Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Away from it all

For this year's vacation, we went to the middle of nowhere. Literally. On the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. And we drove straight up the gravel road to get here. And there we stayed. We didn't go anywhere. There wasn't anywhere to go. And even if there was, I wasn't going down that driveway again until absolutely necessary. As in, the day we left. 

It was nice to do nothing all week, especially since last year we did Disney and did EVERYTHING. And were surrounded by So. Many. People.  This year, it's just us. The five of us. Lots of food, books and a pool!  We would just sleep, swim and eat. It was one of the best vacations ever. Nothing to do but just BE. Which is something I really need to practice. 

I packed for this trip for a couple weeks. Yes. There was a list. Multiple lists. So that I could relax on the trip. There were a few things that we should have brought with us. And a couple things I thought I brought but apparently forgot. But we had what we had. So we had to make it work. For example: Bread. I thought I had the bread in the car (we brought our groceries). But at lunchtime, alas, there was no bread. So peanut butter sandwiches with graham crackers instead - which I had remembered. (Because s'mores are more important than sandwiches!) 

It's interesting that my thoughts recently have been focused on having less stuff. Seeing how well it worked this past week - when you have just what you need - nothing more. And you use what you have!  It inspires and encourages me to do that here at home. Use and enjoy what we have. And not bring much new stuff in. This two part less stuff plan will be interesting to see how it plays out in real life.  

Being up on the mountain made things seem so simple. Normal daily routines of life aren't so simple (and lazy!) but I am inspired to seek a new way to find creative ways to add simple to our daily life. I seem to make things too complicated. Much of that comes from fear. Fear that I will fail. Fear that I won't have enough time. Fear that if we get rid of a bunch of stuff, we will need that ONE thing that I just threw out. Just this undercurrent of fear. That fear is one thing I DO want to throw out! 

One way I do want to change the way I live is to purposely fit in leisure time. Playing with the kids - and just leisure time for me. I guess I just put it off until everything else is done (which is never going to happen) or I just think that it takes too much time. But really, sitting down to read a magazine or a chapter in a book - do a puzzle or even just stare out the window a bit - these things don't take very long.  I take just about as long thinking that I don't have the time or being upset that I never do anything fun. I just need to take the time. And what great results I will have!  Take back a little of my day for me.  This week I got to see what I was missing out on. And now I want to change that.  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The joy of what?

Of minimalism?  Probably not.  But I do want to maybe get closer to essentialism.  The things that pile up around me are those "just in case" items.  The "I might need it (again) one day" things.  And I have piles of them.  I try to organize them.  But most of the time, it's a bin that I don't even know what's in it.  So if I do need it, I don't know I have it and replace it anyway.  I have a closet full of clothes.  But half of them are things I don't like - I wanted to like them.  Or I wanted to have the style to wear them.  But wanting to and actually doing are two different things.

So let another purge commence.  And let this one be the BIG one.  I'm tired of stepping around stuff I don't need for things that I do.  I want to see what I have.  So that the stuff becomes less important.  The focus here is... you guessed it.... making moments matter.

After reading the "Moments" book, I am almost finished reading another book.  Similar theme, but hitting more specifically on places that I need rejuvenation.  The book Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup.  And it's an interesting combination of finding and cherishing the important things in life (e.g. moments, friends, family) and spending less money and less time on STUFF.

So after a couple of weeks of summer - that is the goal.  A ruthless clearing out.  Only keeping the useful stuff - the stuff that brings joy.  To make room for the PEOPLE!  To make room for JOY!

Some moments of the past few weeks:
The first weeks of summer - relaxing and very busy!
Haircuts - middle little's first one!  Seeing those baby curls fall on the ground.
Lots of games, water fun, cuddling!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Hit by moments...

Yikes.  So my once a week blog... not so much.  But I have been trying to keep up with moments.  But these past few weeks I have not had to look very far for moments.  Moments have been thrown at me.  Maybe I shouldn't have tried to really make the most of moments at the end of a school year.  

