Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Positively Inspired Thinking!

Yep, that's me. I'm up too late (as usual) and I've had a breakthrough moment that I'm so excited about that I just had to tell someone. Guess what? You're the lucky ones!

I don't know whether I've mentioned it here before or not, but some people might refer to me as driven. In fact, people who know me well might even have other, less complimentary descriptions, but let's just go with driven. Anyway, I like to get things done and I like to be efficient. If that means I sometimes take on the role of drill sergeant to make it happen, well, so be it. My family, God bless them, endures these moments fairly well. For better or worse, Christmas and all its accompanying obligations can really bring out the drill sergeant, um, I mean efficient, side of me.

As I mentioned in my last post, we're heading out of Dodge tomorrow after lunch. We won't be back until Sunday, January 3rd. I've been fretting all week long because I can't decide how to handle the Christmas tree and all the decorations. I meant to get a few photos up of our decorations but I haven't had the time/energy to take photos (but I promise I will) so you'll just have to take my word for it when I tell you I have a lot of decorations. My normal plan of action is to take it all down and put it away on New Year's day but we won't be here, we'll be up at the cabin.

I know how it goes when we come home from the cabin. We create a bit of mess and chaos as we settle back in at home and so do you think I'm going to want to tackle the entire day-long decoration removal and storage project on Sunday afternoon? If you read between the lines you will see that what I'm describing is a physical impossibility given the constraints of what's commonly known as time. If I had more time right now I might share my limitations with the constraints of time but I'll save that for another day. Anyway, I like to get the decorations down and put away before we begin life after the holidays and start up with school. I like a clean look and that's just the way I've always done it in the past. However, it's a somewhat long and arduous process and it can't be accomplished in an afternoon.

As I was stressing over this (minor, I know) problem, tonight I was struck by an inspiration. Leave it up. That's right. Do something different and leave it all up until next weekend. Enjoy the decorations for one more week. Stop stressing about something so insignificant and just leave everything the way it is. Go the cabin and enjoy yourself and don't worry about a few extra needles from the Christmas tree. Can I pat my family on the back publicly here? Somehow we managed to keep the Christmas tree watered this year and so it's still really fresh and has lost hardly any needles. Woo Hoo!

So, we're heading out tomorrow and I don't have to try and stuff the tree up the chimney ala Grinch. In fact, this breakthrough will probably spare my family the wrath of the Grinch tomorrow and throughout the rest of the weekend. This feels so good I wonder why I didn't catch on earlier! Who knew? The best part is, my youngest has been asking me all through the Christmas season if we couldn't just leave the tree and decorations up until after his birthday, which is on January 6th. I kept telling him "Sorry, it aint gonna happen (okay, I'm a homeschool mom, the use of aint is banned in our home but it looked good there) and now I can say, "Happy Birthday! The tree is yours until after your birthday. Enjoy!" Who knew being a great Mom could be so easy?

For those of you sane people, this probably is not a revelation. You might even be thinking I'm off my rocker for writing a post about such nonsense but for me it really was a lightbulb moment. You never know, I may even turn over a new leaf and stop being so anal about a lot of things. Hmmmmm...

Nah, don't count on it!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A New Year on the Horizon

Happy New Year!

Christmas was wonderful but as usual it rushed in and slipped away too quickly. I love Christmas, celebrating our Savior's birth, special time spent with family and friends, the music, the food, the decorating both inside and out. I could go on but you get the idea.

Now here we are, on the other side of Christmas and in an effort to stay organized I'm at my computer creating schedules for when we start up school next week. Boooorrrrriiinnng!!! I really dislike creating schedules (I'm doing three week's worth, that's nine schedules total) but I love how they help the children and I to accomplish our goals. It helps us stay on track. But here I am, procrastinating and blogging instead of scheduling!

We're heading out to Wausau tomorrow to drop off the eldest daughter at my brother and sister-in-law's home for the rest of the week. They will bring her home when they come here for the Vikings-Giant football game on Sunday. The rest of our family will be up north at our cabin to ring in the new year. We're snowmobiling, snowshoeing, maybe cross country skiing and hanging out. I may even get a chance to work a jigsaw puzzle. That is one of my favorite hobbies but I usually only allow myself to work on puzzles at the cabin because I am lousy at getting anything else done when I'm in the middle of a jigsaw puzzle!

