YouTube Giveaway! ft. Eventide Creations Wi

Hey blog readers!

I just wanted to pass along a giveaway opportunity that is going on my YouTube channel!

A fellow momma makes some wonderful embossed coffee mugs, and I’m giving one away on my channel to celebrate our 50 subscribers!  (Which is actually now 65 subscribers…)

!!! I HAVE EXTENDED THE LENGTH OF THE GIVEAWAY FOR AN ADDITIONAL WEEK!  NOW ENDING SUNDAY, 6/18/17!!!

Best of luck!

Let Go of Mom Guilt: Learn About Your Personality Type with Personality Hacker

Personality type quizzes and profiles have always missed the mark, for me.

Until this one.                                  (Affiliate links, but content is free excluding final link.)

sitting woman silhouette - Text: Let Go of Mom Guilt Learn About Your Personality Type

In a nutshell, your “personality type” is an outline of your dominant personal qualities, the way you tend to best think, feel, work, and interact with others.  The most esteemed version of this is probably the Myers-Briggs system – the one that assigns you four letters like INSF or ENTP, etc.  For more information on that, check here.

I stumbled upon a company called Personality Hacker and took their free personality test.  The results of this, the thorough explanation of personality types and ways to work with your personality to enhance your daily life, were life-changing.

Not exaggerating.

I’ve found out, from these resources, that I’m an INTP.  This type is blunt and honest, sometimes considered rude, and very intellectual (sometimes to a fault – spending a lot of time inside their own head musing over what they’ve learned and are working on.)  You can read more about INTPs here.

How on earth does this help with mom guilt?

Let me transcribe some daily thoughts of a real mom.  (Myself.)

“Should I call ______ to get together for a playdate?  I know she wanted to, but I really don’t feel like socializing.”

“_______ gave me a strange look while we were talking at the library.  Was I rude?  I was trying to be helpful.  How can I get people to realize I’m just being helpful?!”

“I just sat down to do paperwork for an hour… how is there no paperwork done?  I feel so guilty and unproductive.”

These are forms of mom guilt.  Trying to fit in socially with other moms and failing, trying to nurture and reach out but feeling misunderstood, struggling with being “productive enough” or doing “real work” enough hours out of the day.

The wealth of information that Personality Hacker’s website provided me about my personality type showed me that most of these kinds of struggles are directly flowing from my personality type.  It has given me license to stop fighting my daydreams, my idealism, my introversion, and my bluntness.  To stop feeling guilty about how my time is spent, where my mind wanders, and policing every syllable that comes out of my mouth.

The old me was completely convinced that these situations were results of not trying hard enough. Failing to be self-disciplined.  Being a mean person.  Not being “mom-like” enough.  Being disorganized.

All of my life,  I have been told that if I just tried harder, I could be more organized, productive, tactful, focused, social, patient, etc.  That I could have more friends, more time, more contentment if only I did things “the way everybody else does.”  And I believed this.

But an actually accurate personality typing has shown me a different truth.  The way I am, the kind of mom and woman and friend I am, is a personality type.  Others like me exist.  I’m not “doing it wrong,” I’m just doing it my own way.  I don’t actually need to try harder, socialize more, change the way I truly am inside.  It’s fine to INTP all over the place.  There are lots of great positives to this personality type, and so many free resources at Personality Hacker to help me enhance what I’d like to enhance.

What’s the catch?

No catch!  While these are affiliate links, the resources I have linked until now are all free.  I really used all of these pages myself, to learn more about my personality type and how it relates to others.  I followed links throughout the website to additional (free) content.  I’ve even joined a Facebook Group associated with Personality Hacker to participate in educated discussions about navigating the world as our true personality types.

I found Personality Hacker all on my own, used it for my own purposes, and felt compelled to share in this blog post.  Only after I began writing it did I reach out to Personality Hacker to let them know I was doing a write-up, and they surprised me with an affiliate program.  (That’s how we do here on Mostly Caffeinated – we’re never ever ever going to clickbait you, sell you stuff, or write just for affiliate purposes!)

