December 22: Things Are Just Things

Sometimes you just have one of those special weeks. Sometimes your mantle cracks and falls off the wall, taking your mirror, pillar candleholders, and everything else delicate and breakable with it. Sometimes your little boy is so excited to find a hand painted ornament from the Elf that he grabs said ornament and starts running towards the stairs to show you and his siblings. And he accidentally drops it. And it breaks. 

The lesson I've learned this week is that things--stuff, items, possessions--are just that: Things. They are just things. They are replaceable, expendable, and their broken, fragmented pieces can be swept up off the floor and thrown away. They are just things.

Things can be replaced. People cannot.

Things are not more important than people. I'm thankful to say that I communicated this to my son when he showed me the broken ornament. And although the Elf worked really hard on that ornament, at the end of the day, it's just a thing that can be replaced. And it was an accident, and he was broken hearted. He and his little heart are more important. Our reactions can be very indicative of what we value. Have you communicated to your loved ones, especially your kids, that they're more important then your things?

Christmas is about the Giver, not the gifts. The Person of Jesus Christ, who came down to earth as a small, helpless baby to save us all, not things. I can't think of a better reminder this week as Christmas is only a few days away.

December 18: Mexican White Chocolate Chip Cookies

"Mom? See those little, tiny clouds up there? I think God's up there with those little clouds, & He's telling all the good guys what to do." {Clayton}

And I discovered what my problem is with cookies today while I was elbow-deep in butter with a little helper on my hip. My issue is this: I tend to view recipes as "suggestions" instead of instructions to follow. I look at a recipe to get a vague idea of proportions, and then, thinking I know better, add a little more if this, a little less of that, and some other things I think will make it taste marvelous. 

And usually, with just a little dumb luck, it does taste better. At least I think it does, at any rate. But I suppose I don't really know because I never made the original recipe to have a true comparison. Anyways, there are probably certain types of recipes, cookies for instance, where you are more likely to screw it up if you vear off the beaten path.

But I'm probably both prideful and stubborn, because I did it again today. But today, however, I came up with something marvelously tasty. :) We will call them Mexican White Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Mexican White Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup {2 sticks} butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Dash nutmeg
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cream the butter & sugar in a mixer until light & fluffy. Add the vanilla & the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition & scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Combine the dry ingredients & add them gradually until fully incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips. Place dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet by the spoonful. Bake for ten minutes. Allow to cool for a minute on the sheet after removing from the oven, then transfer cookies to a cooling rack.


December 17: About Me

I got tagged but never participated in the "# things about me" on Facebook, so I figured I'd do it today. I was blessed to have a few hours by myself this afternoon to do some Christmas shopping, so I had some uninterrupted time to listen to my thoughts. :) Here's my day & a few things about me. 

I have the privilege of hanging out with these crazies during the day. Even though our income seems to be inversely related to the number of children we have, The Lord provides and has allowed me to be home. The kids drive me nuts sometimes, but they even it out by being pretty cute. I can't believe I have two kids in school already. I know that I'll blink and five years will have passed and they'll all be gone during the day. 

And even in that statement I'm making some assumptions. I'm assuming that they'll all still be here in five years. I'm assuming that I'll still be here. We don't know what tomorrow will hold, & I pray that this next year I'll assume less & be present, and grateful, more.

This is the first "real" haircut I've had in years, literally. I normally chop it off myself over the bathroom trash can. If you didn't know that, I'm glad, because it's probably not good if I look like I cut my own hair. I'm liking it! :)

I didn't have any kids for a few hours this afternoon. Weird. I haven't been out of the house during the day without the baby, I think, ever. Today was a first! Even if the other kids are away with the grandparents, I still usually have her. 

I really like Chip Ingram. I often listen to his podcasts while I'm driving during the day. He's a great speaker, author, and teacher who continually challenges me to be a better person & Christian. 

This one goes without explanation. But incase you're wondering, I accept $25 & $50 gift cards. ;)

I got to go in the Women's bathroom today. BY MYSELF. This, my friends, is a big deal. You see, I normally go to the family bathroom with my entourage in tow {i.e., Toby & Eva}. I didn't have to worry about anyone flushing the toilet while I was still on it or prematurely opening the door while I sit helplessly on the toilet five feet away, pleading with them to SHUT IT RIGHT NOW FOR THE LOVE and really wishing I had go-go-Gadget-arms. 

For all of you that can potty by yourselves on a regular basis, don't take that small blessing for granted. 

2 of the 4 articles of clothing I wore today were maternity clothes, but I'm not pregnant. Is that wrong? They were on clearance, & I can't pass up a good deal. I may or may not have dressed to match my boots. Also, everything I'm wearing is from Target. And I took this picture at Target. Ironic.

On a related note, I have been living in these leggings lately because, a) they are comfortable yet stylish, and b) most of my other pants are too big. Like all other women, I have struggled with self-image issues my entire life. I was never thin enough, pretty enough, or smart enough as far as I was concerned. But you know what? I've decided to start appreciating myself and my body for what it is NOW, today, instead of what it could be or should be at some point. 

