Life in progress


Guest Post – Shaking Up Christmas

Well, I’m making one last post before departing the inner circle of this lovely blog of which I have been so honored to be a part.

For my exit post, I would like to share something related to the season.  My sole motivation and purpose for sharing this is not so that you will look at my family and say, “Oh, wow, look what they are doing!” but only so that you might be inspired to consider shaking up Christmas.  (Also, this post is not meant to leave out other holidays related to this time of year.  Our family’s holiday for this season is Christmas, so that is naturally how this project was born.  It doesn’t mean the same idea can’t apply to other same-seasonal holidays.)

The first two children we adopted came to us from a bio relative home.  Another story for another day – on my own blog – but part of the problem in this home was a lack of boundaries, and one of the ways this was evident was in the fact that the children were literally showered with gifts at every possible opportunity.  This meant that Christmas equated to an entire Toyota Highlander filled to the brim with toys.  AskmehowIknow.  That first Christmas, which was somewhat transitional, was something of a nightmare.  I hauled no fewer than eight garbage bags of stuff up to Mini-Me’s bedroom, and spent an entire day sorting through it, keeping only the most appropriate gifts.  I ended up donating about two-thirds of it to charity.

The children never noticed.

For the following two Christmases, I made it a priority not to ask my children what they wanted; rather I watched and listened and made Christmas present purchases based on what I knew my children to be interested in.  I made it a goal to purchase few but meaningful gifts, and I met each “This is what I want for Christmas” with a “What is Christmas really about?”

But by year four I knew I wasn’t getting through.

This post isn’t about religion, but I will tell you that part of our family’s definition of the true meaning of Christmas stems from our belief that it is the celebration of the birth of Christ.  But we believe that because He is our reason to celebrate, we need to be Him to the world.  Therefore, we believe that Christmas ought to be about giving to others and doing for others, and that it should definitely not be about “me-me-me” and greed and self-centeredness and consumerism.

So after trying unsuccessfully for three years to get our children to change their focus, we realized we needed to change their focus – we needed to shake up Christmas.

We got rid of Christmas presents – at least, the Christmas presents for ourselves/our family.

We traded our own presents in for Christmas presents for others.


The first thing I knew I wanted us to do was something for children in the hospital; we decided on books.  So every year since beginning our project, we have taken books to our local hospital’s children’s ward.  The second thing I knew I wanted to do was to help other whole families.  The first two years, we found ways to be matched with individual families who were in need.  This year, in place of an individual family, we have decided to take a delivery to a local homeless shelter.  It won’t be as “fancy,” but it will hopefully benefit many families.


Now, to be completely transparent – and before you call me a complete monster – we now do “New Gifts for a New Year” with our children – but we have cut them down significantly to “something to wear, something to read, something they want, something they need.”

(And if they had continued with the “me-me-me-for-New-Year” attitude, I would have completely done away with gifts except at birthdays.)

But let me tell you, this seems to have done it.  For the third year in a row, I have not heard a single “me” as related to Christmas – or New Year’s.  They all get in on the planning and the shopping and the putting-together of gifts for others, and I can tell that their hearts are happy.  They couldn’t wait to go do our shopping for the shelter, and they reminded me today that, “Mama, we haven’t finished our book shopping for the children at the hospital yet!”

I absolutely LOVE the way we’ve shaken up Christmas.  The whole day is now about the time we spend together as a family, rather than material gifts – we make our deliveries, the kids pitching in and watching the joyous faces and experiencing the joy of giving; and then we enjoy a quiet Christmas dinner at home while watching classic Christmas movies and just being together.

Maybe for some, our story is drastic.  I actually know very few who can fathom the idea of giving up Christmas morning presents.  That’s okay!  I share our story of shaking up Christmas not because I expect every other family to do what we’ve done, but because I hope to inspire others to find one way to do one thing for others at this time of year, in the true spirit of Christmas.

