As you come to him, the living Stone--rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him--you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 2: 4-5

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Easy Like Sunday Morning...

Sundays can be tough around our house, with all the rushing and hurrying and having to get everyone up and out, but the past few Sundays or so have been better, nice even. Now I still don't have a charger for my camera battery (but it has been ordered, thank you Daryl!) so these were taken with Maddy's camera.

Today, for the very first time since she was in the third grade, Sarah sang in church. She did such an amazing job and we were so proud. We are hoping that this leads to more. She has been blessed with such a gift. The picture is from far away and it is dark, but if you squint and tilt the screen a little, you can see her!
A picture from a nice Sunday a few weeks ago. It wasn't from this week, but I found it on Maddy's camera and couldn't resist. Such a sweet pictures of the grown up.
My little thumb sucker...I love the way that the rest of her fingers stick straight up. OK, I'll be honest. I just love everything about her!
And last, a picture of me that I don't necessarily love, but I sure do love the young lady with me!
Two more weeks until winter break...I am counting down the days, hours, minutes, even seconds! Tune in tomorrow for One Year to an Organized Life: Slow Learner Edition!

Friday, January 29, 2010

Out of the mouths of babes... just gotta love--or at least appreciate the honesty and lack of tact in a child. They love you no matter what, but let yourself go a bit, forget to wear makeup or get a bad haircut, and they'll be sure to let you know. Or...try really hard to better yourself, and they'll let you know just how far you've yet to come. Thus was the case this morning, with both Daryl and me.

Truth time 1: Daryl has been rocking the Biggest Loser competition at his school. He has been working so hard and has lost 16 pounds in the last three weeks. He looks great and he feels better. And...he is, thus far, the Biggest Loser at his school, which if he keeps it up, comes with a hefty cash prize. So on the way to work, Hannah announces that if she "keeps eating and eating that she will get as fat as you Daddy!" When Daryl stopped laughing and tried to defend himself, she very matter of factly said to him, "You are getting fatter and fatter and everyone knows it!" To her credit, she did follow it up with "No one loves you like me, Daddy." Which is so very sweet, and probably very true!

Truth time 2: I used to be all about dressing for work. My clothes would be color coordinated with my jewelry and my shoes, my hair was always done, make up perfect, nails done. I enjoyed it--the shopping, the dressing, the feeling good about myself, and of course that amazing feeling of wearing a super cute pairs of shoes. That was BC. Before Charlotte. Since Charlotte has arrived, things have changed. I roll out of bed with twenty minutes to get dressed and ready before I have to get the kids up and start geting the little girls up and changed and fed and ready to go with Daryl. I could get up earlier, but I cherish my nice warm bed and the time in it. Once up, more often than not, I have a child on my lap, and so the make up gets put on in the car. In the dark. Without a mirror. Eek. And I am tired and I hurt and I just look old. And the being tired and hurting and looking and feeling old has really done a number on my mood. So, I decided last night that I would get up and make the effort this morning. I did my nails last night. Wore matching jewelry. Did my hair--which because of the lovely postpartum thinning of the already thin hair--took some effort. Some teasing even (yes...I do realize that this makes most everyone reading this cringe, but man I had good 80'.s hair, and those mad skills come in handy every once in a while). So I am there in my classroom feeling good, feeling pretty for the first time in ...I can't even remember when...and in walks Emiley. This cute little imp of a girl who is one big bundle of messy curls that escape every headband, hair bow, and ponytail holder she tries. She looks up at me with these big brown eyes and says, "Mrs. Stone, your hair..." And I knew what was coming. A "it looks so pretty" and a hug...first graders are good for things like that. But was "Mrs. Stone, your hair....I think you forgot to brush your hair. It's so tangly!" Sigh. And I didn't even get the "No one loves you like me" compliment afterwards to soften the blow.

Kids,...gotta love 'em. But no matter what anyone says (and yes, girls have said it too)...I'll always love 80's hair!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oh, My Heart....

Maddy to the rescue!!! Maddy so sweetly lent us our camera for today as we headed up to Toccoa Falls for a campus visit. It was really a good day, and I think I handled it well. That could have something to do with the fact that I had a mini breakdown last night as I pictured my baby leaving college, out on his own, getting married, and then heading off to worlds unknown to spread the Gospel. All I had to do was go get Sarah from Spivey. Delilah was on the radio waxing sentimentally and playing sweet songs about a mother's love and I was toast. Sigh.

Anyways, with that out of my system, I looked forward to today and I ended up enjoying the day with my two men. I left there excited for Josh and that magical time yet to come.

Here's Josh and Daryl before we hit the road.

