Your Success is Not My Failure

It was the summer Anika was five, and she still didn’t know how to ride a bike.

Her little friend next door was a year younger than Anika, and had already learned how to bike the summer before. As a first-time, up-tight, over-achiever kind of mom, I was stressed.

Her little friend also learned how to swim earlier than Anika did, so pretty much, I was worried about her future. Suddenly, biking and swimming were no longer fun activities for her to take part in that summer – this was serious, and she needed to learn fast. We were falling behind. How would she grow into a well-functioning adult if she was behind on basic life skills and athletic abilities?I was pretty sure this was a sign that we were failing as parents, and I was passing on a nonathletic curse so strong that Ben’s athletic genes could not overpower it.

But one day, I went next door to visit our friends, and was waiting in their hallway for some reason I can’t remember. As I stood there, I suddenly noticed something hanging on the wall that I had never paid attention to before.  It was a rack full of medals – medals for bike competitions of some sort. A huge wave of realization swept over me – our friend was hugely into biking. He was incredibly passionate about it, and it was a hobby he spent a lot of time enjoying and perfecting. As a family, they took biking very seriously, and they had spent a lot of time teaching their daughter to ride a bike.

As I thought about these friends, I suddenly remembered that she was a lifeguard. Swimming was something she was passionate about, and she had also spent a lot of time helping her daughter learn how to swim.

If I could pick two activities that defined our friends, it would most definitely be swimming and biking.

This made me curious – what were Ben and I passionate about? It didn’t take me long to identify what was most important to us – reading and music. These were both hobbies that Ben and I enjoyed, and as I thought about it, I could see the ways in which we were passing on these joys to Anika, in the same way our friends were focusing on swimming and biking.

I read to Anika for hours and hours each day. She learned to read at a young age, and at five, she had the vocabulary of a 10-year-old. And Ben would often pull out his guitar and sing with her. I had taught piano lessons for years, and I loved seeing how Anika was becoming a very natural pianist, catching on quickly and playing confidently.

We had chosen to put our time, energy, and passion into the activities we enjoyed, and wanted to share with our daughter. It made no sense to assume that because someone else was naturally good at something, and had put in the time to increase their skill, we needed to do the same, and expect the same results, without the same amount of passion or practice.

I had been comparing my weakness to another person’s strength.

The comparison game never makes anyone a winner, but that day I realized how completely unfair I’d been with myself, and even with Anika. No one can be good at everything, and there isn’t enough time in a day to be passionate about too many things.

At that point, we were fortunate enough to have Anika share our love for books and music, but this would not necessarily always be the case. We could pass on our hobbies, but we also needed to allow room for the things she wanted to pursue, without that being a reflection of our skill as parents.

She did learn to swim and bike that summer, and now it doesn’t seem important anymore. I had to think very hard to figure out how old she was the summer she learned to bike, because it doesn’t matter anymore when it happened. She spends hours a day writing fantasy books, and is signed up for Musical Theatre classes this fall, and we love watching her enjoy things we enjoy.

And I often think about that rack full of medals, and how each family is unique, free to develop their own passions and interests, and even the culture in their own home. This is right and good – something to celebrate, actually.

The strength and success of another person does not take anything away from me. Why is that so hard to remember sometimes?

Anika once said to me, “Just because my friend is very pretty doesn’t mean that I’m not pretty.” I’ve made lots of mistakes as a parent, but if she’s figured this truth out at the ripe old age of 13, I think she’ll be okay.

I wasn’t planning on ending this post with a collection of quotes, but when I went looking for a suitable thought to share, there were so many fantastic quotes that I couldn’t pick just one. Here’s a bit of inspiration to hang on to next time we start feeling the temptation to compare:

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https://a-joyfuljourney.tumblr.com/post/151409968453/a-joyfuljourney-acsliving

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How We Tackle Laundry

There are hundreds of tips out there on how to conquer Laundry Mountain, but today I’m adding my latest insights, in the slight chance that someone else still hasn’t found what they’re looking for, and thinks like me when it comes to dealing with laundry.

The Problem

I’ve tried a lot of things over the years, but never really found a great fit. I cannot get on board with the idea of doing a load each day – I like to get everything washed and dried in one day, if possible, so that I have the rest of the week to enjoy my clean clothes and not feel like it’s a never-ending chore. I get everything clean on Monday, and do ironing on Tuesday, but it’s always been the huge pile of stuff to fold which does me in. If clean clothes start to pile up at all, it just spirals out of control.

