Posts Tagged ‘30-days-of-thanksgiving’

NaBloPoMo and end of November thoughts…

Well, this is my last post for NaBloPoMo. I am impressed that I made it every day (even if yesterday just ended up being 1/2 of what I wanted it to be!). I am glad I participated if only because I met some interesting bloggers along the way. I am going to have to go back and hunt for some more when I am not so focused on figuring out what to blog about every day!

I’ve also liked being able to focus on thankfulness.  There have been several days when I have not felt very thankful… and probably even a few when thankfulness didn’t make it into my blog post for the day… but focusing on thankfulness this month has helped me find the little things to be thankful for in the midst of tough days or challenging situations.  I am glad that I am going to be able to continue that focus through linking up with The Gratitude Community on Mondays (even though I ran out of time and never finished my post for yesterday… I’ll just have an extra long one next week!).   I’ve (re)learned that although it is not always easy to be thankful in all circumstances, there is almost always something to be thankful for, even in tough circumstances.

I’ve started thinking a little more about why I am blogging.  Blogging was originally a way for me to get out updates about family… or just try to make some sense of a rapidly changing life.  It is faster than handwritten journaling… but more public as well… and I struggle with the same issues that I suppose any writer does.  Am I writing to get recognition (in the form of comments if nothing more)?  Am I writing to feel like I am part of a community?  Is my blog truly showing who I am… and would I write it even if no one was reading?  I keep thinking of a book I read in college on writing and some of the dilemmas inherent in writing about life.  I probably should re-read that book.  I’ve also skimmed and been thinking on a post I read about blogging as a Christian.  Hmm… lots to think of.  I’m sure some will make it on here.

Looking forward to December as a time for family… a time to share some of my family’s traditions with you readers and make some new traditions as well.  I am glad I will not be blogging every day… but I am grateful for the pattern I have found in blogging several days a week and hope to continue that.  Thanks to all of you who have gone on this journey with me, whether you commented or not.

Here are a few blogs I’ve added to my Google Reader over the last month. Not all are NaBloPoMo participants but all are wonderful bloggers!  I am thankful for all of them, and hoping to be able to read and respond more in depth after taking some time off during the last week or so of holiday craziness.

Filed under Soul Care in my Google Reader if that tells you anything…

Food & Weight Loss (hey, for me they are somewhat related… though they are categorized separately in Google Reader)

Random thoughts from the long weekend…

  • I’ve decided the joy of a home cooked Thanksgiving meal is all about the multi-generational cooking (even if I am apparently the only one who *likes* to cook) and not necessarily the menu. My mom and I spent some time cooking on Saturday (though not a Thanksgiving menu) and that redeemed the Thanksgiving meal at a restaurant slightly.
  • Why do people keep insisting that boys can’t play with dolls? My 4 year old has a little boy baby doll who he has had for a few years and *loves*. He calls him his little brother. He packed play food for him to have Thanksgiving dinner. And yet he got told (by a cousin, I have no doubt) that only girls play with dolls. This on top of me being told by other family members that he has odd taste in toys because he doesn’t mindlessly play with trucks and guns and superhero toys  (okay, to be fair, they didn’t specify what toys they thought he should be playing with) so he is “hard to buy for” = one irked mama.  (Seriously?  What 4 year old is hard to buy for?)
  • Employees who work Black Friday and shut down their checkout line and walk off without calling a manager when I am the next person in line (and have been standing in that line for hours)… and, worse yet, don’t care = Black Friday FAIL. (Managers who step in to check out those of us trapped in line = good management, so it did end well). Yes, Wal-mart, I’m looking at you. Hire employees who do their jobs, please.  And hire enough employees to work the busiest season of the year.
  • Employees who tell me at 4 am that they were supposed to leave work 5 hours ago… and yet are still pleasant, not complaining, and serve me good food = Black Friday WIN.  Here’s hoping that he got double time and a half for working PLUS great tips.  Ditto for stores who calmly adjust prices when the register doesn’t ring up the correct price stated in the sale ad. (Thanks, Macy’s!)
  • Online Black Friday shopping to finish up my shopping — yay!  No sales tax + free shipping = even better!
  • Santas who tell kids that if they are really good they will get presents (even if said children asked for expensive gaming systems their parent can’t afford) = Santa FAIL (fortunately this didn’t happen to me, I just witnessed it!)
  • Santas who tell indecisive kids to talk to mom and send a list before Christmas = Santa WIN (and, that was again at Wal-mart… I’m not all against them!)
  • Having 99.9% of my Christmas shopping done = awesome.  Just some stocking stuffers to go, I think.  And most of the wrapping to go too!
  • Getting a decent family picture for my Christmas cards = even more awesome (and incredibly funny too)
  • Coming home to a (mostly) clean house and prepping to do Christmas decorating = even better.

