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The Work of our Hands…

10 Jun

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As my family and I are moving on through 2014 (Can you guys believe that the year is almost halfway over?), it seems be getting busier and busier.  I feel like we are moving into a new season in our lives, and if I think too much about it i feel a bit panicky.

Ove the past 5 years, I have protected our schedule fiercely.  We are homebodies, for sure, and enjoy just being home together, working in the garden and playing with Legos and Play-doh, reading books, and watching cartoons.  Jason loves coming home in the afternoons and having dinner on the deck and just working around the house on Saturdays.  If you come over on a Sunday, there is a good chance you will have to wake the entire family up from a nap.

I have become really good at saying no to people.  We didn’t sign Charlie up for tee ball this year (at Jason’s insistence) even when it seemed like all of his friends were playing, instead opting to enjoy a summer free of weeknight practices and Saturdays spent at the ball field.  Maddie isn’t taking any dance or gymnastics classes, and we practice kicking the soccer ball out in the yard instead of at 5:30 every Saturday morning (Soccer practice isn’t really that early, but it is at a ridiculously early hour.).

We really enjoy our life, and these years have been good.

But I can feel it changing…

Charlie is starting Kindergarten this year.  We have decided to homeschool the kids, and I am really excited about that.  This is, however, requiring a change in our schedule.  I am signing up for field trips and co-ops, scheduling weekly activities that we will HAVE to be at.  Our mornings are now going to be set aside for school, not hanging around the house in our pajamas, or doing housework, or going to the park with friends.

My church is chartering a MOPS, and a friend and I are the co-coordinators.  This is a huge responsibility, but something I feel is really important for our community and definitely feel called by God to do.  Every Wednesday morning will be set aside for this, plus planning and preparation throughout the week.

Then there are our regular activities: Bible Study on Tuesdays and Story Time on Thursdays.

Also, I am considering signing Maddie up for ballet on Monday afternoons in the fall, just so she can have something for herself when I know I will be focusing so much on Charlie.

Then there’s me.  I am still writing for a local magazine and teaching Sunday School off and on.  I am directing VBS, and am in the middle of the planning crush for that. Plus, I want to love and support my husband in all of his endeavors, and just make sure he still gets the best of me and not the leftovers at the end of the day.

Can we do all of this?  Are some things going to have to fall by the wayside? Of course. 

My devotion this morning dealt with the fact that God puts every thing in our life for a reason.  It is all for a purpose: to prepare us for His greater plan for our lives.

May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;  establish the work of our hands for us- yes, establish the work of our hands.  Psalm 90:17

This is my prayer for my family: that every single thing we do and every moment of our calendar is established by God, that it is meaningful for something.

If there is anything that I don’t need to be doing, I want to release it and leave it to someone else and not feel badly about it.  It could be someone else’s mission, after all.

There is one thing I know for sure-I am going to soak up every minute of this summer!  We are going to go to the pool and read books and be lazy when we can.  And I am really going to appreciate it.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Split-Second Story

31 May

*Disclaimer:  This post is a complete exaggeration based on a recent conversation with a friend. Thankfully, my wonderful husband could care less if the house, the children, or myself are a complete mess when he gets home from work, or he at least has the sense not to mention it.

The kids and I had great fun staging these pictures that represent a split-second in our day, with so much change going on in between the two pictures! 

 

You know that moment of clarity when you look around at your life and realize, something must change?  You see that your life is a mess, that you are living in chaos, and there is a strange smell coming from somewhere in the room, possibly from you?  You recognize that something must be done, that you must get to work to end the wreck that your life has become?

This happens every day in my house.

I call it the 5:30 rush.  5:30 is when my husband’s office closes.  I picture him calmly getting up from his desk, gathering his things, and walking out the door, locking up behind him.  Of course, he is looking so forward to getting home to his clean, cheery children and wife, to leaving the stress and busy-ness of the day behind him.

It takes him 30 minutes to drive home, and during that time I am a mad-woman.

