4-H goat group

In the hopes of finding a farm/animal outlet for our kids who live in suburbia, we joined a 4-H goat group.  It has so far been a fantastic experience.  The kids are learning a LOT.  Not just about goats but about learning to give a presentation and run a meeting.  Rylee ran (and won, unopposed) for VP of the group.  So fun!

We traveled a ways north to a goat farm and took a tour to learn all about dairy goats.  It was a great time.

The tree

We have had many awesome, epic tree hunting adventures in years past.  But this year there just wasn’t any way to fit in a trip to cut our own.  Sometimes simply being flexible is the name of the game.  It was drizzling and cold, again, so it was a short lived outing but any outing with cousins is a fun one.  Oh how thankful we are to live nearby my sister and her stellar hubby and their beautiful, precious kids!

Lights of Christmas

Sometimes the best laid plans just don’t work out the way you want.  Here’s an example:  In our effort to find a new tradition that would be more kid friendly than traipsing downtown we headed to the ever-popular Lights of Christmas.  An hour drive and none too cheap to get in, it was a big deal trip.  To top off the fun Nana and Papa had the brilliant idea of renting a 15 passenger van so we could all travel up together and sing Christmas songs.  The kids were THRILLED at the prospect.

But on our way north, van loaded with piles of warm clothes knowing it’d be around freezing temperatures, it started to rain.  We piled out of the van after a loud and fun ride up with only slight bickering.  Oh my it was cold.  And the whole thing takes place outdoors, hence the ‘lights’ of Christmas.

Everyone said they wanted to ride a horse.  Audrey was the only one to actually get on a horse, no idea why because she is usually more timid.  Doesn’t she look like she’s having a ball?

Love these little cousins so very much!

And this sister too!

This picture sort of sums it up.  Cold.  Wet.
Trying to have fun and be troopers (which they really were).
I almost didn’t post this since I do have crazy eyes.  But what’s the fun in not sharing?

A happy moment with the ginormous snowman

Phineas was probably the happiest and warmest of the bunch, satisfied to get toted around in the backpack the whole night!

When Nana asked Rylee what her favorite part was, she quickly replied “Riding in the van with everyone of course!”.  So maybe next year, we can just drive around together and skip the lights?  Or all drive separately?  Or think up something new to try?  Who knows!

Thanksgiving

I know it’s almost Christmas but just wanted to share a peek of our Thanksgiving before this week is over.  It was a little hard trying not to compare this year to last year.  Nothing could really ever compare.  But we relished family time and celebrated a long list of things we are giving thanks for.

We loved getting to see great Grandpa for Thanksgiving, we think he’s pretty amazing for traveling across the country at his age.  It’s sure not the same celebrating the holidays without Grandma.…having her here with us last year, not knowing those were her last days.  Truly a treasure that can’t be measured.

Rylee handed out little leaves to people to write their thankful things on then she posted them on our thankful tree.  In case you ever get inspired and decide to paint a tree on your wall, let me save you some time and tell you DON’T use tempera paint.  I’ve so far painted over it 5 times and the tree still shows through, because its so water soluble.  It gets wet and the green mixes with the wall paint color.  Every time.  Not so good, lesson learned.

 

Not quite getting it right

The last couple of years around November or earlier I’ve set about writing schedules, mapping out the whole holiday season making sure to balance it out properly and spread out the fun and so on.  That is what worked well for us and helped us keep our focus.  I shopped way ahead, budgeted well and made every effort to be a few steps ahead of the game so we could relish the real reason for the season.

What happened this year?

It’s December 10th (almost) and uh, we don’t have our Christmas boxes out of the attic.  We don’t have any lights up.  We have no nicely lined up schedule for the month on the fridge.  We have a ridiculously jam-packed four day stretch of activities that has already made me cry.  Three times.

I did read all the great articles on Simple Mom and other favorite blogs.  I did get plenty of advice and tips from the great world wide web.  But when it came to deploying all the great strategies to a organized, happy, simple, meaningful Christmas season?  Epic fail.

Some things were in place months ago then new things (read: “urgent”) came up I said yes.  And yes.  And more yes.  Because I felt like I should.  Like it was my obligation and responsibility.

That was my first and largest mistake.  Even though every single thing on the docket is wonderful and ‘fun’ and has fellowship and love at its’ core, it still doesn’t mean our family should be participating in them all.

I went to call my mom tonight in the middle of a meltdown.  But I called my little sister first instead.  I knew she couldn’t solve my problem.  But I wanted her to know that even the big sis falls apart and makes colossal errors in judgement.  She didn’t answer so naturally then I DID call the mom.

I know you can’t fix it mom, its my predicament….I just want to know how I should have done this.  What should this have looked like if I’d done it right?

She had wise and grace-filled answers.  She gently reminded me that just because I’d failed at setting boundaries and thus hadn’t set my kids (or myself) up for success, didn’t mean help wasn’t ready and available.  Somehow I think I thought since I said the too-many-yes’s that I shouldn’t get to ask for help.  Can we say flawed thinking?  Indeed.

The peripheral implications for too-much-on-the-plate days and weeks are many.  Piles of clean unfolded laundry=frustrated everyone for not having what they need to wear.  Piles by the front door from too many quick ins and outs and trips around town.  Not having the time or energy to relish in the small sweet things of this season.  Over-stimulated, tired kids.  Poor nutrition from too many hurried days.  Not enough sleep.  A sick stomach (mine) from letting sugar creep back in.  Hearing “Wow, they have their lights up, they must really love Christmas” (yes, I know and they know, its not about the lights, but those things are so FUN and special for little people!)….I’m just going to stop there, I’m sure you’re sensing a theme!

So instead of sewing finished edges on the costumes I said I’d bring to the pageant rehearsal tomorrow morning or spray painting wiseman crowns or folding the mound of laundry or finding a way to get into the attic to get Christmas boxes out or anything else that I ought to be doing, I’m just going to bed with prayers in my heart for the grace to get through the weekend and the wisdom to learn from my mistakes.