Happy Birthday to Me (you? Mommy?)

When you plan your own birthday “party” and the only people in attendance are you, your two kids, your best friend and her infant son, singing “Happy Birthday” gets a bit dodgy in the middle. I have to admit, the whole thing made me laugh, and for that I was grateful. I really needed to laugh on my birthday of all days. Being near Christmas, my birthday has rarely been the best thing I do all year. Having my husband half a world away makes the whole month of December that much more lonely.

I admit, I did not handle December very well. But 2012 is behind us and 2013 is three days in the making. I have been 28 for a whole four days, and I’ve taken that time to write a list. A bucket list of sorts, but these are all the things I want to do in the next year. Twenty-nine things to do before I turn twenty-nine next December. But first, some birthday cake:

" “The angels have the phonebox”. That's my favorite. I've got that on a t-shirt. " -'Blink', Doctor Who, Episode 3.10

” “The angels have the phone box”. That’s my favorite. I’ve got that on a t-shirt. ” -‘Blink’, Doctor Who, Episode 3.10

Now to my list. Some of these will be silly, some of them very serious. Some will be well within my comfort zone (hence the time constraints placed on some of them), and some are so far beyond anything I’ve ever done that I’m pretty sure they wont get done until after my husband returns from Afghanistan this summer. Wow, this summer… He sounds so close and yet, he’s still so far away.

Yes, the list, sorry about that.

29 Things to do Before 29

1. Complete a book of Sudoku Puzzles in the month of February, cover to cover in order, no cheating.

2. Get shot with a paintball gun. Of course, this means I have to go paint-balling with my husband, but what better way to bond after a deployment then to fire balls of paint at each other, right?

3. Go zip-lining. This one requires me to overcome my severe aversion to heights and falling.

4. Climb a rock wall. No doubt this is a precursor to #3.

5. Read 29 books. This averages 2.5-3 books a month. I got this one.

6. Kiss my husband on the lips.

7. Do Zumba three times a week for at 3 consecutive months. I got the game disk for Xbox Kinect from the husband for my birthday, I will use it to tone the rest of the baby pudge let over from giving birth to children weighing the same as the standard bag of sugar.

8. Finish my first novel: in March and April.

9. Complete my figure drawing sketchbook.

10. Have portraits taken of myself (whether I post them here or just write about the experience I’m not sure yet). This one is an exercise in learning to appreciate my own beauty.

11. Wear three pieces of refashioned clothing in the month of June. (I should have plenty of options by then.)

12. Take one photo of myself everyday for a month (can’t be February, it’s too short)

13. Get another tattoo (I already know what and wear, just need to get on with it)

14. Complete my blog series: 30 Days with Autism that I started in 2010.

15. Blog every Friday  Thursday about something I am grateful for that has occurred in the past week. Let’s keep the gratitude fresh.

16. Write one short story a month, no minimum word count.

17. Pay off my truck.

18. Craft 31 piece of jewelry in the month of August.

19. Give up Soda (once I finish what’s left from my birthday party.)

20. Give up my hair for Lent. Headscarves all day, every day from Feb 13- March 30.

21. Learn to play guitar. Hubby plays guitar… Another one of those re-bonding activities… Maybe while I’m recovering from being shot with a paintball gun?

22. Stop biting my nails (again). To be successful, I have to have real nail growth on a continuous basis during the 12 weeks leading up to and including my next birthday.

23. Lay under the stars with my husband (possible sleep on the back deck, that counts as camping, right?)

24. Blog a video of myself reading a children’s book like I do to my kids.

25. Fire a gun. Another one of those “Let’s celebrate your homecoming” activities.

26. Buy “embarrassing” lingerie and actually wear it. Wear it again in front of the husband. (There will be no pictures on the wearing, there may be pictures of the buying. FYI, almost all lingerie is embarrassing, we really only wear it because we think our husbands will like it.)

27. Take my husband to an archery range. He has yet to see me in my element. Archery was the only sport I was good at in middle school and after the gun range, and a paintball course, archery is a nice change of pace.

28. Fully potty train my son, no more diapers. We are slowly venturing into the world of pooping in the potty. This will save me $60 a month once we get this down.

29. Solve a Rubik’s Cube. (This may take a while)

So there you have it. my list of 29 things. These are all realistic and completely doable. That’s why I chose them. I wanted a list that I could actually finish and say “I did that”. So, I’m a few days behind on some of these already, but I will be updating this list with other blog posts as I complete each number. My goal is to have the list completed by December 30, 2013.