 

The husband rush

 

I look around, assessing the situation.  I yell at the kids to un-attach themselves from me, go up to their rooms, take off their pajamas, and get dressed in real clothes including underwear.

I begin frantically loading dirty dishes into the dishwasher and putting cereal boxes, a jar of peanut butter, and other various food items into the cabinets.  I throw the stack of paper plates and juice boxes left by the 10 kids and their mothers we had over for lunch into the recycling, then grab the Lysol Wipes container and run through the house cleaning off countertops and toilets.

I quickly make the bed and snatch up the wet bathing suits laying in the floor, running into the laundry room to start a load of laundry.

The kids and I meet up in my bathroom, washing faces and brushing hair.  Charlie finds a can of Glade and goes around the house spraying coconut-scented air freshener around while Maddie begins searching the house for our cats so she can put them outside.

I realize that I haven’t started dinner yet, so I rush into the kitchen, grabbing the glasses of melted ice left on our nightstands from the night before to put into the dishwasher.  I stick a frozen lasagna in the oven, not bothering to preheat the oven, then lay a cutting board and knife out on the counter and arrange a head of lettuce, some carrots, and a tomato artfully on top of it, creating the illusion that I am in the middle of cooking a delicious, healthy, labor-intensive dinner for my hard-working husband.

I walk quickly through the house, picking up Legos, Barbies, and Transformers and tossing them into bins and closets, strategically leaving books scattered about.  I leave a puzzle box lying on the living room sofa and some play-doh on the kitchen table.  Evidence of organized learning must remain as proof of our productivity.

Back in my bathroom, I throw some concealer under my eyes, adding some mascara, blush, and lip gloss for good measure.  I take off my old shorts and T-shirt and put on clean clothes that I would actually wear in public.

Glancing at the clock, I realize that I have 5 minutes left before the husband pulls up in the driveway.  I grab the vacuum and run it over the floors, vacuuming up little piles of sand brought home from the park and the occasional small toy that was inadvertently left out (Casualty of war, I think to myself.) while the kids scrub with some Windex wipes at the chocolate handprints on the kitchen door. As I am placing the vacuum back in the pantry, I hear the garage door opening.

I smile to the kids as they take their places at the kitchen counter, coloring quietly.  I grab a pitcher of iced tea out of the refrigerator and set it out, then stand at the island and begin chopping up the vegetables I had put out earlier.

“Hi, Honey, I’m home!” Husband calls out when he enters the house.  I press a button on my iPod and switch the music playing in the background from “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” to Beethoven’s “Symphony Number 5”.  The kids put down their crayons and run to him, screaming, “Daddy, Daddy!”

He looks at me, “Did you guys have a good day?  What did you do?”

I smile sweetly, noticing that he has on his golfing clothes, and hand him a glass of tea.  “Nothing much.  Just did some stuff around the house.”

The Big Rush After_1

 

 

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/split-second-story/ 

 

The School of Charlie

27 May

When you hold your baby in your arms the first time, and you think of all the things you can say and do to influence him, it’s a tremendous responsibility. What you do with him can influence not only him, but everyone he meets and not for a day or a month or a year but for time and eternity. –Rose Kennedy

This quote sums up exactly how I felt when I was pregnant with my little Charlie and when I held him in my arms for the first time.  I knew that I wanted to do this motherhood thing right, that I wanted to teach him and mold him into someone great.  I felt a tremendous responsibility to produce someone good for the world.

However, as we spent last week celebrating Charlie’s 5th birthday, I have been reflecting on how much Charlie has taught me.  Because I spend a great deal of my time with him (every waking minute of every day), he has become quite an influence on me.

Here are a few things I have learned from Charlie over the past 5 years I have been blessed with him.

1.  It’s good to be silly sometimes, or even most of the time!

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2. Do not be controlled by your fears, whether they are fears of embarrassment, what others think, a monster in the closet, or a life-sized wolf.  You will miss out on life’s experiences if you are held back by fear.

