Category: Family

Mission Possible: New Year’s Motto

20160102_190442 (1)

Tis the season for resolutions and if you are feeling burned out and uninspired by the traditional litany of: workout more, read more, eat less, etc., I welcome you to join me in a different approach to 2016. I’ve spent some time thinking about what habits, words, and mindsets I want to prioritize in the upcoming year and decided to create a personal motto/mission statement to keep myself focused and accountable.   In 2016 my alliterative mission is to be: productive, passionate, poised, prayerful, and present.

Productive: I easily fall into the trap of procrastination – my house is never cleaner than when I have 90 student essays to grade and I usually find the time to create an extra long blog post when dishes or laundry are stacked and waiting for attention. 

Passionate:  I love being a teacher, but I often find myself dwelling on the annoyances of my daily tasks…such as *ahem* grading 90 student essays.  I am restarting Seamless by Angie Smith and today’s lesson focused upon why God made the Israelites wander for 40 years in the desert before they were able to approach the promised land.  Moses’ followers were experiencing some serious highs and lows when it came to their gratitude and grumbling about the gifts and tests that God placed before them.  If complaining about eating only bread and wandering aimlessly in a hot, arid climate wasn’t looked upon with sympathy, I have a strong feeling that complaints about grading are pretty annoying to the Almighty too.  I’ve also been trying to get into a blogging rhythm for longer than I want to admit; in 2016 I want to truly dedicate myself to Smitten Mitten Living and hopefully achieve my vision. 

Poised:  Believe me this has nothing to do with standing up straight or gliding gracefully in high heels.  To this day I still remember one of the best compliments of my life from a boy who would become a good friend for years to come.  I fell into a great group of friends – two years my senior – when I was a sophomore in college.  When Brian discovered I was only 19, he uttered these memorable words, “wow, you carry yourself really well.”  I know that I’ve always acted older than my years, but having a relative stranger view it as a positive attribute makes me wonder if I would still get that compliment today.  I worry that I’m more jaded and likely to be negative, and I want my words, actions, and moods to reflect more of my gratitude for the wonderful life I am leading. 

Prayerful:  I’m just going to say it….I am an ADD Christian.  I often repeat the same requests, let my mind wander to unrelated tasks (such as… the 90 ungraded student essays that should be returned Monday), and fail to pray in the moment.  In 2016 I want to be more mindful of God’s hand in my daily life and pray to him so that our relationship is enriched.  I am hoping to follow this template initially until I find my own way.  I came across this acronym and hope it will guide me until a more natural rhythm of my own develops: P = praise God’s work, R = repent of my sins, A = ask for God to work in areas of need, and Yield = be quiet and let God’s presence provide guidance. 

Present:  When I watch TV I also play on Facebook, when I am talking on the phone the TV is usually on, when I drive I think my to do list…you get the idea.  This pattern leads me to not only shortchange my interactions with those around me, but I also notice that my mood is more cloudy when I check social media too much or watch TV rather than read at night.  By being mindful of who or what is in front of me at any given moment I hope to appreciate and recognize all of the amazing opportunities that I encounter each day.  

Thus, I pledge to be productive, passionate, poised, prayerful and present this year.

If you are suffering from a bad case of resolution writer’s block like I was these last few days, I hope you can also find your mission for 2016 and enjoy a happy and healthy new year.



On Trees and Tradition

I have a hard time citing traditions that I follow.  I have a routine for most holidays, but this past weekend when we were celebrating Christmas with my husband’s extended family, his aunt asked me what traditions I recognize each year and I drew a blank.  I ended up talking about what food we prepare, which is a tradition of sorts, but for some reason nothing stood out to me at that second.  I’ve since figured out why I was stumped, but let me digress for a few minutes into a story about this year’s Christmas tree.

I’ve always been a real Christmas tree person.  As a kid, my family would drive out to our local tree farm and peruse the endless rows of Frasier and Douglas fir trees until just the right one was selected for our home.  Add to that mixtapes of holiday songs serenading us as we found our perfect tree and a stop at the Corner Bar for hotdogs on the way home and you have an exact picture of my childhood Christmas experience.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2015 which began a four weekend marathon where Jesse, myself or the both of us would be away from home or working.  So like any sensible, modern housewife I decided to go for the shortcut and buy our first precut Costco Christmas tree.

Our first fake tree was voted off the island…

I bought it, hauled it home, got it up and decorated it all on my own; basking in my own efficiency came in second only to the authentic evergreen smell that I remember so clearly from the past.  However, my husband’s allergies had other ideas about my Christmas accomplishment.  We waited out coughing, watery eyes, and sneezing mostly because in his own sweet words, “I didn’t want to ruin Christmas.”  In the end though it became clear that the killer was the Christmas tree in the family room with mold spores.  Our tree had made him miserable.

The Sunday before Christmas my dear sainted husband had had enough and trudged off to the store at 8 am to get our first artificial tree.  And he came back with this…

And while I had come to terms with giving up my real tree as my mother-in-law and I undecorated the allergy offender, it wasn’t going to be this Charlie Brown reject.  (Disclaimer: I love A Charlie Brown Christmas, I just don’t want his tree if I have to live with it forever).

After everyone ate breakfast, simmered down and got their wits about them, we found an albeit fake, but convincing Virginia Pine replacement at Target.  God bless Target, it saved Christmas.  And more importantly, we have a new tradition of artificial Christmas trees.  I’m happy to say that any pang of sadness I may have had when moving my real tree to the front porch was far and away overwhelmed by not wanting my husband to suffer through the holidays.

What stands out to me now as I think about his desire to not take away from my tradition and my lack of emotion over losing the real tree is that in our little family what I want more than anything is for us to form our own traditions.  For me, there was a moment as we approached our second anniversary where I really felt grounded in the fact that Jesse is my family, and it was one of the happiest moments of our time together thus far.

Our Virginia Pine Clearance Rack Tree from Target

I think the reason that I drew a blank when asked about my Christmas traditions is that I am far enough removed from my own traditions growing up, but new enough to my life with Jesse that we haven’t formed many traditions yet.  I could pass the blame along to his career (being an RN means rotating holiday workdays), or the fact that we don’t have kids to base Christmas morning around, but the real reason is that I haven’t been intentional about considering what the two of us do and what we want to do during Christmastime.

And as ugly as the holiday allergy season has been for my new little family of two I am proud to say that there is at least one, new tradition that our family follows – I’m now a fake tree person, and I couldn’t be happier.