Thursday, May 14, 2015

Not So Shiny

My cousin Elizabeth, who is a dear friend and fellow blogger, insisted that I write about this.  So I blame her for the knot in my stomach.

Just kidding.

About the blame, not the stomach.

As the name of my blog suggests, I am a perfectionist by nature but I try to fight that nature in order to be something that resembles healthy.  I don't want to give in fully to that constant pull to strive for unattainable perfection.  But when I'm not actively fighting against it, it pulls me in closer.

One by one, I've had to let go of things I once saw as "perfect."  I'm not the perfect mom.  I'm not the perfect housekeeper.  I'm not the perfect chef or baker.  My kids do not have perfect discipline records.  Even my perfect grades in college are meaningless now.

Well, yesterday I had to let go of one more perfect thing:  my perfect driving record.

I've had my license for 17 years (go ahead and do the math).  I've never even been pulled over.  No parking tickets.  No fender benders.  No red lights run or even an expired license plate tag.  I've had a shiny, perfect driving record.  And I felt proud of it.  Which is probably why it needed to be pried from my kung fu grip.

Here's the kicker.  Not only was I in a car accident yesterday, but I caused the accident.  Embarrassed doesn't even begin to describe how I felt (feel).  I was also so confused.  I am such a careful driver that I'm baffled as to how this even happened.  My dad says they're called "accidents" for a reason. 

I won't bore you with the details, mostly because it still stings to recount them.  The main points are:  I didn't see a car, I hit said car, all parties involved were unharmed, I had Nora in the car with me, Nora was scared at first but then practiced handstands in the grass while I talked to the police officer, the other car had to be towed as a precaution but was basically driveable, my car is driveable but we are not to drive it until the insurance adjuster comes out.  Oh, and I cried.  A lot.  The middle-aged male police officer wasn't quite sure what to do with a crying woman.

The accident happened while I was on my way to pick up our new dining chairs.  I never got the chairs.  That's a worry for a different day.  I'll need to borrow a truck (and have someone else drive as I am not emotionally ready) or beg Pier 1 to hold them longer due to extenuating circumstances. 

So today I'm nursing an exhausted body and a bruised ego.  It's back to life as usual with school, the last dance class before this weekend's big recital, babysitting the two kids I care for everyday, taking care of the house and laundry and meals, etc.  Only it has to be done with one car between Jared, me, and five kids.  We're working it out.

I'm so grateful that no one was hurt, and I'm trusting God to make something out of the rest of the mess.  And now that my secret is out, maybe it'll stop stinging so much.

Jessica

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Star Teacher Appreciation Gift

I wanted to share one more quick and easy gift for Teacher Appreciation.  My friend Michele found this idea and free printable on Simply Designing.

I printed the cards, cut them out, and punched a hole in the top.  I bought two rolls of Starburst for each teacher (they were 2 for $2 at Walgreens).  I chose special flavors just to make it more fun.  I simply tied the Starburst together and attached the cards.  Done!



It would be even cuter to fill a jar with Starburst candies and put the printable tag on the lid. 

On to the next task for May!

Jessica

Mint Teacher Appreciation Gift

May is CRAZY!  In addition to my son's birthday (yes, he requires a party for family and a separate party for friends), my daughter's dance recital (complete with pre-dress rehearsal and dress rehearsal and performance night), Mother's Day (I may be a mom but I also have to take care of the moms in my life), and all the usual practices and homework (and laundry and cleaning and meals)...this is also Teacher Appreciation week.

Anyone else overwhelmed too??

Well I really do appreciate all the teachers in our busy kid world.  I just don't have time to show them in the most creative way possible!  I helped our Parent Club deliver donuts on Monday and decorate the teachers' lounge.  Tuesday the club gave the teachers fresh fruit.  I already forgot what's being delivered today, but Thursday will be lunch and Friday will be cookies.  I participate in the Parent Club and helped raised the funds used for this week's gifts.  But I still want my boys' teachers to know that I personally appreciate them.

