Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Never Give Up

Two years ago, my husband surprised me with a Silhouette electronic cutting system.  I was convinced that I had arrived in Crafter's Paradise.  I vowed to monogram and personalize everything within reach.  I plugged in the machine, downloaded the software and read the pamphlet with directions (something I never do).  Within the first few months, after pinning Silhouette projects and watching tutorials, I attempted my first project.  

It was such an epic fail, I don't even remember what it was.  Over the course of the next year, every single attempt to cut anything was futile.  I re-read the directions, watched more tutorials, and even phoned a friend.  Nothing.  Nada.  At a certain point, Alivia looked on and declared it "scribble scrabble".  

One day, the Lord himself must have decided he'd watched me flounder enough.  I was in my usual troubleshooting mode when I discovered that I'd somehow missed one very important detail.  I had failed to lock one of the components of the machine that helps guide the media and hold it in place during the design process.

Figuring that out was the biggest hurdle.  I am not very tech saavy, so the technology component still throws me off, but I am VERY proud of my first completed Silhouette project.  I finished it just in time for Alivia to wear to her brother's first football game.

Lessons Learned:
Don't Give Up  
Pay Attention to Details
Always buy extra vinyl

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Be Anxious for Nothing

I've always struggled with unrealistic expectations and perfectionism.  As a result, I learned firsthand how it leads to procrastination and fuels anxiety.   Perfectionism is the killer of productivity.

I was the kid who washed out the watercolor tray after each use to avoid all of the colors being messy.   Just recently, I redecorated a cake FOUR times, before deciding it was good enough (still not right, but good enough).  As I matured, I recognized how increasingly anxious I was becoming.  As if the daily Valor baths weren't an indicator.Every decision received crisis status, which resulted in avoiding decisions altogether.  One look at the to do list and I was hit with another wave of anxiety. It was a vicious cycle.

Because I didn't experience nervousness and never reached full fledged panic attack, I didn't recognize it for what it was.   By acknowledging the problem and paying attention to triggers, I've learned to listen to my body and circumvent the downward spiral.

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

(Phillipians 4:6-7, The Message)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

How Do You Eat an Elephant?

The first day of school is on the horizon and I'm prepared to get my house back in order.  This summer has been a good break from the crazy, scattered schedule of the school year, but it's time to get back to business.

The first thing on the list is cleaning and reorganizing.  I don't think our home will ever be clean enough, to my standards; but, I'm trying to set attainable goals.  I'm looking forward to participating in our neighborhood's huge semi-annual garage sale this fall.  Due to weekend sports commitments, we've been unable to host a sale in several years, and it shows!  So far, sentimentality hasn't gotten in the way.  I'm not having trouble sorting into "keep", "sell" and "donate" piles.

Clearing the clutter is also helping me focus on cleaning.  I would love to be one of those people who has a weekly schedule of Mondays-floors, Tuesday-bathrooms, etc..  I've tried that system and it was too rigid for me.  My days require much more flexibility.  One way I try to maximize the effectiveness is by breaking tasks into manageable chunks of time. When I look at tasks to be completed and the amount of time I have on hand, I feel much more productive.  It reminds me of the quote "How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.".

Here's a snippet of my chore schedule:

5 min jobs

  • Wipe down countertops
  • Sweep or mop floor (1 room)
  • Clean mirrors
  • Sweep front and back patio
  • Sort Laundry or start a load in washer/dryer

15 min jobs

  • Vacuum a room
  • Load or unload the dishwasher
  • Dust a room
  • Wipe down cabinets
  • Fold a load of laundry
  • Clean out the car
  • Clean toilets

30 min job

  • Clean the bathroom
  • Dust air ducts
  • Sanitize doorknobs and switch plates
  • Clean out the refrigerator
This method certainly isn't perfect.  It requires a bit of consistency, so chores aren't' overlooked.  But it works for me during this crazy, in and out phase of life.  What are some of your cleaning hacks?

