Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A Merry Christmas in the Park

Charlie Brown: Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?
Linus Van Pelt: Sure, Charlie Brown, I can tell you what Christmas is all about.
Linus Van Pelt: Lights, please. [a spotlight shines on Linus]
Linus Van Pelt: "And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, 'Fear not: for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.' And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.'"

That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

From The Park Wife's family to yours,
Have a Very Merry Christmas and a Wonderful New Year.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Julie & Julia- The Park Wife's Review

Big Buckaroo went to work on our cabin in the mountains, man language for going hunting and pounding a few nails in the siding of the cabin when not hiding from Bambi with the intent to kill.

After a fun day with my friend Dore' and her Divas in Training on my Little Buckaroo's 7th birthday, I put the Buckaroos to bed and got all comfy on the couch to watch a chic flick. Whew, no shoot 'um up movies since my man is off being all manly.

Yep, I watched Julie and Julia last night. I never got to the theatre to see it, surprise.

The movie is a must see for bloggers. The Julie side of the story explores all those blogging themes you’re familiar with: the ease of blog creation, wondering if anyone is reading, the thrill of the first comment, the puzzlement of family over this “blog thing”, craving the approval of perfect strangers, the struggle at times to continue posting regularly, and the dream of a book deal (well, a book deal is not in my future, but maybe for some of my bloggity friends).

But, oh my, the blogging part is not what inspired me the most.

Now, I am not what is termed a foodie, but I love to eat, the extra weight really is not considered baby weight anymore. However, I am not a great cook and have been known to use the smoke detector as my kitchen timer...on many occasions. So, the cooking was not what inspired me either.

So, it was not the blogging and it was not the cooking. What was it?

It was Julia (oh, Meryl Streep WAS Julia). It was Julia Child's spirit, her great love for her husband, her courage, the pursuit of her dreams plus the fact that she used real butter! Julia Child began learning to cook when she was thirty-seven years old, wow, there is hope for me yet, although I am a year behind, I better get going. She started because she wanted to feed her husband Paul. She started because she’d fallen in love with great food, because she was in Paris and because she didn’t know what else to do. I can understand that, well, except for the Paris thing.

It was about doing something--- be it cooking, blogging, exercising, parenting, etc. --- brilliantly and with gusto. I love that and I want that.

Confessions time: I flip flop on so much in my life with the things I am doing, I am not sure what it is that I am passionate about (aside of my husband and kids) and what it is I do out of obligation. I ponder that often.

One of my favorite scenes is when the Child's and their friends celebrate Valentine's Day. I saw an expression of love and trust so deep and enduring and joyous and sexy that it makes most expressions of movie romance feel like whipped cream made with skim milk and Splenda.

I am blessed to have a supportive husband that just smiles and tells me to let him know where to be and what time to be there so he can support whatever it is I am doing. Plus, he adores me and still loves me passionately 10 years into our marriage, I could not ask for more in a husband.

But, I am running in circles, doing what I think should be done, not what makes me come alive. And, honestly at times, I am doing so many things at once that I am doing none of them well.

I honestly am not sure what my thing is. What I do know is that in this season I am to focus on being the best wife and mother I can be. And, hope and pray that I will find what it is that Julia found, something that made her passionate, knowledgeable, and completely fearless.

I am one of the "servantless" American housewives Julia wrote for, now if I can quit burning or serving raw meat, I will be happy. Well, actually Big Buckaroo will be very happy. I better go buy her cookbook.

Bon appetit! (said in my best Julia Child voice)
The Park Wife

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Tradition Junkie

Hello, I am The Park Wife and I am a tradition junkie. (Let me hear you say "Hello Park Wife"). And, of course I love all things Southern. So, I covet Southern Christmas traditions, yes I know I am not supposed to covet.

Here is the twist, I like the simplicity of my life and am trying to keep the holidays from getting out of hand. Oh, what a quandary, but I am learning to embrace it.

Here are a few of the things that happen around our park home during the holidays.

I love baking and cooking while listening to Christmas music. I even break out in a little kitchen jig with the Buckaroo's every once in a while, when I really get in the spirit. You know, a little Jingle Bell Rock gets me cutting a rug. Plus, the maintenance staff loves my cinnamon rolls, hopefully they won't stop by during our dance sessions, it would mess up our groove.

Our boys always get matching pajamas for Christmas Eve and then they have to sit in front of the tree for pictures. I make sure they are soft and comfy so they will tolerate me saying "just one more picture". Then, we sit by the fireplace and read the Christmas story from Luke.

As far as decorating, our home will not be featured in Southern Living any time soon. But, it is warm and cozy and I even have a little bright and shiny going on this year. Of course, there is always a Charlie Brown Christmas tree at our house, I am learning to deal with that.

