Happy SIMPLE Habits

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*Knock. Knock. Knock.*

*Wrestle past the barking dogs to open the door.*

“Hello! And Welcome! Come on in!”

Okay, so maybe you’re not quite feeling this way when someone shows up unexpectedly at your home, but perhaps you are feeling so much better than you used to. I hope so. I know I’m feeling much more hope about the state of my house. Doing the dishes makes that happen.

I’ve noticed another benefit too of a cleaner kitchen. I have more mental energy to mess it up again. :-)

Common Grace Brownies

Those are Common Grace Brownies with Double-Stuff Chocolate and Mint Oreos. I stashed most of them in the freezer so we don’t eat them all in one day.

Have you done your habits yet today? I aim to tackle mine after the kids are in bed each evening. Sometimes it takes the will power of swimming through mud.

The Habits:

  • Do the dishes. All of them.
  • Sweep the kitchen. Yes, every single day.
  • Check the bathrooms for clutter. You don’t want your kid’s undies on the floor when a guest needs to use the loo.
  • Do a five-minute pick-up. Don’t waste your breath telling me that can’t make a difference. Just do it. What are you scared of?

Are you still struggling with these four things? Yeah, me too. So does Nony.

It’s okay. Just do it anyway. If you don’t believe you have the time, then just start with the dishes.

You know what I like most about Nony’s system? It’s simple! I’ve tried other methods, and I end up despairing and trying to catch back up by day two, but with 28 Days to Hope for Your Home, I don’t have to catch up or start over. If my house is a disaster, and I’m determined to fix it today, it’s kinda possible to make a real amount of progress by just doing the four habits.

So, what now? Keep doing the habits until they are as thoughtlessly done as brushing your teeth. Enjoy that kitchen smiling at you each morning. Perhaps you can also take some time figuring out when to do laundry or meal plan or clean the bathrooms. Nony has some great checklists for further ideas. You might also benefit from understanding the difference of “cleanies and messies.”

And maybe not. Maybe you just need more time. That’s okay. I didn’t schedule the white glove inspection today anyway. Perhaps tomorrow.

Jump up, right now, complete all four habits on your list, and then come back to tell me how your house feels.

Battling the Laundry Monster

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So, how has the past week been? Are you finding Hope for your Home? Did you fall off the wagon? GO DO YOUR DISHES! We’ll wait.

Time to add a new habit! Guess what that habit is not! Laundry. (Seriously, I could only dream of not doing laundry.)

Nony does talk about this habit on her blog, and I love the idea of only doing laundry once a week. Except for the part of our home drowning in laundry. Maybe it would be different if we had a laundry room instead of a laundry hallway between the kids’ rooms. But we don’t so let’s not beat that poor horse.

It is a war without end, but we must battle anyway! Because people want, no demand, clean clothes to wear. Perhaps it truly is a “need.”

I used to struggle much more with laundry than I do now. I have fabulous laundry ideas pinned, but the first order of business is always the same when serving others.

Smile. You are blessing those you love. They may not thank you enough for clean underwear, but smile anyway.

After that, my biggest struggle with laundry used to be aiming for the bottom of the basket. Every Single Day. Yeah, in a house with five kids under the age of ten, we go from empty to overflowing in 4.5 seconds. It’s about as quick as me saying, “Kids! Pick up your rooms!”

Recently, I learned from my sister that she tries to find the bottom of the basket each weekend and just does a bit throughout the week. So smart, she is.

Somewhere, perhaps on a mom of many blog, I read that you need to do one load of laundry per day for every three people in your house. I round up to three loads a day to account for extra laundry that often comes with little ones and to give me two or three days “off” each week. But I can never let that be two days in a row!

It really helps. Even if I’m so behind on laundry that we need to declare a “Wear A Dirty Bathrobe” day, I know that if I complete three loads we’ll probably all have something to wear the next day. If I do another three loads the next day, we might even have choices in what we wear the day after that. :-)

Ideally, I fold on my bed while the kids finish after-dinner chores and prepare for bed. Even the three year old puts away her own laundry with a bit of help from her big sister. I listen to podcasts while folding if the kids are too busy to come talk to me.

Mating Socks

Often lately, I’ve been folding laundry after everyone but me has hit the hay. (Hubby works late. He only wishes he was sleeping too.) So I fold on the kitchen table, and laundry must be put away before breakfast. I don’t like this system as much, but it works for this season. We plan to move next Spring, and a laundry room is on the wish list. I hope to build or have someone else build a few of these. It’s also about time to teach my oldest two to help with laundry more. I need to deliberately do some training in that area. Perhaps we’ll start with coloring this page and feeling thankful for a washer and dryer.

