Thursday, August 26, 2010

Moments of Grace

Photo by Tim Marston

I've been thinking a lot about grace lately: how I see it in little ways each day, what it means, how to show it to my children. To my understanding, Grace is primarily the gift of a restored relationship with God. But grace is also the gift of waking up in a beautiful place in life that I didn't do anything to deserve. When I look back over the mistakes I've made in the past (you know, yesterday...or five minutes ago), or consider the aspects of my character that need to be "improved", I am convinced that it is only through grace that I am where I am.

Sometimes this feeling hits me more strongly than others, and it brings a peace with it that even if I took an unnecessarily winding path to get there, somehow I've ended up in a moment God had planned for me. Last Saturday evening was one of those moments. We piled in the Expedition and braved the crowds to attend a free concert down at the beach. We weren't sure if the weather would cooperate or if the children would be too tired or if we could find a parking spot or...but we didn't let that stop us.

And sitting there in the sunset, watching a pair of dolphins playing and the flock of birds dancing over the waves, embraced by joyful music, enjoying the company of friends and family, I couldn't have been more sure that this moment was a gift of grace.

Monday, August 23, 2010

No Better Time Monday: Picking Paint

Last week I decided my "no better time" project was to get the house ready for some long-ish-term guests. So just some extra house cleaning and converting the nursery to a guest room. Which means having a baby sleep in our closet...good thing it's a walk-in, right?

Anyway, this week I did something a little more fun: picking out some paint for my first real decorating project in our new home. I promised myself that once I finished unpacking the last box inside the house, I could get down to some decorating. Done and done!

I'm starting small: an old coffee table I picked up at Goodwill for $8 just before I got married (nearly nine years ago!). It was my first furniture purchase for married life, so I'm kind of glad that I forgot to return it to a thrift store before the big move. I'm going to turn it into an activity table for my toddler daughter, hopefully ending up with some cute and functional AND practice my technique and try out some color choices.

No pictures this week, but keep your eye on the blog for the coffee table transformation! And don't forget to join in below with your own "never do list" project!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Just Call Me "Mombot"

I admit it. I like reading my monthly Technology Review. On my Kindle.

In the August edition, I discovered that I am absolutely amazing.

Would you like to know why?


I can fold a towel. In less than 20 minutes. YES!!

It turns out that robotics experts are excited to have finally developed a robot that can fold a towel properly in twenty minutes or less. Very complex algorithms are involved in order for the robot to determine the edge of the towel. They're hoping to teach it how to fold shirts next.

The bad news is that it doesn't look like we'll be automating laundry any time soon. Rosie, may we meet someday!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


"Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, you ought to set up a life you don't need to escape from." -- Seth Godin

We are huge fans of Dave Ramsey around here. Our 2 year-old daughter recognizes his voice on the radio. Then shouts with glee, "Dave Ramsey Show!"

I also "follow" the Dave Ramsey Show on facebook, and the producer Blake usually puts up a couple quotes to ponder for the day. 90% of the time, I (and about 90% of the other fans) love the quote.

Then a couple of days ago he shared the Seth Godin quote listed above. My immediate reaction was...haha, come and potty train my toddler and feed my baby in the middle of the night and then get back to me about vacations, Seth! I love my life. I also love vacations. Furthermore, I think vacations are very important in allowing me to realize I love my life.

I was thinking about this point last Friday, after Jon took the afternoon off from work so we could all go down to the beach (and try out our awesome new beach umbrella, thank you World Market!). It was payday, and I make a habit of not cooking dinner on payday (Shhhh! Don't tell Dave!). So after we were done throwing sand in the air and rinsing the algae off our legs from splashing in the surf, it was time to get some dinner.

I wanted Panera Bread. Jon wanted Taco Bell. 

Compromise time!

He dropped me off and drove down the street. They are so amazingly quick at Panera Bread that I had several minutes to sit and sip on my delicious frozen lemonade.

