December 31, 2012

My Top Twelve of 2012

1. January: Quaint Anniversary Picstory Glancing back at our anniversary outing made me smile.

2. February: Little Red Dress Experiment pushed me in ways I didn't expect. I learned so many valuable lessons, one is that I can do without more than I think.

3. March: Packing Tip We took our family to New York and it was my first time to go. Getting ready for the trip was so much fun; I found a really easy way to pull all my outfits together

4. April: From the Potholes of My Heart A deeper post about my struggle with belief and spiritual stuff.

5. May: Summer Manifesto This list really helped me do things this summer that I often forget to do before the season is over.

6. June: Summer Fun We started the summer right with Jo's Sno Shack and swimming.

7. July: Letting Go My daughter went to Africa and it stretched me to let her go.

8. August: Only One Wore Glasses Identical in all but eyesight.

9. September: Creativity Does Extraordinary Things Trying an experiment with my Grandmother proved how powerful creativity can be.

10. October: I Forgot Who I Am Sometimes it's easy to get caught up in who you'd like to be and forget who you are.

11. November: Doghouse Kingdom Painting an original for my brother was so much fun!

12. December: Fairy Sightings Because there should always be magic in the world.

I hope 2012 has been good to you. Browsing back through my posts made me grateful for mine. It's easy to forget how many wonderful things have happened until looking back. What was your favorite moment of 2012?

December 29, 2012

4 Simple Goals: {Part 4} Bedtime

I'm sneaking my last goal from Elsie's Challenge in at the finish line of 2012. Late nights and early mornings never bode well for me; they create a cranky mama. So my final goal was to change my bedtime in an attempt to get better rest.
I told you in my last goal post that I had a plan to trick myself into an earlier bedtime and so far it's working! If I get my pajamas on by 9:30 in the evening, then I allow myself guilt-free reading in bed for as long as I like. Snuggling into covers with a good book is heaven to me so that's a huge motivator! The trick is that after reading awhile I can't keep my eyes open so I end up drifting to sleep. I'm usually asleep before 11:00 and that's early for me. Mission accomplished.
I'm looking forward to the start of a new year. I'll be sharing upcoming goals soon!

December 27, 2012

Fairy Sightings {New Feature}

I love fairies. I often spot them in the most peculiar places. I thought it'd be fun share those magical moments with you in a new feature: Fairy Sightings. This fairy was in a bird's nest near my house. Keep your eyes peeled, you never know when you might happen upon one. The more you look for them, the easier they are to find. Just don't look directly at their eyes (except through a camera lens) and definitely don't eat anything they offer ~ it will only lead to mischief.

Until next time...

December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

I'm going to take off for a bit to enjoy my family and the holiday activities we've planned. I'll be back in a few days. But before I go, I want to share this video with you. I love how joyful it is, makes me smile every time.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas!

December 20, 2012

Paint Party: Oven-Baked Ornaments

We've been attempting as a family to spend less money during Christmas so we'll have more of it to give away for Advent Conspiracy. And instead of store-bought presents, to gift more of ourselves, our creativity and our time. So when I saw this post on oven-baked ornaments, I wanted to try some of my own. They didn't turn out as fancy or as even as hers (mine were rather lumpy), but it was a fun attempt anyways. I hope to hone my skills and get better at making them for next year.

Wishing you a happy weekend! Any exciting plans?

December 19, 2012

Listography: Things I'm Forgiving This Season

Photo by Donna Lewellen {some of our handmade gifts}

Things I'm Forgiving this Season:
  1. The way our tree only has ornaments on the front.
  2. That it's leaning due to lack of ornament distribution.
  3. Decoration boxes yet to be put away.
  4. Not setting all the nativity sets out.
  5. How our front yard decoration is one red lamppost light.
  6. That our house pales next to our neighbor's decorations.
  7. How I'm not purchasing many gifts.
  8. That I'm creating gifts instead.
  9. How I used to view this season.
  10. The way I've broken all my rules on how to do Christmas.
What are you forgiving this season?

