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Monday, September 16, 2013

No going back. Becoming a minimalist.

They don't fight as much.
They are more content and play longer.
They are more creative and imaginative.
They "read" even more than they already did.
There is WAY less mess which in turn makes our home more peaceful.
They enjoy not spending as much time picking up every day.

What's the magic trick?? 

I took the kids' toys away.

All in the same week I came across three different things that inspired me to make this change in our home. The first was this super old-school book I got for free titled The Real Book of Games by Joseph Leeming, published in 1953.  It's full of simple games that...here's the kicker for me... require NOTHING or next to nothing.  Games that kids used to play decades ago. Games like I Spy,
number/letter guessing, question games, thumb war, battleships (on paper), duck-duck-goose except with a newspaper, those song clapping games, and alllll these other games like "we stand this certain way and push on each other and see who falls over first" sort of games. They're amazingly simple and again require nothing but fun and imagination! The book includes active games, quiet games, inside, outside, ice breaker type games, and games just for two. And I love it all. And almost all of it are ideas that have been lost through the years. Because of technology and things with bright color and noise.  And our need to be entertained by SOMETHING, even us adults. And it's sad. So that was the first thing that really got my heart stirring.

The second was a blog post titled "Why I took all my kids' toys away and why they won't get them back".  The results this mom had were shocking and inspiring and I immediately wanted to take action.

And another article AGAIN, titled "Why Fewer Toys Will Actually Benefit Your Kids". It explains the value of toys and how kids learn thru play, but at the same time it re-emphasizes the idea that less is more.  Keeping it basic. And again all those wonderful results of doing just that.

I figured, why not at least give it a try? So I went for it. And it has been glorious, amazing, wonderful, and I'm becoming very passionate about living this way and sharing it with others! I hear so many friends talking about how they need to figure out a way to organize their spaces, and my simple solution is really to just have less stuff!!!

Now here are the details. I've always been very reserved about the amount of toys we gave the kids, but still our home was very full on every corner, it seemed. It was organized but it still took a LOT to maintain that, and the kids were always overwhelmed at sorting everything back into their spots. Fighting was a constant, and while that is a heart issue that also needs dealt with, sometimes you reach a point where you just want to diminish the battles altogether.  So I did. One by one I packed up the stuff from the playroom and hauled it to the basement so that all that remained was a full bookshelf of books, a shoe box of Hot Wheel sized cars only, Trio blocks, art supplies, and the play kitchen (minus all the kitchen STUFF) but left a set of tea party stuff. And guess what, the kids never said a word about where everything went. It's been three weeks maybe and still not a word, not a single complaint. They did ask for something specific a couple days ago so I brought it up from the basement, and when they were done, back it went.  I've done much of the same with their bedrooms, pulled out the miscellaneous STUFF and left the basics. For Eli and Carter's room, it's the under-bed bin of Legos, the box of wooden train tracks, and art supplies. The kids mostly love having the closet empty so they can pretend it's an office and play school. And for Hannah's room, it's her jewelry-making set, small set of legos, books, art supplies, and one small bin of baby doll stuff for her one doll. Again, no comments, no complaints. It's amazing.

For now it's still a trial. Everything is neatly stored in basement shelving and not yet gone forever. And I do hope it gets asked for or cycled in in place of something else or whatever. But there is definitely no intention to stuff the rooms full again. Ever.

Simpler is ALWAYS better. Try it.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

YOU matter.

We live in a time now in which we basically say to one another via technology, "Want to know about me?? Here I am!!" So we continuously spew about ourselves and go and secretly spy in on one another. Daily. Hourly. Cuz it's so easy. But there's hardly any actual interaction, hardly any real connection. It's just us secretly spying and knowing all about each other's lives. Without genuine thought of I am thinking of you today. How are YOU?

And I'm tired of it.

I want YOU. The real you. And I want you to make a real effort for me too. I want actual relationship. And less mess.

So I unplugged. Without warning. But not without thought.

You know I've struggled with this for a long time.  With the balance. But it's not just that. It's also the sin. And the feelings it causes within ME as I read post after post of people praising themselves for their parenting, their kids, their accomplishments, yada-yada. And at the same time I feel shame because I surely have done that too. So here, right now, I apologize if I have ever publicly patted myself on the back.

Not everything needs shared.  It just doesn't. Technology doesn't need to be ME-focused.  Words always ALWAYS need to be chosen carefully and cautiously and tenderly because in one way or another we are ALL hurting. But oh our thoughts need ever to be reigned in. Why exactly are we sharing all our "thanks" with each other and not simply and earnestly with the Lord?? Can we simply have a good day and relish in the peace it brings?? Are we capable of doing good for another person without broadcasting it?? Humility. It needs to be re-found. As well as peace. And simplicity.

At least for me anyway. 

And I'm striving for that in so many more ways than just that surrounding Facebook. But you will hear about that another day.

So this is my mission: 
To seek out my dearest friends and make real, heartfelt connection with them. I'm old-fashioned and LOVE snail-mail. Do you?? And I love real, inbox messages that aren't junk!
To be present and spend in-real-life facetime with my locals.
To reign in my tongue and my thoughts and spend earnest time in thanks with the Lord himself.
To free myself of relationship clutter and stress that is technology.

