Favorite authors

Before pictures of kids on sandy beaches start popping up on our blog I wanted to make sure I responded to being tagged by sweet Aundrea to list my ten favorite authors….due to lack of time and packing I can’t give much commentary on each one but here they are in case you are looking for some good reads, here you go!

1. Sally Clarkson – if you read my blog much you already know the impact this woman and her writing have had on my life.  She boldly speaks to the valuable and key role of mothering against the tide of mainstream culture.  I am so grateful a friend passed me one of her books 6 years ago, I’ve not been the same since.

2. Francis Chan – partly because of when I read his book but mostly because the message is rock-your-world powerful and awesome, he has to make the cut.

3.  John Piper – though slow for me to read because they tend to be pretty deep, everything I’ve read by him has brought me a deeper, better understanding of spiritual truths.

4.  Henry Cloud – during times of healing and counseling in my early 20’s his books provided a great framework for me as I worked through stuff

5.  L.M. Montgomery – writer of the famed Anne of Green Gables, these books are the first I remember reading and falling in love with as a teenager

6.  Danny Silk – only read one book of his but it was an incredible introduction to the place of grace and being intentional as we raise children

7.  Ann Voskamp – though her first book is only available to pre-purchase before it’s release in January, her blog has ministered to me more than most books I’ve read.  She is a tremendously gifted writer and in the last two years I’ve sat reading her words at my computer and wept as God spoke to my heart through her.

8.  The Author of Life – and all the amazing God followers who listened to the voice of their Maker and had a part in bringing to light the most transformational book in all the world…the Bible.

I’m out of time and going to stop here instead of not post because I’m not done!

The joy of creating

In this stage of mom life many things get started, few are finished and much of life requires doing the same things over and over and over again.  Pondering this and also wanting to be as economical and thrifty as possible for the holidays, I decided to host a mom craft morning.  Four uninterrupted kid-free hours, a sewing machine, all our collective ideas and supplies and plenty of food!  Not only did we have a delightful time with one another, it felt wonderful to make some lovely things that we can give as gifts for Christmas.

When your days consist of diapers, discipline and dishes it is, in my opinion and experience, extremely important for survival to have time set aside that fills your cup and allows you a break from regular life.  I believe that ‘regular life’ is profoundly important and valuable and that pouring out my life for my family and others is the way I want to live.  Investing in the lives of my children is exactly how I want to spend my days.  But I also think it’s my job to find ways to step back and intentionally take care of myself so that I can do my primary job with excellence.

With that said, in the midst of a week of unusually out of control behavior from one child and more than normal busy days, here is my continuing list of gratitude:

#312 – time to create and craft

#313 – beautiful things

#314 – slipper socks

#315 – first dentist visit in 3 years…the feel of clean teeth!

#316 – pulling out sunscreen in November

#317 – hot pink toes ready for sand

#318 – tears poured out on behalf of a child

#319 – a husband willing to take 4 kids out for 4 hours

#320 – being ready to go back to church after…a very long time

#321 – hearing my transformed husband share a piece of his story with others

#322 – marveling at all God can do with our broken hearts

It depends on how you look at it…

#297 – a fresh supply of Redbox DVD’s to help get through the day with 4 sick kids

#298 – our first true sick day in 11 weeks of homeschool

#299 – seven hours of sleep for mama

#300 – quinoa soup

#301 – the nedi-pot…seriously awesome invention for colds!

#302 – the up side of delayed growth in our 2 1/2 year old…I can still tote her around in the Ergo which is all she wants when she’s sick

#303 – a long enough buckle on the Ergo to still fasten under my baby belly 🙂

#304 – abounding pregnancies and the blessing of new life everywhere it seems

#305 – a husband who silently strips sheets, flings vomit chunks off the back deck at 3 AM with a good attitude

#306 – mini Snickers, a misnomer really, when you eat 10 of them I’m pretty sure it’s not “mini”

#307 – fall soups, three on the menu docket this week

#308 – the first chapter of James

#309 – book piles everywhere

#310 – these eyes

#311 – this belly button

 

The perfect autumn day

This one of Kyler made me cry.  This is so him.  In every way.

Can you find her?

I count it all joy to get to share all of my days with these people.  Stunning blue eyes.  Glee-filled grins.  Tender sisterly sweetness.  Creativity abounding (they spent over an hour trying to ‘charm’ snakes out of a snake hole).  I can’t imagine doing this any other way.

Time=value

Sometime early this year I came to a humbling and painful realization about the way I spent my time.  It followed my major epiphany that no one was going to help me lose weight and make healthier choices but…ME.  It took months of trying to replace my daily sugar junking with better options to make a change.  I still cave but sugar doesn’t have the same hold.  Though I didn’t lose all the baby( x4) weight I was toting around, at least half of it is gone – better than nothing I figure.

The much harder conclusion was that no one else was responsible for the way I chose to use my time.  I would read Proverbs 31 and just dismiss the whole chapter, too long a list, too lofty.  Get up before the sun so my house could be in order?  Craziness.  Instead I woke up with my kids, gave generously of my time to the computer, read too many blogs/articles and continuously remained utterly behind on laundry, daily cleaning and a general sense of focus.  I told myself those were just part of the season (which truly, honestly they are sometimes).  In a few years maybe I could aim for change in that department.

Nevermind that my lack of time management was hard on everyone.  I would snap and ask Chris to do the dishes and list off the “100 things I did today” to explain why breakfast/lunch/dinner dishes all lined the sink and entire counter.  I would complain about the workload and refuse to put one more single piece of clothing away (this was less than smart, just landed me more work in the long run).  Sure, it might have been true, but the attitude behind it wasn’t winning any points.  It seemed reasonable to me that my kids wake up to me on the computer sipping coffee in my pajamas every morning.  It certainly isn’t something inherently bad.

