Laresa Watkins

21/31 Days

Oct 21, 2017
mommyinbonlee

So, I went into a store today to exchange some pants that were too big for Charlie.  We were on our way to a Halloween party.  Let me say that again: a HALLOWEEN party…and they had Christmas music playing in the store.  I am already excited for Christmas this year, but I do want to enjoy Halloween and Thanksgiving first.  I’m really trying not to rush it, so I would appreciate it if the stores would hold off a few more weeks on the Christmas music!

I was looking back through the drafts of things I have written, and found this from last December. It was a good reminder to me of what I want not just Christmas to be like, but every season and really every day. 

 

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“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

This time of year, I have to be careful.  It is so easy for me, with my type-A-just-get-it-done personality, to zip through the season without enjoying a minute of it.  Before I know it Christmas is over, the house is left feeling empty without the tree and the lights, and it’s somehow January.

I have to intentionally enjoy Christmas.

This year, I’m doing a few things differently than in the past.

First of all, I am not stressing about our decorations.  It was SUCH a pleasure to decorate our tree this year, because Maddie (whose servant-heart is coming out more and more each day) decorated it.  She unwrapped each ornament, showed it to me and asked where it came from, then hung it on the tree.  I did move some of the breakable ones from their precarious positions, but other than that I just enjoyed her help.  After staring at the decorated tree for awhile, I decided that our tree, its bottom branches hanging heavily with ornaments, is perfect.  The memory of her decorating it is one I will hang onto for awhile.

On the table where I usually put my Christmas Village sits Martin’s house that the kids made out of Lego Duplos.  Martin is our elf, and he loves his house.  Normally, I would not allow a giant Lego house to sit out for weeks, but I am letting it go because it is such a hoot to see the kids run to the house every morning to check for Martin.  He’s not always there, but it’s the first place they look.

I am also making an effort to turn my obligations into opportunities.  This sounds so cliche, but it’s been important to me this year.  I found myself stressed out about the holiday get-togethers, the food for the parties, the presents.  I felt like I was going to the grocery store every day, spending too much money for no reason.  Then, a friend of mine on Instagram posted a picture of her full shopping cart, saying she was buying for a baby shower, a Sunday School party, a women’s ministry meeting, and more.  I thought, “Ugh!  Poor girl!” But reading on, I saw that she was so happy to have that shopping cart full of items.  She felt blessed to have those opportunities to minister to people.

…So this was me:

And what happened, then? Well, in Whoville they say – that the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day. And then – the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches, plus two!

Now, when I have to run in the store one more time or buy one more present for something, I see them as chances to spread a little of Jesus’ love.  The entire reason for this season is to celebrate Jesus’ birth, and if I don’t take every opportunity to show his love to people, I am missing out.

17/31 Days

Oct 17, 2017
mommyinbonlee

I was just looking back through drafts of things I have written over the years that never quite made it onto the blog.  I’m not sure why I didn’t push the button on this one, because it is pretty funny.  🙂  I wrote it about a year and a half ago.

The Stages of Adulting

Before we had children, and even when the kids were babies, Jason and I had friends to our house quite often.  We loved inviting our friends over and grilling out. It was something we really enjoyed, but stopped doing as time passed.  You know, everyone was busy with their kids and jobs and just doing adult-stuff.

Plus, we start yawning around 8:00 now.

A few weeks ago we celebrated Jason’s 40th birthday.  We had lots of people over, and we had a great time celebrating him.

After most people had left, two of my friends and I were sitting in the kitchen.  These girls and I have spent many, many hours sitting in that same spot talking about who-knows-what (Because what did we talk about before we had kids, anyway?) while our husbands (or boyfriends at the time) did whatever men do in the garage. I mentioned how much our lives have changed since those days and how much we used to get together before we all had kids. Of course we all agreed that we should do this more often, because we really should do this more often.

This made me think that maybe we would start seeing each other more, because we’re now in the third stage of grown-up get-togethers: 40th birthday parties!

