Monthly Archives: December 2011

Letting Go of Perfect

It’s Christmas morning! Makes me think of fresh, crisp layers of new snow. Sun peeking in the windows. And anxious little feet pattering down the hallway in new pajamas to catch a glimpse of what’s in their stockings.

However, the brown grass is bare – not a flake of snow for miles around. The anxious little feet have grown to lumbering teens who relish their sleep. Opening new pajamas on Christmas eve is not met with the excitement it once was. The baking is not done. The house is not cleaned to my standards. I didn’t find the perfect gift for everyone this year. In fact the shopping was tough. The lists were short. Either everyone has too expensive of taste or just maybe, like Oldest Son said, they are satisfied. I prefer to believe the latter.

This Christmas snuck up on me. I blame it on the lack of snow that usually kick starts my holiday preparations. The snow didn’t come…and neither did the kick-start! Until Friday when I took the day off work. That’s Friday – Christmas Eve eve. But as I was getting ready to hit the stores for the final push I began to think about a blog I read. A divorced mom whose kids are about to leave the nest. She shared her sadness over the change that was coming. And I thought of my Aunt who is spending another Christmas without her beloved husband. My father who will experience his first Christmas since him Mom passed away. About my sister-in-law who is nursing her mother back to health after a scary illness. I thought about all those, like my husband, who work crazy hours before the holidays. He has worked 14 hour days this week to make sure others have what they want for their perfect Christmas. And there are others who are at work this morning. None of these things are what we wish for. They are all less than perfect, just like the state of my house.

I don’t love that my Hubby’s days off will be spent in a car going from our house to each of the grandparents. I don’t love that we will spend another Christmas dinner in the car and have three Christmases in three towns in three days. 12 hours in the car and 1 night at each house is not my idea of fun. I don’t love that our parents spend the day alone. It makes me sad for them and sad for myself knowing that one day it will happen to me too. I don’t love that all of my family won’t be together for Christmas. It leaves a hole, an emptiness. But, I understand it just can’t always be. I don’t love that there are families spending their first Christmas without a child who lost his life this year. It is not right.

And it’s all real. That is what we have to work with. Christmas is no more perfect for us than Jesus birth was for Mary. I can’t imagine what I would have said to my husband if he told me I would have to ride that donkey for days, very pregnant, just to fill out a census. Well, actually, I can imagine some of the things I would have said, and you really don’t want to hear them.

I’m sure that nothing about Jesus birth was perfect. From the time Mary felt the first flutters, to when Joseph heard the news. From the rejection they got at each inn along the way to the meager stable where they eventually settled in. I wonder if Mary felt the same kind of frustration I do? When I know how I want things to be, but despite all my efforts I just can’t make it happen. Oh, I get there is no comparison in the magnitude of the two situations. But there is so much similarity.

I love to spend Christmas with all of my family. It’s about being with the people you love, sharing laughter. And yet Mary had no one but Joseph with her. No Mom there to tell her everything would be ok. They were all alone, in a strange land, without all the things they were used to. Without the security of the familiar. What lengths would they have gone to to be with those they loved that night?

Ultimately, they were not in control. Mary had to let go of her expectations of what should be. To let go of the plans she had, the images in her head. She chose to be in the moment with her baby, with Joseph, with a barn yard full of animals.

It’s ok for me to let go too. To let go of that perfect image of Christmas that I have in my head. To let go of the control. Stop trying to choreograph every moment. It’s time to change my focus. To be present with those who are right in front of  me.

I will let go of aiming for perfect and aim for personal instead. I will aim to reach out to others and really connect. To be present in the moment. To let those I love know just how I feel. To cherish every crazy, exhausting, frustrating, messy moment with the ones I love. For we never know when it will be our last.

I will let go of perfect and aim for personal. My personal connection to God, my personal relationship with Jesus. Look for the path He is leading me down, not my own plans.

I will let go of perfect and get personal.

Merry Christmas to you. May you let go of perfect, be in the moment and find the personal in all you do today.

