Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Moment of Clarity

Here in the great state of Louisiana, we have a little holiday called Mardi Gras. While we're not ones to do the whole parade thing, my kids get the privilege of having a week off school. So, after two days of rain, I ventured out with my littles.

We made a Target run. By the power of prayer, deep breathing techniques and bribery, we survived with no meltdowns. Success!

Next, we headed to the park. The second we walked in, off they ran in three different directions. I chose the location because it is completely fenced with a gate that can only be opened by individuals over 5 feet. And there is a bathroom (stocked with soap and toilet paper) in short walking distance. When you've got three little ones, important factors to consider. (I know, life-changing information here.)

The kids ran off to play, and I collapsed into a bench. Nearby moms sat on blankets with their infants. The babies rolled around and chewed things and drooled. I heard one relaying her daughter's teething woes. Meanwhile, my three were at the top of the playground having a ball.

I was struck by a thought: I sometimes miss those days when mine were confined to a blanket. Now I have go out of my way to find a park with a fence!

One day, they'll grow up and be out of my control completely. At each stage of freedom comes new worries for me, new responsibilities and dangers for them and a new level of trust in a great big God.

It's scary. I don't like it when my kids are out of my sight. I can't imagine the idea of them being out of my control completely. I am so thankful for the stage they're in now.

And as that thought enters my brain, someone runs up and tells me they have to go potty.

One fleeting moment of clarity followed by the constant demands of raising preschoolers. Hope you can find that second of clear-headed perspective today.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Reboot Me Please!

It's been hectic around here. The boys are 3 1/2. They are defiant, independent and just plain goofy. The girl is 5 going on 15. We've been sick off and on for months. Even Max the cat has been sick. And the hubby is working more than I'm used to. Most  Some days, I just want to run away. Or scream. Or stomp my feet and throw my own temper tantrum. Oh and throw away everything on the living room floor.

After several consecutive days of crazy, I decided I needed to reboot. But it took a while to figure out how...

I ended up having a good cry, just to get the emotions out. I talked to other mom friends. Then I put on some good music and danced around the house. I prayed, had a girls' night and picked up some of the clutter around the house. I also cleaned my car and vacuumed it. 

Ya' know, I feel a lot better.

Sometimes I cope with stress in unhealthy ways: overeating, yelling at my kids or husband or both, getting depressed, complaining, etc. I think one of the keys to managing the preschool years is figuring out what you need so you can handle the crazy. 

I'm learning that I need time away from kids outside of the home. Girl's nights, MOPS, church meetings. They really help me find balance. I also love some good cardio, whether it's running in the neighborhood, yard work or dancing around the house. I feel better when my heart gets pumping. Finally, eliminating clutter gives me a sense of control over my environment. Even if I can't control the people in my home, I can  control what goes on the counter top.

I'm so very blessed to have my three little ones and stay home with them. When I'm overwhelmed, it's easy to forget that. Hope your day is stress-free, but if not, finding your own method to reboot is essential.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Finding the magic

4:15. Woke early to cat crying. Fed him, gave him meds and let him out. He’s happy and free. I probably won’t see him until the afternoon. Lay back down. Mike wakes and changes into dry undies out of a wet pull-up. Tuck him back in bed. I lay down to listen to the sound of rain… uh oh rain.

4:30. Tater wakes, terrified of the storm. Soothe both boys. Bring Tater downstairs to “sleep” in my bed. No sleep, just questions about rain. Frustrated. Get up to mop the floors (again) after cat peed yesterday. Not his fault – he was scared. House stinks. Bad. Cat pee is gross.

Make banana bread for breakfast. Chocolate banana bread. Batter tastes heavenly. Put the walnuts on top so kids can pick them off. Check calories. Don’t want to blow it at breakfast. What?! 200 calories for 1/12 of a loaf. Oh man, who eats 1/12 ? I could eat half of it. Vow to not eat half.

Tater wakes again, crying. “I’m not in my bed!” “No you’re in my bed,” I answer. He whine-mutters something I can’t understand. Pick him up, wipe his nose and make him promise not to wake everyone upstairs. Bring him back to bed. Text Dusty the story because it’s cute. He tells me it’s cute.