Notice anything strange about this picture? Yep, that would be the GPS charger hanging out the window. As soon as we pulled out of the driveway, I so gracefully dropped it in my water, rendering it useless. Unfortunately, this groundbreaking technique was unsuccessful.
Here we are at the admissions office. You can't really tell in the picture, but outside the office there was a sign welcoming him personally to campus!
We spent the day on campus. We started in chapel where we had some great worship time and a good message about organizing your time to include the most important things. From there, Josh sat in on a class while Daryl and I meandered about the bookstore and student center before we went and hid out in the warm car. We had lunch in the student center, met with the admissions counselor, and then had a campus tour with our guide, Ricky.
It was cold, but oh so beautiful. Here is Toccoa Falls. It is higher than Niagara Falls and just breathtaking.

And here is us in front of it--Ricky, our guide, took the picture.

This is the men's dorm. Part of the back of it is under reconstruction after the recent flooding.

The World Mission Center, newly built, where Josh would have most of his mission courses.

So now we pray. It is rather expensive, and way beyond our means, but we know that nothing is impossible for God and we feel confident that if this is where He is leading Josh, then He will, somehow provide. He loved it, and we did too. I can totally see him there. It is a very small school and everyone knows each other. The average class size is 15, and the professors are involved with the students. I really enjoyed the Christian spirit on the campus, knowing that the students and professors alike shared a love for God.
Patience, I think I mentioned, is not one of my virtues. But now we wait. Please pray with us as we wait on the Lord and we listen for his leading.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Getting Organized--Week 4

So. This past week, I went through and I did a quick inventory of the kitchen as outlined in the book, and I tossed things I know we didn't use anymore. My big accomplishment for the weekend was to clean out the pantry. And boy did I clean. I took everything out, scrubbed the shelves, purged my heart out, then put it all back in--in an organized fashion, of course. I even took before and after pictures to post here.
But, in what has to be a classicly ironic twist of fate, we have lost the battery charger for the camera. Sometime between Christmas and now, it has disappeared. Don't know how. Don't know when, but have my suspicions that it happened sometime during the time when Lizzy and all of her various lights took up residence in our living room. So, because of our disorganization, I can not show you pictures of my developing organizing skills. As I said before, sigh. Heavy heavy sigh.
This is the first time that being disorganized has really and truly impacted my life in a way that deeply mattered to me. Sure, the hectic mornings and the frantic search for socks that match, the getting to school and realizing I left my lesson plan book on the computer desk, and the never ever ever having a clean house bug me. A lot. But this bugs me more. Because not only can I not post my pictures, but I also can not take pictures tomorrow. Tomorrow we are taking Josh to look at Toccoa Falls College. We're meeting with an admissions counselor, taking a campus tour, meeting with financial aid, and Josh gets to sit in on a class and chapel. And it will all be undocumented. And while Josh is probably secretly jumping for joy that I will not be taking his picture on a college campus in front of all the college students ( I would have DIED), it is making me very sad.
But anyways. Back to the organizing. I did realize three very important truths during the three hours it took to clean out the pantry.
1. We love peanut butter in this house, as evidenced by the 5 different jars I found, and we think that we will indeed use the very last little bit of peanutty goodness at the bottom that you can never get without getting your fingers dirty. Five is the number of jars that I kept, people. There were five I got rid of. I do believe that might qualify as a sickness.
2. We obviously live under the delusion that we use a lot of powdered sugar. We have five almost full bags of it. And for the life of me, I can't remember anything that we have ever used it for. NOTHING.
3. Throwing things away feels good. Once I got started, I didn't want to stop. The kids came by and pleaded, "You're not throwing this away, are you? Mom!" Daryl came by and warned me, "Be careful with what you throw away. You'll want it as soon as you do!" But I held firm and didn't let them deter me from my purpose. I was a woman on a mission and I had three bulging trash bags to prove it.
This week (or should I say, this coming weekend) I tackle the kitchen. The entire kitchen. I am a little intimidated. We have a lot of junk. I am a little scared. Those cabinets are really deep, and they haven't been cleaned out since we moved in. Eight years ago. I wonder if I will really be able to set apart the time to get it done. The big girls, who had sworn that they would take care of the little girls so I could get this done, thought that this included bringing Charlotte in and saying, "Look at Mommy. That's what you want, don't you? Look at her reaching for you Mom! Isn't that sweet? Oh Charlotte, don't cry!" and also uber-important homework assignments that they just remembered.
So we shall see. I will report back here next Monday. I may have pictures to impress and inspire you. Who knows? I may have impressed and inspired myself. I do know that I will give it the ol' college try. Do my best. Stay true to the path and all that jazz.
I still think it would be more fun with a trip to the Container Store...

Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Patience Prudence"

I don't know which one of my parents said this to me, but I remember being told this...a lot. This doesn't surprise me in the least. I struggle with patience now, so I am sure that I did as a child.

Now don't get me wrong. There are certain situations in which I have incredible patience. In my classroom, for example. I have great patience with those little ones, realizing that in many ways, they are indeed, despite my urging, "acting like a first grader." Five and six year olds wiggle, they talk, the live life out loud and therefore have a problem with impulse control when they are excited. They live for their "snack" and can't help but focus on the fly in the room, despite the thrilling and compelling science lesson going on in the front of the room. It is just the way that they are and I know this and because of this, I am patient.

I am patient with my children (except when I am pregnant. HA!) I do not get uptight waiting for them to reach some milestone, for I know from experience that they will, regardless of how much I push or worry. I rarely get impatient with their behavior, because I believe every behavior is motivated by emotion, and I've been said to have "too much compassion" for them. I want to understand them, make them feel secure, encourage them.

In other areas, I have zero patience. I hate traffic. I repeat. HATE IT. Same with standing in line, waiting at the doctor (except the pediatrician, for some reason), sitting in pointless meetings.

I have a hard time waiting on God. After I got divorced, I wanted my happily ever after...and as soon as it was official. I took matters into my own hands, thinking that I could find the one that God had designed for me. This led to a few years worth of disastrous dates (think toe licking dentist) and bad relationships (think "Chip the Street Fighter"--nicknamed by Josh--who actually sprayed my feet with Windex when he felt them too dirty), and many more--which were good for some good giggles now, but little else. Once I found Daryl, I got impatient waiting on him too. Yes, it is true that I had booked the church before he even proposed. And once we got married, good grief did I get impatient waiting on a child. I wanted to take that into my own hands as well, but my wise husband convinced me to wait on the Lord, and looking back I see His perfect timing in it all.

But perhaps I have the least amount of patience with myself. Take this diet, for example. Excuse change. I've written very little about it lately, because really, very little has been happening. I'm stuck. An infamous plateau. For.a.month. And each day I get on the scale and it reads JUST THE SAME, I struggle with giving up, or going to extremes, both choices unhealthy ones. I don't understand it, frankly. Scientifically, it's easy. Take in fewer calories than you burn. I've done not only that but more! I've cut out most processed foods, aside from whole wheat bread and pasta. I've cut wayyyy back on the carbs. I've limited my diet coke. I've upped my water. I try to stay moving during the day. I eat lean protein for breakfast, all fruits and veggies for lunch, thanks to a great lunch program at school, and lean protein and veggies for dinner. I have my two servings of fat free dairy daily--yogurt and skim milk. I even get in my healthy oils. And here I am stuck. Doing all the right things for the right reason this time--to become healthier. Not for a dress size. Not for a trip to the beach. Not to look better. To live longer. To have more energy. To lower my blood pressure.

And what do I get? A scale that won't move. Blood pressure that is pretty much the same--low when controlled by medicine, high without. Little change in energy. Stuck at 15 pounds gone. Which, really, I do realize is better than a gain. Because if I ate whatever I want, whenever I wanted? I would easily be a TLC special.

In the dictionary, one of the definitions of patience is "being steadfast despite opposition or adversity" and in the Bible, patience is often mentioned in the same passage with perseverance. And with it often comes mention of a promise. A promise that perseverance and patience will result in honor from God, a leading in His will, an answer from Him. And while I realize that my struggles with my weight may seem insignificant to some, it has become HUGE for me over the years, and something that I have brought to the Lord over and over.

So I will persevere. Be patient. And wait. Knowing that God will honor my efforts. Or not. But if not, that there is a reason.

Friday, January 22, 2010

See this????

This sweet little teddy bear? Cute, huh? Precious. Adorable. Loveable even.
But terrifying? Yup. TERRIFYING. My sweet little Char Char, who lays contentedly on my shoulder when I vacuum or blow dry my hair or stand by Daryl while he is using the power saw, was absolutely terrified by the sight of this teddy bear. Great screams from the baby who until this point had only screamed like that thrice--at birth, and at each of her two and four month appointments when she got her shots. Yet another way that she is diffrerent from her big sister, who loves anything "stuffed." Tomorrow she will be 5 months old and every day, she shows us more and more of the unique being that God has created her to be.
Love her, love her, LOVE HER.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Well, what do you know? My mom was right!

