Tuesday, January 31, 2012

february gameplan

today i cheated a little.  i made a run to great harvest bread company to buy one of my favorite things...a pricey loaf of bread that i didn't want to show up on our budget next month...
mmmm...dakota bread.  yes - i know you can get a loaf of bread at the grocery store for under 2 bucks but this thing is worth every bit of the 5 dollars i spent on it.  it's so healthy and yummy and fresh...

if you read my last post you know that my family is trying out a little experiment during the month of february.  we are curious {actually i am curious and the rest of my family is pretty much along for the ride} if changing some of our habits will change our hearts.

before i tell you our gameplan i must tell you one important thing.  

we have a budget.  

we love a budget.  a budget has changed our marriage, our attitude toward spending, our ability to be generous...i could go on and on.  if you don't have some type of family budget i HIGHLY recommend it.  we once lived life without a budget...things are much better now.  {this site may give you some helpful tools}

so...having said that...our little experiment isn't so much about changing our spending as it is about changing our attitudes and perspective, and modifying the way we spend our time and energy.  i'll try to expand on that later in the month.

for now - here's what we've decided to do for the next 29 days.  it's sorta being done in the spirit of fasting and we've stuck with the '7' idea for most of the rules...

:: each family member will give away 7 items per week {that's 1 per day for a total of 116 items over the course of the month...i'm not a math person so you might want to double check that number}  this is the one that got joey on board...getting rid of STUFF!  we've already started talking it up with the kids and this morning when they were in the playroom lucy looked around at the embarrassing number of toys surrounding her and said - 
'we really need to start giving some of this stuff away!'  amen, sister.  let's start tomorrow!

:: each family member will wear 1 of 7 preselected outfits for the duration of the month. {we are cheating a bit on this and picking out 7 warmer weather outfits and 7 colder weather outfits...we've been experiencing 65 degree days around here lately so it's hard to know what to expect}  joey is somewhat exempt from this because he has certain things that he must wear at golf tournaments but he's trying to stick to it outside of work.  i am thrilled that i won't waste several minutes a day staring at a bazillion articles of clothing in my closet.  oliver will never know the difference since i pick out his clothes every day anyway.  lucy is cool with it but this was her response when i first told her...
'ok mommy...this is one of my 7.'  
she's a princess...but a low-maintenance one.

:: we will eat only 7 different dinners over the course of the month {that's 7 dinners repeated throughout the month}  i don't think anyone else in my family cares about this one but me.  i am thrilled with the simplicity that goes along with it.  i am curious if it will save us money...i know it will save me time.  i also hope it will remind us how spoiled we are to eat something new and different and delicious all of the time.  one of our 7 meals will be rice and beans.  millions of people around the world live on an almost exclusive diet of rice and beans so i think we can do it once a week.  oliver will think he has died and gone to heaven because he could eat a mexican restaurant out of their rice and beans!  lucy, on the other hand, well...we'll see...

:: we will spend no more than 7 minutes per day on facebook, pinterest, and any other on-line browsing that is not work related.  {that's 7 minutes TOTAL...i'm mainly just giving myself enough time to respond to messages and post my blog}  don't get me wrong...i really like those sites.  i think they are great tools.  i also think i need to cut back my usage for a while and refocus on what i should be using them for.  i'm also curious how much more i will accomplish in other areas when i free up some of that wasted time.

:: we will not spend money on anything that is not a necessity this month.  this is where we may shave a little bit off of our spending.  there are a few items in our budget that this would apply to - entertainment, eating out, clothes, personal 'no questions asked' money...the amounts we assign to these categories isn't much but i can see how it would add up.  the only exception to this is when we are out of town.  we have a couple of trips planned this month that may require us to eat out once or twice...in these cases we agree to spend no more than $7 on a meal. again - i am hoping that this will not just impact our spending but also reduce some of the time we waste.

so that's it!  i promise to be completely honest with you about how things are going this month.  i will let you know if we are sticking with the plan, how it is impacting us, if it's hard or easy...or just a complete waste of time.  i'm praying God will use it to reveal some new things to all of us about the way we live.

come on february...we're ready!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

a different kind of february

my friend amy has managed to rope me into something crazy.

maybe you'll want to join us...

before i explain exactly what it is that you would be getting yourself into i'd like to give you the 'nutshell' version of why i'm doing this {and there's actually no rope involved}.

our church is in the middle of a series called the me i want to be.  it is based on the book by john ortberg and we are incorporating an on-line discipleship tool called monvee into what we are learning over the next month.  all of our small groups are going through this thing together...pretty cool.  

when my couples group met to begin the study last week we started off with these 2 questions...

