Tag Archives: daily life

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things

 

Hello!  Every day we use things that make our lives easier or bring a smile to our face.  I encourage you to take a look at your daily routines and see what those things are.  It was fun for me to dig a bit and see a few of my “favorites”  all together! Check out Loved One’s Favorites too… you’ll get great gift ideas. Here we go!!
KITCHEN TONGS:   I am seriously addicted to these little gems. I have a bunch of them because they only cost a couple dollars. They are so handy to pick up anything and everything! I even have some spares in our chip containers so that I don’t get “cheeto fingers.”.
MINI CROCKPOT : My favorite scent is ANYTHING Christmas. I used to put a pot on the stove with simmering spices and fruit so that the whole house smelled yummy…but then I found mini crockpots! They are fabulous!!  This is a wonderful gift during the holiday season to give with a recipe and ingredients for simmering. Lemons, cinnamon sticks, clove,and oranges are a good place to begin.
FELT TIP PENS:  These beauties are a little pricey, but there are sales and coupons out there to get them a bit lower. I love how bold the ink is.  I love that it doesn’t smear and drys quickly. I love to use these on to-do lists to perk up the mundane chores, and I love to journal and write pretty much everything with them. 

 

 

RAINBOW INSULATED CUPS WITH STRAWS:  Oh happiness! It’s simple I know, but I get more water drank in my day with a different colored cup each morning! I have the whole rainbow at my fingertips, and since they come with lids…they travel from home to car easily.

 

 

FLAMELESS CANDLES: With a house full of boys, it is in our Homes best interest to not light many actual candles with real flames.  This set is lovely and it comes with a remote and timers! I have some in our kitchen, and I have some programmed in the living and bedrooms. As bedtime routines begin, it is nice to enter those dark spaces with the glow of a flickering candle. I love my flameless candles! 
POM POM COASTERS: Are these not the cutest little splashes of fuzzy color?!  
The kids made these with cork and glue and pom poms one Christmas for family gifts, and I snagged a set for our Drink Station. Each morning this cheerfulness greets me at the coffee maker. (I had just as much fun making these as the kids.)

 

NERF WALL: This saved my sanity with all the Nerf wars that happen daily in our home.  
If you have darts and kids in your life, I recommend that you review our Nerf Wars post on how to make one of these stations. The kids helped design and paint the walls; and hanging it all up in the garage was fun for all of us!  Now the tag has been moved outside. When it’s over, I have yet to ask a boy to put their Nerf stuff away. They rush to the Nerf Wall to get the best hangers!! (Such a Win for us all.)

 

 TAILGATE TABLES: These medium-sized rectangle, collapsible tables will rock your world! I have never actually used them for their intended purpose…but I have used them for pretty much everything else. They fold and are lightweight.  I have these tucked all over the house. The make a quick puzzle, Lego, you-name-it project off the floor. They wipe down and have two adjustable heights. And the bonus feature is that if you find them during football season, then you have local color options depending on nearby teams! If you want a certain color, look at the teams. 
CANDY CATCHERS: When you are between 2 candy-laced holidays, the thought occurs of what to do with the abundance of sweets (?)…  Since there are multiple boys in our home, and boys are a tad competitive in everything, we had to find a solution to storing any excess of overflow.  The number of kids you have, is the number of compartments needed for the Candy Catcher. Personalize it so there is no confusion. No Sharing is an unspoken for this little kitchen tool. This container usually stays out of reach, so that a parent monitors consumption. I pull from its resources for school lunches and snacks mixed with healthier choices. This has gone with us on road trips with each persons snacks divided so they can eat them at differing paces. This is a fun Favorite for me!
PORTABLE HAMMOCKS: My most recent Favorite! I love these soooooooo much.  Each child received one for a gift. We learned how to “stack” them in trees from college students. It looked as if there were a herd of nomads in my back yard the first 3 days!! The kids stayed outside for hours trying out different trees. They took books, water bottles, snacks, journals, DS’s, and even a Ukulele!!  I confess that I also enjoy gently swinging and cloud-gazing; especially snuggled with one of my Cuties’.

 

Well there you go! Hope you got an idea or two to add to your Favorites. Take a mental break from this week’s mundane and enjoy mulling over some of your own Favorites; you have more than you realize! 
You, Lord God, have done many wonderful things, and You have planned marvelous things for us.  Psalm 40:5

ONE letter matters

When I was in 6th grade, I competed in the district spelling bee and lost because I added one  letter to a word. My 6th-grade son recently competed in his school’s spelling bee and missed a word by forgetting one letter.spelling bee word list

One letter matters.

