Set Phasers to Shop.

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I am linking up with Williams-Sonoma today to talk about love and marriage, and this little bonus:

The Wedding Registry!! Yippeeeeeee!!!

Or:

How to Sign up for Some Serious Loot for Your Registry While Not Wanting to Taze Your Sweet  Husband-to-Be In the Process

The hubster and I have been married now some six years* or so. We still like to think of ourselves as newlyweds. He still searches me out across a crowded room. I still blush when he looks my way.

Of course, most of the searching is because he wants help with taking our two boys to the potty. Often I am blushing because I feel premenstrual and my hormones are on attack mode.

But, you know, the magic is there. It is. It’s just buried under two loads of laundry and the cat. But I swear, it’s THERE SOMEWHERE.

Those many years ago, when I had ambushed him, and we were heading towards wedded bliss, we ventured out together for a one of the most momentous events in our lives as a couple:

Gun zap wedding registration!

You know the drill, you married folk. You get together and walk into the store, all giggly and hand-holdy, and some poor store clerk tries to explain how to work the registration gun of bliss, and you don’t really listen, because your sweetie is holding your hand, and sometimes you just like standing next to him because he smells so goooooood, and this is going to be fun fun FUN!

And it is. For about ten minutes.

And then, if you’re like me (bless your heart if you are) you get bored. And also, you realize you don’t really need a crossbow and target (because you decided to start in the back of the store and work to the front). In fact, you don’t really need anything in the Sports and Outdoors section of this large store, but that’s when you hear these fated words from the increasingly annoying husband-to-be:

“We have a gun that ZAPS things! Honey! Lookit! I. Must. ZAP IT ALLLLLL!!”

I was trying to sneak a plastic mallard decoy back to the shelf, and I glared at him. He looked kinda like this:

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With great power comes great responsibility, Kirkie.

Or maybe it was more like:

PHASR-phaser-rifle

Lookit! My zapper is bigger than your zapper!

I do see the irony now, that we started in the Weapons of Mass Destruction section of the store, because the man was on a serious mission now to dispatch the entire store into our registry. ALL of it. From bicycle pumps to WD-40.

And who doesn’t need a little extra WD-40 around the house? Why NOT register for it?

Here’s why:

IT’S JUST WRONG, that’s why.  That’s all I am going to say about that.

Except, that day, in that store, while I watched my fine-analysis future husband as he was reading the ingredient listing on TRAIL MIX, I did NOT stop at “This is just wrong.”  My hubs-to-be got a full view of how his wife-to-be reacts when I don’t agree with something.  I must explain, in full detail and with subheadings and some black and white illustrations, how I am always right.

I know. Who wouldn’t want to marry that?

Don’t worry. It all turned out OK. We went ahead with the marriage because, well, I still thought he was cute and all.

And we loved each other like crazy.

If you would like to survive the registry without a meltdown in the automotive aisle (and yes, you can put Pennzoil on the list, if you like, but only if you want me to follow you around in your head with a lecture), follow this simple list.

Here’s how to Keep the Romance in the Registry:

1. Take a minute and look over your stuff. Take an informal survey. Does your betrothed have a toaster? Do you own a great coffee maker? Do you really need to register, then, for a coffee maker that also makes toast and sings the “Good Morning” song from Singin’ in the Rain? Probably not. (Although, seriously? This item does sound kinda awesome.)

2. Go ahead and register for a toaster, however, if the betrothed has not ever cleaned his, and the last time he used it was to kill a cockroach. In it. Don’t ask.

3. Actually make a list of needs and wants beforehand. If you’re all, “But, that’s not fun! That’s not romantic! We just need to be relaxed about this! Lists are for people who have given up on spontaneity!” Just stop it. Lists are helpful. They are not the Ten Commandments, people. You can still STRAY from the list, but think of it as a way to not try hitting your sweet fiance over the head with a large pack of M and M’s (“But honey! They are so good! And healthy! There’s peanuts in there! Someone is sure to get them for us!” Someone did.)

4. Allow for silliness. Go ahead and allow the goofy for a few items. Register for a game of Operation, and let him register for the M and M’s. Think this ratio:  60% needed, 30% wanted, 12% weirdness.

Allow yourself a moment to realize that this ratio also works a lot for marriage in general.

