There’s Magic in the Air

Don’t you just love the smell of a baby?

This Thanksgiving, I got to spend time with my 5-month old nephew. I got to sniff to my heart’s content that heavenly fresh scent.

There’s something magical about a baby. The warmth of his small body, his tiny fist grasping my finger. It’s the wonder of him smiling in response, the inexplicable peace you feel watching him sleep.

Oh sure, there’s the spit-up, the crying, the poopy diapers, the lack of sleep. But I’m the Aunt in this case. I can just soak up the good stuff. 🙂

What’s amazing about a baby is a whole new life.

What’s amazing about this holiday season is a new life. And it all started with a baby. But it wasn’t just the baby’s new life. It was a new life for all of us.

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There are two things I love best about Christmas. The wonder of what God did for us by sending his own son as the ultimate sacrifice for our souls. As a mother, that’s a hard one to fathom. I can’t imagine sending my child into such a painful, heart-wrenching experience. And yet, He loved us that much. I’m reminded at this time of year what He truly did for us. What Jesus, a sweet-smelling tiny baby, was sent here to do. I’m in awe. And thankful for the reminder.

The other thing I love about Christmas is its magic. What I mean by magic is special, delightful, and powerful. There’s an extra spirit of giving, an extra storage of patience, handfuls of compliments and kindness. There’s anticipation of someone opening a gift. There’s a need to give to others that have nothing to give in return. There’s making everything look shiny and new with twinkling lights, wrapping paper, and decorations.

Granted, there is stress. On the surface, there are crammed schedules. Reminders to order cards in time, not to miss that music recital, pick up last minute gifts, or plan a meal for a large group. But when is there not stress?

And below the surface, this season can be more than stressful. It can be difficult for many. Painful with loss, sad with heartache, worrisome about funds, even agonizing for some.

But that’s why we need more of the magic.

I think He meant for there to be magic this time of year. As a reminder to remember miracles do happen. After all, the first Christmas held quite a bit of magic, did it not?

Mary became heavy with child without lying with a man.

Our savior was born in a meager manger.

Wise men were led to him by a shining star.

All wondrous, magical, miraculous things.


     “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear
a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”
(which means, God with us).
 
                                       Matthew 1:23


This year, I felt compelled to create a little magic. To give to others in a unique way. I want my kids to not only learn the importance of giving from it, but to also have their own personal experience with the magic of the season.

I’m starting something new. My own version of random acts of kindness. I’m calling it HUGs – something that my kids can relate to and easily remember – Humble Urges of Giving.

We’re on a 25-day adventure to give small & simple gifts to strangers, sometimes never knowing who receives them, in the hope that someone will experience a little magic themselves.

It starts December 1, and it looks a little something like this.

HUGS Idea List


Let’s create some magic!

Hint: Check the Facebook page for updates on our 25 Days of HUGs! If you’d like to join in, I’m happy to share printable HUG sheets.

Keeping Up (Whew!)

I will be age 59 when my youngest graduates high school.

Technically, that’s old enough to be his grandmother. Somebody’s grandmother. I have a friend my age who just became a grandmother. And I have a 3-year old.

Yes, I’m one of those parents. Old.

Hubby and I were married 10 years before welcoming our first child. No particular reason, we just waited. And when we started trying, it took a little time.

In a single day, my age was proven 3 times.

  1. I rose from my office desk, only to stop. I was forced to adjust my hip joint as it went out of whack. And then had to explain the loud pop to my cubicle neighbor.
  2. I had to ask my colleague to blow up the Word doc on her laptop so I could read the text. Otherwise, I would have had to crawl in her lap to see it.
  3. That night, a tiny piece of my front bottom tooth chipped off. WHAT??!? I’m pretty sure the soft burrito wasn’t to blame.

I’m falling apart. Where’s my proof of purchase? Can I trade parts like Wall-e? There’s still so much I want to do. I have a 3-year old, for goodness sake. How am I going to keep up with him?

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Physically keeping up is one thing; mentally is another. I had hoped that with age came experience, wisdom, and insight. But there’s so much about today’s world that I don’t understand. And I’m not sure how helpful my “wisdom” will be when I don’t know what I will end up seeing in this world…and what my kids will deal with.

Let’s face it, there are scary things out there. Of the human-kind. But I’m not treading that water, because that ocean’s too vast and deep.

So let’s look at just one aspect – technology. I can barely keep up with tweets, instagrams, and snapchats. What will it be like in 5, 10, 15 years? (In case you’re interested, here’s a cheat sheet of the top-used social media – http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/social-media-user-cheat-sheet/501627 – which I’m sure is already out of date!)

