Monday, September 24, 2007

What a beautiful day!

Fall began yesterday...but today is another beautiful, warm and sunny day!

I'm thankful for these warm days. Sunshine seems to warm my soul, it gives me energy and boosts my mood. I love the sun! The corn and beans around us are being I know fall is I will savor every one of these last few warm days. For cold ones will be here soon. The clothes line will be empty, the windows shut and the green grass gone.

Thank you Lord for all of the seasons, in weather and in life!

Friday, September 21, 2007

kids & gifts...especially toys

So , I know as a child I loved toys. I got so excited when someone gave me a present, when my grandparents bought me new clothes for school, when my Popu gave me made me smile and made me feel happy. So why now as a parent do I have such a hard time with my kids getting gifts? I love to see them smile...and for them to have that moment of happiness. But then I see the excess...and it makes me want to stop them getting gifts altogether. I know that sounds extreme, and it is, but how many matchbox cars can one boy have, how many stuffed animals, trinkets, etc. Where does it stop?!

Some of this I know is due to the fact that I am trying to simplify our lives. When I look at what the boys actually play with, it equals about a dozen items. They have their favorites and the rest of the toys don't get touched. So why do we have all of this? Why do I allow more things to come in the house? I am just as guilty as any see a cute little something, that you know they will just you buy it. It gets played with until it is broken, or they are bored with it...and then back to their favorites. So, how do I stop this vicious cycle of stuff?

My sister-in-law and I talked about this the other day. She has four children, so she has double the burden of toys & stuff that I do! We think the solution is gift cards. That way the parent can get the child what they need/want when they feel it is appropriate and it is a win-win for everyone. Yes, the child doesn't have a present to open up at that "special" moment...but you know what, patience is a virtue! I bet kids would learn a lot from waiting for that something special.

So for my boys, I am trying to keep out any additional toys, trinkets, animals that will add to their already abundant array of fun! They have a sufficient amount of things to entertain them and I don't think that they need anything more. For Christmas we plan to ask Santa to bring them three gifts each (just as the wise men did for Jesus) and put some consumeables (fruit, treats, bath stuff) in their stocking. For E's upcoming birthday, I know this sounds weird, but I really feel like putting "no gifts please" on his invitation. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and I know I can be a bit extreme, but he needs nothing. He is perfectly content with what he has, he has enough clothes for five kids (thanks to his counsin's hand-me-downs), and again he needs nothing. I guess out of peer pressure (how lame at 31) I probably won't...but I am still thinking about it.

I just want my boys to grow up knowing that stuff doesn't matter. I want them to learn to take care of what they have, appreciate it and be content. There is so much more to life than stuff...and it sure doesn't bring happiness. So, I am trying to teach my boys these important lessons, without taking the fun out of their childhood. Parenting can be so tricky!


Oh to find it! To be satisfied with life as it is today, with no expectation for tomorrow. Some days I feel totally content and then on other days I crave for what could be, should be and how I would feel better "if only".

With maturity seems to come contentment...or at least the people that I look up to seem to be that way. I guess that is why I look forward to being in my 40's and 50's...hoping for contentment to arrive. It would be nice to be comfortable in my own skin, to know that I am who I am by God's grace...and not care what anyone else thinks of me. To know that life is a process and that I am where I am today because I'm on the journey of life. See most of these thoughts I can speak...but I want to own them, to be them, to carry them with me day after day.

Like the Bible talks about being content and balanced. Not like a wavering man being tossed back and forth and unstable in all his ways (Nicole's paraphrase :)). That's what I want! I want to be content, balanced and predictable. That may sound boring to some...but to me it sounds peaceful!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Classic clothes

While getting dressed this morning, I thought about my clothes and how simple my wardrobe is. I have about 8 black tops, one pair of jean capris, two pair of blue jeans, one pair of khakis, one pair of black dress pants, one pair of gray jeans, misc. cotton tops, three dress tops, one pair of khaki shorts & a black linen dress. That is my wardrobe, adding in about six sweaters for winter and two pair of winter dress pants (blue and gray). Wow, does it make life easy to have a closet full of classic items that all pretty much go together.

I try to buy clothes that you can wash at home, as I think drycleaning is unsafe (all those chemicals!) and way too expensive! The only thing that I have that has to be drycleaned is my black linen dress, and I just wear it for business appts. or special occasions, so it doesn't get dirty very often.