There are countless things I remember my mom saying as I was growing up. "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." "Into every life, some rain must fall." "If wishes were horses, then beggars would ride." "Que sera, sera." They weren't all so cliche. Some were more practical. "If they don't like you for you, then they're not worth it." "Never buy white." "Some day you will understand."

There are two things that I distinctly remember her saying to me, over and over, that rang particularly true today.

1. "Some day, when you are a mother, you too will buy shoes from Target!" This was after I made fun of her Target tennis shoes, preferring my (and I am dating myself here) Tretorns and my K-Swiss, tightening the scrunchie in my hair. What she did not tell me was that not only would I buy shoes from Target, but that it would be an absolute treat to do so. Now, I have been a Target shopper since becoming a mom. And the shoes--especially the summer shoes--just make me giddy. I have sandals in every color of the rainbow and flip flops like you would not believe. Heels of varying height, color, style. Clogs, potato shoes, loafers, tennis shoes. I....LOVE....SHOES. Unfortunately, since having Charlotte, most of my shoes do not love me. Maybe my feet changed. Maybe I am just getting old., I experienced pure heaven on earth. THE most comfortable pair of shoes that I have ever had on my feet. And yes...they came from Target. Feast your eyes. That's right. Suede moccasins lined with faux fur. They sell them at American Eagle for $40 and they are all the rage with the "young folk" around here. Maddy got a pair after Christmas. Sarah liked them so much she went to Target and got them for a whopping $9.00. I couldn't find my brown slip on shoes this morning, so she offered to let me wear them. At first I was like, "Those are Grandpa slippers!" But then I put them on. Words can not express. Seriously.

2. "Never put it in writing if you don't want everyone to know." The first time she said this, I had gotten the babysitter in trouble by pulling her letter to her boyfriend out of the trash can and reading it and then tattling to my mom. Yesterday, I wrote the third installment in my "One Year to an Organized Life" experiment. When I wrote it--actually, whenever I post--I never anticipate anyone ever reading it aside from my mom and mother-in-law. I was blown away when I checked and there was a comment from no other than Regina Leeds, the author of the book and the Zen Organizer! I was almost giddy with excitement--both because I really didn't think anyone read this and because she is like a real life published author. Not that I didn't want her to read it, but there were times where my secret(not so secret anymore) inner smart aleck shone through!

And yes, Mom, that I am a mother...I do understand. And while I still do buy and wear white, I always regret it. HA!

and last....some random Charlotte and Hannah cuteness...just because it has been a while.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Getting Organized- Week 3

The first two chapters were like psychotherapy for the disorganized. Why are you so disorganized? What deep psychological issues are fueling your messiness? What did your mother do when you were an infant that has made you disorganized and affect your family forever? (just kidding on the last one, mom!)

Anyways, in week three, we take baby steps into reorganization. We're supposed to set the timer for 15 minutes and do an inventory of the kitchen--what can be thrown out, replaced, put to better use. Then, make a list of what you need to buy. Yes, that's As in spend money. With no cheaper options suggested and heavy free advertising for The Container Store.

So, according to Regina Leeds, I need the following:
shelf creators
shelf dividers
drawer organizers
drawer liners
two-step step stool
lid storage unit
grid totes
spice rack (s)
roll out drawers
under the sink caddies

And, I can color coordinate them for each room, or just stick with clear (and can I say that the inner OCD wannabe LOVES this idea)

I, however, did a quick mental inventory, and think I need to find cheap (or free!) versions of these:
lid storage unit-whether it be for tupperware or for the pots and pans, my lids are everywhere. And as with the mystery of lost socks, I have about 40 lids and 10 pieces of tupperware type stuff, nolne of them matching.

spice rack-we have tons of spices, thanks to me never remembering if we have something when I am at the store and Daryl's excitement in preparing for the international dinner at church. We keep them in the cabinet next to the stove and every time we look for one, they usually fall out. We have too many for a traditional spice rack. Ideas?

Cleaning caddies-they suggest putting them all in color coded caddies, by room of use. I don't want to spend the $$ to do this. Right now, they are all stored under the sink or in one of three high shelves in the pantry.

We are also supposed to organize the pantry this week. If you have ever been to our house, you know that we have a HUGE pantry. What you haven't seen if you have been to our house is the inside of it which is embarrassingly cluttered. This will be a huge undertaking, and I am thinking that it will be next weekend before I get around to it.

But I will. It would be so much more fun, though, if I could make a trip to The Container Store.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Broken Into Beautiful

I have a great life. I have a husband that I adore, and children that are happy, healthy, and so very loved. I have a job doing what I love, a roof over my head, and while not financial abundance, financial security. I have a great family, extended family, and church family. And except for the pesky blood pressure problem, I am relatively healthy. Because I feel so blessed, so content with my life, it is so easy to forget that really, under it all, I am broken. That it has not always been this way. Easy to forget the hurt, the pain, the struggles. The mistakes, the shame, the heartache.

