Just Curious….

So, I came across this interesting little Easter Egg. At least, that is what it was called. 61KsdPjZ-gL._AC_UL115_ I did go ahead and get a few, well, because my boys just love these types of things. I am excited to see if these are as great as I believe they will be! If it will keep the kids entertained even for a couple hours, then the $9 was worth it! Want to try it yourself? You can find the link here.

 

**Yes, this is an affiliate link. That means, when you try out these fun little things I find, I get a “thank you” from the company simply for sharing things we enjoy.

What the heck…National Spouse Day?

View More: http://bradcole.pass.us/carpentercircusYesterday was National Spouse Day. And I missed it. But, I guess it’s a pretty accurate picture of the reality of marriage-at least, it is with ours! Maybe your’s is a little more “put together” and perfect. Lucky ducks! But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. I tend to be a bit of a scatterbrain- just ask my sisters. I am not the best at keeping up with all the National Days, unrecognized holidays, birthdays, etc. I think I’m doing well if I get things done on time. Instead of posting cutesy pics of us together, I posted about needing caffeine, dry shampoo and concealer! Real life, people! Some wives sent sweet texts to their husbands of I Love Yous and kissy face emojis. My sweet love got a text that I finally shaved my legs!

But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. Some days, he walks in to an immaculately clean house, content kids and a dolled-up wife that has conquered the world! Some days, he comes home from work to a hot mess of a wife, a house that seems to have had an internal tornado ravage it, and kids that are bickering. Some days are harder than others. And like the best husband ever, he greets me with a kiss and asks, “Do you need a trip to Target?”

But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. We don’t always agree on everything. At times, I am ridiculously unreasonable. Yet, he is so patient with me even when he is giving me “the look.” You know, “the look.” The one that conveys all the thoughts going on inside his head- “What is she talking about? Where did this come from? Does she realize that is not even reality? Pretty sure she just invented those statistics. We’re going to have a good laugh over this when she realizes what she has been saying.”

But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. I am a starter, but I struggle to finish things. I get on all kinds of whims. I take up new interests all the time. Instead of eye-rolls and “not another crazy idea,” I get words of encouragement. It’s amazing what encouragement does for a person’s soul and for a marriage! He has every right to remind me of all my failed attempts, unfinished projects, or self-inflicted stress to do things perfectly. But he lovingly tells me that I can do it, he is proud of me, he will support me however. And my favorite, “How can I help you?” Some people know exactly what they want to do in life, what their passions are, and every little thing that they are called to do (or at least it seems they do!). But I am convinced God knows exactly what he is doing in this little adventurous spirit when He slowly reveals new ideas, new passions, new things that excite me. You see, I would be too overwhelmed to just know it all and do it all at once. I enjoy the process of discovering the little things that excite me and light up my soul! It’s like a puzzle- tons of random pieces that begin to find their place and reveal the Big Picture of Me.

But I must admit I am one blessed lady. My husband loves me, despite my flaws. We have committed to doing whatever it takes to make our marriage successful. For us, that means it is not just surviving but thriving. It means we are growing together. It means we love each other more as we learn more about each other over the years. Why do I love him more now that I did when we first got married? Because I have learned so much more about the amazing man he is. He has had many years of proving to me that he is trustworthy, loyal, a man of his word, generous, selfless and, most of all, desires to love me no matter what. This may surprise you, but I’m not always lovable. I’m not always sweet. Sometimes I can be spicy. Sometimes I’m a little tart. Sometimes I might be sour. But we are committed to our marriage and to each other.

There is no such thing as a perfect marriage or perfect spouse. In fact, every marriage is doomed to fail UNLESS you are committed to do the work necessary to make it a success. {Please note, NO condemnation for anyone who has been divorced! The past is the past; learn, grow and plan for a successful future} There are many important factors that contribute to a successful marriage. I find myself always thanking God for a spouse that is committed and loves me, despite my flaws!

The Shopping Has Begun

With the Christmas season upon us, every commercial a child sees results in “I want that!” Well, if you are like me, I want to know what the toys actually are- do they work, will my kid abandon it within days, is it durable, is it harmful if swallowed?

That leads me to the next several posts- GIFT GIVING IDEAS/REVIEWS/TIPS. Many of these are going to be toys, but I think it is also important to look at gift ideas for adults as well. The goal: be a great giver without breaking the bank!  So, let’s look at a few things.

