So, what’s been going on?

I can’t believe it’s been almost two weeks since I blogged. That alone shows me that giving up Little Things Thursday was the hard, but right decision for this season of my life.  I want to thank everyone who stopped by to thank me for the 4 years of hosting and those who just generally gave a few words of understanding. Each Thursday since I have missed our little community here, but am so thankful that Tamar is carrying the torch!

I don’t plan to let weeks roll by between blogging like these past couple weeks, but I did just need some time to focus on being the mom and helping my family get started with the new school year.

So, what’s been going on around here lately?

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Our 2016-2017 homeschool year is now in the second week. We’ve started well, but I tell ya, those 6:30 mornings have been hard! Coffee, coffee…and lots of it.

Gracyn begins in September, but she has plenty to work on before the first day.

I’ve also been getting back into a meal planning and cooking routine. I don’t know what it is about summer that makes me say, “meh” to having a plan, but once school begins I become more proactive with making sure I’ve thought through our food situation. Tomato pies with homegrown tomatoes have been on the rotation, and I even attempted a Thai dish this past week. I have some skills to develop on that, but it was a valiant effort.

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We also busied ourselves fulfilling a birthday request for an updated room for Gracyn’s 15th birthday. We realized that this is most likely the last big re-do before decorating a college dorm room. Gah! Seriously?

I mean, we do have 3 full years before we need to send one off to college, but I know how this time thing works. Tapestry and bedding are from Urban outfitters. There are fairy lights around the perimeter of the room, and a desk to the right of the door for all those studying days ahead.

And speaking of studying…the PSAT is October 15th and Gracyn is studying for her driver’s permit. I truly am in some alternate universe, it seems. I’ve definitely turned a parenting bend in the road and have no idea what I am doing or how to make sure we are on top of all the stuff! #firstkid

We are figuring it all out and starting to talk colleges and degrees and scholarships. We are trying to verse ourselves in all of it to make sure we make the most out of each step in the process.

We bought study guides and SAT vocabulary cards to get going on prep.  Got tips? Send them my way.

That’s our slice of the world these last couple weeks and it surely feels like new territory in so many ways. I guess that will be lots of blog about in the days ahead!

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Little Things Thursday

What a week for us all here in the U.S. of A. I’m sure many of you are as heavy- hearted and discouraged as I am this week with all the tragedies unfolding out of Orlando this week. Perhaps more than ever we need our Little Things this week to remind us that even in an ugly world, there are still good things to be found. Grace is still keeping us. We really need to put on our grace googles going forward, I think. It is so easy to get bogged down in this broken world, but I think we need to do a better job of lighting the way through the darkness for others.

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To that end, a few nice things this week.

  1. Rain. Though this caused a session reschedule, we really needed a good soaking rain.
  2. Making memories for families. The gift of portraits is so important and I love that I am able to design some beautiful memories for others.
  3. Good food. Summer is such a wonderful time to enjoy the fresh bounties of the earth. God is good.
  4. My first Erin Condren planner arrived. The search for a great tool for staying on top of life is quite a feat. I’m excited to try out this planner for the rest of this year and all of next. So far, in my few hours of exploring it, I am enjoying the fun design, colors, and functionality. I can reduce the number of sticky notes floating around my office, though I still love those, too. Interested in trying your own EC Planner? You can get a $10 discount with my referral code. You get $10 and I get $10!

 

What’s your little thing this week?


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Little Things Thursday

Welcome to Little Things Thursday, the linky where we share the little things that are making us currently happy through images and words.

This week has been busy with getting the kids back and forth to VBS. They are enjoying their week, while I am enjoying a little time to work on a few things.