And then come the reminders. The times when, like this weekend, where an innocent comment can bring it all back. Can make me feel, once again, that I am not good enough. Not deserving. Everything that I have tried so hard not to be. That all the feelings and emotions that I thought I had buried, worked so hard to erase or change, are still there underneath it all.

And I realize I am still broken...will probably always be, just a bit. I realize that there will probably never be a time when I can fully forget. I hope for it to be so, like it never happened, like my life has always been as it is now--full, happy, indeed beautiful. I pray for it to be so. Lord, let me forgive and forget. Let me judge my worth not by my past, by what others may have said or done, but by my worth to You.

But even so...God is good. Knows when my heart cries, knows when my heart needs a salve. Last weekend, we got our rehearsal CD for our Easter program. I didn't think to listen to it until today on the way to church, with only the little girls in the car with me and no one to complain about having to listen to it instead of the radio. And this was the first song that I heard, even though it is the third on the disc. And it spoke to my heart. The kind of reminder I needed to let me know that regardless of what has happened in the past, that God can turn broken into beautiful. That He has.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Madeline!

Last year, when my youngest "big kid" turned 12, I surprised her by taking her picture when I woke her up for school. So young, so sleepy.

This year, she looks a little bit more prepared, don't you think? A true sign of being a teenager--always being photo ready.

Maddy's cake. With Sarah's cake, I had two whole days to bake and decorate it. With Maddy's, I had baked it the night before and then had about 15 minutes to decorate it after school. Still, I think it turned out pretty well, and seeing as it is already gone, it must not taste too bad either.

Blowing out the candles--with a little bit of help!
My girl with all of her presents--in front of the fire, because, "it makes for good pictures"--her words, not mine
I really think that this was Maddy's favorite gift...a bunch of minty gum. She had told me earlier in the week, and I quote, "Mom, since we can't spend much money on my birthday this year, you can just get me lots and lots of gum...the minty kind." (You must picture this with her standing in front of the gum display at Target, half hugging the gum shelf) So, as a silly gift, we got her every kind of minty gum they had.
and her gift from MawMaw--an Aeropostale jacket.

I can honestly say that I have never seen one of my kids so excited about their birthday as Maddy was on Friday. She had previously said that she didn't want anyone to know it was her birthday at school, yet wrote "It's my birthday!" on a neon yellow bandaid and wore it on her forehead. I think it was because she was finally a teenager! Hard to believe. It really seems like not so long ago that she was a toddler, refusing to stay dressed, refusing to stay in her bed at night.
Maddy has always been my most passionate child. She loves fiercely, celebrates joyfully, and when she is disappointed or sad or angry, she is so VERY disappointed, VERY sad, VERY angry. She lives in the moment, wanting everything right now. So you can imagine her disappointment when the night of her 13th birthday, when we told her she could pick out the red box movie we would rent, that we vetoed the PG-13 movie that she had chosen. Almost a year ago, when Maddy was away somewhere, we watched the movie, "Seventeen Again." We had not heard anything about it, but soon found out that it was a bit inappropriate in parts and ended up fast forwarding through some parts. She has been begging ever since that time to be able to watch it, and I guess that she just thought that hey..she was 13! She could surely watch the PG-13 movie of her choice! When she found out that no, she was still not going to be able to watch it, it was as if we had ruined her entire birthday.
One of those, "I hate being the parent" type moments. It would have been easier just to have given in to the pouts, the teary eyes, the sulking (oh the sulking--especially after Daryl's rendition of "Be careful little eyes what you see..."). But we held our ground. It is so hard to guard their eyes and minds when you really just want them to be happy and life to be easy and their 13th birthday to be everything they have ever dreamed it would be. She has since gotten over it and moved on to other injustices in her world, but for a while, I felt horrendously guilty (mission accomplished, I'm quite sure!)
So we now officially have three teenagers. I never ever thought, when they were all little and I was overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for them, that this day would come that they would all be so grown up, so self-sufficient, so independent. I had always dreaded when they all became teenagers and I "lost" them as they needed me less and naturally grew up and away from me. I am pleasantly surprised at how much I am actually enjoying them as teenagers. Despite the expected teenage angst, which really thus far has been minimal, I have actually enjoyed this stage. I like the young people they have become, respect the choices that they have made, and am proud that they 'walk their talk.' God has done a mighty work in each of their hearts and for this, I am so very thankful.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

