Thursday, December 31, 2009

Do you resolve?

I've never been one to make New Year's Resolutions. I just don't. Probably because when I decide something needs to change I immediately start working on that change. If I want to lose weight I start working on it. If I want to do better at cleaning my house I start working on it. If I want to eat better I start now. I don't wait until January 1. But for a lot of people I realize that this is a great time to start making those changes and set new goals. I see nothing wrong with it... it's just not something I personally wait for.

However... this year it may appear that I am making resolutions... but only because the time of change started in December and January 1 is a great time for me to start a few things I want to start.

For a while now I have been trying to get it together and have real time with God. Not these prayers I say as I am falling asleep. I want to sit down and read my Bible and learn. I've been saying that this change needs to happen for a looong time and I start and I get a little ways and then life happens and I quit and need to start again.

I've done the Bible in a Year before and have been debating whether or not to do it again this year. I've decided to start and do it with The Message paraphrase. I am going to do it in chronological order this time. I'm not going to drive myself crazy about it making sure I am always keeping up. If I miss a day I miss a day. If it takes me a year and a half then it takes me a year and a half. I just want a plan.

For a reading plan go HERE.

I also bought the Love Dare Devotional. It looks like a good one. Things with Mike and I are really good right now and I figure why not make things even better! It's the same thing as the Bible in a year... if I miss a day then I miss a day. Not going to drive myself nuts over it.



I've been reading a book called Today Matters by John Maxwell. I'm loving it. Basically it talks about how if we want to be successful then what we do today matters. The decisions we make today will determine what our future will be like.



I read some things in this book yesterday and I thought they were very fitting for this time of year with everyone making decisions about things they want to work on and change in their lives.

Maxwell says, "Nobody says that good decisions are simple, but they are necessary for success." He says that we need to make a decision ONE TIME and then just maintain it for the rest of our lives. An example would be how I decided not to eat sugar. I wouldn't have sweets and candy and hot chocolate. Things that fall in that category. I made the decision once and have only had to maintain it since. I don't have to decide at every party whether or not to have dessert... I made that decision months ago. Now all I have to do is say no. Is it easy? Absolutely not! Is it worth it? Yes!

You don't make decisions because they're EASY;
You don't make decisions because they're CHEAP;
You don't make decisions because they're POPULAR;
You make decisions because they're RIGHT.
(Theodore Hesburgh)


Every day is full of decisions and what we decide today will affect our tomorrow. Maxwell says that "The bookends of success are starting and finishing. Decisions help us start. Discipline helps us finish."

I encourage all of you make your decisions RIGHT even when they aren't EASY. Start well. Develop the discipline. Stick it out. Maintain those decisions. And finish well!

Good luck to you with the new changes you will be making in 2010!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cousins

Liza and Rayna played together so well while we were all home for Christmas. They laughed and made music and were just girls. It was cute. I enjoyed them.

They gave good hugs and it was super cute. Right before it was time for us to get our coats on to leave I decided that I needed a picture of their hugs. So cute!



Then I realized that I didn't really have any pics of my kids in front of a Christmas tree so since Mom's is bigger than mine I decided to try for some of those real quick. I told Liza and Rayna to put their arms around each other. How grown up do they look!?



Seriously. I loved these girls together. It's just too bad that we live in PA and my sister and her family live in FL.



I wish we lived closer.

When we were leaving I told Rayna that she could call Liza on the phone and talk to her when she missed her. Rayna said "Ok. But I don't always know what she says." I reassured her that it would be ok and I would help her understand.

The first few phone calls are going to be interesting!

Wifey Wednesday



It's Wifey Wednesday over at To Love, Honor and Vacuum. Today's questions is: what do you do with a packrat husband? Has anyone dealt with this before? Or what do you do if he's way messier than you are? How do you find a compromise?

I hate keeping stuff I don't need. We live in a small house with only so much storage space. I don't like clutter. Clutter depresses me. Clutter makes it hard to relax. When you keep too much stuff it's impossible to not have clutter. So I clean out. Often. I go through closets and dressers at least twice a year to get rid of stuff. I am always getting rid of toys that the kids no longer play with. Don't get me wrong... we still have a lot of stuff... just not stuff that we don't need or use. We have kids... clutter and kids don't go well together. It just makes more stress for me.