5. Consider your match. Test him. Use the following terms in casual conversation: “duvet covers,” and “full place setting with charger.” If your spousal-other only blinks rapidly in consternation, you have some work to do. Start slow. Discuss matching towels and go from there. Whatever you do, DON’T bring up “monogrammed linens.” and “bamboo salt cellars.” It might make his head explode.

If you are both a bit lost, look up stores that you love, and peruse their goods for places to start.

Wander over to Williams-Sonoma wedding registry site for some great ideas and inspiration.

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Williams-Sonoma has a great registry favorites page! And I so wish I had registered for that mixer. Anyone feeling like sending a very late wedding gift?

And remember: Relax and consider that monogrammed linens are not the end result here. They are just frosting on the glorious, yummy marriage cake!

A cozy, happy, loving home for two is the main idea. But the registry is a great place to start frosting your future cake of love, people.

Happy registering!

* Incidentally, my sweet prince just interrupted to let me know that we have been married eight years. Not six. Yep. The romance is clearly still alive. Just not my long-term memory.

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Mom Essentials

 

 

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Joining up with Kasey Johnson on her Mom Essentials Blog Tour today!  I am thrilled to be invited along!

Six a.m.   I am shellacked to my bed like a bug on a windshield.  I have a cold.  My head feels like a watermelon, and I have just peered at the clock with one squinty eye, praising Jesus that I have at least one more hour of solid rest before we’re off to the toddler races.

Except, there is this strange sort of snuffling noise by my ear.  A decidedly wet noise.  It is exactly the noise a desperate toddler makes when he is in his pre-meltdown, sup-sup stage we moms refer to as:  Before the Sobbing Hits Us All.

I slowly turn my head and there, nose to nose with me, is Red, quivering in toddler anguish: “I have to tell you sumthin.  Icanna find my purple round fighter thing, and I weally NEED it.”  I must have looked rather dubious (ticked off).  So, he took a deep, shuddery breath, pressed his damp face on mine and wailed:  “IT’S VERY SPECIAL TO MEEEEEEEE!

Let’s back up:  I have no idea, but I think he might be referring to some made-in-China broke-down piece of a toy that he got at McDonald’s about three months ago.   It is not even a toy in its entirety.  It is an EX toy.  For some toddlered nutball reason this morning it had turned into a Raiders of the Lost Ark epic quest to find it. Except without the cool opening sequence in the temple with the gold idol thingie.

It is then that I might have spoken rather tersely about priorities and how sleep is WEALLY special, and how maybe he could just wait to look for it, like, after coffee?

This took the slobberyness up to a level orange on the danger alert system.  Evidently, this toy was essential.

Wailing followed.  From Red, too.

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No. Really. You deserve a break today.

 

Parenting is a constant epic quest to figure out what is important vs. what is not.  Every DAY I am presented with my own weally weally important things (Moisturizer?  Yep?  Shower today?  No time.  Bible with a side of 6 cups of coffee? YEP.  Planking?  Noooooo.)

And that’s just by 7 a.m.  As the day wears on, Momsie starts to get overwhelmed by more weally important choices:

  • Cheerios?  GMO laden.  Cancer circles.

  • Prayer time with the kids?  Yes, but one kid just smacked the cat with his  bible.  Um, timeout first?  Or do I just lay hands on him and grimly pray for his toddler soul?

  • Some TV? No TV? TV ALL THE LIVE LONG DAY?

  • Wailing and slamming doors from upstairs?  Do I let them keep Conan the Barbarianing it up there and hope they make it out for dinner?

  • One child keeps playing hide and seek all by himself?  Should I call a psychologist?  Is it a phase?  Maybe I should try it?

  • Organic? Or college fund?

GOOD HEAVENS.  WHERE DO I START?

 

We start with the essentials.

 

Kasey Johnson’s new book, Mom Essentials –  10 Words Successful Mothers Live By,   encourages us on our way.  She speaks simply and eloquently about her own Mom walk, and how finding a path paired with her 10 Essential Words has helped her live a life truly tuned in to what matters.

