Embracing the Ordinary

It’s been a while, friends.  Not only have I felt like there wasn’t much I wanted to say but I also had our 4th child on February 22nd.  So life was busy in preparation for him coming and then life kind of exploded on me once he came.  It’s been a good transition overall but life with 4 kids is different from life with 3 (mainly, it’s louder since my 22 month old really discovered her outside voice and uses it inside).  Before Asher came into this world, I had more free time and the ability to read a lot, write, work a mostly-from-home PT job, and overall just enjoy myself a bit.  I’m not sure how that happened but things were just fairly easy with the occasional crazy day thrown in there.  Now?  Life is different and I fought against that initially.  Couple that with hormones and the baby blues became my reality.  Because I struggled with PPD with my 3rd, I knew I needed to be proactive.  Thanks to a supportive husband and a great support system, I’m doing well.  But life is still different than it was and that’s something I need to accept and embrace rather than fight against.

I feel at a loss for the words to explain it all so I’m deferring to the wonderful Sarah Bessey.  She wrote a post recently about how God is in the ordinary day-to-day stuff like mothering little ones . . . and how prone she was to wanting to do something “big” and “heroic” for God.  Instead, she was cleaning up messes and wiping butts.  You should read the whole post but here’s a little taste of what hit me so hard:

God is present in the ordinary and the regular and the uncelebrated in a way that I never could have fathomed when I thought God’s best was only either on stage or in a pulpit or a mountaintop or an arena or far away.  

Because here’s the secret behind it all: part of the reason why we want to be radical is because we believe that it’s better.

I have believed for so long that I needed to be more than “just” a mother.  I have a college degree and passions and skills and they’re being wasted, I believed.  And yet I would hear that these days with littles go by far too quickly and how I’m having a big impact on them in these early years.  But I continued to strive to be more and better than “just” a mother.  I’d even read lots of people saying that mothering is a full-time job and it’s so hard and honorable.  But it didn’t really sink in.  When Asher arrived, I realized that I can’t do it all.  Mothering really is a full-time job.  But here’s the thing: it doesn’t require that I stop everything I love doing.  It just looks different.

I can so often think that I need to have a job or a task in order to feel important and productive.  I can certainly say no to a lot of things but it’s difficult for me to say no to it all so I can say yes to the ordinary.  It’s still something–it isn’t being lazy and just receiving all the time, being a consumer of it all.  It’s choosing to embrace the natural and organic in life . . . the mothering of my littles, the conversations online with like-minded women all over the world, the interactions with those in my neighborhood, the saying yes to allowing my daughter to plan a casual party, the time with my husband now that he’s only working one FT job and I don’t have a job outside the home.  I don’t have to check something off my to do list in order for it to be important.

So what does this all mean?

It means I’m finding 10 minutes in my day during naptime or after the kids go to bed to exercise.

It means I don’t have Facebook notifications on my phone because I don’t have time (nor do I want) to be distracted like that.

It means sending quick texts to friends to nurture friendships even if we can’t see each other every week.

It means reading a couple pages of a book a few times a week and not feeling obligated to finish a book I’m just not into.

It means choosing not to be at my computer as often as I was before, knowing that I need to be present with my kids or they’ll be looking elsewhere for that attention.

It means having the time now to be outside with my kids, talking with neighbors, knowing I don’t have to cut it short to be inside doing something else that is required of me.

It means becoming a little less me-focused and more others’-focused, while still making sure to nurture my own passions and gifts.

For this blog, it means I’m taking a break.  I kind of already started before Asher was born but I felt like I needed to really communicate that to you all.  It is all too easy for me to think I have to write a certain number of times a week and that I should care more about getting more people to read my blog.  I really don’t care how many people read it.  More than anything, it’s been for me . . . to just get my thoughts out there and be able to look back and remember some of the things God has been teaching me.  But in the blogging world, writers are told they should make it out to be more . . . to get more readers, more subscribers, more interaction, to make money, etc.  I simply am not in a place where that is important to me but I also don’t want to fall into that again.  And because I haven’t felt the need to write much over the past few months, I think I’m going to embrace this new season I’m in and not feel the need to write.  If something comes up I really want to share, for sure I’ll do that.  It may or may not happen and I felt that I needed to share that with you so you know not to expect anything. 🙂  If I still haven’t felt like this is to be continued pursuing come the end of the year, I’ll be closing the blog for good.

