Category Archives: Holidays

Victories over anxiety

I’ve struggled with extreme anxiety for the last several years but I had a breakthrough and I thought I would share it here. Yesterday was Halloween, so we had a couple families from church joining us for trick-or-treating. They live out in the country just a few miles west of us, and we are in your typical neighborhood with lots of kids and plenty of free candy to be grabbed. So around 5:30, a half hour before go-time, I was putting out snacks for our guests and grilling cheese sandwiches for the family. Our friends and their kids started showing up while I was cooking, and here’s where I noticed the difference. In hindsight, of course. After it was all over, I realized that through all that noise and chaos I remained calm, without even having to tell myself to. And not just calm, but actually enjoying having everyone there! The kids had a fantastic time, the weather was perfect, and the night felt like a true success all around.

Those who know me best know this is a huge thing for me. I’ve had some pretty big struggles with chaotic situations, leading to crying fits and panic attacks. But for the past year I’ve been on a low dose of medication and I’ve been practicing breathing techniques and really evaluating my thought processes every time anxiety rears its ugly head. And last night showed me that all of this has been working!

So that has me a little bit on cloud nine. The downside – cuz sometimes there has to be a downside – is that I must have overdone it yesterday, because I’m in a lot of pain today. It started last night with my left calf and foot, and today it has spread all the way up my leg and jumped up to my left arm. It’s a dull throbbing deep in the muscle tissue that I can only assume is nerve pain, so I’m praying a good night’s rest will make it go away. If not, I’m hoping a quick morning run will help get all those muscles stretched out and warmed up.

I can’t believe it’s only Thursday. All day I kept thinking it was Friday. Because I’m done with this week. Done, I tell ya. Stick a fork in me, I’m done!

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The light in the darkness

It’s Christmas Eve, and we’re all ready for Christmas morning with the kids. Breakfast fixings are ready in the fridge, gifts are surrounding the tree.
We went to church tonight and were reminded that Jesus came to be a light in the darkness. Then we drove around looking at Christmas lights, a tradition we’ve been doing since before the kids were even born.
And do you know, my 9 year old son made the connection between the sermon at church (which I thought he was sleeping through) and the decorative lights everyone puts up at Christmas? I don’t know for certain the origin of Christmas lights, but I think my son might be on to something. The lights we put up at Christmas are a representation, a reminder, that Jesus is the light in the darkness. That just blew my mind, to hear something so wise coming from his mouth. I was pretty impressed. And for sure, I will remember that connection and from now on our annual tradition of driving around looking at lights will hold much greater meaning for me.
Merry Christmas, and may you find the light in the darkness.

Dog demoted

Our dog, Piper, has been really great about not chewing things, generally. We stopped putting her in a crate a long time ago, trusting her to behave while we were gone. As long as we didn’t leave toys or candy out in plain sight, she was doing pretty well. That is, until we brought home this year’s Christmas tree.

I would come home after being gone for a couple hours and she would cower, knowing she had done something wrong. I would quickly look around, and eventually find the remains of a Christmas ornament or decoration. She destroyed ornaments that my kids had each made in preschool, which saddened me, and she came really close to destroying a couple ornaments I spent hours and hours cross-stitching. You have to understand that the ornaments on our tree are not there for decoration. Almost every ornament holds a memory for us. So I was not about to let this dog destroy our memories, one by one. To prevent her from destroying more of our precious memories, we relocated all the ornaments on the bottom of the tree to the top so that she couldn’t knock them down and chew them up.

It worked, in that she didn’t destroy anymore ornaments. However, it wasn’t enough. She was reminded that she really likes chewing stuff, so she found alternatives. One alternative, actually – my shoes. Now these were not expensive shoes, but they were useful to me. I wore them every day, except for that day of course – but that was only because I wore my snow boots – so I guess I’m in the market for a new pair of sneakers.

And, more importantly, Piper has been demoted to the crate when we leave her home alone. The crate we were using before was borrowed, so we had to go and buy a new one, but it’s cheaper than a new pair of shoes, and certainly worth it when you consider all those ornaments holding memories that cannot be replaced. Piper seems to be fine with the change, because she knows it makes us happy. As much as she loves chewing stuff, she really really hates it when we’re mad at her. This way, everybody’s happy. Let Christmas come!

I remember when we were kids (back before the internet) when you would take the Toys R Us ad and circle all the things you wanted for Christmas? Times have changed. Now my kids make lists – very specific lists – or they guide me through finding the exact items on Amazon. “Google it Mom, it’s a real thing. Just pull it up on your phone.” he says, of the bungee chair he wants for Christmas. It’s true, it’s a real thing.

I don’t remember every Christmas in great detail, but there are a few I can recall fondly. I remember the year I got a Cabbage Patch doll. When I woke up Christmas morning and looked under the tree, I knew it was there because they came in these distinctly shaped boxes. So unless you repackaged it, it was a dead giveaway. My best Christmas memories though are the times spent with my family. Waking up to Christmas breakfast, running around my Grandma’s house with all my cousins, knealing around the Christmas tree with my brother and sister. Just being together. That was the biggest gift. And I hope those are the memories our kids hold onto as well. Because that’s the stuff that lasts. Everything else wears out, fades away.

