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Changing Views

25 Jun

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A little over a week ago I made the kids go outside, still in their pajamas, and run around in the back yard while I frantically snapped pictures.  They thought their dad and I had lost our minds, and I am sure they really thought we had gone off the deep end when Jason and I just stood behind our house, Jason shaking his head and me crying.

When Jason came home a few months ago and told me that all of the timber on the land adjoining ours had been sold, I didn’t think too much about it.  You know, it was one of those things that just wasn’t going to happen.  But two weeks ago, they moved the saw in, and the next morning we were awaked by the sounds of trees being cut down: a sharp squeal of a saw followed by a crash.

I know not everyone understands this, but losing these trees has been so sad for us.  We spend a lot of time outside, and the canopy of trees around us that has been forming for the past 100 years or so is one of the best things about living where we do.  It is hard to explain to the kids that even they, in their lifetimes, won’t see that view out of our kitchen window.

So, one by one the trees have been coming down, and every day there is another chunk of sky or torn-up ground visible through the thin line of trees left on our property line.  Jason and I joked about chaining ourselves to one of the trees in protest, but we both know that there is nothing to do but get over it.

So, in my effort to get over it, I am trying to cheer up my kitchen window.  I spend a lot (I mean, a ridiculous amount of time) looking out of this window, because it is where I stand when I cook or wash dishes.  I love to look out that window, but the view isn’t quite what it once was. Plus, I have really been neglecting the window and window sill.  It was really quite pitiful!

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Bad, right?  My poor lipstick plant definitely needs to be repotted in a bigger pot, and Maddie’s rock that we brought her from Mexico (sounds ridiculous, but she loves that thing) needs to find a new home.  Plus, the window is just plain dirty.  Definitely neglected.

So, I moved the plant to the back deck (Don’t worry-I am going to save it!) and gave Maddie her rock to relocate (She’s been rolling it around in her stroller all afternoon), and got to cleaning.  That in itself made a huge difference.

Before we built our house, we had to tear down some really old houses that were here.  The people who lived here threw their trash out in the woods, so every time it rains now, glass and other things rise to the top.  We find all sorts of old glass bottles and keep most of them.

I got some of my favorite bottles that we have found and used them to hold some different plants from the yard.  Turned out really pretty, I think!

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So, even though the view out my kitchen window is changing, I still plan to enjoy being at my sink and looking out of the window.  I do spend half of my life there, after all, so might as well do everything I can to make it pleasant!

 

 

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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.

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

 

Things I am Loving Right Now…

3 Apr

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I apologize in advance to my friends up North who are still knee-deep (or higher) in snow, wearing coats and scarves and hats.  You may not want to read this…

…but I just have to brag on this gorgeous week we are having.  We really needed for this winter to be over, and it finally is.  I am high on vitamin D right now!

And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.  Genesis 1:31a

 

 

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!

 

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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 9

8 Mar

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If you haven’t noticed, every Sunday during the 31 Days Unplugged challenge we will be memorizing scripture.  This is a way to keep us focused on our ultimate goal-to live our lives as God wants us to!

Challenge #8-Memorize 1 John 5:22

1 John 5:21

What an important reminder to guard our hearts and minds. Have a great Sunday, everyone!

Some Quick Pics of Our Days

6 Mar

While I have been unplugging this month, the kids and I have been having a great time.  We’re spending lots of time reading and playing and visiting with friends, and I have been taking a lot of pictures with my actual camera instead of my phone.

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The kids have been doing a lot of “kindergarten” work, as Charlie calls it. This morning, he told me he was going to start raising his hand if he had something to say.  Seeing as he has never stepped foot in school or preschool or anything like it, I don’t know where he got that from!

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We have been taking some naps, too!

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Maddie is such a little helper! She helped me make scrambled eggs this morning.

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And a little tea party to get the day started!

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Our days are going very well, and I hope yours are, too.  For those of you participating in 31 Days Unplugged, I would love to hear what you’re doing now that you have a little more time on your hands!