being the Frugal McDugal I am, I don't impulse buy very often and I certainly don't pay full price for anything unless it's an extremely special circumstance. So, why did I impulse buy these shoes at their full price? Umm, did you look at them? How cute are they? 

I mostly bought them because it was the day after my birthday and I have birthday loot to spend. Yay for gifts! Also, they are special. Red is my favorite color. Leopard is my favorite print. Sparkles are just the oh-so-darling icing on the cake! Not to mention, I heart Mary Janes like nobody's business. I'm not sure why I felt the need to justify, but I just did. 

They're like an edgy version of the ruby slippers. I have a sudden urge to put them on and follow the yellow brick road to the glorious land of Oz! 

I'm off to see the wizard ...

31 Days of Joy ~ Day 3

It's almost midnight here, so today's thing that brings me joy is going to be quick and probably much shorter than usual. I assume that will make anyone reading this happy, since I am usually pretty verbose. 

The thing that brought me joy today was laughter. After a tough day riddled with tantrums and timeouts, the hubs and I ventured out with a couple of good friends for an adults-only night out. Yay for babysitters! (As an aside, I just typed "babysisters" instead of "babysitters" at first, obviously a Freudian slip because I want a little girl like yesterday.)

Tonight was a much-needed good time filled with silliness, a crazy bathroom incident during which my scarf might or might not have went into to the toilet (I'm still not sure about that one), and TONS of laughter. And I loved it. Every single minute. 

I love to laugh almost more than I like to breathe. It feels so good in my soul. It feels healthy, restorative, and just downright fun. After said bathroom incident, I went on a giggle spree that was obviously contagious because the whole car was laughing as we drove. When I get a case of the giggles, it's uncontrollable, violent, and wonderful to me. I question whether our tortillas might have actually been laced with tequila, but, alas, we'll never know. 

Thank you, Lord, for giving us the gift of laughter. In a world that's often so down-trodden and serious, it's refreshing just to be able to giggle like there's no tomorrow without a care in the world. 

In the words of one of my favorite artists, "If we couldn't laugh, we would all go insane." ("Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes" by Jimmy Buffett)

*Bonus: Whenever I laugh, I am reminded of the following scene/song from Mary Poppins. It's by far my favorite scene of the movie and one of the songs in the soundtrack of my life. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like ... Christmas card decision time!

Christmas cards are fun. Getting them is one of the highlights of the Christmas season for me because I love to see all our friends and family, how children and families have grown and what choices people make for their Christmas cards. 

Being the perfectionist I am, I'm always looking for that "perfect" Christmas card. I used to send handwritten cards, but since we've had a child, I really like sending photo cards because I know everyone wants to see the kid. I mean, who wouldn't? He's precious. ;) 

I am glad there are so many options for photo cards now. It makes the decision a little harder though because so many of them are cute and memorable. 

I think I've settled on one from Shutterfly. I was browsing today and thought this was a very cute idea for a Christmas card. I'm a huge fan of photos, so it's really hard to narrow down one photo and this card eliminates the need for just one. I love the way they've done the sample, too. The idea of showing a picture of my son from every month of the last year is a great way to show how he's grown and his age progression. It's particularly fitting for us because we have so many family and friends in other states who don't get to see him very often. 

I've used Shutterfly before for photo prints and I'm always really happy with the service and quality of their products. There are some super cute designs for cards whether you're looking for vintage, contemporary, traditional, etc. Take a gander at You might find the "perfect" card for yourself. :) 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

31 Days of Joy ~ Day 2

It's day 2 of the challenge, which also happens to be my birthday, and I'm going strong. OK, so it's only been two days, but who's counting? 

Today, the thing that brings me joy is: family. Specifically, my family. All of it. The immediate, the extended, even that black sheep uncle of mine (listen to "The Pascagoula Run" by Jimmy Buffett for reference to said uncle). 

Family is like a warm, wonderful blanket the Lord lays over us where, no matter how much we kick or fuss, it covers us. It envelopes us, and it's always there for us. People may come and go, but family is here to stay. Isn't it wonderful that the Lord intertwines so many people in our lives to surround us and bring us joy? 

Though we choose some, most are chosen for us, a fact I find utterly fascinating. Everyone's family story is different, unique. We may have similar threads but our family quilts are knit together individually ever so delicately by the Father, who knows our every word, deed, and need. 

I truly felt the love of my family today on my birthday. While my own family is entirely across the country, I miss getting to spend my special day with them. However, they never fail to touch my day in the kindest way with their cards, letters, gifts, and packages. It's almost as good as them being here with me. Almost. 

I was blessed to spend the evening with my in-laws. I know, I said "blessed" and "in-laws" in the same sentence, but it's true. I have been given a wonderful set of in-laws who couldn't be cooler. Really. My sweet sister-in-law baked my grandmother-in-law (with whom I share a birthday, which I find totally rad) and I a heart-shaped birthday cake and brought it to dinner. We had a grand time sharing a meal and trying to keep two almost-three-year-olds from serenading the whole restaurant. It was a bit messy, loud and chaotic, but it was joyful.

Thank you, Lord, for the joy of family. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

31 Days of Joy

I don't know about you, but I often get bogged down at this time of year with my to-do list, Christmas gift list, party-planning list, etc. So many lists and so little time. 

With that said, I'm giving myself a challenge for the month of December. I'm going to focus on sharing one thing that brings me joy every day for the entire month. Why is this a challenge? Two reasons: the aforementioned boggeddownedness (yes, I made that word up) and the idea that I can commit to posting on my blog every single day for an entire month.

The Lord gave me an epiphany the other day about perspective. As I was becoming harried at the thought of the inevitable time crunch I am coming under with Christms, travel, parties, gifts, and all, I was reminded of a verse of one of my favorite Christmas songs that has touched me this year like it never has. The song is "Do They Know It's Christmas Time" from Band Aid in 1984. The verse is:

The greatest gift they'll get this year is life

If you're unfamiliar with the song, it's basically about how fortunate we are and how important it is to remember those who are in need at this time of year. I've always loved this song, but this year, it's really hit me hard that we are so very fortunate to live in America and to have a roof over our heads, warmth, clothing, and water, among a multitude of other things. There are so many in this world without these very basic needs, and we take them for granted so often. We have life, and life is a gift from God.

So, I'm going to cast off the old robe of busyness and hurriedness I usually don this time of year, and take it slow, day by day, recognizing all the joy that the Lord has given me in my life.

Feel free to join in and spread the joy around. We could always use more joy. It doesn't have to be anything big; it just needs to be something that touches your heart. Just let me know if you do join in, so I can be blessed by your joyfulness as well. :)

So, for December 1, the thing that brings me joy is: life. This is the eve of my 34th birthday, and I'm overjoyed with my life. It is everything I wanted it to be and never expected. It truly is a gift. 

I've thrown in the video for "Do They Know It's Christmas Time" in case you are unaware of the song or would just love to see some seriously 80s footage. ;)


Do They Know It's Christmas Time Lyrics