Sunday, March 10, 2013

An Open Letter to Cancer.

Dear Cancer,

I have wanted to tell you what I think of you for a very long time - probably since you first stuck your evil cells into my Aunt Bonnie - but I've held my tongue for years as you continued to do your wicked work all around me.  But now it's time to say my peace because you've gone and done it again.  As we say down here, you've done messed with the wrong guy.  You may be complex, you may come in a myriad of forms, you may hide yourself for years, but ultimately you need put in your place.  And today I feel like doing that.

A few days ago we learned you were working your evil in the life of one a bunch of us love.  You are attacking our shepherd, and you need to know - this flock isn't having it.  I'll give it to you - you swept our feet out from under us this week, but what you may not have realized is that our bottoms landed on the firm foundation that even you can't shake.  We're bruised and battered, but wounds have never stopped us before.  Actually, wounds on hands and feet are what compel us to stand up, dust ourselves off, and lift our voices in praise again.  We were down, but so not out.

You exalt yourself with a description of "rare" and "aggressive".  You have no idea.  You want rare?

This is what the LORD says - Israel's King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty; I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God."  Isaiah 44:6

For who is God besides the LORD? And who is the Rock except our God? Psalm 18:31

But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King... Jeremiah 10:10

And "aggressive"?  Oh, clearly you haven't heard how our God aggressively defends, protects, and seeks those He loves.  There is nothing God wouldn't give, including His only Son, in fervent pursuit of reconciliation with His children.  Our God has parted seas, paused the sun, confused the enemy, given sight to the blind, and brought Jesus back from the dead (The dead!  You hear that?  You got no game!).  You, Cancer, have no idea what "aggressive" really means.

You've hurt and taken so many from me - spiritual giants like Peter Macky, Badarah McCandless, Don Greendahl.  And you have once again attacked someone who sits at the healing hem of Jesus.   Really?  You don't get it.  You are not a period at the end of a life, but the briefest pause of a comma between good and best.  Dr. Macky, Dr. McCandless, and Mr. Greendahl would testify that you are nothing...but they are too busy basking in the presence of the One who ultimately owns your ass in a place where your name is not even a whisper of a thought.  Take a battle if you must.  We're focused on a war.  And it's one we always win.

His Name and His science are revealed more and more each day on earth, and both are nipping at your heels.  Your time is short.  Our time is eternal.  All over the world voices are being raised - listen closely and you'll hear it.  Children in Haiti and Uganda once claimed by your cohorts Loneliness and Rejection are joining their free voices with us in prayer and praise, and no matter how you grow or spread or overtake - you will never shut them up.  They are redeemed.  And like us, the redeemed have business to do. 

Go ahead.  Revel for now in your temporary victory, because that is all we will afford you.  These tears in our eyes are merely clearing our vision, and you just stirred a pot that was already bubbling.  Consider yourself warned.

Cancer, you suck.

Sincerely,
Me





Monday, January 28, 2013

A Day in the Life - Really

Just because I think (secretly hope) many other blogs paint a picture of home schooling or parenting with too many unicorns and rainbows, I thought today I'd give you a glimpse into a real day in my life.

12:00 AM - I toss and turn.  Covers up.  Covers off.  Finally doze off only to wake up with night sweats that leave me nigh on to pruned.  Well, hello peri menopause.  I lay wake most of the remainder of the night in damp frustration and exhaustion.

7:30 AM - Husband's alarm goes off dragging me out of the stage of almost-asleep where you still cling to hope you can get to REM.  Alas.  Husband reminds me I need to take Jude to the orthodontist this morning.  I remind husband not to speak to me before 9:00.  He quickly complies.

8:15 AM - I finally stagger out of the swamp bed and hit the shower.  I give careful thought to my outfit as I am venturing out into "grown up" world.  I decide to go with my new black MMA workout pants and my Troy Palamalu sparkle jersey.  The sparkle gives it that "something special" that borders on accessorizing.  Viola.  A grown up outfit.  I skip the contacts and instead go for the athletic librarian vibe.

