Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Writing Ahead of Myself

Photo Via Walt Stoneburner
A very easy trap to fall into as a blogger {at least for this blogger} is to fill posts with awe-inspiring ideals that look great on paper  screen, but don't translate into my real life. I'm great at making lists and goals and plans, both on and offline, but very poor when it comes to follow through.

I realize that that can paint an inaccurate picture for readers. It might seem like I really have my act together. That I teach my kids and clean my house and have regular devotions that would put Susannah Spurgeon to shame. Ha! So not the case. Not even close.

For example, this post on educating my toddler? Yeah, that one. While we go to the library most weeks and still read a ton, I'm still terrible about planning crafts for S to do. Maybe once a month? Or every other month?

Slow and Steady Get Me Ready? I used the activities in that for about a month before it got buried under a pile of good intentions and sat dusty and alone for the rest of the year. I pulled it out again towards the middle of June with the best of intentions. Three weeks later it was once again forgotten. I still find it to be a great tool and still hope to make it a regular part of our groove... but, we'll see.

Or this post, originally written for A Biblical Marriage, on my plans to start praying more... to my shame, it is nothing more than a plan that I still need to be reminded of {note to self: must print it out and post where I will see it often} and still desire to implement. But heavens, I cannot claim that it is a regular habit of my life yet.

I also want to note that life changes. With the ebb and flow of seasons, children added to the family and life and work changes, my routines and habits are constantly changing. Recently one of you asked about my scripture memory program and if it was still working out for me. The answer to that would be... no.

For five years I loved that system... but after five years, I had quite the stack of review verses. It was taking me an average of 30 minutes a day to get through the program, and after W was born I just quit trying to keep up with it. Now, one year later, I am trying to ease back in and figure out where to go from here.

Please don't look at all of my past posts and imagine I'm still successfully spinning all of these plates. I'm not.

All this to say, I sometimes write ahead of myself. Instead of waiting to write from real experience and what I know, I write of what I want and aim to be. In an effort to be more authentic, I will be posting bold disclaimers when content I'm sharing is an ideal and not for real. More importantly, I'm committing {yikes is that a scary word to type out} to write mainly about what I know from my daily grind experience. Tips and tricks that I've found to be tested and true.

Hang with me while I grow in grace? And please remember, I'm just a fallen woman who makes a heck of a lot of mistakes. A woman who is trying to stop writing ahead of herself.

Monday, August 11, 2014

How to Live Up the Last Days of Summer

Hard to believe, but Fall is coming.

In many parts of the country students are already back in school. The days are growing cooler and shorter.

While my own kids aren't school age yet, I look forward to the changes Fall will bring- less crowded library story hours, cooler days spent at home or out enjoying autumnal colors, scarves and boots, and pumpkin everything {especially pumpkin spice lattes! amen?}. By far, Fall is my favorite season.

Yet for all that I'm in no rush for the summer to end. Fall means that Winter is coming, with its long cold days and cooped up kiddos. While I'm excited for Autumn, I'm sensing the need to soak up these last summer days.

What's my plan? I'm glad you asked!

1. Get outdoors as much as possible. My kids love going outside, but many times I allow my screaming To Do list to keep us holed up indoors. I'm trying to use nap and bed times more productively, and selectively overlooking chores that can wait in order to maximize our outside time. Soon enough we'll be packing up the sidewalk chalk, water toys, and kites. When that day comes we'll all be sad. Best to make the most of these warm sunny days!

2. Make a last minute summer bucket list. If you're anything like me, you still have a handful of activities you'd like to get to this summer and haven't touched. It isn't too late to write your summer bucket list and make a plan for executing it! I'd still like to get my kids out to our local parks and water play place a few more times, visit the zoo, go to the Farmer's Market, and hit up the pool. It won't happen without a bit of planning on this Mama's part.