I really needed a weekend away (even if parts of it were stressful and I am really glad to be home!)  I’m looking forward to being able to celebrate the fun parts of Christmas with a bit less of the stressful side of it too!  Thankful for the weekend away… even the stressful parts.

Hope Now

Have you ever been driving down the road listening to the radio… when a song comes on that reaches in and grabs you and leaves you scrambling for paper and a pen to jot down the lyrics so you can find it again? (Surely it isn’t just me that this happens to all of the time)

That was my Wednesday. The first few days of the week had left me spent and needing some hope. By Wednesday… life was looking better… and into the drive towards the second, holiday-filled half of my week came this song. I scrambled for a bit of paper to jot down the lyrics… and suddenly realized that I had done that before. Several years ago. The first time I heard this song.

I can’t even explain what it is about the song that speaks to me. Maybe it is just that trying to keep faith and searching for hope and realizing over and over again how quickly I can forget Who I am living to please has been the focus of much of the last few years of life.

Enough of me. Listen to the song. It is “Hope Now” by Addison Road.

Lyrics:
If everything comes down to love
Then just what am I afraid of
When I call out Your name
Something inside awakes in my soul
How quickly I forget I’m Yours

I’m not my own
I’ve been carried by You
All my life

(CHORUS)
Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

When my life is like a storm
Rising waters all I want is the shore
You say I’ll be ok and
Make it through the rain
You are my shelter from the storm

(CHORUS)
And everything rides on hope now
And everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

I’m not my own
I’ve been carried by You
All my life

(CHORUS)
Everything rides on hope now
Everything rides on faith somehow
So when the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

And everything rides on hope now
And everything rides on faith somehow
When the world has broken me down
Your love sets me free

You’ve become my hearts desire
I will sing Your praises higher
Cause Your love sets me free
Your love sets me free
Your love sets me free

Linking up with Amy at Signs, Miracles and Wonders today for her Then Sings My Soul Saturday. Feel free to join in!  Today… I am thankful for this song… and thankful to K-Love for the uncountable times the right song has been on the radio at the right time.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What are your Thanksgiving traditions?

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was hosted at our house.  We had the traditional Thanksgiving foods — turkey, ham, cornbread dressing, some sort of sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, pumpkin pie.  We added in a Jello salad, skillet chocolate pie, and fruit tea.  And deviled eggs — which I always seem to forget to list.  Maybe because it was typical for about half of them to not make it to the table.

Over the past few years, each Thanksgiving has been different for my family.  We’ve spent it with my husband’s family, hosted at our house with a few out-of-town relatives, spent it at my sisters’ home with our family and her in-laws.  This year we are spending it with my family… and at a restaurant.  Not at all my first choice.  I’d rather cook for everyone (and, to be fair, I’m sure we’ll be doing some of that over the rest of the weekend).  It isn’t the same… but I suppose what is the same is that we are with family.  We are still thankful for making it through another year.

So, this Thanksgiving, I’ll be missing my mom’s cornbread dressing.  But I’ll be grateful for what is the same about the day — being able to be surrounded by family, watching the Macy’s parade, perusing the sale ads.  And definitely the chocolate pie.  I’ll be grateful for making it through another year… for the people in my life who continue to show me how to be more grateful… for the friends far and near who help me make it through the days… and for the little blessings that are so easy to overlook.

What are you thankful for today?