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Kasey Johnson

As a Beacon Press Off the Shelf blogger, I had the wonderful opportunity to interview her about Mom Essentials.  Here are some of her thoughts about her book:

1. Your first essential you chose for the book is about balance. Why did you start here?

Being a mom means we take care of others. I’ve talked with too many women who lose themselves in their daily tasks and the constant routine that is present when raising young children. When our children grow older, their dependence on us changes and that change can seem impossible to accept if we never established who we were before we became a mom. Through scripture and prayer we are better able to maintain a balance between what we do and who we are.

2. In this chapter you suggest that “when we write things down, we keep our memories and our perspectives in check.” Do you journal? How has writing helped your relationship with God? Any suggestions for how to get started or stay consistent with writing or journaling?

My mother gave me my first journal when I was 8 years old. Journaling each night became a habit and it’s followed me into adulthood. As a working mom journaling has lost its consistency, but not its priority in my life. I have a sturdy notebook I keep in my car (that’s where I tend to live most of the time). It’s more like a composition book so the pages aren’t removable, but it’s a great resource to have close by when I want to remember a situation, a funny comment, a challenge, a Bible verse – ANYTHING that presents as significant in my life is written down. Sometimes I flip through the journal and read my thoughts, frustrations, challenges and praises. Remembering these moments brings a kind of encouragement that can only be appreciated when I compare my present with my past. I try to remember that journaling doesn’t have to be lengthy, poetic writing. Instead I use my journal as a place where I can be honest and put my thoughts down on paper so they won’t keep rattling around in my head.

3. Your description of “success” for moms describes a daily progression (a long one, usually) – we are becoming, not being. Could you give some advice and encouragement for moms who are struggling with this concept – that our walk to success is a process? (Ahem. This question is for ME. Progress not perfection… 🙂

Okay, first off – I am sooooo excited you read that part! I’m always hoping women hear my desire to not think about success as perfection – you’re exactly right – it’s a process.

I hope I’m not the only one who dies a little inside when I see a celebrity who is a new mom plastered on the cover of a magazine in a bikini. She looks amazing and in response I look down at my sweats and grab a bag of Peanut M&Ms! Sometimes we feel pressure to be all things to all people and in turn we stop being ourselves. I will always strive to do my best but I refuse to allow someone else’s expectations to determine my priorities.

4. How did you learn all your organizational skills? Is it just a natural talent?

I’ll be honest – part of it just comes naturally. I’m a type-A control freak but it’s funny how becoming a mom changed my focus and priorities.

For example: Our house is a type of magnet for all the neighborhood kids. I love that they feel comfortable at our house and our door is usually open. But I grew weary of the kids coming, tearing into the toys and then running off. None of them could read so I turned to pictures. My boys and I spent a day organizing toys by theme and had a blast setting up scenes for us to photograph. We printed the pictures and taped them on the bins (I’ll try and put some pictures in this document so you can use them if you’d like). I had a problem – kids weren’t cleaning up because they said they didn’t know where everything went. So I created a solution and I taught my kids to take things one bin at a time and I removed their excuses. Even today I will ask my boys to clean up a room or an area and I’ll hear them call out, “I’ll take care of the blankets!”, “I’ve got the costumes!” or “I’ll take the clothes upstairs!” – I just smile as I listen. I’ve taught them how to manage a room, to manage things and not allow the things to manage them.

I only care about being organized because I know if I keep grip on the things in our life they can’t create problems for the people in my life.

5. What’s next for you? Do you have any other books in the works?

I am working on the next 3 books in the “Essentials Series”. These books cover topics like discipline, school issues and parenting stages. It’s an exciting time but I’m taking things one year at a time. I might not be able to write these books for quite a while, but I’m loving the content my children are providing each day – it’s amazing how I can feel called to write about a topic but then God requires me to wait (sometimes years) to truly find the content and direction He desires. It’s tough for me to be patient, but I see how much better this project is because I didn’t rush things.  People always come first and I’m praying God will continue to guide me and keep me focused on the essentials.

 

Thank you, Kasey for the interview!

For you tired, you poor, you huddles masses of overwhelmed Momsies out there – take an afternoon, make a cup of tea, put your feet UP, maybe even allow a little toddler tv, and just read this book.  It will be a balm for your soul.

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Simplicity NOW!

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This magazine is very aloof. It has issues. (GET IT?)

 

Once, long ago, before I had children,  I did things like:

  • Read The New Yorker.  All of it.  Even the parts I didn’t understand.
  • Cooked elaborate meals with creamy sauces and green things and then:
  • Ate those meals, on the couch,  while watching equally saucy television shows  AND NOT ONCE DID I GET UP.
  • Sleep.

