Love Notes

If you have ever read The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman, then you know that one of the 5 love languages he writes about is words of affirmation.  While this isn’t mine or Chris’ primary love language it is one of the ways that we all fell loved.  I’m not very good at giving verbal words of affirmation.  It’s easier for me to write things down so a few years ago I made this:DSC_9159colorIt’s just a frame, that I spray painted white, with some scrapbook paper in it on which I printed out “I love you because”.  Then we use a dry erase marker to write messages to each other.  It’s a simple idea really, but one that we have enjoyed over the years.

We actually keep ours in our master bathroom (so romantic right?).  I do that for many reasons.  First, it’s not something that I want visitors or other people reading and very few people go into that bathroom.  Second, the bathroom is somewhere that we both frequent so you know the message will be viewed.  Lastly, sometimes when you are in the bathroom you have a little time to sit and think about the many ways that you love your spouse.

This is a little gesture of love that can sometimes go a long way.  Last week my husband gave me one of the nicest compliments that I’ve ever received and it was written on this little board.  He wrote, “If more women in the world were like you there would be far less problems and far greater men.”  I’m not sure how true that is in general but it’s sure nice to know that he thinks that.

DSC_9154colorLike I said before, it’s a pretty simple idea. Simple to make and simple to use but sometimes it’s the simple things in life that make a big difference.

Simplifying Laundry

DSC_8390colorLaundry.

It’s practically a swear word for most mothers.  I never felt that way until I had my last baby.  Since then, I just couldn’t keep up with it.  There was always a big pile of dirty laundry on the laundry room floor or a big pile of clean laundry on the couch needing to be folded.  I felt like laundry was my life, all I ever did or felt like I should be doing.

I used to do laundry the way I thought it was “supposed” to be done, by dumping all the laundry in a big pile, sorting it by color and then washing, drying, folding until it’s all done.  Except that it was NEVER done.  Then several months ago I came across two different posts about laundry.  The first was this one on Instagram:

Captureand the second is here.

Exciting right?

Okay, not really but it got me thinking about how I do my own laundry and I decided to try something different.  I don’t actually do what they do in either of those posts but they helped me to see that I can do things differently.  Now when I do laundry I take the laundry basket from one bedroom and bring it into the laundry room.  Only one at a time.  I start the washer and put almost all of the clothes in that basket into the washer.  Reds, khakis, and dark jeans, it doesn’t matter, they all go in together.  I do sort out the whites, towels and underwear because I like to use bleach on those so I wash them separately.  (I have two empty laundry baskets in the laundry room that I put whites and undies/towels into as I’m adding the rest of the stuff to the washer.)   It usually only takes one load for the kids clothes and sometimes, like today, I could fit both of the little kids clothes into one load.   Once the laundry basket I’m working from is empty, I put it back where it goes and move on to the next room.

One of the things about my old system that drove me crazy is that there was always dirty laundry on the laundry room floor.  This mostly solves that problem.  My kids still throw dirty laundry in on the floor sometimes but a shirt and some socks here and there isn’t nearly as annoying to have on the floor as all of the clothes we own.

Probably the biggest problem from my old system was folding.  Ugh!  It was the worst.  There could be anything in that basket of clothes, my shirt, some kids shorts, my husbands uniform, etc.  So not only did you need a lot of room to sort and fold everything, once you were done there were 5 different rooms that you had to go in to put it all away.  And for that reason, I always put off folding the laundry.

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Now, when I get clothes out of the dryer THEY ALL GO IN THE SAME ROOM!  It’s kind of amazing how big of a difference that makes to me.  I usually fold the clothes as I take them out of the dryer because it’s only one persons clothes and there is room on top of the washer and dryer for all of the different piles I need.  Then when they’re folded it’s one trip into one room to put them all away.  Sometimes I will even take the clean, unfolded laundry into the room where it goes and fold it and put it away all at the same time.  Either way it’s so much faster and easier to maintain than my old way.

And I don’t hate laundry anymore!