Not that I need another winter coat, but I love this one at Target. I keep checking for it to go on clearance, but so far no luck. Then I saw Despicable Me 2, and I want it even more because Lucy wears one just like it! I feel like she's similar to me in some ways. Up until high school I wanted to be an FBI agent--that's like the Anti-Villain League, right? And, of course, she has red hair. And we seem to have the same taste in outerwear.

So does that make Ben Gru? Yes. Yes it does. He is so Gru. Lol.

Up until today I hadn't even started my Christmas shopping. A few hours with no kids, and I'm done!!

Their afternoon without me went very well, obviously. Worn. Out.

My time during the day at home can be divided into three categories: cooking/cleaning, entertaining Toby, and picking up after Eva. She's like a living, breathing "undo" button. I fold the clothes, she puts them back in the hamper. I put away the tupperware, she gets it back out. Tonight she even went so far as to put it back in the dishwasher. Oy... Fourth category: coffee. Lots of it.

I love this stovetop popcorn, and I promise you will, too!! It's the best popcorn in the whole world, and it's so easy to make! Melt 2 tablespoons butter & 3 tablespoons coconut oil in a heavy bottomed stock pot over medium-high heat with 1/3 cup popcorn kernels. Cover the pot and swish the kernels around every 10 seconds or so to prevent burning until the popcorn begins to pop. Don't move the pot once the popping begins. The kernels will pop furiously for a bit and then start to slow between pops. Turn the burner off as soon as the popping slows and let the pot sit there another minute or two until popping stops. Salt to taste and enjoy your buttery, wonderful popcorn!!

What's something I may not know about you? Do share! I enjoyed reading all the lists on Facebook! :)

December 9: Perspective

"Mom, the outside is PINK!"

Its all about perspective. If you're looking through a pink balloon, the world will be pink.

What lense are you viewing life through today? Kindness, joy, gratitude? Or is it time for a new lense?

December 2: Nothing Personal, Pottery Barn, But I'll Pass

I got the mail today for the first time in a week, and thankfully I did because I don't think the mailman could've fit another envelope in there if he tried. I completely forgot about the mail while we were sick and was a little shocked to find that it doesn't retrieve itself and make it's way to the kitchen counter. Apparently, you actually have to do that yourself.

Among the stack was a "welcome to your new home" packet from Pottery Barn, complete with a fat catalogue and some 15% off coupons. So I thought, ooooh yay! It's been forever since I shopped at Pottery Barn! I shall have a look at this catalogue to see if there's anything I'd like to get, because I have a coupon, after all. I'm not more then two pages in when I realize that, clearly, they've sent this catalogue to the wrong house. They must've mistaken me for someone who has, you know, money. To spend on stuff. Extra money just lazing around, not doing anything, that can buy things like $200 lamps and $129 throws and $700 mirrors. And it was also very obvious that they don't seem to share my love of turquoise-themed home decor, so that made the first realization a little easier.

I know that there was a day once upon a time that I really liked Pottery Barn, so now I'm wondering what changed. Sure, we now have 6 people living on 1 income as opposed to 2 people living on 2 incomes. That might have something to do with it. Maybe I didn't used to care about spending money? Maybe my tastes have changed? Maybe I've gotten more frugal over the years? Yes, I'm sure I have. We wouldn't have survived otherwise, so that was a necessity, not an option. So have I just resigned myself to the fact that I can't afford the lovely, expensive things in this catalogue? No. I think I've come to realize that I don't NEED them to have a beautifully decorated home, to be important, or to be happy. A brand that I used to consider a "status symbol" to aspire to is now overpriced and just okay.

Take this pillar candleholder, for example. I love mercury glass and was super excited to find these on clearance at Target {who DOES share my love of turquoise-themed home decor} last year for $6. Compare with almost the same exact thing in the Pottery Barn catalogue for $30. That's a savings of 80% by simply NOT shopping at Pottery Barn.

I suppose that what it really comes down to is where you place your value. Where do you get your worth? Is it through buying upscale, expensive things, cars, homes, or clothes? Do you need to prove to the world that you're somebody because you can afford all the latest toys and gadgets? Do you want people to think more highly of you because you shop at certain stores or carry certain purses? Would that candleholder on my mantle be any more valuable or look any more appealing if it had Pottery Barn stamped on the bottom {where no one can see it, I might add} as opposed to Target? Would it make me any more valuable because I have it? Now, there's nothing wrong with shopping at Pottery Barn or having nice things {and on that note, I have some 15% off coupons I won't be using if anyone would like them!}, but the issue comes in when you find your worth, status, and importance there.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just the beginning of the craziness that is the Christmas shopping season. Pay attention to where your money goes this holiday season, and it will give you a picture of what's in your heart. What will you invest in this month, and the rest of the year? What do you value? Where do you find your worth? It's not the stamp on the bottom of your candleholder, the grill of your car, the sole of your shoe, or the side of your handbag that defines your worth but the stamp on your heart from your Savior and Creator: Jesus. His stamp says that you're important, you're loved, and you were created intentionally and with a purpose. And His stamp is the only one that matters.

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry,whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:11-13