Friday, January 30, 2009

Feel-Good Story

Okay, I heard this story on the radio and I just had to post it. Please, nobody comment that it's an urban legend because I want it to be true! Warning: you may need a tissue for this one!

Kurtis the stock boy was in the back of the store when he heard a request for carryout from the checkout stand. He decided to answer the call to get some fresh air.

When he reached the front he couldn't help noticing that the new checkout girl was beautiful. And she looked like an older woman--25 or 26 to his 22. But that didn't stop him. He noticed that her name was Brenda. After work, he offered to drive her home. He seemed harmless enough, so she accepted. After they talked on the way to her house, he asked her out. She replied that it was not possible because she had two children and couldn't afford a babysitter.

Kurtis said, "I'll pay for the babysitter." She protested, but he insisted that if that was the only reason she wouldn't go out with him, he would gladly pay. Finally she agreed.

On Saturday night, Brenda met Kurtis at the door. She apologized, but said they wouldn't be able to go because the sitter had canceled. He said, "Well, let's just take the kids with us."

No, Brenda said; it wouldn't be a problem for her daughter, but her son was in a wheelchair.

"I still don't see why we can't take them," Kurtis said.

Brenda was amazed. She expected every man to run from a single mom with two kids, one with disabilities. Just like her ex-husband had.

They took the kids out to dinner and to the movies. Whenever Brenda's son needed anything, Kurtis was right there, including picking the boy up and carrying him to the bathroom. By the end of the evening, Brenda knew this was the man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.

A year later, they were married. Eventually they added five more kids to their family.

And what happened to Brenda the checkout girl and Kurtis the stock boy? Well, on Sunday Kurt Warner will be playing in the Super Bowl for the Arizona Cardinals. And his family will be cheering for a real hero--the guy who, in the words of a country song, is a dad "that he didn't have to be."

Sniff. I'm getting verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves! I think this means I'm cheering for the Cardinals.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Homework, Part 1

I was in school for so long--both as a student and a teacher--that I find it hard to believe I don't have homework anymore.

Oh, I know what's coming. Miss Pink doesn't have homework yet--her school doesn't believe in giving the little ones homework, a stance with which I heartily agree, and not just because it makes my life easier. But at some point she and Mr. Blue will have homework on a regular basis, and although I refuse to do it for them, it will be my job to carve out time for them to finish it. Because apparently the role of Mom includes the job description of "keeps the family schedule," which I am not that great at but at least I know to write things on a calendar. So that is part of my homework, I guess: all the paperwork and scheduling. Field trip forms, money to school, doctor's appointments (didn't she JUST have her eyes checked?), class parties. Et cetera.

When the day is done and Justin and I sit down to stare lovingly in each other's eyes watch TV, the DVR has recorded our favorite shows which we only watch when the kids are asleep--mostly CSI-type or cop shows which are too graphic for kids. Plus can you imagine the nightmares Miss Pink would have if she watched a show about a kidnapping or a murder? This is a child who cried for two hours because the mama meerkat saved her babies by sacrificing herself to a cobra. (That WAS a sad episode. Justin should have KNOWN not to let her watch it.) Of course, you never know what will set Miss P off. For about two months she couldn't go to sleep right away because she was worried that an asteroid would hit the earth. (And I swear we hadn't let her watch the movie Armageddon.) Our conversations would go something like this.

MP: Mama, I'm worried that it's going to be the end of the world.

Me: Honey, that's not going to happen.

MP, beginning to realize that her mother is not in fact omniscient: But how do you know?

Me, realizing that I don't in fact know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the world won't end tonight: I just...don't believe God will end the world like that. But no matter what happens, we will be with Jesus in heaven.

MP, face crumpling up: I don't want to be in heaven. I want to be here on earth. And I'm afraid the world is going to explode...

Me: You know, if an asteroid was going to hit the earth the scientists would have already predicted it. If it ever looks like it's going to happen, they will know way in advance.

MP, brightening: And they will do something to stop it from hitting the earth. Like maybe make a rocket that can hit it.

Maybe she saw Deep Impact instead of Armageddon.

And I was going to tell you about TV homework, and I've run out of time. I'll finish later.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Iced In

We had an ice storm last night and most of the schools in the area closed. At 6:30 our district was saying it was delayed two hours, but I just discovered they went ahead and closed. Just as well, since I wasn't sending Miss Pink anyway. Not because I'm scared of the ice--her school is literally one block away--but because I thought this was a good day to stay home and keep warm with a fire and hot chocolate.