Black Friday

I LOVE Black Friday. My husband and I have a tradition of shopping together on Black Friday and then eating breakfast afterwards.  It does vary a bit depending on where we are for Thanksgiving that year, or what gifts we are looking for. There have been years we’ve planned a strategy for where to go and what to buy in advance… and years we have just gotten what looked fun at the moment. We loved it because we could get better presents for others for less money (and not because we are stingy… because we are usually shopping on a budget!) This year, with much of our shopping done, we are looking more at items to get for ourselves for Christmas, stocking stuffers, and a few random gifts.

I have found that shopping on Black Friday is not the chaos that many imagine it to be (note: that is only if you avoid Best Buy and have a plan for Walmart). Yes, the lines are long… but it is amazing how much people will help each other out.  A kind of camaraderie is formed with others who are queued up in the pre-dawn, trying to stay warm and swapping sales ads.  Despite the media’s portrayal of the negative aspects, I have found there is more good than bad.

Here are a few lessons we’ve learned over the years:

  • Wal-mart matches competitor’s ads (which is great when you don’t want to drive to the toy store that is 30 minutes away).They also open first (that may depend on where you live)… and have really long lines… and are definitely the craziest place to be.  Please don’t base your opinion of how nice people are on Black Friday on solely a Wal-mart experience.
  • K-mart is open on Thanksgiving Day.  So is Walgreens.  And they have great specials on that day.  Walgreens is the place to go for cheap ribbons, bows and paper!
  • Forget about shopping carts… they just slow down the process.  Unless you are looking for electronics, of course.
  • Best Buy or any parking lot near a Best Buy is insane.  You can go there… but don’t expect to go anywhere else.
  • Old Navy has great sales (though we were quite disappointed in their selection of boys clothing last year)… and they make waiting in line a lot of fun!

What are your thoughts on Black Friday? I know some people who love shopping for bargains… some who hate the crowds and chaos (not to mention lack of sleep)… and some of see it all as too much commercialism or even greediness on the part of retailers and consumers. Do you shop the sales? Do you sleep in? Do you watch the kids so their parents can shop? What’s on your wish list this year?  Do you have any tips or traditions you would like to share?

(Whatever you do… just don’t let this happen):

(Oh, and I am thankful for having most of my shopping done and having a husband who likes to shop with me!)

Multitude Monday: One Thousands Gifts 21-35

Continuing the list of things I am grateful for this week… with Ann and the gratitude community…

21) Veggie Tales


22) Starbuck’s Peppermint Mochas

23)  Libraries

24)  Sleeping cats

25) Silence

26) This quote:

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have made their way out of the depths…Beautiful people do not just happen.” -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

27) Rescue inhalers (tons of cleaning + dust allergies = not fun!)

28) Homemade garlic rolls

29) And the therapy of baking them by hand
30) And the fact they came out really well even though I put in a few wrong ingredients (oops)

31) Friends who listen and help me feel a little less alone


32)  A.A. Milne’s The Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh
33) And the experience of reading it to my little boy (which was the highlight of the day for both of us)

34)  Friends who connect their friends who can help each other out

35)  Not having to act like everything is okay… at least to God (who knows that anyway)

Our Saturday in Pictures

(Thanks, Lowe’s)

Before:

After:

Wish we’d gotten the bathroom painted but we didn’t get that far! Maybe by Christmas… (thanks again to Lowe’s — $5 for at least 2 bathrooms painted is amazing!)

Starting to wrap Christmas presents… with help

Christmas tree lighting!

Thankful for a fun (and productive) day with family!

Just for the joy of it

Joy.

Today I have needed joy. My 4 year old, after a too-late night having fun with his daddy, spent the morning behaving horribly at the library, though not as quite as badly as at church the other week.   (By the way, mentioning that incident to friends who were at church has taught me that others don’t notice your child’s acting out as much as you think they do at the time)!  Once we (finally) got back to the car, he informed me,  “I just feel grumpy… and angry.”   Yeah, me too.  Lesson learned (again) that 4 year olds don’t like being dragged around the library while mom searches for a book.  Lesson also learned to pick out my book before he gets all of his… because after that he was D.O.N.E.  Yes, I threatened to put all of his books back.  Yes, I threatened no story time next time.  Why do I make these threats that we both know I am not going to keep? Really? Books have rarely if ever gotten taken away here.  Anyway.. back to joy. Yeah, it wasn’t so much easy to find today.  I was not feeling joyful.  At all.