Thanks for understanding and supporting me in this transition.  🙂

How Our Tendencies Shape Us

better than before

So my husband got me to listen to an audiobook.  This is weird, guys.  I’m the one who gives out reading recommendations.  But he’s been on this Audible kick since he’s in the car a lot and he chose a book called Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin.  I had no idea he was reading it and then he comes to me one day with this big news:

“I think I’m going to go on a sugar detox.”

I’ll spare you the details of our discussion (albeit heated) but the end result was that he was telling me that what works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another.  He started sharing about this amazing book he read about habits.  I was super skeptical.  He was convinced I’d love it.  So, being a self-improvement kinda gal, I decided to just take him up on it.

And I pretty much became obsessed with it.  It helped me to understand myself better and so much of what the author said about my tendency rang so true and explained a lot about what I choose to do and not to do.  There are four tendencies and I am an Obliger (you can take a quiz on her website if you’re not going to read the book yet).   This explains why I will tend to say yes to people often, work really hard for others, etc. but when I try to set a goal for myself with no accountability I inevitably fail.  I need external accountability.  This is probably why I tend to exercise more if I commit to a class or I pay for a subscription to something.  I also discovered that I am an/a:

Opener: I like to start things but am not big into finishing.  I like the excitement of the beginning and get bored easily.

Moderator: I have enough self-control to be able to indulge in things sometimes and don’t have to completely abstain in order to be successful (unlike my husband).

Lark: aka a morning person

Simplicity Lover: This was so not a surprise.  Others are Abundance Lovers (have lots of trinkets, keepsakes, etc).

I am also prone to novelty over familiarity, which explains why some people are more into tradition and others, like me, need change often.

I cannot tell you how helpful this book was for understanding myself and therefore taking better action for future habits/goal-creating. But it was also helpful for me to realize that we’re not all the same.  I went into this book skeptical, thinking that there are obviously basic ways to create new habits and maybe even some “ideal” ways of being.  I came out of it realizing that yes we are all different and that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with people who are different from me.  So with my Abstainer husband, it’s okay that he can’t just eat one little piece of chocolate; it just means that we can’t have it in the house or where he can see it if he’s trying not to eat it.  We adjust depending on our tendency.

The beauty of this is that we can all be successful in habit formation and self-improvement.  I no longer have to get down on myself for having such a difficult time keeping up a routine that doesn’t hold much value to me.  I can accept the fact that the only routines I’m going to keep are the ones where I have some kind of external accountability and are in line with my values.  I no longer have to try to convince my husband to be a morning person; I can accept that he does better at night and just encourage him to make sure he’s getting an adequate amount of sleep.

Gretchen gives so many practical tips for the various tendencies and general habit-formation that I don’t think anyone could walk away from the book not knowing how to take steps to better themselves in whatever areas are important to them.

I think understanding this could help those of us who want to live more intentionally actually DO IT.  Sometimes we hit a wall because we want to make a certain change but we don’t.  It could very well just be that we aren’t going about it the right way.  Maybe we were told there’s only one way to make it happen but in reality there may be various paths to get there depending on our tendency.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  What tendency are you (either from taking the quiz or reading the book)?  How do you see that shaping your future and your desire to live more intentionally (whatever that looks like for you)?

Routine: Good or Bad?


When I first became a parent, I thought that every hour of the day should be scheduled for my child. Now, of course, I wasn’t the one at home with her. I simply put the expectation on my husband with something along the lines of the following schedule (because, you see, I had more experience with children from jobs and babysitting and clearly knew more than him . . .):

7:00 Feed
8:00 Tummy Time
8:30 Read
9:00 Snack
10:00 Gross Motor Activity
11:00 Feed
12:00 Fine Motor Activity
1:00 Nap
4:00 Snack

And of course I would provide ideas for what those times could look like for the two of them. It was basically Lily and Daddy school time . . . for a baby.

