Purging update:)

I’m on Day 3 of my May purging “game” and going strong:) I actually have to stop myself from finding more and more things each day. I have to save something for weeks 2 and 3, when it gets harder!

I adjusted the rules for myself. I can adjust my own rules, right? I can’t get my giveaway stuff out of my house the same day since I am storing up for a family garage sale soon so my stuff goes immediately down to the basement to my garage sale pile….heap….mountain?

So far, I have focused on the kitchen. I’ve put in my sell pile of a couple of small appliances that we haven’t used in at least a year or two but I save them for that day when I just know we will need them! Ha! Also, added was a duplicate pan (why do I need three 9×13 pans again??) and I tossed one that was getting rusty! I am going to try to not be ADHD about my purging, flitting from one room to another (c’mon, I know I’m not the only one who does this!!) and instead am going to focus on one room at a time. I am excited to see what our home will look like after this month!

I thought I’d share a little of what my heart is behind this so you don’t just write me off as an organizing nut. Which, I may be, but there is more to it! Back in January Ben and I began to pray and talk about what we would give up for Lent, which we have been participating in (celebrating?) for a couple years now. We both gave up some tough stuff after really feeling impressed by God to do so. It was the first year we really truly took this to a deeper level.

I didn’t write about mine because I didn’t want it to just be another “thing” to write about or sounding more fun than thoughtful. But now I’d like to share! I like beautiful things. Colorful fabrics, pretty pillows, pretty décor, flowers, etc. I really don’t think there is anything wrong with being drawn to beautiful things and colors. After all, God made a lot of beautiful things!

But I noticed more and more the pull to want all these beautiful things that caught my eye. Not only do we not have the money for this but the space either! I didn’t like that increasing desire in myself to want materialistic things. And so, somewhat reluctantly, I gave up buying anything that I wanted vs needed for Lent. I had some really easy periods where I was not tempted at all and I had some days where I would be with people who like to buy things and the temptation was strong. After all, what’s a little trinket here or a little whatchamacallit there?

I really got serious about praying for God to remove my desire for things and to increase my desire for Him. After Lent was over (not all too long ago!), I had the thoughts creeping back in again. “Ooh, now I can buy some things!” or “It’s been awhile since I got anything fun” or “I think I need that ____.” And I caught myself, or rather the Holy Spirit nudged me. “Hey, do you see that little vine winding it’s way around you again? What do you desire more? Me or stuff?”

I have been praying lots about my purchases I make, feeling more and more of a conviction to take counting our pennies seriously. Which almost sounds comical, considering we’re already on a pretty strict budget! But it’s easy to justify things you want. Or not to be completely honest with yourself about your motivations or bad habits. I’m definitely not perfect. Sometimes I get frustrated with always being on a budget and not being able to go out to eat more than once a month or  I think I can’t live without that aqua blue Kitchen Aid mixer. Or I envy my friend with the 3000+ square foot custom built home, so tastefully decorated. Or I feel sad that we can’t afford to give our daughter ballet lessons, which she begs for at least once a week.

As I have been pondering all of this and soul-searching a bit over the past couple of months, I have felt an increasing desire to simplify. To let go. Ben and I are actually both being led to this by God, only in different ways.  We had a great conversation about it today, in fact! I feel the nudging to release my desire for things and to fill my life, our home instead with peace, rest, Him. By clearing away the clutter and knick-knacks and excess things that our American culture has told us we can’t live without, I am instead making room in my life for things that are more important. I will hopefully have more time (because less of it will be spent fighting everyone to clean up their stuff!), more energy, and I don’t know what else but I’m looking forward to finding out! I’m hoping this will have a good effect on our children, too, and that our whole family can become more intentional about how we live our life.

So, if you’re tempted to roll your eyes when I seem abnormally excited about getting rid of my sandwich maker or mention organizing or simplifying yet again, just know that there is a lot more behind it than just another Heidi-trend. And if anyone else is interested and ever wants to talk to me about it or doesn’t know where to start, I’m all ears:)

Happy weekend!

Looking for the bright side..

I heard it was 80 in Texas today…..Here? It was 30 and we got MORE snow! Even Eliana is officially through with winter. I told her yesterday that we were going to get more snow and she said, “But I don’t want anymore snow!” No kidding, girlie.

