Finding Balance is a Gift

The windows are open, at least for a couple hours on this warm January afternoon. The backyard fountain is running, reminding me of summertime when it flows nonstop. Our new deck is finished and, with the sliding door open, I’m thinking about the next season and using this space that has been too unsound for us to enjoy since moving in.

img_3388During quiet rest, Bea curled up next to me with her pile of books while I read Rising Strong. I debated sending her into the playroom, which is our usual quiet rest custom. Both of us need time apart, time to reenergize. But I’ve been thinking about kindergarten a lot lately and how these days together are quickly coming to an end. So we snuggled and read and were just together for a while.

I’ve drafted several blog posts lately but none of them seem right. Perhaps it’s because of my helpers, never far, always talking. Perhaps it’s because when I want to write something deep and profound and yet also encouraging, I’m just too tired.

Like everyone else, the news is exhausting. I wake up in the morning wondering, what next? A friend recently wished we could return to the days when Facebook was newborns and what we ate for dinner. And while part of me wishes for that too, I also recognize the privilege I have in being able to turn it off. I don’t need to check the news all that often because the news doesn’t really directly impact me.

But I also recognize this reality and am finding this balance. Of feeling grateful that our lives continue without too much impact. And of finding ways to instill important values. How do I want my daughters to remember this time? How do I want them to view their childhood? What do I want our family story to say?

So, with these windows open and the true blessing of sitting at a big work table with my daughters working next to me, I’m thankful for our life right now. For the ability to enjoy this day and these moments. And I’m also looking into ways we can spend our money to support those who are far more equipped and qualified to fight injustice. I’m emailing organizations about volunteering our time as a family.

I’m remembering that finding the balance is a gift I’ve been given. And I don’t take that lightly at all.

How are you finding ways to balance the news and balance your outlook on life? What is your best way to practice perspective?

Toasting the Everyday

This week, I celebrated my birthday – I am now in my mid-thirties. (I guess. When is that “cutoff”?) It’s funny how birthdays can take on a theme. For Bea’s first birthday, somehow she ended up with almost all giraffe-themed gifts from growth charts to tricycles.

Rim-1762.jpgThis year, my theme was champagne. I got some new flutes and a half a case of “everyday” champagne. Years ago, I had read something about celebrating the everyday moments by toasting with champagne. I loved that idea and we’ve been on the lookout for a good but less expensive champagne to keep in our house for those everyday moments.

While I love Veuve Clicquot and Dom Perignon, I love the idea of celebrating even more. So, we found a tasty sparkling wine and have stocked up.

Frank asked me my goals for this year and – in the midst of babyhood and preschoolhood and early motherhood – I find them to be a bit less specific and more nebulous. My goals are so intertwined with my family’s goals and at this stage, it’s hard to create a SMART goal around a 3-year-old.

So, a goal this year is to be present. To celebrate more. To recognize the amazing milestones and achievements that happen so often and yet so often go unnoticed.

Do you have a favorite Champagne? How do you take time to celebrate the everyday moments?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing. Today’s prompt is Present.

Taking Time to Party

Yesterday at our first MOPS meeting, our “creative director,” Carolyn had us make a party kit. In a ziplock, we put everything we need to have an instant celebration – streamers, a card, balloons… The idea is to take time to celebrate small, everyday moments. A goal achieved, a good day, a string of bad days that need a good day, or simply that it’s Friday.

IMG_8656I love this idea and even just having the bag on our kitchen counter has been a tangible reminder to celebrate the small moments. We’re in the midst of the tax extension deadlines. While not as crazy as tax season itself, Frank is working late and our family dynamic has changed.

Remembering those small moments is what makes crazy time special. We won’t be able to have a full family day together or even daily family meals perhaps, but we can make the time we’re together a celebration.

We just finished up potty training and celebrations were part of our daily routine for a couple weeks. Chocolate chips were handed out and lots of hoorays! and I’m so proud of you! were shared. Now that Bea is into the routine on her own, we’ve stopped celebrating her achievement, but maybe I need to find a new one. It was a reminder to say hooray! to the mundane, the things I take for granted.

How do you celebrate the everyday moments?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.

What I’m Into 1:14

I always like reading what people are “into” over at Leigh Kramer’s, so I thought I’d link up this month. January is one of my favorite months. Not only is it a new year, but it’s my birthday month. Lots of champagne and goal setting over here! It’s also the last month before tax season, so we try to pack in more family time, which I love.

Books: Finished & In Progress
I finally jumped on the Shauna Niequist bandwagon and read Cold Tangerines. Usually I’m not a fan of conversational-memoirs, but I connected with many of the stories and found myself wanting to read more. I also finished The Millionaire Next Door, from our Reading Challenge. It was insightful, but I realized I am not a fan of too many tables! (Those are what Frank loved most from the book.)

Book Club Books: Both are yet to be discussed, but Daring Greatly by Brené Brown is worth the hype! Easy to read and I see myself rereading sections in the future. I want to print her parenting manifesto to hang in my kitchen. I also just finished Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo. Such a fascinating look in the the slums of Mumbai. And, though it certainly doesn’t paint a romantic picture, I appreciate how she focuses on the day-to-day. My weekly book club is into Christena Cleveland’s Disunity In Christ. It’s a very thought provoking read, and a great follow-up to our last book, The Next Evangelicalism.

I’m also currently reading Djuna Barnes’ Collected Stories. Usually I love short stories, but this is taking a long time to get through. Some of the magic is starting to fade…

Screen Time
Since we’re in the midst of toddlerhood, we rarely watch movies. We did finally watch Bernie on Netflix, and it was perfect. I love quirky, dark comedies and I especially loved that this was a true story. We’re also in Season 4 of Doctor Who. It’s been a fun way to unwind after Bea goes to bed, though we’ve each had some pretty intense dreams as a result… We’ve never really been TV watchers, and now we are entering “totally out of touch” status.

Food
We are finally meal planning consistently and I love it! We’re eating so much more healthfully. We utilize our new Crock Pot at least once a week (always on book club nights!) and that’s been a great way to still get a bit of a “family dinner” on busy nights. We’ve been getting most of our recipes out of the Crock Pot Vegetarian recipe book. Now that we’re in the thick of winter, we always make at least one recipe a week with our French oven, using Glorious One Pot Meals. It’s rarely let us down! (Our favorite: African Peanut Stew. So good on a snowy night!)

Blogging
Two blogs stuck with me this month: Jason Boyett, over at A Deeper Story wrote about the balance of time and technology. It was great food for thought, especially as Bea will ask for an iPad to play games, and we don’t even own one. Glennon Melton wrote a beautiful tribute to her child’s teacher. I love reading positive affirmations of hardworking teachers! Over here, my own favorite was on Being Human, though the most popular was Identity.

Day to Day
Our furnace of 30 years went out the other day (of course!) The plus side? We decided to add central air conditioning and Bea was in heaven watching the men remove three furnaces dating back to 1951 from our crawl space. (Apparently, they were always left for the next owners…) Some of her favorite words right now are “heavy,” “dump,” and “truck,” so she gave a running commentary of the events. My other favorite phrase is when she brings us all together for a “group hugger.” She turned 18 months last week – time is flying!

"Men! Dump! Truck! Heeavy!!"
“Men! Dump! Truck! Heeavy!!”

What about you? What are you into these days?

Head over to Leigh’s Link-Up for other fun books, activities, and goings-on from January.