I actually had a day like that yesterday, too--and without the kids. The guy from AT&T came to install U-verse for us, and Justin ended up staying home because it was icy up by his shop (and it's COLD in there because they only have heat in the office), so he helped the guy wire everything in and did some other stuff around the house. I couldn't exercise or use the Internet or mop the floors (you KNOW I was disappointed about that last one!) so I pulled out my scrapbooking stuff and got a bunch of layouts done. I'm all through with 2008 except Christmas Day. It was lovely having plenty of time to dig around in my stash of supplies--I'm finally getting some extra stuff so that I don't have to buy specific papers and embellishments for each layout.

And Justin and I went to lunch together to a soup and sandwich place. I've been wanting to try it but they're only open for breakfast and lunch, and I knew the kids wouldn't like it. The food was really good. I like having unexpected dates with my sweetie!

So that's about it. Oh, except that we also bought a 36" TV off Craigslist yesterday because the tiny one we were going to put in the playroom didn't work. So I was just showing Justin how Craigslist works and there was this TV put up for sale yesterday morning for only $75. We called and offered cash and the deal was done. The only problem, if you can call it a problem, was that we didn't realize just how BIG it is. Justin got it home--it was so heavy he had to get the neighbor to help carry it in. We quickly realized it wouldn't fit in the playroom entertainment unit at all. No problem, we'll just put our current TV out there and the new one in the living room. It was STILL too big until Justin took the retracting doors off of the living room unit and then it barely fit in there--but now it's perfect! And we didn't need those doors anyway. Thank goodness my husband knows how to take things apart as well as build them!


Sunday, January 25, 2009

This is one of the funniest things I've read lately. Especially since last night I dreamed I was Gabriella.

Also, I don't know how to feel about Zac Efron. He makes me feel like some creepy cougar stalking a boy who's (almost) young enough to be her son.

Not that I'm literally stalking him or anything. Seriously.


Friday, January 23, 2009

For Keeps

I wasn't able to ask one of my "deep" questions last Friday because I was gone all day, but here is this week's question for you:

If you could have permanent possession of any single object in the world, what would you want it to be?

As always, I feel compelled to share the logic (or lack thereof) behind my answer. Money and libraries are out because they are not a single object. While I love books, I don't really care about owning rare ones. It would be cool to hold a diamond the size of a chicken's egg, but you could never take it anywhere for fear of being robbed! And I don't think the point of the question is to choose something so you could sell it, so don't answer it that way.

Therefore, I'm going with a great work of art. Something that would make me smile when I saw it hanging on my wall. I've always loved Monet, so I'm thinking one of his paintings of the water lilies in his garden would be nice. I saw some of the series at the museum last year, and the real thing is truly amazing.

What about you? What object would you like to claim as your own for keeps?


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

At Last

I finally have pictures of the playroom. It shouldn't have been so hard to do; after all, the room is out there every day. What could be hard about taking some pictures of it? Well, see, when I tried to take pictures during the daytime, they all came out dark because I was shooting into the sun--and trying another direction, the flash made the wood look weird...

Okay, enough excuses. Justin took most of these pictures, by the way. If it weren't for him, you'd probably never get to see this room and you'd end up deciding I'm delusional and that it doesn't exist.

Here is the entertainment center/toy shelves that we designed together (meaning I told him what I wanted to do with the unit and he did everything else). It's made of birch which he left a natural color and just put a clear finish on it. (You can click on it to enlarge it.) The left side is Miss Pink's and the right side is Mr. Blue's.

Hey, it looks crooked--I promise it isn't in real life! We didn't want to make it go all the way to the ceiling because why tempt our kids to climb that high? As you can see, it didn't take long to fill most of the shelves. The shelves that aren't filled with toys that won't fit into the bins have decorative things in them, like books and picture frames and old toys. The room is supposed to have a "vintage toy" theme. I'm not sure a My Little Pony treehouse in Pepto-Bismol pink, or a crane in construction orange fits that theme, but hey, this room is for their toys, and they really do play with the toys more now that they're more visible and not jumbled up in their toy boxes.

You can see the vintage-y colors of the bins. He kept asking me over the phone what colors I wanted, so I told him to take me to Home Depot, where they had the exact colors I wanted in spray paint. See, I'm not high-maintenance!