Check out the free resources.  Learn about yourself, and how your version of motherhood / adulthood is perfectly valid.  It’s very freeing!

If you find you want to learn more, dive deeper, etc. there are paid programs you can join (webinars, downloadable resources, etc.)  including some on family and marriage.

 

What’s your personality type?  How does it play out in your home life for good?  What would you like to work on?

Why We Chose Adoption from Foster Care

Why We Chose Adoption from Foster Care

I feel like we’re a bit of a minority in the adoption community.

We have our own biological children.  We could probably have more any time.

We are only 30.

We work with kids and teens every day (we’re educators.)

So why did we decide to adopt from foster care?

Our "Why" - Adoption from Foster Care

Let’s begin at the beginning, eh?

I’m adopted.  Now, I was adopted privately, as an infant, to parents who were almost 40 with infertility struggles.  So not really the same.  But at about 8 years old, I suddenly realized that adoption was a thing any adult could do, and I knew I wanted to adopt children.  I didn’t even know at that time if I wanted to marry or have biological children, but I was 100% committed to the idea of adopting some.

I chose adoption because my life was forever changed.

Fast forward to the ripe old age of 18, right before high school graduation.  My (now) husband and I are in my childhood living room, having a very sincere discussion about our future.  In this conversation, we established that we were going to marry each other, acquire a dog, and I came out of left field with, “You know I’m going to adopt some kids, right?”  To which he replied, wisely, “Okay, sure.”  Followed by, “And you know, if there’s several there, they’re all coming home with me, right?”  “That’s extreme, but yes, I know that.”

We chose adoption together.  It was foundational to our marriage.

So adoption has been in my heart for 20 years, and was put fully on the table right in our discussion of marriage.

5 years into marriage, we happened to have a baby.  And then another one.  And we talked about adoption this way: “When we have saved up the money, say around 40, we’ll be able to adopt those kids.”  It was never an “if,” always a “when.”

Then the story takes a sharp turn.  I made a friend in college to whom I am indebted for other reasons, but he and his wife added 3 children to their family from foster care.  We get together socially with this family, we love their kids, heard about their experience, enjoyed knowing a family who was adopting, but thought no more of it.  One day, we were involved in a conversation on Facebook with some other mothers, discussing how some of us thought someday adoption might be affordable for our families, when my friend uttered these fateful words:

“What we did was free.”

Free.

I had no idea.

I dove immediately into research, contacting, discussing with my husband.  It was a matter of a month before we were attending our first of many meetings and seminars and filling out paperwork.  And just 6 months later, we are only waiting on the office work at the agency before we will be approved for placements.

We chose adoption from foster care because we could afford to help children sooner.

As educators, there have been many incidents where we work closely with neglected or abused children, and wish we could take them home with us.  We want to change our students’ lives for the better, and some of these students need clean clothes and consistent adults and a hug before we can worry about their academic skills.  Of course, it isn’t legal to snatch up your students and take them home with you!

We chose adoption from foster care in order to help children on a more basic level than we can do at work.

I know everybody who chooses to adopt comes from their own set of experiences and desires, and I can’t claim to understand any other parents’ motivations.  For our family, our desire to adopt had nothing to do with nurturing an infant – we are very blessed to already have begun our family with two infants born to us biologically.  Because of this, we couldn’t think of any reason why we needed to undertake private adoption, or infant adoption.  We love being around older children and aren’t fearful of the speed bumps that come with adolescence or having a transracial family.  In fact, I find myself quite excited to jump into parenting an older child.

We chose to adopt from foster care because we, personally, are impartial about age or ethnicity.

If some of these reasons resonate with you, check out foster-to-adopt programs for your state!

Share your adoption stories or blog links below! 

mostly caffeinated mom why we chose adoption from foster care parent and child

5 Ways KonMari Minimalism Improves My Life

5 Ways KonMari Minimalism Improves My Life

I can’t claim to be an expert minimalist.  I don’t count my possessions, I can’t fit everything I own in a backpack, I don’t have a spartan tiny home.

But goodness, do I have less stuff than I used to.  I aspire to minimalism.