6:15. Good I still have a few minutes before everyone wakes. Hop in the shower. Read devotional. Start typing. Emma wakes… she smells banana bread. Her excited smile tells me I did good.

I know there’s something awesome in this story. It’s a season that I’ll one day want back. So many times it feels more like an annoyance. I just want the kids to leave me alone so I can “get stuff done.” Or maybe sleep past 6 a.m. once in a while.

What’s more important than this? I think today I’ll choose to see the magic in it, instead of the nuisance. Today I’ll find joy in the mundane. Peace in the chaos of sticky hands and runny noses. Today I’ll pray when I feel frustration rise up in me. At least I hope so. Because this mommy thing can only be faced one day at a time.

Yep, typing time is over. Mike peed on Tommy… oh my. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Decorating (and Living) with Guts

I love changing things around in my house. Always have. Even as a kid, I loved to decorate. I still remember most of my bedrooms (and there were a lot).

Remember when this house was amazing.

My 80s bedroom had a matching country blue comforter set complete with a ruffled pillowcase and ruffled curtains that framed our white vinyl mini blinds. I even remember buying it. My sister got the pink one, and I wanted the blue. They had other colors, but I liked the blue. My mom even questioned it, "Are you sure you want blue?" The wallpaper was a subtle stripe adorned with peach and country blue roses. I loved my room. It was inspiring... so much that I colored on everything (wallpaper included). 

Similar to my country blue curtain.

Later I wanted something more grown up, which meant bright, matching New Kids On The Block (or NKOTB to their biggest fans) sheets, comforter and curtains. 

This is actually it! I remember tracing their signatures and staring into those black and white faces!

I shared a room with my sister while we lived at my mamaw's house. It had a matching white eyelet comforter set with small satin ribbon bows in the trim -- so fancy! The room had white wicker furniture that actually matched and mirrored closet doors. 

In the 90s I still liked the country, antique style. I had another comforter set with mauve roses and vines. I remember lots of baskets and pictures of flowers and cute baby animals...

Later, I decided to paint my room sage. It was really more of a mint though, and after a year of it, the color completely grossed me out. To this day, if any color hints at that awful sage mint I have to change it. Right then. Finally, I painted my room a soft cream. It was pretty. I opted not to do curtains over my mini blinds. Instead, I accentuated the half-window with a scarf and old-world sconces. I loved the old world look... way too much. 

In college it was zebra print pillows and a khaki duvet cover with purple sheets (Go LSU!). Great choices until I saw the peachy-beige color of my dorm room walls. It clashed in the worst way. 

It's funny to think about all of those rooms. I spent so many hours there! It gets me thinking... what will I think of when I look back on my current style? 

So much of what I do is limited by my budget, but I also limit myself by playing it safe. When I chose that blue comforter set, I didn't doubt it. I knew what I wanted. I liked blue. Gosh I wish I could be that decisive now. I wish I didn't care so much what was in style, expected or in everyone else's homes. 

And come to think of it, I want to live my life more like that too. I want to go for the unexpected. Not worry about others' opinions. Just go with what I love. 

How about you? Do you remember all of your childhood bedrooms? Do you wish you could decorate and live life with more conviction?

I have a board on Pinterest called "Design with Guts." I hope one day, some of my rooms will look more like them. My life too. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

My Spending Fast

It's been 17 days since I last went shopping. Holy Moly! 17 days! And can I tell you, it's been hard!

A while back I read this post about The Small Notebook's "No Spend Month." I was shocked, impressed, inspired, but I did nothing.

Until a few weeks ago. When a dear friend pointed out that I'm always buying stuff. Who me? (in my most innocent voice) I don't shop that much. But it got me thinking. Hard.

It is unfortunately true. Even when I don't buy, I shop. A lot. I love shopping online, in person, you name it. I never met a store I didn't want to explore.

This, combined with a heart-to-heart about our financial goals and bloated credit card bill, gave me the push I needed to set a goal: No buying for 1 month.