Yes, it's just as good as it looks. Anyway, as I was sipping away the thought came unbidden -- What a wonderful, lovely afternoon. I am so happy.

And it was true. But given how hectic it is to take two very young children to the beach, deal with the sand, the gear, the sand...I might not have noticed how lovely the day was if I hadn't had five minutes to pause and relax.

That's what good vacations do.

Monday, August 9, 2010

No Better Time Monday: On Time

I've never been one to scrapbook or really spend any amount of time recording memories. If I was really, really ambitious, I might actually put some photos in a photo album. Without even adding so much as a date or "what under the heavens this event was and why I am covered in mud" comment.

But I'm coming to realize that an activity is enjoyed most fully in three parts: Anticipation. Participation. Recollection.Or, future, present, past. I previously considered the "Recollection" phase to be a time sink that keeps you from doing more of the "Participation" phase. Perhaps because I am now a mother, or simply because I am older, or maybe I was just blessed with an "aha" moment in the middle of the night...but I think was wrong.

I still don't have a lot of time to devote to recording events for future perusal, so I was excited to find Project Life. Which also happily takes care of my lack of creativity when it comes to making picture layouts!

Putting the book together was a breeze, taking up about two nap times. Printing out the pictures to bring the album up to date took one more nap time thanks to my new all-in-one printer (I wanted to start my year at the end of June, when we moved across the country).  I've kept the pictures up, picking a "daily picture" almost every day.

"No Better Time Monday" comes into this project because I have not found or made the time to catch up on the journaling cards for July. And sure enough, it only took another nap time once I admitted I didn't have to (and likely didn't have the talent to) make every entry witty and Pulitzer-prize worthy.

It is really wonderfully satisfying to be able to sit down and look over our first month in our new home together. So I've made myself a promise: no more rolls of film sitting around for six years (or waiting on an SD card) in this family! :)

Did you knock off a project on your "never do" list this week? Tell us all about it and add a link below!

Monday, August 2, 2010

No Better Time Monday: Starting off BIG

Welcome to the first edition of "No Better Time Mondays": a weekly challenge to get something done from that list of things we never get done. I want to first make it clear that this doesn't have to be something that you don't want to could be something that you enjoy doing but just can't quite find the time for. Nor does it have to be something big. In my personal experience, most of the things I put off turn out to take way less time than I had imagined.

What I chose to do this week, however, was Big (yes, I meant to capitalize that word) and time-consuming.

*drum roll*

Potty Training. It seems like that should be a four-letter word...

We've been sort of potty training for several months now. Which means that whenever we thought about it, we'd put Aurelia on the potty and she would usually go so she could get a marshmallow for a treat. I didn't get serious about training her until we finished moving, but we've been here for a month now and I'm honestly Done with wrestling with her to change a diaper. So Friday through Sunday was designated "Potty School" weekend.

Several friends recommended using the "Potty Training 1-2-3" system, so I queued up the free online video and took careful notes of what to do, reassured by all of the smiling testimonials in the video from moms whose children were fully trained within a day -- maybe two. Yay!

Prepared for a couple days of not getting anything else done, we went to the store Thursday night to let Aurelia pick out treats to use as rewards. And "special" drinks to help create the "urge to go". And princess pull-ups and princess panties.

That's: Milk, Water and Juice. What chance does a toddler's bladder stand against that onslaught?

Starting Friday morning, I spent every waking hour asking "Are you dry and clean?" every ten minutes. We read "Olivia" a few thousand times while Aurelia sat on the big potty. She checked her teddy bear for "clean and dry".

Saturday, it was Daddy's turn.

Sunday, we double-teamed.

Today...she still won't tell us when she needs to go potty. No #2 in the toilet yet. "No" is the only answer I ever get when I ask if she needs to go potty (unless it means she can get out of bed during nap time, of course).

So for me, the first "No Better Time Monday" wasn't much of a success. It had to be done...but it is still not done. I think next week my challenge will be something Small and Quick. And Enjoyable.

Have a nice week!