Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Let the Annual Fast Begin....

I know I certainly don't contribute to our little blog very often anymore. But, just for the record:

My neighbor, Lisa, and I are continuing our annual Lenten fast from: digital media.

(I know, right?! GASP. HOW WILL WE SURVIVE???)

For the answer to that question, and a great sum-up of why we do this, please see our very first year's recap.

The nature of my fast changes year to year slightly, mostly because I'm in school right now pursuing an information science degree and it's all online. I HAVE to be on the computer/internet regularly.

Therefore, this year's focus/rules are as follows:

  • One focused email time in the morning and one in the afternoon; no more checking/responding throughout the day.
  • Social media ONLY as it relates to class (I'm taking a social media class, so there is some significant activity related to class.... It does NOT include this blog, though). No Google reader. No new blog posts on anything save Literaritea (it's been my test ground for several assignments). No Pinterest browsing. 
  • No... gulp... online shopping.
  • No internet searching. (and this ... big gulp... includes the local library's online catalog)
  • No internet activities that aren't completely necessary (for instance, I'm allowed to continue banking activities but will not be searching for new advance review copies of books to read through netgalley)
In general, I'm going to make a concerted effort to single-task: to pay attention to the moment, to not surf the web whilst I should be folding laundry, to not delay getting dinner ready because I want to catch up on my Google reader, to miss opportunities to enjoy spring because I'm hunting down the perfect birthday present online. It's so easy to get sucked into the online world and end up wasting precious time.

See you on Easter!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Day in the Life of....

I think it's fun (and reassuring) to get a realistic peek into other people's lives, don't you? So often we go to someone's house (when they've had advance warning), and everything looks spanking clean, the kids are scrubbed and dressed, and dinner's wafting inviting aromas from the kitchen. Or, perhaps you see blog pic after blog pic of super cool decorating niches, artsy "simple" DIY projects, or simply someone's masterful schedule. It's important to remember that you're still only seeing a slice of life. Maybe they clean up good. And maybe, their lives look a lot like yours on a normal day. Here's how mine's gone so far:

Have you had a shower?


Is the kitchen floor clean?

YES!! Cleaner than it's been in... maybe a year.

Is the bathroom clean?

YES!! It's ALL clean at the same time!! (except for the mysterious poop-colored stain about potty height on the WHITE shower curtain...)

Are the children clothed and happy?


Are they watching TV?


Is the laundry done?

If by "done," you mean it's been through a complete washer and dryer cycle, then the kids' laundry is done. If by "done," you mean that it's actually been folded and put back where it goes, then "no."

Are the breakfast dishes cleaned up and table wiped off?

Um.... no. In fact, in our super heavy duty cleaning of said kitchen floor, we also tackled the abyss under the sink and all that "stuff" is on my counter and I can't even see the breakfast dishes anymore... I know they're in the sink somewhere.

Is it lunchtime?


Do you have lunch plans?

If by lunch plans, you mean a coupon to some delicious fast food restaurant around the corner, then maybe.

Can you throw together something from your existing pantry/refrigerator supplies?

Of course. But that would be a heck of a lot easier if I could see my kitchen counters and access my sink. But. tummy. doth. protest. need. lunch. now. no. time. to. keep. cleaning.

Are you going to resist the urge to eat out today?

YES!! (but only because we're already planning a Salsaritas run on Friday....)

And the TV show is over and Mommy must return to the fray.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

New Year = New Blog Routine?

Hah! Who am I kidding? Carrie and I each have three kids ranging in age (collectively) from 6 months to age 9. Carrie's are spread out and include the bookend ages. Mine are clumped in the middle. In addition, we have hard-working hubbies, outside commitments (hers is a new Tupperware business, mine is grad school), and at least part-time homeschooling commitments.

So, I don't anticipate too much new writing on this poor little blog space of ours. However, we frequently make comments such as the following when we talk on the phone:

"I should put that on the blog!"

"I've been  meaning to write this up for the blog."

"Maybe we could have a new feature on the blog."

And so forth.

But this year, I'd really like to record more of my thoughts on this handy virtual space, if for no other reason than to have a record for my own bad self of all my musings. So, I'm going to get out the real teapot behind our "Tarnished Teapot" title and give it a good polish. It is indeed tarnished.

And I'm going to try to slow down a bit this year (hah! I can hear those of you who know me laughing uproariously at this). By slow down, I mean that I want to take the time to do things right: write important dates down, put stuff up where it goes when I'm tidying up, completely clean the kitchen at night (which, by the way, my hubby does an excellent job of when I'm in class 2 nights/week), blow dry my hair, etc. I probably won't be up to date on my Google reader, won't read as many books outside of classwork, and won't be cooking very elaborately.

But hopefully, I'll spend more time outside, keep the house in better shape, and not forget as many important school things for my daughter (like show-n-tell!). In order to facilitate putting stuff back where it goes, my hubby and I've been engaged in massive house decluttering (including parts of the attic!). We've made some fun discoveries, made huge donations to local thrift stores, and re-evaluated how we want our house to serve us. Stay tuned!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grammie: Serving by Waiting

My husband's grandmother ("Grammie") went to be with her Lord and Savior this past week. She lived 87 years on this earth despite several health conditions that were predicted to shorten her life. I've often thought of this poem in reference to her during the last few years--it's a poem by John Milton that he wrote when he discovered he was going blind. Blindness, in the 17th century, usually meant the end of a person's active career. Milton went on to write Paradise Lost after he became blind, illustrating that one needn't be active in the traditional sense to serve the Lord.