One of those days...a vent

You know, one of those days. All day long. From the moment I woke up (late, I may add) until this very minute--which is 8:20 pm, by the way, and I am just now sitting down. I should have known when I awoke at 12:40, decided to read for a few minutes, and the next time I looked at the clock it was Or when I did wake up, Daryl was coming out of the shower instead of laying beside me in bed, right leg crossed over left knee, pre-talking stage. Or...when I took my morning blood pressure and it was high. All of these things pointed to a rough day. And what I should have done right then and there, was relax and meditate on God's word, pray, be still, listen. But instead, I did what comes naturally, and turned to my old friend, fear, and had a massive panic attack that did little to lower my blood pressure and sent my body and mind reeling. Luckily I didn't have to go to work this morning and was instead taking Charlotte for her 4 month check up, but it didn't subside until I was well on my way from the doctor and on the way to work. Work was work today, complete with a fire drill during kindergarten-first grade lunch (I mean, c'mon people), a room with no windows and the heat stuck on 85, and consequently a class full of tired, cranky, frustrated six and seven year olds. The afternoon and evening were busy, as I tried to balance getting the big girls to tumbling, the little girls from the sitter and to Nanny's, everyone fed, and me out of the panyhose with the huge run in them and the most uncomfortable shoes I have ever owned. But we're home, we're safe, and together again, and for that I am truly thankful.

And smiling even. Because even though I am tired---bone tired--worn slap out, even; even though the house is a mess and it's late and it's almost time for bed already again, I do have so many many blessings. One of which is my sweet family, my precious children. One of whom in particular is becoming a teenager tomorrow. Sniff sniff. And so, after the day that never ends, I came home and made a cake. With lots of help from Hannah.

Licking the beaters with "big brudder."

Chocolate face
Maddy's birthday presents all ready for the opening. And yes,...that is a Christmas tree by the fireplace--a little bitty Charlie Brown tree, but still. Hannah keeps adding stuff to it and I sorta like it.
Off to put little bit to bed, and then hopefully, the end...FINALLY...of this day.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Becoming Organized--Week 2

What does it say about me when I am too busy to make time for week two of my quest for organization?? It was a busy day at work. I hit the floor running, and didn't sit down except for lunch. I used each and every moment for teaching, not releasing my students until 2:45, and we were late for carpool. I brought a whole bag of "stuff" home to do, after, of course, the dishes, the laundry, the baby. And then, I remembered. This is the night I have set aside each week to read and work on my organization goals. Hmmm...maybe I oughta stick this on the calendar???

Week One was all about jounaling and listing and finding out just why I am so unorganized. And after completing last week's assignment, I am leaning toward the conclusion that it is all a bunch of bunk (but I am going to finish this!) According to this book, there are two possible explanations--1. My parents and home life were chaotic, so I am just doing what I know, or 2. My parents were overly rigid and strict and I am rebelling. blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. (Somehow I think mocking the book is not a good sign!) Neither of those really applies. I think that I am busy, I have too much stuff, and I tend to be a bit on the lazy side when it comes to putting things away.

Week Two is about scheduling your time. It includes things like getting a good calendar (which will sit in my purse/on my desk/on the counter/on the wall and not be used after the first two weeks, in which I will calendar everything we do obsessively), setting up routines, identifying time wasters. I have a good calendar, several even; we have routines, albeit chaotic ones; and I know what my time waster is, and I am not sure I am ready to give it up. I could easily give up my "sit on the couch and play on the computer time" in the evening, and instead clean and tidy and organize and do laundry. But my computer time is my outlet--my time to write, to read, to catch up with my friends, to research, and yes, to reveal my inner geek, do crossword puzzles. And if I don't have that time in the evening to decompress and let go of my day, then I don't sleep well. And if you have read this blog for any length of time, you know that not sleeping well usually leads to partial or total emotional breakdown (I must remember to check and see if people who suffer with chronic disorganization make excuses excessively).

One important nugget I did gleam from this chapter is this: I need to learn how to say no. Daryl says--and rightly so--that I do not like to be told "no." When we discuss something and then we/he decide that no, we can't do something that I really want to do, I don't like it. I pout. I feel sorry for myself. I probably do my fair share of stomping around the house. When I prayed for a baby when we were first married, and God said, "no...not yet" I threw the equivalent of a three and a half year temper tantrum. (And then He showed me, huh?) For this reason, I think, I have a hard time saying no to the children. Some things are easy. Things that cost lots of money, things that I think are dangerous, things that are inappropriate. Other things are not. Asking to go out with friends, even though it means I will have to make three trips to McDonough in one day. Even though it means that I will spend my day in the car instead of doing the things that need to be done. Even if it means that my precious weekend family time is wasted away playing chauffer, that the time I get to spend with the little girls is in the car.

