Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

OK....So I have heard that if you verbalize your goals to others, it creates a sense of accountability and increases your chances of succeeding. I am pretty good and following through with the goals I set, but I figure voicing them to all of cyberspace to witness couldn't hurt.

This year, as in years past, I am setting goals in 5 areas of my life.

1. Family- I will continue to love my family with everything I am and have. I will work to be an example of strength, determination, health and honesty so that my daughters can be an example of the same- now and when they have grown and have families of their own. I will treasure my family, especially my husband and daughters, every day.

2. Friendships- I will consciously look for opportunities to build friendships and connections with others. Although I know that friendships are an important for me, I will do my best to make sure my motives for these friendships are altruistic and not selfish.

3. Health- I will continue to live a healthy lifestyle, keeping active and being aware of the things that I do to and put into my body. I will remain aware that how I treat my health and body affects how my daughters treat themselves.

4. Faith- I will hold fast to my faith, especially in these trying times. I know that God is in control and that He has a plan for my life.

5. Education- I will continue to further my education, remembering that some of the greatest knowledge I gain will not come from books, but from life lessons and those around me.

Now, I know these seem like generalities. But I have learned in my life that I have to build on these general foundations. The specific goals just seem to come along on their own once I have worked on the general stuff.

I wish that all who read this are as blessed in the New Year as I feel I have been. Thank you for helping me be accountable to the goals I have set, and thank you for taking an interest in AZ Mom of Many Hats.


Monday, December 29, 2008

Do You Resolute?

This time of year is amazing.

It is a time of celebration, a time of new beginnings, and a time of ringing in the new year. It is a time when much of the world watches rose adorned floats travel through the city of Pasadena. It is a time when football fans anxiously watch as their favorite college team fights to be the Rose Bowl winner. It is a time when the entire world can reflect on the past 365 days and dream about what the next 365 have in store.

It is also a time of personal resolutions.

January 1st marks the fresh start of a new year. It marks a time when people can leave behind old habits and put in place new ones. Maybe it is lifestyle habit like smoking or unhealthy eating that needs to be changed. Maybe it is relationship habits, communication or dependency patterns that need to be changed. Maybe it is simply a resolve to look at life with a more positive attitude.

Whatever it is that the resolve revolves around, it takes determination, drive, and an honest desire to make a change in order for it to be effective. It also takes realistic expectations of ourselves, our bodies, our health and others. If we lack any of these things, we will certainly lose our focus and resolution to change.

There are some things to keep in mind as the New Year rings in.
  • Every day is a new day and a new beginning - not just January 1st. If resolve waivers, the next day is an opportunity to start fresh.
  • There would not be success if there was not failure. Let's not beat ourselves up if we don't reach a goal.
  • The biggest part of learning comes not from reaching the goal, but from the journey we take to get there - whether we reach our destination or not.
  • Keep resolutions realistic and attainable. There is a better chance of keeping them if we set ourselves up for success.
How do you mark the New Year? Do you resolute?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

There's No Place Like Home!

It’s been a lot of years since I have been with my family on Christmas day. In fact 14 years have come and gone since I have been in my parent’s home for the joyous holiday.

However, for the last 7 years, my daughter’s and I - on occasion, Mr. Mom of Many Hats too, have taken the trek out west on the 26th of December. Early in the morning, we stuff the car full of gifts, left-overs, cookies, newly acquired Christmas toys, and of course the dog. In then darkness of the AZ winter morning we hit the highway and drive for six hours. The entire time anticipating spending a week of shopping, family festivities, and New Year’s celebrations. It’s sort of a second Christmas.

I love this tradition that we have.

No matter how old I get, and how much I enjoy the holidays in my own home, I still long to be home for the holidays - my family home. I don’t know if because at some level, I still feel like a kid at the holidays, or if the business of the holidays makes me want to retreat into the safety of the shelter and comfort that only mom and dad can provide.