I think it’s a mental thing – it starts looking really overwhelming, and I think it will take more time than it will, so I start to procrastinate because I don’t feel like I have the time to deal with it. Also, I like the idea of my kids helping with laundry, but my energy-conscious mind does not like the idea of everybody doing their own laundry, resulting in many little loads.

I needed a way to get everything done in one day, while still involving my kids, with absolutely no laundry piling up. I finally found what works, and it’s fantastic. I’ve stuck with it for a few months now, so I’m pretty confident this will be a long-term solution. Here’s how we do it:

Gather and Sort

Everybody rounds up their laundry on Monday morning. (I chose this day because after the weekend, I always need a day at home to regroup and get everybody back on track, so I can stay consistent with doing laundry on this day.) Sometimes the girls help me sort all the loads, depending on where we’re at with school work, our schedule for the day, etc.

Choose Your Load Wisely

I alternate highly “hands-on” loads with easy loads – sheets or towels look like a big load, but they’re faster to fold and clean up, so it gives me more time to catch up on loads that are more time-consuming and full of lots of little socks and underwear.

Separate Immediately!

To avoid laundry piling up, I’ve found that I need to sort it as I’m taking it out of the dryer. This is the key that makes everything work for me! I have a laundry basket for each kid, plus one for socks, and I throw everything into the right basket immediately. For clothes that need to be hung, I make a separate pile which goes straight to our closet. (I hang as much as possible, because it’s faster to hang it than fold it.)

All that remains on top of my washer and dryer is a very small amount of clothes belonging to Ben or me. Encouraged by how small the pile is, I’m usually very motivated to fold it right away.

Involve the Kids

The girls are responsible for folding and putting away their laundry, and pairing the socks. Everett loves to put away his laundry while I’m folding it, and we usually get all of the kids clothes cleaned up on Tuesday.

This leaves almost a full, beautiful week of no laundry to worry about, which I LOVE.

Bonus Loads

While I can’t get behind the idea of doing a load a day, I’ve found that thinking of it as “working ahead” is enough to motivate me to throw in a load or two during the week, only if I have time. Because I don’t have to do it, and I won’t get behind if I don’t, I feel like it’s an optional way for me to lighten the load for Monday, and it’s fun to feel like I’m getting clothes washed in advance. It’s all mind-games, hey?! But whatever works.:)

To Hang or Not to Hang

In the past, I’ve talked about how much I loved to air-dry all our clothing. There were two reasons for this – my laundry never piled up, because I would hang everything in closets immediately, and I wanted to save energy and money by using our dryer less. Unfortunately, after doing some research, Ben and I discovered that the energy used to remove the humidity from our house caused by drying clothes was more expensive than using the dryer! If I had a clothes line, it would make more sense, but that would be time-consuming and overwhelming, which I don’t need at this point in my life, PLUS we’ve got some allergy issues around here, and I was told not to dry clothes outside because the allergens would be on our clothes.

So, we’re back to using the dryer, and I found a way to get clothes hung immediately, and life is good.

And that’s how we deal with laundry around here! If you have any great laundry tips to add, I would love to hear them, because it’s such a huge job, so if anything can make it more manageable, we should be sharing it all over the place!

What’s your laundry routine, and why does it work for your family?

 

Quote Love

Every couple of months, I like to round up all the best quotes I’ve come across, and share them here. There’s something about combining beautiful images with inspiring words that gets me every time! Here are my latest favourites:

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Any quotes you’ve been loving lately? Please share!:)

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Sibling Love

My chicks are all back in the nest, where they belong.

Everett is delighted to be reunited with his “girlies”. Kaylia was at camp for a week, and then Anika was at camp the next week, and it felt like two weeks was a long time to be missing a family member. My thoughts keep going to my cousin, who lost her son in an accident this last week, and my heart feels heavy for moms who can’t be with their children.

These are the days to hold them close, and enjoy this stage. But at the same time, I always want to keep in mind that the whole point is for them to grow up, and eventually leave the nest, and I don’t want that to be a depressing thought. I want to learn to be fully present, and enjoy each stage, being able to look ahead with excitement and anticipation, and lots of trust that God has good things in store for the future.