So this week my one job is to work on my time management. Examining routines and establishing new ones. Identifying time wasters and eliminating them. Organizing my calendar. Learning how and when to say no. But for now, I have to go...I've got a newsletter I volunteered to write...right after I check Facebook. Baby steps...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Tale of Two Parents...

two sets of parents, that is. That's what this weekend was to me...two sets of parents, two different days, two good examples.

On Saturday, we met Grandma in Conyers for what has become a much anticipated event in our household: the birthday shopping spree with Grandma. Instead of guessing what the big kids would like for their birthdays, she has, for the last few years, given them a shopping spree so that they could pick out something that they like. Since Maddy and Sarah have birthdays so close together, they went on a combined trip, and the little girls, Josh, and I tagged along for the fun.

Josh and Hannah had fun, but were shopping weary by the time we got to Old Navy.

Sweet Charlotte, hanging out in the stroller.
Grandma and the grandkids at the end of our day of shopping.
I am so thankful for my parents. They have always been there to pick up the pieces when things fall apart. Ten years ago, they were my lifeline. When I thought I couldn't go on, when I couldn't stand on my own, when I didn't know where to turn, they were there to encourage, lend a hand, hold me up--physically, emotionally, financially. If it was a hardship for them, an inconvenience, a bother, they never said so. They never made me feel anything but loved. Never did anything but lift us up. Dropped what they were doing with one phone call. They showed me what family meant--loving unconditionally, helping without pause, giving from your heart. And ten years later they are still there...and I am still as thankful as I was then. And I hope that someday, I am able to help my children the way that they have helped me.
Thank you Mom and Dad. I love you!
On Sunday, we met up with the Stone side of the family after church to celebrate PawPaw's 78th birthday.

Gail, an honorary Stone, holding Charlotte for me while she slept.
PawPaw's cakes. It was neat to see pictures of him when he was younger. I never realized how much all of the kids and grandkids look like him (other than the Stone V-ha!) until I saw these pictures.
PawPaw right before he blew out the candles.

Charlotte trying out her new red shoes!
And hanging out with her cousin Angela. Notice that she's got a fistful of Angela's hair--Hannah had earlier told me (when Char had a fistful of Hannah's hair) that Charlotte did this to people she loves!
Hannah and cousin Addison. Both pretty in pink and ponytails. Addison is expecting a baby brother in a couple of months. Sadly, cousin Benji was not here!

I've always thought that it was an incredible testimony to Nanny and PawPaw that each of their children and all of their grandchildren are so grounded in the Lord, and today I had a chance to hear about it first hand. At the end of the party, after everyone had packed up their dishes and food (ahem...noone told me to bring anything!!) but before everyone headed out, each one of the five children (Denise, Donna, Darlene, Daryl, and David) talked about how their father had shaped their faith. So touching, so moving--and the second time in only a handful that I've seen my husband in tears. I sincerely hope that when our children are grown and have children of their own, that they can look back and see how Daryl and I looked to the Lord for guidance in our marriage, our family, our lives; that they can look to us as examples; that they saw the love of their Heavenly Father through our love for them.

Ephesians 6:1-4 ESV Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow!!!

Warning: I have NO idea what happened with the pictures and text halfway through this post, and I cannot fix it. Let's just chalk it up to holding a baby, playing "angel" with a three year old, and simultaneously posting at the same time.

It had been in the forecast for an entire week. It was going to be a snow "event" and dubbed "Snow 2010" by the local news channel. The children were excited. The teachers were excited. People flocked to the local Kroger like the "snow bunnies" that they were. (I only know this because we hadn't been grocery shopping since before Christmas and really...we had to go. I struggled with the decision for a good hour before I decided that I would risk being a snow bunny and feed my family.) And this below is a picture of our snow. Underwhelming would be a good word to describe it.
And Hannah was not disappointed. She was thrilled!
We didn't know, though, that we were going to get a snow day out of it. Daryl was optimistic, but the rest of us didn't want to get our hopes up and then have them dashed when every single other county was closed but ours.

So what do you do while you wait for the news that you get to sleep in? You dance in your underwear.

Play Wii Fit with Daddy. They are playing Hula Hoop, which really is precious, but unfortunately not able to be captured by still photography.

You draw cute pictures of your Daddy that thrill your early childhood educator mother, as you finally decide that people have arms and they come out of your head. In this picture, Daryl is holding Charlotte and the camera. The scribbling all over his face is his beard.