This is a perfect example to me about what I was trying to say in my post on simplifying.  I still have the exact same amount of laundry to do and the same amount of time to do it but by finding a different way to do it I get a much better result.  The benefits of this go beyond getting the laundry done.  I no longer feel like laundry is my life and I should always be doing it.  It has taken away some of the “I’m always behind in life and can’t ever catch up.” feelings that I have struggled with.  And that feels so good that now I’m wondering what process to change up next.

El Presidente

Our stake has a mid-week scripture class that I like to go to.  It is taught by two women who are both remarkable.  One of them is Susan Tanner, former General Young Women’s President as well as a lot of other things.  As she was teaching a lesson a few weeks ago it was mentioned that she sewed pajamas for all of her grandkids for Christmas.  She said that while she sewed she listened to an audio book.  I can’t remember which book it was but it was a well known LDS book, a title that I recognized but have never read.

I also made pajamas for my kids for Christmas and I also listened to something while I worked.  Although what I listened to wasn’t an LDS audio book, it was the podcast Serial.  While not necessarily a bad podcast, it isn’t exactly uplifting.  As I sat there in the class I compared my entertainment of choice to hers when we were in the same situation.  The differences helped me to see that there was plenty of room for improvement in my life.

Because of this experience and other thoughts and feelings that I had been having, later that night as I said my prayers, I told God that I was ready for him to make me into the person he wanted to be.  I was ready to do what he had in mind for me.

A week and a half later I got called to be the Primary President.  That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind as I prayed that night.  I was thinking of things that alined more with my goals and dreams for my life.  Being the Primary President, or any President for that matter, has never been a goal of mine.

It’s been about a month since I got my new calling and in that short amount of time I’ve come to realize a few things.  The first thing is that it’s really weird that we congratulate people when they get a major calling.  I feel uncomfortable when people tell me congratulations, like this is something that I aspired to and that other people want but didn’t get.  I know they mean well and are simply acknowledging the change and I don’t have any hard feelings.  It’s just hard for me to know how to respond.  I tend to just say “Thanks” and then try to change the subject.  Some in my family have started saying “Congratudolances” (congratulations+condolences) which is a little closer to how I feel but still not exactly right.

There were two responses that I have liked the most.  The first one was from my sister.  When she found out she sent a text that said “Aye! Aye! Aye! You’ll do great as Primary Pres!”  It was awesome because it summed up the hugeness of the calling but she also gave her support.

The second response was from a friend.  She started with the common “Congratulations” after which I thanked her and said, ” but I don’t know if that is the right word to use.”  She then agreed with me and said that the ones they should be congratulating are the kids because they were lucky to have me.  It was by far the nicest thing anyone said to me about the new calling.

The thing that has really surprised me in this experience is all of the support that people have shown me.  Everyone who says anything to me about it says that I will do a great job or that I will be so great in the calling.  They seem to have so much confidence in me.  That or they are really good liars.  It too feels a little weird because I feel so insufficient.  There is so much that I lack and I feel like it is all so apparent.  Maybe others don’t see my weaknesses as much as I think they do.

I’m actually excited about the calling in a way.  I’m excited for the person that I will be when it’s all over.  I know it will be hard at times but that’s okay, hard things change us and when I went to the Lord in prayer that night change is what I was looking for.

Angels

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I first started thinking about angels when I became a mother.  There were several times throughout the years when I would be rocking a brand new baby and notice that they were staring at something above me, something that I couldn’t see.  Even though I couldn’t see it I knew there was something, someone, there.

Those angels that my babies were staring at, they were never strangers to me.  In the beginning when I thought who it could be I often thought of my Granny.  She was the first of my grandmothers to die and I live in her house.  The house she died in is the same house where I was rocking my babies.  It made sense that she would want to return.

