It was 1990. I was 11 years old and in the 5th grade.
My school had a Poetry Parade Competition.
I submitted a poem and was one of the 8 winners of the contest.
My poem was read by Tiny Tim during the production of The Christmas Carol.
I share this poem with you today, because, it is what my family is trying to live out this Christmas and I hope for many more Christmas' to come. May it inspire you during this season of giving.
May God Bless You and do something nice for someone today and every day.
A CHRISTMAS CAROL POEM
I was walking down the snowy street;
When I saw someone I'd like to meet.
She was dressed in ragged clothes;
She sat on a bench in a worried pose.
She turned her face and started to cry;
I asked her what was wrong and why.
She said, "I don't have any friends on this Christmas Day";
So she walked with me the rest of the way.
Written by: Jenny Erbel 1990
MERRY CHRISTMAS AND PLEASE SHARE
Each morning I hear these dreaded words...GUESS WHAT MOM!!!!! IT'S ONLY 11 DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS!!! (Or insert 14, 10, 5, 1, etc..)
But don't underestimate my kids. This "countdown" did not start just recently. Oh no, it started before Thanksgiving! "Mom is it Thanksgiving yet?" I got asked regularly.
I would tell the kids how many days away Thanksgiving was and then one sunny afternoon it dawned on me that they were really into Thanksgiving.
So I asked why they loved Thanksgiving so much.
I expected them to say of course that they loved my cooking and loved having their grandmother visiting and that they were anticipating a nice meal around the table sharing all the things we were thankful for!
Because this is why everyone loves Thanksgiving, right?
Silly me! My kids told me they couldn't wait for Thanksgiving because it meant that Christmas was next! And don't you know. The very next day after Thanksgiving my kids woke up and said, "IS TODAY CHRISTMAS???"
NO! Today is not Christmas! Christmas was still 30 days away! Wait, 30 days away? Oh no, I haden't even started Christmas shopping or our Christmas letter, or did I even have a photo I could use of the kids on a Christmas card? I hadn't even started on our Christmas yearbook yet that I do every year. And what about the Angel Tree, or Christmas cookies, Christmas dinner menu? Shopping? When will I do it all? But after a deep breath, 30 days seemed like a reasonable amount of time to try to get these things done...
And then fastforward to today! There are 11 days until Christmas, so my child announced when she woke up this morning! 11 DAYS people! ELEVEN DAYS PEOPLE!!!
Christmas cards are not written, pictures have not been taken, photo cards have not been ordered, yearbook has not even been started, Christmas shopping for family members has not occurred. I don't even have necessary ingredients in my house to start baking Christmas cookies. And we haven't even seen Santa yet! But thank you for reminding me that I have 11 more days to get this done.
You know what I've been busy doing instead? Probably the same things you are doing: my normal every day job. I've been cooking and cleaning and folding laundry. I've been homeschooling 3 days a week and organizing outgrown clothes and closets. I've been paying bills and combing through our finances to find enough money to even have Christmas this year.
Honestly, It would be a really bad day if I thought I had only 11 days to get this stuff done. If I made this all about me and how much I can accomplish in the month of December it would be a really bad month.
Every day my children wake up to what often times feels like a reminder of how many days "left" I have to get the most magical time of the year ready for them. But that's not it. Not it at all.
Seriously, when I take myself out of it all and all the static and stuff that comes along with the holiday is removed, this is such a magical time of year with or without any of the extra stuff we do! We have 11 days left until Christmas and outside of decorating and buying a few gifts we've not done much else...
I love watching my kids put gifts in each others stockings each morning and not taking credit for it! They find things around the house, little toys or drawings they made and hide it in each others stockings when the other ones aren't looking. It's awesome!
They tell each other that Santa did it! I love their imaginations, their play, their excitement for this time of year.
Even though I can do without the 5:00am wake up calls, I love that each morning at 5am (sometimes 6) the kids wake each other up and go running through the house to see what the crazy thing Elf Robert has done or where he is newly hiding from the day before.
And I could also do without my husband waking me up at midnight to tell me I went to bed forgetting to move the Elf for the kids excitement and enjoyment each new day. And sometimes Elf Robert doesn't move until the morning after the kids have waken up or after they've gone to school.
But you know what? They don't care. It is still so incredibly magical for them and exciting. They make Elf Robert gifts to give to Santa and they leave him plates of food and cookies. Watching them give to each other and Silly Elf Robert are wonderful things about this month.
Then it is answering all the questions that go along with the Christmas story that I love getting to sit down and talk with my kids.
Why was Jesus born in a stable? (or per Olivia, a staple?)
What is a stable?
What is the Nativity?
Is Jesus still a baby?
Does Jesus celebrate Christmas in Heaven?
Is Santa Clause like Jesus?
My friend doesn't believe in Santa, but I still do, is it okay to always believe?
Where is Jesus mommy now?
I love watching them color Christmas cards for children they've never met. I love hearing them gather their toys they want to give to other people who don't have as much. Or in the store offering to buy things for their friends or for children they've never met. And I love the gifts they wrap up and give me and each other then say it is from Santa!
