Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Call to Return to Simplicity......

I have a potty closet.  No, really (yes some of you have witnessed it) in my bathroom there is a door that looks like it should go to a closet of some sort and when you open it there is nothing but a toilet in it.  It is one of my favorite places in my house, mostly because to get to it there are three doors with locks that separate it (and therefore me)  from the rest of the world (and sometimes certain children).  It may be an odd thing, but i have decided to make it my little collage room/reading library.  Don't get all judgey on me, you know some of the best reading is done in the bathroom!  ;-)  I have a little table in there with some choice books and all the photos on the wall that i couldn't possibly afford frames for, but love.  Do not fret, there is a strict "no flushing unless the toilet seat in down" rule for my potty closet and seen as there are three other bathrooms in this house i usually don't have to worry about kids coming in and using it anyway.

So today i was looking through a potty closet book called, "Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy."  It is by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  I received this book in either 1996 or 1997 from my mother who gave it to me for either Christmas or a birthday as my memory recalls.  I like this book and have used it throughout the years and enjoy many (but not all) of the quotes and advice/suggestions she has for a simpler, yet fulfilling life.  It has a thought (about a page or two long) for each day of the year.  Even though i have read many of the pages i have not been diligent about reading it day by day and so sometimes it's nice to get back and look at what the thought is for today.  If i don't like what it says i will skim though it until i feel satisfied.  :-)

Today i was reading it and came across a passage (not today's date however, July 21st if you must know) called the Importance of Solitude.  Now although everyone is welcome to read this blog, it is mostly directed at those of us who feel like life is always so busy and when we get asked to do "one more thing" we feel as if we could just scream....or cry (i'm more of a crier personally).  I will first say this though, i USED to feel like this often.  Not so much about getting asked for help from others for things, i really do joy in serving and helping others, but in the overwhelming nature of being a mother to small children (who often you cannot even have complete conversation with).  At the end of the day you are spent!  And have to get up the next day and do it all over again.  Eventually as kids get older it moves from diapers, spills, snotty noses and bath-time to sports, scouts, musical instruments and other extracurricular activities.  However i no longer feel this way and part of why is contained in this passage i read today. I simplify!  (a.k.a. i do less!)  I pray that this post will be received with the same spirit of love it was written with and intended for.  :-)

The passage starts off with a quote by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (writer, aviator and wife of Charles Lindbergh): "If women were convinced that a day off or an hour of solitude was a reasonable ambition, they would find a way of attaining it.  As it is, they feel so unjustified in their demand that they rarely make the attempt."

I read this and pondered on the sad truth of it.  I know what that felt like, and how guilty i felt if i ever did take time for myself.  In fact often when the kids were younger John would encourage me to go and do something, anything that helped me feel like i had some personal time to myself.  A couple of times i took him up on his offer and would go alone to Barnes and Noble and read or peruse.  But it wasn't until i was serving in church as a young women's leader (youth leader for girls aged 12-18) and we had a Stake meeting with the Stake Young Women's president (leader for all the young women in a collective area serving typically around 10 or so congregations) that i really began to embrace this idea.  She themed our meeting, which was just for local leadership, on Simplifying.   Such a "simple" concept, so life changing and empowering, and yet for many of us, so hard to do.  She was inspired and i totally caught the vision of what she was saying.  Sometimes life is busy, but it doesn't always have to be.  We often think that doing  "everything" which includes getting our children involved in everything is the best way to enrich our lives.  If we fill it with lots of wholesome activities that teach us to strive for greatness and develop talents that we have been given, then we are living life to the fullest extent.

Well  we are all entitled to our opinions and i am no one's judge, trust me, i don't want to be, but i am here to say that often we are NOT getting the most out of life living it that way.  I think sometimes in this world so technologically advanced we have taken multi-tasking to the max.  Sometimes (more often than not) we can have a more enriching experience in life is we take time to keep it simple.  To your child, your time is often more valuable than 3 or 4 different activities that are helping her/him develop skills and talents.  Now it is our job, and only our job to really know what that is for our families.  Some things may be super important, but i would wage to say that many are not worth the stress, money, time, and anxiety (for us and our kids).'s all about priorities.  I think the bottom line is, if you are feeling overworked or over whelmed or stressed out all the time, then you are probably doing too much and it's really OK to let some things go.  If you have several children, then rotate.  Instead of everyone doing something all the time, pick one thing for each kid to do at different times of the year (ie: Bobby does soccer in the spring, and Sally does swimming in the winter) or whatever.

