Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I wasted 1271 minutes and I can't get them back!

Recently, I have become a fan of a game called Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook. I am not very good at this game. However, I have convinced myself that practice will help me to obtain Bejeweled Blitz glory. If I practice I will be able to get scores like Candice Covak or Steve Zitzmann. Mind you I am not jealous (nor am I judging them, as you read on this comment will make more sense) of them just amazed by their extreme talent. Surely if I play enough I will get as good as they are, right?

I have always struggled with self-control and self -discipline. I either have too much or too little in most situations. I have no balance. It has been my life-long battle and one I really want to conquer. Why is it that when I enjoy something I over indulge? Why is it also true that if I don't enjoy an activity I will run to things I do enjoy to avoid the "unpleasant" activity.

So I have come to the conclusion that I have allowed my compulsive nature to take over and Bejeweled Blitz has received 1271 minutes of my time in about five weeks. 1271 minutes computes to over 21 hours. I have spent 21 hours playing a game. I have allowed a game to rob my family. I have taken time from my children, my husband and myself to play a game. Really? I do have boundaries and usually play at night or nap-time. Still I am sure that 21 hours could have been spent in a much better way!

So now what? Do I beat myself up mentally, as I typically do? Do I give up on myself, as I typically do? Do I remind myself that "other people" don't struggle with things the way I do, as I typically do? I could but I am choosing not to do this. This time I am choosing to just stop playing the game. I am choosing to give myself back 21 hours.

Now what to do with all the time?

Lord, please help me to use the 21 hours of time you have just given me to help others and myself. Help me to use the hours for eternal good!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Once upon a time there was a girl with three sisters...

I am blessed to have three amazing sisters! I am honored to be the baby of the family and to see them live their lives as an example for me.

Linda is the firstborn of our family. I won't call her the oldest because that may not be nice! She is a funny, passionate, creative overachiever. She is a leader and people respect her. When she was 28 she made a decision to adopt two boys. She was single and felt like God called her to be their Mother. She gave up so much for them. However, I don't think she would ever say she gave up so much because she is a Mother who adores her sons. Her sons are amazing men. I have the privilege of living with her son John. I also worked with him for three and a half years. I get to hear often how wonderful he is. I attribute this to Linda her sacrifice and her love. I am honored to call her sister! Without my sister Linda I wouldn't know what it feels like to be locked in a lazy susan (I am still a bit claustrophobic to this day). I am sure I deserved it!

Carolyn is a strong, sensitive, creative, beautiful fighter. Carolyn is the most amazing Aunt. My children adore her. Their affection and care for her is so precious. Carolyn has some health issues which land her in the hospital on a regular basis. I love watching my children intercede for her before the Lord asking Him to heal her. Carolyn has a very generous spirit. She is the first to make sure all my children have clothes and shoes along with puppy bracelets and action figures. Carolyn shares my love of Sonic and ice cold beverages. I love to spend time with her.

Lisa is my silly, fun-lovin, overworked, mother of four sister. She is always positive even when her circumstances are difficult. Lisa has loved her husband since she was 15 years old. I have watched them go through so many life changes and I still see her smile when she sees him. Lisa loves her children well! I often call her and find her at the park with her kids after working a 10 hour day. Lisa and I would sing to each other and give each other back rubs to fall asleep each night when we were children. Lisa would wear my clothes to school that I had ironed and prepared the night before. She knew what buttons to push with me, at times she still does. Lisa is smart and goofy. She is my friend and my biggest supporter.

I am a blessed woman. I have three sisters who Love God with all their hearts. I am so thankful that I know I get to love them for eternity!

So Linda, Carolyn and Lisa thank you for being the examples of faith, passion, perseverance and strength to me. Thank you for loving me with all my imperfections and letting me be me.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The $23.72 Birthday Party

Aubrey turned five on July 5th. July 5th is a very difficult birthday because generally no one is in town. We decided that we would just do a small family birthday for her. Aubrey however had other plans. All though we had explained our plans she was convinced that we were having a party for she and her friends. I really felt like Aubrey would be devastated if we didn't have a party for her. So a quick email to her friends and four of the five girls invited could come.

