Thursday, November 15, 2018

Thinking, Playing, Reading

Remember my all-before-Advent idea for shopping?  It's not going to happen.  I decided to just take a not-going-to-be-stressed super simple gift giving that I can get all finished on line or locally sometime in December approach.

Snow!  Not enough to play in but I love snow and cold and winter.  :) . I'm actually doing terrific with my new attitude, and my sun lamp, and major doses of Vitamin D and my hygge lessons (Isaac is dating a girl from Denmark who we love and so I have first hand lessons in hygge.  Good thing because the sun has shone about twice here in November.  But it's ok!!!)

I told the kids I am declaring a TV crack down.  I am making a list of things to do (only basketball and Survivor and Poldark :) are allowed.)

Build a giant Lego village in the basement over the entire winter using our bajillion dollars worth of Legos. (Most of our Legos are from the Lego City collection.)

A puzzle will always be in the works on the dining room table.

Games!  (All of our favorite games here.)

Basketball goals per day for Patrick.  (Best indoor basketball hoop ever.)

Coloring and crafts for Janey.  (She can be pretty occupied also playing store and school.)  All her favorites are here.

Andrew is teaching Patrick and Janey to do the rainbow loom-something he was obsessed with years ago that has been waiting to be loved again.

We joined the Y and the zoo so we can get out on weekends and be active.  (We went to the zoo last Friday with snow and were the only ones there in the morning and all the animals were out and loved seeing us-it was a blast!)


I chose this book for my Advent reflection book-I checked out about 5 from the library and new this was just what I wanted this year.  For each day there is a Scripture, a prayer and an Advent action.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

What I Know Now-Holiday Edition

"Not a creature was stirring ... Not even a mouse." Remember the night and the moon and my brother whispering so we didn't wake the younger ones, There is no Santa Claus, I kept getting out of the bed and looking out the window :(

I've been thinking with all the holidays coming up I'd share a few thoughts about how to really enjoy them as a mom.  Remember I can do this, because I've learned through trial and error and messing up, and wanting do-over!  And I still am learning because families change and grow and adapt and that means we have to also.  But looking back at the younger years what would I change?  What have I learned?

1. I wouldn't overbook so that when the actual holiday comes around I and my children and husband are all tapped out. Our culture does a crazy job of encouraging this burnout.   Choose very very carefully what is worth participating in, and remember that for sure less is more.  Sometimes this means saying no to every "extra" but the actual day, depending on the ages of our children.  Sometimes this means being really really strong and very purposeful about what experience we want our children to have and what memories we want to give them surrounding a holiday.  Some years it's OK to just go trick-or-treating, or just make Christmas cookies and light an Advent wreath and decorate a tree and wake up on Christmas morning really deeply able to enjoy the day.  (Read Little House in the Big Woods or Anne of Green Gables or talk to grandparents for reminders of how our culture has changed!)

2. I would have had a plan with the future in mind when it comes to gifts.  What looked easy, affordable and non-consequential with a little one or two, will usually not last through more additions to the family and as children age.  It's easier to start really really small and simple and with a system in mind. (Something to wear, read, play with of those systems.)  Err on the side of less is more.

Also remember, if my happiness that day depends on everyone getting what they want and gasping in delight at every gift, even the socks and underwear, well, I will never be happy.  There will be years (thinking early teen) when kids are going through maybe a little friend envy and have to work through it, or are annoyed they have to get up at open gifts at 7 a.m. with everyone else (thinking late teen, early college), or just someone will have a bee in their bonnet, or say something thoughtless and we don't know what's up.  Just know kids grow and change, and talk about it later and eat some hot-cross Christmas buns and be grateful for all the growing pains and good times and bad.

3.  I would get that vision of perfection out of my head that we all see everywhere.  There is nothing at all wrong-it's so fun!-making our homes and our tables and our gifts look pretty-I love that part.  But many years, the top half of the tree is decorated because of toddlers and my nice plan for matching gift wrap goes all astray.  This goes for those perfect cards also-there are a few cards I look at that make me sad because I remember getting really mad at someone not cooperating, or the tears involved from the stress and or frustration and it just ruins the memory then-don't do that!  (Just a note-sometimes those memories make me laugh too.)

4. From the start, I would pick a few good traditions and stick with them.  The kids don't care how fancy or complicated or special it is-they want what is familiar to them, even if it is so simple and doesn't require a lot of hoopla. 

5. I would always remember that some holidays are just going to disasters or really really not as planned-everyone will have the flu, or you will be due with your fifth baby on Christmas Eve, or getting chemo the day before Thanksgiving and home sick.  Just expect that life will throw a wrench into plans (I say this about vacation also-I believe it's about every 1 in 5 will just be a little bit of a bomb).

