Dirty walls, Cookies and Prayers 

My living room walls are covered in dings and scratches and dirt marks. These are all signs of family, exuberance, a life well lived with kids, dogs, cats, friends and family. Right?? Right?? (me trying to convince myself…)

Some days the dirt and scuff marks don’t get a second glance. Others they seem the enemy, telling me I’m not good enough. My house isn’t good enough. My house isn’t clean enough or new enough or modern enough. 
I’m having a cookie exchange at my house this weekend. I’ve invited only close friends and family. I have nothing to be ashamed of. I work hard to live in a nice neighborhood with a good yard to play in. 

Why is it that I often feel shame, anxiety and embarrassment about the messy walls, I vacuumed floors and piles of toys? Many of my friends have more updated houses with newly renovated kitchens, not the original linoleum flooring from the 80’s. 

Do my friends care about my dirty walls and old kitchen? Probably not but why is it so difficult to believe that these things don’t matter? 

The pressures from society are sometimes too much. Satan is trying to steal my joy. My happiness that I work so hard toward everyday. This time, I am not letting him. God has given me strength and purpose to go through our possessions and scale back. Decluttering always makes a room look and feel better. I want a more simple life. Not to stumble over toys and things we no longer need. I want to feel good in my home and if it’s a little messy, that’s ok. My friends and family wont hardly noticed where I’m lacking, just as I wouldn’t in their homes. It’s the company and fellowship that matter. 

I’m still planning to scrub the floors and neaten up. But the walls and missing molding, I think I’m going to leave them. 

‘Please, Lord, let me follow your wise words and graciously open my house to my friends and family without stress and without worry or regret. Let me enjoy their fellowship during this season of many expectations.’

Seed starting time!

Wow, I can’t believe the change in weather lately! Yesterday morning was cold, rainy and nasty. Even at 2 pm driving over the Shawangunk Ridge, the weather was dreary and foggy. I had about a half hour to kill before my appointment with naturopath (the most amazing woman in the world!), Read more

Gratitude 

Hockey season is officially over in our household. The snow is melting and temperatures are inching warmer. Spring is here. So many things to be thankful for! 

But don’t be fooled by the positive upbeat tone of my voice. Though I love the weekends and I love being home with my family but sometimes tempers and attitudes flair. Usually it’s Sunday mornings as we’re getting ready for church. I like to have a relaxing morning but usually we relax a little too much and end up rushed and running around to get ready in time. I can guarantee there will be an issue with appropriate church attire and where those clothes might exist in the house (dirty laundry basket, washer or put away somewhere incorrect). The irony of losing my temper in preparation for church is not lost on me. You’d think by now I’d anticipate these catastrophes and be able to head them off. But no, I am not that organized or self aware. 

Despite our imperfections and mishaps, I have so much to be thankful for. 

I am looking forward to:

Today-family dinner, not having any commitments outside the house. 

This week: PTA meeting, being able to attend 4H meetings again 

In the future: warm temperatures! Being outside more. 

What are you thankful for or looking forward to?

Aileen

Saying ‘I love you’

Do you tell your kids you love them everyday? Do you say ‘I love you’ or do you have something else special you tell them?

My daughter is an angel. Yes, an angel in the flesh. Let me explain… when I was 7.5 months pregnant, my dear sweet grandpa passed away. He was the kindest, sweetest, gentlest and strongest man. He helped raise me and acted in place of the father I did not have growing up (my dad was tragically killed when I was 4 years old). Grandpa took me fishing, game to every school event and taught me how to drive. I’m crying as I type this…Anyway, this amazing man died at the age of 90 while I was pregnant. Until this point in my pregnancy, Teagan did not move around much in the womb. I secretly and constantly wondered if she was alright because she was not as active as everyone said she would be. That is, until grandpa died. 

Starting the day after he passed away, and especially from the day of his funeral, my baby girl was in constant motion. She kicked and punched and flipped all around. Maybe it was the emotion stress that was the catalyst for all the movement. I prefer to think that part of my dear sweet grandpa’s spirit became part of my unborn baby girl. 

So that’s the story of when my baby became and angel. Since the day she was born, Teagan’s name has been interchangeable with “Angel” or “Angel baby”.  Every day, I make sure to remind my little girl that she’s an angel. I thank her for being mine. I tell her that I am so thankful God gave her to me. I tell her that I am the luckiest mama in the world. Our extra special exchange is “I love you to Saturn and back”. 

I hope these daily expressions of love fill her up. I want them to penetrate into her soul and become ingrained in her. My prayer is that these things will stick with her as she grows and battles the many challenges of adolescence and adulthood. I hope they protect her from the evils of negative peer pressure and society. 

So how do you tell your kids you love them? Do you have a special word or phrase?

Aileen 

Gratitude 

It is officially a blizzard in upstate New York. The forecast originally called for 16-20 inches of snow but now weather reports are predicting greater than 30 inches of the white stuff!! Holy cow! I don’t ever recall getting 30 inches of snow in one event! School declared a snow day late yesterday. Non essential employees were told to stay home. 

Today is a pajama day. And also a day to get caught up on a few things we’ve been slacking on (some homework that was missed while we were on vacation, a 4h presentation that needs to be finished, laundry, and most of all downtime at home with no schedule).  