For many people this isn't too hard. But for me, it's been quite a challenge.

For the first two weeks, I didn't buy, but I did shop. I quickly realized that shopping and not buying isn't very fun. Plus, think of the time I was wasting looking at stuff I had no intention of buying. And I do not like to waste time!

So, for the last two weeks of my spending "fast," I'm not going to shop either. Well, much. (some things are unavoidable)

I did buy groceries, but with a much smaller budget than usual. I'm also sitting in a coffee shop typing this. And, yes, I did buy a snack. But it's a far cry from my regular habits.

There are moments it's easy, but most of the time, the money is burning a hole in my pocket! I keep a mental (sometimes written!) list of all the wonderful things I'm going to buy when I can spend money again. But it has opened my eyes to just how much stuff I spend money on that isn't really necessary.

I even talked with my husband about it last night, and we're planning our own No Spend Month next year.

So how about you? Would you try a spending fast? Have you done it?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Grocery Store Come-Backs

Most days I avoid the grocery store with my three monkeys. If I do happen to go, the comments are inevitable. With three kids under three, I've heard some good ones. I thought I'd share a few and what I wished I would have said (or was thinking) at the time.
Oh they are so cute! And what are their names? How old are they? My sisters cousin has twins... a boy and girl... and they weighed... Honey, did you see the babies? Come look...
Thank you for showing an interest in my adorable children. We have exactly 23 minutes in this store until one of them poops or has a meltdown. I have 17 items left to purchase. Please let me continue my shopping!
Wow, you're going to the grocery store with all of them? You're brave!
Yes, I am brave. I gave the maid and nanny the day off and thought I'd take the children for a stroll in the market. Really... I'm in Walmart. I don't have a maid. I also don't have any diapers, bread, toilet paper or milk in my house. And, last time I checked, you couldn't purchase those items at the McDonald's drive thru and the Walgreen's pharmacy doesn't consider those items over-the-counter medications. :)
I bet they're a handful!
Yes they are, but they are also a blessing. 
My absolute favorite:
They are beautiful. How do you do it?
I'm so glad you asked! I don't really have a choice. (Usually this is where I chicken out...) I am so dependent on the grace of God. I rely daily on the Holy Spirit to give me the patience to care for these precious children. I am nothing without him. On the days I try to do it in my own strength, I fail. They are a daily reminder of my inadequacy as a mom and human being. And I'm so thankful for it. They keep me on my knees. I have to trust God to get me through this season. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Chalkboard Paint on Kitchen Cabinets

The chalkboard trend... by now everyone has at least pinned one of these babies on pinterest. (Hopefully one from my etsy shop... hee hee) They're fun and so useful. I just love 'em.

A couple of months ago while finishing up a chalkboard project, I had a moment of brilliance... aka I got distracted. On a whim, I painted the inside of the cabinet doors on my pantry. I didn't sand or prime it. I painted the cabinets last year, so I knew it was a good surface. After two coats and about 15 minutes of work, I have a simple, hidden surface to jot down my weekly menu and grocery list. 

The best part: it's super convenient!

I have an iphone app to manage my grocery list, but many times that's too inconvenient. I end up forgetting what I was supposed to write before I can find my phone. I may be in the middle of fixing dinner and realize I need three things. I just jot it down (usually in my messiest handwriting) and add it on my phone later. The menu is great because I just open the pantry and see what meals options I have. 

Here's another shot of my gorgeous cabinet. I did organize it for these photos... in case you were wondering. :)

I buy my chalkboard paint at Lowe's, but I've also seen small cans of it at Walmart in the craft section. Just make sure you have a good surface for the paint to adhere to. I use a disposable sponge brush or roller and apply two coats.

*Before you use the chalkboard, "season" it by rubbing chalk over the entire surface and erasing it with a dry paper towel or cloth. This will make it easier to erase items.

Let me know if you give this little idea a try!

Thanks for stopping by Doing More Than Laundry!

I also write a blog about design and my furniture business:
The Little House. Check it out!