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.

34 - HUGs giving

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.

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!

I’m Pretty Well Covered, Thanks!

I almost didn’t write a post this week.

Until, when I left the grocery store tonight, a man blessed me.

I wondered…Why?

Post ideas flittered through my head all weekend, but nothing stuck. I knew I could pull some pre-written, partially complete posts and finish them, but they weren’t pulling at my heart at the moment.

I actually started thinking, Maybe I could just skip this week. I don’t know how many people are regularly reading these posts, so a missed post would likely not be noticed. Not that I’m complaining, because I started this blog to keep myself on track. But…it would be nice to know I’m not alone. That there are other parents out there whose kids know how to push their buttons…and often…and we’re doing our best not to regularly lose it. That maybe my experiences and observations struck someone else in a similar way. Even that they were able to look at things differently.

I wondered, Would anyone know that I didn’t write a new post?

20 - blessed

I did a lot this weekend…physically. Hauled sand bags, replaced sand in the sandbox, weeded, planted flowers, sanded and stained a desk, painted and upholstered an ottoman, set up the sprinkler for the boys (and ran through it with them!), picked raspberries, had lots of time outside under the hot sun.

It felt good. To be outside, to get a lot done. But my bones were weary. My mind wanted to do more – like write my weekly post – but I wasn’t sure my body would make it. I knew as soon as I stopped moving, my body would say, Thank you, good night.

And it did. As soon as I lay next to my youngest for story time, I knew this week’s post would have to wait.

Before story time, there was Destination: Grocery Store. It was necessary, despite my exhaustion. No milk or bread will do that.

This man spoke to me, waving, as we passed each other through the automatic IN and OUT doors. “God bless you, Maam,” he said.

What motivated him to do that? Did I look totally stressed out? Or bone-weary tired? Or did his own blessed day inspire him to pass it on? Or does he do that to everyone, everywhere, every day?

When I sat in my driver’s seat, I realized I didn’t answer him other than smile. What would I have said if I’d had more time…if he hadn’t caught me off guard?

I thought about it, then felt what was in my heart: “He already has!”

     From the fullness of his grace
we have all received one
blessing after another.
                                       John 1:16

I am so incredibly blessed. Two amazing boys I adore. A hard-working husband who loves us dearly. Family nearby that are very involved grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles. Friends I can always count on. A good-paying job with flexibility to balance family life, too. A lovely place to call home. A healthy mind and body that keeps moving. Food in my belly. And a God who has given me so much.

This weekend was proof of my blessings. The boys played well together, the sun was shining, we enjoyed cookouts and dinner outside, movie night with popcorn. I tossed normal bedtime out the window as we sat by the campfire and shared a box of M&M’s. It was peaceful and relaxing (in spite of the hard work).

So while we normally have an automatic response to someone blessing us by returning the same words without even thinking, I’m glad this stranger caused me to stop and really consider those words. And discover a new answer.

Thanks for the reminder, sir. While I would never turn down a blessing, you can have some from me. I’m pretty filled up right now.

And to anyone reading these posts, tagging along with me on this journey…may God bless YOU – truly!

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