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What is contentment?

What IS contentment??? ~Is it having everything you ever wished for to come true? ~Is it having the perfect husband, kids or house? ~Is it...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Coming Soon! The 100 Happy Days Challenge


Hi friends! I'm wanting to document some happiness around here. Life is sometimes hard, and often feels rather uphill-both-ways-in-neck-deep-snow blah blah blah. So to combat that feeling, I've decided to join the 100 Happy Days Challenge. Starting on May 30th (the day after Memorial Day) I will be doing the challenge. It's a great way to focus on the positive in our lives by noticing something that makes us happy each day for 100 days.


I chose May 30th, because to me, summer starts then. Memorial Day is official kick off weekend of summer. So from May 30 until a few days after Labor Day, I shall be documenting something that made me happy that day. I'll be posting on FB and also here. I'll be using the hashtag #100HappyDays, and possibly #TheManCrew as well.


If you want to play along, and I hope you do, you can join the challenge by heading to www.100happydays.com and signing up. You can choose your start date, your favorite platform for posting pics, and even choose a custom hashtag if #100HappyDays doesn't suit your fancy. Hope to see you there and here!


Monday, May 22, 2017

A Sermon on Marriage Parts 2 and 3


If you're looking for the follow up on the marriage sermon series, you can find them here and here. The rest of the series was excellent, focusing first on serving one another and then keeping the love alive, and both of them stepped all over my toes, and possibly Dan's as well. You'd think after being married for 20 years, we'd have all of this figured out. You'd be incorrect. *ahem* Being the stubborn people we are, we still struggle with some of the basics, even though I'd not hesitate to say our marriage is strong and growing. But that doesn't mean we have it all figured out and our life together is perfect. It means that we are always growing and changing and working to make our marriage better...and that sometimes we are more successful than other times.
It does mean that this sermon series was a blessing, and a spring board for several great conversations, and that you're never too old or been married too long to get some tips and learn a few new things.
Thanks Pastor Dennis for this series!

Who Am I?

This is what's on my heart tonight. (I apologize to the people who come here looking for a laugh)



WHO AM I?
If I'm not a nanny anymore, who am I?
If I'm not the sister who handles all of the family drama,  who am I?
If I'm not a mama to a handful of littles anymore, who am I?
If I'm not the powerhouse that can belt out a Sandy Patti solo for special music, who am I?
If I'm not the wife/mama who can "do it all" then who am I?

What if I turn out to be no one?  *crickets*

I'm in a season of change, and change can be frustrating and upsetting to someone who craves routine and structure as much as I do. I'm working so hard to learn to not be so busy, to make room in my/our chaotic life for breathing, relaxing, for Sunday afternoon naps followed by cuddling during a movie, and for spur of the moment activities not to be a tragedy or an unwelcome intrusion to our schedule.

And I'm doing that. I've got the house cleaner, more regularly, more often than probably ever before. The bills are being paid on time because I can not only find the bills, but I have enough mental clarity to remember to pay them. Derek is getting to bed on time more often. *I'm* getting to bed on time more often. I have time to workout, and grocery shop, and get everyone to the necessary places on time. We're eating at home again, instead of living in the drive through lane. I have time to occasionally indulge in a Sunday afternoon nap with Dan, or to meet a friend for coffee, or even blog again (woot!)

BUT, there's also this awkward feeling inside of me. One that reminds me eleventy billion times a day that I could DO more, BE more, SERVE more, if I wasn't so busy being not so busy. And what if I'm disappointing people who have learned to count on me? And what if I'm being lazy under the guise of being intentional? What if I'm overlooking the important while I'm trying so hard to SEE the important instead of the urgent?

 What if?

And, *gulp* what if....when you take away my flaming chainsaw juggling, baking bread and throwing a dinner party while baby-wearing and homeschooling awesomeness...there is nothing left of worth? What if all I have to offer the world is little old me, insignificant in any meaningful way once all the busyness is stripped away?

I.
Don't.
Know.

Lord help me, because I don't know. I learned last year that I was finding WAY too much of my identity in being Dan's wife and his approval of me. And with my boys turning into men at an alarming rate, I can no longer make my identity about being a mama of littles. Life is changing and I'm struggling to find where I fit into my own new chapter of life.





And that's OK.
Jesus loves me, even in my mess. Jesus knows who I am, who I was, and who I'm going to become. That is so comforting. I shall cling to His hand while I walk this new path. I'm still confused and I'm still feeling blown around by the winds of change, but I know I'm safe in His arms.
That's good enough for me, even if I don't know what's around the next bend.
To be continued...