December 17, 2012

4 Simple Goals: {Part 2 & 3} Grateful, Playful

As you may recall, I joined Elsie's 4 Simple Goals challenge back in September; I shared about the first one here. Now I'll update you on two more. 
The first one was practicing backdoor gratefulness and I tackled this in November for this one simple life. What I found was that I noticed things, reeeeallly noticed. And I'll admit, by the end of November I felt happier, lighter. Problems didn't seem so big or troubling times so sad. I'd made a habit of noticing the good and it just wouldn't quit. I'm no Pollyanna, but I do now take notice of the little things that can often pass by without a second glance. For instance, this morning I opened an organized drawer and felt grateful for seeing what I needed; when I went to get a cup of coffee, I let my fingers feel the smoothness of the ceramic mug; when I went to choose my clothes, I soaked in bright pops of color coming from the accessories in my closet. These types of things would have gone completely unnoticed and unappreciated before November. Making a goal to be grateful every time I walk in the door has turned into finding thankfulness in each moment. I plan to continue doing this.
The other goal was to play a little everyday. And while I can't say I've actually played each day, I have developed playfulness - a willingness to jump in with childlike wonder and fun. I got in the car the other day and actually listened to the One Direction cd my daughter left playing instead of popping it out immediately. Then I read a middle grade novel, just for me. I stuck a tiny fairy in my purse, just because I thought it'd be adventurous to have her along. All this silliness is making me smile. I feel like I'm anticipating something--something good. And I like it.
I have one more goal to accomplish before the end of the year and for me it's not a fun one. It's changing my bedtime routine to an earlier hour. I'm a born night owl, so this is a stretch for me and every time I think I've got it down, I stay up really late and mess up the system. But I've got a plan to trick myself into it I'll share later.

Are you finishing any goals for the year? Or setting up new ones for the upcoming year?

December 14, 2012

Sweet Little Things: Christmas

These adorable ornaments bring up such tender memories: my eldest daughter in her hand-painted ceramic ornament and my little elf son.
 This gingerbread ornament looks yummy enough to eat!
 Snowmen are a favorite in this household (especially for my second-born).
 A nativity ornament all the way from Jerusalem (didn't realize how dusty it was--oops).
 And speaking of the second-born, she had the most precious chubby cheeks!
And the ballerina with no foot, lost in a tree-falling accident. Miraculously, she still spins.

What's your favorite Christmas treasure?

December 12, 2012

Happier Ever After?

I love happy endings. I like fairy tales, but I don't like how they create a false reality. Before hubby and I got married, we were counseled a lot. They told us that marriage was work. And even though I nodded my head, I didn't believe them. How could it be work to love someone? *insert laughter here*
Love, no matter how starry-eyed, is work. It's sacrifice and letting go. It's forgiveness and hope. It's wading through hard conversations until you work things out. It's realizing life isn't all about you. It's putting your preferences on hold to defer to someone else's. It's continuing to care even when the butterflies have a day off. It's choosing kind words when you want to spit and patience when you want to slam doors. It's walking alongside when you're not sure where the road goes. It's cleaning the kitchen when you'd rather take a nap. It's listening when you're mind is racing. It's reaching for his hand when your day's been hard too.
I think the truth about love isn't told enough. I consider my marriage to be a strong one, but we still argue. We don't date as often as we should. We get caught up in "kid talk" instead of sharing our hearts. We still hurt each other in deep ways. We sometimes get it so wrong even after all these years. But...
He can make me laugh harder than anyone. He knows how deep I love our kids because he does too. He knows my angry face and when to steer clear. I know when he needs to decompress. He gets my art. I get his football. We hope the best for each other. We both screw it up sometimes.
Love is not all good or all bad. It's both. It's difficult and sweet. And despite what fairy tales say, no one lives happily ever after . . .
Maybe, just happier.

December 10, 2012

Both Sides Now

Yes I cut it again. I'm hoping three times is a charm. It's more pixie than ever and super easy; a nice way to simplify life. Need to change my sidebar picture soon.

