Monday, October 17, 2011

if you don't have anything nice to say...

I used to really struggle with what I refer to as "word vomiting." I actually used to be proud of how I always said what I thought and believed. Now, that isn't to say that now I say things that I don't believe... because that's called lying and a lack of integrity, but I don't "word vomit" quite like I used to. I realize that it's a deeply ingrained part of my nature and I'm still a pretty forward and transparent person, but I also recognize that I was awful for ever being proud of that part of my nature. That part of my nature is often hurtful, or insulting, or even simply discouraging.

We've all heard it:

If you don't have anything nice to say,
don't say anything at all.

I began there [as an adult, because apparently I didn't pay close enough attention during Bambi as a child], but I think I've found that it's not enough.

People aren't stupid. Yes, we should all exercise self-control, but when someone tells you they've decided to name their child "Herbert Magellan III" and all you respond with is silence because you don't want to say something rude.... it's awkward and it clearly communicates to that [eccentric] parent that you don't have anything nice to say and you are doing your best to literally bite your tongue despite the vision of the future you're seeing in your head of sweet little Herbie the Third getting shoved into a locker and having his lunch money stolen.

So, what should we say? Well, we shouldn't lie. That's bad. But, can't we just not be awkward and FAKE nice? Can't we be REAL nice? Maybe we simply try to understand the other person better. Maybe they don't need our approval or opinions, but need us to care. So, maybe we say, "Those are different names than most people choose, what led you to pick them?" Maybe they'll tell all about their great-granddad who left some incredible legacy and they want to honor his memory and preserve that story by passing on his name. BAM. Right there, you've got something nice to say now. Something like, "Oh, wow! He sounds like he was an incredible man, that's a great namesakes for your baby!"

Maybe someone you know gets a tattoo that looks like a Lisa Frank sticker. You don't have to say that you like their tattoo, but you can still be nice. "You toughed your way through getting a tattoo!? You're a stud!" See... you thought it'd be a girl, huh? Maybe not. Maybe we also need to work on being presumptuous? Or something like, "Man, they really captured the vividness of the spectrum of that rainbow." Either way, maybe that friend is waffling now in the wake of the decision to get that rainbow and kitten tattooed forever upon flesh and an encouraging word from you might be uplifting, but even an awkward silence can be discouraging.

When we actually care about people... who they are, what they're like, how they work... being nice can be much easier!

Now, we've all heard this one too:

So in everything, do to others as you'd have them do to you...

This takes us a step farther. We can't just not be rude... we need to be nice. Encouraging. Loving. Caring. Honestly interested. Uplifting.

So, let's quit just biting our tongues awkwardly and actually become people who have nice things to say. Let's quit rolling our eyes when people aren't looking [or when they are] and become people who are genuinely interested in others. Let's quit thinking we know what people are saying and actually listen to them... and when we don't understand... make an effort to instead of brushing them off.

Let's be spirit filled and let what our mouths speak
be the overflow of our hearts.

Do we get that? If we have nastiness in our hearts then we'll have to be biting our tongues because we won't have nice things to say. If we are filled with love, and joy, and peace, and kindness, and gentleness, and goodness then that's what will naturally flow out of our mouths and this struggle to not "word vomit" [or awkwardly bite our tongues] will become MUCH easier.

I say this recognizing that there are some people and some situations in which truth needs to be upheld and it won't feel good, or situations in which criticism can be good, like a teacher grading a paper... but generally, c'mon. I'm working on this... or rather it's being worked on in me... and I'm ashamed of not just my behavior and words in the past but my heart, too. Will you stop just not being rude with me?

Monday, October 10, 2011

because I love lists...

Last week I wanted to streamline my organization and cleaning a bit. I used to have a grocery checklist but it was on an old laptop that crashed and I lost it... womp, womp. So, I made a new one [that's cuter] that I thought I'd share with you today. You can download them at the bottom of this post! I'm taking mine tomorrow to have it laminated and then I'll use a wax pencil on it, and never need to print another [hopefully]. Here's what it looks like...

Now you know what we buy most... no judgment. K? K.

Some things have options- for example "Onions- r/w/y" requires that you circle whether you need red, white or yellow onions specifically. Others are:
  • squash- z/b/s [zucchini, butternut, spaghetti]
  • beans- b/bl/rf [baked, black, refried]
  • tomatoes- w/d [whole, diced]
  • buns- h/hd [hamburger, hot dog]
  • ziplock- s/q/g [snack, quart, gallon]
It isn't a comprehensive list, hence the blanks in each category.