#1 :: when do i feel most fully alive?
#2 :: when do i feel less alive {and more drained}?

i won't bore you with the lengthy answers i had written out for both of these {you know how i can get going when it comes to self-analysis}.  i will tell you that i was surprised when i looked back and realized that my response to #2 mainly had to do with excess and waste.  wasted time.  wasted money.  wasted energy.  wasted space.

now...it's no secret that i can be a bit of an over-achieving workaholic who tries to squeeze 25 hours worth of 'doing' into a 24 hour day.  but as i responded to that question i realized that a lot of my 'doing' lately has started to involve things like - making pit stops in between meetings or errands to shop for cheap clothes {that we don't really need} because i heard about a big sale, perusing decorating and crafting ideas on pinterest even though my eyes are glazed over and desperate for rest, scouring the internet for deals on super cute toys {educational ones of course!} for my kids even though the ones they have now could outfit an entire preschool full of classrooms, digging through my closet jam-packed full of clothes to find the perfect outfit...and here's the big one {sorry...i may not make a lot of friends with this one} - facebook.  

i originally started using facebook as a tool to stay connected with people and share my blog, but recently i have started to become 'that person' that i once labeled as 'facebook obsessed'.  i kid you not...i literally woke up in the middle of the night last week with this thought - is facebook for real?  have i seriously been spending hours of my life getting all up in all my 1000+ friends' business and thinking of clever posts to make myself look good?  for a split-second i thought that maybe that whole facebook thing was just a bad dream and that it couldn't possibly be this universal time-waster that it has actually become.  in a moment of clarity i saw it for what it really is...and yet somehow i keep being drawn back to that darn news feed because 'everybody's doing it'.

sorry...this 'nutshell' is turning into a tangent.  conclusion coming...

i'm getting sick...physically sick...of wasting my time, money, energy, and more on things that don't matter.  please hear me say - this is NOT an attack on your lifestyle...it's completely about me.  when i gave up caffeine a few months ago it wasn't because i thought caffeine would be the ruin of mankind and everyone that drank it was a devil-worshipper.  i gave it up because it was bad for ME.  and now i'm finding that there may be a few more things that i could do without...

so that's why i'm doing it.  that and the fact that when i first mentioned it to my husband he was immediately interested...which never happens.  he usually needs at least a week to mull things over.

below i have posted an excerpt from jen hatmaker's blog.  you can visit her site if you want to check out the rest of it.  you'll also find a video below the excerpt that outlines the 7 experiment that she and her family took.  my friend amy is doing a modified version of 7 for the month of february.  she has set up a FB page for folks who are interested in joining in some form or fashion.  our family is doing our own modified modified version {yes...that's 2 modified's}.  as the month unfolds i will be blogging about the details but you can expect ours to definitely involve cutting our technology use and spending...as well as getting rid of some of the excess that we currently have {this was the part that my simple and neat husband jumped in on}.

oh - and by the way...speaking of excess...just for fun go to this website and calculate how wealthy you are compared to the rest of the world.

without further ado {geez...sorry for the long post y'all!}...here are jen's words that resonated with me...

Now I'm freaked out, because Jesus also said, listen, a bunch of people think they are following me, that they "get" the gospel, but they so don't and are actually extremely self-deceived because you cannot love God and money. I'm not even playing. You cannot. You cannot say you love me yet hate your brother. That makes you a liar, not a disciple. The way is narrow...few will find it, and the richer you are, sorry, but the harder it's going to be for you to actually give up everything you have and follow me, because you have so much to lose. 

This stuff makes me hyperventilate, not just because Jesus said it, but because I feel it.

So my little family said, God, if too much stuff is standing in the way of your kingdom coming in our lives, then help us break up with it. If it has stolen our allegience and hijacked our obedience, give us the courage to wage war against everything that is ruining us for your gospel, substituting comfort for bravery, aquiring for sharing, appearances for obedience, personal glory for worship.