I intend to share pictures with close family and friends, but please know this: it in no way portrays all of my life! There is more to my story than that. And a hundred bucks says that's the same for you, so take the time and ask. Make a connection with someone today. When's the last time you really asked, "How ARE you?"

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What are you gonna DO??!!

...is the question I get all the time when I tell people that all three of the kids will be in school this year.  Eli's in 2nd, Hannah's Kindergarten, and Carter will do morning preschool two days a week in the same school as the big kids.

Did you hear that?? For the TWO mornings a week, I will have FOUR (blessed) HOURS to myself!  In 7 years this a first. A whole new beginning of something [I hope to be] wonderful.

It sounds like I'll be soaking in a bubble bath or at the spa. LOL. But here's the reality, folks...

I plan to...

Work out.
AND shower.
At normal times of the day.
Do laundry.
Actually CLEAN the house.
Do Bible studies.
Pray.
Free reading.
Volunteer
At the school
Or with childcare
Or at an organization
Or with meal deliveries.
Do errands
and grocery shop
ALONE.
Finish house projects.
Sew.
Scrapbook the last 7 years and more.
Catch up on my shows online.
Prep meals.
Maybe even FREEZE meals.
Do laundry.
Fellowship with friends. =)
Hang out with my husband when he's off during the week.
MOPS planning and functions.
Practice new music for church.
Chores.
Organize.
Declutter and sell items.
Yard work.

And more.

This is the reality. Not that it makes it any less spectacular. But there are always things that need done. And then when there's not, I will sit on the porch swing with my sweet tea and BREATHE....

Until the school bus rumbles down the road. And the crazy begins once again. =)


Friday, May 17, 2013

Summer.

School is now out and today is the kids' first day of summer vacation! Growing up (in Iowa) we always went to the very end of May and if there were snow days to make up it sometimes went into June. When we lived in Connecticut, the school I worked at went to the END of June! So I'm thrilled that here we get out in mid-May. We don't get many breaks during the year, but it's worth it if this is what comes of it!  

This summer....

I can turn off the alarms on my phone that dictate the rhythm of our day. Shoes on NOW, Go out to Bus, Bus is coming home, etc

I can part with my phone altogether. I usually feel like it's one of my limbs for fear that the school child will get sick or hurt and the school will need to reach me urgently.

I can sleep in if I want.

We can stay up til sundown.

I can take the kids on TONS of adventures.

We can READ.

We can utilize ALL of daddy's days off, not just the ones that happen to land on actual weekends. 

We can have picnics outside almost every meal and I won't have to clean the dining room as much.  ;)

We can see our friends any of the day of the week because we don't have a list of obligations!


I. Love. Summer.

We have a vacation planned at the end of June but we otherwise don't have much of anything on the summer schedule whatsoever. Just tons of local adventures. Last summer was amazing so we will follow much of that same pattern. We organized activities weekly to do together with our friends.  We will do some service oriented projects, we will have story times at the park so the kids can practice reading aloud to each other, we will hike and stay active, we will try to do a craft/project each Monday, and we will just kick back and have fun.  We now have two little ones that can ride on two wheels so I want to get a bike seat for Carter and go for family rides-- we have a great trail here we haven't yet explored.  There's too much fun to do to waste any opportunities!! 

Have a great summer!!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Life is dessert. Take time to savor.

I was deeply inspired by this the other day.  Take time to read the full post by Ann Voskamp.  

To consistently step back, breathe deep, focus — and know Life is dessert — too brief to hurry. Too delectable to be distracted through. You don’t wolf it down.
Life isn’t an emergency. Life isn’t 20 open screens and one flickering attention span. Life is a gift. 

This has been on my heart for the entire past year. Just tired of technology and the beautiful parts of life it steals from us. Things like focus and contentment and the simplicity of nothingness. The beauty of being still.


I know I keep talking about this but one of the biggest sources of stress and distraction for me is Facebook. I simply don't have the energy to CARE about every single one of my friends and all of their families every single day and still achieve and live the simple and rich life I want with my own family. I have spent the weekend disconnected from Facebook. I've popped on here and there to check messages and notifications, but I haven't spent ANY time browsing the feeds. And there's definitely a peace that comes from that.  No guilt over lists other people are accomplishing and I'm not, no angst over things I disagree with, no threads of conversation continuing thru the day. Instead, I've truly enjoyed my kids, letting them splash in water on the sidewalk, reading books and books and books, taking walks, being outside, enjoying quality time, creating spontaneous adventures, and finishing up some of my own projects. THAT is the life I want. 


* Just gotta add, when I stick to my filtered feeds of my core Facebook people, it's really limited and nice but sometimes it's still just so needed to disconnect altogether.

I {heart} Spring. There are just too many better things to do.

Love.

Love is patient.
Love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
It is not rude,
it is not self-seeking,
it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.
Love does not delight in evil but
rejoices with the truth.
It always protects,
         always trusts,
               always hopes,
                     always perseveres.
Love never fails.