When Briella was born and I thought of the angles that were attending us it was Chris’s Grandma Joyce that came to mind.  She died when Chris’s dad was only 15 so none of us were ever able to meet her.  My sister-in-law had a baby two months later and told me she felt Grandma Joyce around her too.

angels 16x20If God is going to send angels to help us I don’t think it’s going to be a random soul who doesn’t know us.  It’s going to be our family members, someone who loves us and cares for us more than we can know.  I also don’t think angels only come to us when have new babies.  I think they are always there, helping us, comforting us, guiding us.  I imagine we would be shocked by the invisible army that surrounds.

Chris grandma died this week.  She lived on the other side of the country and he didn’t know her well.  Because he didn’t have a close relationship with her the sting of death didn’t hit him too hard but I know there are several people who are hurting.  I’m grateful to know that even though she is gone from this world she isn’t gone from us, we’ve simply gained another angel.

bkangelsPaintings by Brian Kershisnik: Top one titled “She will find what is lost.”  Bottom one titled “Angels”.

Photo credit

Simplifying

Last week my sister-in-law was over at my house.  I had watched her little girl for her and when she came to pick her up she sat down and stayed for awhile.  I sat down and tried to visit with her but the whole time I was feeling so anxious about all that I had to do.  I got up several times to clean things up or do this and that.  I just couldn’t sit and enjoy visiting with her.

The worst part about it is that I know she could tell that I was feeling that way.  She was waiting for some information from someone else before she could leave so it led to a little bit of an awkward situation.

So much about this has bothered me for the last week.  What bothers me the most is that I put a “to do list” above a person.  I care so much more for the people in my life, especially those that I am close to, than I do about having a clean house or dishes washed. Yet, in this instance I didn’t show that.  I let things to do become more important to me than a person to be loved.

For awhile now I have been almost constantly overwhelmed by all there is on my plate.  The daily house chores, raising kids, a church calling, being a wife, etc.  All things that are good or necessary but all take time.

In reality my life is less busy than many other women.  I don’t work or do much volunteering.  I don’t have a new baby and all the demands that come with them.  While my church calling takes time, there are definitely more time consuming callings.  In realizing this it has helped me to see that there are changes I can make, things that I can do better to help things run smoother at home.

Whenever stuff like this comes up I always think that I need to just simplify my life.  I hear that from blogs and books and it sounds so easy but then I try to implement it and realize that I don’t exactly know how to simplify.  Sure you get rid of stuff because if you have less stuff than it’s less to worry about but sometimes getting rid of stuff isn’t an option.

I learned a little bit about this while reading Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  She talks about how we approach the things that cause us stress or anxiety.  Do we just try to tackle it after it’s there and always be reacting or do we take action and try to cut it off or limit it?  The example she gives in the book is the way two different people handle their email.  One women has a set time where she just dives into her email and tries to get it all taken care of but it usually takes her longer than she plans for.  Then there is a man who is proactive and tells people upfront to only email him if it’s important.  He takes other steps to limit the amount of emails that he gets so that he doesn’t have to spend a lot of his time on emailing.

I think this is another way of simplifying, finding ways to do something different so that we get a better result.  I have so much work to do in this area, so much simplifying that needs to be done.  This is going to be my focus for the next few months, simplifying my life.   It will take some time and will be a learning experience for me.  I tend to be one who reacts to life instead of acting but I hope to share some of what I learn here so that others can benefit as well.  Maybe we can all simplify together.

Being Grateful

theif of joyPhoto Credit

About a year ago I went to a photo editing class taught by the owner of my favorite local photography studio.   Since we were going to be editing photos one of the requirements for the class was to bring your own computer.  We have a laptop but it is old and s-l-o-w and we almost never use it.  Honestly, I didn’t even know if it worked.  Plus, it didn’t have the programs on it that I needed.  There was an option to bring your desktop to the class but I really didn’t want to do that.  The thought of taking it all apart at home, hauling it all the way there, putting it together there, then doing it all over again at the end of it was just daunting.  I was actually quite anxious over what to do.  I had wanted to go to the class for quite a while and it had never worked out.  Now that I could go, I didn’t have a computer.

