September 26, 2016

Blog Vacation

You may have noticed that my posts have been few and far in between lately.
Our sweet little newborn, my procrastination, and new school schedules are to blame.
I promise I have tons of ideas floating around in my brain to write about.
Those articles will come eventually; I just need more than 20 minutes in between newborn naps to write everything down. So, be patient. I'll be back blogging again soon!
In the meantime, I'm good at Instagram and Facebook updates. So check those out!

September 17, 2016

A Day in the Life of Your Kids Photobook

A long time ago, I saw a cute idea on Pinterest about photo-journaling a day in the life of your kids. Over the summer, I decided that I would make a book for Simon before he started Kindergarten. I wanted to give him a way to remember himself at this fun age. At the time I was pregnant, so I wanted to celebrate the "day of Simon" before the baby was born. A few weeks ago, I committed to spending the whole day snapping photos of every Simon. Teeth brushing, scavenger hunts, naps, paddle boarding - I got it all.

I hope he enjoys this small book dedicated to his five year old self when he grows up. He's such a sweet, smart boy who loves his family. I hope he always keeps his curious spirit, and that he continues to love his sisters. Below are some of pictures of my photo book created through Shutterfly. I love Shutterfly! Their website makes designing photo gifts and prints easy. I've used Shutterfly for years.


On the website, you upload the photos you'd like in the book. You can use pre-designed formats or create your own designs. You can add pictures, text, stickers, and change the colors for the backgrounds.



Make your own photo book at Shutterfly, and preserve those family memories. Click the link below to get started, and possibly earn yourself a free photo book by sharing the link with your friends!

And get free shipping until 9/21/2016 too!



September 13, 2016

Step Away from the Grievance Industry


Complaints and whining
Everywhere.

Disgruntleness. Anger. Offense Taken.
Everywhere!

And I'm not talking about raising toddlers - I'm talking about adults.
Adults who are sucked into the "grievance industry" as my husband calls it.

It doesn't matter how benign or small or ridiculous the issue, people will rally around a cause and waste their emotion getting worked up in the grievance industry. Fires of ill-content spread through social media, inciting anger that benefits nothing. In my opinion, there are many worthwhile causes to engage your time and emotion, such as world hunger, addiction recovery, and ending human trafficking. Compared to those heartbreaking causes, the following exhibits seem trite and superficial.

---------------------------------

Exhibit A:

Apparently pockets on pants are sexist. Did you know that? Do the past years of your life suddenly make sense knowing pockets are a slap in the face to women by powerful men in fashion? Guys can fit their keys, wallet, and phone in a pocket, but "a woman . . . has to either carry those items in her hand, or bring a whole purse with her—a definitive, silent sign that she is a woman." How is looking like a woman a bad thing? Besides, every girl I know carries more than just a wallet, keys, and phone! Lipstick, a brush, extra makeup, a hair tie, gum - not to mention the mom essentials of diapers and wipes. Small pant pockets should be the least of a girl's concern, and blaming the fashion industry for their apparent sexism that keeps women in shackles seems an overreach. To complain about designers focusing on how clothing drapes the body, rather than on function, is like blaming cake for having calories. Instead of raving for #pocketequality, buy some different pants. Or a sewing machine to make your own pants. Or just happily carry a purse. Just get over the illusion that the world is out to secretly destroy your happiness by denying you huge pockets.

Exhibit B:

Victoria's Secret came out with a new bra with no padding. Now people are huffing that they are "establishing a cultural beauty standard that is deeply exclusionary." Supposedly not everybody looks great in that bra type. But why should every body wear the same bra? Aren't a variety of options a good thing? Just because someone's body size or curve measurements mean they can wear a non-padded bra does not mean your body type is less desirable. Stop being angry, and just wear the bra that you feel good wearing. A bra is supposed to be under your clothes anyways, so why is this mainstream news? Please put this exaggerated outrage under wraps too.

---------------------------------

This is how the the grievance industry grows. Somewhere, someone will find something to be upset about, and social media helps them fuel the fire. I'm sure I could continue pointing out examples of ridiculous and unnecessary outrage, but this blog is meant to help people find joy in life, and I don't want to feel frustrated by society's awkward love of being offended any more today.
So, I'll leave you with my advice: To find joy in life, let go of ridiculous outrage. Leave the grievance society, and spend your energy forming a grateful and service oriented heart. Count your blessings, not your grievances. Show caring actions to the people around you. Stop complaining on Twitter and Tumblr, and start helping organizations improve people's lives (find a place to volunteer at JustServe.org.) You and the world will be better off.