(1 Cor. 13:4-8)

Lord, help me to be patient with my children this morning and not easily angered. Help me to lay down pride and put them first. Help me to hold fast to the truth that these children are a wonderful gift. Help me to forgive and not keep a record of wrongs that I can tell to Kevin when he gets home from work. Help me to persevere and seek Your strength throughout all of today's challenges. Help me to love with my actions and attitude. Fill me with your Spirit that in me they see YOU. Amen.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Sunday Psalm


Psalm 104:33-34

I will sing to the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
as I rejoice in the Lord.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thankful Thursday

Bus send-off was good today. {no crying}
We didn't even have to wait in the barn like we normally do, because it was so nice out already. {32 degrees!}
And he waved at me as the bus drove away. He doesn't always do this, but I love when he does.

I'm on a roll with chores today and cleaning even more things OUT!  

Kids are already outside playing.

Today is this week's Friday.

I have incredibly understanding and supportive friends. So grateful.

Our MOPS group is growing and changing and really becoming something great.

Also thankful for... super easy, yummy recipes. free printable organization sheets.  calendars.  MACHINES that wash and dry my clothes. and a beautiful home to live in.


I'm still feeling not fully awake today, but I am thankful. For so very many things.

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Meanderings - Mar. 25

Bible Study... going thru various things, depending on the day
Memory Verse...Ps. 141:3
"Set a guard over my mouth, O Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips."

Husband Encouragement...
♥ Quality time evening activities.  This is more for me. But if it's a need of mine then I need to take more initiative with it and make suggestions. Excited for his days off this week.
♥ He's done a LOT of fixing things lately, so encourage him in that.

Train Them Up...
* Eli -- working on attitude lately
* Reading with Hannah.
* Regular chores and cleanup.
* Patience with Carter's fits.
* Watch my tongue.
* AWANA verses. Want Eli to finish his book before the end of the year. He's allllmost there!! 
* Easter lesson with the kids this week.

Personal Goals...
* mad abs
* morning Bible reading (going well lately!!)
* want to do at least 3 days of running.
New Habit of the Month...  {march}
daily routines.  morning, meals, chores, homework, cleanup, bedtime. 

MUST Do... 
* MOPS -- newsletter
* Mail ring back for repair.  Grr... I can't find it anywhere!!!!
* Bills.
* Thank you notes.
* Birthday gift for Eli's teacher Tuesday.

Zone(s)... packing away of things
 
Menu - oven's not working

M -  cabbage chicken salad
T - pinwheels
W - meatball soup
Th - butternut squash soup, bread
F - grilled cheese
S - TBD
Su - Easter dinner: ham, sweet potatoes, fruit salad, rolls

FUN THINGS!
* Long weekend surrounding Easter AND Kevin is actually off this year for the first time in at least a couple years!
* MOPS pizza party play date on Tuesday

3 things I'm thankful for today...
1. quiet in the mornings
2. Kevin's been running again lately. So proud of him.
3. the Bible. There's always something encouraging to take from it.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday Psalm


Psalm 5:1-8

Give ear to my words, o Lord,
consider my sighing.
Listen to my cry for help,
my King and my God,
for to you I pray.
In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.

You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
with you the wicked cannot dwell.
The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
you hate all who do wrong.
You destroy those who tell lies;
bloodthirsty and deceitful men
the Lord abhors.

But I, by your great mercy,
will come into your house;
in reverence I will bow down 
toward your holy temple.
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness
because of my enemies--
make straight your way before me.

Friday, March 22, 2013

30 Amazing Gifts


 I turn 30 this year. Tomorrow. And when I think about how incredibly much I've grown and changed and endured and accomplished in my 20s I'm pretty blown away.  Not that I'm fantastic or anything, it's just that a LOT of growing up happens in those 10 years.   It's certainly the biggest 10 years of my entire life.  (aside from perhaps my very first ten years)

When I turned 20, I was in college.  So let's start there...

1. College taught me what it means to work HARD, how to be responsible and manage time, and recognize the gifts and talents that I have as an individual.

2. I learned to start over and make new friends. And there I met some INCREDIBLE, like-minded, lifelong friends that I still love and stayed connected with today. I simply would not be the same without that core group of lovely people.

3. It was in college where I was first confronted with the option whether to attend Sunday church. Or not.  And I chose church. I chose to make faith my own, to make faith my life. I got involved in campus worship, extra activities, and small-group Bible studies. But most importantly my heart was changing.

4. But despite that I learned how it feels to struggle emotionally.  To question. To doubt. To feel so terribly small. To hurt deeply in places that aren't visible.  And I reached a turning point in which I chose life. For always.

5. With my concert band I traveled.  To New York City, to Europe.  We joined hands and sang "The Lord Bless You and Keep You" at Ground Zero.  We stayed in the homes of families in England and Germany and others. We performed in Carnegie Hall and in the smallest of churches. We really were an incredible ensemble.  As great of musicians as we each were, we as individuals were nothing compared to what we were together.

6. I graduated college.  Succeeded and accomplished.  A semester early.

7. Then I married my college sweetheart.  And I vowed to love and honor him. For always.

8.  I moved across the country, away from family and friends and everything familiar.  And after years and years of long-distance relationship I so enjoyed having my man by my side and finally getting to enjoy the simple things like pizza delivery,  rainy days by the fire, and cereal in front of the tv. 

9. The Navy moved us again, to New England, where we really knew NO ONE and I learned the importance of finding a good church.

