Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Thinking, Playing, Reading

THINKING about...

Chores and how much I love them.  Good for kids, good for us, good for bikes, and gardens, and closets and floors and counters...on and on.  My older kids are glad I made them do chores, so I know even with the griping I get sometime, it's worth it in the long run.  Work ethic, respect for our things, respect for our house and the work that Jeff and I do to provide them with things they are blessed to have, and gratitude for our beautiful home and life...lots of lessons in those chores.

I don't do fancy chore systems, or pay for ordinary chores.  I either write them down on a piece of paper, or tell them what to do that day.  (Special chores are big ones that require skill and/or multiple days like cleaning windows, or painting the fence.)

Two new little things the kids have enjoyed and kept busy with on "boring" days:

Jeff picked this little mini construction set up on vacation for the kids (for himself:) and it's so fun for fiddling around with. There are a few different themes-unicorn, sea turtle, and the one we have, dolphin.  Cute idea for gifts also.

Janey is really into these right now-this is my type of activity, so I might have bought these for myself too.  Once we start usually another kid joins in.


Patrick (11) and Janey (6) love this book, filled with sweet and touching stories of pets.  Good for a quick "I'm exhausted and can't think anymore" bedtime book.

I "made" Andrew, 15, read this book and he really really enjoyed it, just like I told him he would.

Patrick loves all these Mike Lupica sports books.

I am reading this now for our book club and loving it.  Excellent historical fiction-I'm learning all about Cuba through a beautiful family/love story.
The author's bio:

Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family's exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned a bachelor's degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master's degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia.

Jeff is reading this and I can't wait till he finishes.  Do you ever think about how much you didn't learn in school?  He keeps interrupting my reading time while we are laying in bed at night to tell me things, which I don't mind, but am thinking, "Why do I know so little about world history but spent so many years in school?"  Anyways, this is my "next up book".

Monday, July 15, 2019

Prime Day Deals From My Favorites

If you have Amazon Prime, Prime Day starts today and ends tomorrow.  I joined Prime a few years ago, cautiously, because I am not a "subscription" type of shopping person, but I love it, and we all use it, especially the kids who are away in expensive cities.   Here's the info about joining...you can sign up for a free 30-day trial too.

Here are some things I purchased, and some things I have linked to in the past from my favorites.  Prices are shown as they appeared at posting and they go fast.

LEGO CITY Ambulance Plane 60116

Smarty Pants Builder's Club | 110 Piece | 3D Magnetic Building Blocks | STEM Toys for Kids | Encourages Creativity & Learning | Educational Construction Set for Girls & Boys Age 3+(110 Magnetic Tiles)

I bought this for Janey's birthday in August because it has great reviews-she has wanted her "own" scooter-I bought in pink.

Lots of kid's shoes for back-to-school.  I usually buy cheapies for gym class since they only use them at school and they come home looking brand new but too small. 

A Revisit

I was reading back on some archives and found this from a post in 2015, and thought it was fitting to read post-cancer.   I read the second section and yes, I do it all, not perfect, but more than I ever did before-makes me cry reading it, because darn I didn't need to get a hammer over my head to figure it out, but when faced with the reality of cancer, even with a good prognosis, these life-changing choices become so real. 

Here are those observations I made a few years ago, these are just scribbled notes, casually written:
(you doesn't mean you the reader, it means me the writer, writing to myself)

1. Pretty much anything you read, or do, isn't going to make more difference in how your kids "turn out", than you having an optimistic, joyous outlook on life and spreading that joy and optimism to them.  Also-showing love in many ways every day.  Making sure you spend time with them and use mostly positive words-making them feel loved.

2. FAMILY-it's all about what you do here in this house.  That will be the difference in the world-"Let everyone sweep in front of his own door, and the whole world will be clean" (Goethe).  There are service lessons, all kinds of lessons, right here.  No amount of work anywhere else is going to make the difference as what happens in your own home.

3. Love your "job".  Find ways to love it more-even the stuff you don't like.  Find a way to cook that is easy and serves your family and YOU well and makes it less of a chore.  Find a laundry system that works for everyone, so you don't grow resentful.  Find joy in caring for your home and family, using the talents God has given you.  Manage well, have systems that work so you can enjoy your work, and your days.

4. Worry-it's such a waste.  Explore the worry-it's based on fear.  Worry sucks joy, it's heavy to carry, it clouds thinking.  Meet it head on.  If that means a conversation you need to have with a teen, or a spouse or anyone, have it.  It usually also means time needs to be spent in prayer.  Prayer relieves worry, centers you and builds strength.