Of course Christmas is not all about the presents. We now, as parents, love to give gifts to our kids, and every year we manage to go a little bit overboard. Hopefully we are not creating spoiled children by doing so. Christmas is the celebration of Christ’s birth, so we think a lot about God this time of year, when we maybe wouldn’t have otherwise. And I believe God is the biggest gift giver. He loves to give us good things the same way we love to give our kids good things. And maybe He runs the risk of spoiling us, but He does it anyway, doesn’t He? As much as the commercialization of this holiday busts my buttons (lol), I can reconcile it in my spirit by remembering who we are modeling our lives after. It may sound pathetic, but I do feel that by giving to others – our kids, our extended family, friends, neighbors, etc. – we are modeling a bit of Jesus’ character. He gave His life, the ultimate gift. So would it be wrong to say we are honoring Him by giving to others? Maybe? Maybe. I don’t know…

 

 

Pre-Thanksgiving Prep

So Thanksgiving is almost here. We host, so that means we have a certain level of preparing that needs to be done. I keep it at a low level though, cuz I fail miserably at hosting if it try too hard.  We roast the turkey, we make the mashed potatoes, the corn, the stuffing, and everybody else brings the rest. I don’t decorate, though I do have a fall themed tablecloth I hope to remember to bring out for the occasion. I don’t even clean the house beyond what I do normally. Anything to minimize my stress and anxiety is worth it if it means everyone has a good time and we can enjoy each other’s company. Planning ahead helps me to both budget my energy and to make sure everything is ready. And if it’s not, I have to decide that’s okay too. Half the battle is changing my perspective. My family all knows this about me, thankfully, so that takes the pressure off. They see what needs to be done and fill in the cracks accordingly.

One thing I am striving for today though, is to clean out the fridge to make room for the turkey day leftovers. Which means I am working on using up our every day leftovers. In other words, I’m eating whatever I can. It’s a slight departure from my daily smoothies but my gut doesn’t seem to be bothered by it, yay! This morning I had scrambled eggs with red onion, red bell pepper, and feta. It was scrumptious, and I was able to rid the fridge of four containers. Still have lots of cleaning out to do but that was a fun way to get it started. Well not as much fun as it was tasty, I guess. You know what I mean, right?

I have a sick kid home with me today so I’ve taken plenty of breaks to tend to her needs, but overall it’s been a relaxing yet productive day so far. The best kind, if you ask me!

Christmas letters

I love getting Christmas cards. Cute pictures of people’s kids and pets, seeing how everyone is growing, I love it. Sometimes – sometimes – we get a letter. And those are my favorite. I’ve been sending out Christmas cards every year for the last few years, the photo cards you can make by uploading your favorite picture(s) from the year, but this year I’m running into some trouble. Thing is, my recipient list has grown longer and prices have gone up. I’m not really excited about spending $100 plus on Christmas cards. So I thought maybe this year I would start sending generic Christmas cards, and just insert a photo and a personalized letter into each one of them. I’m excited about doing this, but I wasted so much time this morning browsing the photo printing sites for cards that I won’t be able to get going on it today. So I’m posting this here to help me remember. It works, really. Oh, and here’s a link I wanted to save with some useful tips:

http://www.marylandwriter.net/2009/11/five-tips-for-writing-perfect-christmas.html

So I know it’s just barely November, and we are possibly all still reeling from the election results, but I have been thinking about Christmas for weeks! I’ve even made a good head start on my gift shopping. I’m not trying to pressure anyone to get going on holiday planning, because Lord knows holidays can be stressful and I don’t want to stress you out. I just wanted to share my little bit of excitement, and hopefully take your mind off that aforementioned event. Holidays are coming! Tell me, if you enjoy the winter holidays, what’s your favorite thing? What do you look forward to most?

Can we talk about my coffee maker?

Did I mention my husband bought me a Keurig for Christmas? He did. A red one! And it was such a surprise. He also bought me a new set of knives, but that wasn’t so much a secret because he bought it with our shared Amazon Prime account and I get all the notifications. But I digress. I have a Keurig, and I am loving it just as much as I thought I would. It was one of those things you drool over at other people’s houses, but figure you probably wouldn’t love it as much as you think you would, and just chalk the drooling up to good old fashioned envy. Which is why I never went out and bought one for myself.

But don’t you know? I DO love it! Well, as much as you can “love” an inanimate object. When people say they love their Keurigs, you figure it’s just that shiny new car smell that will eventually wear off. And maybe it is, but I’m really enjoying this single cup brewer. And with the reusable K-cup my son bought for me (at the hubby’s suggestion of course), I’m not even spending more money on K-cups or worrying about polluting the planet with the one-time use, non-recyclable cups. Nope. I grind my coffee beans, and fill my own k-cups, and it makes one delicious cup of coffee at a time. So I’m finding that I’m actually drinking less coffee! Quality over quantity, folks. That, and I can switch it up. If it’s too late in the day for leaded, I can brew a cup of decaf. If I’m more in the mood for tea, I can make that. I can even make hot cocoa for the kids. It’s a win all around.

So, I realize it’s only been 3 weeks which is not nearly enough time for the new car smell to wear off, but I really don’t see it happening any time soon. It’s a really wonderful gift. I heart you, red Keurig. Now go make me a cup of coffee 🙂

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