Happy Valentine’s Day!

I’ve never been big into Valentine’s Day but this year I want to try a little bit harder to celebrate smaller holidays with my family. No fancy parties, no decorations, just little tweaks to our daily routines that recognize a special date on the calendar.

When I sat down to plan this month’s blog content, I decided that I wanted to make something special for you as well. And last week, when my husband was in New Orleans on a business trip, I spent my evenings watching YouTube tutorials and making my eyes cross learning how to digitalize handlettering. (After all, learning Illustrator is on my list of goals for this year.)

So, for you on Valentine’s Day 2017, a free download of a Emily Bronte quote. Yes, this is from Wuthering Heights. While Wuthering Heights is my favorite classic book, it’s a creepy, tragic love story, so take that however you will. This is the original design that I started with pictured below.

9 Project Ideas

Lately I’ve gotten quite a few questions about project ideas and how I fit in time to do projects. This post won’t address both of those topics but I’m going to tackle a list of project ideas if you are looking for some inspiration for March. Or April or May or- you get the idea.

(However my number one tip on accomplishing projects? Start small with something you know you can manage and let it grow if it blossoms. Commit to 20 minutes once a week and see where it takes you.)

The one thing I would challenge you to do when you start any project is to document your work. Whether you take pictures for yourself (maybe on a private Instagram account so you can make a photo book later) or share them in a public spot on the internet or take notes on what you are learning, you will get more out of the work if you can see what you’ve accomplished when you’re done. Does this mean all the work will be good? Of course not. But that’s not why you are doing it.

5 Things I’d Tell You: Pregnancy Edition

I love going out for coffee with friends, especially if I can sneak out once the boys are in bed or while they are working on a project with my husband. There’s nothing like sipping a drink or eating a brownie while discussing the best and hardest parts of life. And since I was 20 weeks pregnant this week it seemed the perfect time for some maternity talk. So grab your drink and chill for a few minutes this Friday.

1. I run the gamut of emotions between the wonder of a child growing inside me to the realization that soon this baby will be in my arms and I have to reorient our entire schedule to handle that. When I’m energized I think I can handle it; if I’m tired I’m sure that we’ll never adjust. But we’ve brought home three already so surely at some point we’ll find our footing. (Right?) For that very reason, part of my prep time praying for a coming baby always includes praying that God will prepare my heart and our family.

Choosing the Adventure

Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. -Helen Keller

(Sometimes living an adventure means that you fracture your ankle at volleyball practice. But I’ll take the fractured ankle over sidelining myself in life for fear of what might happen.) I read the above quote on Instagram (I seriously love the inspiration I’ve curated for myself on IG) and was reminded that I get to choose my attitude every single day.

One of my favorite things about my life as a stay-at-home mom (I’m not sure I can legitimately call myself that anymore) is the variety of the work I get to do. I get to do the daily work with my munchkins: living life, doing school, and learning to get along. I get to write and podcast. I get to sing. I get to coach volleyball. I keep a friend’s baby and get my baby fix on. If variety is the spice of life, we’re pretty spicy around here. And I love that. There’s absolutely no time to be bored.

How to Get Your Work Done

It’s the earlier morning as I’m writing. I won’t quite claim early morning since most of the working world is already up. I’m trying to ease back into my morning work habits and here I am, writing before my kids are up. As early as I’d like? Nope. Did I do the whole morning routine I’d like to? Nope. And I almost stayed in bed because of that. But then I realized that I’m going to want at the end of the day is to have written. And if all I get is 200 words, that will be better than none.

It doesn’t help me to say “well, the kids will be up soon so it’s not worth my time.” It doesn’t help me to make excuses like, “I don’t have three hours to work on this; I only have thirty minutes.” We can spend our lives looking for the big chunks of time, moments that are uninterruptible. But if we want to do real work, we have to do it in real life. That means working in fifteen minute chunks between laundry and running errands and lunch breaks. That means working when we’d rather drift back to sleep for a few minutes or dig into a good book. (Although, bonus, reading is totally part of the work of being a writer.)

When You Need to Say “No”

I should have known better. The opening scene was a family with young kids who were leaving for vacation the next day. But I was chilled out on the couch and Justin had turned on the tv before he left to get our takeout and it was vacation. So I kept watching.
 
You have to understand that I stopped watching Criminal Minds when I was pregnant with Micah. I love The Mentalist; Psych is my favorite show in the world; and I can’t wait for Sherlock to come back on. But Criminal Minds is a “no” and I would never have considered watching it if we had been at home.
 
As I watched the opening scene it didn’t cross my mind that I was making a choice. By not saying “no” I was saying “yes.” And I watched the whole show in its horrifying glory (families leaving on vacation found murdered in their basements!) and then two more episodes as well.

I Didn’t Speak Dutch: 3 Ways to Creatively Love Our Neighbors

Today I’m thrilled to share Charissa Steyn and part of her story of living in the Netherlands. One thing I’ve been praying about in my own life is how I can love the people around me who might not seem like “my people.” Charissa provides some examples where she was on the receiving end.

I’m embarrassed to say this, but after two years of living in the Netherlands I never learned Dutch. At least not anything beyond “hoi, hoi” which is a typical greeting for hello or goodbye in the southern province.

Anytime someone would ask about how my Dutch was coming along I would mumble something about my lack of progress. I often wonder how our time here would have looked if I taught myself to carry on simple conversation in Dutch, put my kids in a Dutch preschool, or took language classes once a week. Would we have stayed longer or had stronger community? Perhaps.

But that didn’t stop my neighbors, Reen and Hannelie, from embracing us.