But right now, it’s good to have them right where they are. There’s been some fighting already, but it warmed my heart to look out the window and find them chatting together in the play structure – so much to catch up on!:)

Other than the play structure moment, my favourite interaction would have to be this one:

Anika: Locked in her room, reading her book and wanting to be alone.

Kaylia: Knocking and repeatedly begging to play.

Anika: Repeatedly ignoring her.

Kaylia: Made Everett come to Anika’s door with her and started feeding him lines. “Tell Anika to open her door.”

Everett: “Anka, open my door!”

Kaylia: “Tell Anika to let you in her room.”

Everett: “Let you into my room!”

Kaylia “Tell her you want to hug her.”

Everett: “I want to hug you!”

Kaylia: “Tell her you want to kiss her.”

Everett: (long pause) “No. I not saying that.” And stomped down the hall. A kiss was going too far.

May you have better luck with your kiss requests this week. Have a happy Monday!

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Zombies Only Chase Me in Nightmares (or “Our Exercise Adventures”)

A few weeks ago, I came across a podcast which started some big changes around here: Why Sleep is More Important Than Diet and Exercise Combined.

It was so interesting, I went on to download a bunch of Shawn Stevenson’s podcasts, and I’m hooked. They fun and interesting, and I’ve learned a lot from them. I’m also feeling a lot more rested than I did previously!

One thing has stuck with me more than anything else was this:

“A good night’s sleep starts first thing in the morning.”

Crazy, hey?! But Shawn had such a great way of explaining it – he said that cortisol and melatonin are on a teeter totter, of sorts.:) When one goes up, the other goes down. So you want your cortisol to spike in the morning, giving you energy, and you want your melatonin to go up at night, so you get a great, solid sleep. One of the best ways to make sure everybody’s taking turns like they’re supposed to is to get outside and exercise first thing in the morning. That shot of sunlight and getting your body moving is a very effective way of starting everything off right. Also, the earlier in the day you exercise, the more down time your body has to drop its temperature (super important for a great night’s sleep).

This all made a ton of sense to me, and gave me a “why”. I’m finding that when I have a good reason to hang onto, it’s easier to make myself do stuff. So I set my alarm, and when I woke up the next morning, I focused on getting some water and protein into me (hemp seeds, because they’re fast and easy!),  and headed out the door for a walk as soon as I’d done enough stretches to keep me comfortable. This is a completely different order than I usually use to start my day, but I felt the difference immediately – I had more energy, and just felt really light and happy all day. It was fantastic! I also started sleeping more soundly.

I felt so good, I started bugging Ben about trying the same thing. He’s wanted to get consistent with running for a long time, but it’s been hard for him to find a way to get motivated – having a “why” does not work for him the way it does for me! He needed to find his own way to get excited about implementing change.

This week, Ben came home bursting with excitement because he found his “why” – an app called Zombies, Run! It’s on ongoing story to listen to while you run, all about how zombies are chasing you, and you must complete different missions in order to save the town. If you stop running, you die.

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This sounds like THE WORST IDEA EVER to me!! I can’t even imagine how high my stress level would go – the combination of physical and emotional stress would probably give me a heart attack. Or I would just never sleep ever again.

I’m super thankful there are all different kinds of people, and we have the freedom to figure out what works best for each of us. I will continue to have my peaceful walks in the morning sunrise, and Ben can run all over Niverville with zombies nipping at his heals. To each his own.

And that’s exactly the thing: find what works for you, in whatever area you’re needing it. There’s something out there for everyone, proven by Zombies, Run! Sometimes it’s hard to figure out what that missing piece is. Some people are really good at brainstorming creative ideas – I have a couple of people in my life who don’t take no for an answer. Nothing is impossible in their eyes, and they will keep throwing ideas around until something captures my interest and sounds like a solution I can get behind.

Or sometimes something only works for a season, and then it’s time to switch things up, and find something fresh and new.Whatever it is, it’s totally worth the effort!

What motivates you and gets you going when you’re stuck? And would zombies chasing you be fun, or just a total nightmare??!!