10. While there our family forever changed with the birth of our firstborn, Elijah William.  I became a Mommy. A parent.  My heart exploded and I developed a love I never knew existed. And so it all began... the decisions, the choices, the adventures, the trials, the exhaustion, the thrill of each new "first".

11. With motherhood, I entered the life of always feeling an instant connection with any other mom on the planet.   It happens, it just does. 

12. 19 months later our 2nd child gave us the surprise of a lifetime with an unplanned home birth. I now can view childbirth as "not so bad" and a beautiful and natural event.  Hannah Elizabeth is my sweet girl with whom I can share all things girly. It was with her that I first saw the love between siblings grow and develop and change through the years.

13.  The Navy chapter ended for our family, and we moved back to Iowa during a transition period.  We learned what it meant to trust God's plan for us, as Kevin was unemployed for a couple months while waiting for the start of his new civilian job.

14.  We settled into a whole new way of life, a country life.  It's beautiful. And free. And peaceful.  I more appreciate nature. And the farm life, because although we don't have fields or livestock, we are surrounded by it.  I better understand the effects and dangers of weather.  Wind, tornadoes, blizzards, drifting snow. And mud. Oh the mud.  But I LOVE it. This way of life. The open yard, porch swing, sunrises and sunsets, camping, gardens (or not), fireworks on 4th of July, the stars.  Oh the night stars.  Amazing.  And letting kids out to play, just play, for hours on end.

14.  We were blessed with our 3rd child, Carter James, and we learned that God sometimes (or often) gives unexpected, unplanned gifts that are far more wonderful than anything we could plan for ourselves.

And now here I am in the current...

15. 8 years into marriage and I am still learning what it means to choose my husband daily.  To choose marriage, to honor my vows, to put him before kids and schedules and friends and activities, to look at the positive and overlook the rest, to forgive as Christ forgave me, to love because He loves me, to respect and serve, to communicate, to let go of expectations, to be his helper and companion, to build him up and encourage him, to let him lead and trust his decisions, to laugh and enjoy once again.

19. I am still learning what it means to choose faith, to choose God's will for my life and not my own path, my own ways. To make time to read the Bible daily and keep it a priority. 

20.  I am still learning how to manage my time, how to juggle all the duties of a homemaker and mother, to be productive and wise with my time, but not be so hard on myself that I miss opportunities to just enjoy.

21. I have gained confidence in motherhood in how we are training our children. The habits,  behaviors, and values that we are instilling in them, the character that we are shaping, the memories we are making.

22. Yet I am learning to give myself grace when I feel like I'm failing. (A process....)

23. And I'm learning what it means to give grace.  Love anyway. Forgive anyway. Be kind anyway. Do good anyway. Regardless of circumstances. Simply because that's what Christ did for us.

24. I have incredible new friends in Nebraska.  I have seen them come and go, split apart and reunite. I have seen them laugh and I have seen them cry.  I have listened, consoled, advised, prayed, and encouraged.  And they have done all the same for me.  They are a significant part of my day, my life. And I am ever grateful.

25. Through all these years, I am continuing to learn how to cook and how to make things like an over-easy egg for my hubby, use baking soda to clean the oven, sew curtains, get stains out of the carpet, run the grill, operate power tools, and the work process it takes for house remodeling. The basics of running a house.

26. I am growing in photography, and have learned how to operate a camera, and dabbled in amateur work for others. I've learned what hobbies I enjoy and what hobbies I don't really and aren't worth my time.

27. I am learning that STUFF does not equal happiness.  In fact it's the opposite.  And I am on a journey toward a simpler life.

28. I am learning that social media isn't all that great and that it's more important to be fully present with those who you are with. I simply can't carry the burdens of ALLLLLL the people I care about.  It's just too much on my heart and my time. And the gift of NOW is too wonderful to miss.

29.  I am learning (again) that life is difficult.  God has a purpose in all He does. And not a purpose to punish us, but to help us grow. 

30. And I am learning that my life is pretty darn great.  A healthy dose of perspective is needed from time to time.  There is so very much to be thankful for.  Always.

This post is not about all the great things *I* have done in the last 10 years.  It's about what GOD has done in my life.  "Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence  comes from God." 2 Corinthians 3:5

"Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness."  Psalm 115:1

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

30 goals

 2 years ago I wrote a list of 30 goals I wanted to complete before I turned 30.  Wellll, this coming Saturday I turn 30!  Here are the things I did get done...

* Alllllmost returned to pre-babies weight.
* Made a First-year baby book for each of the children.
* Got family photos taken.
* Hung curtains all throughout the house (except for dining room yet).
* Cleaned out all our old baby items and other "to go" items.
* Ran 3 miles without stopping.
* Started singing on worship team at church.
* Played French horn for church special music.
* Updated my "mother ring" to include all 3 children.
* Took a picture of sun rays breaking through clouds.
* Volunteered to help at local library.
* Got a full-length mirror for my bedroom.
* Explored nearby state parks.
* Went tent camping as a family.
* Learned how to grill.
* Got in the habit of getting up before kids.
* Have been serious clothes shopping with girlfriends.
* Bought a pair of cute shoes.
* Started but didn't finish my Europe scrapbook.

