Monday, June 5, 2017

May Lookback

 Wooo, May. You were a bit nuts.  You kept us moving from sunup to sundown. Soccer, Ballet, Jog-A-Thon, End of School Events, Potluck, Coffee with a Friend, Date Night (YES!!), plus a whole lot more in between.

There were a lot of hard things that happened in May, things that can't be put into pictures, hard life-altering things, that happened to a lot of people who are in our circle. As an empath, I struggle to focus as my heart breaks for them, as I bring them before the Throne of our Father.  I count it a privilege that I can be a prayer warrior for them. As I witness them glorifying God through their suffering, I am humbled by what I can learn from them. Plus it shows me I have so far to go.

The things that can be put into pictures, well, there is quite a line up for May:

 Soccer Season, it can be 40 and raining one week and 70's the next. One week, because of colliding schedules, I had to coach Owen's soccer team for Paul. It was, well, that face below describes how I felt...

 We managed a Date Night in May. Here, the kids are waiting 'patiently' for Grandma to pick them up.

 Science Experiments with Dad.

 Jog-a-Thon. Every child wanted me to run with them. We ended up doing over a 100 laps (over 15 miles between the 4 of us).

 Held a potluck in our home. It doesn't happen very often, and I was a bit nervous about it. But I think it went fairly well...

 Mother's Day, and I failed to get a picture with all my kids :(  But I got one with Madeline, and our matching necklaces she gave me.

 Madeline (her back to us, in the pink shorts) tried her hand (foot?) at soccer for the first time.

 Coffee with a sweet friend

 Birthday celebration with the Suvars

 Madeline as a pirate

 Reading Reward night at the Tin Caps game. Paul caught one of the 'soft' balls thrown out as prizes.

 I have a dear Aunt and Uncle who keep an eye out for Fiestaware and send it my way. I have a fun, eclectic collection, and I love that my kids like to drink tea from it all.

 Second to last day of school, no homework or things due, so we were able to stop for an impromtu play at the park on the way home from school.

 Paul coached Owen's soccer team this year and went undefeated in their league.

 Last day of school and saying goodbye and thank you to 3 fabulous teachers. I thank God daily (no exaggeration!) that we are able to send our kids to the school that they attend.

 And to go along with tradition, after dismissal from school on the last day, we head to the zoo to celebrate (and do ice cream afterward!)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

On Time, Priorities, and Messy Vans

May was a little nuts.

I can remember this happening now for the past couple years but I feel like it ramped up a bit more from other Mays in the past.

When I flipped the calendar to May, everyday had something scheduled except for May 1st and Memorial Day (go figure!).  I told myself to just hang on, enjoy as much of the ride as possible, and hope to catch my breath in June.

I was starting to feel guilty about the fact that I have let my decluttering slip a bit. Although I did take an entire van load to the local thrift shop, I failed to document the different things that I cleaned out.

Truthfully, I just couldn't fit the time in to take the pictures, upload, and write a blog post.

And I was felling pretty guilty about it (do you see a pattern in my personality here...?).

Then, last week, as I was driving to get groceries, I was listening to an interview on the local Christian music station.  The excerpt that has been rolling around in my head ever since went a little like this:

"We do not have a time problem. What we have is a priority problem. When we think that all things have the same level of priority in our lives, we get overwhelmed because there is no way to get it all fit in."

We all have the same 24 hours every day. But we decide each day what we are going to prioritize and what we are going to allow to go to the back burner.

For May, it was decluttering, and much to our neighbors dismay I'm sure....mowing the grass.

So, I apologize that I have not stuck to my schedule. As a Type A, rule follower, it is very difficult for me to be OK with not sticking to a plan and seeing it perfectly to completion.

I will, however, continue to declutter. And I will take pictures and document and share any tips that I have. But I cannot promise it will be weekly, especially as we are hitting the sunshine days of summer when I will much rather be outside with my kids than inside cleaning (priorities!).

For me, my priorities, the things that float to the top when it seems everything is demanding my time:
My God, and His Calling for my life (that's a whole blog post in itself, huh!?)
My Husband
My Children

What falls under those 3 was a little tricky to really put into simple words. Because, in reality, what is listed after that is comprised of all those things that kind of shift in and out, each one taking it's turn as a priority and sometimes giving way for something else. 