My husband comes from a family that keeps stuff. Everything. That's ok. Some people don't mind it like I do. But because I dislike it in my house so much Mike and I have had to come to some compromises along the way.

I've taught him to actually look through his closet and pull out things he hasn't worn for two years (especially things that are long out of style now) and things he won't ever wear again. When I look through my closet I pull out anything I haven't worn for a year... so I give Mike a little bit more time to realize he really isn't going to wear it.

There are some things that are nothing more than junk that Mike just can not seem to part with. He has two bins that he can keep stuff like that in and they go under the bed. If the bin is full and he has something else he needs to put in it he has to make a decision... he has to get rid of something to make room for the new item or he has to get rid of the new item. (The funny thing is that he completely forgets what he has in these bins and whenever he tries to clean them out a little bit he always gets surprised by the things he has!)

A rule I have is that we do not keep things that do not work. If something breaks and Mike decides he wants to be a guy and mess around and see if he can fix it that is fine. I just give him a deadline. I will usually say something like "Ok but if it is still here and not working in two months we are putting it in the trash." I figure if he REALLY wants to mess with it and try to get it working he would get to it sometime in the next two months. If he doesn't it is pretty likely that it will still be sitting around untouched a year later.

Mike has come a long way in the seven years that we have been married. I remember the first time that Mike decided to get rid of some clothes all on his own. I was ecstatic! I am pretty sure I rewarded him nicely. :) I understand that it is hard to change the ideas that you have grown up with but when you get married you have to compromise and come up with new ideas and plans that work in your new family unit. We have done this. I have changed my thinking about things that were important to Mike and he has changed his thinking about things that are important to me. We have allowed these changes to happen with patience and love.

We have a happier marriage because of these changes.

For more thoughts on this topic head on over to the Wifey Wednesday post.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Home Sweet Home

We finally came back home today! We are soooo tired.

It's just after 8:00 and the kids are in bed.

It's quiet!

You have no idea how good quiet sounds after spending a couple of days in a house with 13 other people... five of them being kids under 5 years old.

I think I could fall asleep real soon here.


And a random funny story that kind of goes with this post since pajamas have to do with bed time and sleep...

We put footy pajamas on Jason tonight. It's the first time we tried them on him this winter. I had a feeling he wouldn't like them since he always insists on taking his socks off before bed. Mike got Jason ready for bed and when they came out of his room Jason walked over to me wanting a hug.

He just sat on my lap with this really sad face and he kept sticking his footy feet out and saying "no wear dis." He said it over and over. I was hoping he would get over it but he didn't. When I thought he was about to go in to an all out cry I decided that Jason would win this one. I changed his pajamas and his feet are now free.

From now on...

...there will be a fee for my pictures.

Let me explain.

I'm not talking about photo shoots that I do for people. Those are still free. No charge. (Sometimes people pay me but I don't require it. My friend just sent me a gift card for a full body massage as a thanks for taking her family pictures! Awesome! I won't turn something like that down!) Ok. Photo shoots. Free.

I'm talking about the other every day pictures that I take. You have no idea how many times I have heard family or friends say things like:

"I'm just going to leave my camera at home because Laura will have hers."

"Hey Laura, can I get all your pictures?"

"I'll just get pictures from Laura."

"Can you put those on a disc for me?"

Or right after I take a picture... "You HAVE TO send me a copy of that!"


I understand that not everyone enjoys taking pictures like I do. That's ok. But PLEASE do not leave your camera at home just because I will have mine. Please bring yours too if you want some pictures.

Here is the problem. I'm putting together a photobook online of my family's Christmas. Everyone decided they want one. That's fine. I was making one for myself anyways. BUT... as I'm sorting through photos (including ones that weren't from my camera) I realized that there aren't any photos of me! (Apart from the family photo shoot.) Ok... I exaggerate a little... there is one of me in the snow with the kids that my sister took on my camera and Mike snapped a few of me that weren't very good and they are from an angle where you can't really see my face. Oh... and I'm randomly in the background of a few.

So we have this nice family time together with tons of pictures and it's almost like I wasn't there. :( But everyone wants my pictures. (Which I don't mind giving them to them but it takes time.)