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3. It’s okay to express your emotions and be clear about your feelings.

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4. Be inquisitive.  Ask questions about EVERYTHING!

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5. It’s okay to do things differently, to go against the grain and break the rules sometimes.  Why simply trace over the letter “P” when you can destroy the “P” in a fiery explosion?

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6. The most important thing Charlie has taught me is that it’s okay to start out small.  In the end, we will all end up the same, anyway!

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Being Charlie’s mama has taught me much more than this.  He has taught me about compassion and friendship and imagination. He has shown me how to be still and listen, and how to spend my time wisely.  Most importantly, he has taught me about unconditional love and forgiveness.

Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3

 

31 Days Unplugged – Day 27 – Do something for yourself

26 Mar

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We have done so much this month, haven’t we?  We have totally changed our daily habits and how we are using our time.  We are spending time in scripture and prayer, doing things for other people, organizing and working out.  And that’s not all!

Today, I want us to focus on someone very important, someone who may have been left out a little this month: ourselves.

Challenge #21-Do something for yourself today.  Take a bubble bath, get a pedicure, go to the movies, get takeout for dinner instead of cooking and cleaning up.

Yesterday, my wonderful mother kept the kids for most of the day and I was actually ALONE in my house.  I can count the times on one hand that I have been alone at home since I had children, and it was such  a blessing to me.  I turned some music up real loud and cleaned and ironed for a little while, then I sat down and watched TV.  It was exactly what I needed to recharge.

Something else that I love doing is working in my flowers.  During the summer, Jason will come home some days and he will take care of the kids while I just mess around in my garden, weeding and cutting and watering.  That is a really important time for me. I can’t wait until this winter is OVER!

 

flower and butterfly

 

What do you do to recharge?  Spend today focusing a little on yourself.

Warming My Heart Today…

24 Mar

While the kids are upstairs playing, I snapped a few quick pics of some things that are just making me happy today!

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Maddie LOVES my perfumes, and after I let her have a squirt of mine this weekend she decided to share hers with me.  Is that not the sweetest thing ever?  Now she stores hers next to mine in my bathroom.  I’m so glad to have a little girl.

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Jason was out of town most of last week.  I walked into my bathroom yesterday and found that he had brought home all of his hotel toiletries and lined them up next to my sink.  I thought it was so sweet that he was trying to give me a little luxury!  Boy do I need it after a week alone with the kids…

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Woody, who was given to Charlie by his cousin Noah, has been through so much!  He survived Noah and Charlie, but now Maddie has gotten ahold of him.  She loves him so much, and, as you can see, has practiced some of her make-up techniques on him.  There is nothing like a toy that has been so loved-on that they are about to fall apart.

 

Here’s to finding joy in the little things around you!

Mommy at a Crossroads

12 Mar

Boy, it is really hitting me today how Charlie is growing up!  We spent the morning going through his clothes, with him telling me what he liked and didn’t like, and moving his everyday clothes and pajamas into the bottom drawers of his dresser so he can reach them to dress himself.  Just yesterday I was forcing him to dress himself, because he was being lazy and wanted me to dress him, and today he picked out an outfit and brought it downstairs.  “Does this match?” he asked me before he got dressed.

At the library today he picked out 2 chapter books for me to read to him at nighttime.  Chapter books!  Can you believe it? The entire time we were sitting in the story time room with Ms. Beth reading, I held Charlie in my lap and squeezed him so hard.  I won’t be taking him to story time much longer.

Yesterday a friend of mine with a little girl the same age as Charlie posted pics of kindergarten registration.  This made me think, “I guess I should check on kindergarten registration.”  So I did, when we got home from story time.  And it’s next week.  Next week!  I haven’t taught him all of the letter sounds yet!

Then this afternoon when the kids sat down for a few minutes to watch cartoons while I vacuumed the floors, Charlie walked by me  and said, “I’m going to my room.  It’s too noisy down here.”  WHAT?  I thought I would have a heart attack.  I just nodded my head.