Thank you again to Linda for the opportunity to guest post here in her absence.  I had a truly marvelous time, and any dents and dings you may find – well, I have to be completely honest – they came from Pav.  😉


The Friday Reminder and Prompt for SoCS December 19/14

Is it? Can it be?  Can it actually – finally – be Friday??  Because I spent ALL DAY yesterday absolutely certain that it was Friday, simply because the week had already been so. stinking. long.  But now it finally is Friday!  Thank. The. Mayor.

I hope you’re as happy that it’s Friday as I am.  To celebrate, how about a little prompt and circumstance?  Hehe.

Okay, I’ve put a lot of thought into this over the past couple of weeks, and especially once my co-guest-authors started posting, because – let’s be honest – that’s when this became real.  There is one that has been hanging on my mind for about a week now, so I’m taking that as the sign that this is the direction to go. Soooo….

Your Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “excuse.” You can use the noun or verb – or both!  Enjoy!

After you’ve written your Saturday post tomorrow, please link it here at this week’s prompt page and check to make sure it’s here in the comments so others can find it and see your awesome Stream of Consciousness post. Anyone can join in!

To make your post more visible, use the SoCS badge! Just paste it in your Saturday post so people browsing the reader will immediately know your post is stream of consciousness and/or pin it as a widget to your site to show you’re a participant. Wear it with pride!!


Badge by: Doobster @ Mindful Digressions

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” or “Begin with the word ‘The’.”

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments, for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. Have fun!


Aaaaaaand….. One More

My turn.

And it probably won’t be as entertaining as the others.  But, you’ll get to know me a bit anyway :-).

When Linda asked for SoCS help while she was out this month, I went back and forth in my head over whether to volunteer or not.  I wasn’t (am still not) certain I’m up to the task of contributing to a blog with such a following as this.  I mean, I’ll be honest: I was thrilled when my followers reached 100 a couple of months ago.  Ultimately, I decided to take the plunge (obviously, since you see me writing here now), and I hope that I don’t lose her any followers in the process ;-).

So.  A bit about me, just so that when you see my SoCS post in a couple of weeks, you don’t think I’m just some crazy person who hijacked Linda’s blog.

Like many others around here, I’m a writer.  I wrote (and illustrated) my first book at the age of 6.  Okay, it was really a short story by definition, but to a six year old, it was a book – bound and everything.  And by bound, I mean put in sheet protectors that were tied together with yellow yarn.  I digress.  When I saw that finished book, all tied up and pretty, I got a thrill like no other I had experienced up to that point.  I ran with that awesome feeling and never looked back (except for the illustrating part – I don’t do that anymore).  I have been writing ever since and loving it.

In middle and high school, I became addicted to writing poetry and short stories with twist endings.  My favorite authors were Edgar Allan Poe and O. Henry.  I tried my hand at a novel when I was 14, and though I was quite proud of it at first, the eyes of wisdom (a year later) saw that it was utter trash, and it has never since seen the light of day.  However, I wrote my second book when I was 15 and 16, and that book was revived and revised earlier this year, and published as a juvenile fiction book.

I continued to write through college, and though publishing was always like stars in my eyes, I saw it more as a pipe dream.  I didn’t get serious about writing something publishable until 2009, when I participated in my 3rd NaNoWriMo challenge in 4 years.  Even then, I hesitated to attempt publishing for four years.  This past year, I finally decided to jump in, feet first, and self-publish.  It has been a fun and exciting – and scary! – experience, and I wouldn’t change a thing.  I now have 4 self-published books, and am well into my fifth.  My main writing genre is Young Adult Fiction.

I am also a wife of an extremely successful and wonderful man, and the mother of five amazing children who have all survived the foster care system.  Four of them are adopted, and we are hoping to adopt the fifth soon.  In addition to writing and parenting, I try to make time in my schedule to play the piano and run.  When I find myself with free time (extremely rare), I like to read.

If you stuck through this entire post to the end, thank you for reading!  Please check out my website if you’re interested in learning more about my books or reading my blog.  I always respond to comments and love to discover new blogs as well.

Thanks for reading!  See you again soon for SoCS!