Monday, January 31, 2011

Doing What Works

Everywhere you turn, people are always trying to give you advice.  And generally, it's good, well-meaning advice.  We all have opinions on just about everything!  We've read the blogs, books, and watched the documentaries or shows on X, Y, or Z.

But, then there's reality.  What I should do verses what I can do.

I have spent a lot of effort over the last 10 years failing at what I should do and this month I gave up and started doing what I can do.  Let me elaborate.

1. My grandmother once told me never to put my knives in the dishwasher because they would get dull.  For years now, I have had knives continuously on my counter piling up to be hand washed because "You can't put knives in the dishwasher".  This has led to me having an ongoing dirty dishes issue that I just couldn't conquer.

This month I decided that they were my knives and I'll throw them in the dishwasher if I want to.  I'd rather buy a new set of knives every year than see another dirty knife piled up on my counter.  And you know what?  I haven't had dirty dishes sit longer than a few hours in my kitchen over the last month.   This small change has made a huge impact in my life.

Regardless of how good the advice was, it just wasn't working for me.  It was good advice, but as a mother of two small children - I just don't have time to hand wash dishes.  Using the dishwasher saves me so much time and time is limited right now.

2. Being "green" and "natural" is a hot topic everywhere you turn.  I am constantly inundated with ways I need to be greener or more natural, and how this or that product is giving me cancer.  It's enough to make you hide under the covers.  So, of course, I was trying to do my part to use more natural products for cleaning and laundry.  Only, my "new and improved" products don't actually clean as well as my old ones.  I have to scrub longer and more often, and stains don't come out as easily of my clothes, and now I'm having to spend time making some of my cleaners, etc.  Basically, that meant my bathrooms looked grungy, our clothes had stains, laundry was piling up, my new natural deodorant was giving me a rash, I was spending a lot of effort trying to do just basic cleaning, and let's not even talk about my shampoo experience.

Although, I love the idea of "going natural" with my cleaners and products - I just need to step back for a time and regroup.  Maybe I will keep a few things, but for now I'm going to do what works.

3. Health is an important topic as it effects every part of our lives.  And there are a LOT of opinions on what we should and should not eat, drink, etc.  One of those being the great caffeine debate.  I am a caffeinated woman.  I like my morning latte.  No, scratch that, I need my morning latte.  At this stage in the game, with kid filled days, early wake-ups, late catch-ups (i.e. doing all the work that I couldn't do with the kids awake), and everything else - I need that extra boost.   Is caffeine unhealthy?  I'm sure.  But right now, not having my morning coffee just doesn't work for me.   Now maybe in the future I will wake up peacefully, do some yoga and sip some decaf tea - but right now I'm full-octane baby.

It all just wasn't working for me.  And read that correctly, I said "For me!!!".  Me, the person who is typing this, not you, the person who is reading this.  I have no idea what works for you.  I only know what works for me.  Maybe you spend luxurious hours hand washing your knives, while composting your kitchen scraps, whipping up a new batch of deodorant, and saving the world!  But, I, alas - am not that skilled.  And yet, maybe one day I will be.  Maybe this is just the me right now and the future me will be able to try some of these things again.  Because, like I said - the advice is good!  It just doesn't work for me.

And yet, lots of other things do work for me.  I've been able to happily incorporate them into my life without killing the quality of my life.    Although, those will be different for each of us.  I may never use paper plates, but for you that might be the pivotal piece that keeps life turning in your household.  And that's good!! Do what works for you and what keeps your family going during these seasons of chaos.

My hope is that, as women, wives and mothers (and you guys too), we can support and encourage each other instead of judge and criticize for what we can't accomplish or what we need to do just to stay sane!

So, if you can relate - what "advice" do you need to discard so that you can begin to function? :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

For Your Listening Pleasure

A Thousand pairs of firey eyes
Burn like a serpent down the hwy 5
As the Long amber tail to Los Angeles unwinds
I've got His resurrection down in side my skin
But for all my revealating
I just cant make sense
Of this gravity we're in

Cause I'm a dead man now
With a ghost who lives
Within the confines of
These carbon ribs
And one day when I'm free
I will sit
The cripple at your table
The cripple by your side

A thousand miles of pain I'm sure
Led you to the threshold
Of my hearts screen door
To tell me what it is I'm dying for
Gravity comes
Like a cold cold Rain
To lead me to the rope again
But someone is standing in my place

Cause I'm a dead man now
With a ghost who lives
Within the confines of
These carbon ribs
And one day when I'm free
I will sit
The cripple at your table
The cripple by your side
The cripple at your table
The cripple by your side

And I sit beside you
And I sit beside you
And I sit beside you
And I sit beside you

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Baby!