I went up a few minutes later to take him a bowl of popcorn, and this is what I found:

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I didn’t really know what to do when I found his door closed.  Do you knock on a 4-year old’s door, or just walk in, holding out your bowl of popcorn?

I ended up compromising by knocking while I opened the door.  I think I will take that approach until he moves out of the house, which will be tomorrow.

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/03/12/daily-prompt-if-you-leave/

31 Days Unplugged – Day 11 – The Witching Hour

10 Mar

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We have made so much progress over the last week-and-a-half!  I hope that, like me, you are finding it easier to go through the day without the distraction of social media, games, etc.

There is one particular time of day I would like to address, a time that I have always referred to as the witching hour. After talking with other stay-at-home-moms, I know that this is a problem for most of us.  I am sure that for those of you who work outside of the home, you also have this struggle. I know I did when I was teaching.

The witching hour is the hour or two in the afternoon that is simply difficult to get through.  I get tired and sluggish, easily bored, and just can’t focus on anything well.  You know, when you feel like this:

Need a nap, anyone?

Need a nap, anyone?

For me, this usually occurs anytime from 2:00-4:00 in the afternoon.

It is during this time that I would usually zone out on my phone or computer.  The kids are napping or resting, and what should be a productive time for me turns into a wasted time period.

Now that we aren’t turning to our electronic devices for entertainment, how can we get through the witching hour and make better use of our time?

Here are some suggestions.  These are things that I have found helpful as a stay-at-home mom.  They will have to be tailored according to your circumstances:

1.  Get outside.  Play tag or kickball, go for a walk, or work in the garden.  The kids and I love riding our golf cart around the yard (I’m sure people think we’re crazy.)!

2.  Do something easy on your to-do list.  This will make you feel accomplished and make you want to continue on.

3.  Take a quick nap.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  Cuddle with the kids. (But be careful-I know that if I nap for more than 15-20 minutes, it messes up my sleep that night.)

4.  Do some stretches.  I love doing this short yoga video that I posted on Saturday.

5.  Have some fun with the kids.  If you have more than one child, this can be valuable one-on-one time if some are napping and others aren’t.  Get out the play-dough or bake something simple.  *I know for me, the witching hour is not a good time to read books or put together puzzles or try to teach the kids something-I just don’t have enough energy or patience!*

The kids and I made some cheerios bars during the witching hour today!

The kids and I made some cheerio bars during the witching hour today!

Maddie loved them!

Maddie loved them!

 

6. Put on some make-up.  For some stay-at-home-moms, it is hard to even get a shower, much less put on make-up!  However, it instantly makes me feel better and gives me a little boost.

7.  Dance.  I am so glad that no one is videotaping me during the witching hour!  The kids and I love dancing around the kitchen.  Our current song of choice is Pharrell’s “Happy”.

Basically, anything you can do to get up and move during this time is good.  We have to work to create new habits in our daily routines. If you are struggling, remember to go to God!  If you pray for energy and persistence, He will help you.  

For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

Click here for the recipe for the Cheerios bars!

31 Days Unplugged – Day 8 – Take Care of Yourself

7 Mar

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Welcome back to my 31 Days Unplugged challenge.  As you are spending less time online and more time living abundantly, I am sure you are finding more time in your day, time that was previously being wasted.  For today’s challenge, I am going to give you something to fill up a little of that time!

1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 says, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”

Do you take care of the body that God has blessed you with? For some of you, the answer may be yes.  If so, that is great!  If the answer is no, this challenge is for you!

Challenge #7-Spend at least 20 minutes doing some sort of physical activity.  Take time that you used to waste online and use it to be a healthier person.  Take a walk outside, stretch, do some jumping jacks and sit-ups.  Whatever you want to do!

