What Was Your Latest Major Accomplishment?

My latest major accomplishment happened just yesterday. I had fought knots in my stomach for the previous month and felt nauseous for the two hours it took for it to be over. I’m going to apologize ahead of time for the pathetic answer to this question.

I renewed my driver’s license.

All by myself.

OK, wait. I wasn’t actually all by myself. I had four young children with me in a very crowded room with at least a hundred other people in a dirty little building.

I intentionally waited to go on a weekday during school hours thinking I could breeze through, get my picture taken, and be out in time to go do something fun with the kids for lunch.

Oh, no. There was no “breezing” happening.

First of all, to get to my nearest Department of Public Safety location, I have to drive half an hour over a highway that scares me to death. I’ve seen more accidents on that one highway than I have in all of my life. It used to be a 2-lane state highway, and as the city expanded, it became the main thoroughfare connecting multiple large suburbs. It’s now a 4-lane highway with no center divider, multiple stoplights, and traffic moving at 70 miles an hour (IF they’re bothering to stick to the 65mph speed limit).

I am not kidding when I say I’ve seen people try to make U-turns in the middle of this highway! I’ve seen small cars T-boned by pickup trucks flying down a hill, and I’ve seen big construction vehicles taking up multiple lanes as they use the entire light cycle to make a left turn. Scary, dangerous, nerve-wracking stuff. I hate this road.

Today it was unavoidable because I needed to get to the DPS quickly before the line backed up. So we took the harrowing highway. I should not have bothered trying to redeem a few extra minutes.

The building was jam-packed when we arrived and squeezed in through the door. According to the clerk behind the desk it had been that way all day and would be that way until 4:00. And it was like that every single day which isn’t much help since after 4pm, you have to battle rush-hour traffic. I picked the lesser of the evils and stuck it out for the hour and a half wait time.

I should mention I have a very large personal bubble. I don’t like people in my space. I don’t even like my own children to invade my personal space most of the time, much less complete strangers who smell of various deodorants and perfumes (among other things). One elderly gentleman left his seat and insisted I take it because it was on the end of a row where I’d have room to park the kids on the floor next to me. Bless him!

We sat and sat and sat. The kids squirmed. I was tempted to leave. But the thought of having to drive thirty minutes home then another thirty minutes there and back the next day… Yeah, that just used up the 90-minute wait time. So we waited. Once I’ve committed to something, I just want to get it over with. The thought of having to do it all again the next day made me feel even more queasy than I was already feeling.

So we sat there through our lunch hour. I tried to corral the kids, but they really didn’t need much of that. Why do they sit still in a place like that but run all over Costco like they own the place?! I was actually really proud of them. For the most part.

Bitty Girl got cranky in the last half an hour. She gets hungry, and when she’s hungry she gets mean. And after she gets mean, she pitches a fit. If she gets to that fit-pitching stage, I know a flood of uncontrollable tears is only a matter of time. So we had to avoid the fit-pitching as long as possible.

That said, if she wanted to pitch a fit, I was totally going to let her. If “they” were going to make it so difficult just to renew a driver’s license, they were going to have to endure some torment just like I did!

I still cannot believe that in a populated area of a several million people they don’t have adequate DPS/DMV locations! I even asked the clerk if there was a better time to come back, and she said the only time when the line starts to think out is after 4:00 in the afternoon. Not much help since after 4pm, you have to drive through rush-hour traffic to get there. I picked the lesser of the evils and stuck it out.

We ended up waiting a little over an hour. Every muscle in my body was tense, and my brain couldn’t focus on anything by the time I got to the counter. The clerk was at least upbeat and smiling when he asked for my license. I was so distracted and mentally exhausted at that point that I didn’t even think to have it out!

I laughed and told him, “I’ve been here so long, I don’t even remember why I’m here!” The license renewal itself was at least a breeze. Read a row of letters, take a hideous picture, sign my name, and voila! We were done.

He had me in and out within 5 minutes, and I marched my four progeny out the entrance door (with permission!) so we didn’t have to parade through a hundred people to get to the opposite side of the building.

Then we sat in the van and ate chocolate-covered dried fruit.

We needed it!

By way of decompressing, we went to a former favorite haunt, the local farm supply store. We used to visit on a regular basis back when we had a dog. They have the best prices on animal food. They also have great toys, bird seed, boots, and clothes, so we used to turn it into a bi-monthly family outing. We are easily entertained!

This trip was to procure food for our feathered friends. Dried meal worms (yummy!), a corn-and-peanut combo that actually sounded tasty at that point in our day, and a suet feeder to hopefully distract that cardinals that like to fling themselves at the windows every winter!

