Friday, July 24, 2009

Blitz-It Friday - Big Project: Moving #3

I can hardly believe that we are moving in less than a week.
On Saturday, we are having another big yard sale. This one should be even bigger than the last one.

We have now sorted through about 90% of our apartment - all the closets, drawers, cupboards, bookshelves and more. This has been a hard purging process. My husband and I are so burned out with the weeks of this - we are at the point where everything left just needs to go into a box.

Our bedroom has a huge stack of boxes in it - 32 boxes at last count. We have blitzed too many hours to count in the last few weeks. And we are almost done ... we have to be almost done, right?

  1. Finish UK Visa applications
  2. Big Yard Sale on Saturday
  3. Put EVERYTHING into boxes
  4. Pack for six weeks in the Northwest with family
  5. Pack for three years in Scotland (only taking what we can carry on the plane)
  6. Clean the apartment
If you want to follow all the details of our crazy move, this will be the topic of my Blitz-It Friday's for the next several weeks.

Stop by Organized Everyday for more projects that are being blitzed.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What's Up With My Three-Year-Old?

Your Three-Year-Old: Friend or Enemy
by Louise Bates Ames, Ph.D. and Frances L. Ilg, M.D.

I was introduced to these books by Sarah at Hindsight – Thank you!

This is a great series of book about child development, from Your One-Year-Old through Your Ten- to Fourteen-Year-Old.

This is not just another parenting book, and does not teach a particular philosophy or discipline style. Instead, the focus is on the characteristics of each age – how your child responds to other children; what general milestones are reached; why your child is behaving a particular way right now.

The authors talk about alternating times of equilibrium and disequilibrium. Where three is an age of conformity, three-and-a-half is just the opposite. A three-year-old is confident and happy; a three-and-a-half-year-old child becomes insecure and anxious, but also determined and self-willed.

Reading this book has taught me several things:
  • It is normal for my son to experience fears and insecurities, even in things he had previously mastered.

  • This weird stutter that has developed over the last few weeks, is normal and will fade over time.

  • My son is learning to exert his will; I need to give him room to “win” in the daily struggle for control.

  • This is the age to begin developing meaningful conversations, to lay the groundwork for great conversations later on.

  • And especially that this phase will pass, both the bad and the good.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has a three-year-old, even if you only read the first four chapters. The entire book is packed with valuable perspective and information. The chapters are as follows:
  1. Characteristics of the Age,
  2. The Child with Other Children,
  3. Techniques (great chapter) and
  4. Accomplishments and Abilities
  5. The Three-Year-Old Birthday Party (terrific ideas for a successful party),
  6. Help with Routines (great help for those who's child is at three-and-a-half),
  7. The Child’s Mind or How He Sees the World
  8. Individuality
  9. Stories from Real Life
Also included are recommendations on toys and books for three-year-old’s, and a list of suggested parenting books specific to this age.

This book is only 150 pages and well worth the read!

By the way, this is not a paid or solicited review; I just really liked this book.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Growth: Stretching and Training

I am currently reading The Mommy Diaries: Finding yourself in the daily adventure.

This straightforward book is a collection of stories from moms sharing what they have learned on this journey of motherhood. Check out my previous post about Identity.

"Recognize this journey [of motherhood] as one that shapes and defines you, helps you scale new heights, and brings you closer to your amazing potential."

~ Chose to Grow ~

In Mississippi Epiphany, Letitia Suk wrote the time she made a deliberate choice to stretch herself. "What that the kind of mom I want to be?" she asked herself. When the answer was "no" she decided to change. In this story, she chooses to say "yes" to her daughter's request for her to jump out of the boat for a swim.

Every day I am bombarded with requests from my son to play some made-up game, dance some jig, do something totally silly. I tend to take myself too seriously, though, and don't say yes as often as I should (I am especially uncomfortable with physical humor). But now I see each day as an opportunity to grow in this area. Today I can say yes to a silly game or two, even if I feel completely ridiculous.

~ Grow as They Grow ~

Along the same lines, Cathy Penshorn writes in Goodbye Toddler Mom about loosening boundaries and allowing her kids more freedom as they grow older - and to enjoy their more adventurous activities.

Although my kids are still young, I have found myself stuck in the toddler mode, even though my son is older and ready to take bigger risks. I want to encourage my son's curiosity and allow him to explore in ways that I may have determined too dangerous for a smaller child. Of course, I am still watching for his safety, but I need to loosen the boundaries and allow a few bumps and bruises that may result from a beautiful learning experience.

Where have you already experienced growth in motherhood?
Is there an area of your life where you feel pulled to make a change?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Two weeks left to empty our refrigerator, freezer and pantry. I don't know if we can use everything. But here is another week of planning from our cupboards.

