Monday, December 16, 2013

A Tad Ramble-y and Keeping Sunday Holy ~ Part 2

...This is Part 2 of something with an unknown amount of total parts at this time (with gratuitous pictures from Thanksgiving included).  Here is Part 1.

In Part 1, I told you about where the "keeping Sundays holy journey" began.  And that we put up our cell phones.  And that we've failed.  And that's ok.  Because we're continuing to try.

Putting up our cell phones had an instant impact.  It created a void... it made space.  And I immediately struggled with that space.  I had to deal with that void... I wanted to fill the down time... I wanted to Facebook through the boredom... I wanted to text my way through the awkward silences... I wanted to Pin through...

... I think you get my point.

Pasticciotti - an Italian cookie with almond custard in it

I found myself reaching for my phone to fill the space.  But the whole point was to create space.  Space for conversation, space to connect with each other, space for prayer.  But I didn't deal well with the space.  It made me feel angsty.

So, I started being intentional.  I had to be intentional about putting up my phone, in a place that made it a real effort to get up and grab it.  We started planning activities to fill the space - like going to the park.  Or going hiking.

Pasticciotti was a success = Happy Mother-in-law

When we first came up with the idea to make changes to "make Sunday holy", I thought it was going to be more like  1. Put up cell phones.  Check.  2.  Make next change.  Check.  3. Etc.  But, by keeping the big goal in mind, things have sort of just snowballed.

I didn't know exactly what keeping Sundays holy would look like.  But I knew how I wanted it to make us feel.  I wanted all of us to feel loved and connected to each other, to feel rested and rejuvenated for the week ahead, and to feel closer to God.  We've tried several times to try to have the house cleaned by the weekend so that we can relax.  But weeks are busy, and blah blah, you know my usual excuses.  But once we had a goal for Sundays, it became easier and I got better to have the house picked up by Sunday.

Notice I said I got better.  

3 out of 4 looking at the camera = success; Joey, Ava, Matthan, Sophia

If we don't go grocery shopping Saturday morning, it seems the whole week gets thrown off.  Including Sunday.  I hate meal planning and shopping, and I like cooking when I have money to buy the ingredients I want and all the time to make the recipe and someone else to clean up the mess.... which is never.  So I drag my feet and meal planning gets done, oh you know, saturday morning before my husband leaves for the grocery store.  And it's more like late afternoon when we begin our weekend.  Which spills into Sunday.  But with wanting to capture a certain feeling for Sunday, I've gotten better about staying on top of the grocery stuff.

They discovered that "Baby Matthan" will follow you if you have goldfish crackers

I've gotten better about having a meal plan and shopping list ready.  Which has snow-balled into being prepared for the week, which makes me more peaceful on Sunday.  I've been more proactive about having a simple recipe or crockpot meal for Sunday dinner so that my time is not spent so much in the kitchen.  Which means I'm also not starting off the week with a disaster of a kitchen because I used every bowl while cooking and I don't want to be in the kitchen because I want to be with my family so I didn't clean the kitchen, so now it's left for Monday morning.  Boo.  So things have gotten better. 

But it's not like once I start getting the hang of things it continues.  I get the hang of it one weekend and then I have to start all over the next weekend.  And lately, we've been traveling or chaperoning youth group retreats or feeling under the weather, and my husband ended up at the grocery story yesterday (Sunday) afternoon, and the meal I chose to make was (new) uber complicated and we spent a few couple hours in the kitchen and dinner was late, and Matthan went to bed late.  The Hubs made a comment like "if the goal is to be connected as a family and spend time together, we shouldn't be grocery shopping at all on Sunday".  That was hard to hear (because he had gone shopping late because of my lack of staying on top of things), but he was right.  Sigh.  Will try again next weekend.  We did spend the time in the kitchen together making said uber complicated dinner plan and Matthan played around us in the kitchen so at least we were together.  Making lemonade out of lemons, ya know?

"Baby Matthan needs a halo because he's an angel" - The cousins

But that got me thinking.  What if I couldn't shop on Sunday?  I'd be forced to get my booty in gear when it comes to meal planning.  And if everyone didn't shop on Sunday then stores wouldn't have a reason to be open and their employees could go home and be with their families... and we'd all just be a little more affected.