Some things I am currently enjoying this week are:

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I’m only halfway through, but I’m learning a couple of fun ways of approaching the topic of happiness. Gretchen Rubin is a podcaster that I have recently been introduced to and her thoughts on the tendencies of people are intriguing. I really love the topic of personality. So, I decided to pick up a couple of her books for summer reading. Rubin essentially selected 12 things she desired to improve in her life to work on over the course of a year. She breaks each of those topics down to tell how she approached the changes. The biggest take away that I’ve learned so far is to “act the way you want to feel”. Yes. I think this is such great advice. You know? 

Speaking of podcasts…

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I found another fun one called Sorta Awesome. You can find it in iTunes. Megan Tietz used to write for the blog Sorta Crunchy, and has now developed to a full-time podcaster. I’ve added this to my exercise podcast-listening rotation. If you like podcasts, check this one out.

Finally, my three kiddos and I are preparing to head out on June 25th to Cherokee, NC. to assist with hosting a VBS program with kids living in the Cherokee nation. My daughter has participated twice, and this will be my boys’ first trip, of many, I’m sure. I will be helping with the documentation of the week, while our kids serve the kids from the reservation. Everyone is looking forward to the time. Oh and yeah…the little one here has a busted forehead after a run in with an exercise band. He is all glued up and on the mend. This kid…

How’s your summer going? What’s making you happy this week?


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Little Things Thursday

Welcome back to Little Things Thursday! I think we are starting to settle in to our summer groove. I usually take a full week between school’s end and really delving in to summer to get my life straight. This year it was all about decluttering, a sort of refresher for the home after a year of being on the go. It feels so great to have aired out the home, so to speak.

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And we brought some life back to our backyard. Memorial Day weekend had the whole family out weeding, mulching, and potting flowers. I love bringing some life back to our dull post winter yard each year. We have several tomato plants in the ground and that, besides our berry bushes, will be the only vegetables we plant this year. They are pretty much the only veggie with any sort of success rate around here. And by here, I mean with us. We are a bit brown and green with the thumbs. You just never know…

How was your Memorial Day weekend?


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Kondo-ed…an update.

It’s been a week since I began my decluttering process the KonMari way. You may remember my mentioning it last week on Little Things Thursday and I promised you an update after reading the entire book and applying what I learned. I found the whole thing life changing in terms of how I view things.

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Last week there were mixed reactions to the book. Most people who left comments were fairly on board with simplifying while a few others were thinking that decluttering was the last thing on their to do lists. There is no judgement either way because the real purpose of the book is not to force you to discard items you really love, but to help you make sure that you are surrounding yourself with things that “spark joy”.

Personally, I was not as joyful with my surroundings as I could be. I knew that we had some excess baggage that felt more like an anchor than a bolster of joy. In an effort to give us space to pursue our true passions, I needed to spend less time managing items. If we can’t steward and store things well, then they must be superfluous to our lives. Storage is just a bandage to the bigger problem of excess.

I spent a full week purging every single room and closet. I took a serious look at each item, as the method suggests, and asked myself if the items “sparked joy”. I did feel a little foolish verbalizing the question, but it was so helpful. Marie suggests starting with categories, not rooms. You begin with clothing, move to books, papers, misc. items, and then on to nostalgia. Never start with nostalgia if you want to make it through the discarding process. You end with it because by the time you get to your nostalgia, you’ve honed the skill of knowing what brings you joy. Nostalgia is the most guilt inducing category, so you want to have your brave pants on before tackling it. This works! The only item I disagree with tossing in this department is photographs, obviously. I mean there may be some you could let go of, if you don’t even know what they are. However, we do need to be better about taking hundreds of nothing shots. And we do need to be better about giving our photographs that spark joy places of honor by displaying them. That’s my high horse.

I also love how Marie gives you permission to just let go of anything you have buyer’s remorse over. So often we hang on to things simply because we feel guilty about wasting money on it, even though we know we secretly hate it and will never use it. Or maybe we just have ambivalence about it and store it simply because it’s not that bad and maybe we will use it “someday”. She redeems those poorly purchased items buy telling us that we were taught that we don’t like shirts with patterns, or plaid doesn’t look good on us. We learned what not to buy next time! Or maybe we can let go of something because it’s purpose was already fulfilled by bringing us joy in the past, so we can let it go now because we are no longer gaining joy from it.