3. Move indoors stuff outdoors. This coincides with number one- any indoor activity that can possibly be done outside, should be moved there. Reading together, craft projects {bonus: easier clean-up}, handiwork and even computer work {provided you have a laptop} are all nicer out of doors. My kids outside play time is one of my favorite multi-tasking opportunities. I catch up on my podcast listening, read, write thank you notes, and make phone calls all while watching them play. It's actually a very nice break from housework!

One of our favorite things to do in the summer is eat outside. Whether we have a picnic-style lunch or a sit down dinner at our patio table, enjoying the fresh air and summer scenery is such a pleasure.

4. Eat more summer food. Watermelon, ice cream, funnel cakes at the fair, colorful fresh produce at the Farmer's Markets... these are the tastes we'll long for come January. So I say eat up now- as often as you can! Schedule a couple more barbecues with friends, get to the fair, take advantage of seasonal sale prices. Now is the time my friend. Don't miss out!

5. Slow down and savor. Life is moving way too fast. If we don't stop to smell the roses we may miss out on many of life's most beautiful moments. Take time to breathe. Get a break from the air conditioning and enjoy soaking up some sun with your babes. Make a big old mason jar of iced tea {my favorite summer beverage} and drink deep. This summer will be over before we know it, and our chance to enjoy it is now.

Photo Via Andrew
Here's to a delightful last few weeks of summer!

"This is the day that the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it!"

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

What We've Been Into

Since dropping offline, I've found a few great resources that I've been wanting to share with you all. From face washing to books to music and apps, here goes!

Dana Dirksen's Questions with Answers CDs. Jessalyn first introduced me to Questions with Answers on Desiring Virtue. Though I haven't yet purchased copies of them, S and I love listening to them for free on Spotify. Think great theological truths and encouraging Scripture texts set to pleasant vocals and acoustic guitar. So many mornings I have felt strengthened and encouraged in my soul as I go about my daily grind, just listening to these songs. It also warms a mama's heart to here her toddler singing sweetly about the deep things of God.

The ReadingPlan App. My husband introduced me to this clever little invention. It offers you several Read Through the Bible in a Year programs, including the M'Cheyne plan that we've been using the past few years. It syncs the plan with the Bible on your device, so each day you can view the scheduled reading, click on it to read the passage, then return to the program and check off each section as you read it. It keeps me so organized, and I no longer am constantly losing and hunting down a piece of paper telling me what to read. As a mom of little people, I find that reading my Bible via phone or iPad tends to be much easier anyway. No page flipping single-handed while nursing or holding a baby :).

The Flavia DeLuce mysteries. Written by a 70-something first time novelist and set in 1950's England, these six books chronicling the life of 11-year-old aspiring chemist Flavia are both charming and entertaining. While they are very well written, with interesting characters and a setting to die for {crumbling English estate}, what I loved most about these books was my ability to put them down. Because of my propensity to do nothing but read once I've started a novel {to the neglect of all else}, I loved that I could thoroughly enjoy them when I picked them up, but easily put them down when the kids woke up or it was time for me to hit the sack. They flow at a slower pace, while still being delightfully engaging.

The Oil Cleansing Method. After bemoaning my twice failed attempts at going no-poo, my hopes for this all-natural and frugal alternative to skin care were not high. How pleasantly surprised I was! I've been using a combo of castor and extra virgin olive oil to wash my face since January, and love love love it. So what if I have to purchase the ingredients in the cooking oil and laxative aisles of Wal-Mart? Whatever works!

The Swagbucks TV App. Over the past couple years I've dabbled in earning Amazon gift cards through Swagbucks. When I saw this post on Snail Pace Transformations, I knew that I wanted to get more serious about racking up those bucks. Looming on the horizon was my sons need for the next size car seat, so I downloaded this app and got busy earning. I was excited to earn a good chunk of the car seats cost this way! And you better believe I'm still using this puppy 6 days a week. Because who couldn't use a few free gift cards???

So that's what we've been into :). What good books or resources have you been enjoying lately? Please do share in the comments!