I like to refer to this era in my life as:

The Time Before Children Came Along and Smacked Me Upside the Head with Their Nerf Swords. *

 

So now I have kids. Yep.  You guessed it. This is another post about how kids came along and blew it my life to smithereens.

They blew up the quiet time and my cute house and all my sassy shoes (heels?  HEELS? Too much of my life is block and tackle.)  They blew up menu plans and vacation plans and they really really blew up my body.  Totally did a number on it.  Blammo.

And I accept it (granted, with a lot of snark and some occasional whining) because really?  I love them like crazy.  (The lawyer is again rolling his eyes all over the place.  Appropriate descriptor, he says.)

At night I go in and look at their soft little faces and gorgeous eyelashes and  listen to their sweet little snufflings and just wonder at it all.  And then, I always ask the inevitable question that I think all parents have wondered at some point:

WHY can’t they stay asleep like, ALL THE TIME?  Every major offense they did today is totally erased when I just look at them sleeping!  They are so CUTE!  This would make it all so much SIMPLER!!!

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Corie Clark, author of The Simplicity Project, offers some better options for snagging some elusive Simplicity.  I think she’s really hit on something that most moms long for:  PEACE AND QUIET, FOR PETE’S SAKE.  And maybe that peace and quiet should start in us.  The fact that we are surrounded by whirling toddlers who leave chaos and Legos (and sometimes clothing) in their wake is not really the issue.

It starts with us.

This book is a simple (yes, intended) and practical look at how Corie’s own “Simplicity Project” helped her find that peace she longed for.  I had the opportunity to interview her recently about this book and wanted to share with you some of her thoughts about finding our true purpose, while not letting “life get in the way of living.”

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?  Your family? Your hobbies?  If you were a tree, what kind of tree.. (just kidding)?

I was born and raised in California. I have been married to my best friend, Ryan for 17 years. We have 3 kids ages 9, 12, and 14. We moved from Northern California to Southern California 3 years ago and love living here. When I’m not busy homeschooling my kids or writing, you can find me at the beach. Whether it’s 50 degrees or 100 degrees, the ocean is my favorite place to be.
What inspired you to write The Simplicity Project?

I’ve actually been working on a different book for quite some time and just always had an excuse to not work on it. I never had enough time and seemed to be constantly living in chaos. I decided in February to simplify my life. This was more than just organizing. It was simplifying my health, my home, my finances, and my time. I needed some room to breathe and some room to work on my dreams and live out my purpose.

 Could you explain your writing practice? Do you write at a consistent time every day? How do you find the time?

I WISH I could say I have a certain time I write every day. I do try to write something every day but some days it just ends up being a journal entry. When I am disciplined with getting up early in the morning I’ll have my quiet time and then write. But other times, something just comes to me and I have to get it down on paper before I forget. I imagine that someday when the kids are grown, I’ll spend more time on it. Right now, it’s just a matter of setting aside a little time every day to keep at it.

Do you have a favorite chapter of your book?

I’ve never thought of a favorite chapter. I think if I had to pick it would be the section on time. It really is so important. If we don’t figure out who we are and what our roles are, we can end up wasting time and money on things that aren’t important.

Is there a least favorite? One that was hardest to write, for some reason?

I guess finances are my least favorite thing EVER. It is an area that I still struggle with. If I don’t have my budget made before my husband gets his paycheck, we’re doomed. It is so important though and when we are disciplined and have a budget, it gives me peace of mind.

What do you have to say to the overworked, overstuffed calendared Mom who doesn’t even feel she has time to read a book about finding time… Any last words of encouragement?

The most important point I try to make in the book is to give yourself grace. Don’t beat yourself up for making bad decisions or for forgetting that load of laundry that’s been sitting for two days. Just start where you are, one baby step at a time. And, if you feel like you don’t have time to read the book, I think you’ll be surprised at how simple of a read it is. I’ve read countless books on organizing, time management, and more. I always quit reading half way through because they’re too long and just complicate things. I kept things as simple as possible so that people can really accomplish something. It’s something that I lived and still practice in my everyday life. I couldn’t let life keep getting in the way of living. You shouldn’t either!