I nearly never iron and rarely hand wash. I just don’t ever get to it. So we go for clothes that don’t need such extra care. We also attempt to keep clothes decluttered. Going through kids’ clothes regularly poses a huge challenge for me. Kudos to you moms who do a seasonal clothing switch! I never do. I also aim not to store clothes that won’t be used within two years aside from really special items. Someone else can benefit.

So that’s the method of my madness at the moment. How do you handle laundry at your house?

*Disclaimer: We have never declared “Wear A Dirty Bathrobe” Day. Not everyone in my home actually owns a robe. :-D

Sometimes You Can Give Yourself a Break

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So, I totally flaked out on you all last week with the whole Hope for Your Home Series. Did you miss me?

You see, I’m saying to you and to myself that I’m only going to work on changing one thing at a time, but truthfully life keeps marching on with all it’s life stuff.

Every single night, people in my home want dinner again. Do things work that way at your house?

Also, I’m trying to blog consistently, and I keep changing my mind on what that looks like. I have two goals.

  1. Make a million dollars from blogging
  2. Record important happenings within my family

Not impossible, right?

***(In case you want to buy me chocolate, I tend to buy myself the Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with Forest Mint. The little squares are a perfect pat on the back for finishing the dishes, and the company follows high standards of ethics.)***

So, last week I was feeling a little overwhelmed, and I had to do some stern but loving self-talk. I cannot give this blog enough time to make an immediate living wage, and homeschool, and chase littles, and tend a home, and enjoy my micro-gardening, and smile at people even when I’m tired, and plan and do the shopping, and play with the budget for the thirteenth time that payday, and . . .

Let’s everybody take a minute to breathe! Very slowly now. Feel your chest expand. Good. Now let it all out and relax all the way down to your toes. God’s got this. Be available to Him.

So, what I really want to do with my writing time is write five blog posts a week bare minimum, publish four, and bank one for the future. I also want to send out one submission a week to a paying market, write up a haiku every day, write a Shakespearean sonnet every week, write two handwritten letters to whoever I feel needs it each week, write love letters to my immediate family each week, work at least an hour each on blog improvement, a bigger writing project, . . . .

Okay, I think we need to breath again.

Yeah, I tend to bounce between extremes. I believe that for the moment I’m going to aim for two blog posts a week. One about my current project or habit I’m working on, and one that journals about things I want to remember. The days pass slowly, but the years fly quietly by. I don’t want to forget these moments. I want to be thankful. I want to love on others with this gift of words. I don’t want to be chained to a blogging schedule that’s choking the life out of me. I’ve done that before.

Confession: I didn’t finish all my dishes last night, but I did run the dishwasher, and I washed a few of the hand-wash only items.

I also did a little freezer cooking yesterday. This is shredded chicken cooked in sweet and sour sauce. Plastic lizard not required.

Shredded Sweet and Sour Chicken

Tips:

  • Cook up several meals worth of meat in the crock pot and then freeze them into meal-size portions. I do this with chicken, sausage, and ground beef.
  • To save green and be green, use freezer-safe, reusable containers. I like pyrex in the one and two cup sizes, and I’ve been increasing my stash a little at a time.

And I harvested and dried more basil yesterday.

I really wish you could smell this.
I really wish you could smell this.
It still smells awesome.
It still smells awesome.

Wooohoooo! I won’t be buying any more weak basil from the store. Actually, I think I’ll have more than enough soon. I’m considering selling the extra. I need to explore those options.

The day was not lost, and my kitchen was not a total disaster when I dropped into bed. It has truly been worse.

So how is your journey of finding Hope for Your Home coming along? Is it maybe taking you a bit longer than twenty-eight days? That’s okay. Me too. You might master all the habits for a year and then feel blindsided by illness or tragedy. Don’t give up. Just go do your dishes.

You’re doing awesome!

Three! How Did That Happen?

I’ve said before in an understated way, “She’s a bit intense.

Intensely sweet. Intensely loving. Intensely insistent when things don’t go her way.

Ladybug was “due” on the fourth of July. She decided she needed a bit more time to have Mama all to herself.

Growing a Ladybug

This year I took her to see fireworks for the first time. Her review? “I don’t like those fire lights.” She behaved well throughout the show, but she kept her ears covered. Her baby sister, however, loved every boom and flash!

Ladybug is my Rainbow Baby. She was born after a loss and after I had to teach my little ones that we have reason to praise God even for the babies we don’t get to keep. Sometimes I find myself staring at her in amazement when I should be disciplining that sassy attitude. She is so cute, and so funny, and so smart. She is also my first talkative toddler since my oldest daughter. I could tell stories about conversations with her all day.