5. It's not complicated to know what the "right" thing is.  There is so much talk, argument, debate, fear-mongering in this culture.  The truth is the deepest, purest core of nature-what is right.  The culture is crazy right now.  It's backwards. 

6.  Which means your need to be on the hunt for job, for that pure truth, and give it the attention it is due.  Concentrate on the joy, concentrate on the good.  You can switch everything around to find the good when showing the kids that it exists-using compassion and love and hope-remember the truth is obvious this way.  Dwell on the good, find it, point it out.  "Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."  

7. Be careful of where and how you spend your time.  If you surround yourself with negativity, you will feel negative.  If you surround yourself with positivity, you will find joy.

8. Enjoyment-find the things you enjoy doing and do them.  Life goes so fast-the little things that might drive you crazy now with a busy family life-one day you will look back with the fondest of memories and laugh.  Remember that!


After I read what I had written, I was thinking, what if some physician told me I had one year to live? Not to live sickly, but just to live.  One year.  Period.  How would I truly wish to spend the next 365 days?  Stressed?  No.  Worrying?  No.  Going on cruises, traveling the world, seeing this and that, experiencing everything?  No.  Not for me.  

I would spend more time praying and going to Church and reading the Bible. 

I would take care of myself so I would feel good every day-I wouldn't waste time with tasteless garbage food-I'd eat apples off the trees and strawberries off the fields like I did growing up-I would eat real food.  I would get enough sleep so I could spend every day full of energy.  I would go outside every day and listen to the birds in the morning in spring, and the crickets and cicadas at night in the summer and take long walks on the crunchy leaves in fall and watch the sunsets in the winter down by the river.

I wouldn't waste time on the negative-stupid politics, stupid gossip, stupid complaining, the internet and almost all media in general.  The news, blah!  I wouldn't want one bit of it.  It's not reality, it's not the present, it's not what life is made of, it's what drains life's energy, drains the soul.

I would spend more time with my parents, because they are truly the most admirable people, and hold a wealth of knowledge about life that I need and want to know.

I would want to spend every day with my husband and children.  Staring into their faces and soaking them up and truly truly just enjoying my life here at home.  

Having as many of those little moments, when I stopped living logistically, and just talked with my teenage daughter about life, listened to my older boys funny stories, or thoughts about this or that, listening listening listening, and played ball or games, or in the snow, or outside with my little boys, and kissed the face off the "baby".

What is stopping me from doing this NOW?  Nothing.  NOTHING.  There is no excuse!  I have a husband who works hard to provide for our family, my days, my hours, my minutes, are mine, I am doing what I love, there is NO job on earth I would ever love as much as the job as mother, so...
...what gets in the way of how I'd really like to live my life?

It reminds me of this Bible verse, I am NO expert in the Bible, or Catholicism, or Christianity, or anything (well, maybe babies) but this verse just strikes a chord with me:

"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also

The lamp of the body is the eye; if, therefore, thine eye be healthy, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. 

If, therefore, the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and money."

Do I take the time to center myself every day and remind myself of all that is joyful?  Do I let myself fall into negativity too often?  Do I take care of my body, where my soul is housed, so I feel good, mentally, physically and emotionally, every day and can therefore enjoy my days?  Do I get distracted by "earthly treasures"-what are my preoccupations that take me away from being present every day?

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

A Few Summer Self-Care Favorites

Some of my favorite summer finds that I use constantly and LOVE:

I love this so much-it smells like old-fashioned tanning oil, the kind that isn't made anymore, rightly so.  It makes me in a good mood every morning.  Summer in a bottle!

I've mentioned this before but this sunscreen lotion does not go on greasy and does not cause my sensitive skin to break out AND it actually works!

I love flip flops-most especially the cheap kind but my legs have been aching and I figured out I just can't get away with 10 dollar flip flops anymore.  Everyone raves about Birkenstocks but for me it was sort of like Uggs-not so attractive.  But once I bought them, also like Uggs-now I get it.  It has made a big difference in my aches and pains.

Colossal Foot Rasp Foot File And Callus Remover, Best Foot Care Pedicure Metal Surface Tool To Remove Hard Skin, Can Be Used On Both Wet And Dry Feet, Surgical Grade Stainless Steel File
This pedicure foot scraper really works, doesn't hurt.  

Never thought I'd have to buy curly hair products but I guess it's not uncommon after chemo to have hair grow back curly-one little perk after months of hell, I'll take it!  This really works to take a little wave or curl and turn it into something more-spray on wet hair and fluff and that's my morning routine.  And it's so inexpensive.

