snapshots & thoughts: christmas pjs

Traditionally the only present the kids get to open on Christmas Eve
is their present from the Elves.

When they were old enough to be impatient about waiting for Christmas morning,
we told them they could open one on Christmas Eve.

"But how will Santa get us a present on Christmas Eve if he doesn't deliver them until Christmas morning?" my very astute preschooler asked.
"Why doesn't he just bring them all on Christmas Eve if he's going to bring one?"

The answer of course is The Elves.

Really I just wanted to make sure they had pajamas that fit them
for any photos taken on Christmas morning.

The kids in their Christmas pajamas.

Don't they look sweet?

Except this is what really happens when I try to get a sweet photo of them.

[bonus feature:]

It reminded me of another Christmas pj photo where Sarah got smothered and wasn't too happy about it:
2006 in Kansas City, Missouri

This was also the year that they figured out that the Elves gave them pajamas EVERY year.
On second thought, maybe that's why Sarah isn't looking too happy.

[end bonus feature]

Kaitlin and Aunt Bethany are sock-monkey-pajama twins. 
Let's take a picture. 

 But first... "let me take a selfie."

Oh, Opa!

Aunt Betty and the kids in their Christmas pjs.


And finally, while not having anything to do with Christmas pajamas,
I have to share this snapshot:

I just took re-purposing to a whole nother level.

The TV was too heavy to remove myself.
Besides, it won't fit in my car even if I could move it.
So it became our coffee table...

... until we can recruit some muscles with a truck...


when getting is giving

Christmas came and went. The older I get, the more bah-humbuggy I feel about the Christmas. Don't get me wrong, I love the real meaning of Christmas. And I love the family time and the traditions and the mulled wine. But I get a little sick thinking about the consumerism and materialism - not to mention narcissism - that seems to drive the holiday these days. Even when you try to avoid it, you can't avoid it.

At Christmas I find joy in giving. This year I also found joy in getting.


When my missionary parents traveled to Mongolia as a part of their ministry, they would bring back items made by Mongolian women at Mary & Martha Mongolia as gifts to the people who supported their ministry.

I longed to have some sort of a global impact (after all, I am a missionary kid) even in the midst of my somewhat suburban American life. It occurred to me that I could help these women in Mongolia by selling their items here in the United States.

Unfortunately I didn't have the resources or the know-how to bring it to pass, and soon my parents returned to the United States to live, which made acquiring the items a little more difficult.

Fortunately now there are many companies and stores and ministries who help people in less fortunate circumstances make a fair wage for their work.

Like TOMS, for instance. I have to be honest, when I first heard about TOMS I was not at all interested in them. All I knew about the company was the shoes, and that the college-aged hipsters in my church were all like "TOMS. TOMS. OMG, TOMS!"

As an aside, if you know me you know that I don't like to be told what to do - or what to like. I want to buy something because I like it, not because it's trendy. This, in itself, is not a bad thing although I may have always been completely out of style. But I was out of style on purpose!

This attitude is caused by, and has caused, some things for which I am currently in counseling. Obviously.

That said, I avoided TOMS because they seemed trendy. Plus, I thought they were a little bit plain. What's the big deal?, I wondered. Then a friend of mine let me borrow some of her sandals for an evening out:
I was like, "What the what? These are TOMS?!"

Now that I'd worn them, I wanted a pair of my own. I got on the website and read about their "One for One" philosophy - for every TOMS shoe you purchase, someone who needs shoes also gets a pair. Not only that, but for every pair of eye-wear purchased, someone gets their sight restored. And for every bag of coffee purchased, they help someone get clean water.



So when Santa asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I decided that if I was gonna get something, I wanted someone else to get something too.

I can't tell you how much joy I got when I opened my present and found these Indigo Knit Women's Classics. Not because I got some shoes I want, but because someone else got some shoes they need.

I gave Santa several different items to choose from, including this bag from JOYN at TOMS Marketplace.

I choked up a little bit when I saw this tag that came with it:

Dolli, Raja & Mamta made my bag with their own hands and they wrote their names in their own handwriting on the tag that says:

"Each set of hands touching a product creates another job. Another livelihood."

To that I would add:

Each set of hands purchasing a product made by those dear hands creates a demand. 

A demand for better jobs. Better livelihoods.

Sometimes I wonder, does it really make a difference? In the grand scheme of things... in the world economy... in my tight budget... is it worth it?

Then I remember it's not really about the economy or my budget. It's not even about bags or shoes. Those things are temporary. It's about people. Souls.

When we give, we get. I believe this to be true.

Now I know that when we get, we can also give.




I got another hole in my head

I hadn't planned on getting my cartilage pierced this week. Or ever, really. It's not that I don't like piercings because I do. I admire someone who can rock piercings (and tattoos) tastefully - especially if they are 40something.

It's just that I'm a little self-conscious about being that one 40something who's trying to be all 20something but comes off like a pathetic sit-com character. My kids laugh at this fear of mine and assure me that I will never be accused of that. Well, not a pathetic one anyway.