Our kids get three gifts from us, um....that is how many Jesus got and by golly it is HIS birthday we are celebrating. Although I grew up with Santa Claus and am not totally warped, we choose not to do that at our home. We focus on the reason for the season. Plus, with friends and grandparents getting them presents, they get a little over indulged. Remember I strive for simplicity, it does not come easily. We have taught the boys that they do not tell other kids there is not a Santa, we tell them it is a game some families play and we don't want to ruin the game for them. And, most of all, we do NOT judge people who choose to celebrate with Santa. Enough judging others already!

We also love to drive around and look at Christmas lights in our nearest town. You know I search out the tacky ones, I can't help it, it just makes me laugh. Then I think about how much their power bill will be next month and am glad that we are not lit up at our house.

There are a few more traditions we do and you never know, I might add a new one this year. These traditions give our children a shared past that they can pass on to future generations. Remember, there’s no reason to purposely create a tradition if it doesn’t fit with your family culture, or if it doesn’t mean anything to you. Enjoy your holidays, have fun and make wonderful memories.

In all your ways acknowledge Him,
The Park Wife

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Cowboy Chef

Littlest Buckaroo is rough and tumble. Full of energy, goes full blast. He will probably end up being a bull rider or a Jason Bourne type of spy.

However, he loves to cook. I have indulged him because it has been a way to teach him numbers and measuring. So, for his birthday he got this.

An Easy Bake Oven! He loves it. He is on the phone sharing his news, he gets that from me.

Hey, he looks like his dad, walks like his dad, and acts like his dad. He has to get something from me. Well......... actually, he does not like to talk on the phone. He keeps his conversations very brief. This one was something like, "I got an Easy Bake oven, I got to go cook, love you, bye".

Maybe one day I will get a glimpse of something he gets from me.

Oh wait.....

A little funniness mixed in with quirkiness and drama, yea, he does get that from me. He is mine. Yea, and I have a scar to prove it too.

Between mud fights and mutton bustin', I am going to do everything I can to cultivate his love of cooking. I plan to turn all cooking over to him when he turns 10. Now, if I can teach Little Buckaroo to do laundry, I am going to have some time on my hands.

I must also point out how impressed I am with my rough, tough gun-toting park ranger for stepping out and getting the Easy Bake Oven for him. I know he picked it up and put it down about 20 times before biting the bullet and buying his son an oven. He said at least it is blue and not pink. Yea honey, whatever you need to think to make yourself feel better.

Going to look up child labor laws,
The Park Wife

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I Want It All and I Deserve It!

This was originally posted in December of last year, but as I left the department store, this was on my mind again. I wonder why?

I know, I should be posting on all our wonderful Christmas plans, traditions we have begun, and the REAL reason of the season, but something has been on my heart for a while and frankly, all my friends around here are probably tired of me ranting about it. So, I thought I would share with my blog friends. I know, The Park Wife on her soapbox again! Just indulge me, it is the holiday season. Oh wait, indulge…that is exactly what I want to talk about.

As the holiday season approached, I was in several stores and overheard many conversations between parents and children, heard many tantrums in the aisles over not getting what the kids/teens wanted, and so many more things that disturbed me about the generation we are raising. It seems that young Americans in this day and age have a sense of entitlement that far exceeds those of previous generations. Where did this come from? How do I, as a mom who is trying to raise men of Godly character, guard against getting sucked into this? How do I, myself, guard against feeling this way?

Going into debt to buy Christmas gifts, making sure they have the latest fashions and gadgets just like their friend Suzie, making sure they get to play in a game the same amount of time as the other kids, oh the list goes on! We are hurting our children and society as a whole. We are not allowing our children to develop character. Instead we are raising kids who can not cope and have unrealistic expectations about life.

We are sending the message that they deserve things for facing adversity. They feel entitled to getting things because their parents feel guilty. Believe it or not, children are very intuitive to our motives and learn how to manipulate at an early age, hence the tantrums in Wal-Mart, and absurd demands for large sums of money as a reward for doing nothing.

When I was young, we "tried out" for the school athletic teams. And only the best made it on. That's as it should be (and I'm sorry for the folks who are clumsy or otherwise unable to play sports well... but God gave you a separate set of gifts). Nowadays, everyone is "entitled" to play. In real life, the professional teams don't take everyone that tries out. We aren't rewarding excellence in those children who do exceptionally well at something (whether it's chess club, drama, sports or whatever). If we don't reward excellence, then why should anyone pursue it?

This does not just pertain to the 8-year-old in the electronics store not getting the latest greatest gadget or the kid on the soccer team who never showed up for practice and only a few games, but got a trophy for their “hard work and determination” during the season. I have heard repeatedly from many friends and family out in the workforce that workplaces are poisoned with attitudes and entitlement. Many adults whimper at the slightest inconvenience, delay, or restriction. Why? Because, like toddlers, they are convinced they deserve what they want when they want it. They are accustomed to being served and do not know what real hard work is. They are never satisfied and do not understand why they are not being recognized for their minimal effort work. Where is their trophy for showing up? And, constructive criticism is not an option, their defenses go immediately ~ because of course, they know it all ~ isn't that what they have been allowed to believe their whole lives?