I was disappointed when my laptop computer died right before Christmas but excited to receive a new one from my dear husband as a Christmas gift. I'd picked it out so there wasn't really an element of surprise but I was excited all the same. Sadly, it began acting up on Christmas day and I had to return it today. They did not have the same model in stock and so I have to wait for a replacement to be sent to Best Buy. Hopefully it will be in by next week. My computer guy tells me it is really unusual to have two laptops fail like that, back to back. Huh. Small consolation! In the meantime, I'm using our upstairs PC and have cut way back on my time on the computer. Maybe that's a good thing since I've been saying I wanted to limit my time online.

In reflecting on my non-shopping status over the holiday season, I have to be honest and say that I didn't have the success that I had hoped for. However, if I can let go of my perfectionistic tendencies for a moment I will add that I spent less than I normally would have. Does that count for anything? Of course it does, silly! Life isn't about perfection. Only a fool (like me, heh heh) would strive to achieve it in this life anyway. It's a journey and I'm grateful that Jesus walks it with me.

If I'm serious about not shopping I think I need to work harder at staying out of the stores. It seems we always need/want something and so I find myself in the grocery store, Target, Fleet Farm, etc. where I am surrounded by temptation! Maybe that will be my new year's resolution: Just say no to shopping! Actually, I don't have a resolution yet. I'll think about it and get back to you on what I come up with...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Countdown...

It happens every year. I always think I have all this time before Christmas and then time seems to take off at warp speed and before I even know what hit me, Christmas is over and I'm packing up my many holiday decorations to put away until next year.

I hate that!

One of the ways I am trying to combat this warp speed Christmas is the celebration of Advent. Advent is the preparation of our hearts to receive the gift of our Lord Jesus. It requires that we slow down, take a few moments, quiet ourselves and focus on the true meaning of Christmas. It is so necessary and I truly enjoy these moments so why do I find them so hard to come by?

I've got an Advent book that I love and can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone looking for a meaty, thoughtful and fulfilling read. It's called "Watch For The Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas" and is a collection of essays by exceptional authors such as C.S. Lewis, Deitrich Bonhoeffer and many, many more. There are better reviews of this book on Amazon if you're interested. Even though it's too late to enjoy it this year, keep it in mind for next year's holiday season.

An update on my computer: It is just as I feared and my computer is not functioning anymore. Deader than a doornail. I wasn't sure what to do when my dear husband came to my rescue on his white steed. Well, not really. But, he did tell me that he wanted to buy me a new laptop for Christmas! No kidding! He really did!

I know, I know. I'm spoiled and it's just not fair. He even let me pick it out. So I spent two or three obsessive afternoons scouring the internet looking for the absolute BEST laptop computer out there that didn't cost a fortune. Ha! Each computer has its positives and negatives and finding the best one for me was a fun if tedious job but I finally managed to decide on one and after purchasing it online at Best Buy I was able to stop in the store and pick it up tonight. Talk about torture! I was made to promise that I would wait until Christmas to open it. In the meantime it's going to the computer man's for a spa treatment. Well, more like a fine tuning. He'll get it all set up and bring it back home to introduce it to our router and printer and make them play nice. I can hardly wait for Christmas!

Material things like computers are fun to play with and they really do serve a purpose as servants who enrich our lives and (hopefully) bring opportunities our way. However, in the midst of this busy holiday season I need to remind myself that eventually the computer and almost everything else I own will probably end up in a landfill or perhaps they will just collect dust on someone's shelf. This stuff is temporary and if acquiring it, paying for it or caring for it takes the majority of my time then I need to realign my priorities.

That's where my awesome advent book comes in. It's an excellent book with a great reminder: Don't waste your life! Reprioritize and put your focus where it belongs: Jesus Christ. That's something we should do every day but the Advent season is a great time to start. Don't wait, just do it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Let's Define Necessity

I've been told by those in the know that to get and keep followers and receive those beloved comments a blogger must blog daily. Daily. Wow. I guess my monthlong hiatus was like a year's sabbatical in the blog world. Except I didn't go anywhere exotic, do much reflecting or write a book. Nope. I was just busy with the stuff of life.