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Chicken Fajitas

  • Tuesday -- Grilled Shish-Kabobs

  • Wednesday -- Sausage and Mushroom Calzones

  • Thursday -- BBQ Pork Sandwiches

  • Friday -- Red Curry with Potstickers

  • Saturday -- Baked Potato Bar

  • Sunday -- Pasta Primavera

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Blitz-It Friday - Big Project: Moving #2

We are down under three weeks before the move. Some of our friends have commented that we are starting the packing very early. But it is slow going because we have to purge so heavily while packing, not to mention how much two little kids slow us down.

Here is what we accomplished this week:

  • Blitzed for a total of 5 hours.

  • Packed 6 boxes.

  • Cleared out 3 more bags of clothing, 2 boxes of kitchen appliances and dishes, 1 box of random bedroom stuff, and 2 bags of garbage / recycling.

  • Cleared out / packed our bed stands and started on the master closet.

  • Moved all the boxes into the corner of our bedroom to clear the living room of the feeling of clutter.

GOALS FOR NEXT WEEK (July 11 - 17):
  1. Spend at least one hour blitzing each day (maybe take the weekend off)
  2. Continue sorting the file cabinet
  3. Sort, Pack, Purge - focus on unused kitchen items, and unused clothing
  4. Finish the Visa applications; continue gathering supporting documentation
  5. Finish scanning pictures (left over from the last project)

If you want to follow all the details of our crazy move, this will be the topic of my Blitz-It Friday's for the next several weeks.

Stop by Organized Everyday for more projects that are being blitzed.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Identity: Owning My Adventure

I am currently reading The Mommy Diaries: Finding yourself in the daily adventure.

This straightforward book, published by MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), is a collection of stories from several moms sharing the lessons they have learned in this journey of motherhood.

It is a quick, casual read, but has the power to challenge and encourage.

There are six sections in this book - Identity, Growth, Relationships, Help, Perspective, and Hope.

I have only gotten through the first two sections, but wanted to share a few things that have inspired me.

~ Releasing Control ~

Elisabeth Selzer wrote an essay called Control Release. She writes, "My need for control was clouding my enjoyment of one of the most precious times in my child's life." This statement rings so true in my own life.

I have found myself spending too much energy trying to retain my control over my three-year-old son and my one-year-old daughter. This leads to constant struggle of the wills that are normally not worth the fight. I am learning the truth of needing to choose my battles carefully.

My children need to learn and grow with the freedom to explore their ability to make decisions and exert their will. My job is not to control them, but to guide them and teach them how to make the best choices and to deal with the consequences.

~ Guarding My Time ~

In this same section on identity, Jane Rubietta shares a breaking point for her in the essay The High Chair Day. One rare morning where the kids were sleeping in and Jane was trying to spend a few minutes in prayer, she lost her temper at her husband over the smallest request. At that point she realized her loss of her own identity, and was drained of all her emotional and spiritual resources. Following this, she writes that "... with vigilance I guarded each morning for my soul."

As my husband’s final semester of school wrapped up this year, I came to discover that I, too, have lost my emotional and spiritual reserves. It was a hard year for all of us, and I have been in survival mode for several months.

Now that things are a little slower (though only for a few weeks), I need to learn from Jane’s example, and carefully guard my time in prayer and meditation. To be the mother and wife I want to be, I must preserve my own identity and guard my spiritual life. I cannot afford to neglect this discipline to service the immediate needs.

In addition to taking additional time in prayer, I have also begun meditating on the Psalms. I wrote a more about it in this post.

What activities or disciplines have you established in your life to preserve your identity in the midst of motherhood?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Goals for 2009 - Follow up #2

So, back in March, I finally got around to setting some personal goals for the year. I did a follow up in April, but I decided it was time for another review of my goals.

Here are the goals, and my progress updates...
  • regular exercise routine - I finally started running again; I have been at it for four weeks now. I must admit that running in my 30's is not as easy as running in my 20's, but I am persevering. My goal is to be able to run for 20 minutes straight by the end of July - my current record is 15 minutes.

  • read 25 books - I don't know if I will hit my goal on this one, but I am slowly making progress. Stay tuned for some thoughts about the books I have been reading. Check out my reading list.

  • purge / organize our entire apartment - With the move in only three weeks, we are really attacking this goal right now. It all has to be done by the end of the month.

  • increase my time with God by 10 minutes per day - I started strong, but have not been as faithful as I would have liked. I have neglected my quiet time disgracefully in the last few weeks. But God is faithful in spite of my weakness. Today is the day to start again.
Do you have any goals you are working toward? How are you doing?

Monday, July 6, 2009

Menu Plan Monday

Another week of meal planning from our freezer and pantry. Last week was not very successful. And you will notice that we have some of the same items on the menu again this week. The family is pretty resistant to eating the rejects at the back of the freezer, but I'll try again this week.