There has been lots of crazy at our house.  Girls beach trip - child to the ER - end of school for all three kids.  And that's just the big ones.  And that's probably why I didn't make it to the computer to blog...  

We kicked off the week with a late night trip to the ER.  And really these are moments of blessings in a crazy and weird situation:

• Watching my two ride off with family friends, while me and middle little headed to the ER on a late Sunday night.  And the pity that the Nurse Practitioner took on us in the wee hours of the morning because we had been there so long.
• Carrying my sweet heavy little one to the car after a long night
• Kindness of family and friends (and the billing department) about my wallet sitting on my bed - and NOT at the hospital with me...
• Blessings of wakefulness to drive home in the early early morning from the ER
• Kindness from a friend to bring joy to my sicky middle little when I was just too exhausted

And with that "fun" trip to the ER (an infection that passed) I was so tired that I missed moments.  But I realized that I was missing them.  Guess that counted.  But I was Worn. Out.   Daddy was out of town all week - so ER trip and following week was solo mommy time.  Me vs 3 - on 3 hours of sleep...  Not a good combination.  But we made it through.  Just barely!

But after that week, it got crazier with the end of school - first for the 2 littles, then for my oldest.  Finishing Kindergarten.  How is that possible?

• Realizing just how much of our oldest's past that I missed out on.  And sitting in the floor crying for a while.
• Sitting in the floor playing cars with little little, even though I needed to pack for my trip
• The sweaty tired happy face of middle little at her jumpy house birthday party!
• Kisses from little little all morning of Mother's day!
• Running a 5K - a tough one - and so proud of my time that I didn't think that I would get close to!  But the best was seeing my family along the route.  Little hands.  Little waves.  Little voices cheering!
• Hugs from teachers and friends as we left the hallways for the last time.
• Lasts of Kindergarten.  Last lunch.  Last carpool.  Last drop off.   I was unexpectedly sad.

So my moments that I have had these past few weeks - they were huge.  I didn't really have the time to see the little moments day to day - the ones that I'm searching for.  Those big ones knocked the wind of out of me.  But back to a calmer existence - I think.  I hope.  For a while at least.  Getting into the summer groove.  And I hope to make these days fun and memorable for all of us.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Life in the Messy

The Messy
Could be defined as having kids.  Or just having a home.  Or just LIFE.  Life is in the messy.  And life happens in the messy.  But messy is real.  Messy is sometimes FUN!

Here are a few moments:
• Having the kids dig in the dirt to "help" me clear the weeds out to get the garden ready
• Then having the kids back in the garden to help me plant all the plants
• Realizing that the little little can eat by himself with a spoon, with very LITTLE mess (when did this happen?)
• Wearing my shirt inside-out for half the day, then when a kind friend told me, I just shrugged and kept going...  (a couple of years ago, I would have run to the bathroom in horror)

But there were some not so great moments.  I think I still need to learn how to have peace in the messy.  For example, when we were outside, I was so hot & tired and could barely move.  And being outside was making my kids WILD.  So when they resorted to throwing dirt and "helping" too much, we just had to stop.

It's interesting to try to find the balance between doing what needs to be done & being the mom AND then also enjoying the life that we have together and having fun in the moment.  Being very organized in mind and environment does not lend itself to being messy.  And living in the moment really does sometimes equal messy.  To let your kids help you bake - more kitchen to clean later.  To sit down and play a game - the dishes, laundry, etc... to be done later.  There is a lot of later when living in the moment.  And at this point I'm not sure when later comes?  It's a balance of some kind - a balance that will fit me and our lives - but I have yet to find it.  It's there sometimes.  That's why choosing to make those moments are important to me.  It has to be a conscious choice for me - or I will just miss them.  Moments for me usually don't just happen, but if I am watching for them...  I can catch them!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Week Two: Choosing Moments

Last week was week two in my Making Moments Matter challenge for myself.  I didn't say "hurry up" one time!  I could not believe it!  And so my "slowing down" continues.  I see it more as a new pace of life.  Not being in a rush to get out the door or to get things done has actually led to me having MORE time and getting more things done.  Including fun stuff, for the kids AND myself!  Amazing.  Who knew?