_100036737One of my girls is obsessed with My Fairy Gardens. It combines her love for cutesy fairies with a desire to grow flowers and other things. Even though the fairies have their own names, her creativity insists on renaming them to something more unique, like “Frickleschnitz.”

Here’s my conclusion: The Magical Cottage Playset

PRICE: Average (less than $25)

CUTENESS: Definitely!

CREATIVE: Absolutely- it gets their imaginations going

WORTH IT: Yes, makes a great Christmas present. And it will hold interest since you are growing flowers or grass all year long.

 

You can purchase the Magical Cottage Playset from Amazon here (currently with free shipping for Prime members) here.

 

 

DISCLAIMER: This post and description contains affiliate links, which means that if you click on the product link, I’ll receive a small commission. This helps support the blog and allows us to continue to help others. Thank you for the support!

But Do I HAVE To?

I really admire those disciplined people who have their Jesus time first thing in the morning. You know, the ones who don’t do anything until they’ve spent time with Him? They wake up, read their Bible, pray THEN they go about their day. I understand the idea behind this routine. It even makes sense to me. Unfortunately, I just can’t seem to make myself do it. Some would argue that I lack the discipline to create the habit. Or maybe I just can’t get my act together enough to make it work! Or maybe it’s that my body is naturally attuned to Island Time.

By nature, I am a morning person. I wake up and instantly my brain kicks in. Full conversations start the moment I become awake. Others need an hour to get the process started, 3 cups of coffee and a small jolt of electric shock!

Don’t get me wrong. I believe it’s important to get in some one-on-one time with God. It’s impossible to cultivate a relationship (of any type) without communication. But I will no longer be guilted by well-meaning Christians that early morning routines are “God’s way.” [Those poor, unfortunate, non-morning souls!]

So, here are a few of my thoughts:

1.  Quality, not quantity. There is no point wasting my morning pretending to read my Bible or pray. Is it better to wake up early with the intention of spending time with God, only to fall asleep while praying? Or to get in the daily reading but have no idea what you just read? My husband and I could sit in the same room for hours yet have no connection. However, life is much fuller when we are present and enjoy each other’s company! The point should be to spend time with God, to commune with Him, to get to know Him more.

2. Relationship, not religion. Religion says I have to do certain things in order to be a proper Christian. Relationship makes me want to do things differently. When my heart is connected to God’s heart, amazing things happen! The entire theme of the Bible is to bring mankind back into relationship with a loving Heavenly Father. Religion may know tons of scriptures and all the “rules” we are suppose to follow. And, let’s be honest. Our flesh so badly wants to break rules once we know them! I don’t understand it. There is just something enticing about the forbidden. But out of relationship, I want to make right choices. I want to live up to a higher standard. I want to follow after things of God.

3. Love, not fear. If my relationship with God is founded in love, there is freedom. I make mistakes. Sometimes, they are small and easily remedied. But sometimes they are bigger. What do I do then? I find myself running TO God, not AWAY from Him. Our relationship is founded in His love. I am not afraid of correction because I know He wants what is best for me even more than I do! But if fear controlled my response to God, I would be filled with anxiety. I would want to hide every time I messed up because I am sure He is about to unleash the wrath of God. I would be burdened with guilt any time I fell short of perfection (which is often).

4. Self-awareness. Even though I am a morning person, I am aware of my attention first thing in the morning. If I woke up and immediately went into deep prayer and Bible study, my thoughts would be competing for attention. The To-Do list starts kicking in right away. The random reminders that only seem to pop up when I first wake (seriously, why can’t I remember these things later in the day when I can actually get to them?!?!?!). I am aware that the ONLY way I can give my full attention to God is AFTER I have unloaded aaaaaallllllllllll these thoughts. I love to get up, head into my office and begin a To-Do list. I just unload the random thoughts. I’ve heard it called a Brain Dump and that is exactly what I need to do. Dump all the thoughts, the lists, the things fighting for my attention onto a piece of paper or into my planner. Now I have cleared space in my head. I can give God my undivided attention, which is what He deserves. And, I can sit and BE STILL! There is no restlessness- just peace. I can’t be still on the inside if my mind is racing a million miles an hour. I doubt you can, either.

