Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Christmas and Helping

Pic of last year's Christmas Tree.

Are you already thinking of the Christmas rigamarole? I know I am. It probably has something to do with Thanksgiving being next Thursday and the biggest shopping day of the year being the day after. I try to avoid that day like the plague. I stay home, do art, laugh at relatives who are up at the crack of yesterday to get to the dawn sales. This year won't be any different. There is nothing I want that bad to shove myself into a store with 10,000 other sleep deprived, hopped-up-on-caffeine, obsessive shoppers. I'm still getting over the fact that Christmas stuff started appearing in stores before Halloween was even over! Now that's just craziness. I understand that the economy is in the toilet and not as many people will be spending as much this Christmas. Stores are trying to advertise earlier so you're looking at product longer and its more likely you'll cave and buy. I get it. But it just brings it home for me how much we have, how much we are blessed, how little we really need. At least in our family.

I say this every year. We need nothing. And yet I still go crazy with Ebay & bookstore shopping purchasing gifts for the family. The kids usually have 10+ gifts a piece. Some little, some big but you get the idea. Too much. I think this year we're shooting for less-is-more. Maybe an electonic something and a couple books per person. Our extended family does this little dance each year called 'what are we doing for gifts THIS year?' Yes, its a dance. We never make a decision until last minute. Sometimes we're choosing names, sometimes we're just buying for everyone. This year I think we're just buying for kids. I hate the whole planning of gifts. It takes the joy out of it all. I tell my family, we can plan all you want but I do what I want. lol If I feel like giving something to everyone, I'll do that. Because for me its all about the giving. I don't care if I get any gifts. I understand why we do the dance, because with 15 people (16 come next week, yay for a new niece!) it can get expensive. I understand it, I just don't have to like it. All the commercialism. I hate that, and yet I contribute to it.

This year we're thinking of spreading the love. We're figuring where we can help out, and what we can do for those who don't have what we have. Our ideas so far:
*** 2 troubled children - a girl in my Sunday School class is a social worker with troubled/struggling families. Every year she is able to hand in the Christmas lists of kids she works with to an agency to fulfill their wishes. This year the agency isn't able to help as much. So we've taken on 2 children; 1 is a boy who is 10 and has similar interests to my 9 yr old dd. Legos, books, etc... We also picked a 14 yr old girl who unfortunately needs baby toys, maternity clothes and layette things. Yes, she is pregnant. My heart went out to her and I had to have her name.
*** The rescue mission downtown allows for help serving food at dinners. I know they're always crowded with help on Thanksgiving but not so much around Christmas. I plan to call and see if we can come on Christmas or the eve before, etc... My mom and SIL (possibly my teen too) are going down to serve this Saturday as well.
*** Our city has an assistance program. They provide food, clothing, assistance with bills for low income families as well as allowing families to come shopping in their building for Christmas gifts (for free.) I'm thinking we could either donate or sort food, or help out when people come for food and gifts.
*** Harvesters is an organization in Kansas City, that provides food to the needy. Many area grocery stores have barrels in the front where you can drop in some groceries you buy and share. I saw recently where a Sunday School class went to the headquarters and helped sort food into boxes to give to various organizations. I'm thinking we could do that.
*** I'm thinking the girls and I could spend an afternoon or two writing notes and Christmas cards to soldiers overseas. I know that a lot of people might be doing that but its another way we can help out and can do that during our school time. I also found that you can send phone cards, gift cards, etc... through here, and care packages here. What a wonderful way to tell our troops we care about them no matter where they are.

Does anyone have any suggestions of other ways to help out? We're still figuring out what is best for us...

Monday, November 10, 2008

Philosophy of Life - Creative Therapy

Today's Creative Therapy Catalyst is: 'What is your Philosophy of Life?'

I'm always one obsessed with words. I had to look up 'Philosophy' just to give myself some reference as to what I needed to create. My favorite definition (and one I most identify with the word Philosophy) is: "the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group." Ohhh, now we're asking the hard questions. The meaning of Life! What do I believe? Why am I here on this earth? I have lots of beliefs. Love one another, share, always be learning, don't sweat the small stuff, be kind, rewind... The list goes on and on. However, there are 2 things I tell my kids and my husband over and over. "I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)" and "You can do anything you set your mind to." I think these are similar concepts and stem from a belief that if you are willing to try hard & work towards something enough and place your trust in God, you can do what he would want you to do. Sometimes you fail, but keep trying. My little one argues the most with me on this; saying "But I can't set my mind to my math." I tell her "You just WON'T. There's a difference." There are many philosophies like "Love your neighbor" or "Do unto others" and I can do everything much better when I gather my strength from Christ. I have trouble with this sometimes, always wanting to be the one in charge. Yet I can do anything when I just turn to him. I hope my children will leave my house someday knowing I love them but that Christ loves them even more.

Be sure to visit this week's Creative Therapy. The guest is Ali Edwards. I love her work and met her many years ago at a scrapbooking function.

** Please celebrate with me. My little baby girl, Alex, turned 16 today. My influence in her life is going down, as the friends in her life multiply. I just hope and pray that something I've said or done up until now will help keep her on the narrow path to where God wants her to be. She's a wonderful daughter. My first born. One I'm proud to call my daughter and one of my best friends.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

A Fun Meme

I found this meme on another homeschooler's site: A Full Heart. I thought it looked fun to fill out. If you complete i, let me know so I can see!

10 Years Ago I ...
1. Was getting pregnant with dd #2
2. Weighed less, had better hair
3. Worked at City Hall, DH was running for City Council
4. Completed my Associates Degree
5. Had just celebrated my 10th Anniversary

5 Things on my to do list...
1. Finish cleaning the bedroom
2. Finish up a customer's canvas order & my project for Creative Therapy
3. Pick out a couch, bookshelves & paint for living room (& go buy it all)
4. Start making a Christmas gift list & begin shopping
5. Make a Dr. appointment

5 Snacks I enjoy...
1. Combos pretzels
2. Nectarines
3. Cookies
4. Bugs on a Log (celery w/cream cheese & green olives)
5. Crackers & Cheese (Colby Jack preferred), maybe some summer sausage too?

5 Things I would do if I were a millionaire...
1. Give away my house
2. Travel the World extensively with DH and girls
3. Make sure kids (& nieces' & nephew's) college $ is covered and parents retirement paid for
4. Attend different art retreats I've always wanted to go to
5. Buy a house on the beach & apartments in NYC & Paris

5 Places I have lived...
1. Missouri
2. California
3. New York
4. North Carolina
5. Arizona

5 Jobs I have had...
1. Assistant City Clerk
2. Assistant Insurance Underwriter
3. Baskin Robbins Ice Cream Scooper
4. Chain Gang Jewelry Maker
5. Volunteer Case Worker at the Red Cross