This made me decide that from now on I am having a fee... You want my pictures then you must take and get to me three pictures that I am in. It can't be that I just randomly happened to be in the photo behind the kid you were taking a photo of. You must purposely make sure to get three pictures of me. They don't have to be amazing. I can edit. Or I will just appreciate having a picture of me! I don't care if the light or composition is all wrong. I JUST WANT TO HAVE EVIDENCE THAT I WAS THERE TOO!

So there you have it friends and family. Don't expect free pictures anymore. :) Get your cameras out and use them. :)

Monday, December 28, 2009

The deal is over.

Remember the no sugar deal I had with my sister? We started it in June. We agreed to go until January 2nd. The idea of that was to help us get through the holidays. It's always easier to say no to temptation when you have a little challenge, competition and accountability.

Well...

We were all hoe for Christmas and let me just tell you about my mom's house. You never get hungry at mom's house. There is soooo much food! So many desserts and snacks and sweets. All those sweets always sitting on the counter in the kitchen. Visible. Wanting someone to eat them.

It's hard.

It was easier when I had Lisa saying no too. Yeah... I said HAD. She gave in. On Christmas morning she saw the sweet rolls and decided she was done. She handed me five bucks and had herself some sugar.

I was all on my own.

But I'm still doing it! I'm not eating the sugar. It's not easy. (I'm still at my mom's and there is still so much!) But it's worth it. I just keep reminding myself that I'm in a size six now.

I remembered that my mom has a scale that reads correctly so I got on it today. It says that I am up a pound and a half BUT that was in the middle of the afternoon. I usually weight myself in the morning. SO... I probably haven't really gained any.

Not too shabby!!!

And I have to say that is pretty excellent considering I usually gain about five pounds while at my mom's house during a holiday.

GO ME!

Just the four of us.

Family pictures are such a rare thing for us. Very rare. And usually when I get one it is with the self timer and the tripod and it is so hard to get the kids looking at the camera... or at least some where in the general direction.

When we took all the family pictures the other night I handed someone else my camera so we could get a few and hope for a good one. I got a few that I love.





Favorite!



I have no idea what was going on here but I am so happy that it got snapped. It is such a fun picture and so typical of how I often feel.



I love my little family!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Let me introduce you...

...to my family!!



It's a rare thing to have EVERYONE together at the same time so we decided we better get some family pictures. We set up in the living room... the only place in the house that had the possibility of working for a group this size. We had to do some rearranging but it was worth it.

I'll go in order from oldest to youngest.

This is Linda and her family. They live in Florida and I don't get to see them very often.



Can someone say CUTE!!!?



Then I came along... and you all know my family. It's nice to have a decent picture. I'll show you some more another time.



Tony and his wife Grace live in Texas. They are pregnant with their first!! Too bad I probably won't get to see the kid until it is two. :(



Dave lives close to home with his family. I get to see them a little more often. Rory is an absolute doll!






Lisa is next. She lives in Florida near Linda. And Matt is the baby of the family... he's 18 now.



All of this because two people fell in love a long time ago and stayed together even when times were tough.



Thanks Mom and Dad for being a great example of what it looks like to make a marriage and a family work!



I think this has been the best Christmas ever!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

People EVERYWHERE!

My entire family is here. All of us. In one house. One small house. That's a lot of people in a little space.

Thankfully Dave doesn't live too far away so that he and his wife and daughter can go home to sleep. That leaves only fourteen of us in the house at night.

Me, Mike, Liza and Jason are all sleeping in the same room. Jason is in the pack-n-play. Liza is in her tent. I thought it would be good to have a divider between them. Mike and I get the bunk beds... but we always just share the bottom one.

It's tough sharing a room with the kids. They have never slept in my room. I'm the only one out of the four of us that can breathe silently while I sleep. The other three are deep breathers so all night I get to listen to a chorus of breathing. It makes me think of the cartoons where there are a couple characters in a bed all snoring out some kind of rhythm. It's annoying. I was thinking about getting some ear plugs but after one night of no sleeping I was too tired to hear anything the next night.

I thought about sleeping somewhere else but there was nowhere to go. Tony and Grace were in a bedroom with a twin bed and an air mattress. No more room in there. Dad was in the small bedroom. Linda and her family were in my parents bedroom. Matt was on the couch. Mom and Lisa were on an air mattress. That's it. No more room. I can't even sleep on the couch because it is taken.

