Friday, March 7, 2014

Raising Children

There are moments - like when the girls are fighting and fussing or just completely ignoring any and all instructions and directions given them by me or Ed - when I think to myself "What am I doing wrong? I must be a terrible parent!" During these moments it is so easy to want to throw my hands up in defeat.

And then there are moments like this morning when I attended a Kids of Character breakfast at Gabrielle's school. Each month, the school recognizes students for a particular character trait. One student is chosen by their class to go to a special breakfast and receive a certificate in recognition of this trait. This morning Gabrielle was recognized for the trait of "tolerance." The school counselor explained the kids chosen for this trait were kids who treated everyone with respect and kindness. Everyone equally, regardless of any differences. I elaborated to Gabrielle this meant whether she agreed with someone or liked the same things, she respected their opinion and the person and that she showed love and kindness to them.

I have always tried to instill in both girls that they will not agree with everyone, they may not even "like" everyone, but everyone deserves to be treated with respect and kindness and love. That's what Jesus tells us to do. To love one another just as he loves us.

And I guess Gabrielle was listening. She may not always demonstrate at home these traits but I'm happy - and proud - to know she is indeed living these things out in the world.

Let's face it, in reality I think most kids act out at home in ways they would never imagine elsewhere. We get to see the "worst" but how comforting it is to be reminded of the best and to know that maybe I'm not that terrible of a parent and just maybe I'm doing something right.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Ash Wednesday & Lent 2014

The first day of Lent was yesterday, Ash Wednesday. For the past couple of weeks I have been praying, journaling, thinking, and meditating in hopes God would make very clear to me something I need to give up or take on this year. I was beginning to think it would never happen. But in God's timing, right?

I began talking to the girls yesterday morning during our car ride to school about Lent, reminding them what it is, and asked for them to consider giving something up or taking something on this year. We continued the conversation during and after dinner last night. I suggested we as a family give up fast food. I am ashamed to admit just how much I have depended on drive-thru and take out dinners over the past few months. It's gotten really bad. Well, one would have thought I had snatched away the girls' most loved possession at the mention of no McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, Sonic or Wendy's (no, not the frosty!!) for the next 40 days. Their reaction and begging backfired - now I'm even more convinced we need to give it up. Let's be honest here though - giving up fast food will be a lot harder for me than them. I'm the one who has to get the meal planning and cooking back on track regardless of how long and busy the day has been!

In addition and much more important in my opinion, we decided to take on daily Bible reading, devotions, and prayer just before bedtime every night for the next 40 days. The girls were excited by this suggestion and as soon as it occurred to me, I knew it was God-inspired (in his perfect timing!). Another really honest moment here - this will be more challenging than no fast food! I have become incredibly rushed with bedtime routines. At the end of the day I'm exhausted. Wiped out physically, mentally, emotionally. Most nights I'm fussing to get them in bed and rushed with tucking in and goodnight kisses. Adding 15-20 minutes of Bible and prayer time every night regardless of how tired I am, regardless of how late past bedtime it might be - well this will be a challenge.

We were unable to attend our church's Ash Wednesday service - 7:00 pm on a school night at this age just was not going to work unfortunately. But we did begin our daily devotions. I think it will take a few days to figure it out. Gabrielle read a passage from her Bible about Jesus' baptism then I read the same story from Samantha's Bible. We then read a short devotion and took turns praying. I hope to have more discussion about what we've read in the future (hopefully I'll be able to answer their questions!) and maybe on the weekend incorporate some sort of activity to go with what we've been reading.

It will be a challenge but then I think what the next 40 days might look like, what will Easter be like after 40 days of the girls and I together focusing on Jesus. I'm hoping for an amazing experience. I'm hoping the girls and I both will learn so much together. I'm hoping at the end of the 40 days we will have enjoyed this time together and this time with God each night that we won't want to stop.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ten Years

Hi Daddy!

Has it really been 10 years?? Ten years since God took you home? It's so hard to believe it has been that long. But then, if I'm honest, so much life has happened it is kind of hard to believe it has been only 10 years.

I can't help but wonder what you would think of me, of my life, if you were still here. I like to think you are looking down on me at least from time to time. But what would you say, what would you think, if you were still here with us?

To say I gave you a difficult few years before you passed would be putting it mildly. I imagine many of my decisions aged you and Mama quite a bit. And for that I'm sorry. If I could go back...well actually, no, I don't, I can't live with regret - even for my worst choices. Only because now I see how God can and has worked even the worst of things for good in my life and He certainly is not done with me yet. But I am truly sorry I caused you and Mama so much hurt back then.

