Sunday, December 23, 2012

evil genius or just plain evil?

Rob and I are so different.  Like night and day.  I'm practical.  He's not.  He's people oriented.  I'm task oriented.  He's fun.  I'm not. 

He's just informed me that I've been relieved of my Christmas duties for next year. 

Because of this:

Turns out my girls and their friends love to wrap presents.  My girls had been begging me to let them wrap presents for the past month. 

I enjoy Christmas shopping, but I loathe wrapping.  I used to have my sister wrap my presents for me and then I graduated to procrastinating until Christmas Eve night.  But this year, the girls were begging!

Rob thinks I'm evil for letting them wrap all of the presents.  I think it's wonderful.  I made sure all of their own presents were in boxes so they could still be surprised when they opened their gifts. 

What do you think?  Evil genius or just plain evil?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Compliment Book

Our elementary school, where all of our kids have thrived, has the best teachers and staff.  One of the teachers, though, stands out in my mind as the heart of our school.  He is the only "boy" teacher, as I've heard him described.  Even though the school doesn't routinely place siblings with the same teachers, our girls have both been placed in his class for 3rd grade.  Kate loved third grade, as well as every other grade.  She is a natural student.  Emma loves school and works hard, but academics don't come as easily to her.  This year, as Emma is currently in 3rd grade, she is working hard to develop great study skills, organization, focus, and she is learning by leaps and bounds (and gaining confidence every day)!

My favorite aspect of the third grade year with the "boy" teacher is the compliment book

Each student in the class helps to fill in the book of their classmates.  They basically write each of their friends a small "letter" to list the things they appreciate about them.  I can't think of a better way to encourage, build confidence, praise good behavior, or solidify  friendships than through this concept. 

I just read through Emma's compliment book and what stood out to me are the words of her classmates and teacher.  Words like: kind, joyful, smart, hard worker, and organized.  I'll be honest, organized is not a word that comes to mind when I think about Emma!  But, I am thrilled that her spirit is joyful and that her kindness is evident to all in the school setting. 

I think all of our relationships would thrive if we expanded on a basic third-grade exercise.  I would challenge you to extol the virtues of your family and friends during this Christmas season.  Maybe you could include a special message with your loved ones gift for Christmas morning (I'm totally going to do this!).  Along with each of the gifts we'll be giving out this year, we'll be attaching a piece of paper that will compile the reasons (submitted by the kids and Rob and I) why we think our family member is special. It won't be elaborate or lengthy, but hopefully it will make them feel loved. 

I will start by creating a compliment book for my family here on my blog.  If you also have a blog, feel free to duplicate this idea for your family or friends!  Let's love one another with words of affirmation. 

Dear Rob, 
I think you are awesome! You work very hard to provide our family with everything we need.  You are very talented in many areas.  You are so much fun to be around. You are the best. :)

Dear Josh, 
You are a hard worker!  You are always willing to help your dad with projects and chores.  You are a kind person.  I am proud of how you stand up for others (that shows bravery and leadership).  You are a great friend and I love how you organized the building of the fort in our backyard.  It was pretty awesome to look out the back window and see all of your friends working together to create something you all can be proud of.  

Dear Kate,
You are a great big sister to Emma!  You always take such good care of her at school.  You are a great leader.  You are so smart!  I wish I could help you with your math homework, but you're already smarter than me.  You are very thoughtful and kind.  You are always willing to help me around the house.  You are amazing with babies!  You will be a great mom someday.  

Dear Emma,
You are creative!  You have so many talents.  You are a very hard worker.  You are extremely thoughtful.  You have a great imagination.  I love how you can set up parties.  I think it's so cool that you worked hard to set up an ice-cream sundae bar last night for our family (as a surprise).  You are so good at making everyone around you feel special!  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas has come early!

A few years ago, I purchased these two vintage chairs from my friend's family estate.  They were part of a set with a matching sofa that had been in her grandmothers house for decades.  I really liked the size of them and the classic shape.  I'm guessing that they are probably from the 60's, but they had held up remarkably well and were still very current-looking.  With the exception of stains and some missing buttons, they've been a perfect addition to our living room for about three years. 

this is the before image - original fabric

the original fabric was very durable, just a little stained

For our Christmas present this year, my mom decided to get the chairs recovered for us!

I was unsure as to which type of material I wanted.  I toyed with the idea of geometric shapes or patterns.  I knew I wanted to have turquoise in the material, because I thought that would look nice with our brown leather sofa and chair.

I finally decided to basically purchase the exact same fabric that they were covered in, but in a nice light turquoise color.

We have a local upholstery shop here in York that's less than two miles away and she was able to cover both chairs in a fairly short amount of time.  We had inquired about them in October and just received them back today.

I love them. 

Thanks, Mom!  This was a perfect Christmas present!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Northern Lights 10,000 lux light box

So, remember how I really thought I had an underactive thyroid?  I experienced weight gain, irritability, lack of energy, and overall yuckiness?  I swore since I'd put on 12 lbs in a short amount of time that I had something medically wrong with me.  I eventually attributed my symptoms to getting older and not eating well. 

Later on the the fall, my mood really worsened.  Irritability probably would have sounded great to my poor husband and family.  I was literally lethargic all day with the exception of 8-9am. 

I'd always kind of realized that my mood was dependent on whether or not the sun was shining, but after a little research I discovered it was a little more than that.  I knew that people in areas with less sunlight benefited from sun lamps, thanks to my well-read sister!  I started doing a little reading and began to have hope. 

It all sounds very strange, but with about 30 minutes of light therapy per day, patients experienced more energy, better mood, less craving for starchy foods, and more restful sleep at night. 

I started shopping on Amazon and asked Rob for his opinion.  He felt very strongly that what we needed was the best light box money could buy.  I can say, with all certainty, that less than a month later, this was the best $300 we've every spent (I'm actually going to work on getting our insurance company to reimburse me). 

I can't tell you how much better I feel!  I am still not sure if what I was experiencing was seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or a more moderate depressive episode.  I do know that my outlook is so much improved that I literally can't imagine going back to how I felt before. 

So, basically, I am sitting in front of this very(!) bright(!) light for about 30-40 minutes every morning.  I am receiving Vitamin D which helps my body make more melatonin.  I have increased energy through the day and by evening my body is producing the melatonin it needs to get a restful sleep. 

These light boxes are also used to treat: sleep disorders, bi-polar disorder, and depression.  The company we purchased from is called Alaska Northern Lights.  The boxes have filters that allow the box to be UV free and I don't look directly at the box to avoid any eye damage.  

If you feel a little down in the winter or think you might have depression, I would urge you to research this.  I was a little nervous to try anti-depressants, and I am so thankful we made the decision to order a light box instead. 

I just wanted to share this information with anyone who could possibly benefit from my experience!