And most of all-remember the years really do fly and appreciate the awesomeness of seeing it all again through a child's point of view.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Thinking, Playing, Reading

About how sad it is when older kids leave for college.  I never really realized the deep sense of loss and even mourning that follows that departure, and maybe with the first two it was just busy for me to notice (or I probably ate chocolate to stuff it all?).  It really is a grief process.  When I talk to my friends who are experiencing the same, it is also a time of deep reflection and a little too much of that reflection probably.  Did we do enough?  Do they know how much we love them?  What should/could/would we have done differently?  Were we too tough or not tough enough during the high school years?  And mostly...
WHERE THE HECK DID ALL THOSE YEARS GO and WHY DOES TIME FLY?  I look at their baby pictures as I walk down my stairway every day and my heart aches for those days when we were all together in this house and worries were small.
I think maybe it is even weirder for me because I still have little ones here and the truth is-you just do it every day and you don't really think about the time.  And you never ever will get it all right and never ever do it perfectly and never ever appreciate every minute because that's all so impossible.  You just do what is best and what your life can allow to happen at the time.

We always have a puzzle going in winter, and the kids latch onto a game that the whole family gets into.  Here are some of our favorites.  This year it has been Monopoly-just the old-fashioned one.  It has really helped the younger kids understand money and finances too-yuck! :)
The rest of our favorite games are here.
I love Melissa and Doug floor puzzles (Maybe because the pieces are big and I can lay on the floor while we work on them?)  I ordered this one and have several already.

Just read this book.  I have so much to say about it but maybe not in this post.  I could never do what he did-well I wouldn't have wanted to-reject chemo and just do all natural (I am not judging anyone's decision to do this, I strongly believe when it comes to cancer, we get to choose).  The second half of the book is wonderful-tons of supplements and more of a world-view of how cancer is treated but done very very practically.  
I hate cancer, regardless.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Encouragement For The Week

Please know that if you are home full-time with your children, you will never regret not missing the days.  I know some days are overwhelming and difficult and you never seem to be able to catch up.  I know there our days when you might be wondering if it is worth the self-sacrifice and all other kinds of sacrifices too. 

From someone who has been there, I can tell you it IS worth it.  If you made the choice (sometimes having to trust that the monetary sacrifice will work out in the end) feel good about not missing these days-not giving them to someone else, who could never appreciate them as much as you will.

Bask in it all-the sweet, and the not-so-sweet and yes, even the the dirty diapers.  Know that you are doing exactly what God wants you to do, and it will pay off, if only in knowing you gave your most precious treasure the bulk of your days.  It is NOT easy, but it is so so fulfilling, and I wouldn't trade those days of little ones home for the world. 

Your children want YOU.  They want your time and they want their home and they want attention and love and consistency and cuddles and they need to be taught discipline from someone who wants the best for them and cares deeply about their future.  We have come so far sometimes in the opposite direction, in knowing our worth as mothers.   It's not always about us, and what we want, and our goals, and our happiness.  We can find happiness in the deep gratitude of knowing we are caring daily for treasures we would trade our lives for-happiness is not found out there, it's found inside, if we are attentive in counting our blessings.

19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

Friday, November 2, 2018

Thinking, Playing, Reading

November is the month to put the practice of gratitude to work.

I have learned so much about the difference that pure, true gratitude can make in my life these past couple of years.  It is easy to say "I am so thankful for this or that" when everything seems to be going ok.  But what if life sucks?  Really-there are times in everyone's life where it seems like everyone else seems has it easy but us and our nice plan of how life is supposed to look (and wouldn't we ALL choose rainbows and butterflies?) blows up in our faces and the "why me's?" set in. 

I listened to a podcast where someone gave the example of two very different experiences-on one side was a person who seemed to have it easy-a great childhood, so much learning and opportunity and a chance to experience this and that, and another side-someone with hard things that happened and tough circumstances with family members and painful experiences, and then asked the audience, "Which life would you choose?"  The kicker was both of those stories came from the same person-it was the way they chose to look at their life that made all the difference-it was the way they chose EVERYDAY to think about life.  I visualize it as the choice between taking two paths-one is bitterness and discontent and always a yearning for something easier and more and better than what we have, and the other path is Jesus holding our hand, walking along with us and helping us see the good in every circumstance and all our blessings.

Remember there is always a person who would jump into our spot in life in a heartbeat, even with its tough crosses.  There is always someone who has it worse off right now and would change places with us if they could. 

This is one of those years when I really feel the need to soak up Advent as much as I can.  (If anyone has a great Advent devotional to suggest, I am looking for one!)

I have been doing some online shopping with the plan of being all finished with the errands and hustle and bustle before Advent sets in.

Here are some lovely gift ideas I've purchased along the "something to wear, play with and read" line of gift-giving:

I just couldn't resist this outfit-loving this line of clothing for little girls!

Girls's Dress
Girl's Leggings

A cute princess dress up dress with an the all-the-rage unicorn applique.

40% off this ATV City Lego set!