Recently, she described Sleeping Beauty as having Sleeping Duty and then as being a Tired Beauty. Ha!

Ladybug is my girlie girl. She wears a “pretty dress” almost daily and will come to me requesting I fix her hair, but she won’t leave it up for long. When I protested her taking her ponytails down recently with, “But they’re so pretty!” she finished pulling them out and replied, “I’m still pretty.” Yes, My Dear, you absolutely are.

She doesn’t want to be three. She told her Pappaw that she is five today. She told me after I told her she’s three this morning that she wants to stay two. I said, “You can’t wear your new birthday dress if you aren’t three!” She thought for a moment and decided, “When I take it off I’ll be two again.”

Birthday Dress

Ladybug is a Daddy’s Girl. She adores her daddy, and she tries to use him against me. “Daddy said I could do that.” Ha! Little Lady, this isn’t Mama’s first trip around the sun.

I find myself watching her often these days. She understands things and acts in such a big girl way, but her sweet toddler face tells me she’s still a baby too. She’s my baby. Just don’t tell her I said that.

Her imagination amazes me! I keep trying to make an exhaustive list of her imaginary friends.

  • The Bubbles – You know when you stare at a light bulb and see spots when you look away? Ladybug discovered this months ago and has been trying to catch and pop her Bubbles ever since.
  • The Dinosaurs – The Dinosaurs are often at the store, and we have to call them home or tell them to pick up a few things. Some of Ladybug’s dinosaurs recently ate her Friends so she had to get new Friends.
  • The Bunnies – My oldest daughter asked the Ladybug if she likes carrots. “No. My Bunnies won’t share.”
  • Ladybugs – Of course. They are everywhere!
  • Babies – Ladybug is a Little Mama through and through. She likes to tell her older siblings, “You’re grounded for the rest of the day!”
  • My Friends – She has lots of them running around.
  • She also talks to her fingers and toes and has many phone conversations with imaginary people.
  • I almost forgot the Princesses! – They’re pretty new, but she loves them.

I asked what she would like to eat for her birthday breakfast. Her first suggestion was chicken nuggets so I steered the conversation toward a breakfast food. Over-easy eggs. Then I thought of eggs-in-a-bucket. It’s been so long none of my kids remembered me making them before. The best part is the buttered bread browned in a frying pan. Ladybug gave her seal of approval.

Eggs in a Bucket

She’s talking to her sidewalk chalk right now. They are discussing who should be next to who. I remember similar conflicts with my crayons. :-)

Ladybug shows the heart of an artist with an attention to detail that can be a little maddening when plans change. She has willingly sat down to “do schoolwork” with the bigger kids from the time she could safely hold a pencil. She’s at the stage of drawing people with a face and two long legs, and she includes eyes and a mouth. She can also draw hearts and some letters. Every word is spelled E-S-E including her name which does not have any of those letters in it. She hopes she’ll need glasses when we get her eyes checked. She wants to wear eye patches too like one of her brothers, but she wants princess eye patches. She makes me laugh every single day. She has a sensitive heart that shares with others. She has been my big girl since birth, but she is still so little.

Happy Birthday, Ladybug.

[T]hrow off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~Mark Twain

The Morning After

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So, how has the past week been? Are you finding Hope for your Home? Did you fall off the wagon? GO DO YOUR DISHES! We’ll wait.

Confession: I am struggling. We had a birthday party over the weekend, and I did some desperate slam-bam cleaning of the whole house. Huge progress but not perfection. More than one night saw me drop into bed with dishes undone.

But! All is not lost! Mondays mean new beginnings every single week. I marched with determination into my kitchen after putting the kids to bed last night. I looked around, told myself it could be worse, that it has definitely been worse, but my determination deflated anyway. So, I tried an old trick of setting the timer for fifteen minutes and told myself I could quit afterward.

It’s amazing what fifteen minutes can do! It reminded me of a post I originally published on my old blog, Communicate Creativity, way back in 2010 when my oldest was in kindergarten, and nearly all dish-washing duty fell on my shoulders. (Sorry, that blog is gone now except for parts of it on the Wayback Machine.)

Originally Published September of 2010:

I struggle to keep my house somewhat clean, and I know I can’t be the only one who struggles with the same challenge out there in the whole wide world. So, in an effort to be totally honest and hopefully encouraging to someone, I’m going to invite you into my kitchen and dining room the Monday after a birthday party weekend.

We woke up Monday morning without a clean cereal bowl to eat out of . . .

