Monday, January 23, 2012

Multitudes on Monday...#251-270

Note:  I've been absent from my blog for a couple of weeks due to a health scare and then an unexpected death in the family.  Though I don't wish to discuss either event in any detail here on my blog, their echoes will certainly appear in my list, which I've doubled in order to catch up...

Thankful (for):

251.  A mom who (still) takes midnight phone calls.
252.  A mom and a sister who dropped everything to come to the rescue.  And a dad and a brother-in-law who spared them for me.
253.  Getting scared straight about good health and proper lifestyle choices.
254.  A mom and a sister who turned around and *drove back* to come to the rescue.  Again.
255.  My husband's strength and wherewithal amidst a jumble of absolutely bewildering circumstances.
256.  Road trips with my husband, and 3:30 a.m. heart-to-heart talks while driving under a starlit Mississippi sky.
257.  Aunt and Uncle in-laws who put you up like a visiting rock star.
258.  Sisters-in-law who are lovely and beyond precious.  And who give me the sincerest and sweetest hugs and kisses.
259.  Ministers who somehow know just what to say and just how to comfort.  The obedience of God's servants is so obvious in times of grief and mourning because they become stunningly perfect messengers of His mercy.
260.  How a kitchen table can become ground zero.  How all who gather around it find strength and sustenance there, and not from any food!
261.  How pictures become not just links to the past, but lifelines of love and family togetherness.
262.  How a childhood home can inspire special insights..."my mother-in-law used to cook Marty's dinner here" and "my beloved used to fall asleep here."
263.  Discovering a mom-and-pop coffee shop in my husband's hometown and tasting an Americano simply unequaled in my experience (and that's saying something).
264.  Being asked about my children by people who genuinely wish to know (and are not just making polite conversation).
265.  The way my very-busy husband sought me out, grabbed my hand, and led me through a crowd of mourners to keep me at his side.  The way his strong hand felt in mine as we stood in silent prayer.
266.  The way a sandwich and Southern sweet tea tasted when all was said and done.
267.  A sister who dropped her whole schedule (which is masterfully juggled to accommodate 4 children!), happily, to play with her visiting nephew and niece while their Nana worked.  (And who sent home a pile of presents that the aforementioned babies absolutely adore!)
268.  Coming home.  The feeling of wanting to hug your furniture!
269.  How my husband has happily embraced a new way of eating and living.  The man is nothing if not amiable.
270.  A stroll with my children on a very mild afternoon, seeing the breeze in their hair, hearing the birds sing, and feeling peaceful in my soul.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Multitudes on Monday...#241-250

Thankful (for):

241.  This.

Why I'm watching the playoffs!
Especially after this nonsense.  Everyone likes to say they loved someone before they were totally famous, but in my case, it's true!  I loved Tebow when he played for Florida.  He's a fantastic quarterback (I don't care if he has good form or not!) but my favorite thing about him is his ability to handle (very unfair) criticism.  He is who he is and he's not ashamed of it.  You go, #15.  I might be your biggest fan.  :)
242.  A wonderful birthday, courtesy of my darling Marty.  My day started with breakfast in bed of French toast with homemade strawberry syrup, bacon, orange juice, and coffee, which Marty thoughtfully refilled/reheated every 15 minutes or so until I was swimming in coffee!  Then he brought the babies in for birthday hugs and kisses and my little family sang to me, then Marty took the babes to go play.  I was then left in perfect peace and quiet, and I lounged my heart out, blogging, watching the old Orson Welles version of "Jane Eyre," and dozing.  It was absolute bliss.
243.  A birthday dinner at Olive Garden that wasn't too stressful, thanks to the neverending supply of breadsticks and two kids who love them!  Fettucine alfredo followed by dessert "shots" = brilliant!
244.  A birthday package in the mail to me and Marty (his birthday is Christmas Day) from my sister and her hubby -- the newest BBC version of "Jane Eyre" (do y'all sense a theme in my life?) for me, and a Saints t-shirt for Marty!
245.  A call from my parents, singing me "Happy Birthday."  Very cute and very appreciated.
246.  A couple dozen birthday wishes for me on Facebook, from very thoughtful friends who took a moment to love on me.  I don't take any token of friendship for granted, and it really made my day!
247.  Finding baby blooms on my orchid, that I had thought was dead and was getting ready to throw out.  Nope, it was just in a regeneration cycle?  I have to read up on proper care of orchids, apparently!
248.  The white hyacinth that Marty included on my birthday breakfast tray.  It smells like heaven.
249.  Helpful parenting advice from girlfriends.  We've encountered some bedtime issues with Will and they are driving us batty, but it's so nice to hear "you're not alone" and "we've been there" when seeking advice on this. 
250.  The fact that Will said the numbers 1-10 *in Spanish* to me this morning, while watching Diego.  Sometimes I think the whole speech therapy thing might be a very brief experiment.  So thankful!!!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Series 35: Q and A

