My year, according to Facebook

I compiled my favorite Facebook status updates of 2010. Here are the top 24. (That’s two a month, you know.)

1. Jayda: “ga-ga-ga-ga” Translation: “So many pieces of furniture to spit up on, so little time.”

2. I’m not sure how I’m going to tell my imaginary personal trainer on Wii Active that I haven’t been showing up to jog in place on her fake track because I’m too busy dancing with my imaginary friends on Wii Just Dance. I think I’m getting more of a workout, too.

3. I’m wondering how the “French bread” I made for dinner is going to taste, since I just read the package and found out it was a roll of refrigerated pizza crust dough.

4. I’m thinking about going on my biannual run. I try to run one mile once every two years. It’s a rigorous schedule so I want to make sure I’m mentally prepared before I just jump in.

5. Three children in awana. Spent the evening at awards ceremony. One out of the 3 actually made it all the way home with the award.

6. Matthew just asked me when I was a kid how old I had to be to have an iPod. 🙂

7. I love how the first born wants to make sure he completely understands the rules. The second born tries his best to break the rules. And the third born is like, “Oh, I didn’t know there were rules!”

8. I love my 9-year-old. I asked him the difference between famous and obscure. Famous: “Barack Obama.” Obscure: “A kid named Toto Baggypants who lived in Africa and only had nine friends.”

9.The kids found a centipede in our house so they used the scissors to cut it into three pieces. When it was STILL moving, they suggested we put it on Facebook, my blog AND my iPod… “That would really froke people out,” according to Alayna. (Froke is the past tense of freak, in case you didn’t know.)

10. just discovered the best way to do laundry: “One load at a time.” (If anyone wants to quote me on this amazing statement, please feel free. I’m sure it will be a famous quote someday. hahahaha.)

11. deep thoughts from a 9-year-old: “When Tiger Woods was good, it seemed like he was really good. But when he’s not good, you find out his true character… I get tired of seeing his tantrums.”

12. Alayna has an empty water bottle and she wants to know if she can use it for a “Skittles” bottle. Her plan is to go around the neighborhood and ask people if they have any leftover Skittles.

13. The 7 year old just came downstairs wearing swimming trunks, a firefighter jacket and carrying an Indiana Jones whip. Sometimes, I don’t bother to ask why.

14. Quotes of the day: “WHEN is tomorrow?” … and you can’t let your toothbrush touch someone else’s toothbrush because “you might get diabetes!!”

15. Hmmm… Not sure about certain little boys who beg me to go down the tube slide with them because my extreme weight will increase their speed, then to thank me they jump off at the end and make me flip into the water! Fun times!

16. Perspective is a great thing. Funny how when we had one child it seemed like we had our hands full. But now that we have four, and three are at a sleep-over, it seems totally quiet with one.

17. Quote of the week: Matthew: “So what’s that smell at So-and-So’s house?” Andrew: “I think it’s… clean-ness.” (Because, clearly, it’s not a smell they are used to!)

18. Uncle! I’ve reached my limit. Just did the “emergency” load of laundry so we would have clothes for soccer tomorrow. The washing machine was on the spin cycle when I noticed the clothes still sitting on the floor. The load of water should be nice and clean.

19. Kent and I have been married for 13 years. He just said to me: “It’s been the best 10 years of my life.” Oh well… at least we make each other laugh!

20. We are studying biology this year, and we have read three different books recently with sections about the sea cucumber. When it is threatened, it protects itself by expelling its intestines. Another fish likes to live inside the cucumber and sometimes eats its insides. When we opened our book today and saw another setion on the sea cucumber, Alayna said, “Oh no! Not that pickle again!”

21. I love it when the kids, including their friends, all come inside for hot chocolate after playing outside since the crack of dawn, they take off their snowsuits and realize they are still wearing PJs. So funny!

22. iPad.

23. I solved the rubik’s cube.

24. The zoo lights really put me in the Christmas spirit. I’m ready to get out the Christmas tree! Visiting the zoo in December inspired me to write this poem: At the zoo. In the Winter. No crowds. No animals.