9:00 AM - With no breakfast, but explicit instructions on school work for Alina and Calvin, I roll out the door with Jude flying behind me frantically putting his sneakers on.  Mind you, he's played eighteen gajillion rounds of Mario Chase this morning, but apparently the sneakers are a last minute curve ball he never saw coming.

9:20 AM -  Arrive at the orthodontist on time only to discover Jude has not brushed his teeth at all this morning.  I instruct him to go back to the "teeth brushing station" created brilliantly for this very purpose and scrub the morning funk off.  He wants me to go with him.  I am tired and apparently peri menopausal and I want him to gain some confidence here.  Our conversation goes a little something like this:

Jude:  (whining in a whisper) Moooooooommmm.  Come with me.  I don't remember where to gooooooooo.

Me: Yes, you do.  I've taken you there several other times.  Through the door and to the left.

Jude:  (slightly more forceful whisper) MOOOOOOOOOMMMM.  Come with meeeeeeee!  I don't know where to goooooooooo.

Me:  You can always ask the ladies at the desk if you get confused or feel lost.

Jude: (demanding whisper) Mom!  I will not brush my teeth if you don't go with meeeeeeeeeee!

It now dawns on me that I need to take it up a notch if I want him to step out of his comfort zone and hit the teeth brushing station sans mom.

Me:  (sweetly but loud enough for everyone to hear) Well, you can try to find it yourself, but if you get lost one of those nice ladies at the counter will direct you.  (Insert wink and shooting gun finger with tongue click to the receptionist who, like everyone else, is staring at us now.)

At this point Jude realizes he might as well take a deep breath and try this one on his own because getting lost at the orthodontist has to be less embarrassing than being seen conversing with me right now.  He does something outside his comfort zone and I remain seated, proud that he could feel competent today.

10:00 AM - Finally leave orthodontist.  Usually we are in and out like a flash, but someone must not have gotten the memo that mom was without any breakfast.  Jude and I head over to Chick-fil-a to eat a bite together and finish up his writing assignment without interruption from siblings or dogs.

10:13 AM - I nearly weep when the server says, "It's my pleasure" after serving me.  I love Chick-fil-a because they are really the very nicest people on earth.  Jude works diligently on his writing assignment, hitting the thesaurus perhaps a little too hard, but ends up with a great story creation all his own.  I notice that kids eat free on Wednesdays.  Wednesdays dinner menu is immediately taken care of.  Meanwhile, he begins to complain that he doesn't feel well.  He also doesn't look well (But his teeth are clean...), and since he's been fighting a cold for about four or five days now, I call the pediatrician's office.  They are booked solid.  Try Children's Mucinex.  Alrighty.  Off to Walmart we go.

11:45 AM - Walmart has Mucinex, but not sweet and sour sauce nor the Italian meatballs I need for my crock pot meal I'm making tomorrow morning.  We hit the self check out, and the machine repeatedly rejects my crisp, clean $20.  I finally scrounge up a few wrinkled fives and ones the machine seems to love and drop coins in for the remainder of the bill like I'm at Vegas in front of a Cherries Jubilee machine.  Jude and I leave discussing all kinds of interesting topics on the ride home.  I drop off the Walmart groceries and Jude and head out to Publix for meatballs and sweet and sour sauce.

12:00 PM - I enter Publix which is where the twins of the Chick-fil-a employees work.  I hate grocery shopping.  I would rather scrub toilets - with my own toothbrush - than grocery shop  and yet the customer service at Publix is so amazing and helpful, I always leave happy.  I grab a few things along with meatballs and sauce and head back home.