Enter 7. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

friday faves :: wee words

there was a building in clemson, south carolina {where i grew up} that, sadly, is no longer standing...
it was the public library.  

you know how you have some childhood memories that are so warm and fuzzy that you want to wrap yourself up in them and never leave?  {i hope you have at least a few of those}  my memory of visits to the clemson library are like that.  i can remember the anticipation of entering this massive building filled with more stories than i could ever read.  i remember the smell of the pages as i turned them.  i remember the kindness on the librarian's face as i checked out the maximum number of books allowed and then carried them like prize possessions out the door...already thinking of the ones i would come back for the next week.  

the funny thing is...when i went back to the clemson library as a college student many years later i was surprised to find that the building was actually tiny...seriously...no larger than the waiting area at the DMV.  i was shocked.  in my mind that place had been so much larger.  i know my perception was probably warped because of my own tiny frame at the time...but i also think that library seemed colossal to me because it held so much of something i value so highly...words.  

my love affair with words probably began on those trips to the clemson library.  seeing how they were penned by so many different hands in so many different ways.  with every story i read i felt the capacity of my mind grow and new worlds unfold right before my very eyes.  my mom did a lot of wonderful things for me growing up but perhaps one of the ones i appreciate most was how much she read to me and enthusiastically introduced me to the world of words.

i'm hoping that my own children will have the same experience.  just today we built a pallet of blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals and piled on top for story time.  i hope they feel whisked away as i do during those times.

so here are a few of my favorite books to read with my kids these days.  at their age most of the stories we share are simple {the attention span of a 2 and 3 year old are limited people!}.  but lucy is beginning to sit for longer periods of time so i'm sure this time next year i will have a whole other list of new ones that we are discovering together.
{some of the simplest ones that we've been reading since our kiddos were born...they have asked for them over and over again and could read them to you by memory pretty early}
{we love eric carle...just be warned that if you get 'the grouchy ladybug' your 3 year old may go up to people and say 'hey you - wanna fight??'...that's not really well-received out of context}
{these are all books that i remember vividly from my own childhood}
{and a few more of our recent faves...we have all the llama llama books - or 'llama jama' as lucy calls them!}
{and finally...my very favorite preschool Bible}

{we read a story almost every morning at breakfast - at lucy's request.  i love all the simple suggestions it gives for making the story interactive and applying the Biblical truths to our lives.}

so...do share...what are the books that your little ones can't get enough of?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

artificial sunlight

hello sunshine...i'm so glad to see you today!  

around these parts it's been pretty gloomy the past few days.  i've tried to get creative with the kids but we can only spend so much time 'washing' all the little people figures in the sink, making playdough messes masterpieces, and playing hide-and-seek {somehow fingers getting slammed in the door always seems to end this one}.   

i have self-diagnosed myself with seasonal affective disorder so, although i love a rainy day every now and then, too much cloud cover starts seriously clouding my mood {especially when i am stuck inside with 2 wild monkeys}.  when the dreary days start dampening my spirit  i start praying for God to bring in some artificial sunlight.  something that will shine some light back into my life and put a smile back on my face.

my daughter - lucy's - name means 'light' and it suits her just fine.  i tell her regularly that she is a bright reflection to those around her {sometimes nearly blinding but you take the good with the bad, right?}.  so...i found it funny that my artificial sunlight at the end of these dark days came from her yesterday...

allow me to share the scenario with you...

{lucy and oliver are in the playroom...playing.  all of the sudden a little slap fight ensues over who's serving the tea at the tea party...remember we've been cooped up inside for awhile}
ME: OK guys...that's it.  i am cracking down on all this hitting.  if i see either one of you putting your hands on each other like that again you are going straight to your room.  this is your one warning for the day!
LUCY: {making silly fake laugh}
ME: it's not funny, lucy...i am serious.
LUCY: {confused look} but you said you were cracking up.
ME: {trying not to laugh} no honey...i said i was cracking DOWN...not cracking UP
LUCY:  ooooohhhh...

ha ha...humor injected right in the middle of a gloomy mama's rainy day rant...

here and here are a few rainy day activities i've found for next time...how do you spend your rainy days?

Friday, January 20, 2012

friday faves :: gettin' cozi

this little icon on my phone is saving my life...
it's my friday fave this week.
for the past few years joey and i have felt like we were running around in circles trying to figure out how to keep our schedules coordinated and avoid conversations like these...
me:  don't forget we have that meeting tonight
joey:  what meeting?
me:  you know...the one i told you about 2 weeks ago.
joey:  i don't remember that.
me:  well, it's on the family calendar
joey:  where's the family calendar?
me: ummm...i'm not sure...

i'm sure none of you can relate to this dilemma {or the semi-annual argument that ensues about being irresponsible or a poor communicator or some other awful marriage-damaging comment}.  cozi is like a dream come true when it comes to those scheduling nightmares.  joey found this app and i was initially 'app'rehensive {pun intended...sorry...i know that's horrible}.  anyway - bottom line...
it works!

