The “non-pinterest” birthday celebration

 

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I’m just going to do a quick recap of Levi’s 4th birthday. Read here if you missed the post about our firstborn, Levi!

We talked before hand about what he wanted and let him plan out the day! He woke up to 4 super hero’s looking at his morning spot on the couch. Thankfully he slept, because the day before he wasn’t sure if he would be able to since “he was so excited it was going to be his birthday!”  😉

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A few days before his birthday I was at the store with all the kids and that was my chance to grab a few things for his big day. I brought a re-usable shopping bag so I could hide things in the bag when he wasn’t looking. I got a pack of super hero masks, balloons, streamers, and super hero plates. I’m not really into the “character” thing, but it was fast, easy and I knew HE would love it, and thats what matters, right?!

After the rest of the crew woke up we had eggs and fruit….

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…before we headed off to the donut shop for a special treat. He wanted to eat in the car though so “he didn’t have to unbuckle, buckle, unbuckle…”. So we had a donut and milk picnic in the car.

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We then headed off to the store for him to pick out his birthday present. As most kids, he loves the times he is able to pick something out when we go to the store (usually for $1), so we knew he would love being able to pick out a bigger toy! And…he loved it. He was so excited and had a sweet attitude about it 🙂 I don’t want our kids to have a “give me” attitude and expect all these big great things for their birthdays and holidays, but it sure is fun to see their face light up when they get a new toy! There’s a balance in everything.
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This was his choice. I think it was a good one. IMG_2742IMG_2739

Then we came home and swam with some neighborhood friends. He didn’t want a lot of people over, but it was fun to have a few friends over to swim with us! IMG_2758

After swimming we had a picnic lunch in the shade of the tree. IMG_2763

The kids were worn out from playing with friends in the sun so they got a treat and watched part of a movie before nap time!

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After naps we went to Nonna & Vovo’s house (my parents) for a BBQ, per his request. His dinner choice was steak 🙂 We swam, had dinner, and enjoyed an ice cream cookie cake! I guess I was enjoying the evening too much to take more pictures!

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There was nothing fancy about this day. In fact, as his birthday approached I felt a little guilty that I wasn’t having a big party, inspired by all these pinterest ideas. I was worried the day wouldn’t be special. Instead of a pinterest perfect party I bought some cheap decorations last minute and put them up at 10pm the night before. I got a few snacks that he likes and I didn’t even have a gift prepared for him (but that was on purpose)! To my surprise, it was the best birthday we’ve had for one of our kids!!! I loved that I was able to be present with him and enjoy HIM. We had a great time as a family, he felt special, and I wasn’t stressed. It was a win-win and a very special day with our big 4 year old.

Disclaimer: I am not against big parties! I have a few friends that always throw an amazing “Pinterest Party” and I’m always in awe of how great it looks. I will probably have a <smaller> party at the end of next month for our youngest who is turning 1! What we did for Levi was perfect for what he wanted and how busy we are right now. Special doesn’t have to be big 🙂

What do you like to do for birthdays?! Would love to hear your ideas!

 

My Summer 5

 

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I’ve been reading about people setting “Summer Goals” and it seemed a little overwhelming to do that. Well honestly, I’m afraid I’ll end up feeling like a failure at the end if I don’t accomplish them! So I decided to just write out 5 things…that doesn’t seem too daunting! Its nothing crazy, but I think its good to set goals for ourselves, because time goes by so quickly. Setting goals can help us consciously make the time to do things that are important to us or things that will help better ourselves. I’ve written out goals before in how I want to be as a mother, or how to encourage my family & friends, etc., but its been a while so I think its time to set some new ones in all areas of my life!

Here are my “Summer 5”:

  1. Read Having a Martha Home the Mary Way (Which also involves a cleaning schedule to help simplifying and declutter your home)
  2. Take a family trip to the beach
  3. Invite a family over once a week for a BBQ and swimming (read about hospitality!)
  4. Overnight trip with my hubby
  5. Lots of Berry picking with the kiddos!

I’m thinking next summer I’ll have the kids give their input 🙂 At the end of August I’ll let you know how these goals went. Do you set goals for yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts about it! Also, any ideas or suggestions on summer goals?!

P.S. We WILL be swimming every day, if not twice a day. Thats a given 😉

Keeper of the calendar

IMG_2625For various reasons the past few weeks have seemed extra busy. I constantly just feel like I’m a step behind and can’t quite catch up. Whenever I feel this way I like to pause for a minute and make sure I’m saying “no” to the things I can be. My time on earth is too short and sweet to let busyness invade my life and rob me of special moments and joy!

I need down time to recharge and feel refreshed. Time to be still and  focus my thoughts. When the days go flying by and we are here and there, I feel overwhelmed, behind, frustrated and worn down. My kids are still little so they are dependent on momma for a lot of things. I have to be conscious of not wearing myself too thin. I have found that I like 2-3 days during the week with no set plans. I’ll go out with the kids to do errands or fun things, but we go at our own pace. When my weeks become too full I feel like I’m just herding my little pack around, always rushing everyone around leaving me feeling like a scatter brained drill sargent. Its hard for me to stay up on laundry, housework, our garden, and my quiet time. When the busyness creeps in I feel like I miss out on special little moments with my kids, and those moments can be so important! I am to nurture my children, and nurturing calls for those teachable and lovable moments.

As I reflect on the busyness of the past few weeks, and the upcoming weeks, I realize there’s not much I can do about it. There always seems to be seasons where the calendar is full and there is really no way around it. So what do I need to do during this time? I need to adjust for this season based on how I know I function. I need to make sure I squeeze in a few minutes of down time daily. I need to be conscious of saying “no” to all the things I can. If there happens to be a free day, I need to work at keeping it that way. I need to aim at having a good attitude if the laundry is piled higher than normal and the house isn’t as clean as I want. Its a busy season and something has to give! I also need to make sure this season doesn’t go on for too long and our family doesn’t reach burnout!