You are probably familiar with the other stages:

1-Weddings- Jason and I were pretty young when we got married so we were the first of our group of friends to host this get-together, and I will humbly admit that we (well, mostly my mom) set the bar pretty high.  🙂 We aren’t ones to turn down a wedding invite, so for awhile we went to a lot of weddings and those were great opportunities to see everyone.  We even got to travel for a few weddings, which was great!

2-Baby showers & kids bday parties- We’re still in this stage, and will probably be here for awhile! It’s a lot different from the wedding stage, but there is still cake involved, so it gets a thumbs-up from me.

3-40th birthday parties- This is the third circle of celebrations in adulthood, and it’s fairly new to us.  We’ve been invited to a couple, and, as I mentioned before, hosted Jason’s recently.  There’s an eclectic mix of darkness (you know, the teasing that death is looming) and celebration of life.  I’m looking forward to going to more of these, but not looking so forward to my own…..

4. You know the last round of get-togethers. I must have heard my grandma say it a million times: “The only time I ever get to see my friends anymore is at funerals.” Unfortunately, I can totally understand how this could happen! We get so tied up with life and kids and eventually grandkids, and just taking care of so much, that the only time we will see our friends anymore is when we are forced to see them at funerals.

 

So, I stopped writing there.  I made it a goal of mine over the summer to try to do more with my friends, but I was pretty much a failure at that.  I’m going to need some people to turn 40 this year so I can see you guys (but let’s avoid the 4th option if we can…).

 

Earl and #EasterPictureFiasco2017-A Spring Update

Apr 17, 2017
mommyinbonlee

Ugh! I have been so lazy at this blogging thing! We’ve been so busy with homeschooling and sports and church, this has just been put on the back-burner.  Thought I would just take a minute to tell you all about some fun things that have been happening lately.

As you all know, yesterday was Easter.  We take a family picture every year, and every year it is a bit of a fiasco.  It’s hard to keep everyone clean in their Easter outfits, and then to get everyone to look at the camera and smile at the same time is  absolutely impossible! Some years we have someone to take our picture and others we don’t (those are the years that we prop the camera on the hood of the car and end up with a lopsided, blurry picture).

This year, the problem was all me.  I just couldn’t get it together!

Nope….

Pretty sure Jason was telling me to do something about my hair in this one…

 

I’m trying!

 

….and got it! This is as good as it’s getting.  😉

I love looking back at out pictures every year and seeing how the kids have grown and how our family is changing.  I remember the years that I had just had a baby and couldn’t find any clothes to fit.  In some pictures the kids have already taken off their shoes or we’re struggling to hold one of them still, or there’s a random animal passing by.  One thing, though, remains the same: Jason Watkins.  How does that man manage to look perfect in every picture? I just don’t understand!

In all seriousness, I love seeing the evidence of Jesus’ love in our life.  This year, Easter took on a new meaning as I witnessed Charlie begin to grasp what Easter really means: that Jesus is real and he died and rose from the grave for him personally.  I am praying fervently for his salvation, and would appreciate if you would join me in this.

 

Another fun thing is our squirrel, Earl.  We weren’t able to save his two siblings, but we did raise him successfully after a fall from a tree in our yard.  We released him about a week ago and we enjoy visits from him almost every day. 

I hope you’re enjoying this spring as much as we are!

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas

Dec 31, 2016
mommyinbonlee

Isn’t Christmas such a dichotomy?  It’s a time of joy and giving and getting and celebration, but also a time that I am reminded of the brokenness of this world.  As a child I was split between parents, and even as a married adult this brokenness continued as Jason (who is also split between parents) and I traveled from Christmas to Christmas to Christmas to Christmas.  Even though we were having a great time and spending time with people that we love and who love us back very much, it was also stressful and just…hard. We spent a lot of time away from our home and on the road for our first Christmases as a married couple.