5. Be intentional. My life phrase this year has been LIVE INTENTIONALLY. It is so easy to go on autopilot through life. We make decisions without much thought. We create a routine that is comfortable, but it doesn’t help us to grow. Last year, God began showing me that I was on a path to just drift through life. It wasn’t a bad path, but it wasn’t His best for me. It felt safe, but it wasn’t exciting. After some soul-searching and many exercises, I realized I was losing one of my core desires- adventure! Saying YES to God will take you on the best adventures in life! The places you see, the people you meet, the lives you impact- it makes an adventurous heart happy! In order to do great things for God, you have to hear Him when He whispers to you. It is the daily, consistent acts of obedience that leads to great adventures. It isn’t a one-time, larger-than-life experience. And, yes, sometimes those acts of obedience mean being woken up at 4am with the urgency to pray. Trust me, it’s worth it!

Maybe I’m doing this all wrong. Maybe I’m not. What I do know is this: I love to spend time in His presence. We talk throughout the day. My spirit yearns to be connect to Him. I love Him, because He first loved me. I trust Him, because I know Him.

Build the relationship. Connect your heart to God’s heart. Learn to say YES!,

The Pokemon Go Parenting

pokemongoYep, you read that right! Pokemon Go was the right choice for me! Now, before I get to the good stuff, let’s just clarify. Yes, I am aware of all the possible security issues, the camera & data tracking, etc. Yet, I still decided to downloaded Pokemon Go at the request of my kids. I didn’t want to at first, but they are persistent little buggers. I thought this would be one more video-type game that would annoy the snot out of me until I deleted it. Instead, something much more profound happened. The kids and I have are having the best time of our lives! We drive around the neighborhood collecting Poke Balls. We take turns catching pokemon. We are learning to battle at the gyms. And we are doing this all together. But more importantly, we are reconnecting. You probably already know the following. But it was a great reminder for me, so I am sure it will serve as a great reminder for other moms.

Parenting lessons from Pokemon Go:

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work!

We know this to be true in our business life. But what about our family life? My dream for this summer was that we would travel, play, laugh, and have the best summer. My reality has been lots of extra cleaning and laundry, and arguments. Oh, the arguments! But when they are working together to build their pokemon collection, they are forced to use teamwork. Something magical happens when a team of people are working together towards a common goal! My kids are interacting nicely together, versus the daily fights. *Sigh* I love the peace!!!

We need to have FUN!

Of course, it has always been our plan to be a fun family. We love to have fun! But somehow in the mix of the daily parenting woes and routines, we were lacking in that arena. Fun comes naturally for kids. It seems to be what they live for. As we grow older, we replace play with responsibility, stress and worry. Vacations and weekends are reserved for family fun. However, our kids need to play and have fun. These moments provide opportunity to bond, to create memories, to role play life experiences, to learn valuable life-skills. I learn so much about what I have been doing recently around the house by how my children play pretend. Playing house-  Is Mom always working or irritable? Are they showing each other patience or barking orders? Chances are, that may have been my attitude for the week. So, remember to add some fun to your family time!

Celebrate, Don’t Compete

Healthy competition is good. However, with tons of kids it is very easy for EVERYTHING to become a competition. This leads to more frustration, more anger, more hurt feelings, more fights. By only using one account, when one of us catches a pokemon, we all win! (Sure, the 4-year old uses up more Poke Balls, but when he catches one, you would think he caught a Legendary!)  We are cheering each other on, genuinely excited when the other catches a “good one.”

Sometimes We Need to Reconnect

I try to give individual attention to each kid, finding things we have in common or being interested in what they are interested in. But for whatever reason, I have always had a short patience for video games. My husband enjoys them, our friends and family enjoy them, the kids enjoy them. Me? Most of the time, it annoys me when they are playing. I found with our oldest son that I was not very patient with him or interested when he would start talking nonstop about his games. I might space out. Or tune him out. Or have that annoyed mom look on my face. Or flat out tell him it’s just a game, let’s talk about something more important. **THIS IS WHERE I MISSED IT** It was important to his 9-year old self. And I belittled something he was excited about. When I saw his eyes light up as I said we would all do this together, it clicked! We were becoming disconnected. The hubby laughed at me one night as I laid in bed researching how to play, what different items were, what different pokemon did, etc. Sure, it looked like I had fallen into the game world. In reality, I was finding ways to talk with my son. The next day, I was able to talk with him on his level about something he found exciting. We had reconnected!