We however, didn't have the budget for a party. So my frugal mind started working. It would be a glamour party. I have nail polish, make-up and "girly" stuff. The reality of why I wasn't having a party was not because of her birthday date. It was because I was struggling with not feeling like her party would be adequate. I am not a person to "keep up with the Jones" but I honestly thought she would be disappointed. I was SO wrong!

After their pedicure they got new flip flops I made for their party favor.

The girls came and I gave pedicures and manicures while they watched a princess movies. We curled hair, put on make-up, ate cake and opened gifts. Aubrey was thrilled. She felt like a Princess.

Her cake decorated with rings another party favor!

I learned a valuable lesson. Don't assume what response your child will have. She told me later it was the "Best Birthday EVER!" She did say that she wished her cousins Kendra and Ashley were there but nonetheless it was still the best day ever.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Changing Bad Habits into Good Habits!

I had a friend post a facebook status update about a new discipline system that she is using. She briefly described some things she is doing and I took those idea's and made a system that is working quite well in my home. I don't know if our systems are the same but I want to make sure to give credit where credit is due!

Our system is called Family Accountability. I love the thought that it isn't just the children who will be accountable in our home but all of us will be accountable. We are accountable to God and each other.

Family Accountability Rules

First you need to set up a list of family rules. Our rules are basic and easy to understand. Here are a few of our family rules. We have 15 all together.

1. No means No. We do not negotiate when we are told No.
2. No fighting with siblings. No hitting, pinching, punching(you get the picture).
3. Chores/Daily Good Habits must be done daily without being prompted. (more to come on this one below)
4. No complaining if you earn a Good Habit Card or you receive a three card penalty. (more to come on this below too).
5. No raising your voice in anger.
6. No fighting with your siblings
7. No more than 30 minutes of electronics time (computer, ipod etc.)

Chores / Daily Good Habits

Next you need to assign chores and daily good habits to each family member. Here are some of our assignments, in reality there are many more on our lists but don't want to bore you too much.

Joy: Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily. Tell your husband that you love him daily(super easy for me to do, he is lovable). One large chore daily like mopping, vacuuming etc.

Caden: Clean cat litter daily, check wastebaskets, gather laundry

Aubrey: Water plants, keep Barbies, markers, crayons and coloring books cleaned up when not in use, always put shoes away in their proper place(if you know Aubrey you know how often this is broken)

Good Habit Cards or GHC

So if you catch your child or they catch you not following family rules or completing your daily chores/ good habits you will have to pick a good habit card. Our goal is to exchange bad habits with good habits hence the name Good Habit Cards. Good Habit Cards have lots of good habits on them. Here are some examples of the approximately 40 cards we have:

1. pull the weeds in the yard
2. vacuum the family room
3. clean out Mom's car
4. Memorize different scriptures (we have about 10 of these in our GHC)
5. Write five good things about________(list different family members)
6. Clean the refrigerator out
7. Dust the living room
8. Grace Given nothing needs to be done (I have 5 in my cards)

So on any given day my children get approximately five GHC's. They have tried hard not to get any GHC's but they can't seem to remember not to fight with each other or that No means NO!


Finally, the kids and adults can earn commissions for receiving no GHC's. They can either save their commissions up or instantly cash them in. We are on a strict budget so we have commissions that have a very low cost. It is also difficult to not earn any GHC's. Here are some examples:

One day with no GHC's pulled:
1. A 20 minute activity alone with either Mom or Dad
2. Your choice of a movie or 15 minutes extra electronics time

Five days with no GHC's pulled:
1. Go get ice cream
2. Pick out of a treasure box

Ten days with no GHC's pulled:
1. Go on a date with Mom or Dad
2. Pick out a toy
3. Mom gets a pedicure if she gets Ten days with no GHC's pulled

It may take my kids a year before they have ten days saved up. Therefore, I am not super worried about doing something big for them.

I hope this didn't confuse you. I hope it gave you some of your own ideas. To sum the system up.

If chores/good habits are not complete your receive a Good Habit Card
If family rules are broken you receive a Good Habit Card
If you don't get any GHC's in a day you can earn rewards / commissions

If you have any other ideas let me know. I would love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Strange Human Encounter and the Non-Apology!

A couple of days ago I had an interaction with a person whom I have never met that I am still thinking about.