The heart of a child

God tells us in both Mark 10:15, and Luke 18:17, that unless we have the faith of a child we will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Mark 10:15 (New King James Version)

15 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

Luke 18:17 (New King James Version)

17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

Now this is something I struggle with dearly. Having Asperger’s Syndrome, there is so much out of my control and so much that upsets me that I tend to grab tight and don’t let go of the things I can control. I’ve gotten upset about some random thing or another and dyed my hair, or shaved my head, or pierced something (yes, I said pierced, like needle through flesh).
Having the faith that it will all work out for the better is NOT my strongest gift. I was blessed with an empathetic heart, a kind ear, a for the most part, a gentle word. Blind faith is not something I am good at. It is a constant struggle for me to remember that in order to succeed in life, I must first lose myself in Christ. What does this have to do with having the heart and faith of a child? Everything.
Just yesterday, I was crying on Skype to my poor husband because I am fearful about money. If it were up to me, we would buy only what is absolutely necessary for survival and squirrel away the rest. I grew up in a family that was beyond poor. We went to McDonald’s once a month, on the day my mom got her welfare check, just because my mom wanted us to be like the other kids and have the stupid little toys lying all over the house. My mom would water down the milk, to thin it out and make it last to the next paycheck. My mother would go days without eating so that my sister and I could have two meals a day at home during the school week. This left me very fearful that at some point there will be no more money and I will not be able to care for my family. I do not have the faith of a child when it comes to being prepared and caring for my family.
Today, I took my kids out to breakfast, we were running late. Our order arrived late at our table, and immediately after breakfast we went to the closest Walmart to the Denny’s only to discover that Walmart did not have a fabric department. Driving to our second Walmart of the day took another 40 minutes. Just before we arrived, I was flipping through the radio stations as I always do, like I said, I have to have control in a lot of areas of my life including not listening to songs that I don’t care for.
Hitting the sixth button on my dashboard brings up “The Beaver 100.3 FM“. Listening to the song until it ended, the announcer came on live for the local Toys R Us, where the radio station in partnership with a lot children’s assistance organizations, were holding a holiday toy drive. Along with the radio station DJs, members from the Dark Empire Group and the 501st Legion would be there to take pictures with the kids. Telling my daughter this as we pulled into the parking lot of the second Walmart, she says “Maybe we could take a toy to the Toys R Us.” I looked at her sadly and told her “Maybe another day, kid. We will donate toys before Christmas, but I just don’t think we can do it today.” She looked sad for a minute, on the verge of tears, and then her face lit up and she exclaimed “But I could give my Pix E. Flutters.”
This was the nail in heart. She had begged for that doll for so long and had finally received it just this past Easter. She’s owned that doll all of eight months, but here she sits, strapped into her booster seat, so willing to part with it for the benefit of someone else.
That is the faith of a child.
In my mind, I replayed the conversation with my husband yesterday and all my fears about money went streaming through my head on a fast-forward loop. I could tell her ‘no, we need to wait’… I could easily lie to her and say we couldn’t afford it right now, but I know myself too well. If something is not front and center in my focus right now, I will forget.
“We’ll see,” I told her.
“We’ll see is another way of saying ‘no’,” she replied without even thinking of it.
She didn’t mean it the way it probably sounds. She sounded disappointed, not bitter or angry. She was just stating that I do say the phrase “We’ll see” a lot and typically, we don’t end up doing the thing we’re “seeing” about. What she said was a statement of fact, but it hit me harder than any rebuke I have ever had. God was using my daughter in that moment to teach me a lesson. I truly hope I do not forget this lesson she helped to teach me.
We walked right into the Walmart and headed for the toy department. Sissy picked out a Lalaloopsy doll, and Little Brother grabbed a Lightning McQueen talking flashlight. I spent $50 including the items I had originally gone in for and we drove straight to the Toys R Us to deliver our toys. Upon telling the DJ about how we ended up there, she shook my hand and told me that it speaks volumes about me as a parent and how we are raising our kids. They loaded the kids with miniature candy canes and even grabbed most of the members of the 501st Legion and the Dark Empire Group to take a picture to send to my husband in Afghanistan.
My dear girl wanted to give one of her own dolls to a child in need. God used her to lay it on my heart to not worry about tomorrow, but help today. I truly have a blessed little girl as a daughter, and somewhere in the city of Clarksville, on Christmas morning, there will be a doll under a tree just waiting for another little girl to open it, and she’ll never know about the special little girl who helped put it there.

Financial Responsibility and Monopoly

Just Charge It!!.

 

Everybody falls on hard times. I get it. Honestly, my husband and I wouldn’t have much of the credit card debt we have if he hadn’t lost two jobs in six months and spent the next six months on unemployment. It was tough. We did everything for our kids during that time. We’ve been on three dates in the past 2 years. We don’t go out much and when we do it’s always cheap.

I will happily announce that I danced cheerfully around my kitchen with a pair of scissors on Friday afternoon. We paid off one of our five credit cards/store cards, one with a particularly high interest rate, and CLOSED the account!!! I’m still running the high I felt when the little man at his desk on the other side of the phone said “the account is closed effective immediately”…

My husband and I will be mostly debt free by January 2016. Four more years and we will only have our mortgage. Four more years and we will have added an average of $1445 a month back to our free budget! That’s the amount of money we are currently spending each month just to pay off debts.
Teaching our kids to be dependent on a card to swipe will only compound this issue. We all can be debt free, but it takes work and sacrifice. I don’t think this board “game” is helping the situation. With everyone, right up the President, spending more than they earn, what message does it send our children?

“Oh? Not enough money in your wallet to buy it now… Hmmm… CHARGE IT!”

Not a good plan for the future.