Finally at eleven o'clock last night, long after I had retired for the night, but while Daryl was still up watching the Alabama game, and after every single county surrounding ours closed, it was finally announced that Henry county schools were closed.
There wasn't a lot of snow, but Maddy and Hannah managed to make a snowman.
And Sarah and Hannah found icicles.
And after maybe an hour, we were all tired of the snow and cold and ice, but still excited to be home. And
Today also marked the 6 week mark for Maddy and her pierced ears. She was finally able to take her studs out and wear regular earrings.

All in all, a great day. The best part wasn't the snow or the nap (although I gotta say,....I LOVE me a good nap), it was having us all home together. I hate to admit this aloud, but I haven't always looked forward to the times where we were all stuck at home together. When the big kids were little and I was a frazzled single mom, I used to crave time alone. There have been times since Daryl and I have married that everyone home together meant to me more mess, more noise, more chaos, and I longed for a peaceful afternoon. It's ironic that now that we are inching closer to the time when Josh will be leaving for college, I am finally able to appreciate, enjoy, cherish, and even look forward to the time where I am surrounded by my husband and kids...mess, noise, and chaos included. "They" say that I will miss it someday, and I'm beginning to think that they--whoever they may be--are right!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We're so excited...and we just can't hide it...

See how excited Sarah is???? Well, I am about a thousand times more excited. Except I just got out of the shower and never in a million years would that go online. But suffice it to say, there was much screaming and rejoicing in the Stone household (at least from Sarah and me)

See this sweet lady in this picture with Charlotte? My baby sister?
Well, next Thanksgiving, we will not have a picture of her holding Charlotte. We will have a picture of her holding her own babies. Yes, that's right...BABIES! Not only is my baby sister (the same baby sister that I used to change and feed, the same baby sister who threw up in my braids before piano lessons) having a baby, but she is having TWINS!

Have I mentioned that I am beyond excited????

CONGRATULATIONS, Kathleen and Jason!!!
We love you!!!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside...

As if I needed any more reminders that she is growing up....

This morning, it was a chilly 14 degrees when it was time to load the little girls in the truck with Daryl, so I quick grabbed the only hat she owns...the hat they placed on her little bitty head as soon as she was born. Then, it was too big, had to be folded over, and still it kept falling over her eyes (which, luckily, as a newborn blob, made no difference to her). Now, 4 months and 12 days later, it was all I could do to stretch it down over her ears and quick snap a picture before it snapped off. Guess it's time to invest in a proper hat...or it needs to get warmer! They are actually predicting snow for this week, but I guess she will be staying in!!

With the new year and all, I thought maybe I should also be giving a little update on the diet front. I did so well until Christmas Day. Totally and completely lost it at my mom's house--there are only so many holidays that you can resist the asparagus casserole...and the turtle pie...leftover turkey...Christmas cookies. It was definitely not pretty, but not the usual binge, which tends to be of epic proportions. And well, let's just say this...."ke-thunk, ke-thunk, kethunk." That would be the sound of the proverbial wagon running over me. You see, I didn't just fall off of the wagon, but took a flying leap with a two and a half twist to land flat on my back under it. Nine days later, I felt horrible and decided to face the music, ummm I mean, scale. To my utter shock and surprise, it was only up 1.5 pounds, and in the last two days, all but the .5 is gone as well. I would really love to tell you that I am excited to be back on track and eating right, but truth be told, ehhh...I'd rather be eating turtle pie than carrot sticks. I'm hoping that watching The Biggest Loser tonight will give me some much needed motivation!

Monday, January 4, 2010

And this is it!!!!

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this is what is going to transform my life. Make me organized, more efficient, more "together." I will finally be one of those women that other women wonder about..."How does she do it?--5 kids, full time job, witty and inspiring blog--and yet, she never is frazzled, her house is always in perfect order, she can find anything at any time, and her coupons are filed so neatly and cross referenced for maximum savings capability." Yep, this is it. maybe it's not going to transform my life. Maybe my house won't be in perfect order. And there is about as much chance of me cross referencing coupons as there is of me becoming a swimsuit model. In fact, there is a pretty good chance that I won't even finish it. Or make it past week five. But I had a Barnes and Noble gift card staring me in the face and was inspired by a friend, and since Daryl was not buying the idea that a Blackberry (complete with internet, of course) was the key to organizing our life, I thought it was worth a try!
Speaking of organizing...this is a perfect example of why I need this book (and yeah, a Blackberry probably wouldn't help with this problem)
Yep...five boxes of logs, two forgotten Christmas decorations, a lizard cage, a chair, a feather trimmed carrying case full of "stuff," and a crate of Brio trains, all in a five by five area.
Such is my life...but not for long....
On to week one!