I applied the KonMari method to my entire home when pregnant with my second baby.  Call it extreme nesting if you will.

I did it again as we were packing up that house to move.

And I’m doing it again right now in my new home (how did this stuff even get MOVED here?!)

It is the best homemaking decision I’ve ever made, and here’s why:

birch trees. Text: Minimalism Changed My Life

1 – Minimalism forces me to think deeply about purchases and gifts

Before I buy anything for my husband or kids, I think seriously about whether it is amazing and going to be used frequently.  This results in usually buying one joint large gift for Christmas – and this last year we skipped in entirely.  We went on a 2-day vacation with our dear friends instead, and it was so much better than a gift!For our children, we follow the 4 gifts principle – something to wear, something to read, something fun, and something they need.  (Clothing, a book, a toy/game/ticket to somewhere, new sheets, dishes, etc.)  Since they have grown up this way, they don’t expect anything more lavish.  My 3 1/2 year old still gets excited when we put his “new” sheets on his bed, and talks about how he opened them on Christmas.

2 – I am more motivated to finish the laundry and the dishes.

I only have enough sippy cups and coffee mugs for two days.  I also only have enough kid dishes, good knives, and pans for two days, so if I’m feeling unmotivated I can only possibly let the dishes go for a day before we run out of necessary items.  (Sippy Cups and Coffee Mugs would make a great blog name – feel free to borrow that one!)Likewise, we have pared down our wardrobes to the point where I can’t skip laundry.  Maybe this doesn’t happen to everyone, but before KonMari I could skip laundry indefinitely.  I had SO. MANY. CLOTHES. that it didn’t matter if I washed them or not, the closet just kept giving!  Now, my boys only have 6 pair of pants, so I have to wash them.  I use a capsule wardrobe, so I actually wear every piece in my closet and need to wash them to have options for the next week.

3 – Broken items rarely bother me

Fact: Kids break things.  Little Known Fact: My husband, somehow, breaks even more things.This used to bother me immensely, but the process of decluttering and reducing my possessions has definitely changed my mindset about material possessions.  Minimalism functions under the theory that possessions are not important, period.  Because of this, I’m not going to get upset at a person who accidentally ruins one.  I actually say, “Well, there’s one more thing I don’t have to own!”  It helps me let go of even one more item – it has been decided for me by being broken.

4 – Less guilt

This is a problem I didn’t even realize I had until I became familiar with the KonMari method of minimalism.  I had no idea how much guilt I was inviting into my daily life by keeping possessions around that I didn’t love.

“I should really be using that, _____ gave it to me.”

“Forgot I had that.  What a waste of money!”

“I need to go find _____ and set it out so _____ thinks I’m using it.”

“I should dust.  Haven’t touched that shelf of things in months.”

“Here’s the box of ugly things I have to keep around.”

“Let’s sort the Christmas ornaments: Ones we like, ones we can get rid of, ones we don’t like but can’t get rid of.”

“I need to find a place to put _____ where nobody will really see it.”

These are true.  Not exaggerated.  I actually had to think these thoughts routinely about possessions in my home.

I heard it so many times, but didn’t truly believe it until I decluttered objectively: The people you’ve loved don’t cease to exist just because you get rid of “things.”  I didn’t need to keep around heirlooms, gifts, greeting cards, what-have-you from deceased or faraway relatives simply to remember them by.  I’m not going to forget them!  I do have some heirlooms and gifts that I really, truly love and use almost everyday.  I enjoy that those particular items happen to have come from people close to me.  Beyond that, I’ve learned to let go.  And now I don’t have to hear those guilty thoughts inside my head anymore. (Katie from The Decluttering Queen wrote a great post about “keepsakes!“)

The same goes for money spent  You already “wasted” the money.  Having the items staring at you all the time isn’t going to help the situation – it’s just going to make you feel bad daily, instead of once by decluttering the item.

5 – Ease of cleaning, dressing, packing, etc.