By the time we headed home, I think we were all hungry enough to eat those meal worms! My youngest kiddo had reached her limit and pitched her hunger fit in the store. Yay me. She chilled out once she realized we really were headed home to a bath and food.

Then I took a walk. By myself. Walked away the last of the tension and realized that, even though it’s not a big deal to most people, I felt like I’d tackled a major obstacle and survived.

What is your most recent accomplishment?

 

What is Your Best Memory of Last Year?

My best memory of 2015 is when I finally succeeded in finding a spectacular gift for the love of my life.

I am married to a man whose love language is gifts. He loves planning and hunting for gifts. Lives for the anticipation of giving a gift. Loves giving of his time to procure or create the most unexpected gift he can think of. Birthdays and Christmas are license for him to unload on the people he loves with reckless abandon.

For the past three years he has surprised me on my return from summer vacation with a unique kitchen gadget. Three summers ago gorgeous Le Creuset pots were waiting on my cooktop.

Two summers ago, a touch faucet magically replace my worn-out kitchen faucet (let me tell you, if you ever have the chance to own a touch faucet, do not pass it up. Greatest kitchen improvement ever!).

And this past summer? My kitchen got a color makeover in the form of LED light strips above and below my upper cabinets. I no longer have to debate wall color; a simple coat of white paint creates a blank canvas to project any color I happen to be in the mood for. If I’m feeling really adventurous, I can set them to fade from color to color or strobe for an in-home rave (not that we do that)!

As dominant as my husband’s gift-giving skills are, mine are equivalently inferior.

I’m good at lots of things. Choosing gifts is not always one of them.

Gift shopping turns into a stressful debate as I second-guess everything. Is it going to stand out? Will they love it? Will they use it? Or will they wonder what I was thinking in buying it? By the time I’ve found just the right gift, I have a serious case of decision fatigue.

Shopping for my husband is no different. He is particular about things and has a streamlined list of interests: technology, soccer, and movies. I’m about as far from a pro as anyone could ever be at all three of those things. I don’t even choose my own tech gadets. I just tell my hubby what I need to be able to do, and I let him do the research and tell me what he’s getting for me. Soccer (and all other team sports) still feel like a foreign country to me. And when it comes to movies, the only two genres worthy of any attention are costume/history dramas and romantic comedies. My hubby disagrees.

I’ve been a student of him for fourteen years and still get sweaty palms at the thought of finding the perfect gift for him.

You see, he means the world to me and deserves the best gift ever. Compared to the extraordinary things he surprises me with, my little offerings feel very pathetic. More often than not, gifts are comprised of things he sent me an Amazon link for because I couldn’t think of something unexpected for him.

But 2015 was my year.

He flew to Spain on business at the beginning of the year, and I was the one to pick him up after his long flight home. He was too exhausted even to drive home and one of his comments was that the constant background noise of the airplane made flights overwhelming. Somehow that comment planted a seed in my brain.

When I started teaching sewing lessons a month later, I started a special cash envelope. When a second international trip appeared on his work calendar close to Father’s Day, I was ready. But my low self-esteem in the gifting department kicked into gear again, and I started second-guessing. So I asked him.

“I’ve been saving to either buy something special for you or buy furniture.” And I was even so boring as to tell him what I had in mind for him! Like I said, gifting is not my forte.

“No, save it to get furniture.”

That is always his first instinct; take care of everyone else first. But his answer sealed the deal. I would NOT be buying furniture no matter how badly we need something to organize the disastrous shoe/coat room!

I remember looking at him and saying, “Really? Are you SURE you wouldn’t rather have this?”

He was gracious enough to smile and give me an honest answer, “Well, I’m not going to lie; I would LOVE that, but I don’t need it.”

Done!

The kids and I went on a shopping expedition the very next day and came home with the most expensive headphones I’d ever laid eyes (much less hands) on just in time to send him off to the airport. Noise-canceling headphones. I had no idea such a thing existed! When he had commented on being exhausted, he’d also mentioned a few other passengers who wore their noise-canceling headphones to sleep. That was the tiny seed that sprouted almost immediately.

He texted me as soon as he landed on the other side of the world, “Headphones were awesome!”

For the first time in his life he’d arrived at a destination feeling more or less relaxed despite sitting in cramped quarters for half a day.

He’s endured multiple flights since then and each time he debarks the plane singing the praises of his headphones.

I think I literally smile every time I hear him brag on his headphones. Not in a prideful I-was-so-smart-to-get-those kind of way, but in a very satisfied, contented way because I was finally able to get the man I love a gift that truly makes his life more luxurious.