I love their excitement and interest in another family we've offered to help in this season.
As I look at this month of December and see all the long lists a parent has to do to make this time "the most magical time of year" for their family, or all the money that ends up getting spent on new and sometimes ridiculous toys, and the anxiety of not doing as much as your neighbors or friends do. It is a ridiculous amount of pressure.
But do me a favor and put that pressure aside with me. Because really who cares if Christmas cards don't get mailed out before Christmas, or even at all. Who cares if the cookies get made or not or if the elf gets moved. Really, who cares other than the pressure we put on ourselves?
As I look at this month of December what I really want to see is the month of December through the hearts of my children. Through their hearts of Gold. The giving spirits that is within their little souls is priceless. Their souls is what brings out the magic during this season. Not all the other stuff; but them. Of course we are celebrating the birth of Jesus and that is not to be forgotten, but they are experiencing it. Watching Christmas happen through their little eyes is spectacular.
It really is the most magical time of year, but not because of anything "magical" that I do or in this years case, don't do. It is magical whether we get cookies made or cards sent out. The magic lies in watching my children give and grow in their servants hearts and see them so enthralled with the birth of Jesus. This is where the magic is.
* This post was written May 14, 2011*
To spank or not to spank, that is the question. Well, not really a question for me. I always assumed I would spank. I got spanked as kid, my husband, bless his soul got beat. We will not be beating our children, but spanking when deserved is a fair punishment, of course, with a conversation to follow as to why you got spanked.
Because right now the twins are newborns and my 2 year old is really just a good child. Time out has been enough of a punishment to get her to obey. It seemed to be working just fine...until recently when she told me she knew she wasn't supposed to do something and wanted me to put her in time out.
And when your kid is asking to go into time out maybe it is time for a new punishment!
But really, I had not given it much thought. I still put her in time out even though she sat there with a smile on her face and when I told her she could get off the chair or that she could stop starring at the wall, she would decide she wanted to stay in time out longer.
How could I complain with that tactic? She really could stay there as long as she wanted because it gave this momma a little longer of a break!
The thing is I've lately been trying to make an extra effort to spend time with my 2 year old. I want to play hands on with her while the babies are sleeping or keeping each other entertained.
Since the babies have been born she spends a lot of time sitting on the couch with me watching me feed babies, burp babies, change babies diapers and rock babies. She behaves well and usually nurses her babies next to me, keeps herself entertained with toys or my phone or she ends up helping me with the babies, like fetching a burp cloth, holding a bottle up or something that is about them and not her.
So in my extra efforts to try and do activities with her, focused around her, that are hands on, I thought it would be fun to make Easter cards for the grandparents.
We got out the paint and the paper and went to town. She giggled and laughed and it was great...it was great until she was done.
When a child is done, specifically a two year old it is easy to tell. Her concentration was completely lost from painting on the paper and had moved to painting her hands and her face. This is my grand old sign that she was now finished with our intentional hands on activity. She was now done and bored with my project.
So I let her get down while I finished cutting out some bunnies from her paintings.
I was very focused on what I was doing and understand, I had an agenda! I was trying to get this hands-on-intentional-project finished up before the babies woke up from their nap. Because once they were awake they would once again take all my attention and leave my two year old to entertain herself.
Each time I looked up from the task that I was doing she was pulling on the blinds to the window and shaking. She was thrilled with the loud noise they made each time the wood blind hit the windows. She was listening and fascinated.
But I was annoyed and immediately asked her to stop rattling the blinds. Didn't she know? She was going to wake up the babies with that noise and then this special time I had set aside to spend with her hands on was going to end sooner than we both wanted!
As she looked at me with those two year old eyes that said "yeah, what are you going to do if I rattle these blinds again? Put me in time out? hahahahaha", and with that look, she did it again.
And very calmly I tried to explain to her that I was going to finish cutting out the bunnies she painted for her grandparents and how this was our special time together and begged her ever so calmly to reason with me and not rattle the blinds again.
And I got the same look again. "whatcha gonna do about it" and again it happened, the blinds got rattled.
But they weren't the only thing that got rattled. Without even thinking I jumped up, grabbed her arm away from the blinds and smacked her right on the butt.
And I looked at her with those mommy eyes that say, "yeah take that!"
Oh no! Her poor little face looked right at me and got all crinkled up and tears started to come streaming down her face but no noises came out of her and it was TERRIBLE! Then... it came, that long soft little cry came oozing out straight from her little passionate and soft heart. OHHHH it was terrible. I had never ever smacked her on the bottom before. She didn't even see if coming.
She didn't even see it coming and honestly, neither did I! It is the first time I spanked my child and I did it as a total reaction without giving it any thought. OHHHH the guilt poured right over me.
I scooped her little shocked body up into my arms and sat her down in my lap on the rocking chair. She faced me and I looked at her dead in the eyes and said,
"I am so sorry I smacked your bottom without warning you, but you were not listening to me and I got angry. I should've warned you first that I was going to spank you and for that I am sorry. However, it does not get you off the hook, you owe me an apology as well for not listening to me after I gave you several warnings."