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

I INTENDED to blog, but...

...the evening simply got away from me. I'm working on being IN bed by 10pm and it is currently 9:52 so I'm just waving and wishing you all a good night's rest. I'll be back soon!


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Screen Free Week Follow Up

The Bad News: It appears that we totally stink at SFW. Like abysmal failures. Not that the effort wasn't there, just that we are way more addicted than I thought. Oops.
On Monday, I allowed DT to download an educational game and try it...for over 30+ minutes.
On Tuesday, he watched some tv while we were waiting for G to finish up her riding lesson because he was bored and hadn't brought along anything else to do.
On Wednesday, he had to tag along for Sister-Girl Night and so Roger downloaded him a few games on his Xbox and we didn't want to be rude.
On Thursday, we attended Community Group and the kiddos all played games on one of the parent's phone. *le sigh*
All the days, I checked my email constantly, had I-Miss-FB-pangs, and checked my bank account like it was going out of style. I even read a book on my Kindle, although I'm not sure if that counts against me or not.
And by Friday morning, Dan was home and watched TV all day long.
EGADS!
The Good News: While there was obviously MUCH room for improvement, all is not lost.
We played tons of board games together and with the B-Bunch girlies and laughed ourselves silly.
We played and worked together outside in the beautiful spring weather.
We ate better meals because we had 'time' to cook.
We cleaned the house and then enjoyed our clean home to welcome friends.
We read lots of books because we weren't always attached to a screen.

Bottom Line:
Officially, we are terrible human beings because we could not even manage one 24 hour period without screens.
Unofficially, we are members of the 21st century in America and it's practically impossible to go a full day without using any type of screen at all. We work on them, play on them, socialize on them and even do school on them.

The takeaway? It's frustrating to me that we did so poorly, and I want to do better, but I'm willing to see the positives of the effort we made. So I'm going to call this past week a wash and start making plans for at least one ACTUAL screen free day per week this summer.
Anyone want to join us?

Monday, May 8, 2017

A Sermon on Marriage


Pastor Dennis started a sermon series called "Til Death Do Us Part" this week at MPCC and R2R. It was fantastic. You can watch it here.
Here's the highlight reel:
~You can't have a lasting marriage without God in first place, and quoted the verse about a strand of three cords not being easily broken. God is the third strand.
~Live with a sense of urgency. The time is NOW to focus on the important things, not the urgent things. Life will keep on throwing things in your face. Make time for the things that matter. NOW.
~He ponders why people say their vows once and then never seem to remember them again. He wonders why aren't our vows framed and hanging in plain view where we can see them every day and remember the oath we've taken to love and to honor and to cherish.
~Favorite quote from the sermon: "It pleases Christ the MOST when a wife serves and honors her husband in the times he deserve it the LEAST." (ouch)

Dan was really leaning into the sermon like I was and he stopped at the store on the way home to pick something up while I was caring for the B-Bunch critters and preparing for the BBQ we were about to attend. He came in the door and said he thought of a craft I might like and to [lease stay in the kitchen for a few minutes.

After several curiosity-filled minutes, he came back and asked me to come see what he had done. And then, this...
Time is fleeting. The time is NOW. Focus on the important NOW. We aren't promised tomorrow. 



Our vows: framed and hanging in the dining room near our wedding photo. And a cord of 3 strands.
And then, we both cried. (Getting old and feeling all the feelings is for the birds, but I digress) He cried because he loves me so much and did something that made me so happy. I cried because he loves me so much and because I knew the sermon touched his heart.
We may eventually figure out this marriage thing. {heart}
Life is good, y'all.

Friday, May 5, 2017

**Interrupted**

And, just like that, Screen Free Week has come to a full stop. 

Dan is home for the weekend and he likes to watch movies and TV episodes on Netflix when he isn't working. That's fine, he's a grownup and can make his own decisions. However, he really likes to have someone to watch with him, and since DT and I've been missing him all week, we want to hang out with him. So...we decided to skip the rest of this week for Screen Free and pick it back up next week for a few days to finish our full 7 days. I'm still off of FB (which is my major time-waster anyway) and I read an entire book today. I should really consider having a day off more often.
Screen Free Week, don't get any funny ideas, we will catch up with you next week.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Screen Free Week: Mid-Week Update

I miss FaceBook and Netflix, and I never want to play a board game ever again. The end. I hate all the games we own, all the games I have ever played and all the games I've never even heard of. Who thought this stupid idea up anyway to go a week without screens? 
Derek is faring much better than I am. Sad, and OH-SO-HUMBLING to admit, but true nonetheless. *le sigh* 


In all actuality, it's going quite well. DT and I are having a ball playing games together, being outside more and not always saying that we don't have time for this or that. The house is clean, the boy is getting to bed on time, and we are having real conversations with eye contact! But I am realizing how much time we both spend enjoying our screens and zoning out the rest of the world. I ALMOST had time to be bored today. *gulp* Time for some changes around here. Starting with me. *ahem*

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Planners, Planners, Planners!

