15 Minutes

You can do anything for 15 minutes.

I used to love this idea. At the time, I was trying to get my home and my “stuff” under control. We had a lot of stuff and it was hard to wrap my head around sorting through it all. But 15 minutes at a time? I could do it 15 minutes at a time.

Fast forward to today. I still have clutter – as long as I’m living that will probably be the case – but it’s mainly under control. So my 15 minutes these days is being applied to something else. I have gotten out of the habit of exercise, out of the habit of getting moving. I keep meaning to. I’ve bought the shoes. I have the clothes. But whenever I think about getting off the couch and getting outside to do anything, it seemed like too much time and effort was needed to make a difference.

Jon Acuff reminded me about the idea of 15 minutes. That something done just 15 minutes a day can make a big difference over time. He does a challenge of sorts each summer – choose 1 thing and commit to practicing/doing it for at least 15 minutes a day. When I saw the challenge I thought, “I can do this. I can go for a walk for 15 minutes a day. Or do a short body-weight workout. Yup. I can do this.” So I printed the checklist and here we are, 4 days in, and even with a day off because of some physical ailments, I’ve already crossed off 8 squares on that chart of 100 squares. That’s more exercise in 4 days than I have had in weeks. I’m pretty happy with that!

Jon said to pick one thing. Because I like to buck the “rules” a bit sometimes and I like to go above and beyond, I added another “something” to my 15 minutes challenge – writing. Simple things. Deep things. Fun things. Regular life things. Just write. Some days that is going to mean a blog post. Other days it’s just going to be me writing in a notebook or on a piece of paper. I want it to become a habit again rather than just something I do randomly. And I can do anything for 15 minutes!

15 minutes. 25 hours. It adds up. I can’t wait to see the results of those 15 minutes when the summer is over! I’ll try to share my progress here weekly – on Mondays. Should be interesting…..

Want more information about the DO SUMMER challenge? Check it out here!

Who knew?!

For several months now I have been beating myself up because I have an office full of awesome fun things with which to create beautiful things – cards, gifts, home decor, whatever. It’s crafty heaven for me. And yet I have avoided that space like the plague.

I’ve walked into my office every few days thinking “I really need to make something” and then would just look around before walking back out again. I had no idea where to begin or what to do. I’d sit down to make a card and I would get bogged down with all the options and would end up not making anything. I’d see pictures of things my friends were making and think “I really ought to get creating stuff again!” But I’d do nothing.

I spent the last few weeks thinking long and hard about why I was feeling this way, why I was avoiding this space. It didn’t make sense to me really. I love to make things. I have a need to be creative every day. I have missed doing it. So what was stopping me?

Expectations and lack of purpose.

I have realized two things about myself in the last few weeks.

1. I was setting expectations for myself that were impossible for me to achieve, based on past circumstances rather than on present conditions.

2. I need a reason to create something, a purpose. I can’t just sit down and make something for the sake of making something.

Who knew?!

2014-08-08 21.42.35

A baby card I made for friends

So I’ve made some changes in my head and it’s affected everything!! I changed my expectations – I’m out of practice and I can’t expect that I’ll be churning out beautiful things quickly and easily like I once did. I’m going to have to labor over them like I did when I first began to make pretty things and I need to relearn the skills I had before. And that’s okay. I’ve also changed how I approach things – I’m looking for reasons to make things, to create things and I am finding them everywhere! And with that change, I’ve made several things in the last couple of days and I have ideas for more!

I’m no longer looking in the door of my office and feeling guilty about not using it. I’m not feeling the pressure that I was before. Who knew a simple change of perspective would change everything?

3-2-1…GO!

“Buh-bye!” Liam called to my friend and her kids as they pulled out of the driveway this morning. She’s  is Emily & Isaac’s home teacher for this next year of school. We had just spent the previous 2 hours going over the Student Learning Plans for both of the kids.

As I sit here with all these plans going through my head, I have to admit that I feel a little overwhelmed by the magnitude of what we are taking on. Transitioning from going to school every day to homeschooling is a HUGE transition, especially at the ages my kids are at – Grade 8 & 9 respectively. It’s a decision that hasn’t been made lightly and is one that, especially now, I am feeling excited about. But OH MAN! I also feel like someone is standing behind me, as I stand on the edge of a platform looking down into the pool below, saying “1-2-3….!” and about to push me over the edge.

The nerves are starting to kick in and I am feeling both a rush of excitement at what is coming as well as fear. This homeschooling thing is about to get VERY real here in our home!! EEK!

So much to do in the next few weeks as we prepare for the start of school, so many questions need answered. What are our days going to look like? Where in the house are we going to do our schooling? How are we going to handle things like lack of motivation or desire to school? How am I going to handle the responsibilities of house and home and now school?

WHAT IF WE HATE IT???