we both have the app on our phones.  we can access it there {or on our computer} at any time.  it instantly updates anything we add to our family calendar and allows  you to flag it as a family event or specify one or more members of the family it applies to.  as another added bonus it has a shopping list which i am using regularly.  anytime i think of something i need from the store i type it in...then either one of us can pick up stuff when we're out since we both have access to the list...genius!

i still use this pinterest-inspired weekly calendar i made.  i like to have something i can glance at when i'm at home to see what's going on for the week... 

so...as the folks at cozi say - 
bye bye chaos.  hello coordinated.

do you have any other tools to help keep your family organized?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

cleaning house

WARNING:  today's post is completely unedited...you will see why i didn't have time when you read further...but i had to share my accomplishment with you!

i bought these napkins a couple of months ago because they were so...well...me.
i do believe this statement to be true for me most of the time {much to my neat-freak husband's dismay}.  in general, i do the bare minimum cleaning-wise.  if the health department stopped by i think {fingers crossed} i would pass but i definitely wouldn't get an A.  so - yes...that means my kids are probably better off eating at chick-fil-a than in their own kitchen.  

don't get me wrong...i LOVE a clean house.  i just don't have time to make that happen very often.  today is an exception.  

i had been planning all week to do some major house cleaning while the kids were at preschool this morning.  i'm talking bleach, scrubbers, wood cleaner...the whole sha-bang.  i went for a quick jog to get my blood flowing {which may have actually had the opposite effect since it was 40 degrees outside and i'm pretty sure my blood was FROZEN}.  i cranked up joey's ipod {his selection of tunes is way better than mine...i guess in my world a well-maintained, awesome playlist is also a sign of a wasted life}.  after guzzling a smoothie, i got down and dirty {literally...this place was a pig sty}.

i can't say that everything is completely perfect but it sure is a heck of a lot better than it was 5 hours ago.  now i am sitting in my sparkly clean house waiting for an unexpected guest to pop in so that i can look like the amazing working mother of two who really has her act together {yeah right}.  if you're in the neighborhood stop by and let me gloat for a bit...i'll even fix you a cup of coffee. 
{just don't expect me to be showered and fresh.  i also believe in this mantra...it's on my fridge}

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

24 hours well spent

every busy mama needs a break sometimes.  i have gotten past feeling guilty about taking mine...  
date nights with my guy. 
solo time at the coffee shop with a book. 
extra long showers. 
stepping into the house alone for a moment to breathe in complete silence before going back to unbuckle the kids from their carseats.
we mamas get our breaks wherever we can...it's important...for everybody.

this weekend i got the break of all breaks - 24 hours away with 2 of my favorite girlfriends.  here's how 24 hours of girl time is priceless...

:: one long continuous therapy session conversation ::
real counseling sessions cost money.  and although i am a fan of spending some time with a professional from time to time, i wouldn't necessarily call those sessions 'fun'.  this weekend i hashed out all kinds of personal issues with my girls and had a blast doing it.  the only costs involved were the 3 meals we enjoyed together {you can't do that in counseling either.  ummm...sir would you mind if i sip some sangria and munch on tortilla chips and queso while we analyze my childhood?}

:: a sense of community ::
every mama gets in a rut.  it goes something like this - i can't believe that i am the only person in the entire world who spends 10 hours a week sweeping up crumbs, considers showering a daily victory,  and feels like an unpaid, under appreciated chef/maid/secretary all rolled into one.  this weekend i felt completely appreciated for all my hard work and not so much alone.  instead i started feeling more like part of a really awesome sorority of kick-butt women who pull this mommy gig off while still remaining cool {even while driving my mini-van...it is a swagger wagon after all}.

:: cracking up ::
perhaps most importantly, this weekend was full of bust-a-gut laughter that can only be generated with girls whom you can be you're 100% completely flawed self with.  i wouldn't dare post some of the most hilarious topics of conversation but i will share this one bit of our weekend which will probably give you at least a little chuckle...
this is my friend meg in barnes and noble.  yes - that is a very large piece of plywood that she is carrying.  she is the queen of DIY home projects...this time she was seeking my help...good grief...
these are the magazines she was perusing {for more DIY ideas of course} while i got the honor of laying that ginormous thing across 3 tables to write some lyrics to a song that she wants to frame over her bed.  
{that's amy in the background pretending like she doesn't know us}
the good news is - i spelled all the words correctly.  the  bad news is - it kinda looks awful...oh well...i'm sure she'll use it anyway...or just paint over it for her next project.

so...girls getaways...i highly recommend them.
and you know what's funny?  as much as this weekend was about 'getting away' i can honestly say that the majority of our conversations centered around funny {and genius} things that our kids do and how much we love and appreciate our husbands...seriously.  we love our lives.  we just need a chance to step back and share them with someone else {without being interrupted every 5 minutes to wipe someone's behind or referee a sibling fight}