I was clearly a very realistic first-time mom.


I know many others have said something similar about their first child. They have all these crazy expectations and then realize they’re totally whacked out and need to take a chill pill. Don’t worry, I got there. My poor husband. Bless his sweet soul.

Now?  I am about to have my 4th child and am homeschooling my 5 year old for Kindergarten just this year. We started the school year out by having a pretty set schedule, thinking that would really help to make sure we got through what we needed to. I had it set for certain hours to tackle certain subjects. And let me just say that I got BORED. I’m not even the student. She was flying through the material and then I felt like I had to force her to do more until the time was up. I can be really Type A and super organized and structured at times. I like to have order and minimal chaos. And I often think that having a routine is the way to make that happen. Of course, sometimes that is definitely the case. We have instilled, from the start, a very clear eating and sleeping routine for our children. Because of that, both we and the kids have benefited greatly. They sleep great for others when we aren’t here, they know when they need to eat so they’re not constantly asking, they know not to expect dessert unless it’s a weekend or a special event, and we can form our days around this pattern.

However, what I am learning about myself, due to my own personality (and, as what Gretchen Rubin in Better than Before calls the tendency toward either Familiarity or Novelty . . . I’m Novelty), is that I can’t have too much routine or I bust at the seams. I cannot have every day look the same. I will never take a 9-5 job where I do the same thing all the time unless it’s life or death. I cannot stand knowing that today is going to be the same as tomorrow. I like to have different places to go, explore, learn something new, and talk to people who are not my children.  If every day is the same and there’s no room for that?  Then please let me meet Jesus now.

I may not like routine BUT I do like order.  Solution? I’m highly organized, I have my systems for maintaining that organization, and those parts of my life are like second-nature; they just happen. For example, everything in my house has a place. We have a sliver of a junk drawer and that’s it (and it really isn’t junk–it has some pens, sticky notes, and extra keys and that’s pretty much it).  My kids follow this as well so we don’t have random toys in random spots, nor do we have shoes and clothes scattered throughout the house. We also have set times that we tend to clean up (before nap and before we start our bedtime routine). I make sure the dishes are done/in the dishwasher and I know what tomorrow looks like before I relax for the evening because it makes for a peaceful environment when I wake up.  I wake up at least 1-1.5 hours before the kids so I can prepare for my day, read, and be ready for them at 7:00 when they come down. These are just natural things that I do that I don’t even take time to think about.

But as for how each day looks? I need variety. Novelty.

So the other day, my kids kept asking what we were going to do and I had a list of things that needed done but not necessarily in a particular order. My 5 year old is a future event organizer and so, for her sake, I wrote a numbered list on the fridge in an order that seemed reasonable for the day. It included when we would eat, read, play, do schoolwork, take turns on the iPad, make muffins, etc. This was brilliant on my part. It satisfied my daughter’s need for knowing what to expect, it stopped questions of “when is that happening” from my son, it gave me a sense of accomplishment because I love crossing things off list, and it held me accountable to make sure I followed through on what I promised them they could do that day (like letting them help me bake even though it’s easier not to with a 5 year old, 4 year old, and 20 month old all at the small counter).

This was a way for me to have enough of a routine for the day that we got what we needed accomplished and yet it didn’t have to look the same for the whole week.  No more charts that I create that I use for, oh, a week, and then pitch because it’s too mundane.  Just my cup of tea.

I am finding my happy medium. Routine that comes in the form of habit (aka I’m not thinking about it because it’s happening naturally) that creates a sense of order and peace in my life is good. Any other kind of routine can find another person to snuggle up with and they’ll be great partners.

How about you?

What are you learning about yourself in this area? Do you tend to like routine and structure down to the hour/minute because it creates a sense of calm for you? Do you like knowing exactly what’s happening each moment of your day and look forward to your planner telling you what to do?  Or do you tend to be one who doesn’t like any routine at all and fly by the seat of your pants for pretty much anything but that excites you? Are you somewhere in the middle like me? Once you’ve figured it out for yourself, if you haven’t already, how can that help you to be intentional in your every day life so that you’re really feeling a sense of thriving and not just surviving?  The more we understand our natural tendencies, the better we can function in the every day.  