I got just over half of my list done!  Things I still want to do sometime but not before Saturday...

* Go white-water rafting.
* Tube down a river.
* Read through entire Bible.
* Go for a bike ride.
* Finish wedding scrapbook.
* Get a bedroom lock.
* Invite the neighbors over for dinner.

Things I no longer care about...

* Plant a flower garden.  I have NO green thumb, and I'm kinda okay with that.
* Register to receive local newspaper.
* Commit to 30 Day Shred. Not a big fan of Jillian.
* Surprise a mom friend with a dinner. Just not sure about this one because I know a lot of moms start their dinners earlier in the day, and I'd hate to mess that up.

I can't believe how fast these 2 years went!  But I'm decently satisfied with what got done.  Not sure what's in store next and that's okay. Just gonna enjoy the ride...  Here's to the next decade!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Meanderings - Mar. 18

 
 
Bible Study... going thru various things, depending on the day
 
Memory Verse... Isaiah 55:8-9
"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'"

Husband Encouragement...
♥ Quality time evening activities.  This is more for me. But if it's a need of mine then I need to take more initiative with it and make suggestions. Excited for his days off this week.

Train Them Up...
* Mealtime routines: name place cards, turns with table setup, and family cleanup
* Reading with Hannah.
* I have been doing my morning Bible reading from 6-6:45am but I have sometimes been getting some early risers during that time. So I'm having them get out their story Bibles and have quiet "reading" as well.
* Journal with Eli.
* Fun day on Tuesday cuz Eli is off and so is Hannah and once Kevin sleeps a bit, he's off that day too!

Personal Goals...
* mad abs
* morning Bible reading (going well lately!!)
New Habit of the Month...  {march}
daily routines.  morning, meals, chores, homework, cleanup, bedtime. 

MUST Do... 
* MOPS -- bank
* snack for Thursday night fellowship
* bills

Zone(s)... laundry.  dryer needs fixed so staying on top of the laundry is going to be trickier than usual!  =S

Menu - 

M - shrimp scampi
T - corn beef and cabbage
W - salads
Th - butternut squash soup, bread
F - easy meal
S -  Omaha
Su - leftovers

FUN THINGS!
* No school Tuesday
* dinner with a friend on Wednesday
* Holly day on Thursday
* women's fellowship at church Thursday night
* birthday celebration with my girlfriends Friday
* celebrating with family on Saturday

3 things I'm thankful for today...
1. fun games with the kids.
2. mint chocolate chip ice cream.
3. afternoon painting. love seeing the kids create.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday Psalm

Psalm 119:105-112

Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path.
I have taken an oath and confirmed it,
that I will follow your righteous laws.
I have suffered much;
preserve my life, O Lord, according to your word.
Accept, O Lord, the willing praise of my mouth,
and teach me your laws.
Though I constantly take my life in my hands,
I will not forget your law.
The wicked have set a snare for me,
but I have not strayed from your precepts.
Your statues are my heritage forever;
they are the joy of my heart.
My heart is set on keeping your decrees 
to the very end.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thankful Thursday

It's been a really long time since I've participated in this.  But I need to.  Guys, I am really struggling.  With some things I can't go into here publicly.  And I'm struggling with winter blues.  Looking at my history of posts, I think this was an incredibly hard time of year last year as well.  Just feeling really down about myself, frustrated with the lack of progress in my life, unmotivated, tired, irritable with the kids and then feeling like I'm ruining them by the minute because they just copy your behaviors.  There's little room for error when you're a mom.  Sure, it's a good time to model sorry's and forgiveness, but you can only do that so much.  You HAVE to work toward changing what you're modeling, so it's behaviors you want THEM to do.  There's so much pressure, followed by feelings of failure. Yet you can't instantly change how you feel, how you react. You just can't.  It's some process that I just can't quite figure out.  So anyway, yeah, struggling.  And trying, trying to continue to look for the positives, even when it's hard.  So here I am with Thankful Thursday...

"Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God." Ps. 42:11

1.  Kevin has been working hard all week and is making amazing progress in our attic renovations. Drywall is half complete and with all the angled ceilings up there, that is by far the hardest part of the project.

2. MOPS group. It's a ton a ton of work that goes into every single meeting but our group is still continuing to grow. Even with just 2 meetings left for the year, we are getting new attendees. Knowing we are reaching more and more moms makes it all seem worth it.

3. Play dates this week.  This winter has been a whole lot of nothingness. Just nothing on the calendar at all. So several playdates this week is good.

4. Morning Bible time. There are some days where I feel like I'm just staring at words on a page. But overall it's been good to start each morning with quiet as I seek hope and truths in the Scripture. And the last 2 weeks I've actually gotten some verses fully memorized.

5. Friends. I have so many friends who really truly care. Who take the time to ask how you are really doing, and then listen. It takes a special person to do that.

6. Projects. My friend Nikki and I were getting some of her curtains sewed during preschool time yesterday. And I'm so excited that I taught her how to sew! I pinned and she sewed, and it was awesome teamwork and we got it done!

7. Weather.  We are supposed to be getting 60's temps today and tomorrow and I am thrilled for that time outside. It's so refreshing! I love and adore my kids and enjoy being with them, but having some breathing room from them is so needed sometimes.