The bins are made of thin plywood. I saw some like these at Target and asked my husband if he could make some. They are not very heavy and the kids can get a bin out, play with its contents, and (theoretically) put the toys back in it when they're done. It does seem to be easier to clean everything up, and they are less likely to get a lot of stuff out at one time. I don't require them to clean up before getting another bin out. A friend tried that and her daughter gave up on playing because it just wasn't fun anymore.

I know all you organized people have been doing this all along, so don't laugh at me for finally figuring out how to be organized.

How to Get Organized
Step 1. Marry a skilled carpenter.
Step 2. Wait 11 years until he has the time and extra money to build a whole room to store the family's stuff.
Step 3. Endure a few months of the house looking like this for days at a time.

4. Enjoy the new room. Here's what the bookcase next to the shelving unit looks like.

Could it look any more crooked? (But at least he took pictures, even if they are crooked.)

This is my desk. We'll get the computer out there when the U-Verse people come to hook us up next week. There is room for scrapbooking even after the computer is in place. Plus, so much storage space on top! The shelves are almost empty right now--I think I may actually have more storage space than stuff to put in it. (Which is fine with me; I hate clutter.)

Finally, this is a close-up of the stationery slots on the desk. Hopefully, they won't fill up with odds and ends that don't go anywhere else.

So that's it! We do have a futon mattress on the floor in there now, but the futon frame is yet to come so I wasn't going to make you wait until I took pictures of it to include in the tour. Because that might have taken another three months.

P.S. The walls aren't actually green. They're a warm beige, almost yellow. The color is "Believable Buff" by Sherwin Williams, I believe. The hall, kitchen, and living room are now the same color.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dreams Can Come True

Over the weekend, Miss Pink wanted to know why she didn't have school on Monday. I explained that it was the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a great man who wanted everyone to treat each other equally.

"See, African American people were not treated equally in those days. They had to sit on the back of the bus even if there was room at the front, and they had to give up their seat if a white person wanted it. They even had to drink at separate water fountains from white people."

I left out the marches and the dogs and Dr. King getting shot--heck, I left out slavery itself--because I had no way to explain that kind of hatred to a six-year-old child who loves everyone she's ever met. But she still got the point.

"Mama, that's wrong!"

"I know. And Dr. King had a dream that those things would change, and we wouldn't treat people differently because of the color of their skin."

Miss Pink is not color-blind. She knows that some of her friends have skin that is darker than hers (like me, she is as pale as it is possible to be.) But she is color-indifferent. She just doesn't care what color someone is. She knows that people come in many colors, and that all of those colors are beautiful. When I see her holding hands with some of her African-American and Hispanic classmates, I think of Dr. King saying that he had a dream that "one day... little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and little white girls as sisters and brothers."

I'm so glad I've seen that dream come true.

And today another dream came true as Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. I don't think I understood how many obstacles we'd had to overcome as a nation to get to this point, until I heard a historian on TV explain that no black man had ever been invited to the White House until Teddy Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington, or that the first fully integrated Inauguaration wasn't until JFK's in 1961. 1961! That's during my parents' lifetime. I may not have understood it, but I'm sure people of color knew all about the obstacles that said to them, "You can't have this. You can't go there. You aren't allowed."

And now those barriers are broken.

I'm not the first person or even the first blogger to say this, but I'll say it anyway: I'm so glad that my children will grow up in an America where the idea of a black President is normal. Nothing to be surprised about, just part of their reality. They will need to learn about the shameful aspects of our history, but they will already know that change can come to America. People's hearts can change. And it all began with a dream.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hello all! I have missed being around the past couple of days--in fact, I meant to post Thursday night about where I would be all day Friday, but I ran out of time. Several friends and I were in a courtroom for a hearing in case we were needed to testify for our friend M. Obviously, I can't go into the details, but basically her estranged husband (the divorce is not final) decided to keep her son away from her for the past few weeks, which is WRONG WRONG WRONG but anyway.... Her family, friends, coworkers, and day care providers filled up one side of the courtroom to show their support because she is truly a wonderful mother and she should never have had to go through this. The judge appointed a child advocate to help determine the best interests of the child, and in the end both sides were able to come to a temporary agreement of joint custody. It meant a lot to M to have us there, so I am glad I went.