 

Amen, sister.

If you’re interested in ordering Corie’s book, click here, or on amazon.com.  You will be glad you did!

And I leave you with my favorite New Yorker cartoon of all time:

 

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*Nerf swords can pack a serious punch, if you’re not prepared.  So, keep it simple.  Store them on top of the fridge and only bring ’em down when you have had an espresso or are in a really, really good mood.  You’re welcome.

 

Monday Manuscript and Organize Now!

photo 1 (7)Oh little green book of organizing wonders, I have missed you!

Well, sorta.

As you remember, I had been working my way through Jennifer Ford Berry’s book with great intentions.  And no medication was needed!  I just stalwartly followed her instructions about goals and plans and such, and kept calm and organized, I tell you.

Until…  Summertime.

For me, Summertime seems to have the same effect on me as eating s’mores:  Sticky but fun.  Lots of prep work involved.  Pokey things.  And you sure don’t want to do anything industrious after because holy cow SUGAR.  Summer is the same.  It’s fabulous but it gets me all sticky and I just like to sit around in the sun and say things like, “Oh, I’ll get to those eight loads of laundry ina minute.  But first.  Let me paint my toenails with Mac’s Quiet Time (If stressed: Stare at toes.), and then I simply must google the lyrics to Cheeseburger in Paradise.”

 

The innocuous little chapter about the finances?  It was where I hit a snag. We had to take at least three weeks for that one because I have issues with courage and money and (gulp) budgeting and stuff.  It’s a tough thing, to be me at times.  My husband and I had this conversation recently:

Me:  I really need to start working on our budget.

Hubs: Yep!  Have you collected receipts?

Me: Those pieces of paper?  Yes, well, (sniffle) there’s so many of them…  they’re all crinkled….  this is hard.

Hubs:  No problem!  Just keep going and we’ll get a spreadsheet worked up.  I love spreadsheets!

Me: Spreadsheets.  They are  also hard.

Hubs:  Hmmmm.  I can help you?  Would you like a candy bar when we’re done?

Me: (Ears perking.)  Kit Kat?

Hubs:  Sure, honey.

 

Our marriage is based on chocolate bars and lots of circular conversations.  It works for us.

 

So, I am a bit slow on the organizing the finances part.  This is mainly because I am convinced that facing money issues versus just pretending we have Warren Buffet’s checkbook (is he at ALL related to Jimmy Buffet? I have always wondered.  That would be cool.)  is a much better route than, you know,

ACTUALLY DEALING WITH LIFE.

Also:

Summertime.  Summertime blows my ever-loving mind, I tell you.

Know why?

 

CatInPool

I WOULD RATHER GO TO THE POOL.  LIKE ALL THE TIME.  EVERY DAY.

Also, I take my children with me.  Which means:

UTTER EXHAUSTION WHEN WE RETURN.

It kinda cuts into my being productive and running a smooth ship.

Well, to be honest, my ship was never exactly smooth…  Our household kinda ran on the “Hey!  We’re not on the Titanic lifeboat yet! Bonus!! Anchors aweigh!” kind of ship.

This week, I am combining the following chapters from Berry’s book:

Organize Your Receipts (yes, those annoying, crinkley things)

Organize Your Files

 

The good news:  both areas of our household have been nudged/purged/tidied enough by me that taking them both on this week will probably be a snap.

The bad news:  I will eventually have to tackle the husband’s strange filing system.  Over the years I have sloooowly taken over many of his attempts at household management because I am the Master Of This Universe, buddy, and also:  He is an Engineer, albeit a Cute One, and For the Most Part I Just Don’t Get Him.

 

Perhaps it would be a good idea to demonstrate a little marital compromise this week.  I’ll stock up on Kit Kats and make sure to communicate my system.

Wish me luck.

*The lawyer would like to remind me that just because someone does something differently does not mean it’s Wrong.  He also suggested that marriage should not be based on bribery and miscommunication.  I did try to give him a Kit Kat, but he would have none of it.

The weirdo.

 

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Sunday Spruce Up

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This post is brought to you by: Cat Herders United. The world’s oldest profession. Ok. second oldest. You know, for Moms.

I am writing this post with a large cat on me, so I apologize for any impurrfections.  (I know.  It was just too easy.  Please furgive me.  Oops, did it again!  I just CAT help it.)