12:30 PM - I check to make sure the school work has been done and the kids and I settle in upstairs to finish watching Ben Hur.  We are studying Rome in History and in Bible we are just starting through the ministry of Christ, and Ben Hur seemed like a perfect fit.  We start about halfway through the movie and the kids are loving it (as am I!).  I have never seen it before, and that Charlton Heston was a handsome fellow.  We get to the chariot race and my kids are so tense and holler, "Go Judah!  Go Judah!"  We all wince a little when Messala crashes and burns, and even more so during the crucifixion scene.  At the end, we talk about the movie and somehow end up discussing the old movie Spartacus.  Calvin renames Mojo "Mojocus" and Marshall "Marshie Ben Hur".   Jude remarks that between Lady Cybil's death on Downton Abbey last night and the death of Jesus in Ben Hur today, he is a little emotional.  I love his tender heart and we talk it out.  Meanwhile, I notice his eyes are red and puffy and he says he is too tired to stand up and talk any longer.  We decide he will hit the Take Care Clinic for an appointment tonight, just to get him checked out.

3:45 PM - The Take Care Clinic we go to has no evening appointments available so I pry Jude away from playing to take him there right away.  There is no wait.  It's The Message version's "tired mom adaptation" of the parting of the Red Sea.  We're in, baby!  Jude has ear infections and a sinus infection.  He will not be able to go to his all day home school co-op tomorrow.  Usually not a big deal, but we have a doctor appointment for Alina downtown, a sitter coming for Cal, and now Jude sick.  We buy Puff plus and some 7-Up for a special treat and head home.  Once we arrive, Jude puts on his pajamas and declares he is not going out of the house again today.  I give a hearty "Here! Here!"

5:00 PM - Dinner preparations begin.  We're having stir fry chicken and rice.  Mark takes first shift in the dinner prep rotation by cutting the chicken.  I do no - I repeat DO NOT - touch raw poultry.  It makes me cry for my mom and a pool of Lysol to bathe in.  He finishes that up, and I  make the chicken and veggies.  Alina comes and hugs me and chats with me.  It has been a busy day with me in and out, and as she will readily tell you, she does not like busy days.  I know she is feeling off because of it, so we hang out as dinner finishes up.  She is not happy about her appointment tomorrow, but we tease her that they will only be shaving her head and once she realizes we're joking she gives us some healthy harassment back and all seems a little better for her.

5:10 PM - Calvin announces that he does not like chicken stir fry, even though he has eaten it the last several times we've had it.  He is tired and also fighting a cold, so we compromise.  He eats some rice and Mark makes him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Whatever.

6:45 PM - Family game night consisting of our new favorite - Nintendoland on the Wii U.  We all five play two rounds of Mario Chase (I stink.) and then Luigi's Ghost Mansion (I rock.).  There is so much giggling and hollering I can't decide whether the neighbors will end up calling the cops or joining in.

7:55 PM - The party breaks up and even though I am tired (and hoarse), I decide I need to tackle the abominable kitchen mess leftover from dinner and afternoon movie snacking.  It is a project, but since we have to leave here in the morning for Alina's appointment and I have a crock pot meal to throw together before we go, it's now or never.

9:35 PM - The kids are finally in bed (although Jude's sinus infection and ear infection have made that a challenge tonight), the kitchen is clean, Mark and I make re-arrangements for tomorrow and Alina's appointment, and I exhale and sit down at the computer.  I decide to blog about my day, because in so many way it was utterly ordinary.  It was hurried, tiring, at times frustrating, but also full of thoughtful discussion, laughter, and the beauty of ordinary family life.

9:38 PM - I finish spell checking this blog post and suddenly realize I forgot to wash the swamp sheets today.  Argh.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Please Share!

I know, I know.  I'm still beating that dead horse.  But here is a brief, succinct post to encourage anyone to share Max's information with friends, Facebook, a blog.  Folks I know have met him personally and their are praying Max finds his own family before it is too late!

Click HERE to learn more about this great kid!

Friday, January 11, 2013

To Quote My Friend...

"THIS ONE MATTERS".