Here is the most important takeaway: those “meaningless” conversations lead to deeper conversations. Your kids want to talk with you. They want to share their hearts with you. But when they feel they can’t share small details with you, they will hesitate to share the important heart-issues with you.

It’s the little things that matter!

tree

Christmas can be a magical time of year for kids. There are parties, crafts, extra treats, gifts, plays, lights, glitter, and paper snowflakes!  And the most exciting part for them, of course, is Christmas break! However, this is also one of my most dreaded parts. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing things with my kids. And I love being around them all day long when they are not fighting. But, let’s be honest. With 4 Little Darlings, fights are inevitable!

Mornings are filled with “Everyone upstairs to your rooms” and “I need 30 minutes of absolute silence because I have a phone appointment” and “Ask your sister for help while I finish up work here.” I get as much work done as I can, then rack my brain for activities for everyone without losing my sanity. Apparently, I am not the only one! Off to the gym we go because I can get a 2 hour break.  That gives me an hour-long class, 10 minutes in the steam room, and 50 whole minutes to myself!

When I awoke from my 20 minute power nap, I felt such a camaraderie with the other moms that were napping in the lounge of the ladies’ locker room. We get each other. We know that look each one wears as she sinks into the plush, oversized leather seat. We understand the importance of those precious moments of solitude as we hide in the lounge. There is no judgment. There is no regret. There is no shame. There is just an understanding that we share.

Moms everywhere, I get you! In case no one has reminded you lately, YOU ARE DOING AN AMAZING JOB! 

 

I’m sorry, WHAT?!?!?!

 

Kids are smart. They learn about life from somewhere, and I want to be their main source of information. Hubby and I have a parenting policy that nothing is off-limits. They can ask us questions about anything- and I mean ANYTHING! Oh, yeah! It’s uncomfortable! There are times when I want to kick them out of the room and say, “I’ll tell you when you’re older.” They bring up topics that make me want to say, “I’m sorry, WHAT?!?!?!” But if I don’t answer their questions, they will look for the answers somewhere. We live in a world where answers are easily accessible, but rarely line up with our values.

Some of the questions we have been asked have made us uncomfortable. But now that we have an almost-13-year-old (as she likes to remind us), the questions get CRAZY! And sometimes I have to initiate conversations. “But, Mom, why can’t I wear these pants anymore? They aren’t too short.” BAD ANSWER: “Because I said so. Just go change.” HONEST ANSWER: “Because they are too tight. I can see the outline of your underwear and you have camel toe.”   Great, now I’ve done it! Now we have more things to talk about! But I would rather explain it to her than have kids laugh at her at school over something she knows nothing about. Oh, and panty lines? I would rather explain a thong to her than Little Susie Slut next door telling her it will make her sexy and boys will love it.

Regardless of how crazy the questions become, I am so honored that my kids trust me enough to ask! What are some smart parenting policies that you have? What kind of crazy questions have your kids asked? Please share with us!

Gearing Up For The Holiday Season

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Anyone else have rooms like this? Stuff. Stuff everywhere. And it isn’t isolated to just a bedroom or playroom. Poeple have entire houses filled to the brim with Stuff. The garage is so full you can’t park the cars in it. The kitchen cabinets couldn’t fit one more dish. Every cabinet, every drawer, every storage spot in the house is filled with something. There is so much Stuff everywhere and it’s overwhelming. Yet, with the holidays approaching, you find yourself making space for yet more Stuff. Sound familiar? Of course, not you! That’s clearly someone else.

Christmas is still a months away, but I have noticed a drastic increase in toy commercials already. Companies have become excellent at marketing to our littles. Society keeps telling them they need more. Their little eyes and hearts are filled with discontent for their current toys as they long for something new. Parents put themselves through stress to give kids everything their little hearts desire. I know many parents that spend ridiculous amounts of money at Christmas for toys their children grow tired of within weeks. And how many families take on debt year-long just to pay for Christmas?