8. Family time. It's been a busy week and I still haven't made it to the grocery store. Carter fell asleep in the car before we made it there yesterday so we ended up getting dinner in town before AWANA. We finished early and took a short walk and ended up at the skate park. We'd never been there before and had a blast climbing and running up the ramps and then sliding back down. Probably one of my favorite memories yet this year.  =)



"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Col. 3:15

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Psalm


Psalm 138

I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart;
before the "gods" I will sing you praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
and will praise your name
for your love and faithfulness,
for you have exalted above all things
your name and your word.
When I called, you answered me;
you made me bold and stouthearted.

May all the kings of the earth praise you, O Lord,
when they hear the words of your mouth.
May they sing of the ways of the Lord,
for the glory of the Lord is great.

Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly,
but the proud he knows from afar.
Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve my life;
you stretch out your hand against the 
anger of my foes,
with your right hand you save me.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O lord, endures forever--
do not abandon the works of your hands.


Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Monday Meanderings on a Tuesday


Bible Study... going thru a little study about the Scriptures and how they came about
Memory Verse... Heb. 10:23
"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful."  Really need this one right now.

Husband Encouragement...
♥ Quality time evening activities.  This is more for me. But if it's a need of mine then I need to take more initiative with it and make suggestions.

Train Them Up...
* Mealtime routines: name place cards, turns with table setup, and family cleanup
* Reading with Hannah.  I'm so excited she got so many books for her birthday! We are currently reading Ballet Shoes.  
* Homework for all in the afternoon so it can be quiet for Eli.
* I have been doing my morning Bible reading from 6-6:45am but I have sometimes been getting some early risers during that time. So I'm having them get out their story Bibles and have quiet "reading" as well.
* Journal with Eli.
* More specific babysitter notes.

Personal Goals...
* mad abs and workout daily, keep a food journal
* morning Bible reading (going well lately!!)

New Habit of the Month...  {march}
daily routines.  morning, meals, chores, homework, cleanup, bedtime. 

MUST Do... 
* birthday thank you's
* MOPS: bank, postcards, lesson
* Shutterfly book
* mail for friends

Zone(s)... laundry.  I don't know how it happens but just as soon as I feel ALMOST completely done, I find myself completely behind!

Menu - 

M - hot dog, corn salad
T - tacos
W - steak, mixed veggies (no AWANA this week!)
Th - broccoli soup
F - @Paul and Holly's
S -  TBD
Su - leftovers

FUN THINGS!
* theater movie with some girlfriends tonight
* dinner at Paul and Holly's Friday evening!
* Carter gets a birthday-party-day out with Paul, Holly, Claire, and Iain.
* friends that moved away are coming back this weekend!!
* singing at church Sunday

3 things I'm thankful for today...
1. two toddler hands grabbing my face to give me a kiss.
2. fresh, clean laundry.
3. a warm house. cuz it sure sounds cold outside today!!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday Psalm


Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face shine upon us,

that your ways may be known on earth,
your salvation among all nations.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.
May the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you rule the peoples justly
and guide the nations of the earth.

May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you.

Then the land will yield its harvest,
and God, our God, will bless us.
God will bless us,
and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Meanderings - Feb. 25

Bible Study... Lent study that I'm reading on my own in the morning
Memory Verse... 2 Cor. 7:1
"...let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates the body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God."

Husband Encouragement...
♥ Quality time evening activities.  This is more for me. But if it's a need of mine then I need to take more initiative with it and make suggestions.

Train Them Up...
* We just started a new mealtime routine: name place cards that get rotated around each meal (by me) and each child has a designated meal to prepare the table for.  Carter is breakfast because it's the easiest number of dishes. Hannah is lunch time because usually Eli is gone at school. And Eli is dinner time.  And AFTER dinner I want to get back to family cleanup routine. EVERYONE helps put things away or load dishwasher.
* Reading with Hannah.  I'm so excited she got so many books for her birthday! We are currently reading Ballet Shoes.  
* Homework for all in the afternoon so it can be quiet for Eli.
* I have been doing my morning Bible reading from 6-6:45am but I have sometimes been getting some early risers during that time. So I'm having them get out their story Bibles and have quiet "reading" as well.
* I'm starting a secret journal for Eli in which the two of us can write notes back and forth to each other.  Trying to find a fun and special way to connect with him. Not because he's the school boy but because that's just something I struggle with with him.

Personal Goals...
* daily ab workout
* morning Bible reading (going well lately!!)
* FB??  still just do NOT know what to do with this???
New Habit of the Month...  {february}
>> chore chart.  I've been doing pretty well!  My LEAST favorite part of the week is erasing all my cross-outs of chores done and having to start all over the beginning of the week.  =S

MUST Do... 
* MOPS newsletter contribution
* starting preparing for next MOPS meeting, so I'm not as rushed come meeting week
* stop at bank
* take load of cardboard to recycling
* birthday thank you's

Zone(s)... getting rid of toys (for garage sale), clothes (for garage sale), and candy (donate to church youth group)!

Menu - 

M - roast and veggies, homemade bread
T - hawaiian meatballs
W - dinner out since I have music practice before AWANA
Th - breakfast casserole
F - marriage conference
S -  chili hot dogs, chips, fruit
Su - TBD

FUN THINGS!
* marriage conference next weekend-- Friday night and all day saturday! anxious to see how we'll learn and grow!