I have been trying to write this post for two days now, but I honestly just can't find the words.  I want to be completely honest, beg unashamedly, and write the beginning of a "happily ever after" story all in one blog post.  I don't know how to do this eloquently, so you will have to look past my words and hopefully get a glimpse of my heart.

I do not in any way, shape, or form consider myself an expert on adoption.  Adoption is a lot like "regular" (snicker) parenting in that you keep waiting for the day you feel like you've got it all together.  Every morning you hope it will be the day you have "arrived" and every night you pray that tomorrow will be that day because today, well...it wasn't.  We have only successfully adopted once and an older, international child adoption at that.  Every adoption is different and there are specific nuances to each situation, so I always feel very awkward making any attempt to proclaim any broad statements about adoption.  There are no succinct, accurate Cliff Notes for this stuff.  I can't tell you what adoption might be like for you.  Some days I can't even expound well about what adoption is like for me.  Our family is just like any other family.  Except we're not.  We deal with all the normal things other families deal with, except for those things that we deal with other families don't even think about.  Adoption is no big deal to us, except when it is.

How's that for clarity?

I struggle with blogging about our own day to day adoption experiences for a couple of reasons.  One, much of the story is not mine to tell.  Years before adoption was on my radar, I heard an adoptive mom answer an acquaintance's inquiry about their child's birth family by saying, "That's really his story to tell.  We will let him decide what he feels comfortable sharing when he gets older."  It was gentle, kind, and brilliant.  I try to remember that on here.  Alina's story is hers.  Her story is also now ours, but there are aspects of her life (past, present, and future dreams) that are hers alone to share.  Some of the things I wish I could talk more openly about on the blog just can't be done because I don't want to tell her story.  Two, I never want to discourage anyone from adopting.  Adoption creates families, and families are just plain good stuff.  But there is pain and struggle and unique challenges with adoption (I'm specifically aware of those with older child international adoptions, but I think I can generally say all adoptions have challenges in some form or other), and sometimes it is h-a-r-d.  If someone feels called to adopt, I don't want to cause them to fear or doubt.  Three, the counter to number two is that I don't want to be the sunshine and unicorn blogger who wants everyone to have their fairy tale ending via adoption.  I have read more adoption blogs than you can shake a stick at and a few of them left me thinking I must be doing something wrong or I am not spiritual enough, because on occasion I collapse into bed feeling like the most ill-equipped parent in the universe.  I don't ever want to pretend my life isn't real.  My life is good.  It is very, very good.  But it is also very, very real.  And it is hard to walk that line without either sounding pessimistic or Pollyanna.  I don't know how to do it well.

One of the downsides of our older child adoption is that now I cannot pretend I do not know.  I know there are children out there who don't have a mom or dad, who stand little chance of being adopted by many because they are "too old",  who don't know what it is to be able to relax and grow and learn surrounded by grace and encouragement (and the occasional emotional eating binge).  And these are whole, real, three dimensional people - just like my daughter who is joy and light to us  - who have dreams, hopes, likes, dislikes (math...), bad habits, favorite foods, and deep hurts.  They are not statistics or faceless numbers anymore.  Once you know, you can't unknow.  And for me, that is one of the hardest parts about having adopted.  I know.

Of course, I also know that Mark and I cannot adopt them all.  Mark and I love and parent the three we have and pray often that God will help us make wise decisions about our family size as we go.  I doubt we will ever be the family that adopts 15 kids (there are not enough Oreos in all of middle TN, my friends), but we do pray that we will keep our hearts open as God leads.  Adopting again for us isn't a decision we could make flippantly or lightly. I honestly don't know if we will or not.  It is scary to me - both the prospect of someday adopting again and the prospect of our family being complete.