Friday, January 13, 2012

friday faves :: poetry in motion

as promised, here i am to share my second installment of 'friday faves'.  
{on a side note - both of my children are napping peacefully as i write.  if you've read the last couple of posts you know this means v-i-c-t-o-r-y for mama.}

i have a couple of things to pass along to you today.  the first is my favorite youtube clip of the week {if you're on facebook you've probably already seen it}...
i'm not going to bore you with an extensive commentary...the video speaks for itself.  i will say this...
these words lit a fire under my behind to work tirelessly in making sure that my church home always keeps Jesus front and center...that in humility we always remember where our righteousness lies - in His work, not ours.

and for fun - my favorite 'on the go' pic that i snapped with my phone this week...
{rainy day run}
this is actually a picture of my kids heading into the store with me to buy that desperately needed door knob cover...ha ha.  what i love about it is that it captures something special about the season that we are in right now.  
first of all - i love that they can both walk on their own two tiny legs wherever we go now {makes life infinitely easier on mommy}.  i also love that lucy is really taking on a nurturing role as 'big sister' and oliver is starting to look to her for help.  she spontaneously grabbed his hand this day as we were heading in, saying - 'come on buddy.  watch for cars.  stay on the sidewalk.'  and he willingly grabbed on and followed.  as a child i remember my mom always reinforcing the importance of the bond between me and my own little brother {you know him here as 'uncle robert'}.  we had regular reminders to count on one another...and be someone the other one could count on too.  30+ years later this truth remains.  i daily work to foster the same relationship with my little munchkins.

oh...and by the way...did you know that 'poetry in motion' isn't just a song?  it's also the name of a wrestling move interestingly enough...one in which 2 wrestlers team up together to defeat their opponent.  here's to many more years of brother-sister duos teaming up to take on the world...and defeat any opponents that stand in their way!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

quick update on my 'good' boy

based on all the FB messages, texts, phone calls, and emails i received after yesterday's post i would say that there are a heck of a lot of people out there who can relate to the trials of parenting...whew!  i'm so glad i'm not alone - aren't you?

i had to share a little bit of the aftermath with you.  i found oliver's door somewhat difficult to open when i went to get him after his nap...this is some of what i found on the other side...
note the clothes and pull-up.  when i pulled back the covers i discovered a bare-bottomed boy {bless his heart} and miraculously the bed was not the slightest bit wet {God knows my limits}.  we had some extended cuddle time on the couch to make amends...

and here's the little stinker acting like nothing ever happened {geez...how can you not love this kid}...
{lucy actually snapped this picture...not bad, huh?}

today i got the kids out of the house extra early so i could make a target run before school to get our door handle cover...popped that baby on at naptime and closed the door.  the tantruming was minimal this time...it was less than fifteen minutes of pleading, crying, and door rattling before i finally heard the sweet sound of quiet. 

he's still fighting...i guess i admire his persistence...but this mama is standing strong.  
and i will win.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

when your good boy turns bad...

ever seen supernanny?  you know those episodes when the parents are being trained to stand firm, keep calm, fight the battle to the finish...  in these scenarios the kids are usually kicking and screaming and the parents are taking deep breaths and going through the motions that this british lady has given them...and all the while they are probably playing out in their minds what they would really like to do to their kids if the cameras weren't rolling. {but then again that's what got them into the mess in the first place}

too bad the camera crews weren't at my house today because the last hour of my life was a real life episode of supernanny {minus the nanny}.  
and quite frankly...
i'm    worn     out.

after making a perfect transition from his crib to his big boy bed a few months ago oliver just yesterday discovered that he could actually get out of the bed whenever he wanted.  today at naptime this resulted in the most impressive display of primeval behavior i have ever seen in our household.  the irony of this is that oliver is our calm, peaceful, compliant child.  i seriously thought maybe i had inadvertently picked up the wrong kid at preschool this afternoon.  he was this crazy wild beast of a child - kicking, screaming, crying, throwing himself on the floor, gasping for air...all because i said - 'it's naptime'.  i had no idea of the battle that would ensue.

ultimately i think i won this war but i have to admit that i didn't get off to a good start.  i think that i was so shocked by my 'good' boy's bad behavior that i didn't have a gameplan for how to handle something like this with him.  here's how it played out...

