Mom vs the gingerbread house!

IMG_20121210_090313It’s Monday morning and I get a chance to reflect on the weekend.  Whew!  What a weekend it was.  My hubby was away on a Jr High winter retreat with our church.  So I was home with all 4 kids.  Notice the “all” in that sentence… when you’re home with everyone alone, that “all” is very important to include in there!  So I’ve done this before, no big deal right??? HA! The kids were determined to make me WORK for this weekend!

From the start, I KNEW it was going to be a doozie!   You know how you can just tell by the glint in your kid’s eyes…. yeah, I KNEW!  Friday night wasn’t too bad.  We got through the evening and went to bed.  My plan for Saturday was to take it easy in the morning and decorate gingerbread houses in the afternoon.

The morning went ok… the normal fighting, yelling and rowdiness.   While they were watching cartoons I decided to put together the graham cracker gingerbread houses.  Well here’s where it went downhill… FAST.  I had gotten all the things I needed to make and decorate them, Friday night.   What I failed to realize was, in my rush, I got Graham mini snack crackers, instead of regular graham crackers… WHAT????????   Oh crap!  So I called a friend (love you Jen Burkholder!!) and asked her if she had any I could use.  SHE DID!!  AND she ran them over to me… what a life saver!!!

So following a picture on Google, (love you too Google!!) I began cutting out all the pieces needed for 4 Gingerbread houses.  It called for white chocolate coating to hold the pieces together so I began to melt the white chocolate coating I had which was probably a year old. (that fact is important!!)  It started to clump!!! (see, told you it was important!!)  Oh NO!!!  Well let’s try this anyway.  I put it in a sandwich bag (also a cheep version of Ziplock, ALSO important!)  and sure enough, the bag POPPED!! (yep, important!!)  White, clumpy goo everywhere… by this time I’m saying in my head, “What the…. “… you fill in the blank!   Now I have pieces cut out, and clumpy white chocolate supposed to hold it all together.  At this point I’ll be darned if these gingerbread houses are going to get the best of me.

So I  put the chocolate in a bowl, pulled out a knife and started spreading it on the crackers to assemble these houses.  I began to realize it wasn’t going to be quiet as simple as I had hoped.  Here’s where Elmer’s glue comes in very handy.  So me and Elmer along with clumpy melted white chocolate coating, put these houses together.  Well as you can imagine, graham crackers being such a strong, hard food, never broke once while I was assembling.. HA!  NOT!  I tend to be rammy by nature, but add frustration in there and yeah, me and some delicate crackers, don’t do well together.  Finally they were together. I decided to put them in the fridge to try to harden up the chocolate.    Now we wait to see if they actually STAY together.

Here’s where the light at the end of the tunnel begins to shine.  YES they stayed together!!!   I made my decorator icing and set out all the candy and the kids went at it.  Sigh… it worked!  The kids had a ball.  I even heard, “Mom, this is really cool!”… “Mom, my house has guns( small pieces of licorice) on it to keep robbers away!”… “Mom, can we eat it?”… uh oh…. “Um guys, I had to add glue so I don’t think that would be a good idea!”…. “MOM!!!  We can’t eat them???  Then why are we doing this?? “…. LOL.. well you can’t win them ALL!!

So the highlight of the weekend was these gingerbread houses that had me almost getting out a hammer and pounding every single cracker in sight.  In the end, they turned out fine.  And I got to enjoy listening to the conversation while they decorated and kept my mouth shut while they ate WAY too much candy in the process.. lol  The rest of the weekend, ugh, they kept that glint in their eyes and gave me a run for my money and I hid in my room when dad got home!!  BUT I did have that moment of, “Ok, all that frustration with these dumb houses was worth it.  Just to see them working together, enjoying something and thinking I’m awesome! I’ll take it.”  And I think I may have just started a new family tradition… not bad!

What did I learn through this?  1.) I hate it when dad goes away… lol.  2.) I don’t’ have the ability to keep things simple.  No matter how “simple” it should be, I’ll complicate it!…  3.) My kids make me incredibly crazy but I love to see them smile, enjoying themselves and it makes going that extra mile,  worth it.   Just don’t ask me if it’s worth it while I’m in the middle of the fiasco.. you might get a cracker, some clumpy chocolate and Elmer’s glue  in your face!.. lol  😉

Here’s the link to the graham cracker gingerbread houses:




This is to be a season of joy, love, excitement, family, friends, laughter.  And yet I find myself today, with a very heavy heart.  I see and know people experiencing incredible loss, uncertainty, hard times and my soul aches.   How is there celebration among the pain? How do you encourage a mom who just lost her newborn? How do you comfort a woman who lost her spouse of 50 years?  How to do bring joy to a family going through a difficult time of uncertainty?  I don’t know.