I have Abbey hooked on this also-it's the best moisturizer for really dry skin.  I use this on my face sometimes also.  It has great reviews.

 I use it before I go to bed and both these scents are absolutely delicious smelling.  

Monday, July 8, 2019

Encouragement For The Week

You will never have this day with your children again.

Tomorrow they will be a little older than they were today.


Just breathe, notice their faces, and little feet.


It will be over before you know it.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Thinking, Playing, Reading

Stress Triggers: How Stress Affects Your Body
I have been here-all of it, almost every symptom,  Moms of many, pay attention!!! Moms of teens and little ones, for sure, pay attention.  
The biggest changes I made or was forced to make:
1. Saying no to my children.  Even about little things, that made my day, especially my summer, too crazy.  Or to anyone-it's so easy to say yes in the moment, and hard to say no.  Because I COULD do it, but not without a fast pace all day, and fast pace=stress.
2. Relaxing about everything-the way my house looks inside and out, etc.  It is really a mind set.  There are only so many hours in every day.  Make a list of priorities.  Keep cutting until you get to where you can breathe normally, and not feel stressed inside.  For everyone that is different and it is not a contest, it's about self-awareness, even if it means you can only meet the top three priorities-God, self, family.
3. Planning every week how I could take care of myself better-little fun things that made me feel good about myself.
4. Delegating more work to outside sources, or children, or my husband.  I was doing it all myself mostly, and I just couldn't bare the load - or I could, but not without a cost to my well-being.
5. Eating healthy.   This is probably the biggest thing.  I can tell immediately if I get off track and I feel more sensitive to this than ever, since I went through chemo.
6. Sleeping enough, but I will also say that wasn't really a choice, just my body, and earlier in my life, my children. 

I bought this magnetic white board and we love it.  My intention was to do a quote a week but I also find myself using it for weekend plans so everyone is aware of what is going on here.  Janey keeps switching it to the dishwasher to use it for fun.

Kendamas-Isaac is an expert on these things, but he has brothers and cousins all trying to keep up.  

Magnetic chess set-this set gets moved around the house a lot, and with all the rain we've had, it is getting used a lot.

Janey was dying for one of these "flippy" shirts which are all the rage and begged for one-I found this one on Amazon that is so cute and she was thrilled at her surprise gift.

These are THE BEST reading lights.  Rechargeable (no more batteries!!!) and it only takes a few minutes too.  We all have them and I've given them as gifts.


I am reading this book right now and it is hilarious but touching also. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Melancholic Sentamentality Syndrome

I know I'm not the only mom of grown children who suffers from this syndrome I just made up.

It can hit at different times of the year.  Usually brought on by a change in seasons or change in circumstances, such as children leaving, summer beginning, school starting, weddings, new babies born to anyone, birthdays, graduations, etc.  Oh, and looking at scrapbooks, old photos, or God forbid home videos.

Deep yearning for the past-just one day of having them all babies again.

Doubt over wondering if I spent that time appreciating or fully soaking up the stage of life of having littles ones with very few outside obligations- being able to cultivate that "bubble".   Did I spend too much time thinking it would get easier one day instead of harder in different ways? 

A fear of starting to really feel the loss and sadness and knowing that if you start crying and really processing it all, you'll never stop the grief and tears, so better to just take a deep breath and live in the present.

Crazy lady desires like holding babies in grocery stores that aren't yours, dreaming of baskets of babies left on your doorstep, or wanting to pick up and squeeze every chubby little toddler that walks by.  "That" lady who wants to tell the mom of young ones to just slow down and appreciate the days at home, and not make the days rush by filled with activities.

Remember that we all learn by doing, in the moment, day by day, and we'd all do things differently throughout our life looking back.

Deeply deeply appreciate the choices we made to have me stay home and be HERE every day, through it all.  Deep gratitude.

Acknowledge that it always is easy to see the cuteness, and not the sleepless nights and inner tension of being at the beck and call of needy little guys all the time.

And most important-one day I will be saying the same thing about THESE days right now.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Get To Heaven and Take Others With You

A tribute to all the work my friend Kate Kelly did for Heartbeat.  She truly was a Saint and didn't just talk the talk but worked every day tirelessly to be holy.  Miss her, as does everyone who knew her.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Encouragement For The Week

If the grass looks greener on the other side...
stop staring.
Stop comparing.
Stop complaining.
Start watering the grass you are standing on.