Kisses from Daddy

Guess who turned 32?  That's right, my awesome hubby.  We somehow managed to celebrate it between illnesses - gotta love January.  Cedar allergies, colds, and...wait for it...walking pneumonia.  I pray we're on the mend.  It's been awhile since I've done an all-nighter and let's just say I'm out of practice.

So, needless to say, I didn't get to do my annual Hubby post yet.  I mean, I've mostly said it all, but let me gush a bit more about my man since it is (or was) his special day.  

So here are some of my top reasons I love him:

1. He cooks a mean steak.
2. The first few weeks after Hayden's birth, he changed almost ALL of his diapers.
3. He's way neater than I am.  I will never be one of those wives who complain about their husband's messiness - quite the opposite actually!
4. Somehow, and I'm not quite sure how the heck he pulls this off, he always seems to be right....about everything.
5. He saved me from myself when I met him over 12 years ago. 
6. He "gets" my humor
7. He is my best friend and knows me better than I even know myself.
8. He's an amazing father and I've never loved him as much as when I see him with our boys.
9. I can be myself around him and never have to apologize for it.
10. He's hot. ;)

Happy Birthday Baby!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Beautiful Day Out There

One of the "perks" of living in central Texas are days like this - 64 degrees in January?  I'll take it!  The kids were driving me bonkers this morning - their usual mode of "play" inside usually involves someone being chased all over the house with Mom being "home base".

I finally decided to throw them both outside when they had stepped on my foot for the hundredth time while knocking whatever I was carrying out of my hands.  At the time, I didn't realize how nice it was outside - I was prepared to shuffle them out in snowsuits if I had to - but delightfully, God gave us a beautiful day here!  The next 2 hours were spent outside.  We even ate lunch outside.

Benefits of an outdoor lunch:

1. No mess to clean up
2. No dirt tracked in for lunch after playing outside
3. Kids will sit still and eat just because they have their own special picnic bench that is their size.  They love it.
4. If a carrot should fall on the porch and Corbin picks it up and continues to eat it, I just look away and pretend I didn't see it.  He's already managed to sample sand, leaves and mud within the last 2 hours - a little porch dirt isn't going to make a dent at this point.

Really, you should try it!  I love doing lunch outside.  And you don't have to have a fancy picnic bench to do it.  Previously, they used a cute little kid's table set I got off Craig's List for $10 bucks.  There are plenty of deals out there if you just keep your browser open for a few days scoping them out.  I actually have to NOT look because I'm always finding ridiculous deals for things that we don't really need, but are just so cool!

In fact, I outfitted our entire backyard off of Craig's List.  Now we've got a great place for them to play and explore, and it really didn't cost much at all.  Originally, I had researched playscapes but the price and difficulty of assembling them was just too much.  So, instead, I found really neat toys to throw outside that I didn't mind getting water and sun damaged.  I paid about $5 a piece for most of their ride on toys or sand table.  Throw in some $1 beach toys from Target and the Dollar store with a few packages of army men and you're set.  At least for my boys anyway.

And no, they don't originally want to spend hours outside.  Especially if they haven't spent a lot of time outside previously.  You kind of have to work up to it and show them how to play - because playing outside is different than playing inside.  Eventually, they'll be making up their own games and play, but I think you kind of need to start them somewhere or they'll get bored quick.

I also have a lot of random things out there that they've had a blast with.  Bricks, pieces of wood, pots, buckets, small shovels - you name it!  Today Hayden took some mesh shelving and some bricks to make his own ramps/roads for his car.  It was amazing to see what he was building out there.  Corbin used my little shovel to pour water and sand from one pot to another in his own little game.  I think the best toys I have out there are the ones that weren't originally meant to be toys!

Seems like they are always inventing, building, and discovering out there!

What kind of outdoor activities do you do in your backyard? And this goes for adults too!  We've got a rocking yard for the kids right now, but we could use some ideas for us "Big Kids" too.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fun with Four


Four is fast becoming my favorite year with Hayden.  Of course, it is not without its challenges - I mean, he is FOUR, but it is also a great time of exploration, curiosity, and wonder at the world.  I love seeing him discover and learn new things.  The world through his eyes is a very cool place and I am enjoying showing it all to him.