Kitchen After a Party

Or a place to set those cereal bowls to fuel up for the day. Doesn’t the dog look pitiful?

Dining Room After a Party

Now, there have been plenty of times as a hopeless-feeling clutterbug that I would have washed only what was absolutely necessary, shoved a few things out of the way, and told the rest, “Tend you later!” Later would never come, and dinner time would arrive with me still having a kitchen too messy to actually cook in.

That did not happen this time because I know the power of fifteen minutes.

*Note: Oftentimes, when I tell myself that I only have to “give it fifteen” I feel like giving more once the timer releases me. I stuck with the fifteen minutes though for the most part for the purpose of this post.*

*Second Note: This is all done without the use of a dishwasher. I have a dishwasher, but I rarely use it. It makes things too easy for me to put stuff off until I have a catastrophe in my kitchen. I also have many non-dishwasher safe dishes.*

So, I gave fifteen minutes to the kitchen. I didn’t finish everything or even close to everything, but I cleaned more than we were about to dirty. Progress! I started with emptying the trash, and getting rid of those pizza boxes. I also pulled out a previously assembled frozen meal for that night’s dinner so I wouldn’t have to stress about it later. My daughter put away the dinosaur floor puzzle that I used to decorate the kitchen island for the party.

Kitchen Improving

With enough dishes to eat breakfast with and a little extra clean, I turned to the dining room so we would have a place to eat. Fifteen minutes later, I found my table! (Again.)

Functional Dining Room Table

After the fifteen minutes I just pushed in the table leaves and turned the table back to where I want it, and we ate breakfast.

Back to the kitchen! Clearing the table had added a few more dishes, including the cookie sheet the cake had sat on for the party and painting supplies that needed cleaned up before being put away. Plus, we had eaten breakfast. So I had to clean our cereal bowls and high chair tray before tackling the mess that was already there. I still made progress.

Wow! The Mess is a Kitchen!

We ate leftovers for lunch. (Read: No extra pots or pans to wash.) I gave the kitchen another fifteen minutes. At this point it was becoming increasingly difficult to not just finish the job. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I wanted to reach it. For you, my Dear Readers, I held off.

Somehow I managed to miss taking a picture after my after-lunch fifteen minute session.

While dinner cooked, I leisurely dried and put away clean dishes that had been piling up all day. I also played with my kids, cut out coupons, and puttered around in general with my distracted self. (Fifteen minute timers give focus!)

Fifteen minutes after dinner, and I’m practically done with dishes!

Almost Clean Kitchen

I didn’t want to, but I kept reminding myself that I was doing it for you, and I left those last items overnight.

After breakfast on Tuesday, I finished the dishes!

Smiling Kitchen

A clean kitchen is the way to start your dayAfter lunch, because I only had a few plates, silverware, and the high chair tray to clean, I was able to wipe down all the counters and sweep part of the floor before my timer beeped and released me.

There are those of you that are going to read this and think, “Ugh! I never let my kitchen get that bad!” More power to you! This post isn’t for you.

This post is for you. You know who you are. You look around your home and beat yourself up because you can’t keep up. You look in the mirror and realize you haven’t brushed your teeth today, and you can’t remember when you last combed your hair. I’ve been there. Life throws too many punches sometimes.

Get up. Go spend five minutes on you. You have time for that. Brush your teeth. Fix your hair. Wash your face. Put on some bright red lipstick if it makes you feel good. Take thirty seconds to decide what needs attention in your home the most and go give that area fifteen minutes. You have time for that. More than likely, the kitchen begs for attention. Kitchens are often the heart of the home. So if you can’t decide in thirty seconds what to tackle, go to the kitchen. Just do it! Then holler, “Nike!” loud enough that your crazy neighbors will think you’re crazy. Nike means victory, and you have won at something.

When things get bad at my house, and my old friend the “To-Do” List threatens to be a year long, I start with a new piece of paper, and take thirty seconds to write down three things. Three and no more. I have to cross something off before I allow myself to write down another. Don’t write something that will take hours like, “Clean Kitchen.” Use the power of fifteen minutes and write, “Kitchen 15.” You have time for that.

You, My Friend, are beautiful. You are intelligent. You are strong. You are capable.

Yell it with me now, “Nike!”

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Wow, I want to go back and hug that mother of three that used to be me. Now, with five kids, I must admit, I still struggle with some of the same things, but other things are SO MUCH BETTER. I really am changing these habits with long-term effects.

Confession: I totally use the dishwasher now. I’ve eliminated many plastic stuff that can’t hold up. Plus my 7 and 9 year olds take turns with kitchen duty after each meal. So, my kitchen rarely reaches such a disaster status that I cannot find the kitchen to cook.