The troops heading to the park (not pictured: me, Paul, Peanut & Charlie (the canines))

I've learned thus far that you get blown in the direction that you're leaning. (Is that a cliche or can I get credit for that?).  These past couple weeks I have really struggled to put my phone down.  And that has led to me being less on top of things.  It has led to me being less at peace and less connected. It usually starts because we have a lot going on with holiday planning and present buying and trying to keep up with the every day things, and I feel like we just got back from our Thanksgiving travels yesterday.  And a lot of things are on my phone.  I have emails with present ideas from family, on my phone, and I have lists that I've made of stores I need to go to for gifts, on my phone, and my grocery list is, on my phone, and my recipes are, on my phone, and the weather is, on my phone, and directions are, on my phone...  And so I pick up my phone to (insert productive activity here) and several minutes later I've found an interesting article to read posted by someone on Facebook.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, when I'm intentional, things snowball in a really good direction and one thing flows from the other and Sundays are awesome which flows into the week ahead.  And when I'm not, things flow in the other direction, and it's pretty lousy.  But I do have to say that as tough as it's been to achieve the goal...

it's been totally worth it.

Rolling on the floor and snuggling with his blanket in front of the fire

How do you and your family keep Sundays holy?  Do you have any suggestions for me on how to avoid falling off the wagon when all my stuff is on my phone (so as to have it all in one place and be more efficient)?

Stay tuned for Part 3.

Friday, December 13, 2013

7 Quick Takes: Toddler Planking and Corndogs

Do you remember the planking craze that went on a little while back?  I propose we start a related, but cuter, craze.  I give you toddler planking!!

Slightly clearer picture

Slightly better planking position

Although, after thinking about it, someone might get confused and trying planking ON their toddler, and, well, that would be bad.  So, just to be clear, I'm saying we should promote toddlers in the act of planking, not planking on toddlers.  Got it?  Good.

It's beginning to look a lot like Advent around here.  It only took me 'til the middle of the second week of advent to put up our creche (i.e. nativity set).  I'm sure you all remember the pains I went through to find a set that fit all of my criteria, and with what sadness I was greeted when it finally arrived.  But we got things squared away and I just love it.

The wisemen were there just for the pic.  They're now sojourning around
our living room until the Feast of the Epiphany.

But unfortunately, I will be calling the company again.  Sigh.  It wasn't their fault this time.  See, I had a vision.  I put that navy blue poster board behind the creche, one day (probably next year) planning on painting stars on it, and cleverly elevated the angel on a vase covered by a navy blue t-shirt so it blends in.  Well... said poster board fell down yesterday and hit said angel, and said angel when flying, but not in a good way, and then pieces went flying... and well...

... [sigh].  

On another sad note, Guido III died this week after succumbing to a fungus he just couldn't beat.  (Guido III was a fish, by the way, for anyone new stopping by.)  RIP Guido.  Maybe Guido IV will show up under the Christmas tree... hopefully with a better immune system.

I know I already shared this on Monday along with this pic, so I'm a big cheater picture repeater, but I mean really, it's so cute, and no one has left any comments complaining of me repeating cute pictures yet so here...

The suitcase has provided hours.... HOURS.... of entertainment.  He found my flashlight in the suitcase as well.   He crawls up to me and hands me the flashlight so that I will turn it on for him.

And then he got stuck.  Yeah I know, I'm a terrible parent who took the picture first and then rescued him.  Shame on me.  The suitcase has been moved to the living room and continues to be a favorite.  I'm telling you.  Take back the toys you bought for your kids and give them a suitcase.  Call it the suitcase fort.  You can thank me later. 

Last week, my husband watched this video....

...then brought me these.  He knows the way to my heart.  :)

I have the perfect hairstyle for the winter.

It combines the natural resources of cold weather and the heat in your house.

We can call it "the static".  I'm sure celebrities will be wearing this style very soon.

And finally, a little parenting tip from my sister to you.  I'm sure the cold weather and holiday stress is tiring you out.  But it's hard to get a nap in with little ones around.  My sister says, initiate a game of hide and seek.  Find a good hiding spot, and you can get a good 10 minute nap in before the kids find you.  Sometimes she takes a pillow with her.  A few 10 minute naps here and there can do some good.  Maybe put a suitcase with a flashlight in their path and they'll get so distracted you may get a 30 minute nap in before anyone howls for a snack.  I would recommend moving all dangerous and valuable objects to higher ground before embarking on said Hide-and-Seek nap, I mean game!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Monday Musings: Mixed Bag On a Tuesday

This Monday Musings comes to you on a Tuesday evening, because that is how things are going around here.  Who is running things around here anyway?  According to my blog stats, everyone gave up on me posting on time yesterday.  Wise choice.  I'd like to say that with all my planning and with keeping Sunday holy, I've peacefully eased into the Advent season and am on top of the game when it comes to planning for Christmas.  Nope.  One year it'll happen.