Ask me anything
So I thought it would be fun to ask my Facebook friends to pose 35 questions to me, and these wonderful folks indulged me by asking the following (Note:  This was So. Much. Fun.):
  1. (from Dawn):  As a little girl, what did you dream/plan to be when you grew up?  When you know yourself, you know yourself.  I dreamed of being a writer.  My very first story (I couldn't have been over 10 years old) was a silly little tale about a girl who lived in the woods and couldn't find her way out, and I called it "Zephyr Lake" because I was completely enchanted by the word "zephyr" at the time.  I bound my book in pink construction paper and white yarn.  I was on my way!  I also very much dreamed of falling in love with a handsome man (I'm as girlie as they come) and having lots of babies with him.
  2. What is your favorite type of toilet paper?  (I will have my blog readers know that I almost snorted coffee out my nose when I got this question.) And the answer is...Charmin. 
  3. And why? Do you select based on color, patterns, quiltedness, price, comfort.....  Because I was raised on it!  And because I've never found anything I like as much.  In fact, there's nothing that really boils my blood like toilet paper that's practically nonexistent.  Barnes and Noble stores have the *worst*.  Yes, I pay attention to things like this!
  4. (from Stefanie):  Who/when was your first kiss?  Blaine Hansen.
  5. (When): Summer of 1994 when I was 17 years old.  He had an earring and smoked cigarettes and I probably dated him for shock value alone, but he was genuinely funny and sweet.  Our relationship was mostly a friendship but he did give me the most adorable first kiss.  That's really the only way to describe it.  :)
  6. (from Ellen):  Do you sing in the shower? I used to, especially if/when I was really happy about something.  I haven't in a long time, usually because showers are the rare personal time for me and I don't want to ruin them with my singing! 
  7. If so, what is your preferred song? This is so odd, but the Shaker song "Simple Gifts."  I either learned it at private school or from Little House on the Prairie, can't remember which, but I've always loved the melody and think it's actually a perfect fit for my limited singing abilities. 
  8. And, if you wake up tomorrow and your bed somehow moved to Russia while you were sleeping, what would you do? Run to the American Embassy like that girl in "The Saint" and beg to get on the first flight home.  I know that sounds extremely nonadventurous of me but I've never had any desire to go to Russia and it's probably the last place I'd like to wind up, accidentally or otherwise!  And no you can't change the location to England.  (This was a very unfair caveat.)
  9. (from Angela):  Do you like Coke or Pepsi and why?  diet Coke, all the way.
  10. (Why):  I think because we always had Pepsi in my house growing up, but when I would visit my grandparents, my Grandpa would always give me Coke in the glass bottles as a treat.  So I associated the taste of Coke with love and reward!  :)
  11. What's your favorite book of the Bible?  John. 
  12. Who was your most influential school teacher?  My 5th-grade teacher, Mrs. Allen.  She was strict, demanding, and tough, but I never learned so much or had such a ball doing it.  And I could make her laugh.  :)
  13. (from Leslie):  what makes you supremely happy?  I've never been happier than in the private, exclusive company of my beloved Marty.  Time alone with him is the greatest pleasure I know.  To quote Jane Eyre (which I will do at any turn):  He is "my second self and best earthly companion."
  14. (from Wendy):  If you were the President of the United States, what is the first thing you would change and why?  Very tough question.  Marty and I have remarked to each other that the office no longer holds the appeal that it surely did in years past, because now you become such a polarizing figure, no matter which side you're on.  I made a goal a while back to steer clear of most things political in a public way (you won't see me posting much about it on Facebook or talking about issues here on my blog) because I don't have the heart or stomach for the backlash -- taking a stand on an issue can make enemies of friends and it's just not worth it to me.  I'll leave the political maneuverings to those capable of handling criticism!  But to be fair, I'll try to answer the question, but forgive me if I'm vague for all the above reasons.  What would I do?  I would start limiting the government's power.  I would pull back where government has ventured to go in recent years.  I'm an avid student of history and have read the thoughts of the men who created this nation (Jefferson most specifically), and I can say with assurance that he would be appalled at how intertwined the government is in nearly every aspect of our modern society.  He would promote a more limited government, and that's where I stand, too.  I think you can probably read between the lines there on where I stand more specifically. 