They won't let me. Once I bought some crazy patterned leggings and the first time I wore them in public, Kaitlin told me "girls in my school wear clothes like that, not moms." I promptly donated the not-mom-leggings to Sarah's closet.

When Kaitlin texted me saying she wanted to get her cartilage pierced, I texted her back with LOL and a crying/laughing emoji.

Incidentally, Spellchecker does not like the word "texted." But in this day and age, I find texting (also a word Spellchecker balks at) a great way to communicate with my kids. We text. We are texting. We texted.

Kaitlin said it would be good mother/daughter time, we could get it done together. When I realized she was serious I told her to wait two years until she is 16.

I don't know why I decided she needed to wait until she is 16 any more than why I chose to raise the time she waits in increments of 2 years. It just sounds nice I guess. Truth is, I didn't have a good reason. Since I believe it's important to have a reason for fighting your battles, I chose not to fight this one. I deferred to her dad, who of course deferred back to me.

I told her we would talk about it, not text about it. Because texting is nice, but talking is better.

The idea of having a mother/daughter piercing appealed to me as long as it was in my ear, so I told her I wouldn't make her wait until she was 16 if she paid for both of our piercings. She was happy to accept my offer. I felt a little bit guilty when, after we were pierced and about to pay, the woman told me the total as if I were going to cover it.

I didn't make her wait, but it did cost her something. For that, I hope she appreciates it more. I know I do. Every time I see my unplanned cartilage piercing, I think of her.

"You'd better never let that close up, Mom," she said. "I paid good money for that."

We've already discussed mother/daughter tattoos. If Sarah follows in her sister's footsteps, I might be one pierced & tattooed mamma.


[bonus features:]

I chose to get my right ear pierced because Kaitlin wanted her left ear done. That way when Kaitlin and I take selfies, both our piercings will be in the picture. We took a selfie as soon as mine was in, forgetting that I still had the clip in my hair. I almost walked out of the store with it in.

Kaitlin chose to get her left ear pierced because her left ear has a little bump on it (you can see it in the picture) and she likes it, so she wanted to emphasize it. When she told me that, I told her when I held her in my arms as a baby, I loved rubbing that little bump on her ear. I also loved tracing her two little cowlicks on the top of her head - with their swirls, they looked like an angel. (She doesn't like her cowlicks though.)

[end bonus feature]


snapshots & thoughts


The last time I posted my snapshots and thoughts I ended it with Halloween Flo, 
fully intending to bring you up to date before this.

Halloween also happens to be the same day that I moved in a certain tenant of mine who I now have a restraining order against.

In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, "Let me explain. No there is too much, let me sum up."

After only a week there, I knew I would have to evict him.
He would do things on purpose to make people upset.
It really was bizarre behavior.
I can't even begin.

Suffice it to say, this is pretty much how I felt every night after work.
All the old ladies were afraid of him.
All the old men wanted to fight him.
It's been the longest 1-1/2 months of my career in property management.

We evicted him, then he super-glued my office door and two of our exterior doors' locks.

We decided to get a restraining order against him so that he couldn't come near the property..
It wasn't so much for me - though it's filed on my behalf. 
It's more for those who live there because it includes my place of work.

 During my lunch hours I needed to get away from the craziness.
One day I found this great spot back in the woods, so quiet and peaceful.
It's my new favorite lunch spot.


Here's some other stuff that happened since my last post:

John got his driver's license! Now he drives himself & Kaitlin to school.
This photo was taken their first day going to school together.
I was probably more excited for them than they were.
"Mom! We're just going to school!"
"I know, but you're going to school without a parent! That is, like, a huge milestone."
"It's just school."

Now I have to call shotgun.
I never used to have to do that.

Sarah (#35) started basketball season.
She loves it & she has some friends from school on the team, which is really fun for her.

Sarah loves to draw.
And she loves coffee.
She's a girl after my own heart.

Bedtime homework snuggles.


Thanksgiving happened.

Someday I might write about how hard it was, but not today.
My highlight was spending time with these three.

I'm so thankful for my children.
In the history of the world, there haven't been three children better than these three.


Kaitlin came to work with me on the day we had to go before the judge on the eviction case.
She wants to be a lawyer, so she asked if she could come to court and watch.
She and I had some coffee while we waited for the judge to sign the Writ of Recovery/Order to Vacate. 

It was fun hanging out with her for a day.

Dear Favorite Blue Scarf That I Knit Last Winter, 

I haven't seen you in a while. I think I may have left you
behind somewhere. I didn't do it on purpose, I promise! 
I am so sad, but I trust you are making someone else
really happy. 

I will always remember you fondly,


It wasn't all bad at work.
I decorated the lobby for Christmas.
I love seeing my residents' faces light up when they walk through.
So many of them don't have the energy to decorate anymore - or the visitors to decorate for.
I get so much joy from putting smiles on their faces.

Listening to the "Traditional Christmas" channel on Pandora, reading my book in front of the Christmas tree.

All is well again.


Linking up with @jeannettg for InstaFriday.


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