So this past week's goal was to CHOOSE.  I wanted to make good choices in the moments that I had.  Choosing the option that I usually didn't, because of fear, laziness, agenda, etc - you name it.  So this week, as I was going slower, I was able to see the other options in moments, instead of the eyes to the ground and petal to the metal way of life I usually live.  

Some Moments from this past week - where I made the OTHER choice:

•  Choosing to make muffins with the girls, for no other reason (besides eating them) than just spending time with them.  (Three ingredient Chocolate peanut butter chip muffins*!! YUM!)

• Choosing moments for me - going for a run, when I could have done a thousand other things - and writing my blog (which obviously I haven't chosen much in the past!)

• Chose to go to get shave ice with the kids - even though it is messy...and a crazy location...and just really an insane thing to do with my three kids
• Choosing to talk to a friend running beside me on the treadmill, instead of just saying "hi" and putting in my headphones.  And I had a great run - and had a blast!

• Looking out my car window and being able to see my little little in his class through the church window - instead of looking down at a screen - while I waited in carpool

• Choosing to just be ok with being rained on as I left Costco - and as we left the school building after picking up all three kids.  We were completely soaked, but it was kind of fun!  (only one of us had a raincoat - and my umbrella was, um, "not helpful")

• Choosing an outdoor run on the local track - instead of just the gym treadmill.  And choosing to go those extra 2 laps, and then just ONE more!  Being my own coach and challenging myself!

I look back at last week and marvel at all the amazing things I could have missed if I did not choose to be in the moment.  How have I been living my life so far?  Just sprinting through with my eyes closed tight?  It feels like this when I see what all I experienced.  Just living my life.  Doing my normal activities.  Nothing huge.  Nothing monumental.  But oh so magical!  

* Muffins:  1 box Devil's Food cake mix.  1 can pure pumpkin.  Peanut Butter chips  :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Week One of Moments

One of my goals for making moments matter is to pay attention to the small details and moments of life.  Simple, but very difficult to actually do.

So my first step to do this is to  S L O W.  D O W N.   Which is so hard for me.  I always go...go...go... Until I stop - usually for bedtime - or from sheer, utter exhaustion and my brain just shuts off.  I go go go because I feel more accomplished if I have marked everything (or at least most things) off my list.  And I feel more worthy of "fun" time if I have been productive.

So this week, I started my #100DayProject challenge, I am doing the opposite of my nature.  I am shutting that "hurry up" button off.  Really trying to remove that personal setting altogether.  This new pace that I am going to try, I want to keep going.  And it's the pace that life needs to be.  Rushing really doesn't speed things up, it just causes stress and yuck.  Hurrying NEVER helps.

To see - really see - life around me:  the people I love, what makes them tick, what their needs are, what makes their hearts sing.  Those are some of my goals.  Yes, I still have a to-do list - but it is not ruling me.  And I still have to be a mom, so it's not all fun and games.  But for all those moments I've been missing because I have been too busy - that's what I'm chasing!!

So week one - Here is a look at a few captured moments when I slowed down:

• Staying on the couch just a little longer to cuddle my girls.
• Running just a little behind one day, but I didn't try to rush - which helped match up my timing with a friend - who was getting in her car as I was arriving...  Perfect God timing.
• More cuddles, when the middle little woke up too early, and instead of being frustrated, I just enjoyed a few quiet, still moments with her.
• Getting to see the little little bobbing his head to the music, when he didn't think I was looking
• Yet another timing thing, ended up somewhere later than I planned, but got to talk to a friend (and took the time to do it) and got encouragement that I didn't even know I needed.
• Waiting for an appointment with the little little - MUCH longer than expected.  I didn't get agitated.  I just watched as he cheerfully ate his snack, smiled up at me and looked out the window at all the cars going by.
• Choosing to go play outside with my family, instead of just staying inside to check things off the list.
• Dropping everything to take the girls to chase the ice cream truck down the street!