  15. Why would I do it?  Because I believe that a powerful government quickly -- and inevitably -- becomes a tyrannical one.  And there you have it.
  16. (from Holly):  If you could channel and hang out with any dead celebrity who would it be&why??  For some reason, I found this one to be the most difficult to answer!  Probably because I couldn't choose.  I pondered Thomas Jefferson, Queen Elizabeth I, Agatha Christie, C.S. Lewis. 
  17. (Why):  Simply because I find them all to be endlessly fascinating.  All of them were intelligent, witty, and powerful in some way. 
  18. If money were no object what would your ideal romantic/intimate vacation destination be and why?  A long time ago I saw an ad for a resort in Fiji and it's lived in my mind as the ultimate destination ever since.  The ad featured one of those "huts" suspended over the ocean, accessible by a pier, and inside was all white -- long white curtains, white bedding, white upholstery -- so as not to compete with the bright turquoise and greens of the sky and sea outside the huge windows.  Just looking at the ad made me breathe easier...and I've always wanted to go there with Marty, to experience that kind of relaxation with him and to quite literally be away from everyone and everything else.
  19. What song(be it Barry white or lady gaga) gets u in "the mood"???  I canNOT believe I am admitting this, but what the heck.  The first thing that came to my mind was the song "Better than Me" by Hinder.  It was on Marty's iPod when we first started dating and well...that's all I have to say about that.  :)
  20. (from Susan):  #1: When your soul leaves your physical body, what do you most want to be remembered for? That I loved people.  There are certainly tangible things I wish to accomplish with my life, many of them yet undone, but I don't want people to list all my accomplishments at my funeral.  I want my children to say, Mom just really loved me.  Powerfully, practically, unceasingly, unconditionally.  I want anyone else who survives me to say the same.  That I LOVED them.
  21. Or, #2: You have strong (heartfelt) family values, but what are the top 3 dreams you want for each of your kids (and don't fall back to usual "health, happiness, and financial security.").   1.  I want them to never be alone.  I want them to know the love of their Father and Creator and Savior.  I want them to experience with someone the passionate love I've had with their father.  I want them to know they will ALWAYS have me and they can always come home.  I want them to have good and faithful friends.  2.  I want them to love learning.  If you have an eager mind and a good imagination, you will never be bored and you will always find comfort.  3.  I want them to be grateful.  If you make it a habit to count your blessings, you will always find fulfillment and peace.
  22. (from Kristen):  How 'bout these - If you could wake up tomorrow with a new talent or skill, what would you want it to be? I'm surprising myself with this answer, but I think I'd love to be able to sew clothes!  I love watching Project Runway (I think it's the only TV show I watch with any kind of faithfulness) and I love the idea of whipping up something to wear that's unique.  I've never tried sewing but I've always thought, Some rainy day I might give it a whirl! 
  23. What is the most far-fetched to-do on your bucket list (that are actually dead set on doing)?  Far-fetched because of the enormous financial requirement, but I'd love to travel Europe with Marty.  IN STYLE!!!
  24. (from Brittany):  During pms, do you desire chocolate or crave the salty-goodness?  Both.  In fact, when I was a teenager and PMS'ing, I would go to McDonald's and get a small fry with a small chocolate shake and eat them together.  When I was pregnant, I was classically hormonally pregnant in this way -- I would go to Chick-fil-A and get extra pickles to go with my cookies-and-cream shake.  DE-LISH.
  25. In love gestures, Extravagance or simplicity?  Can I say "both" again?  When I gave birth to Lucy, Marty surprised me with a wristlet-style Louis Vuitton bag (something I'd always wanted).  I was shocked and so touched that he did that for me.  But I would put that little bag right next to the daily emails he used to send me when we were dating -- they literally took my breath away.  His loving thoughtfulness went into both expressions!