Since having children, I have discovered an entirely new side of Christmas.  We have toned things down a lot.  We still see everyone, but our parents have their get-togethers on different days so we can be at home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We’re still busy, but not so busy that we can’t enjoy ourselves.  We have time for a nap, to sit down and put together Legos, to play with new dolls.  Jason and I even get to spend time with our new “toys.”

 

There has been so much joy found in Christmas since C and M were born.  We have new traditions like cutting down our tree at the Doby Christmas Tree Farm every year, and watching “The Polar Express” with hot chocolate and cookies.  We start listening to Christmas music in November and wear tacky Christmas shirts every day.  The kids wake up every morning to find our elf, Martin (On a side note, I’ll be honest and say that I’m not too sorry that he’s gone back to the North Pole for the year!).  Their innocence and excitement is contagious.

This Christmas also brought with it a new aspect for me: grief.  It was our first Christmas since losing Kitten (my stepdad) and I missed him and his huge presence.  I also really mourned my grandma, who passed away 3 years ago on the day after Christmas.

Recognizing this dichotomy makes me really want to soak in every good moment that Christmas offers. One thing that was so special about this Christmas was that, since it fell on a Sunday, we got to go to church.  It was a privilege and a pleasure to join my church family on Christmas morning and worship with them!

Focusing on the real reason for Christmas makes the good and bad aspects of the season easier to bear, because both can be a little overwhelming.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 (ESV)

As I go through this life, the good and bad become more evident, but Christmas reminds me that Jesus left his Heavenly home and came here to fulfill all of the prophecies that spoke of him so we could dwell in the light, not the darkness.  We’ll have brokenness and grief and the stress of getting our families dressed for church on Christmas morning, but there is also peace and joy and love and celebration. These things go hand-in-hand (for now).

“Comfort my people! Comfort them!” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and announce to it that its time of hard labor is over and its wrongs have been paid for. It has received from the Lord double for all its sins.” Go up a high mountain, Zion. Tell the good news! Call out with a loud voice, Jerusalem. Tell the good news! Raise your voice without fear. Tell the cities of Judah: “Here is your God!” Isaiah 40: 1-2, 9 (GW)

What a blessing to have that comfort and to celebrate Christmas with Jesus at the center, to feel the grief that is simply part of life, but to accept the peace that the Holy Spirit brings only because Jesus walked this Earth. Christmas is all of the feelings concentrated into a couple of days, with wonderful promises of what is to come.

 

 

 

 

A Little Something to Lighten the Mood Around Here…

Nov 9, 2016
mommyinbonlee

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but it has gotten pretty intense around here today. I thought I would try to bring a little cheer to the interwebs this evening. 🙂

 

SO MUCH hilarity has been happening around here lately.  This conversation:

Charlie: “Do you know who makes the best mac and cheese in the world?”

Me: “Who?”

Charlie: “Gaga.”

Me: “Oh, what about me?”

Charlie: “You’re third.”

Me: “Well, who’s second?”

Charlie: “I don’t know. Somebody.”

I mean, kids just know how to boost your confidence, right?

 

Halloween also happened (if you know us, you know we do it right):

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C and M had several different costumes.  C stuck mostly with Harry Potter, and loved it that a lot of kids really thought that he was actually Harry Potter.  He was also the Grim Reaper during our time trick-or-treating at an assisted living facility, where it was pointed out to me that his costume may not have been the best choice (#parentingfail).  Maddie was a vampire, gymnast, and different variations of Wednesday Addams.

Also, this was one of the highlights of my life so far:

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Between trunk-or-treat, harvest festivals, trick-or-treating in downtown, trick-or-treating at the assisted living, and for-real trick-or-treating, we have so much candy in this house it is ridiculous.  We finally sat down today and dumped it all in the floor, took out our favorites and removed the rest from the house. Maddie said, “It’s kind of still Halloween, isn’t it?” And I said, “No, it’s not. It’s kind of already Christmas.”

And I will end this short writing on my thoughts about yesterday and today:

The heart of man plans his way,
    but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

Calm down, everyone.  God knows what He’s doing.

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