Thursday, January 28, 2010

Man VS. MiniVan

When I pull into the pick up line at school I always chuckle. There are many SUV type vehicles and a couple of family sized sedans and there are also 2 or 3 other minivans. I feel a kindred spirit with those minivan owners...they KNOW what I'm talking about:

40 months ago, I was not a minivan person and neither was my husband, but with a third little one on the way we were almost prepared to make the commitment. When we pulled into the 3rd dealership of the day after test driving quite a few SUV's the salesman came over, listened to our situation, and promptly took us over to the minivan section "You're gonna love this" he said. My husband and I looked at each other. I gave a famous eye-roll, and then we decided to throw caution to the wind and take one for a test drive.

"Hmmm." Jim said, "This FEELS like an SUV". It kind of did! When perched in the captain's chair you are raised above the road, a feeling we liked and had gotten used to with both our Chevy and our Ford. I immediately liked it...automatic sliding doors, stow and go seating...a stay at home mom of preschoolers' dreams come true, but I stayed quiet at first. I knew Jim would need more convincing.

Back at the dealership we tested out the stow and go, and used our key fob to open all the doors. "Think of how much easier life will be in this roomy vehicle? Please, Honey? I'll be the one driving it 90% of the time..." "But this means we are old" "No, it means we are sensible...nothing wrong with you won't be driving it all the time." "Well...are you sure? Are we 'minivan' people..." "We can be...c'mon let's hear what kind of deal we can get." Not yet fully convinced, "Maybe we can look into a lease.," Jim suggested.

So we decided to lease a brand new, navy blue Dodge Grand Caravan. We settled on the lease for a couple of reasons: 1) our track record showed us purchasing a new vehicle every 2 or so years for the last six anyway, so chances are we'd want a new car at the end of the lease--When I met Jim he had a Cavalier which we upgraded to the Chevy Blazer, and then we went for the roomier Ford Explorer. Now we were settling on the minivan. 2) A lease is a short term commitment, at 40 months we could hand the thing back and get something more suited to our modern family. :)

So now, the end of 40 months is upon us, and I get a little sniffle when I think of letting that van go. Besides a broken passenger door handle (one that broke only months into our lease and we never had fixed), the van has been a pleasure. I love pulling into the grocery store and not worrying about hitting the car next to me when the doors swing open and kids tumble out. I also love when my arms are weighted down with a toddler, a bag, a purse, and a stroller and I can press a button (albeit with my teeth sometimes!) and let everyone inside. For a while there we had one of the passenger seats in the front stowed and I also loved how it afforded me the ability to hop in and buckle children into car seats without straining my back or having my backside exposed for all the world to admire! Also, with a click of the button, the hatch automatically closes and the doors lock as I tend to my corral of grocery bags waiting to be unpacked. And we can't forget that on those blustery afternoons in the pickup line at school, other parents have to get out of their toasty cars and open passenger doors for little ones, when I can stay nice and warm in the drivers seat and, open sesame, allow entrance for Jordan.

Yes, Olivia has found the key fob and pressed the buttons on several occasions resulting in a rush to shut off the "panic" button or a confused look from Jim as he comes in the door from work, "The side door to the van is wide open you know." Oops. Other than that I wouldn't trade it.

But now, I have to, and Jim is trying to make a strong case for anything but minivan. While I am quietly praising its merits, gathering testimonials from friends who have converted to the minivan cult and "can't remember life without it" or "can't imagine driving ANYTHING else," and pointing out situations when the automatic sliding doors and folding seats are indispensable, he is mounting a case for a crossover, another SUV, or anything, ANYTHING that isn't a minivan.

This weekend will tell as we head to the dealers to make a purchase. We've decided to trade in the minivan and perhaps upgrade to a new model...and I've started a rumor that the new van's side windows roll down (a huge perk!) ...we'll see how that pans out. Anyway, no more leasing for us. So this is going to be a long term commitment.