Needless to say, I do have sweats, lounge pants and misc. shorts/tops for working around the house in. I think it makes life easier to have a classic wardrobe and to stay away from all of the trendy clothes out there. It saves space, time, & money...and for me classics just make life easier!

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Fresher air

Okay, so I was perplexed the other day when I saw a magazine ad for this new liquid dishwashing soap that has an air freshener built in to the bottom of it!!! What?! So, I decided it was time to vent about air fresheners!

Let me back up by saying that I am appalled by how many "fresheners" are on the market today. When you go down the cleaning aisle in the supermarket there are (it seems like) a thousand different smells to "freshen" the air in your home.

Okay, so, let's first define freshen! Freshen has nothing to do with chemicals, artificial smells and toxins in a can. Why do people feel the need to spray this stuff in their homes?! The stuff suffocates me! Seriously, I feel like the "natural" air has left me and that I need fresh air ( like I need to go outside to an open space) when someone sprays this stuff. Don't even get me started on the whole Febreze debate and spraying that stuff on your clothes, furniture etc.! What you wear, where you sleep, and relax etc.! Again, what in the world have ads and big business sold us on! We know better than this...right? I think again that we have just become so trained to pick up what we see at the supermarket or that we buy in to the ads on tv for this stuff. We forget, or don't know maybe, that there are other options.

Essential oils, baking soda, opening windows...these are all things to use and do to freshen the air in your home. Take some water in a spray bottle, add some drops of your favorite essential oil, and there you have it...your own freshener. You will be amazed at how much cleaner and fresher your home, linens, etc. smell. Put baking soda and a drop or two of essential oils in the bottom of your trash can to soak up any unwanted odors. Add a few drops of EO to a cloth and put it the dryer instead of using softening agents or sheets. Your clothes will smell fabulous.

Try and be creative with ways to freshen your home without using chemicals. There have got to be health benefits for using EOs instead of toxic sprays. Sometimes our homes just need the windows opened so they can air out. You may think I am silly for how disgusted I seem by these unnecessary sprays, but I really think so much could be saved by not using them. Money, our health, the waste of the cans/bottles...let's try something natural instead!

Plastic bags???

Do these things breed in your home too? I'm telling you at one point I thought they were actually breeding in my house. You know those small plastic shopping bags they give you at every store you buy from? You can only have so many around the house for trash can bags, know what I mean? So, I had my mom make me a really cool shopping bag from old jeans and I use that and two other totes that I have to shop with. Most grocery stores here in the Dayton area give you a $.05 bag credit when you shop with your own bags. I like it because I can put so much more in my cloth bags, so it makes it much easier to brings things in after shopping. Also, I am going to start using a lingerie bag for my produce bag. I no loner use those annoying plastic produce bags that you put your fruits & veggies in. Those things are worthless...what a waste! You can't even use them for trash bags! So I read on a blog the other day about making net bags for your produce (with a drawstring) but then a poster at said that she just uses her laundry lingerie bag as it already has a zipper on it! What a great idea! The cashiers will no longer be honked off at me for my rolling-around peaches!

Anyway, I am at a point where I am trying to bring in as little plastic as possible to our home. So I am thinking about how to reduce my plastic bag intake. We now only use one of these plastic bags as our kitchen trash bag. No big trash bags (unless we have a party/gathering or something). It goes in a small can under the sink. We have so little trash between composting, recycling and stuff for the burn pile, that we no longer need a big trash bag. We get maybe one large bag of trash a week. Plus, I like having a smaller bag. It gets taken out to the outside can more frequently so that cuts down on any odors inside.

It is so against the norm of our culture today to take time to focus on these little things that seem to be frivolous...but reducing the intake of these bags can make a difference. Even if you don't want to shop with cloth, maybe start to ask for paper bags. At least they are biodegradable!

Buying from people you know, locally & SAHMs

Just a post to say that buying locally, supporting people you know and "SAHMs" (stay at home moms) is a wonderful thing. I would much rather buy from someone I know, support my local community, or buy from a mom trying to make money to support her family than shop from a big box store. So check out for homemade Christmas gifts this year. My friend Jessica makes really cool baby,kids & mom items and you can see them here . My friend Gretchen at Small Wonder Wipes makes the most luxorious cloth baby wipes ever. Go to your local farmer's market while you still can. Post what you want to buy on Craigslist. Let's support our fellow man before big business and have fun doing it. Let's be creative with our dollars instead of just running to Walmart or the Dollar Store because stuff is cheap there. Enjoy!