crazy boy kicking and screaming in defiance.  mommy {full of grace} giving comfort, staying calm, gently singing a song to help him relax.  harder kicking.  louder screaming.  mommy {less full of grace} handing out threats - no shows later if you don't lay down!  out of control boy escalates to wild animal.  mommy {with only a shred of grace remaining} threatens a spanking if he gets out of bed again.  the wild beast is not deterred...out of bed again!  mommy follows through on her promise of a spanking and, although it is calmly administered and explained, the animal doesn't even seem to notice the swift pop to his bottom in the midst of the world's wildest temper tantrum he is throwing.  mommy completely devoid of grace enters into the tantrum herself yelling at the top of her lungs to 'get back in that bed right now!'  more crying added to the kicking and screaming.  mommy {with grace replaced by guilt - for yelling - and anger - for not being able to control this situation}...
this is where the battle turns.
as gently as possible {this ain't easy when your kid is flailing around like a wild bass} mommy dismisses urge to combine her dragon roar with another swift pop to the behind and instead places boy monster back in bed, kisses him, walks out of the door, and holds it closed behind her.  
at this point i would have given anything to have somebody ring my doorbell and drop off one of these things...
instead...my hand had to do the job...for F O R T Y minutes.  but guess what happened instantly - the crying and screaming stopped.  that whole time i thought that my presence and my wisdom and my soothing and my negotiations would get that situation under control.  turns out the only thing that could get that situation under control was me removing myself from it.

don't get me wrong...there was still some pleading going on on the other side of that door - please, mommy.  help me, mommy.  no nap, mommy.  open door, mommy.  and my all time favorite - knock knock mommy - you there?  and as much as it broke my heart to hear his sweet little voice making those requests of me i knew that the best thing i could do for him was leave him alone and let him figure out what he needed to do.  it took a while {did i mention - F O R T Y minutes?} during which he even wiggled his little fingers under the door to try and reach me

he also tried a peace offering - here you go, mommy -

that's a dirty sock {on my dirty floor}

parenting is hard.  it refines me more than any other experience in my life...if i let it.  

i don't always make the right choices as a mother.  today i ultimately chose grace {for myself and my son} over anger.  i chose stepping back rather than pressing in.  a thousand different scenarios call for a thousand different responses and i daily plead with God for wisdom and grace as i decide which ones to choose.  it's on the job training...there is no crash course in mothering.  

as i make mistakes and gain redemption and lose battles and win wars, i stand in awe of how God is not only growing my children but growing me.  today as i stood in the hall gripping that door God reminded me of how he parents me.  he allowed me to see myself in the irrational and self-destructive behavior of my two year old...fighting for a freedom that i want.  and he allowed me to see him stepping back and allowing me to wrestle alone until i finally see that the freedom he wouldn't give me was for my best.  
i do that - whine and sulk and throw an internal temper tantrum when things don't turn out the way i want them too.  when will i ever learn that what's best for me is so often beyond my understanding?  that i am under the care of a father who loves me too much to let me make choices that ultimately will harm me more than help me?  
there are seasons in life when i can't feel Him near and i desperately want Him to hold me...to help me.  i can't see that my own behavior is what is keeping us apart.  
sometimes he lets us work those things out...but he never really leaves us.  he's right there on the other side of the door listening and protecting until we are ready to listen and obey.

this afternoon just when i thought my arm could not hold that knob any longer i heard his mickey mouse doll jingle and a tiny thumb being sucked and the soft padding of mini feet making their way across the room and the ruffling of covers and then...quiet...

shhh...i win...

Friday, January 6, 2012

friday faves :: 1st edition

raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens.  
bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens...

ok...so i'm not really a cat person but the raindrops on roses i can definitely go for.  and if that copper kettle is filled with hot water for my cup of tea that definitely makes the list too.  

my favorite things.  

i think maria von trapp {a.k.a. julie andrews} was onto something when she combatted a fearful situation {remember that awful thunderstorm that sent all the von trapp kids running to her bed??} with a reminder of all the gifts we have to be thankful for.  

if you've been reading my blog lately you know i've been combatting my own personal storms by counting the gifts in my own life.  so...on fridays i'm going to try channeling the sound of music spirit in an effort to share some of my weekly faves with you.  i hope it will get you to thinking about your own 'brown paper packages tied up with string'.

these are a few of my favorite things.
specifically, my favorite christmas gifts of the year...
::1::  bike trailer for the kids 
{this is what we call an 'everybody wins' gift...the kids have fun riding, i get exercise without having to find a babysitter, and joey doesn't have to listen to me complain about being out of shape because we don't have a gym membership}