I discarded about 10-15 bags of garbage items and made a couple Goodwill donation trips. Remember, I’ve never been a pack rat. Still, I had that much miscellaneous garbage and unused items stuffed in drawers, closets, and spaces. It has been so freeing to give it up. Some things I just decided I could live without. We weren’t using them and there was no reason to keep them. We reached the place of “enough” and “joyful”. Everything has a designated home. If you discard thoroughly and put everything you keep away, you will stay decluttered. As the theory goes… So far so good in our home.

The tip on folding clothing has been revolutionary. I never knew I had that much available drawer space until I folded the KonMari way. Try it…it’s amazing. If this is all you gain from the book, you won’t be sorry.

Lastly, I truly believe this method will stay with me if I simply ask myself when purchasing, “does this spark joy?” I think I will know immediately if the items are needed, bring me joy, or if I am seeking to soothe some fleeting emotion inside instead. I will teach my kids to ask the same question, even if I gave them the items. No guilt. I don’t want them navigating their adult lives feeling bound to stuff. Sometimes I think we all just need permission to throw stuff away and to have less. It is a bit counter-cultural to think this way. We have to learn to carry memories and experiences without all the tchotchkes. Unless they really spark joy! I have a few items from Thailand that are joyful for me like my Celadon tea set from Chiang Mai. I prefer to buy one really great thing over a 100 little nothings.

If you took a look around my home today, you would not see sparse minimalism. You would see essentialism. Though, I can get on board with both and be happy. The bottom line for me is having freedom to follow passions without the anchor of stuff.  Beautiful essentials are all I need. I love that take away from reading the book.

One thing I am not addressing here are the chapters that touch on some of the Japanese spiritual philosophies regarding things as living beings. This is briefly mentioned and from the perspective of a Japanese author. This subject is beyond the point of the book, in my opinion. If you want to ask me about those from my Christian perspective, I’m happy to share my thoughts with you.

Grab this book if you are serious about decluttering and simplifying your space. You can find the book on Amazon. Link is an affiliate link. Purchases made through this link do bring a few pennies my way and support this blog. Thank you.

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Little Things Thursday

Welcome back to Little Things Thursday. It’s officially summer for us here and that means it is time to gather books for summer reading!

I bought three this week.

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The first one I’m reading is the life-changing magic of tidying up, the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo. This is better known as The KonMari Method.

I’m only a couple chapters in and this probably isn’t the book for the faint of heart, except you probably should still read it if you desire to truly declutter your life. Now, I am not a person who anyone would ever accuse of being messy or keeping clutter. However, I still find myself spending way too much time managing and cleaning things because I live with others. I’ve made peace with the fact that things will need to be constantly cleaned because we use them. That’s fine. What is really eating at me is the incessant managing of stuff. That tells me one thing. We have too much stuff.

Again, by comparison, we don’t have that much. Yet, if I find myself spending a lot of time managing our things, we should have less things to ease that burden. Managing is just not how I want to spend my time. When I really break things down, I want to enjoy living with intention and purpose. I don’t want to be an owner of a lot of things. I don’t want to work hard to buy a bigger house so that we can fill it with even more things. So that I can manage more things. Or better yet, be owned by more things. That just doesn’t fit who I am at my core. But, it is so easy to get caught up in the urgency to have, isn’t it? I mean, we are getting fed that lie of urgency to have the latest and greatest at every turn. And, I’m not even talking about the things we really put to use and find value in. I’m talking incidentals that slowly creep in to our space and take over.

I like nice things, but I don’t really value stuff. I like a nice meal, a nice glass of red wine, or travel to experience a culture. I like nice, but I don’t like accumulating things, unless they truly serve me. I want our things to serve us and bring us joy, not end up being a monkey on our backs. I want the freedom to pursue the truly important things. That’s what this book seeks to help you discover, in part. There is a bit of Japanese philosophy woven in the pages, but there are some core principles that can be applied no matter who you are.