Studying Your Child

I need a hug

It had been a rough couple weeks.  I had a just-turned-4-year-old son throwing tantrum after tantrum, complete with throwing and grabbing and . . . ugh, it was just bad.  I don’t want to revisit it, really.  But lately?  So much better.  There will never be a perfect day when every child behaves every single moment (heck, I can’t even do that).  But we’ve been having some time to actually breathe and oh my does that feel delightful.

Here’s the thing: this whole process has been such a great reminder that I have to study my kids and act accordingly.  So, for my son, I know that he’s more of an introvert and he really loves and needs physical affection.  But in the moments of frustration when my son is acting out, I don’t often think of how they’re wired.  I forget what I learned about him from studying him.  And I quickly (or sometimes not so quickly) realize that I will not break the cycle until I communicate in a way that my child will receive what I’m saying and also meet his needs (not his wants–that’s a totally different thing altogether).

What does this practically look like?  Well the other day, my son was in the beginning of a meltdown.  He was under his bed and I was on the floor, at his level.  I tried to remain calm and let him talk (he hates to be interrupted and responds poorly to me raising my voice).  He then yelled, “I JUST WANT TO GIVE YOU A HUG!”  So I said, “Well then come give me a hug you goof!”  And he sat on my lap and immediately calmed down.

Another day that week, he started a tantrum over the iPad.  This doesn’t usually happen because I set time limits on the microwave and the kids know when their time is up.  But  I had a timer set so it would shut off after 30 minutes because this particular app has that.  I warned him it would happen.  But of course when it shut off, he was in the middle of something and then flipped out.  I expected it since this was a new thing I was trying so I was prepared to be calm and respond as lovingly as possible.  I also know that he is wired in a way that he HAS to finish what he’s doing before he can move on (his sister isn’t so much that way).  He threw his cup across the room and started to yell.  I very calmly and softly said, “We do not throw things.  You may go to your room and scream into your pillow and even hit it.  But you will not hurt me.  I will not let you hurt me.”  And then I thought about how much he needs physical touch and I followed it up with, “You can hug me.  But you cannot hurt me.”  And after a couple seconds, he came over to me and hugged me and calmed down.

Would I love it if he wouldn’t even start the tantrum in the first place?  Sure.  But this is major progress.  He’s a highly emotional little guy and doesn’t always think in the moment (nor do I and I’m almost 30 at the time of this posting).  So I’m all about praising the steps he’s taking and how he had the self-control to stop himself in the middle of a tantrum and make a better choice.

It’s not about perfection; it’s about progress.

“You can hug me but you may not hurt me” has become a mantra in our house.  It has been a lifesaver.  He is starting to communicate to me that he needs a hug sometimes before getting to the point where he has an outburst and other times it’s right after he starts and he is able to stop himself before it gets out of hand.  It’s tough as a mom because I need to remember to prompt him in that way, rather than just get frustrated and respond in a way that isn’t so helpful.  I don’t always succeed.  But again, we’re making progress and that’s what it’s about.

So the next time your kid is acting in an undesirable way, whether it’s as severe as what I saw in my kid with aggression or simply just a child who is out of sorts and seems a bit off, no matter the age of the child, maybe think about how they’re wired.  Study your child.  Look for patterns, pressure points, and needs/cravings you see (which may be simply a love language like physical affection, words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, or receiving gifts).  What can you provide for your child to help walk him/her through a difficult time?

And, as always, I’m writing this totally for me as a reminder to myself.  I will likely forget or draw a blank on how to reach one of my kids in a moment of frustration.  I won’t always remember to try to initiate physical affection with my son when he’s upset.  I won’t always be aware when my oldest hasn’t had any play dates in a couple weeks and therefore needs that time with people.  Until my youngest starts acting out, I may not be self-aware enough to always realize I’ve been preoccupied to the point of not getting much quality time with her.  I’m human and flawed just like you.  But I’ll make the attempt and remember that every morning is a new day and I can pick myself up to try again.  Good intention is a good place to start.