As wives and/or mothers it is our job to set boundaries and protect busyness from invading. We are the keeper of the calendar. This is an important job and we need to guard those daily squares and provide some rest for ourselves and our family. I realize everyone is different, some thrive with being on the go, where others like myself may need a little more down time. I encourage you to take a step back though and assess where you are and where you want to be. Figure out ways you can adjust. What do you need and what does your family need?  Are you burnt out? Do you need to be saying “no” more? Time is valuable and life is short. Let’s make sure we are being good keepers of the calendar and stewards of our time!

 

Motherhood letter, part 3- Taking care of YOU!

Weeno Photography 2016 (37 of 50)

Happy Mothers day! I hope you have a wonderful day celebrating your mothers, being a mother, or memories of someone!

Part 3

“This leads to something else I’ve become better at over the years of parenting. Making time for myself. I used to think this sounded selfish…when people said I need “ME” time. But now I realize it is crucial in being a good mom. I like to think of it more as “recharge” time though…to recharge spiritually and emotionally to keep persevering in our important role of being a mother! I used to feel guilty when doing this, it was hard for me to stop and sit when there was so much to do! But now I realize I’m always a better mom after.

In the book “Mission of Motherhood” I read, Sally Clarkson suggested doing something which I have found so helpful. She said to make a list of things that help keep your sanity- 15 minutes daily, an hour or two weekly, and a weekend refreshment at least once every 6 months (well, the weekend away is a good goal at least 😉 ). For my 15 minutes daily it’s (usually with coffee) gardening, looking at a magazine, reading an easy read book, working out, crafting, etc…. something refreshing and something I enjoy. At times when I only have a few minuets I have turned on some worship music and sat on the couch with my eyes close and feet up. It helps me relax, clear my head of the chaos, and gives me a little more energy to hang on to as I finish out the day! On the weekend when my hubby is home I try to to do a “fun errand”…like browse the stores for clearance clothes that I can store away for next season for my kids. This doesn’t always happen, and I know it can’t for some, but please, just carve out a few minutes here and there to take care of your sweet spirit. Motherhood is a lot of giving to our little loves, and I think we can do it with a happier heart if we make a little time……And remember, if you feel overwhelmed on this motherhood journey, all God needs is a faithful and willing heart and He will help with the rest!”

I hesitated sharing this because I don’t want it to sound selfish. I know as moms we tend to put our family before ourselves, and thats how it should be. But I also know, as I have done it many times, I reach burn out…and then I just collapse and can’t do anything. I’m learning ways to help prevent those burn outs coming as often…and I hope this little exercise I learned from Sally Clarkson helps you too! What things help you feel refreshed?!

 

Motherhood letter part 1, Sleep & the Virtuous Woman

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In honor of Mother’s day approaching I want to share with you the first of a 3 part “mini series” on motherhood. One of my best childhood friends recently became a mom (yah!), and while she was expecting her sweet boy I wrote her a letter about a few things I’ve learned on my motherhood journey. Being a mom is so extremely hard at times, but brings a joy and love you can’t describe! I’ve divided the letter into 3 parts so that each part is just a few paragraphs and makes for an easy read!

Part 1

….”As you begin on the this journey of motherhood you have a sweet little newborn, who needs you 24/7. And although “lack of sleep” can sometimes be a laughing matter when talking to a new mom…it.is.hard. I have a very supportive and hands on husband, however, in the beginning I would find myself annoyed at him. Annoyed that he would wake up after a solid 6 hours of sleep and would yawn and say “I’m tired”. Really? Really. You’re tired?! Must be nice to get more than 2-3 hours in a row! And although things get better the older they get…there is teething, sickness, early risers, scary dreams, more kids… It used to be really hard for me mentally. I would want to sulk on days I felt exhausted from not getting a good night’s sleep. Over the years though I’ve learned that that’s just part of parenting and I need to stop dwelling on it…or to stop dwelling on the fact that some peoples kids sleep actually do sleep a solid 12 hours at night (because I’ve dwelt on that). I just read something I wrote in my “motherhood journal” recently:

Today I write this feeling exhausted. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in, I don’t know how long. Recently there have been nights I’m up 8 times between all the kids. I’m trying not to focus on the lack of sleep and just enjoy the days we have together as a family…however, I think I’m almost at a breaking point.

There are times & seasons (sickness!) when you really do just need sleep, so get some help and take a nap! But I’m talking about the normal, day to day sleep deprivation. Something that has motivated me to get up before the kids when I just really want to hit snooze, or when I’m just tired and don’t feel like serving my family, is striving to be like the Proverbs 31 woman. Proverbs 31:15 says “She also rises while it is yet night, and provides food for her household”, and verse 27, “She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness.” The virtuous woman here rises early and works hard because of her concern for others. She gives of herself to care for her family..she was a servant leader. What a great example for me.

The scary thing is that as woman, we set the tone for the home. Titus 2 talks about how the older women need to teach the younger women “…to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home.” Our husbands are called to be the leaders of their family, but we are the overseer who can plan, organize, manage the creativity, and set the tone for the home. My attitude greatly affects my family, so I need to stop dragging my feet around whining that I haven’t had a good night’s sleep.

This leads to the next thing I’ve discovered about being a mom, it’s really hard to keep a good attitude and have patience when you’re tired and its complete mayhem…”

**Please check back for part 2 of the letter that talks about the hardest thing for me as a mom, patience!** Proverbs 31 has been a great reminder for me as I take care of my home and my family, and I hope it is for you to!