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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Today's Gift

My mother once wrote in a note or card that she "Didn't know it then, but she was living the best days of her life."  She was referencing the days when she was at home full time with my sister and me, and then the years where we were busy in school, bringing friends home and keeping her on her toes with all the activities.  What caught me by surprised was that she "didn't know it then."

It makes me catch my breath to wonder - what if I'm living my best days right now?   I know I will look back on them fondly and think of these moments of chaos with tenderness.  Already I can think back to the baby-years and see them with much more precious perspective.  Some days I get lost in old photographs.  I notice the softness of baby skin, the piles of mess in the background, the smoother skin on my own face.  I look for clues of days gone by in the toys and the furniture at the edges of the focused subject.  I remember the slower pace of life then, even if the cycles of eat, play, sleep, clean were never ending.  The truth is, those cycles did end and new cycles have taken their place.

The very nature of life is ever-changing and forward-moving.  This school year will end and the next one will be different.  We don't notice the subtle changes from one day to another and yet they happen ,and all at once a season has changed.  The light shines from another angle.  The colors have shifted. What I loved about one season (hello - afternoon nap time was a real gem!) morphs into something new to love about a new season (hi, you can now fold your own laundry!).

When we in the middle of life, whether it is a good day or a bad one, there is just so much we can choose to embrace - right now.

  • Practice gratitude
  • Learn contentment
  • Empower responsbility
  • Release expectations
  • Engage connection
  • Experience joy

The list feels trite and cliche', I know.  Yet these habits work to bring value to each day and each season.  It's overwhelming how quickly and unnoticed we slip into a new phase and time.  There is value in capturing the gifts here and now which will become treasures in the years to come.  Don't let today's gift go unnoticed.

Friday, May 4, 2018

I'm Still Here and Living the Life

I commented to Mr. Wonderful last night that I hadn't written in quite a while.  It makes me a bit sad and yet I have to admit that I don't even know why - very few people visit this blog any longer and my real world life is going well.

I would love to have greater interaction but for now, I'll simply let you know what's new in our family.



In the first part of the year, five of our four children have a birthday.  I've really sensed the shift of seasons as they grow, mature and face new challenges.  I love who each one is becoming!  We celebrate a couple more birthdays this May.  Parenting has also sent me back to talk with a therapist this year, and I'm so glad for the objective input.


With the family-seasonal-shift, the older step daughter is graduating college!  We all a bit shell-shocked and no one yet knows what the next steps will be...but we are celebrating the amazing woman she is!  Watch out world - here she comes!


Stepmom Score! I was able to attend Mother-Daughter weekend for the younger of my step daughters.  Her mother had a prior commitment and I was thrilled step in.  Never let being asked second steal your joy or your fun!

Mr. Wonderful and I are grateful for our jobs and the income they provide.  First world living is expensive!  So, worklife consumes a huge part of our lives and it isn't always fun. We try to do our best and be thankful for jobs that provide for our family.  My job has been the most consistent part of my life for these past thirteen years - who would have thought?

My firstborn is finishing middle school.  I'm so proud of his growth through this notoriously awkward season.  It's seriously mind-spinning to witness the changes.  Our other middle schooler is still in the awkward mess, but we are confident she will emerge with grace and grit.  We still get one more year of elementary bliss with our little guy.  It's a good season of family life.


Our home is our sanctuary, with all it's quirks.  It's about to become filled, once again with returning college students and summer break activities.  What is going on in your family life?  Summer is coming, do things change for you?


Friday, April 27, 2018

The Art of a Slow Day

I've learned many things from Mr. Wonderful, but one thing I have come to value most is the art of a Slow Day.  A Slow Day looks like one without a schedule and without expectations.  There may be a few loose tasks to accomplish but there will be wide open margins in which to get those things done.

Saturday is our Slow Day.  My favorite part of the day is waking up without having to leave early. I have time to sip coffee, read, just sit and stare out the window.  I love it.  On these days I'm usually out of bed before Mr. Wonderful and I enjoy the solitude.  Sometimes, I rejoin him after coffee just to enjoy being together.

The art is to carve out blocks of time doing nothing that feels like work.  The nuance is to do the necessary work without the pressures of time constraint and schedule.

On a typical Slow Saturday, we exercise, we go out to lunch and we tackle some laundry.  Often Mr. Wonderful plays his bass guitar and I tackle some errands like making donations or grocery shopping.  The exercise often happens with a friend for each of us. There is not an agenda, just a loose idea of what we would like to accomplish.  It is common to end the afternoon with a nap.

My children return home in the early evening, but even they seem to fall into the slow of our routine.  Most often, we stay home on Saturday nights.  The downtime is essential to each of us.  As a task-oriented "doer of all the things,"  I didn't know the value of Slow Day's until I saw the example of Mr. Wonderful.

I've changed so much through my lifetime, and I am positive I will continue to change in my coming years.  Embracing slow schedules has been one thing I've come to truly value.  Some call it a sabbath, others describe downtime, I've learned to love our Slow Day. 

The art is to carve out blocks of time doing nothing that feels like work.  The nuance is to do the necessary work without the pressures of time constraint and schedule.