::2::  how to train your dragon DVD
{this was actually lucy's gift this year but it is a favorite for our whole family...seriously...great movie.  if you haven't seen it - you should.}

::3::  magic mitt
{ok...i have to admit that when my mom gave this to me i thought it was some silly gimmick. well - whether it's a gimmick or not, i'm a fan.  i have a long history of being too lazy to wash off my make-up at night.  with this thing i just wet it, wipe my face, and i'm done...and my pores really do feel like they are breathing better when i hit the pillow}

::4::  the one that made him cry
{at this point my hubby is probably going to kill me for mentioning this TWICE on the ole blog...but the preciousness of the moment surrounding the unwrapping of this gift is absolutely on my favorites list...couldn't leave it out}

::5::  donations made to mission of hope
{we have started giving a lot less useless trinkets and a lot more donations in honor of our loved ones...in this case - food, shelter, healthcare, and education for children in haiti - kinda makes other gifts pale in comparison}

when the dog bites, when the bee stings, when your feeling sad...
let's remember our favorite things together.

what are your favorite gifts {given or gotten} this year??  

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

my 20 mile march

everyone's making new year's resolutions.  

seems like a great idea but i've never really been big on this tradition.  i'm more the kinda girl who is constantly exploring ideas for making myself more efficient or more productive or more disciplined or more creative every day of the year...not just in january {i don't recommend this mode of operation by the way}.  

i do love the idea of a fresh start...a new beginning.  maybe that's because i have messed up so many things in my life.  i cling to God's promise to 'make all things new' not just during these first few days of 2012 but always.  although i'm a hard worker and do my part to make good forward progress in life, i know it's ultimately by his grace that i ever get anything right.

all this talk about resolutions has reminded me of the 20 mile march i've been meaning to get started on...

if you haven't heard of jim collins...check him out.  he's author, teacher, student, management guru, rock climber, fortune magazine cover boy, and the guy who introduced me to the 2o mile march.

a few months ago i joined 13, 000 other folks at the catalyst conference where we gained wisdom from leaders from across the world.  jim collins was one of them.

below is an excerpt from fortune magazine which contains my big 'take away' from collins' talk at catalyst.  {you can read the really long entire article here}  these concepts are further explored in his book - great by choice - which is a great read for anyone in a position of leadership {which should be pretty much all of us!}.

before you dive into the article here's a little bit of my personal 20 mile march i've been working on...it's my way of saying to myself - this is enough...any more is icing on the cake.  i've always needed help with pacing.  i somehow think the 24 hour daily limit of time doesn't apply to me.  my days wind up crammed full so that i go, go, go...until i crash.  let's see how a consistent 20 mile march can help.  how are you pacing yourself this year?

words and wonder :: one morning per week :: me, macbook, a few good books, and a decaf cup of joe...hours of reading and writing goodness...
tiny time :: 30 minutes per day :: uninterrupted play time with my kiddos
tidy time :: 30 minutes per day :: uninterrupted clean up
love lessons :: 2 meals per week :: me and my hubby across the table from each other without tiny hands stealing food from our plates or conversations being interrupted by roaring preschool sing-alongs
meet your maker :: 15 minutes per day :: reading scripture, reflecting through prayer, pouring into the most important relationship in my life

...more to come...

tom's ballet flats!!
{yes - this may seem random but i am planning to do some of my 20  mile marching in these cute things this year}

here's the article...