In organizations across the country, I bet you will hear:
"What have they done for me lately?"
"This company owes me more than this as an annual raise. After all, I put in my eight hours a day." (Never mind performance)
"They're not being fair."
“I just graduated college, I can’t believe they did not give me that CEO job of Google.”
“I deserve a publishing contract from the publisher I sent my completed novel to. I "tried out", didn't I? You mean everyone doesn't get to "play"?”

Would you like a little cheese with that whine? It's no wonder that bankruptcy filings are up (you mean I'm not entitled to buy whatever I want? I can afford an $85,000 home, but I really wanted the $350,000 home, so I bought it. What do you mean they are going to foreclose?), crime is up (If you have it and I want it, I get to take it - whether that's your purse, your car, or your life), and work ethic is down, down, down (companies can hardly fire a substandard worker for fear of a lawsuit).

We're all different, with different gifts. I want to show our kids how to be the best they can be, not the best their neighbor can. But if we don't give them a reason to excel, why should they? We want them to know the difference between right and wrong. We want to show them how to do their best and to help them figure out their strengths. We want them to be hard workers, not mediocre, I showed up, reward-me-kind-of-people that refuse to take the blame when things go wrong and are always trying to take the praise for others hard work. Our goal for the Buckaroos is not to make them happy by immediately gratifying their natural lusts; we want to build character. This is hard work and we don’t always get it right. We pray for the insight to be able to do this successfully for much depends upon it.

Thank you for INDULGING my soapbox rant.

Boycotting the mall,
The Park Wife

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Ask The Park Wife- Holiday Party Interaction

Dear Park Wife,
It is the holiday season and I have been invited to many parties that I need to make an appearance at for work purposes. Here is the thing, I am uncomfortable in big groups of people and look like a goof just standing there. Any recommendations, aside of staying home and eating cake?

Oh sweetie, I love me a party, but I understand your predicament as I am married to a hunky ranger that would rather be in the woods appreciating nature than standing in a room full of people talking about what he would consider nonsense. Oh, but I thrive on it.

The key is to becoming a good conversationalist. Here are a few tips to get you through the merriment or scaryment.

You are going to have to spark a little conversation at some point. There is only so much eating that can be done, I know, sounds crazy, but true. You need to be sincere or genuine because people will see right through it if you are not. Don’t talk about yourself, ask questions of them, everyone likes to talk about themselves, well, almost everyone. Use some tried and true ice breakers: Where are you from? Where did you go to school? How do you know the hostess? Have you seen Precious or any other movie that just came out? Did you try the spinach dip?

Within a few questions you will hit on something that will make a deeper, livelier conversation. Try to avoid yes or no questions. Also, you have to act interested. You can do this through facial expressions; interest, understanding, sympathy, awe. Practice your acting skills at home if you need to, make sure that candid camera is not around, you are going to feel goofy. Watch out Angelina, there is a hot new actress in town!

Now, a Southern woman’s lesson on complimenting. Oh, this is dangerous territory. If you are going to compliment someone, mean it! People instinctively know the sincerity or insincerity of a compliment. This is the surest way to dig yourself into a hole. You know the big necklace your boss’s wife is wearing is ugly, just don’t go there.

Follow your instincts, not your impulses. You can do this and you might even enjoy it…GASP!

And, for goodness sake, please remember to send a thank you note to your host and/or hostess the next day.

Pretty is as pretty does,
The Park Wife

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

My Warrior is Four

Four years ago, I was decorating our Christmas tree, if you call that Charlies Brown stick a tree, when my sweet Little Buckaroo woke up from his nap and wanted to be snuggled. Now, at 7, he does not take a nap, but thankfully he still likes to snuggle. This is what I looked like, can you guess what happens next?

I am not sure who talked me into prego pictures, but I did it. But, what is even more surprising, I am posting it here on my blog.

I digress.

Littlest Buckaroo came into our lives, read about his arrival and all the fun and chaos that was involved. There is always something with The Park Wife, it is inevitable.

Then, there was Littlest Buckaroo . And, life has never been the same, thankfully.

He is my gentle spirited son that is also strong and fierce. He loves an adventure and looks for a battle to fight.

And, my goodness he is witty and clever. Always has been. He would be the class clown if he was in school.

It has been my honor being his mommy for these past 4 years and I can not wait for the next 50 years or so that I pray the Lord blesses me with to spend with my guys.

Next to marrying my husband, my children are the best thing that I have done in my life. When they look at me I feel the unconditional love that can only be compared to that of what the Lord has for us. They are so pure, so innocent. Everyone is equal to them, they do not know war, famine, terrorism, or hate. They are love.

I praise God not only for entrusting the Buckaroos to my care, but also for the wonders He is working in their lives.

When I look in their eyes I see who I want to be, they are the miracles that God gave me. In them I see the future, when I go to Heaven, I will be remembered through my son’s love.

A blessed mom of a birthday boy,
The Park Wife