Monday, January 1, 2018

New Years Resolution 2018


     I was once a highly goal oriented person who would make lengthy New Year's Resolutions. I would look upon the upcoming year as 365 days of opportunity for growth in one way or another. There was an excitement in it all, regardless if every goal was actually accomplished. I had an idea and a plan to move forward and go places.

    In recent years, that enthusiasm has been waning. In a sense, I've come to see that all that glimmers in goal-setting isn't necessarily gold. Goals can be a help, but they can also be a hindrance.

     Despite our society's messages that push hard for goals and striving, setting aside goals can actually be beneficial. It's in becoming less goal-oriented that I've experienced greater personal growth, in fact. 

     As we have added children to our family (...every year and a half! haha), I've seen the need to let go. This past year of having three children three years old and under has pushed me and sharpened my sense of what truly needs my attention and what needs to be placed aside for the time being. So many things I once considered necessary or even acceptable to include in life has come to have the burdening feeling of clutter. Clutter isn't just material excess, but also mental. I come to desire to free myself of various types of clutter so that can fully enjoy this life and these years with my children. 

     This desire has produced a pursuit of simplicity. Letting go. Cease in striving. Just being and breathing it all in as it is. Seizing the moments as they come. 

     In considering homemakers of yesteryear, I have a difficult time imaging them being so concerned with striving in so many ways. It seems to me that they simply did what needed to be done in a day and just lived life. They certainly had their burdens in their day, but the ceaseless striving towards goals and intentionally living weren't part of them. These are burdens we've added to ourselves, have we not? 

     And so, this year there is no New Year's Resolution. There is just a desire to live simply. 

*Note: Please understand that I'm not at all being critical of anyone who makes New Year's Resolutions! I'm simply sharing an aspect of my story. :)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

November 2017 In Our Home

  It's now the middle of December and I'm just now writing the "November In Our Home" post. Oh well. At least I'm still getting it done!

We've got remedies for sinus issues,
stomach issues, fever issues,
and tissues. Phew, it was a time!
    November began much like October had been with lots of sickness still. I believe we ended up with about six weeks of the norovirus (stomach bug) followed by colds. We just couldn't seem to get rid of the viruses! Having all little ones whose mouths and hands go everywhere is what made it so challenging, despite my best efforts to clean everything. By the end I felt I was on my way to losing my mind, and desperate for everything to be absolutely sterile to get to the end of the viruses. I cleaned plastic toys in the washing machine with bleach. Wood toys were wiped with Chlorox wipes. Bedding changed, and then changed again. Floors scrubbed. We even shampooed the couch and dining chairs. If it could be cleaned I attempted to clean it. We, of course, stayed home for much of that time. Phew, I really hope to not experience all of us sick for so long for a long, long time! 

     Eventually the sicknesses did pass, and just in time too because David's parents made their annual pre-Thanksgiving visit. (They come the weekend before Thanksgiving each year). This was actually our best visit with them yet! For the first time, the children have become familiar enough with them to now feel comfortable around them. It was probably the first time that I relaxed a bit more as well. I'm typically super high-strung and feel like I still need to aim to impress. This time, around, I just had to acknowledge to myself that with three little ones now that I can't be a perfect homemaker, host, etc. The house was just going to have to be "lived in" while there were here because that's reality. To my surprise, his Mama blessed my socks off while they were here and did all the dishes for me after every meal. It was so nice. haha. While they were here they brought Christmas gifts for the children. I've joked that they got themselves put on Santa's Naughty List for Annelise's gift- a doll that cries incessantly. haha (Yeah, those batteries got removed pretty fast!).

    One matter of preparation for their visit that I did do was assemble the last two dining chair and recover all the seats. This was a project I started back at the beginning of the year. However, now was the time to get it done as we didn't have enough chairs for our family plus visitors. (We've had the chairs, but they've been in boxes in the garage all this time). The seats of the chairs are originally cloth, which hasn't worked well for our family of young children. I wanted something I could simply wipe clean, so I purchased some black vinyl. I ran into a snag in simply stapling the material onto the chairs as the wood was very hard and just bent the staples. So I resorted to attaching the material with teeny tiny nails. It took me about an hour to do each chair. After over a week of daily work, I finally finished recovering all eight chairs! (The last four evidence my improvement in attaching the material smoothly. haha). I actually really like the look, and even think they look better than the brown material that was on them before! I'm so glad to have that project finished. I can now check that item off my dining room decor list as well.        

First Thanksgiving!

Then, there was Thanksgiving. Last year I was on top of everything. I had a plan for what would be made when and even had some things like the pie made in advance. This year... not so much. I just couldn't seem to get my head wrap around everything that was going on at the time. It all worked out well, and we enjoyed a delicious Thanksgiving meals as a family. I had hoped we might be able to one day use the fact that we don't have extended family on Thanksgiving as an opportunity to reach out to others who may be in a similar position. However, we struggled with actually knowing who that might be. Plugging in and/or connecting here as been really tough. Even if it didn't happen this year, it can still be my prayer for next year!