Until I started thinking about it, after being reminded by a friend’s blog post.  So… here are the random moments of joy we’ve found today.

  1. Looking at the fog on trip #1 to the library.
  2. The joy on my little boy’s face when we got to the library for trip #2 and he discovered that his left-behind coat had NOT been taken (hey, you never know) but that someone had been kind enough to give it to the librarians… and that they were kind enough to give it back to him (without a lecture, unlike his mommy)
  3. That same little boy’s excitement at getting sweet tea at Chick-Fil-A (seriously, what is it with this child and sweet tea?  Have I ever mentioned that his first sentence was “I want TEA!”?)
  4. Coming home to a slightly cleaner floor than I left and two adorable kitties snoozing in comfortable places. They looked up at me and went straight back to their naps.
  5. The quiet hour or so I had between banishing the 4 year old to his room (where he promptly fell asleep) and my husband coming home from work.
  6. My husband bringing in the mail and realizing that we got the Veggie Tales CD that I won earlier in the week. (Expect a favorable review soon).
  7. Realizing that one of our local radio stations is now playing all Christmas music, all the time.  Even though I inevitably realize long before Thanksgiving that I don’t like their Christmas song selections.  (My goal this year is to make it through the holiday season without having to hear Christmas Shoes — good message, horribly overplayed and sentimental song.  And I am not usually against sentimental.  I did include a link in case you have somehow missed it.)
  8. Taking a few minutes to look through an old blog of mine and watch adorable videos of my little boy from a few years ago… and share them with him.
  9. Bedtime hugs and snuggles… which always help at the end of a long day.  The last two nights, I’ve told Andrew he was my favorite almost 5 year old.  His response?  “You are my favorite almost three-ty-six year old!”  (three-ty being how he pronounces thirty because he can’t say it right, got frustrated, and decided to say three-ty instead!).  Um… yeah, thanks bud.  I thought I just turned thirty-five…
Linking up with Sharon at Good, True and Beautiful for this post today… leave a comment and let me know what has brought you joy today!

Trust, Peace & a Prayer

Yesterday, my husband and I took our 4 year old to a local pizza place for some pizza and games. Exploring the kids’ area, he decided to ride a small merry-go-round. Before the ride started, he changed his mind. “Too high! I’m scared!” I relented. We explored other rides. After watching him thoroughly enjoy riding in a small car on the ground, I encouraged him to ride in a helicopter. What I didn’t think about… and didn’t mention… was that the helicopter went up and down instead of back and forth. Ten seconds into the ride, a startled little boy peered down  at me, pleading, “I’m scared!”.   I looked into his eyes and assured him, “I’m right here beside you. I will not let anything happen to you.” It worked. He relaxed… and enjoyed the ride… and then wanted to do it again.

How often I am like him. My life has been full of experiences I could not foresee.  Too often  I turn, startled, and exclaim, “I’m scared! I can’t do this! I want off!”. But I too have a loving Parent beside me who tells me, “It’s okay. I’m right here beside you. You will get through this.” My 4 year old trusts me, enough to not only overcome his fears but enjoy the rest of the journey. Why is it so difficult for me to do the same? Father, thank you for the times you have guided me through the difficult, dark, and scary times of life. Help me to trust you unreservedly to guide me through the rest. Offering this prayer for myself and for others traveling their own uncertain paths at the moment… may we all remember that God will give peace through uncertain times.

You will keep in perfect peace
all who trust in you,
all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Trust in the Lord always,
for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.   –Isaiah 26:3-4

WFW is not about books, authors, artists.. it’s about God and HIS WORD ONLY. WFW is about celebrating the gift of creativity through God’s Word.

Join myself and others as we share at:

Also, visit Mom’s Mustard Seeds to connect with more women learning and living in the Word

Simple Life

When my husband and I first married, we had no choice but to live frugally. I was grateful that I had learned so much from my mom (who raised a family of 6 on one income) about couponing and rebates.. but moreso that my parents taught me the value of buying only what you need.   I’ve learned over the years that it is important for us to be as debt-free as possible (I’d say debt-free entirely minus the mortgage… but the last few months have taught me that is not always possible) and to spend our money wisely. For example, once we were able to buy a home we opted for a townhouse and mortgage payment which was well below what the bank said we could afford (though I must admit that I have no idea how we could have afforded what they thought we could afford!) I have been very grateful for this decision over the past 4 years as we have weathered multiple job losses and income fluctuations with no minimal worries about how we will pay the mortgage. So far, we are making it.