When you get the kiddies all tucked into bed, hubby is out of town and the teenagers are saving the world from the zombie apocalypse via video games, and you have a few minutes to yourself, what do you do? Sometimes I read, I often fold clothes or tidy the house (just being honest) and occasionally I just drop into bed. But what I like to do is use the quiet, uninterrupted time to plan meals for the week, look ahead for upcoming anomalies in the schedule so I can set an alarm so we don't miss it, make sure I've got time to get all the people to the right places, on time...or at least know in advance that I can't be in two places at once so I can make alternate arrangements. At any rate, tonight I thought to myself, "It's been a few days (OK, more like a week) since I spent any time updating and working in my planner. I'll work for 20 minutes and then head off to bed with less mental clutter." That was nearly 1.5 hours ago. Oops.
I just LOVE my planner! Just call me a planner nerd. I won't mind. 😍
I've used nearly a kajillion different planners between my years as a student, as a young wife, as a new homeschooling mama, and as a seasoned veteran of wifely duties, homeschooling organization and lively motherhood. I've used everything from simple pencil and paper (any little scrap will do), a homemaking binder with tabs, color coding, highlighters, schedules and every piece of info anyone walking into my shoes would EVER need, to a desk calendar, daily dockets, fitness tracker apps, daily email reminders, FlyLady website, the much loved "Chandlers" school assignment notebook of yesteryear, and even an app that sent me notifications of when to clean things. I currently have 11 daily alarms to help keep me showing up at the right time and place each day. I lead a B-U-S-Y life and until the last year or so, had never found the perfect balance between usability, portability, affordability, longevity and efficiency. But this one is just right for me. It's called the Print and Go planner by Life As Mom.
A planner that you can print as you go and pop it into a 3 ring binder, or all at once and have it spiral bound somewhere like Staples or Kinkos. It's got a monthly overview page for each month, plus a week's worth of daily time schedule/meal plans/to do lists on each 2 page spread. Also featuring a few pages of lined pages for notes, plus a goals page, which I'm really enjoying this year. Now then, I DO color code my people's activities so I can see at a glace who is where at any given time, but the rest is cake. A few post-it notes, some colored pens, a good black pen, and some white-out tape and I'm ready to plan ALL.THE.THINGS.
From this planner nerd to you, check it out. You won't be sorry.
What do you use to keep your ducks in a row?

Is It Forbidden?


DT and I are playing lots of board games during Screen Free Week. One of them is a new one we borrowed from the B-Bunch, called Forbidden Island. Basically, the plan is to collect the treasure and escape from the island before it sinks into the ocean, taking you with it. One of the things I like about it is that it's a cooperative play game, where the people playing the game are a team, instead of competitors. I also like that the game board changes every time, and you randomly get a character instead of picking the same one over and over, keeping the game fresh since you have to plot your strategy differently depending on how many people are playing, what the game board looks like and what characters are bringing their special abilities to the game. All set up it looks a bit like this...


As the island 'sinks' the tiles get flipped over and if not shored up quickly, sink completely and are out of the game. The characters have to collect the treasures and get back to the helicopter pad before the island sinks to win the game. We've played several games and only lost once, but the others were all pretty close. It requires some strategy, serious teamwork and much situational awareness. Good stuff.

There's a companion game called Forbidden Desert, where you have to put your aircraft back together before you are buried in sand, or run out of water. Our friend Kelly has that game and often brings it to Game Night.

Both games can be found on Amazon: Forbidden Desert and Forbidden Island (for under $20 each) or at your local game retailer. Check them out!

Simple Woman's Daybook: May 2017

For Today...May 2nd, 2017

Looking out my window...the sun shines with a brightness that seems to imply that it knows that in an hour it will be tucked away for the day. Birds and crickets chirp, the grass stretches toward the sun and flowers bloom like mad.
I am thinking...that Tuesdays are officially my favorite day of the week. Between focusing on gratitude for Grati-Tuesday and an evening to myself while the rest of the Man Crew is elsewhere, it's pretty special.
I am thankful...for moments of quiet so I can better enjoy the chaos that comes home as my tween, my teen, my man-child, and Hercules come tumbling through the door of the Man Crew House.