Loss, hard times, pain…sometimes it knows no bounds.  It doesn’t care what time of year it is, how old you are or what your plans are, when it comes, no one is ready.   Sometimes it takes our breath away with the enormity of it.

Many times I’ve asked myself why God allows some things to happen?  Why some have such difficult things to face? Why he doesn’t give answers sometimes?

Someone once gave me this to think about.  This is NOT how God intended life to be.  He created life to be perfect, beautiful… sin destroyed that.  And he weeps with us when things brought on by sin (death, illness, broken relationships) wreck havoc on us.  He mourns ALONG side us, devastated by our devastation because this is NOT his original design.  And he tells us, “HANG ON!  I’ve made a way to fix this!  JESUS!  JESUS!  He is the one who brought hope back into the picture.”  It by no means makes the bad go away, but it’s NOT the end all.  It doesn’t stop with my pain.

So even though I sit here with a heavy heart, I KNOW there’ more!.  YES, this life is painful, YES sometimes there are NO answers, YES sometimes I think it’s so unfair and I want to RAGE against it!!!  BUT JESUS!… yes, JESUS brings HOPE.  Hope for tomorrow, hope for what I can’t see, hope for what I don’t want to face, hope for my brokenness.   And in THAT I can celebrate this season.  Thank you for Jesus who came as a baby, faced rejection, died a brutal death and rose again to make it right with God!  And to God, who gave up his son, knowing he was going to die, all so that I could find peace amidst life’s ugliness.  Now that’s a reason to celebrate this season!

Ode to the evil washed jeans…

There are some things in life I will NEVER understand.  Regardless of how old I get or how much life experience I have.  It never ceases to amaze me how in 24 hours a woman’s body and a pair of jeans can change so drastically.  Let me explain.

So one day, I’m wearing a pair of jeans and they fit very nicely, almost a little roomy.   I’m feeling all cute and having a fabulous “skinny’ day (which my 5ft. 1 inch frame will NEVER actually allow).   Yeah, my self confidence it doing pretty good too… it’s a good day.

Next day comes.. and the jeans have been washed (yes washing jeans is the terminator of feeling skinny).  So I take that awesome feeling in those jeans and put them on again… WAIT a minute.  Are these the same jeans? Yep.   What the heck happened?  I mean, I know they’ve been washed but seriously?? Those comfy jeans have turned into something I have to stretch out before I wear.  You know that stretching/ pulling on the waist band before they go on, just to try to give it that extra stretch.   My husband saw me doing this one time and said, “What the heck are you doing?  Are you trying to rip apart your jeans?”  Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do (eye roll)… men!… move along honey, nothing to see here!

So what  about those times when said jeans HAVEN’T been washed and they are tighter the next day!  What’s up with that?  Yeah, yeah, water retention, gas, ovulation… blah, blah, blah!  It’s infuriating! I can just imagine when God created woman he said, “Ok, here’s how it’s going to go.  I know  they will naturally struggle with body image, so let’s just make it more interesting and make their body change on a daily basis.”… Sometimes I think my body changes just to make me mad!  On a day I really need to feel skinny it rebels and it looks like I’m smuggling something in my waistband!

Now I have people saying to me, “Jodi, you’ve had 4 kids.  You look great for having 4 kids!”… what the heck kind of compliment is THAT??? lol… what is says to me is, “You don’t look great, but you DO look great for having your body change to the size of a small blimp, 4 times”… LOL!

So back to the jeans… I sit here today, wearing those washed jeans.  And YES, I did stretch out the waistband before putting them on!  So today isn’t a  feeling skinny kinda day… I think I’m ok with that…. for now.  Besides, I can always fall back on telling myself, “Hey, you look good for having 4 kids!”… LOL   Today I’ve decided to be the one to rebel on my body by wearing my washed, I’m smuggling something in my waistband,  “skinny” jeans with pride… or until they get too uncomfortable and I run to the warm friendship of my yoga pants.. 😉  Now, Yoga pants…………

Just do the next thing.