And now I hear big feet heading my way! Time to go see what’s in their stockings…

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Filed under Faith, Family, Holidays

My New 50mm

I bought myself a new toy tool! I am crazy excited about it. Can’t wait to use it!

Ok, actually I already used it. Just a little bit.

It’s the lens I’ve been wanting for some time. It will be great for portrait photography.

Shiny and new and beautiful.

It will allow me take pictures in lower light situations without a flash.
And it will help me get great bokeh.
But I am most excited because I totally understand why I needed this lens and what it will do for me!

You see how the lights on the tree are all circles? And how the background is blurred?

The blur in the background and the sharp focus on the subject. That’s what I’m going for.

That blur and the way the lights look in it is bokeh. And the lower the f-stop or aperture on your lens the better the bokeh.
I found a blog that explains bokeh and different lenses really well. You should check it out if you want to learn more about lenses. They do a great job of explaining all the components and what they mean. In general terms, not just the geeky language. Its …kevin {&} amanda

Next step, find some people to take pictures of:)!

PS. Yes, this is how excited my boys get when I want to take their picture. Don’t you love the enthusiasm of Oldest and Middle Sons? Youngest Son is trying hard to be mad…but he just can’t do it:).

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Thankful Thursday – Hallway Surfing

The three teenagers were home. all. day.

With only a cleaning list.

That included dusting.

Which led them to the furniture polish.

The thought process from there is rather a mystery.

I’ve learned over the years, sometimes it’s best not to ask.

But you know what happens when furniture polish gets on a floor.

I’m thankful that they warned Hubby and I when we got home.

I’m thankful that I didn’t receive a call during the day telling me that someone cut their head open, or broke an arm.

I’m thankful I didn’t have anything breakable in the hallway.

I’m thankful for boy ingenuity.

I’m thankful my guys can laugh together.

I’m thankful they enjoy each others’ company…most of the time.

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Pause Please?!

Oh my gosh! Christmas is only nine days away!

And there is not one gift under our tree!

Not one.

None!

And I work 6 of those 9 days.

Houston, we have a problem. {Sadly, I don’t think there is anyone in Houston to help anymore.}

I think if I were to wrap everything we have bought we might end up with 20 presents under the tree. You should know we buy some basics for everyone every year. They all know it’s coming so I’m not spoiling the surprise {yes, my kids do read my blog}, but it will be a rather sad Christmas if they only get these basics. Think unmentionables. That’s almost all I’ve bought.

I tried to go shopping last weekend. Youngest Son and I went to Cabela’s – the world’s foremost outfitter. I don’t even know what it means to be the world’s foremost outfitter. But it was a traumatic experience for me. I am not an outdoorsy girl – unless taking pictures outdoors counts. I don’t hunt, I detest fishing. It’s just not my kind of store. But several people on my list love the place. My nieces hunt. I honestly don’t know where I went wrong:). So in we go, on a Saturday morning two weeks before Christmas. I had mentally prepared for the visit; telling myself it won’t be that bad and I can totally handle the challenge. We make the blustery walk to the front door past the kettle corn booth. For some reason there is always a frigid wind blowing when I go there. We walk thru the front doors and I feel a bit of panic. I told youngest son, “These are not my people.” Not a judgment, just an observation. We make a bee line for the apparel department. How hard can that be? After about 20 minutes we have found what we were looking for…kind of…not the color I wanted, but it will do.

Now to find the archery department. In the corner under the steps. Do you know how much people pay for arrows?!! No woman should ever be criticized again for an expensive pair of shoes or handbag. At least these items get daily use and are pretty functional. I could have bought two nice purses for the price of those arrows! We have an amateur archer who likes to shoot in the back yard. I am not paying that price! Eventually we find some that are somewhat reasonable and cut our losses.

I’m feeling pretty successful at this point. I have not broken out in hives. Or punched anyone. Success.