In the world of spelling, one letter means the difference of staying “in” the competition or being “out.”

For enthusiastic writers who are vulnerably casting out their manuscripts only to be met with a flood of rejection letters, ONE letter of acceptance matters. One letter shifts the novice writer from being an amateur to being “in” as a published author. This inclusion is savored.

encouragement cardsFor the widow that spends many hours and even days alone, receiving a single handwritten note makes a meaningful difference. One letter can change her perspective from feeling lonely to loved. She feels remembered.

When a spouse is deployed overseas and is feeling the weight of isolation and homesickness, one letter from a loved one back home draws him a little closer to family. A familiar scrawl or silly doodle on the envelope tugs those hearts together a little tighter. He feels connected.

In a world of digital pictures and casual greetings available through Facebook and texts, even one handwritten letter delivered by snail mail on your birthday can transform all those virtual well wishes into a tangible token of love. There’s something special about holding a letter in your own hand that was in your friend’s hand just a few days ago. One letter can ground you, reminding you of a precious friendship. You feel known.

So last week when I was fighting a head cold and clutching my kleenex box, I hunkered down and wrote some letters:

  • to my son traveling on an exchange trip to China, hiding one in his suitcase under a box of Thin Mints and giving another letter to a friend to deliver to him midway through their trip (the potential embarrassment, I think, is worth a little sneakiness!)
  • to a Chinese couple whom I may never meet, but I’m entrusting the care of my 16-year-old son to them for 3 weeks while they generously host him in their home (sigh)
  • to a nephew, apologizing for belated birthday wishes
  • to an aunt undergoing radiation and chemotherapy, offering hope and encouragement while also recognizing her strengthBaylor pillows
  • a “thank you” to a loved one who sewed some pillows for me that I’ve been “planning” for years. Confession: I cheated on this one. I took a picture of the pillows tucked into their new nook and a sent her a text of gratitude. (Go Bears!)
  • to a college friend, wishing her the joys of another birthday

Throughout the week as I wrote to each person, I focused on the recipient. I considered their particular situation, reflecting on the connection between us and conjuring up some words to send their way. Before long, I was no longer aware of my stuffy head and my pesky cough. My mood improved as I redirected my attention to a loved one or reminisced about a dear friend.

Aligning letters on paper to transform them into a message to someone else is a magical thing, something we often taken for granted.vocab

Words are used a lot of different ways in our home. We are seekers of knowlLatin conjugationsedge and explorers of the written word. Our bookshelves are weighed down with words.

The boys are always working on a vocabulary list or conjugating verbs in a language I don’t understand.

Words surround us.

Letters weave in and out of our home daily, an endless merry-go-round of giving and receiving. Some of them we glance over; some of them stop us in our tracks. One letter can shift the atmosphere around us, crackling with anticipation or casting a somber chill.

Which letter do you cling to most?
Bible - I Cor 13
The letter that I’m drawn back to again and again is the Word of God. Each time I read it, I gain a new perspective and gain a deeper understanding of something bigger than me. It stirs my soul.
I’m grateful for this ultimate gift. The holy Word is God’s letter to us.
It’s full of wisdom and adventure, heartbreak and triumph, joy and strength, loss and redemption, strife and struggle…but most of all,  its message is love. It offers us hope.

——->>>>>  THIS one letter makes all the difference to me

Phlox

“Every word of God is flawless.” Proverbs 30:5a

 

 

 

Love is in the Air

 

love  Thank You, Lord, for the Sounds of Love.

There are so many we appreciate and are thankful for. Our ears are receiving them daily. When you pause and make   a list of your personal love notes, the sounds become even richer.

Here are a few of mine…

Prayers out of my children’s mouths. 

Praise songs on the radio.

Gentle guidance in my husbands voice.

Birds singing.

My boys’ giggles over pure silliness.

Picking up the phone to hear a loved one’s voice on the other end.

The family dinner bell.

A chat with a friend over coffee.

“Please, thank you” and an endless surplus of “I love you” from my children.

 

painted-birdsAll of these are God’s Love Notes to  us throughout our day.  Look for Sounds of  Love; they are a melody written for you and me. These sounds are all a reflection of Christ’s love. Each day we contribute to the sound. Is it a sweet or aggravated noise?