If you don’t know exactly what to do, here are some short YouTube workouts that I like:

This is an easy and short (seriously 5 minutes) yoga video that I enjoy.  It will get you stretched out and you can do it anytime.  My kids love doing it with me:

This video will get you some killer abs:

Here’s a good video if you’re trying to get ready for bikini season.  The instructor has a little dog sitting in the background, and now every time I do a workout Charlie asks, “Where’s the cat?” He thinks there should be a pet in the background of every workout video!  I really like this workout:

And, lastly, this is a short cardio workout.  Fitness Blender is a great resource on YouTube for workout videos:

You can mix and match these to make a pretty effective workout, or you can just go to YouTube and search for short workouts.

If you want to REALLY unplug, just go outside and play with the kids-a game of tag or hide and seek is a wonderful workout (or some sledding for my northern friends)!  Or, take this a step further and sign up for a 5K-there are tons around all spring and summer, and you’ll be helping out a worthy cause in addition to getting in shape!

31 Days Unplugged – Day 4 – A Reflection

3 Mar

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I have most of my posts for the month already written and scheduled so that I won’t be stressing about writing something every day, but I decided to change things around a bit and actually write tonight.  Today was difficult for me and I felt like I should share it with you. My goal, after all, is to help someone who may be struggling, and to do that I feel the need to talk about my own struggles.

For those who have been participating since the beginning, this was our 3rd day unplugged.  I have only been on social media at nighttime, and not for very long then.  Saturday and Sunday were pieces of cake, but we were really busy and were surrounded by people.

Today, however, was a different story.  Everyone went to work, leaving the kids and myself at home.  I am a stay-at-home-mom, so of course I don’t have a problem with that, but we were kind of stranded at the house today.  We were all tired from a busy weekend and the weather has been horrible, so we couldn’t even have anyone over.

Our day began really early, and I had a feeling it was going to be a tough one…and it was.  I had the urge SO many times to check on Facebook or Instagram really quickly, but I didn’t.  I was bored, tired of talking to the kids, and just…grumpy.  Normally when I am feeling like this, I would zone out online for a little while, but I couldn’t do that today.  When the sun finally set and I could log onto Facebook, I realized something-I had missed nothing.  Facebook really is a waste of time for me.

Instead of spending precious time on the Internet today, I got so much done around the house that I had been putting off.  The kids and I went through their toy boxes and cleaned out Maddie’s closet.  I ironed clothes for Jason, and the kids and I even watched a movie in the middle of the day.  It feels so good to have those things done, and I honestly wouldn’t have done them if I had been online.

Our nighttime routine has run much more smoothly tonight, and I don’t fell stressed out at all right now.

I see the point of unplugging, and I hope you do, too.  We need to pay attention to how we are spending our time. I am sharing this not to brag about what I accomplished today, but to tell you that it was hard for me today. Now I see that it was worth it, and I know that tomorrow will be easier.

No additional challenge today-just continue on with what we have started.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Three (Planting Seeds)

21 Feb

The kids and I are LOVING this break from the snowy, wintery weather.  It has been 70 degrees or close to it for a few days now, and we have been outside a lot.  I know it’s only February, but I am ready for winter to be over!  I don’t know how you northerners do it…

Charlie, Maddie, and I started some broccoli seeds today so the plants will be ready to transplant in the spring.  We talked a little bit about Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seeds (here are some great ideas) then planted our seeds in a little greenhouse.

A little brother/sister love!  Maddie lost interest in planting seeds pretty quickly, but Charlie was really into it.

A little brother/sister love! Maddie lost interest in planting pretty quickly, but Charlie was really into it.

 

Charlie planting some seeds.  He was adamant, however, that he would not be eating the broccoli when it came up!

Charlie the farmer. He was adamant, however, that he would not be eating the broccoli when it is harvested!

 

Charlie's precious little hand is the perfect size for planting tiny seeds.

Charlie’s precious little hand is the perfect size for planting tiny seeds.

I am looking forward to showing the kids when the sprouts come up, and hopefully we’ll have some fresh broccoli this summer!

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/21/weekly-photo-challenge-threes/