Last night was a good night for thinking.  I was having a horrible case of children overload since they had off from school Wed-Mon for Thanksgiving break.  By Monday, I was ready to scream!   So outside I went to the back steps.   It was a perfect night.  It was cold, but no wind, the moon was bright, the starts were out and I could smell someone somewhere, burning a fire.   I just sat there…. for a long time.   Matt came out to sit for a bit, but I think he got bored, and plus the kids had to clean up and get ready for bed.  But I didn’t care.  Outside where I was, it was quiet, calm, serene.

I began to think about my life.  Why am I here? Is this really all there is to life? Am I happy with my life?   Yeah, on a day when you’re ready to put the kids up for auction on Ebay, it’s not a good day to ask yourself these questions.   I started to think about life before we had kids.  Back when we were married and it was just us.  Yeah marriage was a change in lifestyle but it wasn’t a complete life overhaul.   Kids, yeah that rearranges everything!   Now don’t get me wrong.  I love my kids.  Love is not in question here.  What’s in question is, who am I?

Who am I?  Sometimes, I don’t know.  I remember who I thought I used to be.  I knew what I liked to do for fun, what I liked to do in my free time.  Now I feel like most of that ‘fun’ or ‘free time’ stuff consists of sleep, more sleep and wanting to be left alone!  lol.. It’s so easy to lose myself in this season of life.  Ah, there’s that word again “season”.   As I sat out there I felt like this is the longest season of my life.  I knew as soon as I stepped into the house, I’d be needed for something.  And honestly, I get tired of being needed.  Yeah, yeah, I know, there will come a day when I won’t be needed as much, but for now, it’s overwhelming and sometimes  suffocating.   I wondered to myself if there were any more mom’s out there who were also sitting out on their back steps wondering how they were going to take themselves back into the house.

Well, I did go back in the house.  How?  With help from a text from a friend who said to me, “… just do the next thing.”  One foot in front of the other.  I had gotten away from the noise, I took a deep breath of  the night air and got up and went back at it.   And yes,  the “goodnight mom” and “I love you” ‘s made me smile and made coming back in, worth it.  But I had to choose to take that next step inside…and that choice isn’t always an easy one.

Did I have any great revelations into life while outside?  Not really.  But I did get to enjoy the quiet, the moon, the stars, the smell of a burning fire, a moment of being still …all good things!   And I think it’s those quiet moments that make it possible to “just do the next thing” ,to take the next step forward, continue on, to choose to engage in your life again.   It’ was also time to remind myself to NOT try to do ALL of it,  just do what comes next.

What am I thankful for?

On the eve of this Thanksgiving, I find myself wondering, “What am I thankful for? ”   As I sit here, listening to the noise in my home ( yeah, all 4 kids are home, off school) I hear, “MOM!!!  He took my dominoes!… MOM, can you wipe me? …. MOM, he hit me!!”, I think, “Thankful… hum.  This may take a while!”.   Honestly as a mom, when you’re in the thick of it or in the throws of a great temper tantrum ( and I’m not talking about your own) it’s so hard to think thankful thoughts.  Just today I looked around at the laundry that needed put away, the air conditioners that needed to come out of the window’s (yeah we are a little behind on that),  the floors that needed cleaned, the counters overrun with stuff and I thought, “I’m going for a nap!”…lol…  I had to FORCE myself to put one foot  in front of the other and try to get some things done.  All the while grumbling inside telling myself how much I didn’t want to be doing anything.

So while I’m rocking this great attitude, the kids are crying, fighting, someone needs a drink NOW!  I felt that tightness in my chest telling me I was going to BLOW!!!   I immediately closed my eyes, took a deep breath and said, “Ok Lord, help me do this.”   I can’t say I felt some amazing, miraculous feeling come over me.  What I did do was take the next step forward.  I finished what I was doing, got the child a drink and continued on with what was ahead of me.

Honestly, sometimes, I think that’s what it’s about.  Having the strength for the next step.  Even if that’s something very simple.  As a mom I feel stuck sometimes.  I feel like, “If I have to do this or listen to this any longer, I’m going to go insane!!”  I ask God for help or strength and then I wonder why I suddenly don’t turn into mom of the year… that’s not how it works.   I believe he gives grace for the next moment.  And sometimes for me that’s just simply taking a deep breath and moving my feet forward.

