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I'm picking up speed, and shouting out random orders all rapid fire like. Yes, I'm a no nonsense drill sergeant – without a game plan. Something short circuits in my brain when confronted with the monumental undertaking of having to pack for a week long vacation. There's the clothes of course (how many shorts will each of my kids need to last them one week?), the beach supplies, the sleeping bags and towels (we'll be staying in a cabin), the snacks, books, crayons and paper for the car ride. Then there's my iPod, my Kindle, my camera, and their respective chargers…oh, and an extra pair of contact lenses, in case I lose the ones I'm wearing. I should leave the house somewhat clean…probably. And I should for sure remember to take out the garbage.
It will require a half dozen cups of coffee, and more than a few motivational speeches (a la the likes of Tony Robbins and Stephen Covey ; ) ) from myself to myself to keep me on task : Don't Sweat the Small Stuff! The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing! How am I going to live today in order to create the tomorrow I'm committed to?
Ahhh, but on the other side of my manic pre-trip vacation-ey stuff assemblage, lies seven days of concentrated, restful, restorative family time. We need this. I am thankful for this.
Only forty-four hours to go.Read More
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Only a stomach that rarely feels hungry scorns common things. ~Horace
I came across the above quote this morning and it shook me by the shoulders:
Wake up girl, you've been sleepwalking!
Huh? What? I couldn't hear you, or see you, or digest you – I've been wandering aimlessly through a flustered daze.
Yesterday, as you know, I was lamenting that loss of productivity oft associated with these long and unorganized days of summer. Grrrrrrr, is how I commonly react to the mess, the bickering, the slow-pokiness, to my days not measuring up to my expectations.
Oh whoa is me.
A little perspective is in order. Yes, I lost mine momentarily – it happens to the best of us. It happens every time I avert my gaze from the prize, the pearl of great price, from Christ, from my blessings – when I focus in on myself.
That's the cold hard truth in a nutshell.
I find it's most effective, when pursuing a renewal of gratitude and selflessness, to start with the basics:
I'm thankful for food to eat, for a roof over my head, for my family, for being loved.
A deliberate quest for gratitude and selflessness, involving the conscious opening of my eyes and ears and heart to the trials others are enduring, and to the mystical beauty woven throughout my own existence, can be awfully darn curative.
O.K. I'm starting over again (for the 164,000th time). I'm standing back up and taking a step forward, in 3…2…1…
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I'm not saying I don't like it, this looser speed with its daily variances. It just always takes, for me anyway, a little getting used to. Here we are at the end of June, settling in to a routine that is void of routine: the pool one day, the library and park the next, or an afternoon creating doll houses out of shoe boxes. Consistent bed times? Not a chance – not when there are neighbor kids to run wild with outside, not when the mild, lazy evenings are making it darn near impossible for me to uproot myself from our screened-in porch after dinner. I'm working on making peace with a lot of half-done domestic endeavors, with projects being "chipped away at" instead of completed in a timely manner while my clan is at school. "Is this really allowed?" I've asked myself more than once when reluctantly walking away from an "I must get this done ASAP" kind of chore in order to fulfill my promise to read a chapter book with my son, for example. Even as I assure myself it is good to pause, to create these summer memories with my children, deep down I still wrestle with anxiousness: I feel out of control.
Flexibility is an art I've not yet mastered, but would love to. Balance is elusive outside of dogged prayers for wisdom.
Hmmm, I've been less than consistent lately, now that I think about it, with my dogged prayers, with any prayers, for wisdom. Oh (sigh.), I can't quit writing here. I'm much too forgetful. Here is where I come to stop for a minute, and remember what really matters in the grand scheme of things. Summer is for refocusing, and then letting go.Read More
It started out pleasantly on Friday, when we babysat our nieces and all the kids stayed up late playing freeze tag, climbing trees and catching fireflies.
I awoke the next morning to spectacular weather – mild sunny weather beckoning us outside ("Leave those dishes unwashed," it called out to me).
We walked downtown, past the park where a huge turtle caught our attention, and on to our local European Market.