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Something for the new year

It’s the last day of 2010, and I’m feeling the pressure. For the past few weeks, I’ve been contemplating something I would like to do in the new year. Before announcing my big plan tomorrow, I decided to post it here first and get the input of my wonderful and wise blog readers.
This is a resolution that doesn’t involve exercising or reading a certain number of books or sending out more birthday cards or working harder. Whew!
I have been wanting to sit down with my iPhoto and create photo albums of our family. It’s so easy to create beautiful photo books these days. No need for special papers or embellishments or acid-free glue anymore. In fact, the books themselves don’t even have to be hard copies. They can play as slide shows on the desktop computer or travel with me on the iPad.
I started working on J’s baby book and realized that I have so many great stories on my blog that I can cut and paste into her book to chronicle her first year.
So, I was thinking… What if everyday of 2011 I created one new page in my photo book? It could be a daily photo to capture the moment or a snippet of our life. Basically, I would like to do a better job keeping track of those “moments of meaning” that I talk about.
I would also like to post these moments on my blog. But here are my thoughts:
I would love to look back at 2011 and be able to remember one little thing we did everyday of the year. But I don’t want to get so busy recording moments that I forget to enjoy the moments.
I would love to set a goal to do this every single day. But I don’t want to add one more chore to my life that I stress about.
I would love to challenge myself to find the moments. It would push me to think of more creative ways to use my camera and my words to find the good in our everyday. But that also could change the tone of my blog. I don’t want to lose my freedom to write about whatever random thought pops into my mind.
My friend, Kelly, does an amazing job of posting a photo and a short snippet to chronicle every day of the year at her house. She is also smart about it! She doesn’t necessarily post every single day. Often she goes back and catches up from days she missed.
So, I’m trying to decide if this should be a 365 days of the year type of thing. Or maybe just a Monday through Friday thing. Or perhaps just a weekly recap.
Anyway, I would love to read your thoughts on the matter. You can feel free to encourage me in this idea or to be my voice of reason. And I also would love to know if any of you have a system for staying up-to-date with your photos and albums.


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Captain’s Log

Stardate: 122710
It is eerily quiet here. Half of the members of the ship have now been overtaken by “the illness.” The three that are down have been in a near comatose state for the past four hours. (The baby is taking a nap.)
For the two of us that remain, we can’t decide which fear is worse: To get the illness or to be the last one standing.
We are afraid to eat or drink. We have seen the violent ramifications of that activity on the other members of the crew.
We have lost nearly all contact with the outside world. The Comcast has gone down. This took out the phone, both desktop computers, the laptop, the iTouch. Even the iPad has failed.
Only the iPhone remains.
We ask that you don’t come near. The illness spreads quickly, and no one is immune. For your own safety, forget about us. Stay away. Stay….


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When I was a kid, my brother and I had a long-standing tradition around Christmas time. As soon as our parents would leave us at home alone for any reason, we would look at each other and shout, “Let’s find the Christmas presents!”
I can’t remember how old we were when our parents started leaving us home alone. We had two older sisters who would watch us, and we lived in a small town where we didn’t even lock our front door when we would leave the house. So, I know we stayed home alone at a much earlier age than I would ever consider for my kids.
I also remember that at age 10, I started babysitting for another family. Like most people, the neighbors probably confused my name with that of my older sister, Amy, and were actually hoping the 16-year-old would show up to babysit. Whatever, the case, I collected my 10-year-old self and figured out how to change diapers, make dinner and stay up until midnight, watching the backyard neighbors.
Most years, my brother and I had figured out what was inside all of our Christmas presents, and we had mastered the art of acting surprised as we opened each gift.
For many years, all I wanted for Christmas was a Little People set. I had the house, the school, the garage, the hospital, the Sesame Street house and several others. I’m sure I was a much older age than kids are today when I continued drifting off into my imaginary world to play with my Little People. (I think we called them Fisher Price People, back then.)
When I was in third grade, I distinctly remember begging my mom for a new electronic wonder called, “Blip.”
“Please, Mom. If I get nothing else for Christmas, please just get me Blip.” I spent hours back in those days scanning the landfill nightmare known as the JCPenney Big Book, circling every toy and game that looked even slightly entertaining. But the most awe-inspiring one that year was this electronic game that involved a single blip of light that bounced from one side of the screen to the other. Players tried to hit the bouncing circle and keep an opponent from scoring, much like air hockey.
In sixth grade, all of the kids in our family jointly received Atari. Boy, that was a relief not to be the only kid at school who did NOT get Atari. We used our joysticks to master PacMan, Pong, Tank and a racing game.
In eighth grade, my parents gave both me and my brother boom boxes. This gift required some extra snooping. When they were gone one day, we actually unwrapped our boom boxes and rewrapped them to find out what was inside.
Somehow, my kids have not inherited my obsession for finding Christmas presents long before Christmas Day. I supposed when we wrap a snowboard without putting it in a box first, it doesn’t require a whole lot of investigative skills to uncover what it might be. The football and Lego sets were pretty obvious, too. Or maybe they also inherited my ability to act really surprised.
But I have found, after all of these years, that the best gifts are the ones I didn’t see coming. The best gifts are the ones that weren’t on my list. They are the ones someone else picked out for me. They are the ones I never would have even asked for. They are the ones someone else knew I needed or would love and they took the time to track them down and find them.
They are often the simple things, as well. Even in the mix of the Wii games, Barbie and Lego, my kids were still fascinated yesterday with teaching a Slinky to walk down the stairs and figuring out how to solve a Rubik’s cube. We also spent a few hours solving mysteries last night with our new game of “Clue.”
My husband did surprise me with the BEST. GIFT. EVER. in purely materialistic terms. (I will have to write about that one in a separate post.)
But this will also be a Christmas I will remember for the joy of giving. I was blessed because of a couple of totally strange and unplanned circumstances to give a few gifts to people outside of our family. Both instances were outside my control, and I guess you could have described them as life giving me lemons. But because of what happened, I was able to give someone else lemonade. (I so wish I could tell all of the details here, but I just can’t.)
Anyway, God blessed me by allowing me to give those gifts to someone else. The beautiful thing was how much the people receiving them appreciated those gifts.
My heart was filled with joy this year at watching my kids open their gifts, even though they probably weren’t as spectacular as some of the Christmases in the past. And I was overwhelmed with the thoughtfulness of my husband and his surprise gifts. I definitely scored on the receiving end this year, but my happiness at his gift also filled him with joy. So, I realized that although it’s better to give then to receive, it’s also nice to be a good recipient.
What about you? What is your most memorable Christmas gift? Was it something you gave or something you were given?