So what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving?  I’m thankful for a loving God who gives that unrelenting strength for the next step… regardless of how big or small it it.  I’m thankful that he loves me enough to care about those moments when I’m losing it and he puts his arms around me and says, “Wow, I outdid myself on making these kids huh? Let me help you.”  And yes, I’m thankful for my kids.  Thankful for those tight hugs, the I love you’s, the things they do that make me laugh.  I’m thankful that I have those moments to remind me why I love them.  I love you Caleb, Jordan, Katie and Josiah!

Ode to my rational friend!

Anyone who knows me, knows I am an instant react kind of person.  If something happens around me, my instinct is to react to it.  For example, if someone says something to me, several things happen in my mind at the same time. 1) I know immediately if I agree with you. 2) If I don’t, I know why. 3) I know exactly what I want to say to you about what you said. 4) facial expressions are triggered if I don’t like what you’re saying (they can tend  be rather overdone, I’m working on that..)   🙂

Now, I have a friend, who will rename nameless (but you know who you are), who is NOT this way.  She is the opposite.  It takes her time to process stuff. She tends to think rationally and eventually comes to a conclusion after much internal debate.  Zzzzzzz… seriously??? I’ve already moved on to something else and finally she’s decided what she thought about something that happened and hour ago.  Ok, so maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but you get the point.   Just recently she reacted to my, “AHH the sky is falling!” with her usual, to the point answer.  My response, “Stop being so calm and reasonable, it’s annoying!”.. lol.  It really is annoying to people like us.  We want reactions!  We want a, “Yeah!  I hear ya sister, let’s get ’em!”

But can you imagine if we were all “go get em’s”??  There would be no one left we didn’t like!   We’d also find ourselves in a heap of trouble because we reacted rather than thought first.  So why do I say all this? I think I’m learning that it’s GOOD to have people in your life who are the opposite of you.  It’s keeps you grounded.  And it works BOTH ways.  Sometimes my, “WHAT??? You didn’t react to that?” makes a non reactor, think.  And they do think… A LOT, trust me, I know.  I’m also married to one!   I’d like to think we compliment each other, learning from one another.  Seeing the value in our natural personality traits.   We make each other better people. We try to balance out each other.  And when the other is getting out of hand, we can say, “Um, you’re going to need to pull that back” or “Get some fire in your belly man!”  🙂  That’s what life and friendship is all about.   God made us ALL very different for a reason.  Thank goodness!!!

So to my “calm, rational” friend, I love how God made you!   You make me STOP and think about stuff and make fun of me when I go overboard!  🙂   I’d like to think we are like Proverbs 27:17, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”   And yeah, the sparks fly sometimes, but that just keeps life exciting!  And honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything! 🙂

What happened to Barbie?

My 5 year old daughter is asking for a Barbie for Christmas.    So it would seem pretty easy  to find a Barbie for her right??? HA!  NOT!  Have you tried Barbie shopping lately??  Well, let’s see, there’s Model Barbie, Katniss Barbie (from the Hunger Games), International Barbie, Princess Barbie, Mermaid Barbie, Twilight Barbie (Um.. NO!) get the idea.

What ever happened to plain, sweet Barbie?  I liked her!  She was simple.  She wasn’t dressed like she was going to be walking a street corner.  She had an elegant dress or workout clothes (headband and leg warmers and ALL!- and yes, I had exercise Barbie!)   Where did she go?  When did it become about mini skirts,  small bikini’s, etc?   I guess she’s just following along with the trends of our day.   But for those of us who miss the old girl, we find ourselves scanning the isles looking for a Barbie that is dressed how we’d appreciate our daughters to dress… yeah, good luck!

I don’t care so much about the supposed “perfect body” of Barbie.  If my daughter gets her self esteem from a plastic, fake doll, I’m dropping the ball BIG time somewhere!  What I DO care about is what she wears!   I’m trying to teach my daughter how to dress appropriately.  And that is so hard today! Especially with Barbie strutting her mini’s in the toy section.  Maybe I should get her into Lego’s.  You never see Mr. Lego man strutting around in barely anything! LOL…

So now what?  I don’t know.  Christmas certainly won’t be ruined if Barbie doesn’t show up.  Maybe I’ll tell  her Barbie and mom had a fight and she’s no longer welcome in our home until she can prove she knows how to dress appropriately… lol.. who knows.  Lego’s anyone??!! 😉