No.  Don’t leave. I’ll stop.

Anyhoo.  Today is Sunday; my favorite day of the week.  We go to church; I bake sweet stuff; we watch football.  My husband lies on the couch a lot.  I aimlessly walk around and pick up my mug and hoist it into the sink.  Voila!  House tidied.  Back to reading my books and eating sweet stuff.  Rinse, repeat.

Sundays are for REST.  Something my cat is very good at, incidentally.  I try to learn from him.  Currently he is on his back, waving his paws at me for a belly rub.  The lap cat = a daily reminder that we are to REST.  And REST with our entire selves – belly up, paws fluttering, occasionally punctuated with gigantic, fishy yawns.

But since Momsie’s brain can never fully shut off (see industrious in the dictionary), I do always tackle one other sort of “chore” on Sundays:  I plan.

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I take about a good 20 minutes and I sit down (with cat and coffee, preferably not too mingled together) and plan my upcoming week.  I write down in a good, old-fashioned spiral notebook my menu for the week, appointments, tasks I gotta get done, my daily chores, any contacts and emails I need to make.  And then:

I shut my Master Plan, put it away, and go in search of more coffee.  And some Frisky Crispies.  For the CAT.  Not the hubs.  That’s a post for another day.

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This is Master Control. It ain’t pretty, but it knows how to work it.

I am on chapter three of Organize Now!  (My lawyer is nudging me and wants to point out the obvious:   I have been reading this now for SIX weeks, but am still just on… chapter three.  I get the math.  PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION.)

Chapter Three:  Organize Your Cleaning Schedule.

BRILLIANT CHAPTER. Know why? Because I have already done about 90% of it!!!  This book is AWESOME.  It’s like my own personal validation system – at least for this chapter – telling me I’m the Organizing Bombdiggity.  (Again, at least for this chapter.  We all know how long it took me to finish chapter 2 and the dentist appointment thing-y.*)

Some nuggets of wisdom from Jennifer Ford Berry:

  • Save space by minimizing cleaners.  I do this by simply using vinegar and water spray.  I also use old cloth diapers for wipes – we have a kamillion of ’em.  Might as well put them to good use.
  • Take 15 minutes each night to straighten up the house.  I find myself doing this around 4 pm every night. It seems a natural time to do it, you know, when we are all sick of each other, and I need some time alone.  As soon as I mention “clean up” they scatter like crazed minnows. Boom! Quiet time!   (I know.  The lawyer says children should be INCLUDED in clean up.  I do that.  Really.  LAY OFF.)
  • Be a basket case.  Carry a basket around the house while you are cleaning.  I amended this by having a “stairs basket” that is somewhat cute and allows me to throw any odd item in there to go up or down stairs as needed. The items in there right now?  Three logos, some shoes, Spiderman underpants (clean?  One can hope), a matching Spiderman action figure missing one hand (IT’S MINE MOMMY DONT THWOW IT AWAY CUZ I NEEEEEEED IT!) and some rope.  (Rope?) Also, 5 million cat toys.  The cat is way organized.**

I LOVE THIS CHAPTER!  If only I could have skipped Chapter 2 and just doubled up on Chapter 3.

*  Dentist appointment: Root canal.  WAT.  NO.  HELP. March 13.  Prayer vigil will start at March 12 at midnight…

** And, in the delicious knowledge that one can never have too many pictures of CATS that are ORGANIZED, I leave you with this:

  Fifteen Ways to Organize Your Cats

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R is for Re-Gift.

10567114-vintage-typewriter-letter-r-isolated-on-white

Pre kids:

1.  I had better hair.

2.  I would say things like, “I think I’ll hit the hay early tonight!” and the universe didn’t retort with an ominous cackle.

3.  My idea of home decor did not involve huge, red, flashing plastic monstrosities or pointy things to step upon and curse at.  (And yes I KNOW I ended a sentence with TWO prepositions.  Argh.  Do you prefer: “pointy thing on which to step or at which to curse”?  Puh-lease.)

Post Kids:  (or what I fondly refer to as After My Uterus Filed for Social Security):

1.  I talk to my hair now.  I lecture it.  We have a very tense relationship.

2.  I never speak of bedtime or getting sl–p or lack of sl–p.  I know that any sort of verbal mention of That Which We Do At Night But Shall Not Be Named* means the Death Eaters (toddlers) are coming.