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In defense of the friend finder

A few months ago, a friend of mine from college sent me a message on Facebook.
“I found Mark and Karen!” she wrote. “And they’re married!”
I was a mix of surprise and totally not surprised. But mostly I was so happy for my two buddies from our single years. Immediately, I made a friend request, and within a few days, I was snooping around to find out what had become of my two friends.
I hadn’t seen Mark in nearly 15 years. I hadn’t seen Karen since right after I was married, about 13 years ago. Somehow, in all of their various moves to Russia, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas City and Arizona, we had lost track of each other.
I did a little snooping around Facebook, as any long, lost friend would do. I found out that after yeas of on-and-off dating, they had gotten married two years ago. I saw photos of them scaling gorgeous rocks in Arizona and looking like neither of them had aged one single day.
On Sunday, they sent me a message through Facebook. They were home from Arizona, visiting Karen’s mom who lives just a few miles from my house! Could they come for a visit?
I have to admit that this thought, at first, made me very nervous. I wanted to write back and say, “Yes, you can visit. But you have to understand. I’m 41 now! I have given birth to FOUR children! I drive a minivan. We might not have a very peaceful conversation. And my baby throws her food on the floor. It’s not always pretty.”
You see. There’s something very comforting about living inside this computer. There’s something very safe about hiding behind the wall of Facebook. There’s something nice and cozy about living inside my blog. I only have to show you the pretty parts. I only have to tell you what is nice and happy. And you can’t see my wrinkles or the food on the floor or hear the children argue.
Maybe my marathon-running, mountain-climbing, professional friends would shake their heads at my minivan and my house in cookie-cutter suburbia. My home-schooling, stay-at-home mom self was remembering my ambitious, carefree, single self, and I wasn’t sure if they would even recognize me. It had been so long.
As the time grew closer for their arrival, I started getting excited. “It’s Mark and Karen! Why am I worrying?!” I was thinking about heaven, to tell you the truth. It must be so fun to show up in heaven one day and see friends you haven’t seen in decades! It must be so fun to be reunited as one big family, never to be separated again.
And so with all of these thoughts fresh in my mind, I did what only I would do when they walked up to my door. I started crying. That’s one way to break the ice, I guess.
We immediately started talking about the time Mark put the car in reverse and spilled an extra large Coke all over my lap. The time Karen and I were roommates, and I spilled a big tray of enchiladas on the (very dirty) floor, then served them anyway to our dinner guests. The times Karen and I drove to St. Louis to meet up with Mark, who lived in Kansas City.
We laughed. And my heart was filled with so much joy at that immediate connection you feel with people who knew you before. They knew me before marriage. Before kids. When we were all young and had dreams and plans. And now, here we were, in our 40s, not doing what we had planned. And we were all old enough to realize those things didn’t really matter anyway.
We could pick up again right where we left off. We had all gone through heartache and pain and loss and joy and happiness, and we could meet again right where we were.
So, I had one of those days where I was happy for Facebook and the friend finder. And even happier for old friends who are new friends again.


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