I also wanted to keep myself accountable for getting things done throughout the week. I'll start out cleaning my bathroom floor, see the light on in the closet, go to turn it off, notice the stack of mail on the floor, pick it up, see the cute cards from my Grandmother to my kids, go to put them in their baby books, then spend the next 30 minutes crying as I look at how much they've grown... and my bathroom floor gets forgotten. It's like If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, really. So, I made this Weekly Chores chart [also available at the bottom of this post] that looks like this:

You'll notice dishes aren't on the list. That's because they're just an everyday thing.

I use one of the days of "one load of laundry" to strip the bed and wash sheets. The kids' sheets get thrown in with their clothes usually because their tiny clothes don't make a huge load. If you have big kids [or eleventy kids] this system might not work for you.

We collect all trash & recycling on Tuesdays because our trash gets picked up Wednesday mornings, so that might need to land on a different day for you.

We only do backpacks on Monday and Wednesday because my kids only go to a 2-day mother's day out program on Tuesday and Thursday. If you have big kids this may be part of your everyday routine and not something you'd need listed.

You'll notice that Saturday's missing. That's because it's our family's Sabbath. We don't do laundry, we don't do chores — other than the usual throwing dishes into the dishwasher, cleaning up spills, etc., and we don't check emails or do work/school. It's beautiful and I get angry inside when that system is compromised. I highly encourage you to set a day for your family where you don't have responsibilities or checklists or anything other than time to relax, snuggle and encourage each other.

If you'd like to download the Grocery Checklist PDF:
  • click HERE for the PDF
  • click HERE for the [slightly different, but modifiable] Pages file (Mac users)
If you'd like to download the Weekly Chores list:
  • click HERE for the PDF
  • click HERE for the [slightly different, but modifiable] Pages file (Mac users)

I'll keep working to make them available as Word documents for PC users, but until then they won't be "modifiable" on your PC, and can only be printed as PDFs. Sorry for the delay!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

nap time : craft time

So, when O was a baby he had a sailboat themed nursery. We moved into this house in January [9 months ago], and I still haven't gotten around to redoing his room. We primed and painted it when we first moved in because the walls were filthy, but I'm still not sure I love the new color. The decision had to be made fast, and I chose this slightly greenish gray, and I don't hate it, but I don't think I love it either. Anyway, the point is, his room has been in an awkward transitional phase for a while now, and it's nowhere near finished, but we're slowly making progress.

His new room will have a robot theme!

My project today was changing his little sailboat pictures into something less sailboaty and more robotty.

[the sailboat pictures]

And now... meet our new robot friends!

[the new robot pictures]

I simply made them using the standard shapes [not clipart] like squares, circles, triangles, etc. in a Pages document, printed them on nice textured white paper, cut them into 5x7 sizes and popped 'em into the frames! BAM! Robots!

Of course MOST robots don't speak English... that's only for the super-fancy ones who have advanced programming. Everyone knows normal robots speak in sounds... sounds like, bleep, blorp. and bloop. It's common knowledge.

They fill the little awkward wall between his closet door and where the door to his room swings open. AND, they already making friends with these guys...

I found them at the HomeGoods store a couple weeks ago, although I'm thinking I might take them back... I'm betting I could make cute robot art on the cheap and save us some money by returning them... maybe. What do you think?

I also FINALLY took the time to raise the curtain rod in O's room. When we moved in we hung his extra tall curtains on the same rod that the former owners had hung shorter ones, resulting in a puddle of curtainage on the floor that looked absolutely tacky. Now they look nice and long and it lifts the whole room.

I don't know why it took me 9 months to spend that 30 minutes.

We still have several steps before our transition into the Big Boy Room of Robots will be complete, but we're well on our way!

Monday, September 26, 2011

what's mine is yours, and what's yours is yours

When O was just a bitty baby, we were spending time with some good friends and my eyes were opened to parenting gold. My friend's little boy didn't want to share his cozy-coupe [which, for the record, was pretty awesome and painted like a police car] with his friend. He was struggling, and seriously distressed at the thought of letting another kid, even his good friend, have complete control of something that was so precious to him. His Momma stopped him, and simply asked, "Hey Buddy, who does that car belong to?" He hesitated a bit, looked up with his killer super-sad-eyes, and said,

"It belongs to God."

His Momma said, "That's right. If it belongs to God, then why do you have it?" He blinked his ridiculously long eyelashes a couple times and softly said,

"Because He's chosen to bless me with it."