This past week, as the kids were enjoying their first week of summer vacation, I decided one of those priorities was to clean out our van, because, well, it was disgusting.  So, I recruited my 3 minions and we knocked it out.  And then drove into town for donuts because it was National Donut Day and we just couldn't let an opportunity like that pass us by (priorities!).

Friday, May 26, 2017

Week 19: That One Closet

So, I mentioned in a previous post how our house has no closets.

Sorry, I must retract that and rephrase.

When we moved into this house it had no closets (besides the ones in the bedrooms). There was no place for towels in the bathroom, extra sheets for beds, board games, and all those various things you put in closets.

But, when 75% of our house was destroyed by water and everything was down to the studs, we had the contractor build a closet into a small spot that was not functional before.

Hence, our small closet for some of those various things.

Several of the shelves hold board games and those things have a tendency to get cluttered up pretty quick.

So, I emptied out all the shelves, determined what games were actually played (keep) and what was just taking up space (donate), and put the closet back in order.

It wasn't a horrendously difficult job, but once done, I found the kids playing with more board games. Amazing how a little organization can make things easy to access and more likely to be used...

 The Before. The top two shelves stay pretty organized as the kids really can't reach them. Swim towels and swim suits go there. But now that summer break is here.....I am figuring on this one getting a little more messed up, It helps that all the swim suits are kept in a bag so it keeps them all together. Swim shoes go in a container and towels share a shelf with a bag that holds the sunscreen bottles and goggles.

 Before on Left, after on Right. Puzzles are contained in the basket. Some games were donated, the rest stacked. I'm guessing there will be another purge yet this year with these shelves...

 Two after shots. The shelves are deep and I think it will be tough to now lose things in the back. I tried to stack in a way that all the games can be seen and easily pulled out without having to pull everything out at once.

 My box of pictures....that will have to be a purge someday. But I know that will be an all day thing so finding a day like that.....we'll see.

For now I moved the box of pictures to my office so they are in plain sight and more likely to be taken care of. Staying is my working record player and collection of records plus a Chinese Checker board.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

April Lookback

We stayed in more hotels in April than I think we have in the entire last year.

It felt a little odd to do that much traveling, but some great memories were made along the way.

April 2017 was definitely one for the memory books.

The biggest memory maker of all in the month: Paul running the Boston Marathon. If you followed along on Facebook or Instagram, some of these pictures will look familiar. I tried my best to post a daily update to help catalogue the trip.

 As a birthday gift to me, my sister-in-law took me out to see Beauty in the Beast in the theater. I go to the movies about once every 5 years, and going as just the two of us to see my favorite Princess story was icing on the cake.  We may have been dancing in our seats and sitting with wide grins on our faces.....the whole time.

 Thanks to my job, we got a two day paid trip to a State Park lodge. Swimming, hiking, swimming, reading, and swimming were all part of the agenda.

The weather wasn't the greatest, but we still got a decent hike in regardless.

 On the other end of Spring Break we met up with my family at a hotel and celebrated my parents 40th Wedding Anniversary.  More swimming was on the agenda for that one, too.

 The Steffen clan headed to dinner.

 Just a little evening baseball lesson.

 Day 1 of the East Coast road trip. 12 hours of driving to New Haven, CT

 Day 2 was a little time with extended family, checking into our 10th floor hotel room in Boston, and touring a bit of the North End. Owen finally got to see the Old North Church and we took a picture by Cheers (can't really see the sign in this picture...)

 Picking up the race packet!!!

 Day 3 was Easter Sunday. We listened to our home congregation's service online then headed into the  throngs to pick up the race packet, see a bit more of Boston, and carbo-load on pasta.

 Day 4 - RACE DAY!! Paul got up super early, walked about 3/4 of a mile to his shuttle that took him out to the starting line in Hopkinton, MA.
 We watched the start of the race (10 AM) in the hotel room, then headed out to find a spot to watch. Divine intervention led us to the perfect spot where we set up camp for about 2.5 hours, plus we were able to see Paul run by! That evening there was a celebration party at Fenway Park for the runners and their families.  We road the subway there and it was an experience for all of us to say the least...


 Paul finished the race in 3 hours and 40 minutes. Of the 10 marathons he has run - this one was the toughest!

 Subway ride to Fenway...there were a few nervous passengers...

 Panoramic shot of the field. We got to walk around the whole perimeter, touch the Green Monster, sit in the dugouts, and take pictures with the World Series Trophies.

 Day 5: 14 hours home. We had blue skies the whole way....