Don’t get me wrong. I love giving gifts to my kids! They have always enjoyed opening presents. I’m not against any of that! What I am against is filling our lives with meaningless stuff at the cost of what does have meaning. Great- you bought your children everything on their wish list, but did you also teach them generosity? Did they use their own money to buy gifts for a family that otherwise wouldn’t open gifts Christmas morning? Great- you said “Yes” to every party invite, but did you say “Yes” to your daughter’s imaginary tea party on Black Friday? Great- you scored awesome deals on things you wanted to replace, but when was the last time your children heard you being thankful for all you already have?

And it’s not just our children that we overindulge. Does your Christmas list include every relative, every neighbor, every friend at church, every teach at school, everyone that comes to mind? My list usually starts with good intentions, but when I put the names up to my budget, anxiety/stress/panic sets in. Couple that with the JAM PACKED schedule of parties, dinners, programs, parades, concerts, etc. and you have one stressed out lady!

Take the stress off yourself this season.  You don’t have to have it all, give it all, do it all, be it all! Sometimes, saying “No” is healthy. Don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t do. Be grateful for what you can!

Where do you start? Decide what is most important to you and your family. For our family, making memories is valuable. Here’s what that looks like for our family: Thanksgiving isn’t perfect, it’s laid back and fun (sometimes we eat at 2pm, sometimes we eat at 4pm); Black Friday may or may not happen- let’s see how we feel after Thursday’s game night; 3 nights a week in December we drive around for 30 minutes looking at house lights; we make a day out of Christmas parades; we go shopping for others (non-family) and get NOTHING for ourselves during those trips.

It’s not too late to create the holiday habits you desire. Just because you have done it one way for 10 years doesn’t mean you can do something new this year. What things are important to you and your family? How can you focus more on values this season? What do you need to do in order to lessen the seasonal stress?

You can do this! You can have stress-free holidays!

Goals- Yay or Nay?

  Every month I have goals that I have to reach, need to reach, and want to reach. A few of my goals for this month are realistic. But I also have crazy, BIG goals that make me laugh and nervous at the same time. I have one so big right now that it scares the crap out of me, yet it is something I believe God placed in my heart.  I need something bigger to live for than the mundane everyday. Some goals are so big that they can’t be accomplished in just one month-they need several months or even years! Some are easy goals I know I can hit with a little bit of work. 

I believe in goals. I have seen too many people, especially women, that drift through life with no focus or sense of purpose. Working towards your goals keeps you moving on the path of life that YOU desire. What do you want your life to look like?

In order to reach your goals, you might have to change. Maybe it will require you to stretch yourself, develop more, grow. That’s not a bad thing! Yet, often in these uncomfortable moments is when people quit. Don’t quit! You can do it!

At the end of each month, I plan out the next month’s goals. Each goal, no matter the size, requires action steps. What steps do you need to take today? This week? This month? This year?

I would love to hear from you! Are you a goal-setter? Do you want to be? How often do you plan out goals? Leave a comment and share with the rest of us!

The Mommy Woes, Vol. 1

mom woes

Little Darlings #1, #2 & #3 have chores that are done daily and weekly. However, #4 wants in on the action. As I was getting out after-school snacks, he told me he would clean the bathroom. It was #3’s week, so any extra help would be appreciated! A few minutes later he came down to announce he had cleaned the bathroom. I sent him back at least 4 times to do something else with the bathroom (put towels in the hamper, empty the trash can, put toothbrushes away, etc). Finally, snacks were done and so was he. Evening went on and I didn’t think any more about it.

After we put the kids to bed that night, I went to change and get ready for bed myself. That’s when I saw it. The help from Little Darling #4. The brand new empty box of toilet wand cleaners. My white bathroom was now blue. The toilet. The wall. The tile. The door. Blue. Everywhere.

I started cleaning up the mess. To my horror, my white was still blue! There are blue stains on the top of the toilet seat. The whole underneath of the toilet seat is blue. The lid is stained blue. The seal around the base of the toilet is still blue. My while tiles have large blue spots. The white trim in the bathroom has blue streaks. And even my wall has blue marks on it.

I want to laugh. I probably will in a few weeks. Unfortunately, all I can think about every time I walk into the bathroom is “I’m going to have to replace that. I’m going to need to repaint in here.” He was so proud of his accomplishment that I couldn’t even scold him.

This is why I don’t usually buy chemical cleaners. Lesson learned- homemade EVERYTHING from now on!!!!