His Momma said, "That's right. And what does that mean that you can do with it?" He twisted the toe of his shoe in the dirt and said, "Bless others as God has blessed me."

His Momma said, "That's right. So what are you going to choose to do right now?" He said,

"I'm going to bless my friend by sharing,
like God has shared with me."

BAM. That kid has a more mature perspective already [at the ripe old age of 4] than most adults I know. I resolved then and there to impart the same wisdom to my kids as best as I could.

Now, I want my kids to grasp that truth because it'll make them better people, and they'll be nicer and selfless and all of those great things... but more than that, WAY more than that, I want them to grasp that truth so that as they grow up and hopefully choose to be in relationship with the Lord, they won't struggle so much with idols as most of us do.

When we grow up understanding that nothing is truly ours, we don't cling to "our" things like that kitten in that motivational [or is it?] poster who's dangling from that rope. We can give, and let go, freely.

Right now James and I are studying the book of Jeremiah with our homegroup. Over and over again, we see God saving the Israelites, creating opportunities for relationship with them, and being rejected by them and replaced with idols. Our group leader, keeps asking us, "What are your idols?" What are we clinging to, relying on, replacing God with, and upholding as more important than Him?

James and I have always understood that what's ours isn't ours. Our money, our home, even our kids. It's not always fun to think about, but when I remember God's promises, and His goodness, I'm assured that He can do much more, and much better things, with "my" things, kids, money than I can. I rest in that.


I never considered my time. It's like a newfound dimension for me in terms of what isn't mine. I've always [for the past 10 years] understood that my every breath, each day, my life in general was His and not mine... but somehow that didn't translate into my every moment. It hit me like a brick [I'm assuming here because I've never really been hit with a brick].

Time. Is. An. Idol.

God isn't limited by time. It's something that we deal with that He just doesn't. He works within time, He reaches into it, it's all His... but it's a created thing that He isn't bound by. He numbered my days before I existed [psalm 139.16 & psalm 39]. My time isn't mine. Just like our money, our things, our kids, our bodies. Every moment I have belongs to Him and, how little attention I pay to how He might want me to use it! I do what I want, consider my time to be mine, and am generally frustrated when it gets "taken" from me.

Spending three hours on the phone two weeks ago with AT&T trying to get our internet turned back on, and our account set right was frustrating. Waiting for my pitiful PC to do it's job compared to my Mac is like torture. Not getting to spend time with my husband because of his work, school, etc. feels like robbery.

The hard truth is though, I'm the robber.

Truly abiding in the Lord, being in His presence every moment, is what He asks us to do with our time. How much less frustrated would I be if I quit viewing time as mine, and instead saw it as God's? Would being put on hold be frustrating? Would waiting an hour at the doctor's office really matter? Would sitting through a red light twice make my blood pressure rise? Those moments aren't mine, but are a gift to me and a responsibility I'm entrusted to handle with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control [which means NOT cursing at my pitifully slow PC or throwing it at the wall].

Truly abiding in the Lord, sitting in, loving His presence every moment, is what He asks us to do with our time. When we do that, He guides our steps and makes our time...His time... count.

Monday, September 19, 2011

AT&T doesn't service the afterlife

Sometimes I sit down after putting my kids in their beds for nap, and I just sit. It's incredible. You people with hobbies, and out-of-the-home jobs, and regular uninterrupted bathroom breaks probably think that sounds crazy... but I sit.

Sometimes I pray. Sometimes I doze for a few. Sometimes I make lists in my head. Sometimes something monumental hits me and it hijacks my peaceful sitting. Today was one of those days.

I looked around at the pictures of my family and I was both comforted and terrified at the same time. I saw the wonderful, magazine-like, unrealistically beautiful photos of my kids and my husband and myself that are plastered all over my home thanks to Matt & Ivy Photography [who we totally lucked out in befriending before they were the best photographers ever in the whole world].

[[see? they're the best.]]

It made me grateful for what I've been blessed with, and made me regret how much I'm letting slide. I'm not talking about birthday parties, or zoo trips, or even general responsibilities. I can let that stuff slide without a second thought... which probably isn't a good thing. I'm talking about memories.

Not a day goes by that I don't miss my mom. I lost her to cancer when I was 14. Being a mom has made me miss my mom on a whole new level. I get the urge to call her. Call her. She's dead. AT&T doesn't service that area of reality. I want to show her outfits I'm working on for my kids. I want to ask her how she felt when I did the things my kids do now.