That last question is really the one that has me the most nervous. I am confident that not enrolling my kids in the local high school for the coming year is the best thing for them. But despite the fact that I am sure of that, and I am confident that enrolling them with Traditional Learning Academy is going to be a good fit, I’m still a little concerned – no matter how great our next year might look on paper, what if we can’t stand spending so much time together? What if we can’t find a good balance between work and fun? What if the kids’ won’t listen or we end up butting heads all the time? What if the whole thing just ends up being an exercise in frustration?

On the flip side of those nerves and questions is the excitement. My friend and I had fun making plans and it’s going to be even more fun to finalize and execute those plans. It’s going to be great to see how the kids handle the project based learning we’re planning for them. I have high hopes….and I’m counting on the fact that hundreds of families embark on this journey together every year and do so successfully. Plus Traditional Learning Academy has a fantastic program and we have a great group of people backing us.

So I guess it’s time….

3 – 2 – 1 – GO!!!

No Apologies Here!

*Just to clarify…

I want to clarify that this post didn’t come as a result of anything family said this last week. I have found myself speaking apologetically about a variety of child-related things when speaking to others for quite some time. I simply became much more aware of this when we were visiting family last week because I had several of the same conversations with a bunch of people as happens when you are seeing a bunch of people for the first time in a while.

Some of the judgements I have felt in the last 18 months have been felt because there have been judgements. Some have simply been things I perceived but were really just me projecting my own insecurities into the situation. Whichever the situation, as parents, we don’t need to feel like we have to apologize for doing our best for our kids.

 

We just got home from a week in Edmonton with family we don’t see very often. It was a great visit! But I came away aware of something I have started doing that I really don’t like. I was apologizing for things I really don’t need or want to apologize for.

We’re doing things a little different than might have been done 12, 13 years ago when my older kids were babies. We’re definitely doing things differently than they were done 25 – 30 years ago when Tim’s kids were babies. We’re doing what works for us as a family. We feel good about the choices we are making and they are working for us. I was really surprised, then, to find myself justifying or apologizing or even feeling a little bit of guilt about when we were talking with various people this last week.

We wear our baby. I rarely use the stroller. Liam is on my back or cuddled against my chest. He’s happiest that way when we are out in public. I love the closeness as much as he does. It really works for us. And besides, have you seen how beautiful carriers and wraps are these days?? Not to mention how comfortable they are for everyone involved!! I was really surprised by how many eyebrows were raised when we were out and about around Edmonton this week – I felt like the only person on the planet who wasn’t using a stroller. And I found myself apologizing for being different in this way.

Mid-Morning Nap snuggles.

Mid-Morning Nap Snuggles

We are still nursing. Liam is going to be 18 months old soon and he LOVES the boobies!! Some days breastmilk is providing the bulk of his nutrition. Other days he is totally into his food and only nurses when he’s thirsty or tired. We ALWAYS nurse to sleep for naps and bedtime. Those sleepytime snuggles and nursing times are long and cherished. He often won’t go to bed without them, especially for naptime. A typical nursing day has him nursing for 7 long sessions (30 – 45 minutes at a time) and several short ones (5 – 15 minutes). It affects my sleep. It dictates the rhythm of our day. It influences how our family functions all around. But it works for us. And yet I was apologizing and almost feeling sheepish about it when people we don’t often see realized this about us.

We are looking at homeschooling our kids starting in September. This decision has come after much thought and consideration of our kids needs as well as considering a number of other factors. It’s a big commitment on our part. We’re aware of the potential challenges. We’re certain this is what is best for us at least for the next year. We’re confident in this choice and are excited about the possibilities. And yet I felt, more than once, like I needed to apologize for this choice.

These are just a few examples.

But why am I apologizing??!! These are the things that work for our family. These are things that have been thought about, talked about, agreed on or simply have evolved because they are what works for us. Some things are things that are pretty standard for families in this time. Other things are a little out of the norm. But whatever the case may be, I DON’T HAVE TO APOLOGIZE FOR PARENTING MY KIDS THE BEST WAY I KNOW HOW. I don’t have to apologize or explain why my husband and I do things the way we do. We aren’t breaking any laws, we aren’t putting our kids in harm’s way, we aren’t neglecting them or depriving them. The only thing we are doing is living our lives in ways that work for our family the best we can figure and sometimes that means we’re doing things that you’ll agree with and sometimes that means we’re doing things you wouldn’t do. Either way it’s okay.

I’m not going to apologize or justify why we do what we do any more. And if you find yourself doing the same thing, you don’t need to apologize either. Only we know what really works for us! Everyone else may have their opinion, they might make different choices, but just because what they think might differ from you, doesn’t mean you’re wrong or they are wrong. We’re all just DIFFERENT! If we could just agree to be different, to embrace those differences and maybe even be willing to engage in conversation about those differences so as to learn more about each other and ourselves, we would all feel a lot less pressure and a lot more confidence.