Less clutter on surfaces = easier to wipe or dust.
Fewer toys = even if the kids empty out the whole playroom, it’s not that much to pick up.
Capsule wardrobe = just count outfits to pack.  Everything goes together, everything fits, everything feels good to wear.

And this is why I continually look to minimize our home even more.  It has brought such a relaxed, peaceful mindset about possessions and really helped me curb my attachment to them.  There is so much more mental space and time in a day to work at things that truly matter, because I’m not devoting time to shuffling items around (physically or mentally!) picking out clothes, avoiding housekeeping, lingering over decisions about keeping or storing.

What benefits are you hoping to see from your minimalism journey?

What positive experiences have you already had along the way?

Review: Natural Toothpastes

I love a good natural product.  I’m a moderately green person like I’m a moderate minimalist: I enjoy it if it’s easy to implement and not much more expensive than the regular way.

So I ordered several different natural toothpastes, inspired by the lack of children’s toothpastes that weren’t artificially fruit flavored.  My three-year-old has serious morning breath, and “mild fruit” is not cutting it.  Natural toothpastes don’t have the ingredients that shouldn’t be in children’s toothpastes, with the added benefit that many of them may help reminerialize teeth, and they’re more eco-friendly, to boot.

I’m not an expert on toothpaste ingredients.  I used the internet to help me – the basic lowdown is:
1) Glycerin coats your teeth, keeping the helpful ingredients in toothpaste from penetrating
2) Kids shouldn’t ingest flouride.
3) It might be possible to remineralize teeth using natural toothpastes with certain ingredients.
4) I like to pronounce the ingredients in what I and my kids use.

Mother’s Vault Natural Toothpaste – Soothing Peppermint

 tube of toothpaste and box, bamboo toothbrush and boxblack toothpaste on brush

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial use: 100% honest, this does not taste good.  The texture is what I expected from natural toothpastes – non-foaming, a little gritty. (Like a true “paste.”)  But the taste is pretty much like brushing your teeth with dirt and charcoal.  It’s unpleasant. (Update: I did try mixing this 50/50 with Peppermint Earthpaste.  Much better – will use it this way!)

That being said, after rinsing, that taste is completely gone and you’re left with a minty fresh feeling/taste.  This minty feeling/taste does not interfere with food or drink like you might expect.  So that’s cool!

Kid use: I highly doubt I’m going to attempt this with my kids (3 and 1).  If I could hardly stand the taste while brushing, it’s not going to work for them.

Skeptical husband use: See above.  This is not for the green-faint-of-heart.

 

Redmond Earthpaste – Cinnamon

Earthpaste cinnamon toothpaste and boxEarthpaste cinnamon toothpaste on brush

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Use: This one tastes less of dirt!  There is still, obviously, no foaming, but the earthen taste is faint.  The cinnamon taste is  not overpowering.  Left teeth feeling very clean and smooth.  Cinnamon flavor lingered after rinsing – like your mouth feels after chewing cinnamon gum.  Did not interfere with tasting food and beverages!

Kid Use: My boys (3 and 1) used this one, and I had no complaints.  Still working on the mechanics of spitting properly.

Skeptical Husband Use:  This is the first one he agreed to use, and is probably his “favorite” because it is the most like a traditional toothpaste in dispensing and texture.

Redmond Earth Paste – other flavors

wintergreen Redmond Earthpaste peppermint Redmond Earthpaste lemon Redmond Earthpaste

Initial Use: I really enjoyed the Wintergreen flavor, and even convinced Skeptical Husband to try it.  He said nothing (translation: it was an acceptable experience.)
The Peppermint is good – because the flavor is from essential oils, it’s a little “sharper” than regular toothpaste.
The Lemon has a flavor like lemongrass, which could come off as “Mr. Clean” -esque to some people.  But it’s not a situation where I won’t finish the tube.

Why on earth did you get so many flavors of the same toothpaste?! : I couldn’t get just a mint.  The mint was only available in the four-pack.  I have enough Earthpaste for years.