All of this emotional blog vomit is due to one post from a Facebook friend about one boy.  One boy who caused me to lose sleep much like I did with this sweet young man.  It is almost embarrassing to admit, but I have cried so many tears over these last few days about this new fellow.  Now before you go thinking it, there is not a child I hear of that doesn't go breaking my heart just a little so I don't presume that this means that Mark and I are meant to be his family.  I don't think that Mark and I are the answer to every child's need - heck, most days my own children would wholeheartedly agree with that statement (and then some!).  But there is just something about this boy, Max.  I literally physically ache to see him find his family.   I don't know why out of all the children who are available for adoption, this one has so broken my heart, but he has.  And I can't pretend I don't know. All the talk I've done in this blog post boils down to the simple fact that I want this boy to find his family.

So here is a much better written blog post about this young man by my friend who has met him personally.  Several other folks I know via an adoption Facebook page have also met and spent time with him, and they are all consistent in their praise and concern for him.  They are  praying and crying and hoping he finds his family soon, too.   If you know anyone who is considering adoption or even better - is paper ready to adopt from Ukraine -  maybe you could pass on his information.  Can you join me in praying for him?  He has broken my heart and I am so ready to rejoice that he has found his family.  Because this one - this Max - he really, really matters.

  




Monday, January 7, 2013

My Latest Favorite Thing

Many moons ago, Mark and I decided to go to a "cash only" system for our weekly expenses.  This cash included money for groceries, eating out, entertainment, and gifts under $5.  To be honest, it worked wonderfully.  We were able to track our spending better, make wiser choices on the fly, and stay within our agreed upon budget most all of the time.  It was genius!

Until one week when I didn't get to the bank.  All week.  In a pinch, I went back to using the plastic and all the good habits I'd developed by using cash went out the window.  For months.  While there was no need for a total intervention, it sure wasn't our best case scenario.

After meaning well but still not consistently hitting an ATM to get back to "cash only", I finally committed to start back to it for the new year.  To motivate and inspire me, I went online and looked for a wallet that would be more friendly to the cash only system.  I hated digging through envelopes or recounting wads of bills or dumping change in the bottom of my purse.  And viola!  I found this fantastic wallet from SavvyCents!

I love pretty much everything about this wallet - from the spiffy patent leather look to the multiple pockets for cash categories to the outside zipper pocket for my change!  It has made using cash again easy and a little bit more fun.  I have a section for groceries, eating out, entertainment, martial arts snacks (Yes.  I am that chick who used my debit card for a $.75 water.  Often.  The girl at the counter is going to LOVE me now!), and miscellaneous, along with a bonus pocket just for my receipts.  This bonus pocket nearly guarantees my happy marriage as my husband will no longer find chewed gum in a crumpled up receipt in the great abyss that is my purse.  Last week I was able to come in UNDER budget - mainly because the novelty of my awesome new wallet made me want to keep a little cash in it just to admire.  :)

The only downside to this wallet is that it doesn't come in red (my favorite color) and it has a sort of funky, new wallet smell to it.  But the smell is nearly gone and black is so slimming, I hardly can complain!

So here's to the new year of cash!

Ain't it purdy?  If only it came in red...

Many slots for neglected plastic.

Dividers for my cash categories!  Genius!





Tuesday, January 1, 2013

What I Want to Do Less Of...

...in 2013.

My last post outlined a few things I want to do more of in the coming year.  Here are a few things on the other end of the spectrum - what I want to do less of in 2013.

Eating because I'm bored.  I have this down to an art form, much like my checking out skills.  The worst time of day for me is evening (as evidenced by the empty Drumstick wrapper near me) when the kids are in bed and the grown ups have the run of the house.  And what wild and crazy things do we grown ups do while visions of sugar plums occupy the children?  Yeah.  We snack.

I have a few ideas why I do this - one, I can eat whatever I want and I won't be asked to make it for someone else or answer why the children don't get whatever I'm eating.  Two, no one is going to reach onto my plate and snatch a bite.  You would think that wouldn't happen anymore as I don't have toddlers, but Calvin has these freakishly cat-like reflexes that have him in and out and swallowing before I even realize what just went down.  And three, I just plain like food.  I am not usually hungry in the evenings, I am just free.  I want to eat less and find something better to do with that free time.