One year.

So, maybe if I declutter my brain, I'll have more room for peace and planning (and motivation for executing said planning).

If you're looking for a fun Christmas activity to do with your little ones, and a ginger bread house requires too much dexterity for your little ones, check out the waffle cone christmas trees that my four-year-old niece made.

I once saw Jim Bob Duggar on the show "19 Kids and Counting" wearing a shirt that said "Parenting is not for the faint of heart".  I thought it was funny, and quite amusing that he was wearing it... because he has 19 children.

That has nothing to do with the following.  I just thought it was amusing.

I laughed when I saw this Huff Post article entitled "Nearly 25 Years of Fathering -- and All I've Got Are These 3 Lousy Tips" pop up on my Facebook news feed.  Not because I don't enjoy parenting articles and books, and soak up parenting advice where I can, but because with all the "25 Tips to Parenting" and "10 Things You Must Know About Parenting" and "50 Things You Have to Know OR YOUR CHILD WILL DIE" articles out there, I just thought it rather amusing that he had 3.  Three!  I chuckled to myself and thought "Leave it to a guy to have only three."  

As a daughter and a mother... that is some of the best tips I've ever read.  Go read it.

If you're not a fan, like me, here are the 5 Best Ways to Survive "Christmas Shoes".

I came out of the bathroom the other day to find this:

I have since found him in there about 10 more times, and it has provided several hours of entertainment.  

Here's an interview with my favorite Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia from October.  It's incredibly entertaining.  Our Supreme Court Justices have a huge roll in how the law of the land goes.

Here's the tag line (and the link):

On the eve of a new Supreme Court session, the firebrand justice discusses gay rights and media echo chambers, Seinfeld and the Devil, and how much he cares about his intellectual legacy (“I don’t”).

~ Because That's The Way To Get Your Point Across  ~

"Topless Argentinian Protestors" could have been the title for this piece of news but you won't find it in American secular news.  Some women (topless, although blurred in the video) wanted to make some men pay for their crimes by spray painting the men's faces and "other places", writing on them, and screaming at them.

The men's crimes?  Standing arm-in-arm, several men deep, and praying, to protect their local cathedral from the vandalism and violence that occurs in the village that hosts the monthly, government supported conference mentioned in the above link.  The police did nothing.

~ Police Apologize ~

In contrast, Iceland police killed a man for the first time.  And what did they do?

Apologize.  Why?

~ Why He Came ~

Why He humbled himself and came in the form of a baby.  A reminder to myself as I get stressed out about presents and decorations.

Happy Advent!!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Monday Musings: When There Isn't Any, Make Room

Happy New Year!!!

Yes, I know the rose candle should be the third one.  Yes, I was too lazy to fix it.

No, I have not lost my calendar (or my mind).  Yesterday was the first Sunday of the season of Advent, marking the beginning of the new liturgical year.  

If you relate this time of year with stress, anxiety, crowded shopping malls, screaming sugar-induced children, insane drivers, and being ready to tear your car radio out if your favorite station plays "Jingle Bell Rock" for the one millionth time since before Thanksgiving, then I totally sympathize with you.  Just remember, you can change the radio station... and you can change the way you spend the time before Christmas.

The Baby Jesus is born on Christmas Day, whether you're prepared or not.  Whether you made the Christmas cookies, or gave everyone the right gift, or decorated your mantel according to the picture you found on Pinterest.  

Babies ask for little; just food, clothing, and love.  They ask for little, but somehow it demands our all.  Our everything.  Ask any parent; there are days when we feel like we have nothing left to give our children.  God has been teaching me that when I have nothing left to give, I need to give more.  When I can't go any farther, I need to go a little more.  And when there just isn't any more room, I need to make more room.

Where is God calling you to make room during this Advent season?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Musings: Thankfulness

"Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others." ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

I struggle with gratefulness.  It's not that I'm not thankful, it's that I don't always take the time to really consider the blessings that God heaps upon my head.  I get through thanking God for my husband, my kid, my family, my faith, my house, my husband's job, the car.....and then it's a little

I work with teenagers at church.  They drive me crazy.  They make me want to pull my hair out.  But I love them.  And just when I want to smack them upside the head (I don't), they say something really profound.  One of my teens once said,  

"Imagine that all of the things that you did not thank God for today, were gone tomorrow."

.... and suddenly, my "umms, errs, and hmmms" become "I'm thankful for the screws that hold my house together, and I'm thankful for the roads, I'm thankful for our yard, my church, stores, kind people, turkeys, holidays, sushi, jeans, pajama pants, dogs, grass, clouds.....