As a small side note, this concept goes much deeper for me.  As many of you know i believe in Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father (God).  For me, if you don't have time to serve them without feeling overwhelmed then something is not right and priorities need to be resorted.  It's just my opinion, but there you have it.  It's kind of an oxymoron to me.....when we serve the Lord though serving each other or in our church responsibilities etc., then the Lord blesses us. So why do we put them last or try and go without those things? It's like we're choosing for God NOT to help us in our lives.   I don't know about you, but i NEED those blessings.  If something has to go then it shouldn't be that stuff, cuz that's what keeps us going!

Whew! Again this is something that only you and your family can decide, but life was not meant to be lived in a constant or frequent state of stress or overwhelmingness (yes i realize that's not a real word).  So whatever your situation in life, whatever you believe or believe in, take time for yourself my dear, because you know what?  We can handle life and kids better when we do.  And i suppose for those of you that have the little ones....hang in there because speaking from experience it actually does get easier.  When your kids start to become more dependable and responsible you are able to find more time for yourself easier and with less guilt.....well at least i do.  Also is okay to say no.  Know your limits!  ;-)

ANYWAY, what does  Sarah Ban Breathnach actually say about the importance of solitude.....

"I am convinced that when the end of the world comes it will arrive not as two clashing armies on the brink, but as a "last straw" : the fax that unravels six months work in a single sentence, the telephone call that sends us reeling across the room, the seemingly innocent request to perform yet another task.  Can we attend one more meeting?  Write an additional memo before we leave the office?  Bake another batch of cookies?  Drive an extra car pool trip this week? Suddenly, without warning, women will rush screaming into the night, leaving men and children shaking their heads in amazement wondering if it was something they said.  Always remember, Greta Garbo never declared she wanted to be alone.  She said: "i want to be left alone." There is a significant difference.
"I believe that it's essential for busy women, by which i mean all of us, to pause a moment-this moment-to reconsider the entire subject of solitude.  Too many of us approach time alone as if it were a frivolous, expendable luxury rather than a creative necessity.  Why should this be so?
"Could it be that by short changing ourselves  the only thing impoverished is our inner life?  And after all, if the lack doesn't show on the surface,if we can pull it off one more time with smoke and mirrors, why, then, of course it doesn't count.  Or does it?
"Anne Morrow Lindbergh urges us to remember, 'Certain springs are tapped only when we are alone.  The artist knows he must be alone to create; the writer, to work out his thoughts; the musician to compose; the saint, to pray.  But women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves.  The problem is not entirely in finding the room one's own, the time alone, difficult and necessary as this is.  The problem is more how to still the soul in the midst of it's activities.  In fact the problem is how to feed the soul.'"

Take time for yourselves, but also take time to prioritize and keep it simple.  Spouses and children and those that are dear to us need and desire us more than anything else, not all the extra activities and events that sometimes go along with "enriching" ourselves.  As i have strived to simplify and focus on things that matter most my life has been blessed greatly and a lot of that has come in the form of peace and calm.  I have found that i at least am a better mother when i simplify because i am less stressed and then everyone else gets a better version of me.  I also have grown to appreciate, as Sarah said, the importance of "me time."  That may come in different forms for each of us, but we for sure don't need to feel guilty for doing it.  Just think of it as a long term investment for the whole family!  :-)

I want to finish this post with a quote i love from Thomas S. Monson.  He said, "If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the tiny fingerprints that show up on almost every newly cleaned surface, the toys scattered about the house, the piles and piles of laundry to be tackled will disappear all too soon and that you will—to your surprise—miss them profoundly."