What I do know is that from the moment I pull into the driveway of my childhood home, I feel relief, joy, happiness and refreshment. I know my kids, and even the dog feel that too (ok, maybe that’s because my stress level drops a couple of notches .) I know that inside the front door is a place of unconditional love. I know that here, it is my turn to enjoy partaking in the festivities instead of facilitating them. Most of all, I know that there is no place like home.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The House That Gingerbread Built

Have you ever made a Gingerbread House? If you have, you know all of the work that goes into it.

My journey with gingerbread houses began when, as a young mother, I took a gingerbread class with my sister. We spent a wonderful day at a local cake shop and came home with an amazing holiday centerpiece.

In the years that have followed, I have made many gingerbread houses. Each year my houses are a little different than the year before. Some are grand and fancy, complete with interior lighting, fireplaces and holiday decor (mantles, stockings and trees) on the inside. Some are intricate with multi-paned windows, shingles and Christmas lighting on the outside. And still, some are simple and traditional, with basic construction and the requisite "Peeps" snowman in the yard.

No matter what the houses have looked like, they all started from the same foundational principles - a good gingerbread recipe that could hold up to the cutting, heat of the oven, and construction of the house; a set of culinary blue-prints to design the house by; the right combination of basic ingredients that would act as mortar to hold the walls together; the patience, improvisation, and understanding to keep the construction moving ahead if any one of the prior three foundational principles didn't work out as planned; the willingness to "deconstruct", step back, reassess, and start over if it means the house will stand.

I have learned a lot about my real home and family life through working with gingerbread. With the help of my husband, I have worked to lay a foundation that will hold firm through the trials and tribulations of life, striven to follow the Master's plan for our home, mixed a mortar of love and understanding to keep our walls glued together, tried to be flexible yet determined to build up and strengthen our family, and have at times, taken a second look and reconstructed, reorganized and added to the foundation of our home.

When all is said and done, I can't say if my home will be grand and fancy or simple and traditional. But what I can say, is that I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I put my hard work, heart and creativity into making it the centerpiece that it is.

*Picture courtesy of

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tongue Tied Tuesday - Garden Art

The following pictures were taken by my amazing husband, Mr. Mom of Many Hats.

They were taken at the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, Arizona, during the concurrent events of the Luminarias and Chihuly The Nature of Glass exhibit.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Cookies

I spent the better part of the last two days making batter and dough for a barrage of Christmas cookies and confections.

By the time the cookies were made, my kitchen looked like a winter wonderland, covered in white - wintry and powdery. Trees, snowmen, snowflakes and fluffy pillowy mounds as far as the eye could see, covered our domestic landscape. Unfortunately, 'twas not snow nor the things that holiday songs sing of, but alas a messy, sticky mixture of flour, powdered sugar, baking soda and baking powder - and dozens and dozens of sweet snacks.

The two day long process of preparation for this baking blitz dragged on and on. One mundane baking task after another slowed the flow of the weekend down to the speed of molasses. Mixing, folding, stirring, sifting; whisking, washing, wiping, sweeping - one job after another until finally it was baking time.

With the help of my daughters, we carefully chose the best cookie cutters to use that would flatter our cookie platters. Frenzied flouring of cutting boards and rolling pins made way to carefully planned out arrangements of the cookie cutters. Onto the pans, into the oven, and up on the cooling racks went our cookies. In what seemed like a few moments, we had used all of our dough, and the baking was complete.

In all, the baking took my girls and me about 2 1/2 hours to complete. But because I was in the company of my precious daughters, I lost track of the time. What would have seemed like an eternity in the kitchen had I been by myself, passed by in the blink of an eye. I was lost in the enjoyment of seeing their creativity, cooperation and Christmas spirit.

Each year this tradition in the kitchen with my daughters passes by so soon. But the memories will live on forever, of my girls and me, baking Christmas Cookies.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Light Unto My Path

This week, I had the opportunity to attend a Luminaria event at the botanical gardens where I work.