I hugged her sobbing little body until she calmed down enough to say "I sorry momma".
And while I really had not given a lot of thought to spanking or not I guess I am now a "spanker". I'm that mom who is going to spank. I've opened the door after a year of motherhood to a world of spanking. I hadn't planned it or given it a lot of thought.
But we are entering the terrible two's and the jealousy of twins is certainly a distraction from her good behavior I will have to be aware of.
I will have to learn my rookie mistakes of spanking out of emotion and reaction rather than being in control of myself and my child. It won't belong before I have two two year olds and a three year old.
Going forward time-outs will of course be our go-to punishment, but I am relieved in some strange way to have a new form of discipline that can be used when needed.
(** I wrote this original Blog post on another blog I had back in June of 2011. I'm reposting it here and updating the number of kids we have as it is still applicable! Please bare with me as I transfer several old blogs over)
On occasion when we lay down for bed after a long tiring day, as exhausted as we are, we engage in a little pillow talk. Our pillow talk always involves some level of teasing each other about one thing or another. It was like that 11 years ago when we first married and you guessed it, t's still like that.
And all I did was ask for a goodnight kiss...and the teasing started.
I was told I must be guilty of something due to the tone in my voice and my request for a kiss was denied with the notion that there would be "no guilt kissing" going on that evening.
I knew what my husband was talking about. That feeling you have when you've done something you shouldn't have and you seek for affection from your spouse in hopes that they will overlook what you've done! Yep, I know that feeling.
But in this case, I really couldn't think of anything I was guilty of. So I made him expand.
Well, he couldn't think of anything I was guilty of either . But of course he had to come up with something and he had to think quick!
His response was that I was guilty of being "too expensive".
Well, there you go. I had to agree on this one. He is right. I am too expensive. So I let him know that I was 100% guilty of that and so he should probably just fire me and let me go.
And well, after thinking about it for a few minutes he decided I would cost him more money and I'd be more expensive if he let me know.
Of course he was just kidding! But he has a valid point.
It is not just me anymore. I come along with 4 kids. And I cost a lot when it's me and four little kids!
I was much less expensive when we both worked and both brought home a salary and we had not kids to spend our money on. It was just us and we had TWO incomes!
Those honestly were some good years!
And I cannot lie. I am so grateful we have those years to fall back on when the going gets tough. Because let me tell you, it is hard sometimes. Well, I'm sure you know it. If you have a family and are down to one income and have added dependents. The way you were once used to living is gone and no more. It is hard to be responsible for little mouths to feed and bodies to clothe. College funds to save for, sports, extracurricular activities', and oh goodness, if you take them to a the theater to watch a play it'll cost you! Or just going to the movies! Not to mention school costs, a house big enough to fit these little people, a car big enough and all those dang car seats! ...and really, it is endless.
Even if you are a two income family, just adding the stress of these other little people to the outcome of that income is no joke.
I'm certain you are also guilty of being "too expensive"! All of you! Just like me!
It may be a long, long, long time from now before we can spend any money on oureslves again. And maybe that day may never come. So I thank God that we have that time to fall back on when things get stressful. We have those fun memories of going out to eat without a care in the world. Heading to the mall to buy a pair of shoes not because we needed them but because we wanted them. We had money to buy nice furniture for our swanky Nashville condo and a new grill! I'm telling you those were good years.
Some nights we lay in bed and have our little pillow talk and it's just us reminiscing about how we used to be before we had kids. Those were good days.
But our kids are awesome and we would never trade our kids to go back there.
It's just a good thing we have enough love in our house every day to pick up where the money ends.
And I'll tell you something. That love is so much richer than any of the money we ever had or ever will have.
This little gem of a facebook post popped up in my Timehop today from two years ago. Axel was 10 months old, the twins were 2 and Lucia was 4. And all the words I spoke and posted came out of my mouth before noon that day, November 5, 2013, and probably many days since then!
You need to share! Don't touch him! Don't touch her! Say you're sorry! Go sit down! Turn off the TV! Keep your hands to yourself! Get out of the road! Look for cars! Hold my hand! That's hot! That's sharp! Don't touch that! That's not yours! Go to your room! Don't get out of your bed again! Come here! Get off him! Stop that! Share that! Give that to me! Who broke that! Get out of there! Put your clothes back on! Eat it! Don't eat that! Stop that! Who did that! Don't shut doors! Keep that door shut! Get out of the garbage! Get out of my closet! Get out of my drawers! Don't sit next to him! Move over! Stop screaming! Don't yell at me! Be nice! Give her a hug! Don't do that again! Get up! Get down! Close the fridge! Who poured that on the floor! Close the cabinet! That's not yours! Put that back! Pick that up! Pick up your shoes! Put that away! Give that back! Come here! I love you...each and every one of you!
I am a mother of 4 small children. I am happiest when I am busiest and if the kids don't keep me busy enough I need projects to fill my days. I love Jesus and I love my family and I love the chaos around me for it brings the calm.