     On a similar note, I had anticipated us celebrating the season of thankfulness. However, those activities never came to fruition. I want myself and my children to grasp the meaningfulness of the Thanskgiving season, but perhaps we simply need to wait until a later time. I know many people are able to incorporate such traditions, but for me this year it quickly became overwhelming. Sometimes (uh hem..many times) trying to add something extra or orchestrate an activity with three children three years old and under can become so stressful. Honestly, I do pretty good to keep up with everyone's needs in a day and keep the house relatively tidy. So, thanksgiving activities didn't happen this year. But, that's okay. We can try again next year. 

    My personal interests like reading and Bible study were rather lacking this past month. I really miss these! Psalm 42:1 says, "As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God." That's precisely the sentiment of my heart presently. Prayerfully, I'll find opportunities to read and study again soon. 

       As hectic or straining as November was, December is looking like it will be even more so. Buckle up, a wild ride awaits.

In the meantime, a few fun photos of the children. These were taken earlier in the month. We attempted one final corn crop, but it didn't get far. So, we allowed the children to play in the "jungles" and then enjoy finally getting to pull the plants up! 
3 years old

2 years old

9 months old!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

First Day of Christmas Box

Merry Christmas!

Of course, we have a collection of Christmas books! 

  I love celebrating the seasons and holidays. The start of a new festive occasion is so exciting! My desire is to find simple, joyful ways to recognize and enjoy the time. Typically, that will include the addition of a few pieces of home decor, special foods, activities, books etc. I hope these little efforts impress on the minds and hearts of the children the delight of our family culture.

     The day after Thanksgiving officially begins the Christmas season. While some may find this day to be an ideal opportunity to decorate their home or shop the Black Friday sales, I prefer to keep things a bit more simple. Our first day of Christmas begins with our "First Day of Christmas Box."

      When the children wake, they will find a festive box awaiting them on a table. Within the box are new activities for us to enjoy throughout the day. Each piece is chosen with the intention of building togetherness and sharing the moment. This year's box includes:

  • [new book]: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
    • You know we have to have a new book! ;)
  • [new video]: A Very Merry Pooh Year
  • [treat]: hot cocoa with holiday shape marshmellows
    • I rarely buy such things, and so I know the children will love it 
  • [activity]: homemade red, green, and white play dough with play dough mats
  • [family coloring book]:
    • We will color many, many Christmas coloring pages. (I love coloring as an activity for and with the children!). By the end of the season, I'll choose one picture created by each child and add it to our "Family Coloring Book." This "book" is simply a laminated coloring page cover with pages tied behind it. It's simple, yet meaningful. I thoroughly enjoy pulling out this "book" each year and seeing the previous years' work. 
  • [family cook book]:
    • This is a new "book" for us. Again, I made it simply by coloring a page and laminating it to serve as a cover. The idea is for us to use it as a memory cookbook. Each year I intend for us to all make a recipe together. While we're making it I'll take photos to include on the final page. That final page will include the recipe, photos, and a bit of journaling noting what was special about the recipe (someone's favorite, taken to someone ect.), something the children said or did while making it, or whatever else might be lovely to read in years to come. This will be a "book" that I will certainly cherish each Christmas. When the children are grown and establishing their own Christmas traditions, then perhaps make each of them a copy to include in their celebration. 

     While each year the contents may change, many of the elements are repetitive and build from one year to the next. I believe that is the key to keeping Christmas simple- allow things to grow. Don't feel like you need to have a whole bunch of activities all at once. Fewer, repetitive activities will be more likely to leave an impression. (A stressed out, overly busy Mama will not create the positive impression of family life or Christmas as would be desired. Been there, done that). A few of our activities from previous years that we will be able to enjoy this year include:

  • Christmas movement cards- This activity is fun to get all those little guy/girl wiggles out!
  • Christmas I Spy- (Recommendation for very young children- laminate the sheet and then have the child(ren) use a dry erase marker/crayon to mark off the items found or create a tally. I've found that it can be difficult for very young children to keep track of which objects have been found and which have not.).
  • Christmas charades or pictionary cards: These are more for David and I. The cards make for a simple in-home holiday date night. Using a dry erase board makes for a fun game of pictionary. 
  • Christmas Chat Pack- Again, these are more for David and I. I love conversation starter cards! I feel like they are fantastic additions to a dinnertime meal. This pack is particularly fun as all the topics/questions are all related to Christmas, and spur conversations that might not otherwise take place. 
Activities from previous years, and some for David and I to enjoy. 
A few additional photos of our day:
Play dough fun! (They were so eager that they're still in pjs!)

Play dough fun! (My spirited girl in pjs and a ladybug costume! haha)
New movie and cocoa after naptime!
 They enjoyed the marshmellows much more than the cocoa! haha

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