September 1, 2016

Ready for a Crafty Weekend Project

I'm in the mood for a weekend project!
Settling into a routine with our newborn has freed up some spare time, and I'm not completely exhausted every afternoon since the baby has a (slightly) better sleep schedule at nighttime. So, I'm ready to put all my nursing session Pinterest finds to good use! Outside our front door we have a large brick wall that's begging for some decor. We don't really have a front porch that I can decorate; our entrance is an odd shape. I think I can use that brick wall's space to hang seasonal decorations. I'd like to make a simple wooden plaque and attach some cute knobs. Something like the picture below but with cute Hobby Lobby knobs.
Then I plan on adding cute seasonal signs or wreaths or flower baskets or banners or whatever I create. I like the flexibility to change it as often as I like, plus it won't be hidden behind our screen door. I love decorating holiday wreaths for the front door, but as soon as the screen door closes the wreath is hidden. But, we love our screen door, so I can't really remove it just to showcase a wreath. . . 

Another bonus to hooks outside? I'm running out of space inside! With little children who would quickly grab and destroy any decorations within their reach, my decorating wall space is limited. Someday I'll be able to decorate tables and stack cute things on the floor, but it'll be a few more years.

Once I make my wooden plaque, I can start on my Pinterest list, starting with Fall decor of course!

What should I make first? Here are my ideas; tell me what you vote for in the comments.

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/30821578679233888/

https://www.pinterest.com/pin/30821578679233872/


https://www.pinterest.com/pin/30821578679233849/


https://www.pinterest.com/pin/30821578679233851/


Hopefully my creative energy continues through the weekend!





August 22, 2016

Our First Day of Kindergarten

I woke up this morning with so many thoughts going through my mind.
It's the first day of school - for our oldest kid. The exciting and scary first day of kindergarten.

What do I pack him for lunch?
Do I let him pick out his own clothes to make sure he matches?
How long will it take to drop him off at school on the first day?
Do I get dressed now or feed the baby first? 

Soon after I got dressed, I hear Simon's alarm ringing, and my husband reminding him that the glorious first day of school has finally arrived. Simon has been excited for weeks about kindergarten! Simon's first comment of the day, "But it's still dark outside." Poor kid. I hope he still enjoys school once the reality of a full day at kindergarten sets in.

Simon did get out of bed happily though. He started eating breakfast while I fed the baby. The other two girls woke up before Johnny left for work. No tears, no crying - so far a good morning - and we still had tons of time left before I had to drive Simon to school. "I got this!" I thought to myself.

Our sweet neighbor came over around 7:00 to watch the girls while I drove Simon to school. I was grateful to have the first day of school with just him in the car. We snapped his grade picture, we laughed at his ginormous backpack full of school supplies, and we took seven pictures together to finally have one that wasn't photobombed by his siblings.





He couldn't wait to get out the door!

During our short drive to the school, I felt the need to remind him of all the life lessons we've tried to cram into his mind the last week. Simon has never been in preschool; he's always been home with me. The great, big world seemed scarier to Johnny and I than it did to him. Luckily, five year olds don't watch the news.

"What do you do if a stranger asks you to get into their car?" I asked.
"Say no, and tell my teacher," he dutifully responded.

"What if this. . . and that. . . and this. . .and that. . . " I asked him.
He calmly answered every question. 

It was an awkward interview about strangers, underwear, body parts, friends, kindness, following the teacher's directions, and lunchtime. Even though I know he'll love school, and I know he'll make friends, and I know he'll be the sweet kid that charms people, I still worry. That's what parents do, right? Did we teach him enough at home? Will he make good choices? Will he be happy? Please don't be the kid that whines or sets a bad example.

We walked together down his kindergarten hallway. Simon ran into his classroom before me - he was not nervous at all. We found the hanger for his backpack and dropped off his school supplies. After a conversation explaining that he can't play with the Legos yet because he needs to sit in his assigned chair, Simon was all set. Luckily, one of his friends from church was assigned the seat next to him, and we swapped parent photos. This was their first kindergarten drop off too, and I was happy to see them. By now, Simon was already coloring away, and I wasn't sure what to do. Do I just leave? Do I hug him again?



The teacher's aide was ushering parents out of the classroom with reassuring tones of "They'll be fine." As I walked away, Simon didn't miss me. He was fine.

Surprisingly, I was totally fine. As I walked away with our friends I asked out loud, "Am I a bad mom if I'm not crying?" I've dreaded the kindergarten drop off for months now, but this morning I was fine. Will I suddenly burst into tears this afternoon when I pick him up from school, and he tells me that he loved it? Hopefully he doesn't have a bad day, then I'll bawl for sure.

I called my husband on the way to the car. "He's officially dropped off," I announced, "and I'm not crying. Is that normal?" My husband reassured me that I'm fine because Simon is fine. If he had been crying or nervous or scared, it would be harder to leave him. Since he ran into the classroom happy as ever, it was easier to let him go.

Something definitely felt different leaving him in the giant elementary school. Being home without him has been strange too. It's just me and the girls now - who are dressed in princess dresses while they play with Simon's car and plane Legos. 