As the class drew closer I decided to see if I could get the laptop to work.  I charged it up and over the next few days I was able to get it running and get the programs that I needed installed on it.  It seemed to be working.

The night before the class I prayed that the laptop would work.  It sounds kind of trivial now but it felt like a big deal at the time.  I believe that God loves us and is concerned about the little details of our lives.  I had wanted to learn more about editing for a long time and this was my chance.  So, I prayed that he would help me, that the laptop would work and that I would be able to participate in the class.

When I got to the class the next morning, I plugged the laptop in, turned it on and it worked perfectly.  It didn’t seem as slow and it was performing in every way I needed it to.  I was so glad.

After being in the class awhile I started looking around at the others and their computers.  There were mostly newer computers, several with a certain glowing fruit on top which mine doesn’t have.  Almost all were much thinner and sleeker than mine and I started to feel self conscious.  I was embarrassed about my old, fat, slow computer.

After feeling embarrassed for awhile I realized how crazy that was.  Minutes earlier I had been praying that the computer would just work, that I would be able to learn what I wanted to learn and participate in the class.  Now that I had those things it wasn’t enough.  I was no longer grateful for the answer to my prayer and that my desire for so long was being fulfilled, instead I was comparing myself to those around me and feeling inferior because I conceived what they had to be greater than what I had.

It was a great learning moment for me and I’ve reflected on it many times over the last year.  When I focused on what I had and how my situation was better than I had expected, I was grateful.  As soon as I started comparing my situation to others, I felt inferior and I lost the gratitude I was feeling.  It confirms the quote above by Theodore Roosevelt, comparison really is the thief of joy.

There will always be someone better than me, smarter than me, richer than me.  I’ll never have the latest and greatest technology.  {I currently use an iphone 3 for goodness sake.}  I will always be able to find some way that I am less than someone else if that is what I’m looking for. But none of that brings joy.

If instead, I focus on my own situation; how far I’ve come, how much I have, etc, that is where the gratefulness and joy will come in.  It’s not easy to do and I fail more than I succeed but I’m going to keep trying because I want to have a life filled with joy.

Legos and Hair Bows

DSC_7872colorWe brought the kids to Toys R Us on Saturday.  One of them got a toy for Christmas that needed to be exchanged and a few others had some money burning a hole in their pockets.  It took us much longer than I preferred to get out the door.  I don’t think it should take us 20 minutes to get ready to go but this time it did.  It didn’t help that when we were 5 minutes into our trip we discovered that the toy we needed to exchange was left at home so we had to go back and get it.

I was frustrated and upset.  I had a plan and now it was delayed.

This isn’t anything new for me.  Lately I feel like I live most of my life upset or annoyed.  I let the small annoyances in life linger and fester inside of me.

As I was driving to the toy store I was thinking about my attitude and the fact that it really wasn’t helping the situation.  Is it really worth being so angry about something so meaningless?  The fact that we were a half hour later than I hoped didn’t make any earth shattering ripples in our day but the way I treated my kids because of it definitely could.  We were going to the toy store whether I liked it or not.  I could either get over myself and let the kids have their fun and maybe enjoy myself too, or I could be ornery, frustrated and snippy at them the whole time which wouldn’t be fun for anyone.

I chose to get over myself.  I let the boys look at Lego sets for as long as they wanted.  I even got crazy and let Baby Girl stay out of the cart.  She wandered around the store, pulled everything off the shelf, showed it to me, then said, “I buy it.”  All with her hair in bows that she did herself.

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How can that not make you happy?

In the end, it was a successful trip. It wasn’t some grand memory that the kids will remember when they’re old.  It was simply a trip to the store where toys and candy were acquired.  One tiny step on the ladder of building a happy childhood for these kids I love so much and want the best for.  But it was definitely a success for me.  I showed myself that I can let go of those annoyances and let myself enjoy the moment even if everything hasn’t gone as planned.

And that is a something I will definitely use again because really, how often does life go as planned?