3 things I'm thankful for today...
1. progress of the attic. exciting stuff.
2. friends. for various reasons my heart is happy.
3.  hubby.  is so generous and takes care of kids whenever needed without ever complaining.  yes, even though I know they're his OWN kids, I still appreciate it so much.  =) 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sunday Psalm


Psalm 130

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, 
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redeption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Quiet Time Book

I was trying to make this for Carter for Christmas. But it wasn't quite done then so I made it for his (January) birthday instead.  Even still I didn't have one of the pages done (or started even) so I just left it out and called it done!  =)

I'm not sure I'd seen these books until Pinterest. I got a lot/all of these great ideas from there. And while I say this book was for Carter, it's actually for all of the kids, with specific pages in mind for specific children. (Carter's learning shapes and counting, Eli is into weaving, and Hannah is into braiding). I wanted each page to PLAYable, not just lookable. So here it is:

I struggled to come up with a title for it! I didn't want to call it Quiet Time Book because then it sounds like it's a book about Time.  =)  So I went with this...
Counting/patterns  and shape matching
buttons--mixing the colors around on the flower tops. they can store in the flower pot
Mr. (and Mrs.) Potato Head page.  All sorts of different pieces, but here are a couple varieties.
Weaving and braiding pages


 And Eli was just being silly with this one:

 Before this project, I didn't really know you could sew felt, I didn't know how to make button holes on my sewing machine, and I didn't know how to install eyelets.  Now I do.  It was all pretty easy, just time consuming.  Fun overall though, and I hope it's something quiet the kids can all enjoy!


Sunday, February 10, 2013

What does it mean to Love?

Here are a few questions about love and marriage that I can't wait to ask my kids this week.  Would love to know what their perceptions are as they age through the years...  =) 


Download printable HERE.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Balance.

Sometimes people pick a word to describe their focus for the new year.  And I think I would pick BALANCE.  I know that's kind of a lifelong quest.  As new balls continue to get added into the juggling act, we have to find new balance, a new rhythm. And sometimes you drop ALL the balls and you have to keep your smile on and pick them all up and continue.  And sometimes when it's just too much, you simply just have to go back to fewer balls, back to what you can handle.  

Part of my journey with Facebook is committing to only checking three times a day. Morning, afternoon, and evening.  When I told this to Kevin he laughed, but he's never been a Facebook user, plus he's a guy, so he doesn't understand the addiction that it can become because he doesn't crave that social aspect in his life.  A close friend of mine is also taking on this "challenge" with me, and the accountability makes all the difference. 

And this change feels good.  

It affects my whole approach to the day.

I feel ready to GO and ready to accomplish something, rather than spending half the morning lounging around and then finally getting moving, still just completing the bare minimum!

I've been working on my 2013 project list-- there's nothing like the awesome feeling of productivity! I had no idea we had so many forgotten drawers and shelves in our house filled with CRAP!  No more! Things are getting organized, tidied, CLEANED!  

But it's not alllll just about Facebook.  Part of it is (in real life) social time.  For awhile there in the Fall it seemed I had plans almost every preschool morning, and the housework was MAJORLY lacking! 

Part of it is evening activities and having too many things planned. 

But much of it is just life.  Housework, parenting and time with kids, finances, spiritual life, social time, marriage, housework, extra curriculars, serving others, health and fitness, projects, marriage, school, parenting.

It all just keeps circling round and round, and is never really "done".  

And that's where I want to find healthy balance.  I sooo want to establish a good rhythm for how to fit it all in well.  I DO think it's possible. It just requires me to use my time more wisely, to live life productively and purposefully.  No, I don't have to CONSTANTLY be multitasking-- there is a time for rest, every day not just Sundays.  There is a time to laugh and to play. There is even a time to be sad. But there's that word again, balance!

So here's to balance in 2013! Living intentionally, purposefully, and productively so I can live life to the full! 


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy 8 years!

Today is our 8-year anniversary, and I'm so happy and so thankful. We have much to celebrate!

("Happy 8 Day" this is actually a Brian Regan reference. our favorite comedian.)
It hasn't always been easy. In fact it's often been downright hard and ugly.  And seemingly hopeless.

But we continue to choose love.


We continue to choose forgiveness

 
and JOY


and commitment.


Because


after all

 
isn't that what love is about??

Monday, January 7, 2013

Reset Button

Our culture has gotten far too lazy. With the world at our fingertips within our electronics, we tend to sit on our butts WAY too much while still FEELING like we are doing something!  I've shared my struggle with Facebook, and I've still been processing thoughts about it. About why it's such a struggle...

1. Motherhood.  I kind of feel like a lot of my role is to hover nearby the kids all day long. To be there and ready when a boo-boo needs kissed, fights need broken up, discipline needs to take place, feelings get hurt, little guy needs taken to the potty, or a drink needs filled.  These things don't happen quite EVERY minute of the day (although sometimes it sure feels like it!) and the in-between minutes aren't enough to get into any project too INVOLVED.  Heck, as soon as I go upstairs to fold laundry, someone is screaming downstairs.  That's just life right now.  I do chores when I can but not ALL day, so those in-between minutes while I hover nearby my kids are often spent on FB. Because it's easy, it's not involved, it's community.  Now don't get me wrong, I play WITH my kids and read WITH my kids and and do some chores WITH the kids and we do spend a lot of time OUT of the house. But when we're home and they want to spend the day playing, this is why I'm often on Facebook, why it's hard to not go there.