That is my best memory of 2015.

Do you have a memory from 2015 that stands out above the others?

 

 

Are You Content?

Short answer? Nope.

But my long answer includes a resounding YES.

I am content with my life. I even love my life. I have a family that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and we live in a lovely little house on a quiet street with some of the greatest neighbors ever. We have good healthy food on the table at nearly every meal (we won’t talk about tonight’s canoli’s from the local Italian joint). I can turn the heater or air-conditioner on when the weather outside is inhospitable.I have running water to run a hot bath or shower any time I need to luxuriate. I firmly believe I’m where God wants me right now.

So yes, I am content and quite happy with life : )

When I go deeper into that answer, though, I find alot of discontent. Not a complaining and whining kind of discontent, but a discontent that stems from knowing that all the elements that make up our life could still be improved upon.

We could be more organized.
We could live more simply.
I could cook better meals.
I could read more books aloud and play more games.
The baseboards could be cleaner (for that matter, they could be repainted since I doubt that has been done since the house was built).

Then there is my never-ending list of decorating and organizing dreams that would improve our lifestyle and satisfy my innate desire for a beautiful home. Curtains for my room, a new rug for the living room, more furniture for the bedrooms.

So I am not content because my perfectionist eye will always find a new detail that can be improved to be more useful and beautiful. And that is a good kind of discontent for someone like me who naturally likes to make things more beautiful and peaceful.

Are you content?

 

What Are You Most Grateful For?

Of course this question has to come on a day when I’m feeling snippy and most definitely not grateful…

Our satellite service has been wonky lately and has stopped giving me HGTV in high-def. The Cooking Channel has suffered the same fate. As if watching both of those channels in zero-definition on a half-size window on a big screen isn’t bad enough, our DVR is seemingly incapable of recording any shows on those channels either.

What this means is that for the past several months (I’ve lost count since I’m too busy to watch TV anyway), none of my cooking or real estate shows have been recorded. I don’t have time to watch them live during the day, so it was always nice to be able to sit down when I had some random free time and have a collection of sizzling foods and exotic retreats to indulge in.

Without those visual inspirations, I’ve turned to Pinterest for comfort. Who needs satellite TV when you have the world of Pinterest at your fingertips?

Well, I do.

At least once a year. On January 1.

You see, that is the day every year when HGTV reveals their newest Dream Home. I haven’t missed it in a decade. That is MY day to dream. I set the recording timer myself yesterday so I wouldn’t miss it while the kids and hubby watched their programs. I went to bed last night in anticipation of waking up this morning and reveling, once again, in the dream of what if.

But it was not to be. Once again, our satellite had betrayed me. I could forgive the apparent disregard for Giada’s Everyday Italian and Househunters International. After all, I have Pinterest.

I cannot forgive being stood up for my annual date with HGTV’s Dream Home.

My day went downhill from there.

Playroom disasters with children who have too much stuff and cling to it like the world will end if they let it go.

Frustration at myself for not knowing how to teach them to disconnect from cheap toys that don’t bring joy to their lives.

Lack of storage space to organize the hats and gloves and soccer gear that are strewn around the house.

Chilly temperatures creeping in at the seams of the house while the sun hides behind thick clouds. I am Kryptonian. I need the sun.

Hair that is driving me crazy because it always looking messy and makes me feel anything but pretty.

FIRST. WORLD. PROBLEMS.

As I write this, I am disconnecting myself from “cheap toys.” Why do I cling to such tiny annoyances? Things that, in the grand scope of things, are INSIGNIFICANT. Seriously insignificant. They should be at the bottom– no, in the NEGATIVE on any priorities list. I should not be bothered by these things. There are billions of the people in the world who would gladly step into my shoes and live with my petty peeves.

So why do these things bother me to the point of affecting my whole day?

Because this is my life. I care deeply about my life. Therefore, I want my life to be perfect because it’s me.

I see beauty and potential in everything. I see everything that falls short of being perfect, and I want to fix it. I can’t simply close my eyes or shut a door and ignore it. Some people can do that. I’ve never been blessed with that kind of oblivion.

Somehow, I have to learn to let go. Focus on what I can perfect and let God take care of the rest. Put things into perspective, beautify what I can, and let go of the things I can’t. But most importantly, I must not let those things rule my day. They are unimportant when I have children who need a hug or want to tell me about their latest discovery and show me what they made. Those are the things that are important at the end of the day.

Today I am grateful for first-world problems.

What are you most grateful for?