Then last night my brother Bo and his lovely girlfriend Heather came over to watch our kiddos so we could go out. We went out to dinner and went shopping so Justin could spend his Christmas money. (It's my turn next.) It was so nice to look around and let him try things on without keeping the kids from pulling stuff off of shelves or hiding under the racks. So if they are reading this, thanks again, Heather and Bo!

Some funny things happened last night. Over dinner, Justin and I were discussing ways to trim down our eating-out budget. Ironic, no? I mentioned a birthday dinner for one of my friends next week, which is being held at a casual-chic restaurant here in town. When I said there the dinner was being held, Justin said, "That's a little expensive!" And he seemed upset about it, especially when I said, "Well, I have to go--she's one of my best friends!" I thought that was unusual since he normally doesn't get his feathers ruffled over things like that.

Finally he said something that made us realize that I had mispronounced the name of the place, making it sound like the dinner was at one of the fanciest steakhouses in our city, where dinner for one would be about $70 (as opposed to $15 or so at the actual restaurant). Here I was talking about cutting down on Sunday morning doughnuts, and he thought I wanted to spend that much at dinner--and that our friend would expect me to! Thank goodness we figured it out so no bad feelings remained!

The other funny thing that happened while we were out: Mr. Blue had his toy laptop out, tapping away at the keyboard, and he announced to everyone, "I just checking my email!" I claim full responsibility for that since whenever he wants to play on the computer and I'm on it, I always say, "Just let me check my email!" (Or your blogs, but he doesn't have to know that!)


Wednesday, January 14, 2009


When I was planning this week's dinner menus, I decided to make Chicken a la King despite having a horrific memory of that dish at a church camp where they also served powdered scrambled eggs and other atrocities. I felt I just couldn't mess it up that bad. The recipe suggested serving the chicken and sauce over puff pastry shells that you can buy in the freezer section. You bake the frozen pastries and they puff up light and warm. The dish looked much more impressive than the effort I put into it.

I was already feeling like a 1950's housewife when my husband came through the door carrying a single red rose and a card for me. He knows I'd kill him for buying a dozen roses, and anyway, one was plenty!

Then Miss Pink asked if we could have a candlelight dinner. So we ate our fancy-looking chicken in pastry shells in the candlelight with classical music playing in the background.

It was a lovely dinner, except for the fact that Mr. Blue wouldn't eat any of the pastry, dropped chicken on the floor, left to go the bathroom twice and came back without any underwear on.

They just don't provide entertainment like that at fancy restaurants.


Monday, January 12, 2009

I have no idea what to write about. Yet I don't want to lose my readers, so I just wanted to pop in and say hi and share some random thoughts.
  • We had a nice weekend. I took Miss Pink to a classmate's birthday party at a pizza place. Over the noise several of the other moms and I got to know each other better. I'm glad I'm making friends with the other mothers, especially since we'll be connected for another year after this one (the class stays together for K and 1st grade).
  • I really hate it when I give up my nice Sunday evening to grocery shop and the store is out of a lot of things, including bread. Seriously, there was almost no bread--and none I wanted to buy. Meaning I have to make another trip today.
  • What do you do when you're stressed over something that you have no control over? I mean--how do you keep from obsessing about it so you can get on with the rest of your life until the situation resolves itself? I'm trying not to think about it, but it's difficult not to let it bleed over into my thoughts. I know it's just a bump in the road and we'll be fine, but I hate waiting.
  • Finally, better late than never: Angeline gave me a Wonder Woman award and I kept forgetting to go get it. (Some superhero I am!) If only I looked like Wonder Woman in that outfit! Thanks, Angeline!


Friday, January 9, 2009

Instant Talents

I'm going to answer two questions from the book If today, because the first one is just too obvious. My answer is, I mean. I'd like to hear what yours is.

If you could suddenly possess an extraordinary talent in one of the arts, what would you like it to be?

Writing. Hands down.


If you could be instantly fluent in one other language that you currently do not read or speak, which would it be?

I'm thinking Spanish. I live in Texas and it would be so useful to be fluent in Spanish. While I would like to be able to pronounce French, especially when ordering in restaurants (like I go to so many fancy restaurants), I don't care much about speaking it since the opportunities would be rare and the French would make fun of my accent anyway.

What about you?