But we try to look at the bright side when we can and the bright side today was that the trees were actually beautiful. The mix of rain and wind helped the snow stick to all of the trees so when you drove down the tree-lined street, it looked like you were driving under a canopy of frosting-covered trees. Really pretty.

However, bright side or not, go away winter!

Eliana and I went to MOPS today and I got to hear some advice from some more well-seasoned mamas. We have a “mentor” mother for each table, who is there to share her motherly wisdom and insights. Some of them seem so nice and grandmotherly:) We had to leave a little early to take Ben to get his license renewed. Somebody accidentally didn’t know his license expired until he went to buy me Sudafed this weekend. Oops! (shhh! don’t tell!)

Amazingly, we found a little express driver’s license place a half hour away and B was in and out in less than 15 min! Unheard of around here. The people inside were apparently decently friendly, too. Also amazing. Let’s just say that the majority of government run businesses in Chicago are not employing the happiest and softest of people. Actually, not just gov’t but a lot of retail. I think they get so hardened by the people that they see day in and day out and the situations they have to deal with.

I was so amazed when we moved out to the ‘burbs and started experiencing nice customer service on a regular basis! Something I do not take for granted.

*Samuel presented his poster today. His project got him so interested in space that he checked out a book about comets and asteroids from his school library:) I love when they get interested in different subjects!

*We are working out a few little bugs with our sticks system. It really has been wonderful; we’ve just had to tweak a few things. The weekends are run differently than the weekdays so we are adjusting to that and trying to figure out how discipline/punishments fit into the system and timing of our day.

Here is the chart I made. They earn an extra chore for each sign they have to take down and if they lose 3 in one day, they lose a colored stick. boo. Unfortunately, we had that happen for the first time today. Just really trying to crack down on not listening, arguing and talking back. It honestly hurts me as much as it does them. I know kids probably don’t believe that but it is so true. Hopefully, it will only take a couple of times and it won’t happen again.

*Zakkai got a couple of gift cards and a little $ for his birthday and bought some rollerblades!! He is SOOOO excited.

As you can see from his face:) The first night (in these pics) he couldn’t stand up on his own and needed a lot of help but by the next afternoon of some basement practicing, he was doing great! He cannot wait for the ground and sidewalks to dry up so he can get outside and get roller blading! I have a feeling the boys will be roller blading and skateboarding alllll summer long:)

*I made a delicious dinner tonight called, “Coconut Curry Chicken.” It’s a crockpot meal and so easy. I will have to share the recipe next time, as I am way too lazy to get up right now:) It is different from things I normally make but it has such a good flavor between the coconut milk and curry. I serve it over rice and everyone gobbles it up!

*B and I are holding strong with giving up our sweets for Lent. It really is good for us on so many levels. Anytime I get really tempted and think I can’t stand another minute without a little sweet, I say a prayer instead. The first few days were really tough but it’s getting so much easier now. That doesn’t mean I’m not looking forward to our one little treat on Fridays;)

My mom had a good suggestion since she and my stepdad are doing “clean eating.” She said to make a smoothie in the evening if we are craving something. I have done it twice and just throw fresh and frozen fruit, some milk and spinach in the blender! I must’ve put in more spinach tonight though because Zakkai was like, “Um, why is the smoothie green??” But no one complained when they tasted it! I figure we are killing two birds with one stone: satisfying the sweet tooth and getting a good dose of extra fruits and veggies. Win win:)

Too bad chocolate isn’t a fruit. That would be a dream come true and I know I’m not the only one that would think so! Chocolate addictions run in my family and I don’t think anyone’s ashamed to admit it….

I should probably stop writing about chocolate. It’s not helping me:)

*Tomorrow night is the boys’ spring concert at school and they are so excited. They’ve been humming and singing little snippets of songs for weeks now. I know Eliana will really enjoy seeing her big brothers up on the stage!

Hopefully I will have a few pictures to share……Have a great night!

Sticks, Forts and Lent!

I meant to come back and update on the sticks earlier but a certain adorable 3 year old someone so kindly shared her cold with me and I have been just plain miserable!!

Thankfully, today my head doesn’t completely feel like exploding and despite not sleeping well, I am functioning a little better:) I suppose I was due for one last good old cold before spring finally pries winter’s clutches off of us!