Are you an Amundsen or a Scott?
In October 1911, two teams of adventurers made their final preparations in their quest to be the first people in modern history to reach the South Pole. For one team, it would be a race to victory and a safe return home. For the second team, it would be a devastating defeat, reaching the Pole only to find the wind-whipped flags of their rivals planted 34 days earlier, followed by a race for their lives -- a race that they lost in the end, as the advancing winter swallowed them up. All five members of the second Pole team perished, staggering from exhaustion, suffering the dead-black pain of frostbite, and then freezing to death as some wrote their final journal entries and notes to loved ones back home.
It's a near-perfect matched pair. Here we have two expedition leaders -- Roald Amundsen, the winner, and Robert Falcon Scott, the loser -- of similar ages (39 and 43) and with comparable experience. Amundsen and Scott started their respective journeys for the Pole within days of each other, both facing a roundtrip of more than 1,400 miles into an uncertain and unforgiving environment, where temperatures could easily reach 20˚ below zero even during the summer, made worse by gale-force winds. And keep in mind, this was 1911. They had no means of modern communication to call back to base camp -- no radio, no cellphones, no satellite links -- and a rescue would have been highly improbable at the South Pole if they screwed up. One leader led his team to victory and safety. The other led his team to defeat and death.
What separated these two men? Why did one achieve spectacular success in such an extreme set of conditions, while the other failed even to survive? It's a fascinating question and a vivid analogy for our overall topic. Here we have two leaders, both on quests for extreme achievement in an extreme environment. And it turns out that the 10X business leaders in our research behaved very much like Amundsen and the comparison leaders behaved much more like Scott.
Amundsen and Scott achieved dramatically different outcomes not because they faced dramatically different circumstances. In the first 34 days of their respective expeditions, according to Roland Huntford in his superb book The Last Place on Earth, Amundsen and Scott had exactly the same ratio, 56%, of good days to bad days of weather. If they faced the same environment in the same year with the same goal, the causes of their respective success and failure simply cannot be the environment. They had divergent outcomes principally because they displayed very different behaviors.
Imagine you're standing with your feet in the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, looking inland. You're about to embark on a 3,000-mile walk, from San Diego to the tip of Maine. On the first day you march 20 miles, making it out of town.
On the second day you march 20 miles. And again, on the third day you march 20 miles, heading into the heat of the desert. It's hot, more than 100˚F, and you want to rest in the cool of your tent. But you don't. You get up and you march 20 miles.
You keep the pace, 20 miles a day.
Then the weather cools, and you're in comfortable conditions with the wind at your back, and you could go much farther. But you hold back, modulating your effort. You stick with your 20 miles.
Then you reach the Colorado high mountains and get hit by snow, wind, and temperatures below zero -- and all you want to do is stay in your tent. But you get up. You get dressed. You march your 20 miles.
You keep up the effort -- 20 miles, 20 miles, 20 miles -- then you cross into the plains, and it's glorious springtime, and you can go 40 or 50 miles in a day. But you don't. You sustain your pace, marching 20 miles.
And eventually, you get to Maine.
Now, imagine another person who starts out with you on the same day in San Diego. He gets all excited by the journey and logs 40 miles the first day.
Exhausted from his first gigantic day, he wakes up to 100˚ temperatures. He decides to hang out until the weather cools, thinking, "I'll make it up when conditions improve." He maintains this pattern -- big days with good conditions, whining and waiting in his tent on bad days -- as he moves across the western United States.
Just before the Colorado high mountains, he gets a spate of great weather and he goes all out, logging 40- to 50-mile days to make up lost ground. But then he hits a huge winter storm when utterly exhausted. It nearly kills him and he hunkers down in his tent, waiting for spring.
When spring finally comes, he emerges, weakened, and stumbles off toward Maine. By the time he enters Kansas City, you, with your relentless 20-mile march, have already reached the tip of Maine. You win, by a huge margin.
On Dec. 12, 1911, Amundsen and his team reached a point 45 miles from the South Pole. He had no idea of Scott's whereabouts. Scott had taken a different route slightly to the west, so for all Amundsen knew, Scott was ahead of him. The weather had turned clear and calm, and sitting high on the smooth Polar Plateau, Amundsen had perfect ski and sled conditions for the remainder of the journey to the South Pole. Amundsen noted, "Going and surface as good as ever. Weather splendid -- calm with sunshine." His team had journeyed more than 650 miles, carving a path straight over a mountain range, climbing from sea level to over 10,000 feet. And now, with the anxiety of "Where's Scott?" gnawing away, his team could reach its goal within 24 hours in one hard push.
And what did Amundsen do?
He went 17 miles.
Throughout the journey, Amundsen adhered to a regimen of consistent progress, never going too far in good weather, careful to stay far away from the red line of exhaustion that could leave his team exposed, yet pressing ahead in nasty weather to stay on pace. Amundsen throttled back his well-tuned team to travel between 15 and 20 miles per day, in a relentless march to 90˚south. When a member of Amundsen's team suggested they could go faster, up to 25 miles a day, Amundsen said no. They needed to rest and sleep so as to continually replenish their energy.
In contrast, Scott would sometimes drive his team to exhaustion on good days and then sit in his tent and complain about the weather on bad days. In early December, Scott wrote in his journal about being stopped by a blizzard: "I doubt if any party could travel in such weather." But when Amundsen faced conditions comparable to Scott's, he wrote in his journal, "It has been an unpleasant day -- storm, drift, and frostbite, but we have advanced 13 miles closer to our goal." Amundsen clocked in at the South Pole right on pace, having averaged 15½ miles per day.
Most everything is ultimately out of your control. But when you 20-Mile March, you have a tangible point of focus that keeps you and your team moving forward, despite confusion, uncertainty, and even chaos.