One of my favorite things...slightly sweet iced tea on a hot day, while sitting on a shady front porch.
I am creating...plans out of chaos. (thanks Life as Mom for the Print and Go planner)

I am wearing...JEANS since No Pants April is over and my fave new t-shirt that says, "Boy Mom. Messy. Blessed. Life" (found here)

I am reading/watching/listening to...Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life/Parenthood/Selah: Hymns. All are wonderful, all are teaching me and feeding my soul in different ways.

I am hoping...that 'Shua and Lauren bring Baby Caden for a visit this year.
I am learning...about boundaries and why my lack of them always leads to frustration and bitterness on my part. Better late that never, right?
In my kitchen...is nothing. *hangs head in shame* With Dan out of town most nights, Pat not joining us for dinner anymore, and Derek not caring what we eat, cooking has lost most of it's appeal for me. Cooking basically for myself is no fun. We've been eating out too much, snacking instead of eating too often and sometimes simply skipping dinner to avoid fussing over cooking.
In the school room...we are taking a break. With the B-Bunch kids' schedules being wonky from here on out until the end of the school year, I've decided to just take a break and get back to it when our schedule calms back down and is more predictable.
In my garden...the only garden I have is my roses. They are in full bloom and are nothing short of glorious. 

Post Script...I've reset my REVIVE e-course over at Life As Mom and am loving working through it to get systems in place to keep my household humming along without this mama having to do every single thing herself. 
Shared Quote...You Is Kind, You Is Smart, You Is Important -Abilene, from The Help
A moment from my day...We're working our way through a Screen Free Week, which DT is HATING, but we are making it with lots of board games, like this one. The next few days will get easier, once we remember how to entertain ourselves without a screen in front of our faces.
Forbidden Island!
Closing Notes...I shall quote myself from a previous SWD post. " Life can be hard, and messy, and difficult. But it can also be sweet, and deep, and immeasurably wonderful. Don't let the scary parts keep you from enjoying the good stuff.  " Go live life, my friends!

Also, if you've enjoyed this post, please go over and see more of them at Miss Peggy's site called The Simple Woman's Daybook, found here.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Goodbye No Pants April, Hello Screen Free Week

     Goodbye, No Pants April! I hugged my favorite jeans with glee this morning like a long lost friend before slipping them right on quick as greased lightning. I put on my 'Its the Little Things' tee shirt, and felt like myself again, albeit a less fancy version of myself than I've been sharing lately. For me, the best part about the end of NPA is not having to take my own picture eleventy billion times every day so I can share a collage of my happy NPA-ness. LOL! The bad part is that while I feel like myself again once NPA is over, I feel like the sloppy twin of my pretty self from NPA. Like the twin with acne, frizzy hair and braces...ha! Well, perhaps not quite that bad. But somewhere between glee over wearing my jeans again and awkward feelings about the less than stellar appearance I knew I was sporting is real life, so I just got over my insecurities about not looking presentable *enough* and went to work. And life went on. So, No Pants April, I bid you a fond farewell for the year, and promise to don a skirt more often than just for Sundays at church.
    Out with the old and in with the new, right? Right on the heels of NPA comes Screen Free Week, which I think helps break the addiction after being so obsessed with screens during NPA. So, DT and I began our sojourn into SFW this morning. DT is none too pleased with this development and isn't afraid to let me know that it stinks that he's the only one that has to do it with me these days. (Poor guy) We've played what feels like 103, 972 games today, although it was probably only 5. There was MUCH whining about the unfairness of life and how BORING life with no screens is, and DT didn't fare much better. I will admit to struggling with wanting to check FB, my bank account, eBay and Amazon a dozen times today. OK, two dozen. *Ahem* It's embarrassing to realize (and admit) how addicted even I am to screens, the self-professed Luddite. *Ahem again* At any rate, from now to Sunday, DT and I will be screen free, except for educational things for DT, and email/blogging/online book club for me. I'm trying to limit my texting as well, but sometimes it's a necessity.


     In our game time today, DT and I tried a new game called Forbidden Island, where you work as a team to collect the treasures and escape before the island sinks. It was pretty fun and we are glad we borrowed it from the B-Bunch. We also ran a few errands that I keep putting off, and also had a pleasant breakfast out with P at Cracker Barrel. Overall, despite a few bumps, it was a pretty good day. And that's always a good thing.
     I'll keep you posted on our progress throughout the week, but only after DT is in bed, lest I get the stink eye about using screens. 😊
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