As for the sticks, they.are.awesome. Seriously, absolutely best plan we have implemented yet! The boys LOVE them and eagerly set them up each night in order for the next day. We have had no complaints so far and all 3 kiddos have earned their colored sticks every day this week!

And the best part? I have a lot more free time now that I’m not nagging so much!!! Really, this is amazing. I wake up everyday to the boys’ beds made and their pjs put away instead of tossed on the ground. They eat breakfast, clean up their dishes and have extra time usually to spend time with a sibling or do their quiet time.

A couple of times I’ve had to stop myself (or Ben has reminded me) to step back and let them fail if they need to. It’s hard to let go of micromanaging when you are so good at it! But I bite my tongue and let them do what they need to do and somehow they are getting it all done! If you have children, DO THIS!! You won’t regret it!

Eliana may have a moment or two everyday in ridiculous toddler-fashion where she swears off sticks forever but she is right back to proudly dropping her next stick in the cup an hour later:) I am so happy we have tried this!

Last week, E and I stopped by Panera for their Tuesday bagel deal (a baker’s dozen for only $6.99!) and we heard this little guy peeping above us so cheerily. Like a sign that spring really will come someday!

Daddy and the boys were playing Mario Kart this weekend and Eliana decided to make a little house. Can you guess where she is?

Peek a boo! She got the boys into it and next thing you know, all three of them were collecting blankets and building little personal-sized forts all over the living room:) I do love when something simple like that entertains them for hours, just the way it used to for us when we were little.

Lent really sprung upon us this year. Probably because we have been preoccupied with minor things like figuring out what to do with our life:) This is only our second year ever taking part in Lent and appreciating the traditions and beauty of what it represents. Our sugar consumption has crept back upon us with the comfort of ice cream and what-not so we have decided to cut it out completely, except for Fridays. So….I guess not completely. Almost completely:)  I think it will be hard, as my chocolate cravings have been speaking lovingly to me lately but I think it will be good for both of us.

Ben told me that besides chocolate and alcohol, the next top two things people are giving up this season are Twitter and Social Media. Boy, our culture has changed! I would give up FB in a heartbeat, if it weren’t for the fact that my family has a private family page and I love seeing the updates and posts from my family. It makes me feel more connected to my loved ones who are dispersed all over the country.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to blow my nose, unplug my ears and pray for spring…..

Friday Snips

A few snippits of our day:

*I was Mystery Reader for Zakkai’s class this afternoon. Oh, if only you could have seen his face light up! It feels so good to have the power to make your child feel special and loved! He got to come sit on a special chair next to me and he was beaming the whole time:)

*It was actually sunny today! I thought I’d document it for proof that the sun does actually shine….:)

*Our bread machine, after 10 years of faithful service, is going to be laid to rest. The stinky part? The machine itself is working pretty well. It’s the bread pan that is shot and there are NO replacement parts that are sold or fit it! I am SO sad because I have adored this bread machine. It has made countless loaves of delicious homemade breads and endless batches of pizza dough. Wiping a tear….

*We hauled up the train/lego table and legos to the boys’ room this afternoon and set up rules so it won’t become a declared disaster zone like it has been in the basement! I think they will really enjoy having a nice space to play legos in their room. The empty space in the basement is going to become an art area and I will be happy to share pictures once I fix that up!

*Eliana and I trekked over to Goodwill this morning to drop off some things we were able to weed out in the room transitions and to look for some lamps, as we have some dark zones in our house. I got 2 lamps (shades and bases) for a total of $8! Eliana is SO excited to have light in her room:) I also picked up the first 4 books in the Mitford series for only $3.50 total. I always think of my family when I see those books, knowing how much some of them love that series!

*Ben and I gave up tv for the first week of Lent. It didn’t seem like a big deal, as we are not big tv watchers. But sometimes you do something more than you think you do or at least take for granted its availability and when it’s not available….We usually watch a movie Friday nights, let the kiddos watch a cartoon a couple times a week and maybe a movie on Saturdays and I like to turn on a show while I fold laundry. Not this week! I folded in silence tonight and did some praying instead. Maybe I have been filling silence with noise and time with mindless activities when God could have used that time to speak to me? Just a thought….

*I am doing much better with computer time since I wrote my post. A half an hour a day and being much more intentional about being quick and conscientious of time. I think Saturdays will be my off-limits day, which I think will be harder than I thought. No email, no quick WWF game, no blog……just time focusing on my family. Probably a good thing….