I've really got to come up with a handle on what is necessary when I define what is acceptable for me to purchase. Here's my latest dilemma:

My laptop, it seems, has died. My computer guru came by and picked it up on Saturday for one last attempt at resurrection, but I have not heard from him and I'm thinking in this case that no news is not good news. Which begs the question: Is a laptop a necessity? Don't roll your eyes here. Please.

I use my laptop a lot. It sits on my desk in the kitchen and keeps me in touch with all the goings on out in the wide, wide world. I can bring it with me when I work out on my cross trainer and get my news fix. I don't care for most of what's on TV so I like to read my news online. For a news junkie like myself, internet connection is crucial.

However, we do have a computer up in the bonus room. It's not as though I couldn't just go up there and use it when I need it. It wouldn't travel with me and I'd have to share with others but it certainly could be done. In fact, it would be a little more inconvenient but maybe that's not a bad thing. I've been trying to be more disciplined in my computer usage and maybe not replacing my laptop would be a good challenge for me. Wait, who typed that?! Temporary insanity has overcome my fingers! I didn't mean it!

Laptops are improving daily and their prices just keep falling. It's a great time to be shopping for one as they are all on sale now. I would pay for it out of my personal account, which is money saved and set aside for me to spend as I want. Justify, justify, justify... It's kind of scary how my mind works. And now I'm revealing it to you, which is scarier yet. My children read these posts you know. This sort of thinking might be journal material, if you remember my post from a million years ago about journaling.

For those who actually read and enjoy what I write however, remember that my future in blogging could depend upon my ability to use the computer when I have a few moments to spare. So don't be too hasty in your remarks my friends!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Help! I've Fallen and I Can't Get Up!

Fallen, as in fallen off the wagon that is. You know, the non-shopping wagon that plugs along its boring way. That wagon. I've fallen off so far and frequently that I don't know if I can even catch up to climb back on.

Whose idea was it anyway to give up shopping right before Christmas? What a harebrained idea! What kind of nitwit would ever consider such a thing?! Oh yeah, heh heh, that would be me. Me and my grand, inspired idiocy that I proclaimed to the world on Facebook and then here. Yep, I was so out of my mind that I even mentioned it in our family's Christmas letter that is going out in all our Christmas cards tomorrow. Foolish, foolish me. Would it look awkward if I covered up my little P.S. with a festive Christmas label? Or the stroke of a black sharpie perhaps? Not at all obvious, I'm sure.

So, my darling daughter tells me I must stop hiding out and come back to my blog and confess my many transgressions. Ugh. That makes for boring writing and reading, wouldn't you agree? Who wants to read a boring blog? Not me! I'll make it as brief as possible: A shopping trip with above mentioned daughter resulted in three turtlenecks for me (and a lot more loot for her but I won't go into details except to say I resisted the pull of a darling new pair of shoes that were rock bottom cheap!) Can I plead my case to say that I'm always cold in the winter and turtlenecks help stave off the chilly winds? I didn't think so. Then there was the quick stop at Pottery Barn where I succumbed to temptation and used my $25.00 coupon. That means I got $50.00 worth of stuff and spent only $25.00! (The new red mercury votives look splendid on the fireplace mantel and I'm gifting the 5 year diary - to myself). Not far from Pottery Barn on Grand Avenue is a fabulous art supply store called Wet Paint and I am powerless when I enter... I could not resist the pull and purchased a few small items but I console myself with the fact that it is an independent small business that truly benefitted from my husband's hard earned money. Then there's Macy's where I threw caution to the wind and bought a new skirt and blouse that I have worn to a few Christmas events. Cute, yes - necessary, no. Well, this is getting old and boring (I warned you) but I have to add my trip to Maurices that was only supposed to result in a pair of dress slacks for eldest darling daughter but actually resulted in an additional sweater purchase for me. Whew! That's it for the big stuff but I wouldn't be completely honest if I failed to mention my trips to Walmart and Target which have resulted in a few candy purchases along with the necessities. There. Done.

I'm a lousy non-shopper, it's true. For those of you who read through my confession all the way to the end without gagging, well, you deserve a special award. I wish I could get you a little something, hmmmm... Just kidding! Still, just as our Lord gives me grace daily, without end, I'm going to get back up, dust myself off and try, try again.