Grammie wasn't blind--yet--but her eyesight was failing, she'd been unable to drive for years, had difficulty walking without assistance, and was completely dependent on others for many ordinary things.... And what did she do? She prayed--for everyone she knew. She mothered and grandmothered people. She kept in touch with people, and she testified of the Lord to people. To me, she's a great example of Milton's reminder that "They also serve who only stand and wait."

On His Blindness

When I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,
And that one Talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Some Great Resources for Polishing Your Family

(This post was scheduled and written before my internet fast...)

In case you'd like to circumvent the massive Easter bunny and chocolate chaos by giving more spiritual for Easter, consider the following books/resources. All have made a tremendous impact, for the better, in our children's lives and have been terrific tools for helping train them in the truths of Scripture. There are more and hopefully Carrie (and/or our parents--in the comments section) will weigh in with others.

  1. ABC Bible Verses by Susan Hunt (ages 4-7; Bible memory; book)
  2. Big Truths for Little People by Ken Taylor (ages 2-4; Bible memory; book)
  3. Hide 'em in Your Heart, vols. 1-2 by Steve Green (all ages; Bible memory; CD's)
  4. The Singing Bible by Focus on the Family (all ages, especially preschool and elementary; Bible stories; CD's)
  5. Hymns for a Kid's Heart by Joni Eareckson Tada and Bobbie Wolmuth (all ages; hymns; book and CD)
  6. Beginner's Bible by Zonderkidz (preschool and early elementary; kids' Bible; book)
  7. Big Picture Story Bible (preschool and early elementary; Bible story book)
  8. Psalty Kids' Praise CD's (yes, you can still get them, and yes, kids still love them!)
What are tools that have been helpful for YOUR family?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Lenten Fast

Well, it's that time of year again, folks: the Lenten fast from the internet. (gasp!)

My neighbor Lisa and I fasted from the internet last year with a few slight allowances. It was such a rewarding experience that we've decided to do it again! I thought I could pull off a TV free summer, but that didn't go over so well. However, we definitely are redoing the Lenten fast. Why?

The internet can be such a boon to folks like us: stay at home moms of young kids. When those kids are sick in the winter and/or you're stuck at home for lengthy nap times, the internet is a nice breath of fresh air. Surf some other mom blogs, check out book reviews on amazon, look for what's on sale, check email, find a new crafty project to while away the home hours.... But the internet can also be a MAJOR distraction from what's really important in life and, I'll tell ya, kids don't know the difference between something "important" (like balancing your checkbook online) and something "just for fun" (reading a blog) when you're staring at that computer screen. They just see a parent not engaged with them. Occasionally, this is fine. But it certainly doesn't need to be your modus operandi while you should be spending time with them. And, we've all been there: "how can 2 hours have gone by???!!" It just sucks your time away.

Last year, in brief,
  1. Lisa and I logged much more face to face time during our fast than we had previously,
  2. got so much more done around the house because we used those little 15 minute time slots throughout the day to be productive rather than check email,
  3. enjoyed spring and spent more time outside,
  4. felt less stressed,
  5. spent more time with the Lord, and
  6. thoroughly enjoyed it!
This year is already a bit different. For one, I haven't spent days frantically printing things that I "might" need whilst on the fast. I broke some bad habits last year that I've never really picked back up (lots of mindless surfing on the web, for one). And, I'm in school--via the internet. So, my fast will look different this year, too. But it's really crept up on me--no counting down the days, no wondering what in the world I would do, no--I learned some really great things last year:
  1. The library is still an outstanding place for information,
  2. Kids can look at library books with you and/or you can sit in the same room looking at a book and it's not as "unengaged" as when you're staring at a computer screen,
  3. Not that many people email me--checking it once a day is really more than enough,
  4. Nobody "needs" my blogs and nobody will really miss a 40 day absence,
  5. The internet is only a tool--not a way of life.
So, my "rules" for this year:
  1. Check email once a day (morning).
  2. Perform online banking functions.
  3. Access already saved recipes (via full tummies primarily).
  4. Perform school-related duties*.
No checking the weather (I'll have to just wait and see or ... go outside!). No checking the sales on kids' clothes, shopping for miscellany, finding out a craft project.... Nothing. *And, I've picked a paper topic for my next assignment that actually involves... personal interviews. (gasp!) I'm going to try to do those via phone, not email. I'll still be doing significant research online, but this will break it up.

Next week is my spring break and all of my family (but me) will be gone this weekend: could have been prime time to do a little blogging or surfing or what have you...but it won't be happening here! I won't even be attending class virtually or doing as much homework. Instead, I have a couple of books I want to read, some time scheduled with friends I don't see often, and a LONG list of house projects. I've even reserved some cookbooks at the library, hoping I won't need to access my saved internet recipes much.

In case you're interested, here are our reflections on our experiences last year: this blog and Lisa's blog.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Hymns for a Kid's Heart

Hymns for a Kid's Heart by Joni Eareckson Tada and Bobbie Wolgemuth is a great resource to check out for your family. My mother-in-law gave my daughter this as a 5-year-old birthday present, and we've all enjoyed it immensely. It's designed to be an aid to teach your children 12 great hymns--each hymn features the melody sheet music, all the verses to the hymn, a Bible verse, a devotional page, and a short story about the composer. The book also comes with an audio CD. To date, my kids--especially my 5-year-old, can sing all 4 verses of "Holy, Holy, Holy" and are working on "This is My Father's World." They request the CD every morning (and this has been going on for about 6 weeks now!), and we are trying to do about one hymn every month. Check it out!