3.  I still try with the home decor.  Sometimes I have luck to put some cute item up or about in my house.  But eventually… it gets covered with something large, red, or plastic or moved so that small pointy things can be strewn around it.

Pre Kids, I kinda had this in mind when I imagined my Play Room:

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Look at us! We are well-behaved and our play set costs more than Momsie’s car! We play by sitting still a lot and smiling! No sudden moves! No loud noises!

So.  You can imagine my surprise because it didn’t really work out that way.  I was shocked.

I count myself very lucky because we actually DO have a playroom.  It’s a delightful space up on our top floor with lots of windows and sunlight.  It’s lovely.  That’s if you could actually stop your brain from hurting anytime you go in there because For PETE’S sake WHY must we dump stuff?  WHY?  Why does dumping it all OUT = play?  Do YOU SEE ME come home and take out my computer or my phone and dump them out all over the floor to play with THEM?  NO.  NO YOU DON’T!  CAN’T YOU JUST PLAY LIKE THE CHILDREN IN THE PHOTOGRAPH ABOVE?

Toddlers can take a perfectly clean sunroom and turn it into this within 20 seconds.  TWENTY.

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No, I do not have a before shot. I couldn’t get up the stairs fast enough.

So, about a month ago our family embarked on our yearly tradition:  The Toy Purge.  It’s generally done about a week before Christmas, when the littles are worked up in a Santa Lather about all da toys comin!  With Da wrappings!!  All under da tree!

I like to ride that wave of toy-frenzy and basically get rid of about 60% of their crap before the next onslaught begins.

Here’s how we do it:

The Great Toy Purge of 2013

1.  We talk it up.  A LOT.  Shameless propaganda.  Say things like, “Before Christmas we’re going to have our Give the Toys Away Party!  It’ll be great!  We’ll SHARE OUR TOYS WITH OTHERS!”  Sharing is caring, and all that.  They won’t buy it at all, but they’ll enjoy the theatrics.  Maybe.

2.  When the day comes,  grab three laundry baskets.  Label each:  KEEP, GIVE AWAY, BROKEN.  I had the boys make signs that they thought signified each thing. I did find it amusing that Blonde tried to get Red into the GIVE AWAY basket within about three minutes.  He has a wry sense of humor, that one.

3.  Pray.  I know, for reals.  We sat and prayed before we did this.  My sweet boys talked a bit about giving toys away that they no longer used or had outgrown.  It was adorbs.  Such sweet little hearts.  (And later when one of them is grabbing at some gnawed upon 6 month old RATTLE and shouting, “MINE MINE MINE MY PRESHUSSSSSSSS!”  you can gulp, dial-up that prayer again, and wonder What Would Jesus Do?  I am pretty sure thwacking ’em over the head with a bible is not the answer.)**

4.  Very important: set out a tray for all the toy bits that belong to other toy collections.  Therefore, you don’t get bogged down in finding where the stray phallic bit of white plastic thing -y that your 5-year-old fervently SWEARS belongs to something called “Da wocket set dat is from Grandpa and is da BEST. DIS is not trash!  It GOES to something ELSE.”  Heaven forbid you put that strange random and forlorn plastic bit in the trash because, “Do you not LOVE  the random plastic bits like I do?”

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This weird collection of leftovers holds the key to a toddler’s sense of control. Do NOT throw them away. Do it later when the toddlers are not looking.  Suckers.

5.  Keep ’em focused.  Offer copious snacks and drinks to keep their energy up.  Push through.  Be ready for the inevitable sabotage of the THROW AWAY box – it will happen.  Once the toddlers start to lurch over to that container with its pathetic detritus (mostly from McDonald’s and therefore, China) with a sort of zombied focus of “Must have theses toyyyyys they are okaaaayyyyy we can fixxxx em….” you offer some juice and give them specific orders.

“You, Blonde!  Herd marbles!  Red!  You!  Go over there and look cute while you scarf some Cheerios out of the couch!  Then sort these dinosaurs!”  Keep the tasks specific and small, while you do about 98% of the work.  Which is, after all, how mothering pans out most of the time, anyhow.

6.  When done, get the kids out of the room.  This is very important.  They have probably unearthed some precious toy circa two years ago to mangle, so this is easy.  When they leave, you take a deep breath and:

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Why. WHY?