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Back to Reality

Yesterday was the kids' first day back to school. I guess the powers that be decided to make it a short week to soften the blow. Although getting up at 6:30 am on Tuesday is just as painful as it would have been on Monday. Anyway, Miss Pink was excited to go back--in fact, she didn't want to be away from her beloved teachers and her friends that long, and would get teary-eyed whenever anyone brought up school. So she was happy to go back.

Mr. Blue was not as sure about going to his school, but as always, he was fine once he got there. I enjoyed being able to run errands alone. But the truth is, I am enjoying my kids' company when we are together. Most of the time. Yes, they do scream at each other sometimes, but they are little enough to adore me and old enough to entertain me with their conversations. As soon as Mr. Blue is potty trained, I'd like to freeze them at these ages and keep them this way forever.

Speaking of the potty (geez, I am such a mommyblogging cliche) Mr. Blue is doing VERY well, with only a few accidents and a couple of successes for #2. That's the big hurdle, and now he is on his way. He is very proud of himself for being such a big boy.

With no segue coming to mind, the other news is that my MIL and her sister are coming to visit tomorrow. My MIL is investing in Justin's business, and they have to meet with the banker. J's aunt always comes along to help my MIL drive. I don't want to clean the house with such short notice and without any help from Justin (we'll be at church tonight, so he has no time to help me), and in reality the ladies wouldn't mind, but I have to do it. That is just a rule in my book: you clean for company. And if you don't like cleaning, invite people over regularly. It works unless you don't really like people and are fine being a hermit. In that case, have a spouse that invites his family to stay. That works too! /end sarcasm

Also, we have to go ahead and buy a futon for the playroom, which we were planning to do anyway, so there will be enough sleeping arrangements (you can't ask 70-year-old women to sleep on the floor). So now there will be somewhere to sit/sleep on out there, and soon we'll be getting a rug, and the U-verse TV and Internet will be hooked up. I know I need to post pictures. I should take them as soon as I get everything cleaned up. Two birds with one stone, right?

I'm off to start cleaning. But wouldn't a nap first be a good idea?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Last Week in Review of 2008: 12/28--1/3

I really meant it when I said that writing the week in review posts were the most positive thing that I experienced in 2008, because they caused me to take notice of the small things that were going on around me that I might otherwise have taken for granted. I've printed all the posts and am pairing them with pictures in my most personal scrapbook yet.

But I don't think I'll keep doing the Week in Review in the same format. It's time to try something different. I know that if I keep writing the same kind of posts, I'll feel compelled to make another album of them--and can you imagine how many albums, added to the regular scrapbooks, I would end up with? I'm thinking I might do a similar album every five years; that would make Miss Pink 10 and Mr. Blue 7 the next time I do one, which would be a different era of our lives to capture.

But of course I will keep posting moments and pictures, as well as longer posts. This blog is my online journal, written for myself and my children, which I just happen to let total strangers (who often become friends) have access to!

So here are some highlights for the last week of 2008 (and the beginning of 2009).

1. We took the Christmas decorations down on New Year's Day! Yay us! (Well, actually, the kids and I took the ornaments off the tree that day. Justin couldn't get around to putting the tree and the boxes back in the attic until this morning, but I still count that a triumph.) I also bought some plastic boxes to replace the battered cardboard ones that wouldn't close when stuffed with all the ornaments. See, I'm already more organized in 2009! *sarcastic snort*

2. Justin and I did stay up until midnight, but only because we got to talking in bed until 11:45, so it was impossible not to wait till 12. Then we smooched, wished each other Happy New Year, and went to sleep. I was pleasantly surprised at how many bloggers were proud to admit that they stayed home and many fell asleep long before the hour. Maybe this says something about bloggers and our lack of a social life, but oh well--at least I have found My People.

On a related note, we have GOT to start going to bed by 11, or next week it is going to be excruciating to wake up at 6:30.

3. Mr. Blue is well on his way to being potty trained. He has stayed dry for a couple of days now; he doesn't ask to go, but goes to the potty when reminded, does everything himself including getting on the "big potty," and gets his own Skittle as a reward. He does not like to wear a pullup when we go anywhere, so we try to let him wear his underwear as much as possible.

He has not learned how to poop in the potty, so that's not fun, but we'll get there. The thought that this is the last time I'll have to potty train a child is an exhilarating one. (Of course, then we'll probably get a puppy.)


Thursday, January 1, 2009

Reflection Questions for 2008

I got these questions on yesterday, and have had such a wonderful time answering them that I thought I'd share them with you in the last introspective post about 2008 that I'm going to write!