But I still wonder . . . 
Did I spend enough time with him before he started school?
Did he get the one-on-one time he needed?
(The last couple weeks I tried to give him more time while the girls napped, but I usually took a nap too instead of playing with him. Newborns and tiredness go hand-in-hand.)

Did we baby him too much? Will he be tough enough for school?
What crazy things will be come home saying or doing?
He's out of our protective bubble and out in the real world! Gasp.

Yet, I also know that everything is fine. I feel peaceful. I am excited for him to love school and make new friends and continue growing into an awesome little guy.

I have pizza and a cookie cake ready for dinner tonight. We'll have treats when he comes home from school, and I'll try to give him as much one-on-one time as I can to talk with him about his first day. With three other siblings to care for, I know I won't be perfect. Luckily, Simon won't expect me to be the perfect Pinterest mom. Luckily for him, I'll keep trying to be the best mom I can.



August 15, 2016

Seven Year Anniversary

Once upon a time, a girl met a boy.
They talked for a few minutes.
She thought he was cute; he thought she was a happy person.
The next day she left for three months.

When she came back to town, this boy really caught her eye! He was kind, adventurous, and generous. When he finally asked her for a date, she was beyond excited. And even though she spent the better part of dinner talking about psychological theory and Sigmund Freud, he liked her anyways. As the story goes, they fell in love and got married.

Our group of friends all went to a carnival, and we just happened to sit by each other on every carnival ride.
We hadn't gone on a date yet, but I was hopeful he secretly liked me back.

He came to meet my family during Christmastime, and we took him to Amarillo's famous Cadillac Ranch.



Seven years later - here we are!

I love reminiscing about our dating days. we had so much fun together! We built model cars, we face painted, we went for long walks, and we played games in the park. Everything about dating Johnny was so easy and comfortable. Everything seemed normal and free. I knew I would marry him after our first date, and that peaceful feeling made dating him blissful. Marriage to this man has been the greatest blessing in my life.


Seven years later, we have almost completely remodeled our house, we have four beautiful kiddos, a gorgeous piece of Texas land we'll build on someday, and lots of hope and dreams.
Life is fun.

Here's to another joyful seven years and onto eternity.



August 1, 2016

Garage Time with Daddy

If Dad is in the garage, kids will be in the garage.
Our kids love spending time out there with their Dad, and he loves it when they show an interest in building and creating. Awhile ago, he decided they each needed their own toolbox, so one night while I was working, they helped build their own toolboxes.

Then, he made it super fun by letting them paint! I think that was their favorite part.




When I noticed his bench was tagged, I asked him why he painted the "Daddy." He responded that he wanted to paint too, and so he marked his bench with his name. I don't think the word "Daddy" has ever been so sweet and dear to my heart. Each time I see it, I smile. I love that I married a man who enjoys being a daddy.

Isn't that was parenting is all about?
Enjoying these precious moments with our kids.




July 26, 2016

5 Issues to Discuss in Pre-Marital Counseling

I often joke that I didn't put much stock in pre-marital counseling until I became a licensed counselor that works with couples and families. Many times, the issue a couple struggles with in their marriage has been around since their dating days. I have often wondered what would be different if they had overcome those challenges though pre-marital counseling before the wedding day.

Asma Rehman wrote a great article on FamilyShare discussing the importance of pre-marital counseling - and the typical issues to discuss in more detail before the wedding. 

"Planning your wedding is stressful enough, but it's a piece of buttercream-frosted cake compared to the day-to-day reality of actual marriage. Indeed, so often couples get caught up with everything involved in prepping for their Big Day and romanticizing the concept of marriage that they forget to (or don't realize that they should) address all of the less-romantic issues that will inevitably arise when two people commit to sharing their lives together. Premarital counseling is an excellent way to confront these issues upfront and establish a stronger, healthier relationship moving into matrimony."

Hop on over and read the rest of her article here, and enjoy!

Her tips are also fantastic points for married couples to discuss. Knowing more about each others' needs, wants, and goals can bring a couple closer together. If disparities are present, then each spouse has the opportunity to serve and learn compassion for the other.



July 19, 2016

Re-Creating Family Photos

At our recent family reunion, my aunt had the amazing idea to create some of their old family photos. I've seen lots of funny re-creations with kids, but not with adults. Here are some funny photos of my father's family trying to bring back the glory days of the 1970s and 80s.



And here was the fun part - seeing them copy outfits and poses and hairstyles.
Eyeliner created some quick mustaches.


Aren't they cute again?


Of course Grandpa needed a new toupee!



And then onto their younger days.



Some added hair was necessary again.



Fun, right?

Have you re-created any of your old family photos?
If so, I'd love to see them. Share your link in the comments! 

July 13, 2016

Blending Families: Love is Key - Happy Families

I have had a few counseling appointment requests lately about blended families. It can be a challenge to merge different families together, but I appreciate the simple message of this video.

"Love is the key."








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