This week's been a bit emotional. A bitter cocktail from lack of sleep, grief, walking through hard stuff with friends, and sickness. Life seems peaceful now, but somber. And sometimes the best way to share my heart is with song lyrics:

Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, I've looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone. 
So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall.
I really don't know clouds at all.

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way that you feel
As every fairy tale comes real; I've looked at love that way.
But now it's just another show, you leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know, don't give yourself away.

I've looked at love from both sides now,
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions I recall.
I really don't know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud to say"I love you" right out loud.
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds, I've looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads, they say I've changed.
Something's lost but something's gained in living every day.

I've looked at life from both sides now,
From win and lose, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall.
I really don't know life at all. 

Both Sides Now ~ Joni Mitchell

December 7, 2012

Celebrating a First

We celebrated my son's first year in football this week at a banquet thrown for his team. It's no secret I wasn't a fan of letting him start football. The chances of getting hurt are high. But, I agreed to try one year. I didn't expect him to grasp the game until the end of the season. He proved me wrong; he was unstoppable. And even though my protective mother's heart would rather he do something a bit less aggressive, I have to admit he enjoyed every moment of it. We've now moved into basketball season and I feel a bit more secure with this venue.

Each of these firsts remind me of past beginnings. It's difficult not to feel these childhood days are slipping by too quickly. I want to remember the smile on his face every time his teammates rallied around him, and the funny little jump he did after an amazing tackle. I don't want to be so caught up pining for the past of little fingers and slobbery hugs, that I forget to treasure the beauty of today. Tomorrow, I'll look back on this memory and pine for it. So instead of holding onto the past, I want to be present for it all.

December 5, 2012

A Fairy and Her Dragon

That little dragon, it's the dearest dream in our innermost parts. And just like a fairy with her pet, we cherish it. We try to keep it safe at all cost. We hide it away letting no one know of it's existence, hoping this will keep it from harm. But often the dragon outgrows it's hideout and longs to fly in the winds of freedom. It doesn't want to stay hidden.

For the longest time I hid my dragon. When it whined too loud to be let out, I brought it along with me in notebooks. When it snarled that this wasn't enough, I ventured to open a blog and let it roar into the wild unknown internet.

This brought purrs of satisfaction and strength in its wings. But now my dragon wants to fly higher and roar louder. So I'm riding it to the tops of the mountains to the heights of the untamed sky. My heart flutters with fear as we lift-off, but exhilaration overcomes it.

Is your dragon longing to get some air and roar in the wind? Or are you nurturing it in a cozy cave awaiting the day it'll want out?

December 3, 2012

Stop, Sit and Listen

Memaw's back at my house this week. She sits in her familiar spot reading and resting. This time I knelt down next to her, reading a picture book like I did last time she visited and afterwards, just sat there. I didn't say anything. I didn't rush to get something done. I smiled at her and waited.

She sat quiet for a few minutes, then began to talk. She asked me about some items sitting in the room. "Do you sew on that machine?" she asked. I admitted I haven't sewn much. "Who's coat is that? It's pretty." I explained it was my husband's.
She paused for a long time. Usually, that's my cue to get up. But this time I decided to just wait and see what happened. In a bit, she started talking again. She told me stories of her childhood. Some I'd heard many times and others I didn't remember. I listened. She paused again for a long time, and then just like before, started talking again. She asked me about my kids (in the adjoining room) and my husband; she even inquired after his mother. This interaction went on for over an hour--the longest conversation since I started helping with her. It felt like we were in the past, visiting. Slower, but steady.
She finally did tire and reached for her Bible. But I noticed for the rest of the evening, she wore a faint smile. It reminded me of when I've had an outing with a friend or quality time with my husband; I find myself smiling as I go about my work.

I mulled it over and thought about all those times she's come to my house when I've been busy, in a hurry, or too rushed to wait. Isn't that how we are? We rush, we hurry, we run past things that matter.
As the days have passed, I've continued paying attention. I now see what I missed before. She wants to talk, I just didn't listen long enough. I wasn't giving her the time it takes for her to process. I was rushing a slowed-down mind in my hurry-up world. I'm thankful for her presence to remind me to soak in each moment; to stop, sit and listen.