[[my mom holding a screaming me at my christening]]

The good thing is, my missing her has made me determined to be more intentional about a lot of things for my kids. The thought of losing my kids is just as terrifying for me as I'm sure it is for any mom, but I'm gonna bet the idea of having to leave my kids behind is very different for me than it is for you who didn't lose your parents until you were adults, or those who still have them [call them... now. stop reading this and tell them you love them, even if it's hard because they're crummy parents or something. ask a question you've never asked them before. ask for a new photo of them. do it now and thank me later.]. I'm afraid to leave my kids, not just because I'll miss out on their lives, but because I know how they'll miss me being in theirs. So, I'm determined to do some things that take a little extra work. Things like...

  • take pictures of myself -even when I look awful...
[[like this one taken right after the first time Eliza took a shower instead of a bath.
I'm not doing myself any favors here, but she's so excited!]]
  • be IN our home videos [that I still almost never take. and kudos to my good friend Denise at Manifest Destiny(s) for doing a great job of catching memories on film]
  • not be afraid to talk when I'm holding the video camera even though it's loud and awkward [I miss my mom's voice and have one home video where she speaks for like 3.7 seconds]
  • back up photos and videos and store them outside of the house [safety deposit box, aunt-so-in-so's house, etc.]
  • talk to my kids about what I think, believe, value, etc. so they know and don't wonder
  • say things to them over and over that they'll remember came from me
  • make things for them [we all keep our kids' flimsy mother's day presents to us, handprints, etc. but do we need them? it's less likely that those things will be around longer than them than it is that I'll be around longer than my gifts to them-- read that again if it didn't sink in]
  • write down things about them, and experiences they'll forget [not a baby book of their weight, words, etc. but more like how I felt about them at times. what I wanted for them. where their nicknames can from, even awkward things like how long I nursed each of them because they may want to know some day]
Really, I think I'm doing a pretty poor job of all of those things, but I know that even the littlest bit of them will bring loads of comfort, answers, peace, etc. in the event that I'm not an old lady who gets to be a doting Gran someday.

Have you felt that loss? Has it sparked something in you? How are you leaving yourself behind for your family?

Friday, July 1, 2011

blog fail

So, when I began this blog I set out to have fun. I wanted to motivate myself to do more of the things that I really enjoy, and to share those things in a fun way.

I was also pregnant. And sitting at home. A lot.

I sewed, took photos, crafted, and decorated... and blogged.

I haven't blogged in something like 6 months now because my life hasn't aligned with the vision I had for my blog. I haven't crafted, sewed, or decorated at all. In fact, I can't believe there are still so many things un-done in my home.

It's silly, I know, why make a blog about something you don't do,
or can't do, or don't commit to do?

I wanted my blog to be inoffensive, overly feminine, and polished... but none of those qualities are ones that I would say describe me. It was a misguided attempt, full of pride, so I let it fizzle.


I've missed the blogging world! So, before I lay it completely to rest, I'm going to give it one more shot. It may not be as polished, overtly feminine, or as lighthearted. It may be filled with random bits of our lives, the occasional craft or project, and incomplete thoughts that I'm working through... but it will hopefully be a bit more real, and much easier to maintain. So, here we go.

In the past six months:
  • we've moved, and I still can't believe we live where we do
  • my son has begun speaking in complete sentences and my daughter is well on her way toward walking
  • the Lord has convicted me of some serious pride and selfishness, and gracefully guided me into new perspectives
  • my sister got married and we partied like it was 1999
  • I've started reading a lot of "the classics" and have enjoyed them immensely
  • the Embrace ministry has grown significantly, specifically through our dear friends Bruce & Denise and their unwillingness to sit idly by while children wait for families to call their own
  • we took a ridiculously wonderful family vacation
  • ...and I've missed blogging

Monday, October 18, 2010

1 project down... 27 to go

I finally got to use my sewing machine! Woo-hooooooooo! It's incredible. I did something simple for my first project to learn the machine and embellished some cloth diapers as burp pads for my friend Lindsey. She's due with her first little one in a couple months! I wish I could credit someone specific for the idea, but I've seen them everywhere and even had a few friends do some for my babies. Anyway, here's how they turned out...

super cute flannel + coordinating super cute ribbon = cute burp pads

i played with the decorative stitches and managed to get an A on them

roll 'em up together and tie them with raffia
cute gift!

Now, to finish the 27 or so other projects on my list...