Native Essense Botanicals Remineralizing Whitening Toothpaste – Peppermint Orange

 

 

 

 

 

 

Initial Use: This is hard to get to stay on your toothbrush.  It fell off on me twice before I really mushed it down on there and it stayed.  The texture is pretty pleasant thanks to the oconut oil – it feels pretty smooth in your mouth.  The flavor was pretty strong, and I found out that orange-mint is not my personal favorite.  It did not ruin the flavor of my food.  Was not quite as good at cutting the morning breath as the others.  (This one has the best texture for brushing.  Will continue to use, just isn’t my favorite!)

Kid Use:  I had to help them get it on their brushes.  This is the only one that my 3-year-old described as “spicy.”  I don’t think they were fans, but then again their teeth don’t need remineralizing, so that’s fine.

Skeptical Husband Use: He didn’t care for the flavor, and thought it was silly to have to scoop and scrape the paste onto a brush.  (He is one of those no-cavities-ever people, so I guess this will just be my personal toothpaste!)

Primal Life Organics “Dirty Mouth” Tooth Powder – Peppermint

primal life organics tooth powder primal life organics "dirty mouth" tooth powder

Initial Use: This is very dry when you first stick it in your mouth!  That sensation quickly dissipates, but it’s a bit jarring at first.  Flavorwise, this is VERY pepperminty, but still doesn’t interfere with food.  It’s a little messy to use, but this might be due to the small container size (this is a travel size, the “regular” jars are much bigger!)

Kid Use:  Too messy for the kids to use themselves.  They both are partial to minty flavors, so they had no complaints.  I was sure to wet their toothbrushes very well first.

Skeptical Husband Use: He wasn’t a big fan of the dry factor, but felt that it tasted good and cleaned well.

(I wonder if I could mix coconut oil in there myself?  I chose this toothpaste specifically for the remineralizing claims, so I’m going to use it no matter what!)

Why didn’t you say anything about the cleaning abilities, Juli?!

Because they all cleaned the same – quite well.  My teeth felt smooth, and clean, and my breath was neutralized/freshened.  Much like regular toothpaste, just no foaming.  By far, my favorite characteristic of all of these natural toothpastes was that the flavor did not interfere with immediate eating and drinking.  I have NEVER found a regular toothpaste that actually freshens breath but doesn’t ruin your breakfast.

My favorite and the easiest to use was the Redmond Earthpaste.  I will continue using each of these and will update this post if I notice any long term pros or cons.

 

There you have it!  Have you tried any natural toothpastes? Which one do you recommend?  

 

(Disclaimer: Amazon links are affiliate links.)

Book Review: Grace Based Parenting

couch, coffee table, cup. text: Book Review: Grace Based Parenting

Checked this book out from the library mostly as it pertains to my current parenting of two little rambunctious boys.  It turned out to be one of the best parenting books I’ve read to date!  I really enjoyed the writing style as well as the overall message, and the more specific advice.

I will admit that I don’t know anything about Dr. Tim Kimmel – I was drawn in 100% by the title.  Who doesn’t want to base their parenting in grace?  Goodness knows I lose my patience daily, and usually feel like my overall attitude could stand a heavy dose of more grace (both from the Lord and to my kids.)

This book is very definitely from a Christian point of view, about Christian parenting. I believe it has some ramifications for any family, but it is heavily aimed at the family looking to infuse their daily interactions and overall parenting and homemaking philosophy with more of God’s grace.

book cover - Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel

First, let’s talk overall theme.  This book is, in a nutshell, about how to show your children boundless grace without sacrificing structure and moral standards, or falling into permissive parenting.  Initially I assumed that it was going to go in those directions, and that I would just glean what I could but not swallow the whole theory.

I was wrong.

Dr. Kimmel repeatedly admonishes parents not to flex when it comes to true moral issues, or true physical danger.  He encourages parents to show a graceful response whenever possible, without jeopardizing the spiritual health of the family.  One example that I think about daily is of a child who insisted on sleeping with a chair on his bed.  This is a silly request that seems inconvenient and unnecessary, but it’s not harming the child, it isn’t a moral issue, and it will likely blow over eventually.  I think about that example when my son wants to nap with his shoes on, or put his placemat on his head as a “hat,” or wear mismatched clothes, or dig in the dirt.  If it’s not harmful physically or spiritually, let them do them.  Let them be unique creatures.