How about you? I truly hope you’re finding Hope for Your Home. My first fifteen minute session last night didn’t finish my dishes, but I gave myself a little writing break and then set the timer again. The second fifteen minutes finished the dishes, wiped down stove and counters, and grabbed a head-start on this week’s new habit. Woohooo!

Hugs! Now go do your dishes.

Mildly Disorganized? You Shall Not Pass!

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Desperate for help and change?

Hi! Why don’t you come in? Kick off your shoes and stay awhile. Let’s chat.

Kick Off Your Shoes

One of my crazy goals for 2014 is to completely clean and declutter every room in the house one room at a time.

It’s a big goal to shoot for but reach for the stars and all that. :-)

If you’ve been to my house you know I am not a master housekeeper. I wish I was. I always thought I would be. (Don’t ask me for the logic behind that.) I do strive to not apologize for the state of my home so visitors don’t have to look around and say, “Oh, it’s not that bad. I love what you’ve done with that empty corner.”

My cousin and I discussed our families going on vacation without us so we could stay home and clean. Sadly, I have daydreamed about that possibility. Can the pets leave too?

But! The family would return and so would the mess even if I achieved show-home perfection for a tiny moment.

And honestly? Much of the mess starts with me. So I’m focusing on simple habits while I reach for big miracles.

Hi, Nony! Have you met this woman? I love her so much I want to buy her every creation twice so she’ll keep blogging through her mess.

Um, I haven’t done that yet, but this little book is the perfect month-long pep-talk for me about creating good cleaning habits. I came up with the cash to buy 28 Days to Hope for Your Home as soon as Nony published it.

Should you buy it too? Why, yes, because I love Nony, and I can’t support her by myself. :-)

Will this book help you too?

  • Would leaving a sink full of dirty dishes keep you awake at night?
  • Do you invite company over without a second thought to the condition of your bathroom?
  • Would you consider eating off your kitchen floor?

If you answered yes to those questions you DON’T need this book!

Nony named this book 28 Days to HOPE for Your Home with good reason. It is not 28 Days to a Perfect Home. Let’s jump in the kiddie pool and start swimming lessons.

Spoiler: Nony wants you to do the dishes. All of them. Every single day. Get started.

More thoughts next week!

Do you easily keep up with your dishes?

Goals . . . Such Big Goals

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So, I started out this year excited about plans and dreams. I want to change the world!

Or at least my world.

A dream without a goal is a wish. A goal without a plan is just a dream.

I still do, but I forget how easily life changes my best laid plans.

-Something about have five kids that include a breastfeeding infant . . .

(Does anyone else feel that breastfeeding sucks the ability to think right out of you?)

-Something about homeschooling with one kid struggling in math and another struggling in reading . . .

(I wouldn’t feel like a failure if they were struggling under someone else’s teaching. No, scratch that. I still would. Mama-guilt knows no bounds.)

-Something about a terribly messy house filled with too much stuff . . .

(Alright, Kids, lets fill another box for the thrift store. Maybe I should consider a yard sale? Maybe we’ll make enough to buy that Frozen movie.)

I still believe in goals. Making plans is almost a hobby of mine. The cycle goes something like this:

  • Dream Big! I will change the world!
  • Oh, my, I’m tired. Why can I not even get the dishes done. Is it nap time yet?
  • Bother. I’m such a failure. Maybe I should just quit until (fill in many things here that I think will make life easier). Maybe I should just quit in general. Where is the hole to hide in? I hate everything.
  • I’m pitiful. I’m going to ask so and so to pray for me, and really focus on getting a good night’s sleep.
  • Begin again from the top.

Okay, you can hop off the roller coaster now. Thanks for visiting. No, I’m going to keep riding, thanks. I really don’t know how to get down.

But! While I ride this thing I’m also building the future, and I’m not interested in the looney bin.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. -Albert Einstein

So, as I keep working on my goals one crazy cycle after another, I’m going to work each month on changing a habit that should make future goals a bit easier. Join me?

July starts tomorrow! I’ll be focusing on finding Hope for My Home.

How are your goals coming along for this year?

She Turns One Today

Before she was born, we named her the Butterfly. Growing requires stretching wings while growing roots. Living equals metamorphosis.

In the time leading up to her, “Welcome to Earth!” moment, I window-shopped the baby aisles and explored the difference between wants and needs. I sing the same song every pregnancy.

Babies need precious little beyond a full belly and a clean butt. While at home mine live in onsies or sleepers, but certain times want (require?) extra special touches.