There’s so much to be grateful for today but strangely enough I’m suddenly feeling anxious and cranky. Maybe it’s the list of things I should get done on this ‘extra’ time? Maybe, as a mom, I no longer know how to truly relax without guilt? Are these feelings normal or is it just me?? 

I know today I need to focus on the important things in life and forget the laundry, carpets that need to be vacuumed, etc. 

Today, I am grateful for my big presentation being over, my sweet husband coming to watch and support me, my beautiful daughter resting her head on my shoulder and loving me no matter how cranky I may get. 

Today, I am looking forward to a slower pace and no commitments,  maybe a nap, a long hot shower. 

This week I am looking forward to sewing class, the end of hockey season party. 

In the near future I am looking forward to spring. I love seeing the flowers emerge, new leaves and having baby chics. 

I hope you’re safe, warm and enjoying this day. 

Aileen 

Family Fire Safety and Emergency Preparedness

In my house, the 13th of every month is Family Fire Safety and Emergency Preparedness night. Each month I select one area of fire safety or emergency preparedness to discuss and review at dinner. We may discuss  or review topics such as where to meet in case of a fire, the need to replace or install smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors, what to do if no one is there to greet the bus when our third grader gets home from school or what situations might require all family members to leave school or work early and head for home (for us, this would be another 9/11-like terrorist attack or other extreme event). 
This month, we need to discuss the age of one smoke detector battery that I don’t think ever got changed last fall. This particular smoke detector is in the peak of our cathedral ceiling and requires a long ladder or our tallest son to climb on top of the refrigerator to reach it. 

In addition to the one smoke detector battery, we need to follow up from last month checking on the fire extinguishers in the garage. It has been quite a while since anyone checked the expiration date and pressure in those extinguishers (did you know that fire extinguishers have an expiration date??). 

Right now we are expecting Blizzard Stella, which could drop 16 to 24 inches of snow in upstate New York, has reminded us to check to make sure the generator works and that there’s surficient fuel to power it in case of power outages from forecasted high winds. 

So it sounds like will get a variety of things accomplished in our monthly family fire safety and emergency preparedness night! 

Does your family do any type of regular fire safety or emergency preparedness? If so what do you do? I’d love to hear about it!

Aileen 

Sleighriding fail?

Upstate New York has received nearly two feet of snow in the last 14 days. Lots of snow, lots of cold weather. Last Sunday when we got out of church, it was snowing like mad. The beginning of the week continued with a few snow flurries and seasonable temperatures. 
Saturday the temperature was incredibly warm. At 9am, we grabbed our snow gear, sleds and snowshoes for some winter fun around our yard before the craziness of the day began. We showshoed around the yard for a bit, threw snowballs then went sledding down my moms hill. It was so warm, even I was sweating and had to take my coat off. 

Since the weather was amazing and it’s a three-day weekend, I decided we needed to find a much bigger hill to sleigh ride down on Monday. The day before, the temperature reached a balmy 60 degrees! Crazy for February!

Again, we got all our snow stuff together and this time loaded it all into the car and headed for the big hill. Super excited, we pulled into the parking lot (the hill is actually a well known hiking spot) and…


Serious disappointment. There was barely any snow left. We almost didn’t even get out of the car. We sat and pondered the hill for a few minutes while eating the snack we brought. 

Eventually the excitement from the last two days of anticipation got the better of us and we braved the muddy parking lot, icy path and climbed to the top. The first run down, we both got stuck on grassy patches and thought sleighriding was over. 

Adjusting our path down the hill some, we managed to squeak in a piece just wide enough and steep enough to propel us over the grass and continue down the hill. This area was actually quite icy but that was perfect! We slid even further down on the grass and though it wasn’t a hill, it was still super fast and super fun. 

Initially, this was a total mom fail. I’m glad we convinced ourselves to give the hill a try. We had a blast, giggled a lot and made some good mom-daughter memories. 

Gratitude 

This week has been a struggle. A battle at every turn with lack of patience at home with the little one and my sweetheart, a battle to focus at work, stomach issues, lack of self confidence, stress over our upcoming trip, and on and on. If I had written this post yesterday, I would have struggled to with counting my blessings. Today is a little better but the blues and other nonsense is still hanging on. Regardless, I live in a country that has so much more than others. Even on my worst day, I still have more than most people in the world. 

Today, I am grateful for:

  1. My family-I love them all no matter what’s going in in our lives 
  2. Unseasonably warm weather
  3. Sun shine
  4. My Friends 
  5. Having a job that tolerates even my most unfocused, unproductive days 

I am looking forward to:
Today: getting outside after work

This week: a satirsday morning not yet full of commitments 

In the future: our trip to Disney is less than 1 week away!! (Still so many things to accomplish. I sound way more excited than I feel.)

Blessings to you all. 

Gratitude 

Happy Valentine’s Day! And Happy Birthday to my sweetheart! 

It’s a bright and sunshiny day. Perfect for celebrating love or a birthday! Although a little more warmth would be welcome, I’m grateful for sunshine on my skin. 

Today I am grateful for going in to work a little late and giving my sweet girl her Valentine’s Day gift when she woke up; thankful for class parties; my sweethearts birthday; and for very successful Valentine’s bake sales to benefit a sick child. 

This week I am looking forward to hockey practice, sewing class and a big birthday dinner. 

In the near future, I am looking forward to our Disney vacation! It’s coming up so quick. I just can’t wait!!

Wishing you a sweet Valentine’s Day!!