Then we need to find an ammo box. See, these are not my kind of gifts. I see guns and figure ammo must be close by. I find a nice man in a safari shirt and ask him where to find ammo boxes. Apparently, that is too general of a question. I’m faced with a barrage of options. To which I just stare blankly at him. I don’t know how to describe what was running thru my mind at that moment. But I’ll try:). It was kind of the same feeling I got when Oldest Son tried to describe how the Segways work. A cross between thinking I should understand and I don’t give a crap what you’re saying. It’s a feeling where I want to say, I have successfully raised three children, am very quick at learning technology, can perform may home repairs and I’m a fairly intelligent woman. I’m not a stupid person. But I could not feel more dumb than I do at this very moment. That’s how I felt as he asked me about the ammo box I was looking for. All I could think of was the metal containers we have seen while geocaching, so I say metal. They don’t carry them, but he will show me the plastic ones they do have. As we wind in and out of aisles, dodging 3,000 people along the way, we pass no less than 3 pallets of metal ammo boxes. I’m thinking, I’m sure that’s what they are. Why did he say they don’t have them? When we arrive at the lovely display of plastic boxes, I casually ask, “What are those?” pointing to the metal boxes. Apparently, they only carry metal boxes filled with ammo.

At this point I politely thank the safari-clad man and tell Youngest Son we must leave. I can’t breathe so well. Let’s find the check out and get out. Escape.

We wander toward the front of the store passing ridiculously long lines of people along the way. We pass the gun purchasing line just before the front check outs. And I am surprised to see, there is no one in line!? They have quite a few checkouts, but there is no line for any of them. This is very strange. Are the thousands of people milling around this store just window shopping? I look around like a shoplifter casing the place. But still, I see no lines. We head to the closest checker, continuing to scan for the crowd. I say to Youngest Son, “I feel like I’m cheating, it can’t be this easy.”

So prophetic.

Just then a sweet, gentle, safari-clad woman walks up to me and says there is a line. I realize her expression, though sympathetic, may have a hint of are-you-seriously-that-stupid mixed in. I babble apologetically that I thought there had to be a line, but I couldn’t find it. She points away from the checkouts. I’m still not seeing the line. The entire front aisle of the store is empty. I’m scanning and again having that feeling; wanting to say I am an intelligent person. Then I spot a lady standing stealthily amongst the clothing racks. She’s holding piles of merchandise. Slowly they start to appear, like those optical illusions. When you stare long enough you find the hidden objects. The apparel department is full of stealthy shoppers lurking in line! And they were all watching me. I sympathize with the deer.

I politely ask the safari-clad woman where she would like me to leave my selections. She gives me the blank stare. I explained that I was leaving. NOW. I can either drop them here or place them where you would like, but I am not going to be joining that line. There is nothing I needed that badly.

So to my family members whose wish list could have been satisfied at the world’s foremort outfitter, I’m sorry. Looks like you’ll be getting gift cards this year.

And I have no presents under my tree.

And it’s 9 days until Christmas.

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Thankful Thursday – Thoughtful People

I’m so thankful for all the thoughtful people in my life! I’m thinking of those people who take a moment out of their day to wish you a happy birthday or who remember what you told them the last time you chatted. Those people who check back in with you to see how things are going. I celebrated my birthday yesterday with so many happy messages from near and far on facebook and via text. It is amazing to think that many people took time to think of me. Especially knowing I’m terrible about doing it myself.

I am always touched when I have one of those conversations with someone who remembers those little details. The person who seems genuinely interested. They inspire me to be more mindful of others.

They make me smile.

They make me feel valued.

And I am thankful for them.

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Celebrating the Journey

Today is my birthday. I turn 44 today and I’ve been thinking, this is a good time to set a goal. I like milestones because they are like a clean slate. You can start anything, like a diet, or a new routine. You haven’t messed up yet:). I started thinking about the things I could do to commemorate this milestone. Ways I could embrace my age and grow me over the next year. I tossed ideas around with the family. They had some good ones. And some bad ones.

I wanted something that will be a challenge, but not a burden. I want to be pushed, but also have the freedom to be flexible. I thought about doing 45 new things, but that seems a lot like my 101 list that is very slow going. When I really thought about why I wanted to do it I decided it’s about improving my life. About becoming a better me. So, to that end, what can I do? I decided to pick a few things that I could do 45 times on my way to 45! After all, if I do it 45 times it should surely become a habit, right? I think so. And these would be good habits to have. 45 things comes out to about once a week with a few weeks off for life craziness.