See you Sunday!


 Okay, it’s time for me to be vulnerable here. Feel free to skip if that makes you uncomfortable but for me, sharing is a way to be real, to be honest and have a little more accountability in who I want to become.

I’ve never celebrated or participated in Lent. Ever. I didn’t grow up with it being a part of my church and never really understood what it was about. In my adult years, the extent of my Lent-knowledge has been pretty much “you give up something for awhile.”

But the last couple of years I’ve been intrigued by the idea but not quite brave enough to attempt it. I should also add that I mean no offense to anyone by anything that I say here tonight!

I did some reading tonight about the history of Lent, why people practice it and how. I may not understand or agree with all of the reasoning or practices but I find it such a powerful thought and practice to give up something that impedes you from growing closer to God or walking along your Christian journey and spending this period of time reflecting on Him and what He has done for us.

Okay, so I’ll be really honest and vulnerable here. I don’t want to be. I can’t stand to have people think badly of me. I always feel like I need to clarify things just so people don’t get the wrong idea about me. But really, I want to be real. I don’t want to hide behind a fake perfect blog world. Sometimes (or a lot until our recent changes) our house is a mess. Sometimes I am not a good mom. Sometimes I’m grumpy. Sometimes I don’t do the things I know I should do. Dang it, I sin and I’m terribly imperfect and human!

We’ve decided to practice Lent or at least our own version of it this year. To give up or restrict some things that we feel like God is asking us to and spending the time getting to know Him better. This year, we are getting our family and our own hearts back on track with serving and following God wholeheartedly. It’s been a rough journey and the last couple of years can be described with a few words. Isolation, distance, questioning, desert.

God breathed new life into our home on New Year’s Day. It’s personal and deep and a long tale for another day far away. But we are changed. And we are changing. From the inside out and sometimes the outside in.

One thing I have noticed that has crept into my life and overtaken it like overgrown ivy with the introduction and obsession our culture has with technology, is the internet and my time on my computer.

I have felt God prompting me for awhile to cut down on my usage, to set it aside and make better use of my time. I find that I can easily waste hours surfing the net for silly things, reading blogs, playing games with friends/family, etc. I even spend a lot of time blogging and/or worrying about what I write and if anyone reads it or cares. I am not the kind of mom I want to be when I spend a lot of time on the computer. I get snappier, don’t always respond to my kids gently, don’t spend as much time with them, etc.

In the evenings, there are SO many other things I could be doing with my time but I sit down for “a few minutes” to check email, facebook and blog and before I know it 2 hours have passed and I’m up too late and don’t have time to do anything else. And if I’m up to late, I don’t wake up early enough to spend any quiet time with God before my hectic day begins. Something I really need to do and want to make a habit of.

There you have it. Part of me wants to erase the last few paragraphs. I could make a few sentences sound rosier and make it sound “not quite so bad.” But the truth is, it is bad. It’s a bad thing for me to spend time, time I could be spending honoring God, loving my family, accomplishing things, on the computer that sucks me in like a vacuum.

I want to obey the oh-so gentle promptings of my loving God. I want to use this season to draw closer to Him and draw away from the things of this world. I want to be changed from the inside out and the outside in.

So, by writing these words that I cannot take back and yet desperately want to, I am making myself vulnerable (which is a really good thing to do sometimes!) and creating some accountability for myself.

I am going to be restricting my computer time a lot in the next month or so. I am going to choose one day a week to completely stay away from it, it will now be residing up in my bedroom instead of downstairs where it is so easily accessible (isn’t that the way we like it these days?), and my times on the internet will be short and sweet. I guess Lenters take Sundays off so maybe I will be more relaxed that day but I don’t know yet.

I just feel that this is something I really need to do to change my focus, my priorities, my time to honor my Lord.

Thanks for “reading,” if you did and thanks for any and all encouragement and prayers as I hopefully grow during this time. Change is hard, darn it! I’d also love to hear if anyone else celebrates Lent and what they have given up in the past or are giving up?

And to leave you with a smile, one of Missy’s new favorite toys……………

Can you guess who is in the box with her?

You guessed it! Baby Anna is tucked safely down in the box:) The box is usually her bed and gets dragged around the house and stuffed with my couch pillows and various blankets. It also makes a really fun play place for a 2 year old!