        Redistribute the goods. You know what I mean.  It’s a cruel world, but if they want to keep that rolley popping vacumn thing your mom got them and you don’t, you seize the day and your sanity and get rid of it.  BEGONE EVIL POPPING THING.

          Get the GIVE AWAY and TRASH boxes OUT of the house.  That way, your sweet toddlers will not keep zombeing over to them and digging out the wired entrails of a broken batteried and very dead device that  is weally weally all dey ever wanted.  Who has the time for that insanity?

Sometimes toddlers remind me very much of the Log lady from Twin Peaks.

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Once the purge is over, sit on the couch, eye your newly organized toy situation and pat yourself on the back.  It will be a mess in an hour.  You have an hour.  Pour a cup of coffee and RELISH it.

7.  NOW.  GIVE THOSE TOYS AWAY TO KIDS WHO WILL LOVE THEM AS MUCH AS WE DID.   Today, if at all possible.  I like to have a destination in mind BEFORE we even start the Purge.  It helps keep us focused on the WHY of this activity and also helps those boxes get to their destination pronto.  We do it together – the boys see the toys delivered and then we high five and walk away.  The real Re-gift is how proud the boys are when this is done;  it’s a big present for our hearts, I tell you.

Luke 3:11, my friends.  We don’t do it perfectly, and we forget many times, but this tradition is a good thing for us.

 

*This sounds rather saucy.  But that’s a post for another day.  See N is for Nookie.

**Don’t worry… nobody was really thwacked with a bible.  I promise.  It just was a nice visual for a moment.

Sunday Spruce Up

Remember this?photo 1 (7)I DID!

It’s the only “Resolution” I have successfully kept – the reading of my weekly chapter and subsequent “sprucing up.”

Other resolutions I had considered:

1. Learn the words to Rapper’s Delight.

2.  Figure out what to do about the strange smell behind the couch.

3.  Understand my husband.

4.  Oh really who am I kidding.

Anyhow.  This week’s chapter is entitled:

ORGANIZE YOUR MIND” – or, if you’re Momsie:  “ORGANIZE WHAT’S LEFT OF YOUR MIND

It has some great start up ideas for a frazzled Momsie, one who tends to go a bit overboard on things (as one who was just contemplating a rather grubby laundry room and then having my next thought twerk right over to: I MUST CLEAN EVERYTHING ALL OF IT THE ENTIRE HOUSE RIGHT NOW you see the difficulty here.  I am nutball.)

So.  Some items covered in this VERY short (big blessing!) chapter about what I like to think of as “turning the Titanic around” were:

*Getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night. (blessing again!)

*Eliminating what the author calls “energy drainers” such as those items on my To Do list that have not been done in over 6 months.  Maybe, like, erase those items.  Maybe not so important?  Maybe they need to go to missing sock status and just poof, begone. (BIGGER blessing!)

*Scheduling “me time” each week.  (OH I JUST LOVE YOU JENNIFER FORD BERRY).

The chapter gives me hope.  And some clarity.   I do love my long lists, with little boxes drawn in with Sharpie (pink) so I can check things OFF with my Sharpie (purple).  Checking things off my To Do list is the same as kicking off a pair of heels after a day of work.  Or, might I say, getting that  bra off and sliding into some jammies.  Right?  You know it, ladies.  (Gentlemen, if you’re reading along and at this point are still nodding in agreement then perhaps this is not the blog for you… )

Ahem.  BUT.  There are lists, and then there are MY lists.  Lately, my lists are entitled:

Various Huge Projects Saddled with Guilt, Numerous Strings, and Resentments (see appendix for Strings)

These are what my To Do lists have slowly mutated into this past year: tangled and highly emotional write ups of what I want NOW, what I think I want, what I think others want from me, and what I dread.

Not anywhere on the list:  What God wants.

My resolution:  Embrace a word for this year.  Just one word.

Courage.

Courage to find out what God wants for me.

Courage to accept His walking orders.

Courage to change the things I can.

Courage to accept the rest.

Because:

“Be strong and courageous!”  Joshua 1:9

“Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.”  C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters

“I’ma big and stwong!  You too mommah!”  Red

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So, what is YOUR word for this year?

Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point.
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