And now. It's become habit. It's become the norm.

For many of us.

2. And anything outside the normal is then a struggle.  So I want to reset. To establish a new norm. One that doesn't involve the constant itch to check in on my friends every single day. I have selected a small group of people I truly want to keep up with on an everyday basis, deleted almost 100 friends that were only ever an acquaintance, and left many of the friends I still want to check in on only from time to time.  Yet I still find myself going to facebook.com many many many times a day. Because I'm restless and bored.

So.

I want to rediscover small pastimes that I enjoy. Like Sudoku.  I refound a Sudoku magazine I'd gotten awhile back for Eli, stuck it in the little drawer of our new coffee table and I've thoroughly been enjoying working those puzzles when I have a few minutes! It's easier to NOT do something (Facebook) when you have something else to replace the time with (activities with the kids, or little hobbies).

And for 2013 I want to work on a project list.  I have sooo many projects that could probably be done in only 1 day.  And I'd like to tackle at least one a month! To feel the satisfaction of checking something off as DONE.  To let my kids see the things I enjoy, like sewing, and to learn the basics of these skills.

So here is my list of the quick projects:

1. Finish sewing the last two panels of curtains for the office.
2. If that leftover fabric is enough, make pillow covers for the living room.
3. Finish the Quiet Time Book I'm making for the kids. 
4. Hem my bedroom curtains.
5. Make a set of cloth napkins.
6. Touch up paint in the dining room.
7. Find Eli's baby pictures so I can start his baby book.
8. Organize new recipes.  
9. Finish Eli's spelling book.
10. Finish Hannah's (soon to be Carter's) homework book. 
11. Finish Hannah's drawer project for her room.

Long-term projects:
12. Europe scrapbook
13. Annual family photo albums.
14. Finish conversation calendar.

This year simply must be different. Changes must be made or my kids will grow up doing the same thing. And I hope for more than that.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Facebook 2013

Greetings and Happy New Year!!  I haven't been on here a whole lot.  I'm kind of processing a lot of things these days, and I don't know what to say or THAT it even needs said, especially here to the public!  But this is one thing that has been heavy on my heart, and I'm still trying to figure out what to do with it.... Facebook.

The more I'm there, the more I read what people share, what people comment, the more I observe my own behaviors and feelings, it seems like such a huge trap for sin.  I can only speak for myself and my experience, and these are the ways Facebook causes me to stumble...

It causes JEALOUSY, seeing what other friends are doing.  Everything gets shared, ya know. Lunch dates, shopping trips, movies.  And sometimes, even though it doesn't seem like there's any valid reason, I just feel a twinge of jealousy.  A feeling of being left out, or coveting time out like that for myself.

One of the biggest struggles I think is PRIDE, and this is one I often see, and I'm guilty of it too.  Boasting about accomplishments, in seek of praise and comments, seeking man's approval.  When I post photos or even a status update I check back very very frequently, eager to see what comments I have.  Wow, such sin, trying to build myself up like that. Even if it's unintentional, it totally happens.

And on the flip side are PITY PARTIES, people complaining about this and that just in search of comments and others to come alongside them. Yes, it's good to be real, to show the tough times too, but what is the real motive?

Not to mention the IDLENESS and unproductivity of simply BEING online all the time.

Being a regular Facebook user quickly and easily leads to restlessness and discontentment and I lose the gift of being fully present with those I am with.  There's always a need to know the latest news, because it's constantly changing, people are always posting.

And then there's the hurt and insult caused by posts/comments, even of complete strangers.  And the firey feeling of needing to defend yourself. It's awful.

And hurt and assumptions from posts that are vague, and humans can't help but jump to their own conclusions about what it must mean.  I've probably been on both sides of that "game".

You see, it's such an ugly trap.

But at the same time it's good, and that's why this causes such turmoil within me.  

It's a place where pictures are easily and privately shared with friends and family.
You can share encouraging Bible verses, articles, music, and videos.
You can share simple things that just make you laugh.
You can share kind thoughts and messages to those you care about.
It's a source of communication and news, including urgent prayer requests.

For many others Facebook is not such a battle.  But for me it is.  So for 2013 how do I make this work?

I took my "wall" down.  In order to write to me, it has to be a private message.  This is to protect my friends and readers from any misinterpretations and to help guard my relationships as something somewhat personal.

I now require authorization before I can be "tagged" in something for all the rest of my friends to see.

I cannot remove the option of photo comments, so that just is what it is.

I will use more caution in what I post by following these rules I'd found on Pinterest regarding children but it fully applies to Facebook:

And while I can't control what OTHERS say, I can better control what I SEE.  So I'm working through my friends list.  But that kinda takes forever, so I majorly cut down my list of "close friends" and can view the feeds of that instead of the feeds of EVERYONE!  Simply cutting down will also cut down my online time altogether.

"Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10

So here, my friends, is to a new year!!