Technology brings so much into our homes, and not always what we need or want. At this age, I’m still trying to protect their innocence, give them a sense of security and comfort. Focus on teaching them values, beliefs, and morals to counteract the violence and hatred in the world.

Putting it into perspective, I should worry less about me growing older, and more about the outside world that is changing minute by minute.

I’m pretty sure my kids will forgive me if I can’t run around the bases without gasping for breath. I also hope they show patience as they try to teach me how to use the latest technology…maybe my new ApplePants where I surf the web with pocket sensors and view through a transparent eye patch. Just saying.

It’s not that far off. I read about a new smart garment that takes your measurements and uploads it to a website to ensure you’ll order the clothing size you need. It’s called LikeAGlove. Hopefully, it doesn’t talk, too. As you’re surfing a trendy shopping site, click on a pair of capris that look fabulous on the pictured model, and hear from your SmartPants, “Oh, honey, you’ll never fit into those.” 🙂

I can’t count on keeping up with technology. What I can count on is keeping up with my kids…through my heart. What will matter is how well I listen to their worries, how warm my hugs are, how much I care about what’s happening in their lives – and how the world impacts that – and how I securely plant them in God’s love.

We have no idea what the future holds. But God does. There is good around every corner of bad. He won’t give up on us, so I won’t give up on him. I must rely on him for the wisdom and truth I – and my kids – will desperately need as times change.


     If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God,
who gives generously to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you
must believe and not doubt, because the one who
doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed
by the wind. 

                                       James 1:5-6


In the meantime, I’m connecting to my busy boys’ hearts through play. I’m building (and crawling under) tents in the living room, riding bicycles up our inclined driveway (and welcoming going down), and dancing barefoot in the living room to the soundtrack of Home (despite my toddler stepping on me).

I’m getting in as much playtime now as I can. Before my pants tell me to get my butt off the floor because I’ll crack a hip!

Remember the Promises (to You)

I don’t usually write about my husband in these posts. But I saw something last night that I thought was worth sharing.

My oldest had spent the day with Dad at the track racing their remote control trucks. After getting home, my son started tinkering with one of his out-of-commission models. He was having trouble with a screw to the engine.

When he approached my husband for help, he was questioned about removing the engine and was discouraged in doing it at all.

You see, my son likes to take things apart. He just doesn’t always put them back together. This drives my hubby nuts, because he is one of those people who refuses to start a project unless he intends to finish it…all at once. It’s also why my painting projects in the living room – for days at a time – get to him. 🙂

My son explained that he wanted to see the engine outside of the truck, to look at it in more detail. But my husband really didn’t want to work on anything anymore. He was worn out.

Despite my hesitation, I intervened.

I said to my husband, “As frustrated as you are right now, he’s just being like you. Rather than discouraging this, could you teach him instead?”

33 - promises

I’m pretty sure he didn’t like me just then.

It meant his back was going to hurt a little more from bending over.

It meant he was still tinkering with machines when all he wanted was to rest his hands.

It meant extending the early bedtime he so desired.

But it also meant he was fulfilling a promise to himself. One I knew was important to him.

My husband is very detailed, organized, and mechanical-minded. He just knows how things work. Except the laundry basket, but that’s a whole different thing. 🙂

This is something he had in common with his father. His father could fix anything just by looking at it with his detailed mind. As a young boy, my husband already had the same tendencies, but his father would usually work alone. Regardless, my husband was tenacious, so even if he wasn’t included, he would sit and watch.

He gained much from watching his father, but he also shared with me his desire to be different with his kids. To teach them, to include them, to sit side-by-side, to welcome their small hands working together on things.

Because he had mentioned this to me more than once, I knew how important it was to him. And I recognized the opportunity even when he didn’t. That’s why I pushed this particular night.

And despite his grumblings, I could tell he saw the value in it. Not because he openly thanked me for pointing out the opportunity. I mean, come on, he was not going to admit I was right – not even a little bit. But after 18 years, you pick up on subtle messages from the man you know so well. I knew what he was really saying when I rolled into bed that night and he immediately whispered, “I love you.” Now, I could be totally wrong. He could have just been saying good night. But I prefer to believe he was saying, “I appreciate what you did.”


     Fathers, do not exasperate your children,
so that they will not lose heart.
 
                                       Colossians 3:21


Are there things your child does that could be an invitation to keep a promise you made to yourself?

Maybe your daughter keeps doing flips into the pillows, and you remember doing the same as a child because your family had no means to get you to a gymnastics class. So you vowed to sign her up.