Making excuses.  This is a big step for a recovering people pleaser.  An example of why I need some growth in this area?  I volunteered to be the guide runner for my niece who is visually impaired at a 5K this summer.  Did I do it to have more time to chat with my niece (who is never dull, FYI) and make some good aunt/niece memories?  Nope.  I did it because her mom pointed out she can only run as fast as I do, so that takes the pressure off with that whole "keeping up with everyone" thing.  Ouch.  I want to stop making excuses for myself and my family.  I am OK with having to give more apologies as long as I stop feeling the need to make excuses.   Making wise decisions without making excuses is one of those areas of growth I usually try desperately to avoid.  Meh.  Maybe 2013 will be the year of my big girl panties.

Trying to change the things I can't.  One thing AA definitely gets right is the Serenity prayer.  (I'm not in AA, but I am a big fan.  No.  That's not me in denial - I don't drink alcohol.  Like at all anymore.  Really... no need for an intervention, I really don't drink...seriously...oh, never mind.)  I have an amazing and blessed life, but boy if I had a magic wand and God's permission how different a few things (people) might look!  One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn as an adult is that sometimes a circumstance in life just plain stinks, isn't fair, and should be different - but it's not and wishing don't make it so.  I don't want to ever accept injustice, but I do want to remember it's always best to pray and watch God do His work.  Everyone will be better off that way.  Speaking of prayer...

Praying that God will give me the go ahead for a boob job.  OK.  Don't judge me.  I nursed two babies and nothing is as it once was.  I never believed in plastic surgery...until one day I wanted it.  (Funny how that works.)  I have wrestled at times with asking for a few thousand to "invest" in my body, but I never have a peace about it.  I have actually prayed on an embarrassingly regular basis for God to make a way for me to have a little "lift and separate" work done, but He is always consistent in His answer - not while there are 143 million orphans in this world.  Dang.  Now let me be clear - I don't think that people who have work done are any less spiritual or faithful - I just know that God has been clear with me on this.  Sigh.  So this year I'm going to turn 40, buy better bras (not at Victoria's Secret for those of you who read about the shopping debacle of Christmas 2011), and stop pestering.

Feel embarrassed.  For those of you who know me IRL, this is a hard one to imagine.  (See above paragraph and refer to previous use of the phrase "big girl panties".)  I have an excruciatingly high tolerance for embarrassment.  Things that should and used to make me cringe usually don't phase me or at best make me giggle inappropriately.  (For example, the time I walked up to a lady in Kohls, whipped her around by the arm, and exclaimed, "Mom!  This dress would match perfectly!" to a woman who was, in fact, not my mother.  She was however a sweet Southern version of my mom who seemed slightly taken aback and not terribly interested in engaging with me further when I asked her if she would take me home if I couldn't find my real mother in the store.)  While not making excuses for myself or poor behavior (see above!), I just don't want to waste more time on this earth feeling embarrassed especially about things I have no control over.  The corollary to this is that I hope to do a lot less embarrassing things in 2013.  A girl can dream.

I'm hoping for an inspiring 365 days of less-is-more, wise eating, acceptance of my reality without excuses, and a bra with some serious support.  Not too much to ask from a year...right?






Sunday, December 30, 2012

What I Want to Do More Of

...in 2013.

I have always loved New Years resolutions.  It's the freshness of it all, when anything is possible and I envision great things for myself and those I love.  I do, however, fit squarely in that statistical group that wanes around mid January.  Oh, sometimes I last longer - last year for instance I planned to read the Bible in a year.  While I didn't make it all the way through (I fell off the wagon somewhere in Psalms), I give myself props for pushing through Leviticus.  But I haven't ever been able to sit down fully satisfied on the following December 31st knowing I hit it out of the park with a resolution.