Now that he is so interested in everything around him, I thought it was a good time to start preschool.  We chose to do this at home instead of sending him to a school, so I set about deciding on education approaches and curriculum.  I found an approach I connected with and some amazing curriculum which should be coming soon!  I'm so excited to get started.  In fact, we really started last week with my own materials and lesson plans that I made on my own or found online.  It's been fun pulling it all together each day, although it will be nice to have a curriculum to work with once it comes in.  Starting from scratch can be a little overwhelming - it's nice to have a starting point and then go from there.

I found a great phonics website (Progressive Phonics) that has FREE books you can print out that I will be using this week - they are really cute and I think Hayden will like them.  It's amazing how much free material is out there.  You really could educate your child for practically nothing - as long as you had a printer, internet access, and a library card - but it would take a little more time and planning than I have right now.  Thank goodness for curriculum!

Last week was so much fun and even though with the holiday we only had 2 days, I still felt like he learned a lot. He mastered the concepts of light and dark and which colors were "light" or "dark" colors, he colored inside the lines for the first time ever, haha, matched letters and words that started with the letter in a memory game, used the computer and manipulated the mouse perfectly to play a matching game,  answered all discussion questions correctly about a book we had read for the first time, got introduced to the concept of rhyming, and put together every jigsaw puzzle we owned (looks like I'll need to get some harder ones).

It just amazes me how much he learns and it's so fun being able to teach him all these things.  I can't wait for tomorrow!

I'd love to hear about any resources you've used and liked - even though we purchased a curriculum, there is always room for improvements or alternate activities!

A New Year - 2011

Welcome to 2011!  Is it just me, or did 2010 fly by?  I know we all say that each year, but this year felt like it went back quicker than any other.  Saying 2010 was a difficult year for us would be an understatement.  No need to rehash it, I'm sure we all have our stories for 2010 - this world can beat you down.

This is my fourth year of blogging and each year I have chosen a theme (I don't do resolutions).  As the years have gone on, more and more bloggers have chosen to do the same!  It's fun reading each other's theme's each year.

A recap of my "themes":

2008 was the year of "Right Now".  A little blog trivia for you - this is where the title "Just Me Right Now" came from.  Originally, my blog was "Just Me", but for fun I changed it to reflect my theme that year, and well, the rest is history.  I embraced mindfulness and peace in keeping my mind in the present moment - not looking back, and not looking forward.  I made an effort to let go of things past and to stop myself from constantly looking forward to "what's next?".  I focused on being content and mindful of where I was Right Now.  

2009 was the year of "Held".  A year of craziness and turmoil with two growing children and a kitchen remodel from hell - I needed to just be Held.  Held in His hands and rest in His peace.  I survived that year only through His grace.

2010 was the year of "Simplify".  This was the most impactful year yet.  I simplified my life in a thousand different ways.  I purged our lives of an overabundance of "stuff" and am still simplifying even into 2011.  That is one theme that will stick with me for life.  I radically donated all our extra stuff and have plans for donating so much more.  I cut down on our accumulation of material goods and became content in our house despite my earlier longings for a larger house.  Our house was not the problem, our accumulation of things was.  

And now that brings us to 2011.  This year it has been harder to pick a theme - probably because I am more at peace and contented than I have been in a long time.  Usually, I am full of regrets and desires for change each new year, but this year is different.

This year's theme is...

Be Still.

As a woman, a wife, and a mother my tendency is to fill up every moment of every day with something.  But there is strength and fuel in that stillness.  There is Him.  "Be still and know that I am God" ~Psalm 46:10.  This year I will make stillness a priority in life.  And along with stillness, mindfulness.  Being present in the moment with my spirit and mind still.  

How often to do we rush through life with no attention or thought to the present moment?  Just thinking about our "to-do" lists and missing opportunities to love others.  At church I rush through the doorway of greetings so I can run back to children's ministry and set up for the day.  I say hurried hellos and half-hearted "how are you?'s"  My head is buried in supplies and handing out papers and other items.  I make no notice of those around me or if maybe I'm needed in a capacity other than the one I have decided for myself.

I love reading about Jesus - He always had time.  Time for his disciples, time for the sick, time for the unloved, time for the children, and time for prayer and stillness.  Even though time was not on His side - He still moved through life present in the moment and available to each opportunity as it presented itself.

Can I say that about my own life?  What can I say about my life?  How am I living it?  I hope this year I can move closer to answering that question without regret.