The thing I am enjoying about this book is the way it forces you to strip down to your core values, and when you do, you know where to invest. I like that.

I also appreciate how Kondo challenges every other decluttering tip you’ve ever heard and explains how they just don’t work. It’s fascinating and I totally see the points she is making against those things we have heard our whole lives: one room at a time, one thing in, one thing out, storage, box it up for 6 months, etc… Kondo takes a more comprehensive approach to clutter.

I’ll be sure to share more as I journey further in and apply the principles.

Share your thoughts on this book, clutter, or what’s on your summer reading list! Book link is affiliated link with Amazon. A few pennies from sales directly support this blog.


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Little Things Thursday

Welcome back to Little Things Thursday where we share the little things of life through our images and words. I have a lot of little things swirling around in my head over the last few weeks, though I haven’t necessarily captured them all. This week, I thought I’d do a “currently” theme to encompass the bits and bobs I’m thinking about.

But first, a collage.

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Currently:

Celebrating: Today is Gracyn’s last day of her Freshman year. We made it! I remember this time last year fretting over the changes ahead and this year has been positive and challenging. Hard to believe I now have a rising SOPHOMORE. What?

Considering: Simplicity. Really tossing around what it means to simplify our lives. I will begin with a bit of de-cluttering this summer. I’m not much of a clutter collector, but I know I can take a still simpler route to managing our stuff. Really, I feel managed by stuff and I think it needs to be the other way around. Yet, I don’t want to give up too much precious time managing things. I’m feeling like there just isn’t enough margin for the things I most want out of life because of the time spent managing things and being managed by programs. I want margin!

Enjoying: The Simple Show podcast and a huge influence in the above ^^^. I really enjoy listening to this podcast during my walks. Truly fascinating ideas. Some taken and some tossed, but yeah…good stuff. Give it a try… unless you love stuff and busyness…might not be for you.

Habit To Improve: Drinking water. I’m really bad at this and concluded that the best way for me to get my water down is with a cute cup with a straw.

Summer Goal: Feeding my soul. I’ve realized that there are so many things rattling my soul lately and I’d much rather feed my soul that have it sucked away from me. What I mean by soul is not so much in the spiritual sense, because that’s a constant. But, I mean those things that chip away at who I am constitutionally (personality, purpose, vision, dreams, etc…). I think it is a good thing to have your soul rattled from time to time to remind you of who you really are, what you are about, and to adjust if off course. I simply need to be a better steward of my heart, soul, and mind.

Looking forward to: My garden. We have a bit of work to do, but I can’t wait for our tomatoes, berries, and herbs to start coming in.

Well, that’s just a few of the things I’m chewing on lately. How about you?

 


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Little Things Thursday

Hello, Little Things Thursday Friends! I hope y’all are having a great week and if you are like us, heading off to Spring Break!

We are off to the gulf coast of Florida this afternoon as soon as Gracyn gets out of school.

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We are all excited about a little downtime to just swim, collect shells, and breathe. Slow mornings on my in-laws’ lanai sipping coffee sound just about perfect!

Come follow along on Instagram if you feel inclined!

What’s up for you this coming week?


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Little Things Thursday

Stuff happens. Like when your daughter’s phone ends up in the washing machine…

Yep, that happened this week and became the reason I was able to do this for myself.

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Shameless plug included.

Thank goodness for an available upgrade which allowed me to give my daughter my iPhone 5s, and get the big Bertha for myself. Truth told, I needed to upgrade because my eyes at this age need to see everything in LARGE format. Amen? Amen.

It’s a win for far-sighted eye-strain sufferers everywhere.

What kind of stuff is happening this week for you?


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Our House…

In the middle of our street…

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…on a Tuesday morning…

Linking with Songography and Black and White Wednesday

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