My friend Michele found this "mint" printable and even printed two extra copies for me!  She is a school secretary, and she made adorable little gift bags for the teachers at her school.  You can attach this printable to anything mint-flavored.  I just made it very very easy on myself.

I ran to Walgreens and bought a 3-pack of mint Tic-Tacs for $0.99 and a tin of cinnamon mints (just in case they want an alternate flavor) for $0.99 each.  I threw those into treat bags I had leftover from Christmas (I skipped the Rudolph toppers...).  I used white ribbon to tie them up and attach the printed card.

Voila!



The free printable card can be found at Made 2 B Creative.  It says:
Thank You for your
Achieve"mint"
Commit"mint"
Encourage"mint"
Invest"mint"
Involve"mint"
This morning as I watched someone carrying flowers into preschool, I realized that I've spent all my energy on the boys' teachers and forgot about the preschool teachers!  So I ran out and bought two boxes of Junior Mints and two bags of Pepperidge Farms Mint Chocolate Milano Minis.  I simply tied them together and printed two more cards.  Preschool teachers:  appreciated!



Jessica

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Worthy

The topic of praise and worship has come up lately in a few different settings. 

Because people have different personalities and upbringings, there's a lot of variation in the way people participate in praise and worship.

Some enjoy the music but don't ever sing along.  My husband always sings (and truly worships from the heart) and occasionally attempts to clap, but he's not really a hand-raiser.  Some sing with eyes open to read the words on the screen.  Some close their eyes in order to focus on God and not be distracted by their surroundings.

Roughly a year ago, I told my sister-in-law that I was craving more freedom in worship.  I'm part of a Nazarene church, and I attend our more contemporary service.  We have a praise band with electric guitars and drums and all the usual suspects.  We sing songs that are popular on our Christian radio station as well as songs that have been around in churches for years.  Clapping is certainly acceptable, although Nazarenes either don't have the rhythm to keep a clap going while singing or don't feel the need to clap.  A handful of people will raise their hands while worshipping, but it's usually the same folks each time.

And then there's me.  Over the last year, the depth and breadth of my worship experience has grown in an amazing way.

It started with crushing frustration!  You may remember when I was at the Beth Moore conference and asked for prayer that didn't turn out as I had hoped.  Then God challenged me by asking me if He was still worthy of praise.  You can read more here.

I've always loved singing praise songs, especially in a church setting.  I feel the music in me, and I can't actually not move.  I tap the pew in front of me, stomp my heels or tap my toes, rock back at forth, or act as the lone clapper.

I know pretty much all of the songs, so I don't need to read the screen.  I also find that closing my eyes makes me forget about the people around me so I can focus solely on God.

Then there's the controversial issue of raising my hands.  I don't know the churchy explanation.  I just know that for me, sometimes singing isn't enough.  My soul wants to jump out of my skin in praise, and raising my hands is like an outlet for my praise to burst forth toward God.  It can also feel like an expression of agreement or exclamation.  "Me!  Right here!  I agree with these words!"

Being broken and raw before God in a painful way can allow us to connect with him in praise.  That day when He asked me if He was still worthy of my praise, it wasn't just about my unanswered plea for physical healing.  It has become my praise principle.

When I start singing that first song of the service, my mind is still replaying the kids' drop offs or someone's passing comment.

My soul remembers He is worthy of praise.

My mind recounts my current circumstances and the long list of requests I want God to answer.

But my heart reminds me He is worthy of praise.

I think I have to look and sound and act a certain way when I'm gathered with familiar and new faces in church.

God is worthy of praise.

Worship isn't about me.  I don't sing to impress others (I actually have to try not to ruin their worship experience with my voice!).  I don't raise my hands to seem like a good Christian.  When I start wondering how my outfit looks or if the people behind me have noticed the weird spot in my hair that wouldn't curl right, I remember one thing:  God is worthy of praise.