What They Remember

Do you ever wonder that you’re ruining your kid?  Me too.  I get all pessimistic and think they’ll only remember the rough days, the days when I said no to what they really wanted because I had to hold them accountable for their poor choices.  I think that all those crafty Pinterest moms are making all the memories because they have something super tangible for their kids to remember.  And me?  Well, let’s just say I can’t figure out any craft kit even for a 7 year old.  I believe the lie that I have to give my kids these extravagant parties and vacations so they’ll have these really great experiences to remember their childhood by.

Well, kids, I’m probably going to fail you at giving you everything you want and the best of the best.  And I’m learning that that’s okay. [Read more…]

Intentional Christmas Giving

Intentional Christmas Giving


Some of you are already done Christmas shopping (like me . . . because I had to be due to timing of seeing family).  Some of you started but have more to do.  And others haven’t begun yet (and that’s totally ok!).  Those of you who need some gift ideas still, or just want to have a resource to turn to for gifts for other times of the year (or next year), will really enjoy this!

We know this is a great time to be intentional with our money because we’re often spending more than usual (though we shouldn’t feel the need to–that’s a whole other thing altogether) so why not spend our money in places where it’ll make more of a difference?  But I’m no expert so I’m giving credit to those who have already done the work.  They’ve created some GREAT lists and I’m here to share them with you today in case it helps with your Christmas gift ideas or any gifts for that matter (birthdays, just because, you get the idea).  Enjoy!

And if I missed any good lists, please please please feel free to comment on the blog post itself or you can comment on the post on Facebook when it’s up there if you prefer.  I’m all about sharing the good stuff that helps us live more intentionally especially when it comes to our choices as consumers.  And now to the list!

5 Lists to Help You Give Intentionally

  1. Melanie Dale’s Slave-Free Christmas: She has TONS of ideas and has them all organized by what kind of gift you may be looking for.  The link will provide you with all the posts on her blog related to Slave-Free Christmas but some of the posts contain actual lists while others feature specific companies.  She posted a list of toys that give back all year long so check that out too for Christmas, birthday parties, baby showers, etc.
  2. Jen Hatmaker’s Buy Once, Give Twice:  She created a list in 2014 and and it’s sorted by the person you’d be shopping for.
  3. The Art of Simple’s 2015 Holiday Gift Guide: Tsh updated this for this year and I LOVE it.  You click on the tab and it opens up that category.  Then you can close it and open a different one.  Super easy and clean, which I am always into.  She even has specific book title recommendations.  Tsh also has an all-year-round Ethical Shopping Guide she keeps on her site at all times.
  4. Carrie’s (Lovely Etc.) 45 Gorgeous Gifts that Give Back: This is a BEAUTIFUL list.  She has stuff you’d never see elsewhere (or at least this Pennsylvania girl wouldn’t).  She has it organized by type of gift so you can look for gifts for kids, items for the home, or accessories, among others.  Definitely check it out.
  5. Erika’s (Married in Mile Square City) Ugandan Gift Guide: This is a list of just 5 organizations that give back to those in need in Uganda specifically.  Love that it’s a short list and yet she hand-picked some stellar organizations.  I love that she chose to focus on a specific area she wanted to reach by way of her giving because that country has a special place in her heart.  Makes me want to choose one area of focus for next year’s Christmas giving (a fun challenge to be super intentional).
  6. Heidi’s (Heidi at Home) Shopping with a Purpose:  She has some that are different from the other lists so definitely check this out.  She also links up to Fair Trade Friday which is a great option either for yourself (am I allowed to promote buying gifts for yourself?) or as a neat subscription box that helps women around the world.
  7. Jamie Ivey’s (The Happy Hour) Christmas Special Shopping Guide:  Jamie Ivey and Jen Hatmaker co-hosted a podcast sharing 25 different companies that are worth buying from.  But Jamie, the awesome girl she is, put a whole list together so you don’t have to go back and listen to the whole episode every time and write it all down.  Brilliant.  But you still should listen to the podcast because Jamie + Jen Hatmaker = fun times.