I bought this outfit impulsively before she was born while thinking forward to her one year pictures.

image

Size 18 months so she could wear it new on her birthday and have time to wear it out after. I also wanted eventual photographs of her walking in this butterfly waterfall, and none of mine have walked before age one.

Throughout my pregnancy, I battled gestational diabetes to keep weight gain under control and hoped against hope for a smaller baby. The one before, my Ladybug, emerged at a family record of 10 pounds 3 ounces.

Ladybug never wore newborn-sized clothing, and I remember trying to squeeze her into this just once for pictures. Just once, please. I had once called my oldest daughter Little Lady. Could her first sister carry the same title?

image

Mission aborted. Ladybug wore something else. She still looked beautiful, and she’s still my Little Lady.

Oh, please, Baby Butterfly. Be small enough to wear a newborn outfit! When God grants such insignificant wishes the we don’t dare even ask for, we might call that common grace.

Baby Butterfly was born at 7 pounds 12 ounces. Average with a smaller than average head. Average fits into newborn clothing. *Happy Dance!*

As the influence of gestational diabetes left her little system, she quickly dropped from average weight to petite despite an excellent appetite.

Petite. That butterfly waterfall? It might actually fit her for her second birthday. So last week I bought her something in size nine months. So she can wear it new on her birthday and then wear it out in the months following.

image

For breakfast today she’ll enjoy scrambled eggs. Because she loves them and because of protein. She may always be petite like her Nana, Aunt Cindy, and many others, but she must be strong like them too.

As far as physical milestones go, she’s a bit behind where my other children were at this age. She is just starting to explore the idea of walking. Crawling gets her around just fine, thank you, and if she needs height, pulling up works for that.

She is quite communicative. Babbles plenty – mama, dada, baba, nana – , and uses yes (ess!) and no (ohh!) purposefully with head motions. She has been arguing playfully with me for months. She has said three of her siblings names quite clearly, and she copies the patterns of phrases in a sing-song way, but an ear unfamiliar with her would only hear nonsense full of L and short a sounds. We’re also working on the signs for more, all done, eat, drink, milk, please, and thank you. And don’t forget our family’s home-made sign for, “You’re making me crazy!”

Here. Let me teach you how to do it. Hold both of your hands up next to either side of your head with your palms facing toward you. Then start smacking your head on both sides near the top above your ears while making a silly face. This is best done with a child who likes to giggle at silly grown ups.

There. Wasn’t that fun?

I, of course, believe my Butterfly’s a genius, but that’s the way we make them around these here parts.

Everybody is a genius. But, if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will spend its whole life believing it is stupid. ~Albert Einstein

Butterfly meets her first birthday with four teeth, but not the typical two bottom middle and two top middle that most babies start with like her oldest brother had at his first birthday. Butterfly’s smile looks more like this:

Baby Butterfly's 1 Year Smile

Her oldest sister is missing a front tooth too. They mirror image each other. Before Butterfly’s third tooth was little more than a wish, she started grinding her teeth. I blame my husband for that. It’s a sound worse that nails on a chalkboard ever dreamed of being.

She loves Eskimo kisses and might bust your nose trying to give you one. She squeals with delight at having raspberries blown on her belly. For a long time she laughed at me when I told her no, but now she opens her mouth wide showing all her teeth and gives this pitiful little cry that’s almost too cute for me to remain stern, and I’ve had practice with her siblings before her. She cheeses for the camera and wiggles ferociously through every diaper change. Independent but a cuddle-bug. A giggle-box but quietly watching, learning, and growing. Petite but strong.

Happy birthday, Baby Butterfly.

In the waters ahead, there be adventures.

Onward!

Fly or Fall?

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Laundry.

Okay. That’s the next thing on the list. Being productive today. So start a load and fold the three you didn’t finish yesterday. Come on, Self. You can do this.

*Yawn.* Shouldn’t Baby Butterfly be waking from her nap right about now? Nope. She slept right through me walking into the room. *Yawn.*

Stay productive, Self!

I’ll read this book I promised to review.

Dating Like Airplanes by Caleb Breakey

 The Butterfly wakes up as soon as I settle in.

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Life. Life. Life. I finally picked the book up again after all the littles were asleep for the night. Before I had read two dozen pages I realized this book would give me more than I expected it to.

Falling wants–and usually with good intention. It wants the other’s attention, it wants their affection, it wants their time. Not some of it. Not part of it. Falling in love just wants. And that’s the problem. It doesn’t stop wanting until it ruins whatever was good about the relationship in the first place.

Flying, on the other hand, gives. It gives attention, it gives affection, it gives time. And it gives what’s needed most: Jesus’s love.