Maybe the plastic trucks redecorated with markers is a call for more creative outlets, similar to when you got in trouble for using crayons on your walls. And weekends at the art gallery fill your free time.

Are there parenting promises you made that you’ve forgotten? Like never raising your voice, having the patience of a saint, teaching your kids right and wrong by being the perfect role model. I know I have failed some of those promises. I think we all do.

It’s easy to forget the parent you envisioned yourself to be after years of sleep deprivation. After losing some hearing from the middle-of-the-night crying. After trying to reason with a 2-year old about pooping on the potty.

We will fall. We will forget. We will fail.

But we keep trying. We keep remembering.

After a long, noisy day at the track, my husband was no longer in a teaching mode. But a simple reminder helped him fulfill a promise to himself.

Let us remember to be encouraging. Let us remember our kids soak up everything they see, hear, and feel from us.

Let us remember the parents we dreamed of being.

Each time we remember, we get a little closer to reaching our dreams.

And helping our kids reach theirs.

Date With My 8-Year-Old

Some days I’m desperate for some ME time. Are you?

Last weekend, I had reached my limit. I had two full days of a power struggle with my toddler. No, I don’t want to pick up my cars. No, I’m not going to take a nap. No, that’s not the way it works, Mama.

He knew better than I did about…everything. He sought control with his brother, too.

Here was my text to hubby that afternoon.

| If it’s raining and you can’t do the lawn tomorrow, I need to get away. |

His answer was simply,

| Sure. I work in the AM. |

He must have sensed my desperation.

I started to plan my afternoon, with a bit of glee, I’ll admit. What should I do? Get a pedicure, a massage, peruse the B&N aisles for a new book, go shopping. So many options – and only one afternoon! Who knew when I’d get this chance again?

And that’s when the guilt started to set in.

32 - date night

Does that happen to you? As much as I want – and need – some time to myself, I feel bad about ditching the kids. I love them so much, so why don’t I want to be with them? Why am I focused on myself? I don’t do near enough fun stuff with them. So often it’s just Mom doing chores and crossing off the To-Do list. No wonder they get as cranky as I do.

But I couldn’t let the opportunity slip by – it was too rare.

So I thought, How could I get some time away without the guilt? How could I still make the best use of this free afternoon?

I had a quick answer. I gave up my chance at reconnecting with myself and chose to reconnect with someone else. Someone who probably needed some ME time as much as I did.

My oldest son.

He gets the short end of the stick, too. In terms of my attention. A toddler has different, more immediate needs. For example, part of every day is ruled by his naptime, which doesn’t always go smoothly. Older brother has to roll with it.

I couldn’t remember the last time my oldest and I just hung out together. That was bad. Because he’s awesome to hang out with, and I realized I missed one-on-one time with him.

So my free afternoon turned into a “date night.” First, we went to the mall – a place we seldom go. We had our favorite grilled chicken at Charlie’s, a yummy Orange Julius, and miracle of all miracles, I had the chance to shop for clothes. You may think this would be torture for my son, but he actually used to be my best shopping buddy. Plus, he has a love for shoes. 🙂

He was the most pleasant and patient I’ve seen in months. He gave me honest advice on outfits, encouraged me when he could tell I liked something, and never complained about “just one more store.” This could have something to do with his getting a new pair of shoes, but honestly, I got more out of the deal than he did.

After shopping success (and running low on funds), I decided to get him off his feet and suggested a movie. We went to see Pan, and it was the perfect way to end our day. Popcorn and chocolate. Hugh Jackman and flying fairies.

And…he was a great date. Didn’t even fall asleep during the movie. Unlike some dates I’ve had over the last 18 years. 🙂

It was exactly what WE needed. To relax together – no deadlines, no piles of chores, no extra opinions, no naptime or frequent potty stops. We could just enjoy each other’s company and have some fun. And yes, he swore he enjoyed it. I kept asking.

My husband had a great “date” with our toddler, too. They played games, read stories, watched a movie, and giggled. Of course, my little devil would switch to his normal, sweet self for Dad. Now Dad thinks I’m nuts.

When you give a little, you gain a whole lot more. Giving up my free night alone was the best decision. I gained so much more enjoying quality time with my older son.

Speaking of gaining more, I heard my husband thanking our toddler for such a great night together. But my ears perked up when he added, “Should we do that every Saturday night, just you and me?”

Wait, what? Did you seriously just offer one night a week?

YES! Date nights rock!

Hands Free Mama

Letting Go...To Grasp What Really Matters

Butterfly Heart

life in progress

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