Sharing Our Stuff


Ah, teachable moments.  Don’t we just love them?

My daughter is usually a pretty giving person.  But she’s 5 so that isn’t always on her mind.  Let’s be honest: it’s not always on my mind either and I’m almost 30 (eek–that really is coming up soon, isn’t it?).

The other day, she got all huffed and puffed (no, she didn’t blow our house down) and she declared that her friend was getting a computer and it’s not fair that she doesn’t have her own computer too.

Yes, dear, because you’re 5 and you need your own laptop.  Of course.

Let’s also keep in mind this is the same girl who, practically every morning, has nothing to wear and can only wear sandals in 40 degree weather.  #itssohardtobefive

Enter teachable moment.

We talk often about not complaining about what we have and instead being grateful.  I remind my kids that there are children who don’t get a choice of which shoes to wear (if they have any at all), both locally and across the world.  But today was a little different.  This was an issue of, “She has something and so I should have  it too.”  I know, it’s a long road ahead.  I knew this day would come but didn’t think it’d happen this early.  I remember vividly wanting certain sneakers and clothing as a preteen because that’s what others had.  My mom simply said that if I wanted to spend $50 on a pair of sneakers then I could save up my money to buy them.  The alternative was to spend the $20 she was offering up for a less expensive pair since my feet would be growing and I wouldn’t be in that size forever.  Wise woman.

With the topic of the laptop, I sat my daughter down and explained that just because someone else has something doesn’t mean we need it too.  Everyone has different things.  I may have something that one of my friends doesn’t and vice versa.  And that’s totally okay.

I then led this into a brief discussion on sharing what we have with others.  We read in Acts 2 how the early Church would share their resources and they would give to those in need.  So I explained to my daughter that by the kids sharing a computer with me, we then can save the money we would’ve spent on another computer and use it to help others.  We talked about how when I have something that someone else doesn’t, I can share it with them.  And when others have something I could use, they can let me borrow it.  We do it often with friends and neighbors.  I may not need a saw more than once in my life but my friend may need it often.  So instead of buying my own, why not borrow it from my friend?  And I may have a printer that they barely ever need so why don’t I allow my friend to print off some things every once in a while rather than them purchasing a printer for themselves?

I’m not just preaching something to my kid–I’m trying to live it.  When we thought we were done having kids, we gave away a lot of our baby stuff and it went to people who truly needed it.  When we found out I was pregnant with baby #4, I started to regret having given it all away.  But my husband reminded me that God would provide just as He always has . . . and that He wouldn’t have put it on my heart to give the stuff away if there was a reason and purpose for it.  Well, just this week, a friend gave me a ton of baby clothes/bibs/swaddles that she didn’t need.  Just that morning I was thinking how I’d have to go out and buy something for the baby to wear for the cold weather and how I didn’t really want to spend $20-30 on something that he’d only wear for a short time but inevitably needs (and I found it super handy with my other son in the winter).  Well, in with all those clothes was exactly what I needed.  You can’t tell me that wasn’t totally a God thing.

Yes, sometimes sharing means that it is a little inconvenient.  Maybe it’d be easier to just buy everything we need, even if it’s only for that one time.  But what I think trumps the inconvenience is the fact that it brings us into community more.  (And of course I love having fewer possessions in my home but that’s another thing altogether.)  We are forced to interact with one another and live in community.  It usually prompts discussions and check-ins and we find out more about the other person than we otherwise would’ve.  We get a chance to step outside of ourselves.

So I shared with my daughter that for right now, she doesn’t need a computer.

Does she now have this grand appreciation for everything she owns?  Does she have a heart full of gratitude and a desire to share all her possessions with others?  Probably not.  But it’s these intentional conversations we have with our kids over and over and over again that will hopefully result in some heart change.

Let’s set a good example and share what we have with others, building community in the process.  And take advantage of these teachable moments with the kids in our lives because whether we realize it in the moment or not, it’s all getting inside those little hearts.  