  26. (from Jen):  What is your all time favorite outfit??  Love this question!  The first thing that came to mind was one of the first outfits I ever bought for myself, with my own money.  It was an outfit from Express (it used to be vastly more popular!) -- a 3/4-sleeved tight black tee with a ballet skirt in several layers of wispy-thin material in a black and gold and brown leaf pattern.  I wore it with black tights and adorable black flats.  I felt positively ethereal in it!  My favorite outfit now is anything that captures Marty's attention, which is usually something like a pink or red sweater with a skirt and boots.  And red lipstick.  And headbands.  Lord, I love the headbands!  (When are you too old for them???)
  27. If you had to be stuck in a television show which one would it be?  You will laugh because I can't decide between these two:  Little House on the Prairie and Sex and the City.  Ha!!!  Little House, because it always made me feel so warm and cozy and life was simple but rewarding.  Sex and the City, for the clothes (oh the fabulous clothes and shoes!) and the lifestyle of being a writer in NYC and the celebrating of female friendship (honestly, I can only handle the tamed-down versions they air on TBS because I always found the sex element to be mostly just raunchy and over-the-top).
  28. (from Cathy):  When you shave, do you start with your pits or your legs?  Hysterical!  I shave them at different times!  I like to shave my legs in a hot bath and I like to shave my pits in the shower.  Is that weird?
  29. If you could live in another country, which one would it be and why?  Hi, my name is Becky and I'm an Anglophile.  If I could live in England, even for a short amount of time, I would consider my life to be more blessed than I could bear. 
  30. (Why):  Because I love England -- the landscape, the history, the literature, the sense of humor.  I have a degree in English because I love the written word and no one has mastered it so well as the English people.  In fact, my advisor had to force me to choose American Lit classes because I found them to be distasteful by comparison!
  31. How many days can you stand to go without a shower?  Roughly a 24-hour day.  Seriously, I'm the girl who prefers a shower in the morning AND a bath at night.  It's hellish on the skin but all the more reason to stock up on yummy lotions!  I just prefer to be clean and smell clean.  After I had my babies, that was the first thing I started counting down to -- how many hours (minutes?) before I can get out of bed and into the shower?!?
  32. (from Teri):  If a film was made about your life, who would you want to play you and who would you want to play Marty?  I would choose Natalie Portman, because I would fancy myself to be that petite and beautiful.  And I have a suspicion she's a kindred spirit...  For Marty?  That one is tougher because only Marty can be Marty, but if I had to choose...maybe Ryan Gosling.  Because I just love that kid.
  33. What is the most important lesson you have learned so far in your life?  This echoes back to an earlier answer, but the simplest answer is this:  To be grateful.  I've learned to be thankful for every good thing that comes my way, even if I worked hard for it, because I was even given the ability to work hard.  I used to watch American Idol but I would get so incensed at these kids who would be rejected, who would come out saying "It's not faaaaaaaair" and "But it's my dreeeeeeeam!"  Nobody owes you anything in life, children.  Do yourself the biggest favor of all:  Lose your sense of entitlement and start working hard and being grateful.  Life will be far, far kinder to you.
  34. What was your first job?  Babysitting my cousins Madelyn and Adrian, who I think were 5 and 3 years old respectively, the summer that I was...15?  I watched them all day, every weekday, for $60/week.  It was HARD work -- feeding, bathing, entertaining.  But they were sweet girls (and still are) and it was good practice for motherhood!
  35. (from Teri, who took pity and asked me a few more so I could get over the hump!):  Do you like shopping for clothes?  Yes and no.  I have not enjoyed it nearly so much since having children.  I have yet to make peace with my postpartum body...yes, I need to work on it (exercise, eat better) but no, there are places on me that will never be the same (even my SHOE size changed!) and it's hard to accept this.  But -- if I have a generous budget and no babies to wrangle and a couple of solid hours to take my time (and a friend with a sense of humor always helps), then yes, I'm probably going to have a great time!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Series 35: New Year', aspirations