This philosophy is based in an absence of fear.  Dr. Kimmel speaks out directly against fear-based parenting – the type of home where everything that could potentially cause sin is strictly off limits.  Where the rules are many and rigid to try to protect the children from everything unsavory.  He expresses what I already felt to be true – these types of environments have the opposite effect from what was intended.  By not allowing children self-expression or exposure to other human beings and their ways of life, the children don’t learn to rely on God or to stand up for their moral standards because they never have to.  They can’t function in regular society because they have entered atrophy by being in such a “cloistered” environment.

He encourages parents to parent from a place of ultimate trust in God.  That if we truly trust God to help us guide and protect our children, we needn’t put innumerable rules in place, and won’t feel compelled to do so.  We can let them chose things like hair colors or music or tennis shoes without fearing that they’re headed for their ultimate demise.  The author is actually quite hard-hitting here, which I appreciate.

This style of parenting, naturally, lead to acceptance of our children’s unique gifts and quirks, and a stronger relationship with adult children who have felt valued and relevant to their family from little on.

Writing style -wise, I enjoyed the balance on anecdote, secular quotations, Bible verses, and actual parenting advice.  I don’t tend to like books that are too heavy on anecdote, or refuse to include any quotations or examples that are not straight from Scripture.  It was easy to read, structurally, but very direct and held no punches.

And the author referenced Mr. Holland’s Opus, so that’s an automatic win in my book!

I feel like, overall, I enjoyed this book because it resonated with me.  The author stated (much more eloquently than I could) what God’s grace looks like in parenting.  He expressed many truths that I already feel are very important, but coming from an outside perspective this seems more poignant.

10/10 would recommend! 

Click the book cover to find it on Amazon.  (Affiliate link!)

 

 

Going Back to Work (for two days)

Recently, I “went back to work” by substitute teaching for two days.

It was wonderful, for so many reasons.

walking picture with coffee cup and bag. Text: Going Back to Work

I knew, with very strong intuition and conviction, that I needed to stop teaching full-time and stay home with my boys.  It was such clear wisdom from God, honestly, that I didn’t waver about my decision.

I also LOVED teaching.  Sure, my years of professional teaching were far from easy.  There were many challenges in regards to time, patience, personal and professional drama… the list goes on.  But the actual act of teaching – the helping, tutoring, guiding of young people, the crafting of lessons and experiences, the presenting of information – is part of me.  Like a limb.

Going back to work for two days did not change these two truths, but it was so important to my mental health.

  • It proved to me that I am not unhappy being a stay-at-home / professional parent.  Not once during my hours working or my evenings at home did I think to myself: “Why did I leave teaching?!”  “Ugh! I can’t believe I have to stay home again on Saturday.”  “I wish I could do this every day.”  “I made a horrible mistake.”
  • It proved that do want to go back to work when my children reach school age.  I thoroughly enjoyed myself!  The energy I got from being in a school, with a faculty, around children, running a classroom… it was like an I.V.  Refreshing, stimulating, filled me up, in a way.
  • It reassured me that I did not stop working out of a lack of skill, true burnout, or anything of that sort.  Working felt like I’d never stopped.  (I would say “like riding a bicycle,” but honestly I’m terrible at riding bicycles.)  This mini work experience was  substitute teaching, so I was working with someone else’s routines, content, and materials.  I was also down with a virus (interrupted sleep, completely lost my voice between Day 1 and Day 2).  But still, I didn’t find the teaching difficult.  Teaching is tiring, significant mental work, and requires a lot of skill, but I wasn’t experiencing stress or struggle.

In short, I’m really glad I took this little assignment.  Sometimes certain opportunities or experiences can reassure us by confirming that we’re on the right path.  Sort of gives a renewed energy by sparing you from any lingering uncertainty.


Have you dabbled in working outside the home since becoming a full-time parent?  Or had a different experience that has given you important feedback about your decision?  Feel free to tell your story in the comments!