A pretty and inexpensive Iphone case.

A "keep it simple" make up organizer.

Cutest little kitty coffee cup. (They have a bunch of other animal choices.)


Just finished this EXCELLENT book for our book club.  It's a fast, easy read with a little mystery involved.  Just a really good coming-of-age story about a girl who raises herself as an outcast in the marshland of North Carolina. 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Encouragement For The Week

Childhood is the world of miracle or of magic.
It is as if creation rose luminously out of the night,
all new and fresh and astonishing.
Childhood is over the moment
things are no longer astonishing.
Eugene Ionesc

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Thinking, Playing, Reading

(Gorgeous sunset on the river - wish I never missed one.)
Of how excited Jeff and I are to have almost all my kids home this weekend.  Matt won't make it home from college (Halloween weekend at campus is not to be missed this first year) but having almost all of them home has to be close enough for me.  I have a list of recipes to bake and cook which makes me so happy.  (I'll post those all next week.)

I'll have to wait until Thanksgiving to get them all back.  I now know what my mom meant when she said, "I just want you all here under my roof."  It's really a deep settling feeling, even with the extra work and chaos, that our hearts all crave as parents, even subconsciously I think.

You have all helped me so much with my winter/sleep issues.  I had a good time shopping for all the things I need, and have already tried several and they really really work.  I went all out because I know I need to.

1. Epsom salts at night have really made a difference-the magnesium helps, and the lavender scent.
2. Lavender essential oil-I learned this during yoga class, at the end, when our instructor gives us a cloth that smells like lavender to put over our eyes and I almost fall asleep.  I really want to lay there for the rest of the day but that is probably not allowed.
3. Citrus essential oils and diffuser for the daytime.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this.  It smells like summer and like 'clean' at the same time.
4. A super warm hood so I can walk outside and get some exercise.
5. Vitamin D.

I found a cozy blanket at TJ Maxx and some running gloves at Costco (they aren't warm enough though-I think I need mittens?).  I am still working on finding some good magnesium supplements.

I also found the CUTEST winter clothes on Amazon of all places, for Janey (after giving up on Gymboree :(.)  I wish I would have spent more time online shopping (I feel like I am always way behind on the trends-Costco, grocery pick up, etc...I always end up saying "This is genius!")

It's Boden knockoff but the quality is good enough for the price.  We had so much fun choosing them together. 

Janey is beginning to read on her own and she is SO proud of herself and it's just so exciting.  I love that little "click" when they get it.  And it's happened at all different ages for all of my kids (and had no bearing on how well they did learning in the future!!!).  It's just such a wonderful thing to witness.

Bob Books (our's are so well-worn)

Patrick is reading all these books at once (which drives me crazy, but one is for school and one for home and one he and Jeff are reading together-Resistance is about WWII, so pretty heavy material.)
He LOVES this one.

Math, stats, and reading all in one and no complaints! :)

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Encouragement For The Week

I long to accomplish a great and noble task; 
but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
Helen Keller

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Thinking, Playing, Reading

It's already too cold.  I need to go up to the attic today and hunt for the winter things I pitched up there with anger and spite at the end of last winter.  I am vowing here in public to not say ONE thing about the cold weather, and how it hurts all the parts of my body (it really does!), about the lack of sunlight and dark clouds and gray sticks in the sky (I'm getting it all out now) until April 1 when it's all over (or at least there is hope in the wormy smelling air).  It is particularly scary for me this year, because of the hell of last winter and the memories that are triggered by it.

If you have the same feelings about seasons other than summer, can you please tell me what makes you happy and feeling good and energized and positive in the winter vs. depressed and gray in pallor, and full of cabin fever and dried up like a frog without water?  How do you combat cabin fever besides moving to Florida for three months, which I plan to do as soon as I am able?

Thank you.  And thank you for all your sleep advice.  I put a LOT of things in my Amazon cart and will ponder them all-I can see myself sleeping smeared with magnesium oil, reeking of lavender, with a sleep mask, under a weighted blanket in a completely blacked out room all winter long and am looking forward to it.

I've had a few little guys over to my house lately and they have all loved playing with this track.  It's so much easier to clean up then the tracks with all the little pieces that fit together.


Our favorite Halloween stories:

This is a new one we received last year and I love it-the message is so neat, about appreciation and gratitude and how that makes life purposeful.

Perfectly hilarious because we have CRAZY squirrels this time of year, I swear they talk, fight, and work together-and sometimes meet their death in their daring desperate ways.

Our copy is so worn, I just love this tough little old lady.

My kids have always thought this was funny-teachers who give homework on Halloween, imagine!

A story of friends working together.

Image result for humbug witch
Janey carries this book around so I couldn't find our copy to take a pic but Humbug Witch is one of those vintage classic cute Halloween stories, of a little girl trying to be a witch but not succeeding.

And of course, (which is out of print but so worth hunting down):