There are seriously people EVERYWHERE!

But it's fun. I'm enjoying it. It's kind of like living in the dorms in college... usually when you want to do something there is someone around who is willing to join you. I like it.

I will miss this come Monday when everyone goes back home. :(

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Presents

We let the kids open their Christmas presents on the morning of Christmas Eve since we were leaving and there wasn't room in the car to pack all their presents. We told the kids it was Christmas. They don't know the difference. They don't even know that there is a Christmas Eve yet.

Liza saw her pile and she would pick up a present and say "What is this!?" To which I had to reply "Open it and see." Duh. A couple of times she told me she got a box. And to be honest... I think she would have been fine if she had just got some boxes.

Liza got playdoh...



...a "compeeter"...



...books, a LarryBoy DVD, coloring book...



...a warm fuzzy sweater and some noisy musical instruments. (What was I thinking!??)


The first thing that Jason opened was one of his new trucks. He was no longer interested in the other presents. I had to beg him to open them.





We did eventually get him to open the rest of the gifts. He got a "bup ba" (that's a football)...



...and a few other things. His big gift was a basketball hoop but I think I have to take it back and get a different one. I thought I got one that was adjustable... but I didn't. Need to get back out there and look for the one I thought I was getting.

Mostly Jason just wanted what Liza got. There were some tense moments of "mine" but other than that it was a good morning.






Another successful Christmas.

Mom and Dad's Christmas Surprise

Confession: I'm a liar. I've been lying for weeks. Maybe even months. It's almost becoming easy. I lied to Mom and Dad. A lot.

But I had to.

I have three brothers, two sister, three in-laws and three nieces. We realized that everyone was planning to be home for Christmas. Everyone but Lisa. She couldn't afford a plane ticket because her hours had been cut from 40 to 20. But we knew we needed to get her home so we started talking about chipping in for her ticket and looking in to options. It was discussed with Dad... he said just make it his Christmas present and he wouldn't tell Mom so she would be surprised.

Being the genius that I am I realized that we could surprise Dad too and that is where the lies started. We were all in on it. We told him Lisa couldn't get off work to come home so it wasn't going to happen. But really Linda was booking Lisa's flight and collecting money. The gift was bought.

That was weeks ago. We have been telling lies ever since.

Lisa was flying in to Pittsburgh late Christmas Eve. I was to pick her up and bring her out on Christmas. Then I saw the weather. It was calling for freezing rain and I was afraid we wouldn't get home. So we got to work again... we paid some extra money and got Lisa on an earlier flight, called all the brothers and sisters and told them to come up with a reason to be at Mom and Dad's on Christmas Eve around 6:00 because we were coming.

(Dave's mother-in-law is up for mother-in-law of the year award. When she heard about the change in plans she told Dave to come here and that she would be mad if he showed up to her Christmas Eve dinner. That's a mother-in-law to have!)

Anyways... we dropped Lisa off at the bottom of the road so we would have time to get in the house before she walked in. Everyone was ready with their cameras and Mom and Dad had no clue what was coming. I was like a kid that couldn't wait for Christmas.

We were all standing around when Lisa walked in the front door. She had her video camera on and Linda was on the phone since she couldn't get here in time. I'm pretty sure it was the best gift I was ever a part of giving... the gift of the entire family being together for the first time in years.

The video is pretty much all over the place because Lisa got attacked with hugs but it's worth watching. My mom was so surprised!














Something funny happened to my dad... he had this watery stuff in his eyes. Not quite sure what was up with that. :)









We showed up just in time for dinner.

I'm not sure that we will ever be able to top this gift. And I am super excited to be with my family for three more days!! This is a great Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Randomosity?

A got a postcard in the mail the other day from the OB/GYN. It said...

"It is time for your annual appointment. Please call our office at xxx-xxx-xxxx. We look forward to seeing you!"

Yes it truly did have an exclamation point. I'm glad at least someone is excited about it because I certainly am not.

*********************************************

My family is coming in for Christmas. Actually some of them are already there! At my parents! We are heading to my parents this evening. I'm pretty sad that my sister Lisa will be the only one who isn't able to make it. :( But... the others that will be there... some of them I haven't seen for about a year and half! I'm so excited I might pee my pants!