There were two problems at hand for me though.  The first was that I was generally behind on all things ‘home’ partly because of all the people who live here and partly because I could not see that it was my job as the manager of this home to find a system that worked.  The second was that my time spent reflected my values.  Are my values shopping on Amazon and reading 10 blogs in a day?  Or are they pursuing a living, breathing relationship with my Creator?  I realize it’s not an either or type of thing.  But if my time was broken down into a pie chart – Amazon would win over Jesus.  And that was more than a bummer.  It just wouldn’t do.

How can I reflect something or someone I’m not giving (literally) the time of day to?  How can I read book after book but ignore THE Book and the richness of wisdom for all of life that is in it?  I recently told my mom, I feel a little sheepish about how much I’m learning actually reading the Bible.  There are so many answers and so much hope, I am continually amazed.

And I’ve known about God all my life.  But the shift from knowing about to just knowing is completely transformational.

It all comes down to choice.  Just like no one was going to make me choose a bowl of yogurt and fruit instead of half a box of cookies…no one is going to choose to manage my time and my (more than) full time responsibility of  keeping our home running, it is up to me how the pie chart turns out.  While it’s a life long work in progress, the fruit of a new understanding is radically altering the way our days play out around here.

Just ask my husband (grin).

Priorities

Back in August, we had a date night.  We talked about lots of things.  I spewed words and stress and asked for insight and help making sense of the fall schedule.  He turned my confusion into clarity.  He helped me figure it all out.  It was very good.  I was able to pull out the common themes in all my rambling and wondering about ‘what to do about_____?’.  The important things emerged.

One of the biggest was the desire to not be driven by a crazy and unattainable schedule.  Living where we do and being wired the way I am, this is extremely hard to actually live out.  We had a list of things in the wings, fun activities, all enriching and wonderful.  But they all required something that asks a lot of me…leaving the home with a handful of children.  Maybe this seems simple, but honestly it looks like this:

Get myself clothed and ready to go (this happens long before the sun or children get up).  Get two little people fed, clean(ish), clothed, shoed and ready.  Supervise the older two doing the same things.  One puts on all dirty clothes.  Talk about why we wear, in general, clean clothes.  Little kids take off pieces of shoes or clothing.  I put them back on.  Spills.  Someone fills a diaper.  Anticipate all the needs of where we’re going, how long we’ll be there, what we are doing.  Pack snacks, drinks, perhaps a whole meal for 5 people that travels well.  Make sure there are diapers in the car and extra clothes for guaranteed messy diapers requiring new outfits.  Tie someones shoes-again.  Remember the dog’s not been let out all morning.  Let her out.  Accidentally let the indoor cat out.  Chase the cat and bring her back in.  Step in gum.  Clean my shoe.  Answer a phone call.  A text message.  Realize its pouring and no one has their jackets.  Find everyones’ jackets.  Resolve minor sibling argument. Throw a load of stuff in the car.  Get assaulted by a smell that tells me I left old food and/or a diaper in the car yesterday.  A mass exodus out to the van.  Someone loses a shoe in a puddle.  Wet socks.  Sadness.  Back in.  Someone has to go potty.  Back in, then out.  I contemplate sitting on the front porch for a minute while they are all buckled in waiting for me.

Really, it’s not much of an exaggeration.  It’s a big ordeal leaving.  So when I started to hyperventilate over all the comings and goings of fall and tried to figure out how they would jive with my heart to pursue simpler days and a life that was grounded and stable – it should not have been a surprise that I realized too much was on the docket.

So we cleared the whole docket.  We said no to all of it.  Then we thoughtfully prayerfully talked about what mattered most and honestly looked at our motives for wanting to do each cool thing.  And not much was left.  But there was great peace.  And ten weeks into our homeschool year, I still feel a great sense of relief that we don’t have a daily ‘something’ to get out to.  I haven’t had even a pang of regret.  It might sound crazy to you and like we’re all missing out on so much.

But this has left me free to go to the park on sunny days and play in the leaves.  Free to let our general schoolwork happen throughout the flow of the day, not being in a crazy frenzy to squeeze it in when we’re home.  Free to spend an hour cooking with all hands on deck teaching my 6 year old boy what it means to deglaze the pan with red wine as he pours it into a pot.  Free to play puzzles on the floor for almost two hours like we did one rainy day last week.  Free to have friends over for lunch and not stress about if we’re behind on our schedule.

Yes, some days like last Wednesday felt more like totally crazy than perfectly simple.  I had asked too many times for people to do things and they weren’t getting done.  I felt like steam was literally coming out of my head.  I tossed a perfectly good bowl full of my favorite lunch into the sink and left lunch early I was so frustrated by poor table manners.

However, even with ‘totally crazy’ days, having sat down and taken inventory of what we were doing, the big picture of our year (a baby coming, a vacation, our involvement in our new church starting soon) was one of the best things we could have done.  It took a few years of saying yes to too many things and of doing things out of sheer obligation for me to come to this place.

Living and learning…every single day.

King Tut

We don’t do quite enough art and crafts with homeschool but when we get to, it is truly a favorite for all of us!

Kyler painted his whole “Tut” all gold.  Then all blue.  Then all black.  Then the paper gave out and that was that.  But he had fun!

Bedtime sweetness

This girl is a peach at bedtime (can’t quite say the same for the other 3 at the moment!)

We are babysitting Nana’s 2 kittens at the moment and they are finding themselves quite well-loved I’m sure.  About 10 seconds after this picture Audrey was fast asleep with her little buddy.