A New Year

There's nothing magical about a new year.  Just like there's nothing magical about a wedding ceremony for two people committed to entering into marriage together (you better already have it because saying some words in front of a pastor isn't going to inspire it!).  However, it *feels* good to say, "This is where we began" and "This is a fresh, new start."  I also have a dislike toward the notion of a "resolution."  It feels too solid, too written in stone.  So, somewhat alternatively, I'm going to make some gentle suggestions to myself to aspire to the following this year (the asterisked items are ones I usually do anyway, but am going to be more purposeful in doing more consistently):
  1. Make my bed every day.* 
  2. Read 2-3 books a month.  I'm currently working on my list of 35 books toward this end (I'm at 16 or 17 and could really use more recommendations!).
  3. Read to my children every day.* 
  4. Do something creative with Will (and Lucy when she gets there) every other day:  Play-doh, coloring, etc.
  5. Plan my menus and do my grocery-shopping in advance of each new week.* 
  6. Develop and implement a housekeeping notebook/system.  This is a trendy thing in the blog world right now, but I'm going to differ with mine in two major ways:  1) I'm not going to spend more than $5-10 on a notebook and some paper (I unashamedly scoff at the $50 versions!), and 2) I'm not going to be a slave to it, but rather use it as a guide and gradually work my way up to a good pace.  I've seen the need for this over and over in my daily duties, as I tend to triage and well, if you only ever triage, you never get to cleaning those baseboards!
  7. Spend less time on Facebook.  This won't be easy, as I often feel the need for some outside connection, but it's too much of a timewaster.  I've often flirted with the notion of cutting it out completely, but that would be unfair to several friendships that require (and deserve) the perpetual nourishing I can give them through Facebook.  So, I'll just be more efficient and strategic with my time on there!
  8. Go "deeper."  There's been a recent trend on Facebook to choose a word to describe how you want to approach 2012, and this is the word I chose.  Simply stated, I want to seek greater depths in all my relationships, and also in my own understanding, knowledge, wisdom, compassion, and love.
  9. Be better about remembering birthdays with at least a timely card.
  10. Schedule (and keep!) appointments with my doctors and dentist.  I've been woefully neglectful here.
  11. Have dinner at least started by the time Marty gets home.
  12. Stop and play or read or snuggle with my kids when they request it.  Everything else can wait.
  13. Pray more purposefully.  This is another area where I tend to triage!
  14. Make some peace with the phone.  I'm not sure why, but I actually despise talking on the phone.  Obviously this is not a workable situation!
  15. Attempt storytime at the library again, even though it is stressful, upsetting, and most often seemingly not worth the effort.  But it does my children good to get out of the house and interact with other kids, so I think we should try, try again.
  16. Attend church every Sunday.*
  17. WORK ON MY MYSTERY NOVEL.  The one I'm writing, that is. 
  18. Seek small freelance projects to supplement our income and use my brain and (rusty) editorial skills.
  19. Nurture friendships where there is evidenced mutual affection and begin to let go of "friends" who don't really keep in touch, despite efforts made.  The people who give are the ones who deserve the attention.  That's not meant to be mean-spirited, just...realistic and fair.
  20. Establish a good relationship with Will's new speech therapist and work with her on homework/goals for him.
  21. Potty-train Will.
  22. Wean Lucy from the bottle to a sippy/straw cup.  Also eliminate baby food from her diet (even though if this takes all year, I don't mind).
  23. Drink more water.  I have a super tall cup that I shall fill and empty each day.  By drinking it, of course.  :)
  24. Cut back on diet Coke.  (It just pained me greatly to type that.)
  25. Exercise.  I want to lose some weight but don't necessarily want to watch the scale to track it.  I might step on once a week or so just to gauge my efforts, but I'm not going to obsess.
  26. Continue to live a mostly TV-free lifestyle for myself, and really cut back on TV for the kids.  I don't use it as a babysitter (indeed, what would that even look like???) but I do rely on it in order to get something done, or for a break here and there.  I don't imagine I could cut it out, but a scaling back is in order, methinks.
  27. Find a way to get away with Marty.  We tried -- and failed -- to take a mini-vacay this year and we are starved for it now.  Finances are always tight but it's time to apply some creativity to this goal and get it done.
  28. Get back into couponing, though perhaps be a bit less fanatical this time.  I don't *have* to buy it just because it's BOGO.  Right?
  29. Alternate work and rest for naptimes; i.e., today I'll get caught up on Lucy's laundry, but tomorrow I'll take a nap myself.
  30. Grow a garden of some kind.  If we're still here come spring, we'll have another potted garden on the deck, but I want to include a couple more veggies besides tomatoes.  Green peppers?  Herbs?
  31. Continue to take time to be purposely grateful by writing my "Multitudes on Mondays" posts and in other ways.
  32. Clean out the basement storage room.  (Bleech.)
  33. Practice grace and forgiveness, including (and especially?) toward myself.  I am *not* instilled with superhuman powers.  Get over it, Becky.
  34. Keep as current as possible with the Shutterfly albums I compile for each year of my children's lives. 
  35. Purge all that's unnecessary from our home, for simpler living and saner housekeeping.
I actually wondered how I would get to #35, but now that I'm here, I find I could probably keep going!  And of course, I don't think I will be successful at every line item, but if I give each a purposeful try, then I'll certainly have a better 2012 than if I had not done this exercise.  Wish me luck!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Multitudes on Mondays...#231-240