This year, I've decided to rephrase these resolutions.  I'm referring to them as the "things I want to do more of".  Now I know this makes those goal people crazy because I don't have action steps or target dates, but for me it is more about a frame of mind.  I am hoping the change in semantics inspires me in the year ahead.

So here is what I want to do more of in 2013.

1.  Write. (Feel free to snicker...)  When I think about the things I most enjoy doing, writing is right near the top of the list.  (Just below rolling around in empty Lindor truffle wrappers.)  I really love to write.  I'm not terrific at it - I am a much better talker than writer - but there is something thoroughly enjoyable for me about putting words down on paper (or screen).  I'd like to blog more if I can find a way to do it both transparently and wisely, I'd like to write some more devotions, and I'd like to journal.  One of my hang ups with writing, especially here, is that people may actually read what I write.  I want to write more because I love to write, not because others might read it (if that makes sense).

2.  Check In. I am the queen of checking out.  If it were an Olympic sport I would have big crocodile tears streaming down my face and a honking gold medal around my neck while you all sing the national anthem with me.  I'm that good at it.  I have to tell you - after a day of homeschooling, errand running, martial arting, dinner prepping, and all the other stuff that comes at me in a day, I can sit down in the evening and slip into a mental coma faster than you can say....  See?  I just did it there.  While there is something to be said for taking a break, it is probably important for the break to have some value.  Currently I stare at the computer screen, play Boggle or Fruit Ninja on the iPad, or if it is a really, really good night, watch back to back episodes of Cops.  I suppose I could claim I am increasing my vocabulary or learning about law enforcement, but I doubt it.  I'm pretty much just checking out.

I want to learn to check in.  Instead of shutting off my mind, I want to let it rest by doing something of value.  Reading, writing, talking.  I want to look at my kids sleeping.  I want to hum while I wipe down counter tops.  I want to pet the dogs and play tug of war with them.  I want to sit on my front porch and drink tea.  I want to draw.

3.  Spend one on one time with each of my kids.  I spend a lot of time with my kids.  I don't say that as some sort of accolade, because if I am honest, some of that time (ahem) is spent gritting my teeth (think math lessons).  Yes, quantity time matters, but I want to have more quality time with my kids one on one.  Jude and I started going on bike rides together this summer.  Some of the best conversations I've had with him were on those jaunts around the neighborhood.  Calvin and I talk about anything and everything and a few things no one ever thought of to talk about when he and I take the dogs for a walk.  And Alina has so much to share and say and reenact when we ride in the car together to just about anywhere.  I have all three of my kids together all day long, but in 2013 I want more time with them alone.  They are neat people, and I want to get to know each of them even better.

4.  Implement the 15 minute principle.  I have a mental list a mile long of things I really want to get to.  Unfortunately, I don't seem to get to any of them (Can you hear the Cops theme song in the background?)  So instead of making these grand plans, I am going to make 15 minute plans.  For instance, I will practice something from martial arts for 15 minutes.  I will spend 15 minutes picking up the house.  I will take 15 minutes to do some meal prep during the day.  I will sit down and read my Bible for 15 minutes.  I will pay cards with Mark for 15 minutes.  I think so much - both fun and not so fun - can be accomplished in 15 minutes.  The kitchen timer may become my new best friend.

5.  Do hard things.  I'm going to turn 40 in 2013.  And even though I am not terribly worked up about that milestone, I do want to be sure I am still growing as a person.  I want to say hard things when it's needed. I want to push myself a little harder in martial arts. I want to deal with conflict promptly and appropriately.  I want to forgive more easily.  I want to say "yes" and "no" when it's the right answer, not just the easy one.  I want to teach my kids you reap what you sow, even if it's hard to watch them learn it.  I want to hook up the bluetooth in my car.  I want to choose what is beneficial and not just what is permissible.  I want to do the hard things because that is a part of growing.

There is, of course, a corresponding list of "What I want to do less of" in 2013.  But perhaps I'll save that for another blog post.  Just gives me another reason to write...and that means I'm already off to a decent start.