But will it be the decade of the minivan? That is yet to be determined...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Don't Shove Me In The Shallow Water, Just Yet.

I'm sitting here this morning sipping my peppermint tea (decaffeinated) and it's got me thinking about last night's cup of tea at Borders; my monthly treat at book club is a medium Chai Latte...and usually I'm fine after drinking it. But last night I couldn't sleep. Now it could have been the awesome book club conversation--which in itself was quite a miracle given that there were 16 of us there last night (our biggest group on record I'm told!) and the music in the Borders cafe was loud to the point where we all had to scream across the tables to be heard. I don't think the cafe workers were too happy with us because we rearranged the space to accommodate the 16 of us, but c'mon, Borders, we've been coming there every month for quite some time...over a year...and I looked around the table--almost every lady had a cup of tea or coffee purchased from THEIR barrista sitting in front of them, so it isn't like we were freeloading! But I'm going to blame my winding mind on the caffeine rush, instead of all that!

I digress, because what I really wanted to write about this morning were the thoughts my brain had me pondering last night. For some reason, and I find this happening frequently in my life, the topic of "submitting" was rolling around up there.

What first got me thinking about it was deciding to say a few prayers hoping that the quiet meditation and conversation with God would lull me into sweet dreams. I started to think about the prayer of Saint Frances (The Prayer For Peace, as it is sometimes called) which happens to be one of my most favorite prayers. For those who aren't familiar, here it is:

Lord, make me a channel of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow your love; where there is injury, your pardon, Lord; where there is doubt, true faith in You; where there is despair in life, let me bring hope; where there is darkness, let me be your light; And where there is sadness, ever joy.

O, Master, grant that I may never seek so much to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved, as to love with all my soul; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying, that we are born to eternal life.

As I finished with my prayer, I began to think earnestly about the areas in my life where I don't do these things. Where I become a noisy gong banging out for all to hear: Look how I've been wronged, boo hoo look at all the bad things that have happened to me; I began to wonder how I've shut myself to understanding another persons thoughts and feelings because I want MY thoughts and feelings to be understood. Love ME. Listen to ME. Forgive ME. For a long time I lived a "me" centered life: this is what I want. This is MY expectation. I shall be adored, and wanted, and accepted. These are MY dreams. This is the way I do things. And I am right!

Through the last 10 years building a relationship with my husband, and having children--especially through motherhood--I've learned that it isn't about me really at all. I have actually gained strength from that thought believe it or not. When I think about role models in my life I don't think about the "noisy gongs" I think about the peace filled people who still manage to get things done amidst the chaos. People who channel Christ's Peace. Those who say Yes to God and No to the world. Submitting is hard--and things that are hard to do, take strength to do. Therefore when I submit my own will to care for another, to listen to another, to serve another, to forgive another and I do it with the peace and love of God in my heart, I am not a weak person. Rather I am strong.

It's very easy to put yourself first, on the other hand. I find that it often causes quite a bit of discord in a household and in a community. People don't really like the noisy gong. People are annoyed by shallow, selfish people. He who yells the loudest, and talks the longest, isn't necessarily the right one.

I find it is easier to put others first when I live in the present moment. When I am available in the here and now, mind, body and soul, I can be more receptive to what other people need. When I am thinking about a million and one other things I have to do and places I need to be and things that are worrying me, I'm not present and I'm really of no use to anyone around me.

I read a book that got a lot of hype a few years back...I mean Oprah sized hype. It was Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth." It's a heavy book and was difficult to read. But I took it slow and I got a lot of great stuff from that book. And I think once I got it, it really stayed with me. The basic premise is living in the present, submitting/accepting the present and the book suggests ways to do this and why it can be so life changing, world changing, really. Of course, there are many who detracted from the book, saying how "unChristian" it is, or it's too "New Age" or "I can't stand, Oprah"...Well if that stops you from picking up the book to take a peek for yourself than so be it. But if you can read with some discernment, and you are ready, I think this book could change you.
I'm not saying, by any means, that I am a pro at this! A living Saint! I am a work in progress. I do want to be a channel of Peace. I want to sow love. I want to forgive. I want to bring faith. I want to bring hope. I want to be light. I want to be joy. I think I'll come closer to those things if I learn to submit. That's what I think the Prayer of St. Frances is about.