 

I can Love Loud: by being a cheerleader or advocate for someone. My words can build-up a self-esteem.  I can use my mouth to pour out encouragement. I can share Christ’s Love by demonstrating actions that result in life-changing Love.

I can Love Silent: from a distance, with unfailing stamina my voice can quietly lift up prayer for someone going through a painful trial. I can be watchful as I use Love Notes of Hope to form a prayer. I can rejoice quietly when I watch the Lord conquer the plan meant for harm.

I can Love Deep and Wide: by emotionally investing, pursuing and pouring out for a loved one. With a no-going-back mindset  I can plant Love Notes that I water and fertilize by using words of hope, peace, love.

I can Love Sideways: by partnering with someone that needs an arms-length approach. A peripheral friend to scatter a Love Note when needed for someone to get their bearings on a situation.

And sometimes Love Just Happens: in an unexpected moment, I can see a need and” rise to the call”.  Acting in a moments notice without much thought or preparation I can add encouragement  with a Love Note because I have been tuned into listening to the Lord’s  Love Notes over me.

Because Your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise You. Psalm 63:3

you-are-so-loved

Diverted

Recently I was on a flight that tried to land in heavy Dallas fog twice, the second attempt within 100 yards of the ground, then abruptly aborting due to minimal visibility.  An exuberant redheaded flight attendant provided what limited information she had available and a calm pilot reassured us the aircraft was sound,  but the weather conditions were untenable for landing.  A collective sigh of disappointment arose as the announcement came we were being diverted to another airport.

cheerful flight attendantThe full plane of early-morning passengers transformed from a sleepy bunch of travelers into nervous camaraderie as conversations erupted throughout the plane, speculations about deboarding and re-routing sprinkled throughout spirited dialogue. Perhaps the happiest person was a woman two rows back that cheerfully announced this unplanned stop was her home destination and she was getting off as soon as the doorway was clear.😊 Amidst the grumbles of frustration about the delay and forced change of flight times causing a ripple effect of inconvenience, there were also spontaneous plans to grab some Texas BBQ if everyone had to deplane.

cloudy skiesIt’s in these tricky situations that one can see the range of human emotions and observe a wide range of attitude on display. Mothers patiently tended to children, providing distraction and encouragement. Level-headed flight attendants offered additional support to some elderly passengers.

luggageProblem-solvers sprang into action, procuring snacks for sustenance and making calls to rebook flights. 

Some people bailed immediately, asserting they would not get back on the same aircraft. Others made complaints aloud and responded grumpily after each delay update, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

A 15-minute delay bloomed into a 2 1/2 hour wait. People plugged into their devices, shifting from brief anxiety to resigned waiting.

Although there was a wide variety of individual responses, it seemed like we had developed some group solidarity in our waiting. More eye contact was made and conversations were deeper within the boarding area than usual because we had a shared experience of landing someplace unexpected. None of us planned to be in this particular spot, but we were pulled together by this disruption in our schedules.

An airport therapy dog was a welcome distraction and introduced a new common focal point for some positive interactions.airport therapy dog

Then relief pushed through the boarding area as our flight was called to board. For real this time. Reboarding was surprisingly upbeat as if we were reuniting with friends rather than the strangers we all had been just a few hours ago. Our numbers had diminished yet our remaining subgroup seemed undaunted in the collective hope that our flight would make it this time.

It didn’t.

After 45 minutes, we disembarked from the same plane again and started another round of problem-solving…and more people-watching in the process.

flight towerLife often unfolds this way, nudging us off our familiar paths and throwing us into a tailspin, doesn’t it?

We all encounter delays at one time or another. We each get diverted from our original plans. All of us receive unwanted news that changes our course. It may be relocating for a job, dealing with a medical crisis, or experiencing  the loss of a loved one.

How we face these challenges is a reflection of our personality and character. And, oh, how one person’s demeanor can impact the rest! We saw both positive and negative extremes of this during our 8-hour flight delay. 

The perspective we choose to cling to can make a huge difference when we are re-routed unexpectedly in life. Waiting for clarity requires tenacity.  Seeking guidance from those in our trusted watch tower requires humility. Sitting amidst uncertainty requires patience and perseverance.

(And don’t even get me started on lost luggage! )

However your life may be diverted, how will you choose to wait?