This quote reminds me that amongst it all...all the chaos, activities, temper tantrums, etc., etc., etc., you can still have peace and happiness and joy day to day, and that it is all very much worth it.  It doesn't matter if your house is a mess, or you haven't folded the laundry in 3 days (my personal favorite, but much longer than 3 days for me) or your kids are eating cereal tonight again for dinner or "C" all of the above.  Still take the time to recharge and i promise you , you will be a better person for it and your family will be grateful in the long run.  If you feel there's not time available for you then make time available for you.  You are not a victim to life's circumstances......CHOOSE how YOU want things to go and choose simplicity for you, even if it's only one day at week or even to begin with one hour a day.  And i will repeat myself by saying, goodness sake, stop feeling guilty about it!  Maybe......just maybe you just need a potty closet too.  ;-)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

2012 Birthday Re-cap!

Ok, so this past year or so i have done a pretty lame job of posting blogs.  I used to post about once a week or so and i'm not quite sure why i haven't kept it up, but in a small way i am at least making an effort to blog about everyone's birthday last year so i can at least document it, so we can look back and enjoy the memories and remember what took place.

We begin with the first birthday of the 2012 year in our family and that is my very special Jack-a-lope! March 12th!  Last year he turned 4 and my has he grown!  Even looking back on these pictures makes me appreciate how much he has grown and developed.  He is a joy to have in our family and i am grateful for his sweet nature and wonder at all the awesome things in life daily.  He just recently turned 5 and i will add a couple of those pictures too.

turning 4!

Jack wanted a Lego cake and he seemed to like this one.  :-)

Pictures from turning 5......(amazing that he picked another LEGO cake!  ;-)  This was his first birthday party too which was so fun for him.

Next birthday in our family is John (a.k.a Daddy-O).  You may think that when you get to your late 30's that birthday's lose their excitement, but apparently not if you're getting an Xbox!  ;-)  Happy 36th B-day my love!  :-) June 7th!

 John chose an ice-cream cake from Marble Slab Creamery.  I think this one was cinnamon flavored ice-cream with mini chocolate chips and reeses peanut butter cups.

Right after Daddy, comes Sarah!  Sarah turned 7 last summer.  What can i say about this little beauty that you can't already tell from looking at that sweet face below?!  She is darling and such a joy in our family.  Sarah is the sweet one that is always the most concerned for everyone and their happiness and is the most sympathetic to others.  She has a natural "take care of you" aura and heals hearts where ever she goes.  As Sarah is still under the age of 8 she had a big party this year and invited lots of new friends she made since being in the Nashville area.  The kids enjoyed some games  like Musical Statues, Simon Says, Pass the Parcel and they also played Just Dance on the Wii. July 13th!

One of my favorite things about Sarah's party was seeing this beauty, Gentry, carry our Fluffy around all day like this.  :-)

Sarah's choice last year was a dolphin cake.  Not as exciting as perhaps many children's cakes, but with a no food coloring restriction, i think it came out pretty good.  :-)

Then we have my eldest child and most social of the crew, Immanuel.  Iman turned 11 last year......yep making me feel a bit old i guess.  But this will be an exciting year as he prepares himself emotionally and spiritually for when he turns 12 next year and is able to receive the Priesthood and become a Deacon.  Iman showed his maturity to me this year when I asked him what cake he wanted and he said, "surprise me!"  So although i still made it gluten free and food coloring free, i made him a delicious chocolate ganache cake!  YUM! (yep, it was just a little bit what i wanted to eat too.)  ;-)  October 23rd!

AND last, but not least.....Eden, whose birthday was December 5th!  Eden is mature beyond her years and last year turned 10.  Now i have two kids with double digits!  Yikes!  ;-)  We had a fabulous day with a birthday breakfast of french toast followed by dinner at Panda Express.  Instead of a cake,  Eden requested some cupcakes from Gigi's Cupcakes.  Then she went to her Activity Day's girls group at church where she was spoilt some more.  I brought some homemade cupcakes for the girls and leaders to have too.  It was a perfect end to a perfect day.

 Panda Express for yummy orange chicken!

These were the homemade cupcakes (gluten free). :-)