And it doesn’t stop. Ever.

-Dating Like Airplanes, page 24

My husband and I will be celebrating ten years come May. I am thankful I don’t have to navigate the dating scene anymore. However, our babies are growing up at the speed of life. How do we guide them? The only parenting training anyone truly gets is on-the-job training.

But we can learn from those that have gone on before. We observe, ask questions, and read books. Lots and lots of books. I expected Dating Like Airplanes to give me more rules to consider as I teach my children how to go about looking for a mate.

Refreshingly, I was completely wrong. Caleb Breakey does mention a few possible guidelines for dating, but mostly he speaks of intentions. Why date anyone?

Caleb states more than once that any date should be a marriage possibility, but he says more than that. With tenderness he speaks of the heart we should have toward our “other.” (“Other” is the name Caleb uses for a spouse or potential spouse. I like it.)

As a teen I planned out a cartoon that would represent “falling in love.” I could see myself peering over the edge of a cliff as curiosity draws me closer and closer to the edge until Whoops! Tumble! Crash! Slip! Boom! All the way to the bottom . . .

Beaten and bruised I rise to my feet to face my true love. He has been through his own fall, but that is okay because we are in love so we can now join hands and walk off into the sunset of our happily ever after.

How romantic!

And how different from a healthy reality. Marriage is not about the number of hardships you can endure while remaining passionately in love. Marriage is two who become one who race the good race and fight the good fight for Christ. Together. “And it doesn’t stop. Ever.”

Dating or courtship should work with that end in mind. It may be an oversimplification, but the JOY acrostic comes to mind. Jesus-Others-Yourself. Can you follow Jesus first? That is the foundation. Don’t move on without it! Can you put the needs and wants of your other above your own wants and needs? If you cannot, especially if you cannot because you feel your other would take advantage of you, then perhaps this other is not the other for you. At least not yet.

Caleb Breakey’s book, Dating Like Airplanes, will guide you through the process of knowing whether or not you are ready to fly and finding a person you can fly with. Close your eyes and imagine flying for a moment. The clouds. The wind. The sunshine. Breath it in. Isn’t that better than falling?

~~~

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Making Wishes or Developing Goals? It’s all connected.

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A dream without a goal is a wish. A goal without a plan is just a dream.

Happy New Year!

First! It is absolutely okay to dream and wish and not go anywhere or change anything. Sometimes. I would even say a certain amount of dreaming and wishing without action is healthy.

But if you want to go anywhere or change anything you have to act!

“If you want something you’ve never had, you’ll have to do something you’ve never done.”

-Dave Ramsey

“Not until the pain of the same is greater than the pain of change will you embrace change.”

-Also Dave Ramsey

Enjoy a few more change your life quotes by Dave Ramsey.

~~~

All this to say, I’d like to share my goals for 2014. Have you made any goals yet? It’s never too late or too early.

I use Dan Miller’s recommendation for seven life areas of goals, but I stretch the Career category into three categories. He recently shared thoughts on not planning out every moment of your life. I’m definitely guilty of that.

Financial

-Complete Financial Peace University with my husband at least once: We’ve been following Dave Ramsey for quite a while. We’ve even listened through the CDs for the course at home, but I need some serious financial encouragement. I’m looking forward to hanging out with some like-minded couples and having the time to dream and plan with my husband on the drives to and from classes.

-Organize the Budget Binder: I am typically the numbers nerd in the relationship. I will do and re-do possible budgets and scribble thoughts then present it to my husband for his thoughts before we execute, but since our newest blessing introduced herself to the world this past June I’ve been a mess with everything. It’s time to reorganize. My ultimate budget goal is to have all the bills on auto-draft and have enough cash in the checking to cover a month of expenses at all times, but that’s for another year.

-Work through Anne’s Grocery Budget Toolbox: This has long been on my to-do list. We’ve been able to increase the food budget drastically in the last few years, but I still want to get the most bang for our buck.

-Monthly (or more) Budget Meetings: This is another thing we’ve really slacked off about since the birth of our littlest one. It’s time to jump back on that horse!

Physical

-Complete 42 Days to Fit by Brandy Ferguson, Stacy Karen, and Emma Swanston: Really I just need a jump-start plan to make exercise a part of my daily life.

Personal Development

-Read 52 (or more) books: I read a ton of stuff, but much of my reading has turned toward blog posts. I miss reading full books, and I have around a thousand kindle books waiting on my attention as well as a bunch on bookshelves around the house. I’ll probably review some here.

-Work through How to Manage Your Mouth by Connie HughesI want to be that mom who almost never raises her voice. I want to be that woman who never speaks unkindly to or about others. I might need to work through this more than once.