*********************************************

You may remember that a while back I took some photos for a very lovely girl who wanted to participate in the Miss Butler County Pageant. When I asked her why she wanted to do the pageant she said "I think it will be fun. What girl doesn't want to be in a pageant?!" (Or something really close to that. And honestly I have never dreamed of being in a pageant haha... but it seemed to fit her well.) She didn't want to spend a lot of money on it and she heard about me through my sister-in-law and that is how she came to me for pictures. Weelllllll... SHE WON!

Miss Butler County!


*********************************************

Merry Christmas to all of you in the blogger world!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What is Christmas?

What is Christmas
by Michelle Medlock Adams


This is my favorite Christmas book this year. I love reading it with the kids. It is simple and the message is great.

It starts out with:

What is Christmas, anyway?
Why do we celebrate?
Why is December 25
A very special date?

Then it goes through all things Christmas... is it about Christmas trees? Christmas cards? Pretty lights? The Christmas play? Gifts? Santa Clause? The food? The snow? Santa's list? The songs? And so on.

All that leads to this...

No, that's not what Christmas is about!
All of these things are really nice
And superduper fun.
But Christmas is much more than that-
It's all about God's son.

The book then talks about Jesus and God's greatest gift of love, that we celebrate Christmas because it is Jesus birthday.

It ends with...

Okay, now I get it.
Santa Claus and Christmas trees
And presents are okay,
But Jesus is the real reason
We have a Christmas Day!


I really love this book because you know what... candy canes and Christmas trees and Santa Claus ARE ok... as long as we don't let them take priority and place above Jesus Christ, our Savior, the real reason for celebrating.

I know it's a little bit late for this year but you can order it HERE and have it ready for next year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Get out of bed sleepyhead!

Jason took a really long nap today and after three hours and fifteen minutes I decided to wake him up so that he would sleep tonight. I went in to get him and found that he was just too cute to wake him up before taking a few pictures.



Taking pictures woke him up.



Sleepy face. :)



Funny face.



Liza then came in his room and started asking him questions...
"Do you remember me Jason? I'm Liza. I your sister. You remember me??"



To which Jason answered "no" and Liza said "Yes you dooo!"

I asked Jason if he was ready to get out of bed and he replied "NNNOO!" He gets a mean and nasty look on his face when he really means it.



He played in his bed a while longer and he fussed a bit about who knows what.



Look at his mouth... he looks like a piranha.



But then he was his happy little self standing up and rocking the crib.



I love him!

Why?

Last night Liza asked me a question, I answered and IT HAPPENED!

She asked WHY? :(


I don't know if I am ready for this yet!

Two of my friends have daughters that are only a month younger than Liza and supposedly these girls have been asking "why" for a while now so maybe I should just be ok with the fact that I got a few extra "why free" months.

But still! The worst part was when I answered her why she asked why again!

aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

I guess I will just have to see how creative I can get... or maybe see how early I can teach her to read and google her own answers to why.

Monday, December 21, 2009

i heart faces... Christmas Traditions



This week at i heart faces they are taking a break from their weekly contests to give us all the chance to share "our story in photos"... holiday traditions.

This is the seventh Christmas that Mike and I have celebrated since we have been married and this is the first time we have done anything that might develop into a tradition. We never decorated before. Never exchanged gifts. (We did do something nice and fun together... that was our gift.)

This year the kids were pretty excited about Christmas and learning about the lights and trees from everyone else. They are also at the age where they can both listen and stay out of things. So we decided that this would be our first year for a tree.

We started our decorating day by making stockings and a few other simple crafts.











(Hooray for having a husband who isn't afraid to pick up the camera and snap a few nice shots!!)




After we were done crafting we took a break while the kids took a nap. When they woke up we got the tree out... the lovely, three foot, fake tree. :)

The kids were so excited. Jason called all those wonderful shatter proof ornaments "balls" and the two of them worked together to put almost every ornament right on the bottom of the tree.






Liza topped the tree off with an angel that she made at her little preschool program. She's so proud of it!






The finished tree... I thought about moving the ornaments around and spreading them out after the kids went to bed but I didn't. It's their tree. They play with it anyway and I would have to fix it every night.



And there you have it... our first time decorating for Christmas. It was fun! We all enjoyed it. And I think we will just have to do it again next year.

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