Singing praise and worship songs is like praying without the pressure of coming up with the words.  That's another thing I absolutely love.  All I have to do is think about the words and make them come from my heart.  There's no pressure on me.  Someone else has written the words, and someone else is playing every instrument needed to make it sound beautiful.  I get to simply participate by agreeing.

My worship time has become my very favorite way to spend time with God.  It's like I have a date with Him, and it is the most refreshing way to spend my time!  God has planned our date, and I just have to show up and pay attention to Him.  It's the only time I stop thinking about my world and what I need to do for everyone else.  My time spent in worship is when I remember who God is and that I belong to Him.  Nothing else matters during that time.

I praise God because He is worthy of it.

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.  Psalm 145:3

Jessica

Monday, April 27, 2015

Party Awards

I recently received two awards for parties I've thrown for my kiddos!

Birthday Express gave me the "Best Birthday" badge for my Sea Monster party for Nolan.

photo BestBirthday_zpsa6c2c38a.png 

Shindigz gave me the "Party Expert Approved" badge for my Lego party for Nolan.

   

I'm excited to receive these honors!  Check out these websites for all your party needs. ;)

Jessica 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Fun

Blogger, my pictures, and my new computer were once best friends.  There was a falling out.  The details aren’t important.  We’re slowly working to patch things up.  In the meantime, my tech nerd husband has worked tirelessly to come up with a solution to let me *try* to blog again.  We will get through this difficult time together.

Here’s the blog post I tried to write when everything fell apart.  Now I’m just trying to publish my post about St. Patrick’s Day before Easter gets here!


St. Patrick's Day brings out my inner Fun Mom.  It's not the actual holiday that gets me excited; it's the chance to do fun stuff with food.  Just part of who I am.

I tend to stick with "green" as the theme rather than Irish.  So I browsed Pinterest (of course) and gathered some ideas for this year's Green Day.

When the kids came out to the kitchen for breakfast, they found Trix cereal and Lucky Charms (a rare treat in our house) along with some cute notes.


The Trix free printable is from Smart School House, and the Lucky Charms free printable is from Blue Skies Ahead.  I found that Lucky Charms idea on a roundup on the blog Happy Home Fairy.  I got lost for HOURS reading posts on Happy Home Fairy.  Seriously, I got sucked into her stories of everything her family has gone through with a very ill baby.  I wish we were friends in real life.

We didn't really do anything special for lunch on St. Patrick's Day.  Nolan couldn't even eat lunch because he had to have a tooth extracted.  That wasn't in my original St. Patrick's Day plan.

I tried to fill our dinner with as many green foods as possible.  And of course there were multiple desserts.

The kids have fun polka dot plates, and mine is boring blue.


Our main dish was Zucchini Bites (using zucchini I had frozen from my garden last year!), and our sides were sugar snap peas and kiwis. 

After the kids ate their dinners, they got TWO mystery desserts.  I made them eat them to guess what they were.



Are you curious?  One was pistachio pudding (first time any of us had ever tried it), and the other was Jolly Ranchers Green Apple Jello.  The kids were expecting lime, so it took them a bit to identify the flavor.  Nora kept calling the pistachios "acorns," and Nolan liked the flavor but got totally creeped out by the texture of the pudding.  It actually made me laugh nearly to the point of peeing.

I even made the kids a special drink.  I froze Lemon Lime Koolaid in ice cube trays.  I put a few green ice cubes in each glass and poured Sierra Mist (one of the only Nolan-safe sodas) over the ice.



After dinner we went to watch Jared's basketball game.  I bribed told the kids that if they behaved well at the game, I had extra desserts back at home.  It's clearly overkill, but I just can't help myself.

I had made key lime bars and green Rice Krispies treats with Lucky Charms marshmallows.





Boy those photos are not good quality!  But I don't want to push anything since I JUST got Blogger to upload my pictures at all.

I used the Creamy Lime Bars recipe from Eat, Live, Run.  I saw a bag of key limes at the grocery store and decided to use those.  Unfortunately, we do not have a citrus juicer.  I squeezed an entire bag of teeny limes by hand.