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sit Down With Me

These are the words I hear each night before bedtime; Alivia insists on sitting with me.  She prefers if we go to my bed, but I've convinced her to settle for sitting on the couch.  Sometimes we watch an episode of her favorite cartoon, and sometimes we just visit or read a book.  I think its safe to say Quality Time is her love language.
We spend quite a bit of time together each day, but there's something special about the day's end. While I enjoy spending time with her, it can be challenging.  The last few hours of my day are usually the busiest, and the amount of work I'm able to finish determines the success (or failure) of the following day.  
When I noticed her nightly routine and my initial apprehension, I immediately thought of the story of Mary and Martha.  My mother often teased me about my Martha-like tendencies.   Avoiding the busy-ness trap is a daily struggle.  Despite the loads of laundry waiting to be folded, dishes to be put away and floors to be cleaned,  I stop to sit.  It's what she needs, and I've secretly learned to enjoy taking the break.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Perfect Pancakes

For years, I've used the same pancake recipe.  It's the one my mother made when I was a kid.  It was from an old, 4 inch thick, 10 pound Better Homes and Gardens cookbook.  I still have it.  In fact, when I recently cleaned out the pantry,  Alivia saw it and asked where I got my new bible.

Over the years, I've made a few changes to make it my own, but the base is still very good and simple.  Win-win!  I've never even considered another recipe until a recent Southern Living magazine came in the mail.  We had a free weekend and I decided to treat my breakfast loving crew to something new.

It was ah-maazing!  With this being the last weekend before school starts, I'm going to make them again; I think you should, too.  Be sure to take the extra few minutes to make the syrup and compote.  They're totally worth it!

For the recipe click here

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Let It Go

This year Jaden goes to high school.  Of all the emotions, one that I can't seem to muster is sadness. I'm not at all sad.  In fact, I'm abnormally UN-sad.  I've spent some time reflecting on my feelings about this new phase.   Although I'm still definitely in parent mode, I am fully aware that it is now time to loosen the reigns.

Recently the mom circle has been abuzz with dilemmas about dating, transportation, extra-curricular activities and the like. For the first time ever, I'm standing on the outer ring watching.  I don't feel the need to cling on.  I can clearly separate his path from mine, and I've disassociated his successes and failures as an individual from mine as a parent.  I knew it would be inevitable.  I just didn't realize how natural it would feel.

Basically, I've acknowledged it's time to let it go.  Of course, there's still plenty of parenting to be done; however, at this point it should begin to look differently.  I have been on the front lines guarding, nurturing, correcting, and instructing for almost 15 years.  I've been an extremely hands-on Mom, often to the point of being labeled a "Helicopter Mom".  I have my reasons.  There are many.  While I know that I've made plenty of mistakes, I strongly believe that my presence, influence and prayers have laid a strong foundation.  Will he make mistakes?  Absolutely.  Will he make decisions that I don't approve of? Without a doubt!  This is a part of the transition.  In spite of it all,  I'm confident he will be able to gradually gain the independence needed to thrive on his own as an adult.

I'll admit it feels totally weird to enter this phase as the parent.  It's also exciting.  Knowing that he has so many fresh, new avenues to pursue reminds me of how bright-eyed and eager to fly the nest I was at his age.  I don't think he realizes how quickly the next four years will pass; and that's not all bad.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Back to School

As we ring in a new school year, I can honestly say that I'm in a different state of mind.  Mid-July "end of summer anxiety" began to arise.  Just as I prepared to lay out a rock solid plan for getting back in the saddle (i.e. freezer meals, schedules, command center, binders, etc.), I decided to let God give me a plan.  I know it was His idea, because I'm a total control freak who thrives on logistics.  Let me clarify, I know God is ultimately in control, but I like to give my 2 cents (or 20).

Initially going with the flow was refreshing.  It was easy to just NOT.  As time passed it became a little more difficult.  What would I fill my all my free time with?  I mean, with nothing to worry or obsess about, what would I do?    I began to say to myself (and aloud), "God will provide".  What do you know?  In those moments, He whispered an idea or solution.  I wrote them all down and continued doing whatever I was doing.

 After three weeks of this, I have quite a few notes.  I'm certain this exercise is preparing me for something.  In the meantime, the peace that has come with following His lead has been well worth any initial discomfort.  My hope is that I can remain in this place for the school year.  I would love to compare the stress level and productivity to years past.

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