Halloween in Community

  • halloween

This life is so much more fun when we live it in community with others, isn’t it?  Sure, it can be messy.  It’s easier sometimes to just sit in our homes and ignore each other.  But how often have you had good conversation over a meal with friends?  Or you’ve had an interaction with someone that made you belly laugh?  We were made to live in community, not to curl up and pretend like the rest of the world doesn’t exist.  There’s so much benefit to choosing to get to know one another.  Deep relationships.  Friends to call on when we need help.  Kids having playmates.  Shared experiences.  It can be so beautiful.

So one way that my husband and I have chosen to be more intentional about getting to know others is by taking advantage of times when we get to see our neighbors.  When the weather cools off here in Pennsylvania where we currently live, it’s not as easy to see others in our neighborhood.  Summer is easy: cookouts, sprinklers, playgrounds.  But hanging outside after dinner when it’s 40 or below just isn’t as enticing.  So we’ve decided to view times like Trick-or-Treating as an opportunity to get outside and interact with those who are living their lives around us when we otherwise might not see them.

What does this look like?  We live in a townhouse so we have a parking lot in front of our house.  While sometimes I loathe it because I’d rather have a fenced in yard, it has served us quite well for things like bike riding and random get togethers with friends.  And for Trick-or-Treating?  We get to use the space to have a small block-party style get together without a fence closing people off.

Last year, a few of us got together and each picked something to provide.  We grilled hot dogs, had warm apple cider in slow cookers, and had a fire pit with supplies to make s’mores.  We handed out glow sticks to kids and had candy of course.  As people came by, we offered up what we had as a way to get people to linger a bit and get to know them.  We told people this wasn’t just for us–it was to be enjoyed with anyone who wanted it.

This year, we’re doing it again and we hope to continue to build momentum over the years so people know to expect it.  It was wonderful for our kids to be able to meet other kids and great for us to finally get to know some of the people who live around us who we otherwise don’t get to interact with too often.  And we found that Trick-or-Treating is way more fun when there a bunch of people hanging out (even in the cold!) than just sitting waiting for the doorbell to ::maybe:: ring and hand out candy.  Why not be out where the action is?  It’s hospitality at its finest: casual, no cleaning of the house required, and people don’t have to feel obligated to linger if they don’t want to or have cranky kids.  A win-win for everyone! 🙂

How are you going to spend your Halloween?  Do you have any traditions in your own community?  

Monday Moments

Monday Moments

Most of us tend to look forward to Fridays.  It’s the end of the work week.  It begins the weekend where we have more freedom in our schedules, we get together with those we love, and many of us don’t have to work at our 9-5.  If you’re a stay-at-home-mom like myself, you may look forward to Fridays because it means your husband is going to be home for the next couple days to help with the kids and you just may be going on a date that night.  Fridays are just simply wonderful (or at least we’re conditioned to believe so).

But what about Mondays?  Oh, Mondays.  We dread them, don’t we?  It means we’re back to the daily grind . . . needing to get kids ready for school (or getting material prepped to homeschool).  It means back to our job that we may not love (though I hope you love yours!).  It means, for us SAHMs, that we are on our own to raise these littles for the next 9+ hours.  On Twitter, you’ll see the hashtag #mondaymotivation for a reason: people need a little extra encouragement on Mondays to help them get through the day on a positive note.

We tend to be a little bit more positive on Fridays and a little more pessimistic on Mondays.  Maybe that’s why our Mondays aren’t always the best–our frame of mind starts off on the wrong foot (er, wavelength?).  So let’s change that.

On Mondays, I want you to be specifically looking for what may normally be a Friday moment.  Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Did your kids do something funny today?
  • Did you see a random act of kindness while you were running errands?
  • Did you receive an encouraging text or email from a friend?
  • Did you tackle a project that’s been on your list for a while?
  • Did you make a killer meal for dinner that everyone loved?
  • Did you get some time to yourself that was just sweet bliss, even if it was only 15 minutes?