Thursday, November 21, 2013

{Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real} ~ A Matthan Post

We've been pretty busy around here.  Not super busy where I can really complain about being busy, but busy enough where I realized, while looking over recent pictures, that the only thing I've taken the time to photograph is Matthan... 

... I'm sure that you'll forgive me.


We've had some beautiful fall weather that has allowed us to get outside in the afternoon sun and play.  I have to say, I totally understand hibernation and would really support a movement for human hibernation if anyone wants to start it.  But for the sake of my little guy, I force myself out into the sunshine.

Redneck slide

Such a pretty smile

I text a picture to my sister or The Hubs every now and then, but sometimes Matthan blocks me out of the picture.


I've heard several times that if you give a kid a present, they will play with the box and wrapping.  But if you make the box the present ...

My little guy is still content with his books.  His little outfit makes me happy.

I should write a book entitled "How to Entertain Your One-Year-Old".  It would go something like this:  1.  Place a paper clip in an old film canister  2.  Your child is now entertained.  All day.


Look out ladies, my son does the best duck face around! 

Last week I noticed that the letter magnets were looking a little scarce.  The alphabet was only containing about ten letters.  When I got down on the floor to play with Matthan, I noticed something funny looking under the fridge.  I stuck our yard stick under the fridge, and about 2/3 of an alphabet came shooting out ... along with a lot of nasty dirt.  


Matthan is growing up so fast.  He is learning new words every day.  He had his first scissor haircut (we trimmed the mullet with clippers before his first birthday). 

Baby Signing Time + cheerios = sitting still...for the moment

I'm blown away by how much he is learning and interacting with us.  I savor getting to watch him accomplish each bit of development.  He is a such a ball of joy for us.  Pictures and videos do not do him justice.  It is all bittersweet though.  I mean, I don't want to carry my child to his first college class, but can't I freeze him at this stage for a few more years?

round button chicken

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Musings (vol. 9): G.K., Ramsey, and Sundays...

... i.e. Part 1 of something with an unknown amount of total parts at this time.

"Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly."  ~ G. K. Chesterton

Ages ago, I read a blog post about making Sundays a day of rest.  And then I forgot about it.

Some of you know that we have been on a "keeping Sunday holy kick" around here (for anyone new around here (Welcome!) you can read more about this here, here, here, and here).  Recently, I stumbled on that blog post again (mentioned above), and in it, the author says, that if you make Sundays a day of rest "you will see God's blessings showering on you and your family".  And so, I want to share with you where this journey has taken us... the struggles... and the blessings.

All journeys have a beginning.  And a few months ago, when we decided to start being intentional about Sundays, we were suffering from roommate-itis.  The three of us had many days where we went about our business in a parallel manner, but never really intersecting.  Sure, the usual duties were getting accomplished, but we weren't really connecting.  I would be playing with Matthan, and be too quick to answer a phone call or post a cute picture of Matthan on Facebook.  We would be at dinner, and one of us would be too quick to look something up on our phone and then get distracted by emails.... Matthan especially needs to work on this (insert sarcasm sign here).  There was a lack of intentional time being spent and a lack of meaningful conversations being had.  We were missing each other, sort of passing each other like roommates.  We weren't fully engaged with or fully present to the other two.


There are several things that we have discussed changing or improving in our family, but we have had little progress and many failed attempts.  It is in my nature to want to do something perfectly the first time.  And when I fail (because, Hello!, I'm not perfect), I wallow and decide that it can't be obtained so it's not worth doing.  Here's where G. K. and Ramsey come in.

I found this G.K. Chesterton quote: "Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly.", and I felt like I had been set free!!  I needed someone to give me permission to try...and to fail.  And to try again.    This quote has had a profound effect on me (maybe I'll write about that at some point...).  Now I've never read Dave Ramsey's book (books?), but I have been told of his method of having people pay off debt starting with the smallest debts and working their way up to the biggest debts.  I argued with someone that this idea did not make sense to me because it seemed like people would pay more money in the long run because of interest building up on the bigger amounts of money (pretend that my argument sounded really eloquent and I used a lot of large financial words, okay?).  But I was told that it's more about the small accomplishment and the feeling of success with the little debts that help people work towards paying off the bigger debts.  And that is a concept that can be applied to our lives in general (I could write a blog post about just this idea... I might).  