So what to do 45 times? I came up with lots of ideas and the family had some suggestions too. Some of them didn’t even get considered, others needed tweaking. I settled on a list and I’m sharing it here…to keep me honest.

45 times by 45

  • Try new recipes – feel free to send me your favorites, I’m gonna need ideas!
  • Commit random acts of kindness – anytime, anywhere, really big or super simple!
  • Tweet – about anything or nothing, after all who’s really reading:)?
  • Blog about my life – there is so much material!
  • Capture photos and blog them – challenge myself to pick up the camera and capture the everyday of life, not just the special moments!
  • Get out of my comfort zone – not sure how I will do this one, it seems more like you just accept an opportunity when/if it comes. Hope they come often!
  • Finish projects – hard to believe, but yes, I’m sure I do have nearly that many things started!

So there you have it! I think it will make the next year interesting. I’m a little nervous. Some will definitely be easier than others. And I’ve just committed to 315 things. Is it a coincidence that there are the same number of things as there are days in the week? I don’t think I will go there.

And just to clarify the rules:

  1. It’s my birthday so I make all the rules:).
  2. An activity can count for more than one – like trying a new recipe for vegetables which would also get me out of my comfort zone!
  3. I will keep a log of what I do and track my progress – yes it will probably be a spreadsheet!
  4. I may blog about some of my adventures, but certainly not all of them – that would be 315 posts!!
  5. If I start a new project and finish it – that counts as finishing a project.
  6. I will hold myself to the spirit of the plan, not the letter of it. {Meaning, its ok to cut myself some slack if (ok, when) life gets crazy}
  7. I will push myself to not take the easy way out – not all the time anyway:).

That’s it. I’m ready. What do you think?

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Whirlwind Week

The last 10 days have been a blur. I simply haven’t had time to blog and that is a bummer. I had been pretty consistent all month between this blog and my photo blog. But, in the spirit of generosity, I cut myself some slack. It’s ok.  After all, this blog is about doing something fun that I enjoy – no pressure.

I thought I would share some of the things that have kept me busy this last week. 

I finally made a recycled book tree. I saw this idea on Pinterest of course and have been wanting to try it. I think it turned out great! It’s actually made from a paperback Pokemon book.

We did some shopping for a program the MS Society sponsors called Traveling Turkeys. They provide meals to families living with MS. We went shopping as a family. Our family shopping together is rather ridiculous! And embarrassing. I forgot my camera:(. Bummer. Although, it might be best it wasn’t caught on film.

Oldest Son and a friend waited in line at Best Buy hoping to get a couple TVs. He got in line at 3 pm on Thanksgiving day!! They didnt’ hand out tickets until after 10 pm. At around 7 they needed a bathroom break so we went and held their spots in line. I went back at midnight to help pay for some of his purchases…and spend 40 minutes in line. We got to bed at 3 am. Exhausted.

The next day the boys and I headed to Iowa – the day after Thanksgiving. We left Hubby home working:(. We got on the road late since the two people with driver’s licenses were up until 3 am. I thought I would drive half way and switch with Oldest Son. Instead, this is what I had all the way to Iowa!

I had my nails done! My niece is a fabulous cosmetologist:). She gave me a great new hair cut and did my nails. Even added a little glitter!

We hung out with family. I like hanging out with family. But I only took one picture all weekend! Fail.

We celebrated Mom’s birthday, had Thanksgiving dinner, and put up Christmas decorations. I told Hubby it was a crazy busy time. His reply, “When is it not chaos there?” He’s right! We always have lots to do when we go see my family. It’s crazy. And fun. I like chaos…for a while. We got home at 10 pm Sunday night and off to a crazy busy work week.

So that’s all. And that’s why I haven’t blogged for a week. I missed two Thankful Thursdays. I’ll catch up on them this weekend, while sitting in the rain at the outdoor soccer tournament:(. {Am I a terrible Mom for not wanting to go to any of the games?}

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