I have a friend who is out of town and asked several of us to watch her cats. I agreed to help and created a schedule for all the people so we each knew when we should watch the animals. I and my children went on the days we were scheduled. Caden (my seven year old) scooped all the litter boxes and put new litter in them. My kids hugged and loved the cats and each time we went we were generally excited to help.

Here is where it gets strange. I get an email from one of the other people who is helping watch the cats. I wish you could hear tone in an email. I was pretty certain that this person was furious for reasons that were ridiculous. This person was mad that we were going to the house on the days she was scheduled. She was mad that we threw out a bag with cat poop in it and mad that the cat had an accident. So I re-read our schedule and she made the mistake. I was at the house on my scheduled day. So I responded to the email she had sent. I said I am not sure if she realized how incredibly rude and frustrated she sounded but in the future she may want to try a nicer approach. Now mind you it was VERY evident that she was ticked off. AGAIN....I have never met this person. I also said I would be happy to continue watching the cats since the week got doubled up. I asked her to respond to me and let me know the plans so I could make sure the cats were cared for. I got no response. I emailed another short note. In this note I said that I could have used a nicer tone I was just frustrated by the perceived tone of her email. I did not apologize. I was quite certain that her tone was intended but was trying to give the benefit of the doubt. She then responded and said I already told you I would watch the cats but I guess you never got the email. I obviously never got the email because I wouldn't have sent a second email. Are you with me because here is where it gets really strange. She then writes that she apologizes too(I didn't apologize). She said that she and her friends have talked about me and that is why she was rude in the initial email to me (so my perception was right). She said that it may be hard for me to hear this but that is why she was harsh to me. What? I have never met you! I don't know who you are and you and your friends are discussing what a terrible person I am? So in her apology she slammed me more than in her first email. She literally made it worse.

I decided not to respond to her because I am a firm believer that you can't fight crazy. I however, have thought about this exchange. I decided to think about times in my life I have apologized only to really blame it on the person I was apologizing to. So my lesson in this is when I apologize I need to make sure I am truly sorry. If I am not I think it is better to say nothing. It is obvious that she isn't sorry. I wish she had just said nothing. Now I am dealing with the aftermath of what she said.

I know I am a work in progress. I know that I have areas of blindness in my life. My prayer is that I would see these areas in my life and work on them. I pray that for her too. I am quite certain I am not the only person in her world that she has done this to. Especially, since I have never met her.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Jesus Loves US!

If you have followed my writing for any period of time you know that this past year has been difficult for us. We know that God loves us but there have been days where we could use an extra reminder of His love because the trials have been so big.

This week at church our pastor asked us to either Thank God for His love or ask God to show us His love depending on where we were at in our journey. I can honestly say I am right in the middle. In the midst of our pain I can see God's hand and I know He loves us but I also can go down the the "Where in the world are you God?" trail. This week I did both I thanked Him for His love and I asked Him to show us His love in tangible ways. I told Him I needed to feel Him and be reminded of His goodness!

After we left church we decided to take our family out to eat. We pondered and thought about this decision. We looked at our coupons and we finally came up going to Red Robin. Ironically, we had no coupon but it was Aubrey's birthday celebration and it is her favorite restaurant. We are on a VERY strict budget so going to this restaurant is a huge luxury for us. We were seated at a table and waited and waited and waited for a server to come. It had been about 15 minutes and any family with a toddler knows you are always on borrowed time at any restaurant. We did the head nod, raised hand thing to the next person we saw who worked at the restaurant, it just happened to be the manager. The short ending to this story is he gave us our entire meal free. We were not angry we were simply letting them know that we didn't think anyone was assigned to our table. He said to us "We have a line item on our budget for meals that we give away, I like to give them to the nice people." I have a sneaking suspicion that God loves us!

The next day a friend of ours called us and said "I know you guys wanted a grill, I got one for you. " What? You got us a grill? This friend came to over to our house and brought us a grill he had gotten for us. He found the grill on Craigslist and it needed a few things done to it. He spent his time taking the grill to the car wash and cleaning it and he spent several hours trying to fix the ignitor switch on it too. He loaded the grill in his truck and brought it to us. Really? He did all that for us? I hope he realizes how much he blessed us! He was Christ in action!

I look forward to seeing what other ways God will show us His love. Mostly, I am challenged to see how I can look for ways to show others God's love for them!