When Dad Goes Shopping

Yesterday, I felt like I was run over by a garbage truck.
Repeatedly.
I got this wonderful illness from my husband, who has spent the last week with laryngitis and tonsilitis, drinking up my lemon tea and using every Dayquil and Ricola in the house.

So he made a WalMart run after bedtime.

shopping bag Text: when dad goes shopping

If you didn’t already know, the shopping completed by the full-time parent looks much different than the shopping done by the wage-earning parent.

I asked him to pick up:
Dayquil
Lemon tea
Ricola
Ramen

He came back with:
Dayquil and Nyquil packaged together (I can’t take Nyquil)
A box of lemon tea, but also another box of some other “medicinal” tea I’ve never bought before
Two bags of Ricola, one of which he opened and stole half of
Two ramen packets for me, but also two “Siracha Chicken” which are definitely for him
Three GIANT bottles of Drain-o?
A GIANT box of garbage bags
A bunch of bananas (despite the bunch of bananas already on the counter)
Diapers
A GIANT bag of chocolate chips

… what?

The point here is, my husband is crazy and has no idea how to go to WalMart for four simple things.

FALSE

(Well, he might be crazy.  But I like that about him!)

The point here really is, my wage-earning other half really stepped in for me.  After feeding the kids and giving them baths and tucking them in, he decided to make a WalMart run.  He asked me zero follow-up questions about the shopping because I was barely able to speak.  He went and fetched me things to try and make me feel better, even though he should have been sleeping so he could get up early for work today.  He got some extra things that I bet he thought we needed, probably trying to save me a trip later in the week.

And chocolate chips.

This morning, he was up  at 4:45 as usual, made himself some weird medicinal tea, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, and went to work.

Even if things aren’t done “your way,” what has your work-outside-the-home partner done lately that was thoughtful and self-sacrificing?

My Messy Desk

For a split second this morning, I was appalled and ashamed of the state of my desk.

That quickly changed into appreciating the mess.

My messy desk tells the story of my week.  And it’s a great one.

a very messy desktop

It’s like an I Spy book, right? I Spy meets Week in Review.

To the left, you’ll see the stack of books and journals and binders that I haven’t been getting to much, lately.

And a little pile of toys I’ve had to take away from the boys for misusing / taking bites out of them.

My sewing kit (it’s brown, hard to see) from fitting costumes for the school musical.  Three weeks left!

And an Easter hat.  It was Easter this past weekend!  What a great holiday.

And then a chucks pad (absorbent things they lay down in nursing homes and hospitals, I own them for dog house-training) and a sweatshirt. My coauthor here on the blog, Deb, had her baby over the weekend, and I was privileged to be her doula.  I was prepared for both an overnight stay and a car baby.  We almost had the second!  (I’ll let her share her birth story if she wants.  Not mine to tell!)

In the middle, some things the kids have grown out of – their milestones booklet from our old pediatrician, a pair of pants too small for even the smaller kid, some diapers from two sizes ago that I found somewhere, lurking.  Underneath those are probably things I need to repair (normal spot for that.)

Then a computer, buried under some spring town-wide mailing (it’s spring! for real!) and an Easter gift.

Then a stack of kids’ activities that I pulled out of my purse.  Because Lent is (finally) over, and I no longer have to wrangle two crabby little boys through a naptime church service singlehandedly.  Hooray!

I had to get that stuff out of my bag because I actually had a career gig the other day – I gave a presentation about the Camp that I’m on the board of directors for (check here if you’re intrigued!) then I substitute taught for my husband.  Flexed some old muscles, there!  It’s the first time I’ve presented or taught since I started staying home two years ago – it was great!

On the left, a stack of forsaken mail.  The paper clutter monster is getting the better of me, again… must recommit to my KonMari paper control methods!  (Must recommit to my KonMari methods in general… )

Yesterday’s coffee cup.  Dishes are not getting priority, either, right now.

Our Q&A: 3-Year Journal for 2 People.  I talked about this in a recent favorites video – we’ve still been using it every day (or every few days) and we’re still enjoying it!  It sits out on my desk to remind us both to do it.