It was an amazing and awe inspiring sight. In the dark of the desert night, candle bags lined the edges of the paths through the garden, illuminating the desert pathways that meander through this little piece of the desert southwest. The flicker of the candles burning inside cast shadows of the flora and fauna that make the botanical garden, well, the botanical garden. Even though the garden was under the veil of darkness, our footsteps were illuminated by the oh-so carefully placed lanterns, allowing us to find our way in a very dark night.

Now of course the garden couldn't be transformed without the hard work and hard planning of many employees and volunteers. The paths of the garden needed to be set with almost 8000 luminaria bags and lit and extinguished each night of the event. (Believe me, this was a big job. I worked one night as a candle lighter and snuffer!) There were those that tended the paths, directing people to different events and entertainment of the evening. There were those that had to manage crowds, provide security, monitor parking and keep patrons nourished and hydrated with various foods and libations. There was an amazing master plan in place to ensure that the visitors found their way through the garden.

This Christmas season, I will do my best to keep my focus, as well as the focus of my family on the light that has been given to each one of us by the Master of all - through His master plan. I will do my best to carry the lamp that illuminates our steps through life. I will keep my eyes drawn to the light of the world, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tongue Tied Tuesday -Peace On Earth

Elise, the cat that thinks she's a dog, and Fina the dog that thinks she's human, living in perfect harmony on our little piece of this terrestrial ball.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Just Breath!

Sitting down to write this post, I am totally exhausted - almost to the point of not continuing on with these words.

My day started early at 5:30 a.m., to get up for an early run. I literally hit the ground running - Ha!

From that point on I have been going non-stop, running errands, fulfilling commitments, making holiday preparations, addressing Christmas cards, housework, run-of-the-mill mom stuff. No wonder I am tired.

But, I know that this will be my state for the next several weeks as the holidays approach.

At this time of year, more than any other, it seems like I am continually on the go. Somehow I over-do almost every aspect of my life. I over-shop, over-bake, over-commit, over-estimate, over-prepare, over-schedule, over-stress, and have over-the-top expectations of how the holiday season should be. I am moving so fast and furiously that sometimes I forget to breath.

I forget to take a step away from the busyness, take a deep breath and enjoy being in the moment of this magical time of year. I get lost in doing stuff to get ready, and before I know it, everything that I have been preparing for so feverishly is over - and I have missed it all.

This year, I am going to make a conscious effort to take a break, take a rest and relish in the moments of Christmas. I am going to just breath!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

When You Wish Upon A Star

Do you remember any Christmas wishes from your childhood?

Did you wish for a certain toy?Did you wish for the doll that really ate and needed her diapers changed or the more rough and tumble Stretch Armstrong?

Maybe it wasn't for a thing at all. Maybe you wished for simply catching a glimpse of the man in the red suit just so you could truly know that he was "real."

Christmas time was an amazing time in my home while I was growing up. We always felt blessed by what we received each Christmas morning. But, I don't remember having any big wishes for anything in particular while I was growing up. I don't remember being up all night hoping that a certain doll or bike was under the tree when I woke up. I didn't wish on the first star I saw on Christmas Eve asking that I would be able to spy on St. Nick as he unloaded his sack.

What I do remember is the anticipation of the surprise of the mornings events. My stomach would be full of butterflies as I took my stocking off of the fireplace and slowly pulled out the tangerines, walnuts, sugarless gum and other goodies that were hidden inside. By the time we were ready to unwrap the gifts under the tree, I could have burst with excitement. I never knew, or even had a desire to know what I was getting before I unwrapped it. Every gift I opened was a new and often unimagined treasure. Whether it was the craft "busy box" full of macaroni, glue, scissors and string my mom had put together, or the three life-size dolls she had hand sewn - one for me and my two sisters, each gift was special, loved, and created memories that last to this day.

None of my gifts were what you would call extravagant. But every one was mysterious, exiting and a treasure. Because they were given out of the depths of the love that my parents had for my sisters and me, they were all priceless.

Maybe I will wish upon a star this Christmas season. But when I do, my wish is that my children will not wish for things, but instead that they learn to treasure the love, excitement and mystery of Christmas.

Monday, December 1, 2008