I am not as much into couponing as my mom was, or as I have been at other times of life. Part of that is that I have started shopping at Aldi (which doesn’t accept coupons) and that I tend to cook from scratch(ish) moreso than buying processed foods that have coupons available. (Plus, I’ll admit, I just haven’t taken the time to do so!) I have lately started paying more attention to money-saving blogs and sites such as Groupon.com or LiveFabuless.com. I’ve loved being able to receive a few freebies by blogging as well (a few books, at this point).

I realize that couponing and blogging are just part of the overall philosophy that has led to living frugally. For me, it is freeing to know that, even though there are times it doesn’t feel like a choice, this IS a lifestyle I have chosen. I am all for anything that simplifies life… and for me, simplifying the spending does that. I’m still working out what all that means to me (and our family… because sometimes it is too easy to not get everyone else’s input). I know part of it is reducing the clutter (ugh) in addition to following the budget. The upcoming holidays are a great time to start doing both.

Forwarding to you a blog post I found today and particularly liked. I am going to copy the post here to save you a click… but the original post can be found here.

8 Useful tips on how to prepare yourself for a frugal life in 2011 (reposted)

If you face trouble to manage your finances in the ever expanding cost of living, you may think of cutting down expenses. However, cutting down expenses is not the only solution; you need to change your lifestyle as soon as possible in order to survive the increasing expenses of 2011. In case you are facing monetary crisis the best way to do away with this crisis and also remain out of it in future is to start living a frugal life in 2011. Thus, go for a frugal living and stay debt-free as well as stress-free in 2011. This article provides you with information you need to know in order to prepare yourself to live frugally in 2011.

  1. Get clutter-free – If you want to start living frugally clear out the clutter in your house, it will not only save you money that you may have to pay for your extra storage, it may also help you gain some extra cash by selling out the things you will never need.
  2. Eat frugally –Avoid buying packaged and processed foods as they are much more costly. Purchase cheaper cuts of meat. Buy fruits and vegetables in season. Do not go out for grocery shopping unplanned as it results in more unexpected purchases. Make sure to make a list and buy only the essential things required.
  3. Don’t buy books – It may sound weird but it is better not to buy books when you can simply borrow them from the library. In case you do not re-read your books, it is better to get them from the library instead of wasting dollars on them.   (Melody’s note:  Not buy books?  Well… okay, I refuse to not buy books but I do have standards for what I will buy and what I will borrow.  I put them in the comments after a fellow book lover commented on this item!)
  4. Don’t buy DVDs – Don’t waste your hard-earned money by buying new DVDs when you can simply subscribe them from Netflix (US). Such a subscription allows you to watch movies of your choice but with a reasonably lower monthly fee.  (Melody’s note:  I have so many DVDs I want to get rid of… which gets into that making family decisions and not just my wants part of decluttering!  I also have to note I make an exception for Disney DVDs!)
  5. Buy second hand items – Buying second hand furniture, rug, waffle makers and night lights may help you get real treasures sometimes though at a terribly affordable rate. (Melody’s notes: I also have to throw in a plug for second hand Christmas gifts and children’s items!  No, not re-gifting… but we have gotten some great gifts in previous years for our little boy through using Craigslist and similar.  Plus an amazing deal on a twin bed and mattress!)
  6. Use one car – It is better to go for one car even if you have two or more cars. It is one of the expensive items that you posses and it may have various expenses related to it like maintenance and fuel. Thus, it is better to use one car as it will be more manageable for you.
  7. Smaller house – Even if you can afford a large house, it is always wise to go for a smaller one. You can easily save money and also still be comfortable even if you have a smaller house to live in.
  8. Use free entertainment – Frugal living does not mean, you have to sacrifice all the happiness of your life. Go for entertainments that are cheap and save money while you have some fun.

I’m thankful today that I don’t have to figure all of this out on my own… and so thankful that I have learned as much about saving, spending and simplicity as I have along the way!