A graham cracker.  First breakfast, while I work early in the morning.  (This morning, that was all of 5 minutes before someone joined me.  Mom life!)


There you have it!  I’ve always been committed to authenticity. This is my desk.  This is normal for the end of a week, if not a little messier.  But it’s been a heck of a week!  A baby being born, a high holiday, lots of travel and family, musical practices, presenting, subbing.

What grace to carry us through all of those events.

What a blessing to live them.


What crazy items are living on your workspace today?  Happy Friday!

Easter Traditions and Activities (besides”Meeting the Easter bunny”)

Looking for some Easter traditions you could start for your family, or activities to do with your children?  Here you are, just in time!

(These are mainly aimed at small children, and people who like simple, easy-to-execute, inexpensive fun.  Because that’s what I know!)

basket of easter eggs in the grass. Text: simple, quick, inexpensive Easter traditions

If you’re curious about why “Take your kids to meet the Easter bunny” isn’t on this list, you’ve got some more reading to do!

Photo Ideas (If your kids are game!)

  1. Bunny ears headband.
  2. Newborn sleeping in a large Easter basket
  3. Children surrounded by plastic Easter eggs
  4. Oversized Easter stuffed animals or other oversized seasonal props
  5. Kids hunting for eggs outside
  6. Kids holding or sniffing flowers

Cooking & Baking

  1. Rice Krispie bars, cut into seasonal shapes.  Maybe even break out the seasonal sprinkles.
  2. Meringues.  These are actually traditional – the empty air pocket inside is reminiscent of Christ’s empty tomb. (My husband makes them from his grandmother’s recipe every year.  Since they sit in the oven overnight, he makes them Saturday evening and they’re “empty” Easter Sunday morning!)
  3. Toss some pretzel sticks in some melted chocolate and make little nests (to put candy eggs or jellybeans in.)

Outings

  1. Egg hunt!  Most communities have one, many put on by parks departments or local churches.  If you don’t have one, gather the neighbor kids or cousins and have your own!  (Simply, of course… toss some candy in some plastic eggs.  Send a teen to scatter them around the yard.  BYOB (Bring Your Own Basket).  Done!)
  2. Flower hunt.  Check out a local botanical garden, park with flower beds, or your own yard for the first blooms of the season.  (This is great for pictures, too!)
  3. Easter Vigil random acts of kindness.  (The Saturday between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is sometimes called Easter Vigil.)  Leaving a cut flower under the windshield wipers of some cars, leaving some treats on a neighbor’s doorstep, tagging a friend’s sidewalk with an Easter greeting.  It’s warm in the evenings, and what a lovely surprise to add to the beauty of Easter morning.
  4. Animal petting.  Some communities run a petting zoo, or an exhibition of prize-winning rabbits and ducks, or a baby animals meet ‘n’ greet.  Or, again, find a friend who farms or raises small animals and take your kids to pet them.  (More cute photo ops here!)

Old fashioned traditions

Don’t forget about the traditions of the past generations – perhaps a new dressy outfit for Easter.   Reading Peter Rabbit or another spring/rabbit book together.   (I’m a big proponent of reading to/with children!)  A specific special treat in the hidden Easter basket.  (My grandparents always gave us fancy decorated fudgy eggs from the local bakery!  Yum!)  Religious services during the week.  Gathering with family for a special brunch on Easter morning.

These things have a longer impact (even the clothes – you can wear those for birthdays and church and weddings all summer!) and some deeper meaning than a stuffed rabbit.  They are about relationships, family culture, neighborhood friendships,  a sense of wonder and anticipation to the most important holiday of the year.  And are possibly much more enjoyable and low stress than waiting in a line with a child who might just scream for a photo with a stranger.

Whatever you do in your home – have a blessed Holy Week preparation.  Love on your kiddos.  Impress upon them the eternal importance of what we’re celebrating.  How that looks in practice is up to you.

If you have simple Easter traditions of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments!  I’m sure there are great ideas I didn’t think of.