Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Season of Giving

My kids and I share something in common, we all have birthdays within a month of Christmas. This means that we get a lot of stuff all at once and it can be hard to find a standout gift for us. This year I received lots of fun presents for my birthday: gift cards, cash, an awesome camera from my husband, tons of cards, calls and well wishes. I felt very loved this year.

As you all know it is the time of year where we are trying to find something special for our loved ones and often times people need nothing and don't want more junk cluttering up there space but you want to do something so they know you care. Here are two awesome gifts I received for my birthday this year that may just help you think of your own awesome ideas for a few of the people on your list.

First, let me say that one of the reasons I LOVED both of these was they were completely unexpected but given from the heart.

My very dear friend Annika is a stay-at-home mom on a budget. I love that she prioritizes staying home with her beautiful daughter over society's push to have us all believe we must compete financially with the "Jones." Annika is kind, funny, generous, honest and a really great mom. She is one of those friends that you count yourself lucky to have. She never gossips, doesn't participate in competitive woman drama and tells you straight up if you cross a line. I love people like that!

For my birthday this year Annika surprised me with a copy of "Joy of Cooking". It is the perfect gift for me. She knew I did not have it because a few months ago I wanted a copy a bread recipe and she told me it was from "Joy" and I told her I didn't own that cookbook. She remembered.

Now what you also must know is that I love cookbooks. I read them like novels and as you can see I have been reading this one at night before sleep. The tip here is to take the time to find out what a person enjoys, what they do not have and what they would actually use when buying a gift. I know it is tempting to buy what you find on sale or what matches your taste but really if you are going to give a gift, and you actually like the person, take the extra time to make it about them.

The second really standout gift this year was from my mother-in-law's neighbor Dianne. I have only met Dianne a few times but she is one of those people who never meets a stranger. Jack took to her right away too and he is the kid that takes a long time to warm up to people. This summer while I was struggling with my own health stuff and dealing with Grace's hip dysplasia, Dianne sent a very sweet and encouraging card. I was completely surprised when I received this in the mail from Dianne for my birthday.

Dianne made a card with 34 positive things that describe how she sees me. What a great gift! This is a wonderful gift for any holiday and is perfect for mother's day, birthdays, Christmas, get well soons, or just a random note to let someone know you are thinking of them. I mean really folks, who wouldn't like to hear the nice things people think about you. I am totally stealing this idea. And as you know, I had a rough year and did not handle it as gracefully as I would have liked and this gift was a very sweet reminder that along with my bag of bad habits and less than ideal personality traits, there are a few good things that people see in me too. I am going to hang this on the wall in my closet so that I can see it each morning as I get ready this year.

I hope these gifts from my generous friends will inspire you to get creative during this year's giving season.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blessed this Christmas

Yesterday as I drove Grace to her orthopedic appointment tears welled up in my eyes. Hoping for the best but prepared for the worst, I carried a load of anxiety. You could feel the tension in the air. I knew tears were about to fall but I needed to be strong. Whenever I am overly weak in a moment where strength is required, I think of the saying, "put on your big girl panties." This always makes me smile because I think of putting on one of those big pairs of satin undies that go up to your bellybutton that I am sure all of our grandmothers wore when we were kids. The thought helped dry my wet eyes but I needed more. I could not cry in front of Grace's surgeon again. And so I started to pray and this is what I said to God.

Dear God, you have shown me so much grace and I am grateful. I know you have already raised me from ashes. You have given me a life of plenty, of more than I could have ever hoped for. I know I don't deserve to ask for anything ever again. I know. And I know that my sweet girl is lucky. She was born into a place where she is safe and loved and the world is hers for the taking. You have given her so much. We are thankful. Lord, I am grateful and I know our one problem is so small compared to what so many other children and mothers face. I know. Grace has bad hips and we have access to the best care and money to pay for that care while there are mothers in this world with perfectly healthy babies that die because they do not have food or basic medicine. I know. So I come humbly God before you to ask for your favor to heal my sweet girl's hips. If that is not the case Lord, help us to have peaceful hearts and strength as we move through the next few hours and months. Thank you God and help me to be a strong mama today. Amen.

I have said many prayers since this journey started with Grace but none quite so truthful as the one I said yesterday. Christian arrived at the appointment as Grace and I were walking in and together we waited, took x-rays with a screaming Grace, and waited some more.

Finally our surgeon came in with a smile and told us that the x-rays looked great. Grace's hips look like normal hips. She can be out of the brace during waking hours and only needs to wear the brace at night and during naps. We hugged Grace, we kissed each other, we smiled and we were thankful.

As we sat down to dinner an hour later with our little family all in our chairs in our breakfast nook, we took a moment to thank God for this blessing. Thank you God for showing Grace your favor. We are grateful.

Our journey with the hips doesn't end here. In three months we return for additional x-rays and discussion about next steps. We will return for check-ups until Grace stops growing. Depending on Grace's growth and progress out of the brace we may still have surgeries to face. Regardless, we are going to turn our faces to the sun and move forward.

Today Grace has been trying to crawl. She is managing to move herself across the room and even rolled over from her back to her tummy for the first time in her life. We are so excited to see her develop and learn. We are thankful and happy and blessed.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Our Snowy Morning

Y'all, it is cold outside! Today is one of those cold, snowy Colorado days that makes me want to stay home and snuggle with my babies.

While Gracie napped this morning Jack found some loose change and we talked about pennies, dimes, nickels and quarters. Jack is most impressed with the penny.

We then setup the wooden railway on the living room floor. This SUV barely missed a major collision.

Once Gracie woke up, we headed outside to play. Getting three people ready to play in the snow was way more worked than I thought but it was worth it.

Gracie had fun watching Jack play.

Jack had fun "swimming" in the snow.

We warmed up with hot chocolate and a tea party in Grace's room.

Jack thought he would nap under Grace's bed until...

Grace decided she wanted to join him.

So long everyone. Stay warm!