*Some of the above links are affiliate links. That means that if you click through and make a purchase, a small percentage of the profit comes back to fund this blog. Thank you for your support of The Purposeful Wife!*

Friday, August 1, 2014

What We've Been Up To

Me and the Kids at the Beach
It's been months {8? 9?!? yikes!} since I've posted here. I've had the pleasure of hearing from a handful of you- thank you for your encouragement and friendships! Fellowship with other bloggers and readers is definitely my favorite part of being in this space.

In November I decided to drop blogging as a priority, and to just let it happen if it happened. Lesson learned: if I don't intentionally make the time and effort to be here, it just doesn't happen.

S just turned three, and W is one. They are super fun and super high energy! We enjoy weekly trips to our library's story hour, I'm vacuuming almost every day to keep W from eating floor junk, and he pretty much climbs everything, making my life a tad stressful. S continues to love books, music, and being social. I feel like we spend a little too much time out and about, and need to restructure our lives more homewards.

We love ice cream...
Since January our family has experienced a series of great ups and downs, highs and lows. Niall lost his job, found a new temporary one that he loves, we were miraculously able to pay off the last of our school loans, and God has provided for us to take several trips to see family and just relax that seemed out of our budget and impossible. He is so good. 

We recently experienced another miscarriage. It has been rough. Our children bring so much joy to our lives that we were delighted at the prospect of growing our family. After seeing baby twice on ultrasounds, everything looked great and we felt secure in the pregnancy. It's just another reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed, and we don't know the number of our days. The grief has been hard, but we've been so blessed by the compassion of other believers, and are anxious to see the Lord at work in our lives, no matter what course He takes.

...Yes we do!
Lately I've just been really tired. Can any of the mamas relate?! W is having a rough time at night with teething and growth spurts, S has occasional night terrors, and both kids still get up early. I take naps as frequently as possible, and am just trying to keep my head above water. I also read a lot. My desire is to get back into this space, frequently. Writing is a good and enjoyable discipline for me.

So that pretty much sums up life here these days. How have you been?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thankful for My Husband

When Niall saw this picture on my computer screen, he laughed. "That was before the world broke us."

Sure, the last three years since it was taken have been full of ups and downs. Two kids, one less income, and the new challenges in this season of life have left us a whole lot more tired, with greater responsibilities that can at times feel like the weight of the world. That would be true.

Truer still that I haven't always been thankful. I've grumbled and nagged and snapped at him when times were hard or hormones ran high. 

But the good things have been sweet, and the ways that we've seen the Lord work and move, incredible. He's grown and healed our 27 week preemie, provided for each bill and need even when the numbers just didn't add up, and brought our second baby through a full term pregnancy. Being parents has been one of life's greatest joys, and we wouldn't trade our babies for a trial-free-life any day, ever. Period.

So on this, my husband's 29th birthday {which, oh, how he is cringing over}, I'd like to give thanks for Niall.

I'm thankful that he is boring.

I'm thankful that he quietly supported me and knew exactly what to do for our son's difficult labor, the perfect laboring partner.

I'm thankful that he works hard, even extra hours, to provide for us so that I can stay home. I'm thankful that me going out to work isn't even an option in his mind.

I'm thankful for his sense of humor {oh how he makes me laugh!} and his easy going personality that sets strangers at ease.

I'm thankful that even though he isn't perfect, with his share of struggles and character flaws {like the rest of us}, one thing he has always been is an incredibly warm and devoted, wonderful father.

I'm thankful that he still surprises me, and that I don't quite have him figured out yet.

I'm thankful for the hard decisions he's made. That he wants to honor the Lord, and even when I buck and bray, un-submissive wife that I at times am, he stays firm.

I'm thankful that he really and truly, deep down, cares for me and is looking out for me. Without a doubt, the man has my back.

I could go on, but he is probably already embarrassed enough. So here's to you honey- happy birthday.