 

Proverbs 16:9

 

 

 

Blending

Crater Lake picToday was one of those mornings that I found myself hunting for cold-weather running layers for my son’s first winter cross country practice, rounding up loose change for a fundraiser this evening, and helping my youngest print out last-minute pictures of Crater Lake for a poster project. During the typical breakfast hustle, I found myself searching for this random mix of items reminiscent of a junior high scavenger hunt, trying to beat the clock before the bus came.
Next, in a clean-up pass through the house, I dropped a water bottle which rolled under my son’s bed. On my knees peering warily underneath his bed, I discovered some books, a camping chair, several balled-up socks, pages of sheet music, lego bits, a broken pencil, a soccer ball, multiple candy wrappers from a Halloween stash, a sleeping bag, a couple charger cords, and two dimes amidst all the dust jackrabbits (mysterious fluff too big to be labeled mere dust bunnies). Between a sigh of exasperation and a sudden gouge in my knee from a sharp Lego, I tried to remind myself that this was just the hodgepodge of boyhood.
Our lives are a blend of things, experiences and people, intersecting all the time in a tangle of unique ways. Sometimes we get a glimpse of how these daily artifacts blend together by facing what’s under the bed, clearing out a closet, or sorting through what’s landed in our garage.
Blending traditions can be tricky. As young married couples put up their first Christmas trees, they may find themselves negotiating all-white lights  vs. colored lights, opening presents Christmas Eve vs. Christmas morning, turkey vs. ham, etc. None of this is in the wedding vows, folks. Tread lightly and listen wisely.

mixing coffee cake batterAs I start my holiday baking season, I add ingredients into my mixer and watch it all blend together into golden batter. I pour it into pans and sprinkle it with a sugared pecan mix, remembering how my mother-in-law’s hands did this for so many years. Her handwritten recipe is the one I follow now, a tradition I treasure. My husband’s memories of Christmas coffee cake now blend into my children’s taste of Christmas morning.

Holidays are a time of blending…families from her side and his; families from in-town and out-of-state; recipes from generations past and new ones beckoning from Pinterest; traditions old and spontaneously new. Each year the blending may have a different flavor depending on who is gathered around your table or who may no longer be in  pictures with you Christmas morning. A natural blending over time allows things to settle in gradually, highlighting what experiences are important to the family storyline and are carving deeply into tradition.

coffee cake overflowingSome holiday activities we’ve  incorporated over time in an intentional way, such as an evening family advent activity.

Other traditions have erupted from spontaneous fun, like marshmallow tag that leaves us all giggling and breathless, overflowing with a sense of family connectedness.

Blending all of our usual family activities in with those of the holiday can be a challenge. I have to remind myself of a few things to navigate this season well:

Proceed at a moderate pace. (maintain own pace, not others’)

Enjoy the distinct parts of the season.

Cherish the beautiful outcomes; laugh at the jumbled messes that also come along naturally.

Treasure the history that has gotten us to this point.

Allow dreams of the future to unfold under the golden lights of the Christmas tree.

Savor slowness.

Loosen grudges; tighten hugs.

Encourage others in their way of celebrating; leave competition on the sports field.

Reach out.  (Repeat often.)

Hum with the Christmas music; sparkle with the lights.

Take a brisk walk to re-energize and re-focus.

Surprise someone with an act of kindness.

Make more eye contact in the hustle.

Let the to-do list marinate overnight.

And, always, always save room for coffee cake.

coffee cake

 

 

 

Simply Gratitude

Sometimes family traditions can be simple and not take much time, yet still foster a strong connection between family members.

starting gratitude pumpkinThe Gratitude Pumpkin is super easy. All you do is select one of your pumpkins that wasn’t sacrificed into a jack-o-lantern and grab a sharpie marker.

Then simply take turns writing a word or phrase of gratitude.

I love the unfolding of different colors and handwriting scrawls as the words of gratitude wind themselves around and around the pumpkin. As the pumpkin fills with gratitude messages, we realize that our gratitude is wide, ranging from Legos to forgiveness. We see a mutual appreciation for family, friends, and a safe country.

gratitude pumpkin signingLast year we did this activity on our front porch, adding a gratitude in the morning while we waited for the bus …or in the evening as we enjoyed impromptu frisbee or football out in our front yard.

It’s very casual, not structured at all.

gratitude pumpkin signing

We didn’t realize until later that our little pumpkin was blessing whoever came to our door. In a season of frequent deliveries from Amazon or having family over for holiday events, it became a special welcome moment as people paused to read about our thankfulness.

gratitude pumpkin (cont)
Gratitude pumpkin

 

Simply Gratitude.

Now that’s a tradition that we can get behind.

Join us?