Thursday, March 8, 2018

Winter Work

Spring arrived early, and I have savored every birdsong and bloom.  I must remember that what I see in the winter doesn't reveal the work happening within the ground or the heart.  This season has been one of outward challenges for my little-big family.  We don't have anything resolved. There are no answers or tidy resolutions.

I feel pressure to have a solution.  I long for relief from an ongoing struggle.  I experience stress to solve matters in the lives of those I love.  Sometimes I just want to be let in, to know where someone stands.  But these desires are not destinations and the daily ministry of life reveals progress...even if it seems glacial at times.

- Consistently reaching out to one who has seems to have closed her heart.
- Diligent correction to one who is pressing against boundaries.
- Encouragement to the persons without direction and entering a new stage.
- Commitment to a goal that often feels impossible.


Meals. Laundry. Encouragement. Routine. Often these are the points that provide the structure for growth.  They aren't glamorous and don't earn any recognition or reward.  But showing up, supporting, training and working are efforts that aren't wasted.

When we have day after day in a row with cold air and dark skies, and the warmth of spring may feel far away.  Don't forget that the darkness is necessary for growth.  Wonderful things are happening even when they are completely unseen.  I miss something when I want to skip these days and rush into the brightness of spring.  I miss the lessons done in darkness.  I overlook the value of the mundane.  I forget the return on seemingly small investments.

I miss so much when I don't let winter do her work.  The season where so much seems dead is often the very time when I am being prepared for a new season of beauty and life.  I can't wait!


Friday, February 2, 2018

What's Saving My Life Right Now

I'm so grateful for my life and the people who make it full (and-oh-so-busy).  But, life certainly isn't all roses and sunshine for me or for anyone!  There are several things that are really saving my life right now and making things just a bit easier - just enough to really appreciate them!  Here's my list:

The Clicklist at Kroger has truly changed my life!  It sounds dramatic, but the change has been truly dramatic.  I'm saving money on our groceries with better planning and saving time every week.  My family has learned to let me know what they need and I can immediately add it to the list, compile the list each week and then just swing by to pick up.  I seriously think this is a huge step forward in home management...well done!

Strive for sunlight, whenever I can.  Every single year I am depleted by winter's darkness.  So, like before, I'm making the effort to be outdoors for a little while whenever the sun in out in full force.

Don't sweat it.  Okay, so in other winters I've continued exercising straight through the season.  This year, I've been giving myself a break.  Seriously, I'm demanding less of my body and letting it rest.  I'm still walking/jogging several times a week but when the weather doesn't permit, I'm being more gentle on myself and not forcing a workout indoors.  The mental drain of being okay without cardio is so refreshing.

The 10-Minute Rule.  Defined as the first ten-minutes that I return home from work, any question will be answered with, "No."  This rule was in full-effect for many years, but I've gotten slack as the children have gotten older.  I've started it back up, and the relief is genuine.  Basically, it teaches the kiddos to wait a few minutes prior to bombarding me with questions.  This allows me to transition from office-mode, to mom-mode and truly consider their needs.  It's a game-changer.

Drink that water.  Nothing new here, staying hydrated keeps me feeling fuller and looking fresher.  I like to sip from a coffee cup when I'm at my desk, or a water bottle for when I'm running around living the mom-life.  Our favorites are Contigo brand.


As women, we know all kinds of life-savers that make it easier to function and enjoy our days.  I'd love to hear what's saving your life now in the comments.  I hope you have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January


January didn't disappoint in the winter weather department, though there were some mild days scattered in between.  I'm so glad to have made it to the mountains at least once. 


During one of the days (which turned into several days) that we were home due to poor road conditions, Faith and I painted her room - then completely updated the look.  It feels so like "her."


It's basketball season, so we root for the little guy every Saturday.  His team has worked hard and improved bunches but I really like seeing their bonds grow from practicing each week.


Faith turned twelve, and I got to spend quite a bit of time with her middle school friends.  
It was a blast!


The cold temps have created lots of cozy, snuggle time.  Our smallest pet has taken full advantage.


What have you been up to this January?

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Give Your Future A Chance

Sometimes I feel stuck, and blah and just unmotivated.  January is often one of those time - the holiday aftermath, cleanup and indulgences leave my budget and my body feeling depleted. Often I feel disappointed, looking at goals I made at my last birthday and seeing that they will not be accomplished by the time my age ticks up another year in February.  I look at the lovely blank calendar, then feel sucker-punched by they days I don't get to spend with my children.  It's easy to turn inward and melancholy, and often I do just that.

By doing so, I am acting defeated before the game even begins!  I have enough faith to know that I can't see the whole picture and that there are things I cannot see or control that are waiting to come forward at just the right time.  I have experienced this many times in my life.  In fact, the longer I live, the more history I have of God pulling a trump card when the outlook seems most dire.
(image source unknown)
If you find yourself feeling this way today (or any ole' day), I encourage you to give your future a chance.  Don't write off your hopes or dreams, or even just daily joy because things are working out or feeling perfect today.  I started this blog because life was so far from perfect that I needed to learn how to be alright with that.  It's not something you learn once, but keep learning throughout a lifetime.  There may be a season where it feels like everything is clicking into place, but that is rare and certain to be interrupted. 

Seek contentment and gratitude.  Count your blessings and embrace the real-ness of living each day.  I'm doing it!