So, while there were several things that we wanted to change in our family, I kept coming across the concept of keeping Sunday holy in the things that I was reading and listening to, and decided to follow this prompting, even if it meant doing it badly.  I took a deep breath, let go of my perfectionist tendencies, and decided to go where I had gone and failed before (changing something in our family), and decided to start small.  I really really wanted to rush it and strive for all the ways that I had in mind to make Sundays holy for our family... but again, I had to start small.  With the big picture of what we wanted in mind, The Hubs and I discussed what one thing we could change that was 1. something that we could change now, in this stage of life, 2. a truly attainable goal,  3. would make an almost instant impact.

And that is how we decided on putting up the cell phones on Sunday.  Have I failed?  Yep.  Have I given up?  Nope!!  One small step for our family, one huge flippin'-ly-ginormous mega step for me and the development of my perseverance!!

Stay tuned for Part 2.

"I have not failed.  I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work."  ~Thomas A. Edison

Friday, November 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes (vol. 7) ~ Exploding Pressure Cookers and "Oh-wee-oh"

My husband is a DIY type of guy.  He has made his own camping stoves, freezer bag meals, pasta, and a bread bag for me to hold homemade bread...just to name a few.  He is currently working on making his own flies for fly fishing.

He is convinced that there are few things that he can't learn off of YouTube.  And almost all things have gone really well.  (The bread bag didn't work super great, but that wasn't to his lack of skill in making it).  As a wife to a DIY guy, when he tells me that he's going to make/build/fix something himself, I simply respond with a nonchalant "ok" having full trust that he knows what he's doing, will figure out how to do it, or bring in someone that knows how to do it if he finds he's in over his head.

So the other day* when he approached me and said "I think I want to build a pressure cooker", he was surprised when I responded with an emphatic "No!".  I think he questioned me about my answer with something like "It can't be that hard to make one" to which I replied "NO!  Good, factory-made pressure cookers can explode.  You're not messing with a homemade one!"  He wasn't totally convinced.  And in case you're not either, I support my claim with YouTube.

(the real action happens at second 27)

He never made the pressure cooker.

Speaking of DIY... our office/art studio (sounds cooler than craft room?) is currently taken over with dead animal furs and feathers.  The Hubs is tying his own flies which means I have to view dead rabbit head furs on his desk.  There is also bright-colored and sometimes glittery threads and beads that go along with this project..... and boys make fun of us for our craft stuff.  Sheesh.

Notice YouTube on the iPad

My dad treated us to a day at Rock Ranch this past weekend (thanks Dad!).  I was hoping to have a full post up this week about it, but a certain sister, eckhem, has yet to consolidate her photos with mine in Dropbox.  So here is a sneak preview.

Matthan, Grandpa Jim, Lailey, Aunt Sarah, Maddox

I've been searching for quick recipes that I can make on Sundays so that I can spend more time with my boys and less time in the kitchen.  This one was super yummy.  Combine bread, mozzarella cheese, pesto, and tomatoes for a very scrumptious sandwich.  If you want to put it over the top, broil the tomatoes (sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper first) for a few minutes on each side.  I highly recommend this step.

Matthan amazes me every day with a new trick or a new word.  His newest word is "bunny", although it comes out "nunny" most of the time.


Our fish, Guido, gets fed on a regular schedule now because Matthan reminds us by saying his name "oh-wee-oh-wee-oh", sometimes shortened to "oh-wee-oh" and signing "fish" and pointing to Guido's bowl.

Public Service Announcement:  If any of your material goods, especially your machines, make an odd noise, record the noise so that you can play it back for the repairman who thinks you're crazy when you try to describe the noise.

In a matter of a week, our immersion blender died, our toilet broke (quick $1, easy fix), and our washing machine broke (not quick, not $1, not easy fix).

Ever wanted to know what the inside of your washer looks like?

Last week the washer started making some slamming/sluggish/"kuh-CHUGG-ing" noises (that last one is a technical term in case you didn't know). Then, on Thursday night of last week it proceeded to make a screaming/screeching noise that made me question whether to call a washer repairman to fix it or our priest to come perform an exorcism on it.

the culprit

Of course it died with a load of diapers in it.  You learn the value of friendship when you have friends on call in case you need to use their washer for dirty diaper loads.  So almost a week and several greenbacks later, we're back in business.

Gutted and wash basin flipped upside-down

~ Quotables ~

Me:  "Matthan!  GoooooooOOOO DAWGS!  Sic 'em!  Woof! Woof! Woof! Woof!   Woof!"
Matthan:  "Puppy!!"

Me:  "So, how long do you think you're going to grow your beard this time?"
Tim:  "'Til I can throw it over my shoulder like a continental soldier."

Happy Friday Everyone!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

*"the other day" in my blog world could have meant any amount of time ago within the last five years.