I used the St. Patrick's Day Rice Krispies Treats recipe on Classy Clutter.  I opened a box of Lucky Charms and separated a bunch of marshmallows from the cereal.


I was using an opened box of Rice Krispies for this recipe, and I didn't have quite enough.  Then I had a bright idea--I used the Lucky Charms cereal!  I actually really liked the crunch the Lucky Charms cereal added to the final treats.



See?  I told ya I'm a sucker for holiday food fun.

Aaaannd, I finally completed a whole blog post without my pictures disappearing, losing all my progress--twice, or the website crashing.  Yes, all those things previously happened just while I was trying to write this post.

I hope to see you back here again sometime before the seasons change!

Jessica

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

My Groundhog Day

Some days I feel like I'm living my own version of the movie Groundhog Day.  Today is one of those days.

I was awakened by the same annoying alarm noise I hear every morning.  I drank the same coffee that I have first thing every morning.  Same breakfasts for the kids, same reminders for them to get ready, same sibling fights. 

I dragged myself into the shower, where I went through the exact same rituals I do every time.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  After drying off, I had to face the same battle I face every morning:  wrestling with my hair.  The only thing that ever changes is whether I wrestle it into curls or wrestle it straight.  Makeup.  Jeans.  One of 7 shirts I wear all the time.  Wedding rings.  Optional necklace and earrings.  Oh, and socks.

Next is putting the finishing touches on the boys' lunches and refilling the water bottles they take to school every day.  Pack the back packs.  Holler for the kids to put on coats and shoes at 8:15.  Have everyone buckled and back out of the driveway by 8:21.  Park near the school and give hugs and kisses to each boy while we wait for the buses to unload kids in front of the school.  At 8:26 pull up to where the buses were and give last kisses and a cheery "Have a marvelous Monday!" or "Have a terrific Tuesday!"

Today I had the pleasure of coming home after school drop off, breaking my usual schedule of walking at a nearby sports complex with some other moms from the school.  Nora begrudgingly helped me sort laundry.  The same laundry I sort every week.  Into the same four piles.

After I started the first load of laundry (always blues/blacks first), I had to sweep the kitchen floor.  It was an exact repetition of the sweeping I did yesterday.  I sorted through papers that perpetually gather on the main kitchen counter.  Wiped away the same crumbs I wiped away yesterday.  Gave into Nora's pleas to play iPad and felt just as guilty about it today as I did yesterday.

I checked my phone to make sure I hadn't received a call from the school nurse.  Afterall, Nolan had come into my bathroom this morning, hands trembling and face pinched as he grabbed his stomach.  He spent a few brief moments bent over the toilet with no results, but mostly I just held him.  This is also nothing new.  Nor is the anguish of sending him to school after such episodes.

I won't see my husband until about 9:00 or 10:00 tonight, which has become the norm over that last few weeks.  That is, when he's not traveling for work.  Or at the Emergency Room with stomach pains from work stress finally catching up with him.

Dinner comes around every evening, and I'm generally unprepared for it.  Showers for the kids.  Brushing teeth.  Oh the teeth.

Every now and then something changes.  Like Nora's sudden paralyzing fear of getting sick.  She's afraid of the Fifth Disease someone at preschool had.  She's afraid of the stomach bug that's been going around (that she and I already had).  Last night she overheard Jared and Griffin talking about kidney stones, and she ran out of bed crying to tell me she's afraid she's going to get kidney stones.

So the mundane repetition gets old, but the changes aren't always improvements.  

Adulthood isn't always all I thought it'd be.  The biggest advantage of being an adult is that now I can eat what I want, when I want.  And I do.  Which causes other problems.

I don't mean to be a downer.  Just having one of those days.  I'd like to say that tomorrow will be better.  I happen to have a pretty good idea of what tomorrow will look like.  Hint:  I've done it all before. 

I'm just hoping to do it all with a better attitude tomorrow.

Jessica