Own your choices!

Embrace the differences!

Confidently walk through life with your family.

Haters are going to hate. Doubters are going to doubt. Don’t allow them to rob you of your confidence and resolve to do what is best for your family. No More Apologies!

Overwhelmed

A couple weekends ago I went to a really great conference on worship and the arts. I had a great time listening to the amazing speakers/teachers and interacting with others from my church, getting to know team members better and learning together. It was so worth going to but WOW! Talk about information overload!

Over the last couple of years I have found that my extrovert/introvert tendencies have balanced out a lot more and I actually require quiet time on my own to process things. Whether those things are emotions I am feeling or things I am thinking about, I need that space from people now in a way I have never needed it in the past. The weekend was great but there was zero downtime to process. And then it was home and back to reality!

It’s been two weeks and I still haven’t had a chance to quietly process my thoughts. My days are filled with caring for kids, running errands, taking care of the house, etc. I was getting some quiet alone time in which to get things done each day when Liam napped but I babysit now for a few hours each day and the timing usually coincides with naptime so that time is gone. The landscape of my days and my weeks has changed but my need for down time, for time with my husband, time with friends, time with by myself have not changed. I so badly want to have time to just sit and rest and ponder things I am learning but there isn’t any time.

A couple months ago I started reading a book called Desperate by Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson. The small print title is “Hope for the Mom who Needs to Breathe”. I began reading it feeling like “I want to read this so that I can help others” – at the time I wasn’t feeling like that mom who doesn’t know how she’s going to make it through the next day, the mom who needs just a few moments in which to breathe and recharge. HA! Joke’s on me! That is exactly how I am feeling this week!

What does this “joke” tell me? That we, our lives, go through cycles. We have those times when we are feeling free and relaxed and on top of things and in control. We breathe easy. We face each day with a smile and a sense of adventure. We go to bed tired from a day of activity but we awake refreshed and ready to go. We also have those times when we drag all the time. We feel like we can’t get enough rest. We go to bed exhausted and wake up tired. We feel like a heavy weight is on our backs, holding us down and preventing us from flying. We feel like life is no longer a fun adventure but something to be endured and survived. We can barely breathe.

I am so thankful that in those moments when I don’t feel I can breathe I know, even if I can’t “feel it”, that God isn’t far. He’s right there holding me up and keeping me going. I am learning to lean hard into Him when I feel overwhelmed. Often times my circumstances don’t change at all but my attitude or outlook does which makes all the difference.

So, overwhelmed self, remember you’re not in this alone. In the midst of the chaos and craziness of life, there are moments of quiet scattered through to allow you to breathe. These overwhelming days will pass. Just lean in and hang on! Tomorrow is a new day!

I DID IT!!

The whir of the sewing machine is a sound I grew up with – it wasn’t a constant in our home but mom was never without a machine to hem a pair of pants or sew a stocking or make a simple dress. I had to learn how to sew in Grade 8 but wasn’t so excited about the idea. Our project option was a pair of bermuda style shorts with an elastic waist. I chose to make mine in a HIDEOUS Royal Purple polyester fabric. I don’t remember if I passed or failed that project in terms of sewing skills but I do know I failed in the fashion department!! To this day, whenever I think about Grade 8 sewing, I see this hideous purple in my mind. It’s really no surprise that to this day purple is NOT one of my favorite colors…at least not THAT purple!!

Fast forward to the last few years. As I have become more comfortable with who I am and my creative nature, I have become more aware of things I would love to make – from toddler busy books to beautiful quilts, there have been many things I have wanted to make but been unable to. I have been handcuffed by a lack of machine and a lack of confidence in my ability to make it work. Seeing the beautiful modern quilts on Pinterest really piqued my interest and my desire to acquire this skill so I set about finding a machine.

I have my Grandma’s OLD machine but I can barely lift it off the closet shelf – it’s heavy! So I put an appeal out to friends and have borrowed one from a girlfriend. I decided today I was going to learn how to make it happen so I pulled it out and got ready to go.

My little pouch...open

My little pouch…open

30 minutes after sitting down at that machine I did it!! I sewed my first straight seam!! And several practice runs later, I sewed a small pouch. Feeling more confident, I found the pieces of a Christmas Stocking that my mom had cut out and never completed and I finished it off complete with a little ribbon loop. I’m SO PROUD OF MYSELF!!!

My Little Pouch - closed

My Little Pouch – closed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This afternoon I picked up my first Jelly Roll of fabric and began the process of putting together my first quilt. I AM SO EXCITED!!! And I know my mom would be so proud of me for setting out to learn a new skill! I still have many of the basics to master and expand on before I will ever consider myself an accomplished seamstress but now that I know I can do this much on my own without help, I know that with a few lessons from others, I’ve got this!

Now I need to go and grow my “sewing projects” board on Pinterest….and add to my Quilting board! 😀