We’re going to do something new over at the Facebook page.  Each Monday, I will post a prompt asking you to share your Monday Moment.  Comment directly on that post on Facebook.  You can comment any time during the day.  The more people who share, the better.  It’ll help us be able to better identify the Monday Moments in our own lives by seeing what’s happening in others’ lives.  It can be so easy to focus on the mishaps in our days rather than what brought us joy.  Let’s flip that around.  Sound good?  Join in this coming Monday!  Also, feel free to use Twitter for this too.  Just use the hashtag #MondayMoments and tag @naptimecoffee.  Would love to see people on both outlets joining in!

Monday Moments: making Monday the new Friday

Nurturing their gifts

Nurturing their gifts

Sometimes it’s difficult to fight the urge to not want to create little mini versions of myself.  It’d be so much easier if all my kids were wired in the same way as me so we could all just “get” each other.  They’d understand why I need things to stop being so loud sometimes, why I need some space, why when I get an idea I get the urge to just hop on it before my creativity is gone.  But of course I also know that’d be a recipe for disaster.  None of us would remember anything, we’d have unbalanced bank accounts, and we’d likely have too much excitement going on that it’d scare people off.  So it’s good that we’re all different, with each of my kids showcasing passions and gifts that are wired within me but also ones in my husband . . . and some of their own altogether.  The tough part is remembering that I need to be nurturing their true selves, even when it feels unnatural for me.

Case in point My 5-year-old wanting to plan a party for every single person she knows.  Just because it’s Fall.  Oh wait, no because it’s Halloween.  Heck, how about a party for both?

Don’t get me wrong, I am all about planning.  I want things to be organized and well thought out.  I don’t like last-minute plans being made.  This is one reason my husband and I get along well.  We both like to be early (definitely not late but even on time is a little nerve-wrecking for us).  But sitting through all the details of planning something can become boring quickly.  And planning a party for a ton of people?  That’s hair-raising.  Having just one or two couples over for a meal is good for me.  I can handle that.  I have no desire to host some big event or plan it.  I’ll leave that to my super extroverted and planning-savvy husband.

But my daughter has captured pieces of both of us.  And so she got an idea in her head and can’t get it out (me) and she is in ultra-planning mode thinking through all the details every single day of her life until it happens and she can close that box (my husband).

When Lily said she wanted to have a party, she immediately had to start talking about it in detail.  Without help, she was coming up with a food list, a decorations list, and those she wanted to invite.  Of course it was organized on a piece of paper and she was thinking about where she could purchase her party supplies and food.  She literally wanted to invite like every single person she knew.  It became a bit too much for my somewhat-introverted self.  But I wanted to nurture her gifts and passions.  I know she likes to plan things and I know she would be around people 24/7 if she could but I simply can’t let her.

So I said, “You know what hunny?  I think Daddy would be a great person to plan this party with.  Daddy loves to plan and he’s really good at making sure all the details are thought through.”

Dodged that bullet.  #delegationatitsbest

They sat down and narrowed the list down to 12 guests, 3 sweet foods, 1 savory, 3 drinks, and supplies.  Then I was able to help by bringing Lily shopping for her party and making sure we got all the invitations to everyone.

She spends her rest time in the afternoon making preparations (which means making piles for each guest and some special hand-made treats for them).  She goes over her list on a daily basis to make sure she hasn’t forgot anything.  She has created a space for all of her party supplies so she knows exactly where everything is and stays organized.  It’s insane and yet precious.

So why am I telling you all this?  Because we need to remember to allow our kids the opportunities to use their wings to fly in the areas that they are capable and willing.  It sometimes means making a sacrifice on our part but it is beautiful when our kids can take flight and soar, isn’t it?

Tomorrow is the “big day” and you know what I get to do the day after?  Attend an intimate wedding of a dear friend and enjoy the celebration and not plan a single part of it.  The timing couldn’t be better.  🙂

For the record, my prediction is that in the future our family will be like the Partridge Family but in the event planning business.  We’ll see how things turn out.
Joe: CEO/Director of AVL
Lily: Event Planner/Booking Manager
Colby: Bookkeeper
Me: Communications/Marketing
Leila: Artist 
New Baby: TBD