Thankful (for):

231.  An early birthday present from my hubby:  Enough money to buy "a handful" of new books on, to get started on my reading list for 2012.*  Shopping and choosing -- probably the most blissful hour of my life in recent weeks.  Can't wait to see my UPS man and my big brown box!
232.  The way Lucy runs down the hallway toward where I usually sit at my laptop, with a huge grin on her face of absolute delight to see me.  I know I won't always inspire such enthusiasm in my daughter, so I cherish it.  :)
233.  The way January feels so right after all the holiday hustle and bustle:  we finally had some snow flurries (with a major temperature drop afterwards), we had chicken pot pie for dinner, the babies have spent the day in blanket sleepers.  It's just a time for cozying up and settling in for a long winter's nap.
234.  Plans to rearrange a couple of rooms for (aforementioned) cozier living.  I have a special idea for a "Becky sanity nook" in the master bedroom and I'm extremely stoked to see it come to fruition.  I think every woman, and especially every mom, needs a place -- even just a corner -- to call completely her own.  Where she can stack her books, write her lists, drink her Earl Grey, do her praying and thinking and dreaming.  Where no sippy cups, Matchbox cars, tubes of Desitin, piles of mail, or what-have-you are allowed to trespass.
235.  Enjoying the latest movie version of Jane Eyre on pay-per-view, snuggled up with my hubby.  We saw it in the theatre and I was vastly disappointed with it, but I've since realized most of the disappointment lies in the fact that it just isn't the version I see in my head, and that's not the movie's fault!  So the subsequent viewing was far more enjoyable; indeed, this latest version is particularly good cinematography-wise.  Oh the moors of England...
236.  Excellent, helpful, and *prompt* repairmen for several spontaneous breaks in various things around the house.  And the money to afford them!
237.  Watching Will pour imaginary cups of tea (using Lucy's new playset) for both his mommy and daddy, and the pleasure he clearly takes in being loving and giving.  He has the sweetest heart.
238.  Having found a true kindred spirit in Agatha Christie (duh, but still...):
"I did not tell my mother about these terrible fits of anxiety, and I don't think she ever guessed at them...I was, I suppose, always over-burdened with imagination.  That has served me well in my profession -- it must, indeed, be the basis of the novelist's craft -- but it can give you some bad sessions in other respects."
239.  A 4-day weekend with Marty at home. 
240.  A brand-new year, filled with all kinds of possibility!

*I shall be sharing my 2012 Reading List here very soon.