As sorry as I am, I am equally as happy that you were alive long enough to see my life take a turn for the better before you passed away. I have a good life, a great life, a blessed life - the life I think you would have wanted for me. I am  thankful you met and got to know at least a little the man I would marry. I am grateful you were able to give us your blessing - just three short months before you were gone. While I will always be saddened you were not able to walk me down the aisle, I will always hold on to the knowledge we had your blessing.

Ed is a good man. Reminds me of you in some ways. He is one of the hardest working people I know, very responsible, serious and committed to his job. He doesn't do it for praise or acknowledgement but for our family. There is nothing he would not do for us. In that way he reminds me of you.

Oh how I wished my girls could have known you. You would have loved them and spoiled them rotten for certain! I love that while they have never met you and have no memories of their own of you, they still talk about you. The girls are well aware they have a Poppy in heaven watching over them. Though they never heard you say it, they both know what it means to "give me a smell". (For any non-family members who might happen to be reading this, that is the way my daddy asked for a kiss!) From time to time, one of the girls will say "I wish I could have met Poppy." The only response I can ever get out is "So do I, honey, so do I."

Ten years. Time and life goes by so quickly. I miss you. Miss you more than words can express. And I suppose that feeling will never go away. I think of you often. I hope this doesn't come across the wrong way but while I think of you often, I try not to spend too much time at any one time thinking about you because even after ten years the feeling of loss is still so fresh in my heart. Writing this was done through many tears.

I think - I hope - you would be so proud of all of us. You are dearly loved and sincerely missed. And maybe if I could change one little thing I would tell you face to face just one more time "Daddy, I love you!"

Monday, February 3, 2014

Weekend Wrap Up

Finally! With the weekend came warmer temps and some activity for our household. The snow was fun and at all but after 3 days of cancelled school and the wet turned muddy mess, we were all ready for some nicer weather and to get out and about a little!

Saturday night was a very nice treat for Ed and the girls. It was Daddy-Daughter Date Night! Because of prior plans, Ed was not going to be able to take the girls to a Father-Daughter Dance at the girls' dance studio. To help make up for it he took them out for a special night on his own. They saw "Frozen" movie again but this time it was the new sing-along version. My oh my, how the girls love to belt out those songs! This was a big hit - being aloud, encouraged even, to belt out along with everyone else in the movie theater to their current favorite tunes! Date night is only complete with dinner, right? so after the movie they went to Milton's for their favorite pasta.

The girls were so cute getting ready for their night. We actually did not mention any plans to them until Ed got home from work on Saturday afternoon. He asked them if they wanted to go out on a date and they both replied "sure" not all that enthusiastically. Then while they were picking out their clothes and getting their hair done, they both kept asking what a date was, what do you do on a date, and all these other questions. They were so excited and didn't even know yet where they were going!!

It was a nice evening for Ed and the girls and a nice quiet evening for myself as well!

Yesterday was the Super Bowl of course. Usually I will admit I make way too much food. I enjoy watching the game but of course I love the excuse to make a bunch of snacky, maybe not so great for you, food! Thanks to the snow days of being stuck at home with the girls, I had a bunch of new recipes to try out. That's what happens when you finally get a chance to reorganize all the pins on Pinterest and catch up on the dvr'ed Food Network shows!

I was really not wanting to go overboard so I narrowed down my menu to four items. All new recipes. And all four big hits and successess!! Rarely does that happen. To actually try four recipes all at one time and for them all to be keepers!

Since they were such big hits I thought I'd share the links to the recipes with you!

For something to snack on by the handful throughout the afternoon -
Photo courtesy of Food Network
Sweet & Salty Bacon & Nuts. This is a Giada recipe. The only substitution I made was pecans for the almonds (Ed loves pecans, but not a big a fan of almonds). Deliciously addictive!

Our first course of sorts, ended up being kind of a late lunch mid-afternoon for us -
Photo courtesy of Food Network
Beer & Italian Sausage Fondue, also a Giada recipe. Rich, a little salty, and oh so filling! After about four small crostini dipped in this cheesy deliciousness, I wasn't sure I would have room for anything else later!

The main course, our meal while watching the game -
Sweet & Sticky Pork Ribs, another Giada recipe. I apparently watched two episodes of game-day food!! Sorry, there was no photo to swipe from Food Network's website and I was way too busy eating to take my own photos yesterday! These were messy, as all good ribs should be, sweet with a slight kick to them. Easy to prep but they do take a while to cook. Well worth the wait though!

And finally, for that sweet finish after the savory and saltiness of the other foods -
Photo borrowed from Cookie Crumbs & Sawdust
Chewy Caramel Butter Bars! I made these on Saturday night while Ed and the girls were out. Man, these are incredible!! This was a recipe I pinned who even knows how long ago and definitely one of the gems I rediscovered when reorganizing my Pinterest boards.

I seriously and strongly recommend trying all of these recipes. They were all big hits at my house and will certainly be requested for again and again!