 

 

 

You Are Free

I love books, but I just don’t make enough time for reading these days, so last month I made a little birthday resolution to read more books this year. How I’m trying to accomplish that is another post all on it’s own, but for today, I wanted to share with you my first beautiful book choice – “You Are Free: Be Who You Already Are“. Ben gave it to me for my birthday – I have a wish list of books on Amazon, and he chose two from my list as a surprise, which I loved.:)

It was the perfect choice for getting started on my little reading challenge, because Rebekah Lyons writes like she’s talking to a good friend, and she’s just telling her story, simply and beautifully, with powerful spiritual truths coming through again and again, in the way God spoke to her and worked in her life. That kind of writing appeals so much to me, because our stories are powerful, and they draw other people in very naturally. It’s a gentle way of sharing truth about God, because it’s simply saying, “This is what happened to me, and I’d like to share it with you.”

I’ve spent a couple of beautiful weekends at the lake, waking up early while the lake is like glass, quietly slipping down to the dock and reading Rebekah’s story. Here are some of my favourite quotes:

“I sensed God saying, ‘If I ask you to be light, I will make it feel light.'”

“Waiting is a critical part of your anointing. It prepares you, strengthens you, equips and trains you to step up when the moment comes.”

“Have you ever felt deep within your bones God has a plan ‘exceedingly abundantly above all you ask or think’? Do you ever ‘become weary in doing good’? Perhaps you have heard something specific from God. He’s awakened you to your passions and talents; he’s given you a vision for how you can run fast and free in your lane, but for whatever reason, it’s not happening. Doors are not opening, and so you grow impatient. The fires of passion and zeal burn quickly, but start to face when we don’t see evidence of God’s provision and blessing immediately. When things don’t happen as we expect – when God doesn’t work in the way we think he will – we begin to question and doubt everything. Did we hear correctly? Did we get it wrong? We expect immediate parting of the seas, removal of obstacles, and opening of doors, yet Scripture shows us that God often calls his children to periods of waiting.”

“As I listened to God, my heart began a gradual shift from wanting to accomplish big things for God to wanting to simply receive small things from God.”

That last one is sitting with me a lot these days. For so long, I’ve wanted to do more, and felt restless at times in this season of life, when I’m spending a lot of time at home with my kids. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, but it can also feel very small and repetitive. If we continue homeschooling all three of our kids, all the way through high school, I’ll be in my 50s before we’re done! Will I get the chance to impact other people, have a meaningful job at some point, and use gifts I believe God’s given me that don’t get used much at home? And yet at the same time, I truly love where I am and believe that what we’re doing here is important, and what I’m called to right now. What if it’s not about accomplishing big things for God?

“What if your purpose is for [God] to love you?”

Rebekah writes about many of the different ways in which God wants us to experience true freedom, but the one pulling me in right now is the freedom to rest in God’s love, and receive small things, instead of feeling like I’m needing to do more but falling short.

It’s turning into a summer of learning how to rest, and finding freedom from the need to perform, and that is like a breath of fresh air. I admit, the setting for reading this book definitely increased my enjoyment, but I’m sure the message of “You Are Free” is life-giving wherever you might happen to read it!;)

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Summer Bucket List

I made a summer bucket list with the girls a month ago. They had all kinds of fun ideas for what they’d like to do this summer, but I had only one item to add to the list – family float time at the lake. We used to do this before Everett was born: a hot summer afternoon + something to float on for everyone, and a few hours later, I had my all-time favourite summer memories, every single time.

But it’s been three years since this has happened! We’ve had some great weekends at the cabin since Everett was born, but we’ve never had a HOT weekend! It’s been rainy and on the cooler side every time we’ve gone out there the last two summers, and I was starting to get desperate! How was it possible to miss out for so long on my favourite summer activity??!

We finally got our hot weekend, and our family floated, and now I don’t care what happens for the rest of the summer, I have been satisfied.

We stayed at the lake until Monday so that we could drop Kaylia off at camp, which is five minutes away from my parents’ cabin. It’s her first time going, and we’re all pretty curious how this will go! It’s been awhile since we’ve only had two kids in the house, so Anika and I have a list of chick flicks to get through, and Everett is missing his little playmate, so he’s filling his time with “helping” me, which we all know is outrageously helpful. Although, he did empty the whole cooler when we got back from the cabin, which was legitimately helpful, so maybe it will turn out okay!

I hope your week is off to a wonderful start!

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