My five front-and-center things from this week:
- It’s new-Christmas-book time! This was a tradition I grew up with. My parents would carefully select and wrap a new story to be opened and read together as a family on Christmas Eve. Most were picture books with sweet, or touching stories. Some were silly and just good fun. We have continued this tradition in our own family. This year, I am delighted to share our book with our children and with our friends because it is so personal and is beautiful art with the Christmas story.
“Rocks Tell the Story of Christmas: A Savior is Born” is a collection of inspired rock art with “simple and powerful text” to “inspire wonder and awe as the miracle of the very first Christmas unfolds across the pages”, compiled and created by a friend of mine, Pattie Rokus. When I met her just two years ago, she had self-published her book initially, making 600 copies to sell to close friends and on Etsy. This original copy is beautiful and such a treasure to me. A large publishing house got word of this great book and approached her with a publishing offer, and now this book is available in a beautiful hardbound version. You will love this one for all ages. It inspires creativity and story telling in such a powerful and meaningful way.
- Allergy shots consumed me this week! While it’s a brief appointment each month to receive my shots, it does a number on my body and spirit. The story of just how my bazillion allergies knocked me on my butt will have to be a post all on its own. For now, when I say my shots consume me, this is what I mean. My arms often painfully swell, although much less now than they used to. They used to swell to Popeye size in reaction to the shots which was not good and nearly stopped me from being able to continue with shots. Now, they are just a painful, golf-ball sized lump on the back of my arms for 1-2 days after receiving my shots. They are hot and itchy and make me generally grumpy for a few days. I also notice that systemically I feel very run down and tired. I am aware of these effects after my two years on maintenance doses so I take more precautions and plan my shot weeks accordingly so I can rest more. Would I recommend allergy shots? Absolutely. They are a 3-5 year time commitment which is difficult, but it has been completely worth it for me as far as diminishing my body’s inflammatory response to allergens. I did not have allergies as a child. These totally took me by surprise as an adult, and I am immensely grateful for a treatment that teaches my body how to respond in a stronger way. I have one more year on maintenance doses and can then stop, with the option of resuming always available if my allergy symptoms return. Here is a great article on what allergy shots are and what they do.
- I just finished a really interesting research book called “I Know How She Does It”, by Laura Vanderkam. The author has gathered and studied the time logs of working women who make $100K+ annually to find patterns in how they spend their time and make the most of family time. This research has been named the Mosaic Project as she saw colors of different cells of time spent doing different things across weeks and months and noted the patterns that the women logging them created. I found so many helpful insights into how to understand the time that I have, how I choose to spend it, and how my attitude towards time affects and shapes how I experience life. We all have the same 168 hours in a week. Recognizing our hours that are outside of sleep and work empowers us to create a life that we want to experience. Here are some important questions to ask and statements I loved– “Am I making progress towards things that are important to me?” I am ultimately the one who decides how I spend my time and too what end. Observation brings mindfulness, which brings joy even to unlikely moments, cultivating focus is a skill that can be learned and practiced. Leave the phone, laundry, whatever it is that is less important than the people in the women. Be present. List good things that happened in a day and overtime, you’ll learn to pay attention to those things. I am just starting to log my time and am looking forward to examining patterns to find ways I can improve the use of my time to more fully align with my values and what is most important to me. You can download time logs and find lots of really helpful information on Laura Vandenkam’s website.
- Matt is promoting in the USAF and we are so excited, and also bewildered at the date of his promotion ceremony, because planning an event with protocol and of such significance just days before Christmas is not exactly what either of us had in mind for this season. I am so proud of him and the person that he is all that he does. The ceremony will take place in the morning and I have been tasked to put together and serve the refreshments. The standard is just a grocery-store sheet cake and punch, but with it being in the morning, I am wanting to do something different and nicer. His coworkers are saying not to rock the boat, but I just can’t bring myself to serve bad cake. I have reached out to catering friends in-the-know and am immensely grateful for Costco and all it’s offerings. Ultimately, I don’t want to stress, but want to be able to be present with Matt for this important milestone we have been looking towards from the very beginning.
- And to wrap up this week that has flown by, my two youngest brothers just flew into town to spend the next 5 days with us, and we are ALL so excited! They are awesome! One is 26 and the other 21 and my kids adore them. I am the third of seven kids and have five brothers and one sister. These two youngest brothers are so fun and I was kind of their second mother growing up. My kids are delighted to spend time with them and we feel spoiled to have family here during the holiday season. We built our Lego Christmas Village last night and will decorate Gingerbread houses, see some sites, and watch Christmas movies together. I’m so glad to have them here.