Family

-Monthly (or more) family outings: I say outings, but what I really mean is deliberate family time making memories. We don’t have to go anywhere or spend anything.

-Monthly (or more) date nights: This also doesn’t require going anywhere or spending anything. It’s all about deliberately spending time together. One of my favorite dates with my husband from our pre-marriage days is when he introduced me to fluffernutter sandwiches at a park.

-Monthly (or more) family service projects: I really need to plan more how this will look, but my husband often comes up with great ideas. For instance, he suggested cleaning up a cemetery that no one maintains anymore where many of my family of the last few generations have been buried.

Spiritual

-Memorize Ephesians: This was on my list last year, but I didn’t get past a few verses. I’m trying again. My church has been working through the book of Ephesians. You can hear those sermons for yourself.

-Complete Glorious Grace: This thirteen week Bible study goes through Ephesians.

-Complete KeptThis thirteen week Bible study is on I Peter.

-Complete Abounding HopeAnd this thirteen week Bible study focuses on hope.

I received all three of these Quench Bible studies by participating in Hello Mornings. If you join the Hello Mornings challenges you get a free study each challenge that is for sale later, and you also gain an awesome community of women who will encourage you through the process of learning how to start your days with God. I love my Hello Mornings group.

Social

-Create and keep a guest book for those that visit my home during 2014: I read about this idea from The Common Room blog. I think I’ll create or find some simple printables and then bind them at the end of the year.

-Monthly (or more) hospitality: Growing up I can remember frequent potlucks, being snowed in with guests, giving up my bed without a second thought, creating a baby bed out of a dresser drawer, always having food to share, and never a flinch from my parents when someone needed to stay awhile. I’m not sure how I didn’t catch those practices for my own home. I blame being too busy, but I’ve been deliberately slowing life down for a long time now. I want to build in more deliberate hospitality this year.

Career – Homemaking

-Declutter and Deep-Clean every room in the house: I am a pitiful housekeeper. I know that some people out there keep the house clean while juggling multiple activities, but I haven’t figured that out yet. I’m the person who tries not to apologize for the state of the house and force my guests to search out one clean corner to compliment. I do not expect every room to be clean all at the same time in order to mark off this goal.

-Declutter 2,555 items: That is seven times three hundred sixty-five. I don’t expect to manage declutterring daily, but I’m shooting for an average of seven things leaving my home each day. This doesn’t include trash, but some stuff I declutter may only be worth throwing away.

Career – Homeschooling

-Finish 2013-2014 School Year: We’re halfway through. Just keep swimming, Dory.

-Begin 2014-2015 School Year: Hopefully I’ll be organized enough to share my curriculum with you including what I create.

-Create Catechism Treasure Box: We were making progress at memorizing Spurgeon’s catechisms and the supporting verses, but that has fizzled out. I want to fill an index card box with these truths and create printables to share and maybe sell. I hope to have this done before next school year.

-Create Tennessee Symbol Study: Our first year of homeschooling we studied Tennessee all year long and had a blast. I want to organize our study into a share-worthy unit study.

Career – Writing

-Publish 52 Blog Posts: Once upon a time on a different blog that no longer exists I published content seven days a week. I sacrificed dinner and time with family to make it happen. I was driven by the idea that if I just kept at it money would somehow appear, but I had no spare time to figure out how. I’m so glad I jumped off that hamster wheel. I’ve done lots of reading and searching and stretching since then, and I think one post a week is reasonable. I’m aiming to make an income with this blog, and the vision isn’t perfect yet but I’m chasing it thoughtfully.

-Complete Blog Planning KitI jumped on this as soon as Kat made it available at her HowTheyBlog site. I’m aiming to actually complete it.

-Complete Smart Blogging SkillsI won this years ago from Kelly McCausey, and I’m ashamed that I haven’t completed it yet. This year is the year! It’s a nine week course, but I’m giving myself permission to take most of the year because blogging is not my full-time job, and I don’t want to get back on that hamster wheel.

-Complete and Sell Writer’s Planner: This product is practically finished. I used to give it away to my mailing list, but I’m going to improve it a bit and maybe sale it through Amazon Kindle.

-Super DRAW Sessions 5x a Week: I’m not sure where I picked up doing DRAW sessions, but it stands for Declutter writing area, Read something, Assess what you most need to work on, and Write. The original idea gave five minutes per item because surely anyone can spare twenty minutes a day for writing. I’m insisting on fifteen minutes per item adding up to one hour.

Now off to add these goals into my plans for the year!

What are your current plans, goals, dreams, and wishes?