1. What was the single best thing that happened this past year? Writing the "Week in Review posts"—I feel they helped me appreciate my daily life more.

2. What was the single most challenging thing that happened? Probably the playroom addition—even though it is a good thing, it required some adjustments to our routine, especially around Christmas.

3. What was an unexpected joy this past year? Getting to go on the scrapbooking retreat—I made some new friends and just really got to act like a teenager at a sleepover again, which I think I had never expected I’d do again.

4. What was an unexpected obstacle? The recession did affect Justin’s business for the last quarter of the year, but thanks to Dave Ramsey’s advice, we were prepared for the slow paychecks and now it looks like we will be able to replace that money and continue saving because the first of the year is going to be busy.

Oh, I learned from browsing in my archives that I apparently had a recurrence of my anxiety disorder in May. I barely remember it since adjusting my medication fixed everything so well. This is why people sometimes have trouble staying on antidepressants; it just makes you feel normal, and they forget it’s the meds making them feel normal, so they think they don’t need the meds. Not me, man. I need the meds…at least for now.

5. Pick three words to describe 2008. Laughter, challenge, messy.

6. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe your 2008 (don’t ask them; guess based on how you think your spouse sees you). Blessed, sleepy, challenge (yes, I do think we’d use the same word.)

7. Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2008 (again, without asking). Work, family, church

8. What were the best books you read this year? Fiction: Gilead and Home by Marilynne Robinson; The Used World by Haven Kimmel; The Writing Class by Jincy Willett; The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer; In the Woods by Tana French; Twilight by Stephenie Meyer.

Nonfiction: The Power of a Praying Parent by Stormie Omartian; Mystery and Manners by Flannery O’Connor; The Challenge of Jesus: Discovering Who Jesus Was and Is by N.T. Wright; Between Parent and Child by Dr. Haim Ginott; Housekeeping vs. the Dirt by Nick Hornby.

Whew! And there were a lot that I liked but just weren't quite as great as these.

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships? Justin, Miss Pink and Mr. Blue, my parents, my “blog friends” including those I know in real life. I love all of y'all!

10. What was your biggest personal change from January to December of this past year? Adding time to pray to my (mostly) daily routine has made me more tender in my spirit—more open to noticing God at work around me in the small things that make my heart weep with joy, and more able to trust God with the questions that arise in the course of life.

11. In what way(s) did you grow emotionally? I think I became more compassionate to the needs of others. Through several books, I also learned how to deal with my children’s emotions in a way that will help them learn to control their emotions as they mature. This method also helps me control my emotions instead of getting so annoyed with the kids’ emotional outbursts. I hope I can remember to use it more and more!

12. In what way(s) did you grow spiritually? I feel closer to God and I feel I want to spend time with Him instead of viewing devotional time as a chore that a “good Christian” should check off her to-do list.

13. In what way(s) did you grow physically? Fortunately, I didn’t grow in physical size! I did commit to going to the gym on a regular basis. I probably do have more muscular strength than I used to. Working out does give me more energy, too.

14. In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others? Less (mostly internal) conflict. I used to get all worked up about what people said to me and what I said to them and wondering if they still liked me and all of that. It was exhausting. Now I take people at face value. I have a healthier attitude toward my friendships; if a friendship gets less intimate because of the other person’s choices, I can accept that if it can’t be changed. I know different friendships can meet different needs in my life.

I also have less conflict with my husband. Both of us have learned to let things go; if we start disagreeing, especially over something we’ve disagreed about before, we can usually stop ourselves and change the subject or turn it into a joke. This is huge, of course; I think that the ability to avoid pointless conflict can save marriages!

15. What was the most enjoyable area of managing your home? It hasn’t changed: I still love cooking for people. There’s something so fulfilling about giving the gift of good homemade food—it’s love, pure and simple.

16. What was your most challenging area of home management? Keeping the floors clean. I procrastinate sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming.

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year? I’m sure it was the Internet. However, I don’t consider blogging a waste of time, really, since I’m connecting with other people’s stories. If I discount blogging, it was TV.

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year? Prayer and spending time with family.

19. What was biggest thing you learned this past year? I can trust God with everything in my life.

20. Create a phrase or statement that describes 2008 for you. Love matters most.

Can you think of three words that describe 2008 for you?