And that's what I was thinking about last night...

Okay, you can shove me in the shallow water now!

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Best Day Ever

So according to my daughters, and SpongeBob Squarepants, Saturday was the best day ever. Why, you ask? It was allowance day AND my husband brought donuts home for breakfast while he was out on his Saturday morning coffee run. So anyway, because of these two facts my three little girls launched into an explosive rendition of the chorus of Spongebob's "The Best Day Ever" song and it went on...and on...and on...and on. (Here's a link to the song in case you've managed to not ever hear it in your life) It began shortly after the last donut was devoured and continued as Jim made his way outside on this mild day to take down the Christmas lights, continued as I made our bed for the morning, and continued on as I unloaded the dishwasher and loaded the washing machine. AT LEAST 15 minutes of the same 5 words sung over and over again. But...I didn't mind. I'm happy that these little things make my girls so happy.

So who knew that donuts and $1 each would prompt this (50 cents for Livi)? I certainly didn't when Jim announced at the beginning of the week that he would start doling out an allowance to the girls if they cleaned their bedroom and playroom everyday of the week (except for Sunday, which is their day off). I was kind of happy, but secretly thought, man this is going to mean more fights for me. My girls have trained me to believe that it is easier sometimes to just do it myself than wage a 30 minute war with them about cleaning up after themselves. But I guess at 5, almost 6, and 4 it is time to learn about hard work and reward. AND at the end of the week it wasn't so bad!

Jordan quickly devised a plan and put it into motion unbeknownst to Ava that each day she would scope out the room that was the less messy of the two and chose that as her room to clean all on her own...leaving Ava to clean the other...which really kind of means Ava lays in the middle of the floor staring at the ceiling with her legs crossed while she talks to, or sings allowed to, herself. Somehow it got done each day. The threat of not getting an afternoon snack helped and I only had to remind them a few times per cleaning session that they wouldn't be getting allowance and that they pretty much would be staying upstairs until it was done.

I'm hoping that the sugar high, the natural high of a job well done, and the memory of the smell of a dirty $1 bill will remain in their minds this week as we launch week 2 of Operation Allowance. Jim has already promised them a raise in 6 months if they keep this we shall see.

Now, if I could just get them to stop fighting with each other and get through the dinner hour (more like 15 minutes at our house) without a meltdown!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

You Get What You Need

So, I've seen recently that a few of my facebook friends have begun to blog. I always say that I like to write, but I don't do much of it, so I thought that If I gave myself a blog spot I'd be forced to write more. I can't tell you the number of times I've started something like this and never quite had it come to its fullest fruition. Maybe this time it will stick! I journaled when I was younger. I kept a journal from the time I was in 8th grade until my Freshman year in college. I treasure those journals--now when I look back at them I get quite a few laughs, but I hope that when my girls are teens they will come in handy and allow me to remember what all of that was like.

So as you've probably gathered, I have girls. Three of them so far, Jordan, Ava and Olivia and I am 21 weeks pregnant with our fourth daughter--Chloe. I love being a mother and I love my children but I do have some fears about raising girls. My hopes for them are Faith, Centeredness, Strength, Confidence, Friendship and Love. They are all so unique and beautiful in their own way. My heart aches when I think of any pain that they might endure in their lives, but I also know that those pains, growing pains, will turn them into the women that I hope they will be.

I'll keep this post because the demands of motherhood are calling and because if I don't stop now I know I will begin rambling about something or other and it's probably best to save it for a time when I can really focus on a specific subject.

Until then!


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