Menu for this week:
  • Monday -- Chicken Fajitas

  • Tuesday -- Grilled Chicken Breasts

  • Wednesday -- 15 Bean Soup

  • Thursday -- Calzones

  • Friday -- Turkey Tacos

  • Saturday -- Baked Potato Bar

  • Sunday -- Seafood Ravioli, green salad

Check out more menu plan's at Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

With all Earnest...

Create in Me a Clean Heart - Week 26
~ This weekly devotional can be found on Facebook. ~

"Here is what you must do - and don't put it off any longer: Get down on your knees before God Almighty .. and if you are pure and live with integrity, he will surely rise up and restore your happy home."
Job 8:5 (Message), 8:6 (NLT)

Scripture has much to say about seeking the Lord. But life has become so busy lately that I have let my "seeking" slip to a lower priority. And, sadly, it is not long before I start to lose the desire to seek. It is a vicious, downward cycle.

I am reminded of the Psalms and David's incredible thirst for God ... "Earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water." (Ps 63:1 - my emphasis)

Am I not also thirsty? I have to stop and realize ... I am parched; I am dry; I am desperate. My heart cries out (as David's did) "Seek his face!" Your face, Lord, I will seek. I must seek. (Ps 27:8)

Once again, I hear his voice calling me back - back to his presence, back to the waters, back to the only source of life. This week I have begun meditating on the Psalms again. Reading David's hunger and thirst - pondering his worship and praise - begins to stir my heart to a place of thirst and of worship.

Dear Lord,
I cry to you again, in my unfaithfulness, trusting in your mercy, falling on your faithfulness, knowing you are not far from me. Stir my heart again, to hunger and thirst for you. Fill me anew with a reciprocal love for you. Teach me afresh that only you bring life, healing and rest. Let my desire to know you motivate my every action, thought and word. Help me to seek you first, and trust that you will guide me in all the other things in life.
In Jesus' Name,

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Blitz-It Friday - Big Project: Moving #1

For the next four weeks, we are focusing all our energy into sorting, purging, packing and moving. This week was a great start; now we just need to keep the momentum going.

Here is what we accomplished:

  • Blitzed for a total of six hours (in one hour increments).

  • Packed 15 boxes, including books, random kid's stuff and kitchen stuff.

  • Cleared out three large bags of clothing, two boxes of toys, a box of books, and a few miscellaneous items.

  • Completely packed / cleared out the top of the kid's closet.

  • Started sorting the file cabinet - cleared out a HUGE stack of shredding.

GOALS FOR NEXT WEEK (July 4 - 10):
  1. Spend at least one hour blitzing each day (maybe take the weekend off)
  2. Continue sorting the file cabinet
  3. Sort, Pack, Purge - focus on unused kitchen items, and unused clothing
  4. Visa applications and supporting documentation
  5. Finish scanning pictures (left over from the last project)

If you want to follow all the details of our crazy move, this will be the topic of my Blitz-It Friday's for the next several weeks.

Stop by Organized Everyday for more projects that are being blitzed.

Let the craziness begin...

The time has come for all of life to revolve around our upcoming move. For those of you who haven't heard, we are moving to Scotland this fall for PhD studies at the University of Aberdeen.

Our current lease is up at the end of the month. Everything we own is going into long-term storage. We are only moving what we can carry with us on the plane. This is the craziest move I have ever done.

Now, this is the sixth move we have undertaken since we were married ten years ago. We know how to move. However, this is our first time trying to pack with two little kids running underfoot - a much slower process.

At the end of July, a moving truck (driven by my wonderful hubby and my brave dad) will carry all our stuff from the east coast to a storage unit in the Northwest - to have our stuff near family, and because we hope to eventually settle back in that area.

I will be avoiding all the last minute stuff - last minutes packing, cleaning the apartment, loading the truck, etc. - by boarding a plane headed to Seattle with the two kids in tow. This should be an exciting time for all of us. We will hang out with family in the northwest for about six weeks before heading out to Scotland.

In the midst of the packing, we have to decide what is financially worth storing, and what we will still want and need when we return (picture lots of kid's toys that our kids would have outgrown). And we have to reduce the amount of stuff so we can use a smaller storage unit (i.e. less money each month).

On July 25, we will have a huge yard sale to get rid of all the stuff we cleared out in the weeks prior. Come on out and get some great stuff at a price you just can't beat!

While all those details are happening, we also have to find, and line up, all our ducks for our new life in Scotland - Visa's, housing, foreign bank accounts, etc.

If you want to follow all the details of our crazy move, this will be the topic of my Blitz-It Friday's for the next few weeks.

I would love to hear from you. What have you done that made your move better? How have you made it easier on your little kids? Did you make any make any moving mistakes, things I should avoid? Thanks in advance for your advise.