Putting aside my agenda for errands and chores and just paying attention to the people around me has given me such encouragement and hugs from the Father this week.  Sometimes I just rush by life - to get to the next thing: to get home - to get things checked off - to feed kids, etc.  But this week (and weeks continuing) I am keeping my eyes open.  Who do I need to stop and talk to, instead of rushing off?  To whom do I need to say a happy hello - that I might not even know?  How can I really pay attention to the picture my child drew and is now showing me and telling me all about... in GREAT detail?  I long to be in the moment - really BE there - and enjoy them and make them matter. Because that moment will be gone.  And I want to no longer wonder what I might have been missing.

This week my eyes HAVE been opened.  It's not just about the moments.  It's about who I want to be.  For my kids, my husband, my friends - myself!  There is going to be much learning along the way.  Where am I going to falter?  Where is it going to be easier?  And learning how to balance all of that with what really does have to get done.  It's just a matter of HOW it gets done.

This is definitely a work in progress - and it's just beginning.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Making Moments

• I wanted to make a "stay at home" spring break fun for the kids.  And for me.  Something out of the ordinary.  Not just hanging around the house, waiting for school to be back in session.  Something that we could look forward to each day.  So I planned things – little things, but big impact.  And hopefully great memories!  And fun!  One day we went to the zoo.  Another day we baked and decorated cookies.  We spent time playing with friends.  We went to the mall and rode the carousel (and, well, stopped in for some new summer shoes too…)  But besides the shoes, we didn’t DO anything.  Chores were on hold (ok, except the laundry, but you have to wear clothes…)  The agenda for the week was to have fun and spend time together.  To make good choices – relationship choices.   It was fun to put the to do list aside.  And it got me thinking…

• I have been reading a book* about being “hands free.”  It’s not just about putting devices down, it’s about ALL the distractions that are in daily life.  The ones that take over.  And I have been amazed of how many have seeped into my life.  I’ve always been under the mindset of “clean, then have fun.”  When I was a kid, I would clean my room before doing my homework.  Procrastination?  Maybe - but I needed a clean room to focus – and I liked having a clean room.   And now I find that I’m doing the same thing as a mom.  I will read you a book after I do the dishes.  I will look at your picture, after I finish making your lunch.  All of those things are important and need to be done, but in what order?  What priority am I giving to the REAL, relational stuff?   The other stuff is getting in the way. 

• One of my friends is doing a challenge she found on Instagram.  #The100DayProject - 100 days of making!  This is more geared to some type of creativity.  What could you make in 100 days?  It sounded intriguing.  So I wanted to start it as well.  So I thought, what could I make…  Organizing stuff?  Hair bows for the girls?  Knitting?  Blogging?  Writing?  All of this stuff sounded fun, but it just wasn’t feeling right.  I would love to do all of these things, but I just was feeling burdened, not excited about the 100 days of this challenge.  What could I make?? 

And then it occurred to me – Put all three of these things together.  Spring break + my current book + 100 days making challenge.

My 100 day challenge is Making Moments Matter! 

Each day, I’m going to choose to catch those moments that usually slide by.  I’m going to find gifts in seemingly frustrating moments.  I’m going to savor sights of nature.  Memorize sweet tiny faces that are in my home.  Embrace the ones I love.  Find time to be ME and enjoy my passions!

I will forget.  I will fail.  But I will not give up.  Because this is life – memories made in the everyday. 

*Hands Free Mama by Rachel Macy Stafford