Priscilla and I loaded our wagon with bags of red peppers, yellow tomatoes, romaine lettuce and nectarines.
(Me and my girls)
And then for lunch made a colorful and scrumptious salad.
At this point, however, I must pause and insert the yucky part, the ridiculous part, of my weekend. See, shortly after our light meal, I took our youngest son to a birthday party. "Well, lookie here," I thought, "I have like three and half hours to kill before I need to pick him up." Thus a knee jerk decision was made to embark on a 45 minute drive to Costco. My youngest daughter, Mary, napped on the way and once we got there, the two of us had a fabulous time filling our gigantic cart with gigantic packages of brown rice, pretzels, paper towels, etc. She ate her weight in samples ("examples" she calls them) of pizza, bean burritos, kettle chips, and italian ice. How satisfied I was to know our big monthly shopping trip was being taken care of ahead of schedule. I'd have the rest of that afternoon to put those groceries away and get going on the laundry (laundry, laundry, never-ending laundry).
Still pleased with myself, I started loading our purchases on to the conveyer belt. It was check out time. Check out time. Oh good grief, it was check out time and I just remembered you can only use a debit card at Costco. Guess who doesn't actually know her debit card pin number? Yup, that's right….it's meeeee! I should know it – of course I should know it! I mean, really, who carries around a debit card without knowing their pin number?! Suddenly, there I was, face to face with the harried cashier, my stomach in knots, a long line behind me. And ya'll, I'd gotten a lot of groceries. That cart was f-u-l-l.
"There's no way you could run this as credit, right?" I asked sheepishly, knowing already she could not. "Ummm, no." She answered abruptly. Of course our bank was closed, so they couldn't help me if I called them. And Troy has his pin number memorized (He's very responsible like that) but not mine. So I nervously tried to guess my pin number…once…twice…three times. You only get three times to guess it turns out before they assume you probably stole that card. "Can you at least write a check?" she asked. Everyone in line behind me was hoping I'd please write a check and MOVE ON ALREADY!
Guess who didn't bring her checkbook?
I only teared up a tiny bit when I had to leave the store empty handed. "Where's our stuff, mama?" asked Mary. When I explained they were kindly storing our groceries in their cooler while we drove 45 minutes back home to get a check, she didn't bat an eye. And when we finally arrived at our house (I arranged for my dad to pick up Benjamin from his party) and my husband too wondered where our "stuff" was, I gave him a look that communicated wordlessly "PLEASE DON'T ASK! Okaaaay?!" He didn't. What a sweetheart! He kissed me empathetically and went on to his soccer game. The kids and I headed back to Costco.
By 7:00 pm that night, my "quick" shopping excursion was finally over.
Sunday, after Divine Liturgy, a beautiful Divine Liturgy as always, we all changed into our swim suits and headed to the YMCA. The kids swam for a good long time in the frigid water while Troy and I read, and reminded Mary every other minute to walk instead of run around the pool. It was a relaxing way to close down the weekend.
Ahhh, a brand new week lies before me. Here's to family outings, learning from my mistakes, and how to roll with it when life tosses me a curveball!
A peaceful Monday to you!Read More
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Two months ago, summer day camp and soccer camp seemed like great ideas! I filled out the registration paper work lickety split and rested easy knowing when June came around, my kids would have plenty of fun, outdoors-ey things to do. For some reason, it hadn't dawned on me that those two camps would overlap, but they did, they have, and this week we were busy as heck getting my middle two to day camp in the mornings, then driving Priscilla to soccer camp in the evenings, plus added in there were YMCA classes, library classes, book club, play dates, drama practice and my husband's soccer practice. Whew!
Yesterday, we stopped by our house for an hour or so, before having to run out the door again, and immediately Mary plopped herself down on our living arm chair, snuggled up with her stuffed bunny and promptly fell asleep. She looked so peaceful and relaxed, I was tempted to join her.
Next week things should definitely slow down some…probably….maybe. Oh who am I kidding? : )Read More