Sunday, June 29, 2008

A New Love

I am falling in love. I didn’t see it coming. I realized it on Saturday morning when I took a long bike ride. The sights and the smells were overpowering to my senses. I felt full of an intense awareness of simple beauty. I rode through the town and past the fields. I heard the sound of the birds chirping and the leaves rustling in the wind. In town, I watched people watering their flowers. I saw families enjoying their Saturday morning. There were dads blowing up floats for pool fun. There were kids holding signs for garage sales. People were cutting their grass.

I rode past the airfield. Planes were taking off and landing. It was a beautiful day for a flight. I rode past many fields. I saw so many flowers! The flowers in the yards were beautiful. The flowers in the fields were magnificent. The smell of the wildflowers and “weedflowers” made me breathe deep. The sun was warm but there was a nice breeze. I passed barns. I passed horses grazing. I noticed the small details of the rolling hills. It was such a calm morning in my little town.

I realized during my ride that this town came to me (rather I came to it) at a perfect time in my life. I am slowing down. I am learning how to appreciate pleasures that I took for granted. Each day it seems I am becoming more content with what I have. It is because there aren’t many places to go in my little town. I lost a lot of convenience when I moved here. I also lost access to an abundance of unnecessary spending. It frustrates me often but through the process I am realizing that I am quite okay without escaping for a Starbucks getaway. I have always loved city life. The combined activity level, unique cafes, shops, events, and abundance of people presents itself as a meca of fun. I still think cities are exciting. But, suddenly… through a hard process of personal evolution, I am awaking to the joy of small town living. Now when I want to get out of the house, I aspire to take a brisk walk or a bike ride. Sometimes I head over to the community pool to swim laps. I am finding time for hobbies that I used to long to do. Commercialism isn’t pulling at me as much and I am more aware of myself. I am not bombarded by a desire for more. I am concentrating on who I want to become. This is a simple joy. I am thankful for this place and time in my life. I am falling in love with small town living. It is filling me with a new love for my life.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Thankful Thursday #45

Here are my thankful thoughts on this Thursday night:

1. Solitude: I have taken the opportunity to steal moments to myself this week. Whether it is getting out and about by myself, taking a walk, or just sitting on the patio drinking a cup of coffee, solitude refreshes me.
2. Wildflowers: I am thankful for the beauty of flowers growing in the fields.
3. Lists: I have been getting tremendous satisfaction in list making this week. It is wonderful to check items off and be able to recognize that I am accomplishing something.
4. Communication: I am especially thankful for being able talk to my husband. We have been brainstorming and planning together lately and I really appreciate it.
5. Relaxed Summer Nights: After dinner we sat outside as a family and enjoyed some popsicles. It was a gorgeous night but more importantly, it was priceless family time.
6. Nature: I enjoyed a cup of coffee on the patio this morning before the kids got up. I recognized that Nature nurtures my soul. It calms, revives and refreshes me (and improves my mood when I wake up grumpy). What’s more, it cultivates my thankful heart in such simple ways. This morning I was thankful for the rustling leaves, the sound of the birds chirping, and the beauty of the sky (Psalm 19:1).
7. My children: I am so thankful for the 4 amazing gifts God gave me. I could have never imagined my heart would be so full from a house full of noisy children.

These thankful thoughts are just a sampling of what’s blessing me. Be grateful! There are blessings all around you.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Comic Relief

This was in today's comics. It made me chuckle.

A closer look...

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Thankful Thursday #44

Here are my thankful thoughts this morning:

1. Slow mornings: I am thankful for slow mornings when I get to drink my coffee and finish it without heating in the microwave.
2. Allergy medicine: I am thankful for the medicine that helps me combat the serious pollen in the air.
3. Facebook: I am a new facebook friend. I am thankful for it because I have reconnected with some old friends. It is fun to see what college friends are up to and be able to chat with friends that are not in my same town. (Hey friend, sign up for a facebook account and let me know you are on there. I’d love it! [There- there’s a commercial for you.])
4. Reading Program at the Library: I took the kids to the Library reading program (started yesterday). It was a blast! They had a bee keeper visit with bees in tow. The boys loved it. (Catch the reading bug—go to your library! [Another commercial])

5. 24 Hour Wal-mart: I was at Wal-mart late last night. It was because of poor planning. As I was shopping, I decided I was thankful for the 24 hour convenience. (Since my hubby works for a competitor, I can't commercial this one... Spend your money at Target!)
6. Slip N Slide Weather: It was warm enough to get out the slip n’ slide this week. We hit the high 70’s! It is a far cry from the summer temps I long for but it was a JOY to see my kids playing in the water.

7. Funny Faces: I just asked my 4 year old what he is thankful for and that was his answer. I am thankful for his sweet face and the funny face he just made. I am thankful for laughter.
8. Being Refreshed: I went to bed with a bad attitude and woke up with a good one. Sleep is amazing…and coffee is wonderful.
9. Growth: I am growing in ways I cannot explain in this little post. I am being challenged financially, emotionally, and spiritually. I am learning. I am thankful for making progress toward goals.

Take time to be thankful today! Nothing is too small to appreciate.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Wednesday Words

"This feeling of deprivation will undermine any effort to pursure long-term disciplines. The dieter will fail as long as he hates low-calorie food. The would be athlete will fail as long as he hates exertion. The tightwad wannabe will fail as long as he views frugality as a lifestyle he has to endure, or was forced into by cirumstance...recognize that you are engaging in the discipline out of choice. You decide to give up something so that you can have something else... This attitude adjustment is like the question 'Is the glass half empty or half full?' When you recognize that you are making a choice, attitudes change from deprivation to empowerment."

Amy Dacyczyn, The Tightwad Gazette: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle

I picked up this book this weekend at the library. Some of the ideas are humorous to me but many of them are making me think hard about how I use my resources. It is challenging me to think: Am I being responsible with what I have? I love the above quote because I find the perspective of empowerment so much easier on my heart than deprivation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Proof We Aren't Crazy

We aren't crazy but we are going crazy here at the Owen house. We are going crazy with seasonal allergies. The only one that we know for sure has allergies is David. But, there is NO doubt that everyone except the two youngest are showing symptoms of seasonal allergies. When I say symptoms, I mean we are all suffering intensely. It is insane! We cannot be outside long at all before we are congested, sneezing, coughing, and our eyes are burning, watering, and itching. I've never experienced seasonal allergies like this before. And then last night I ended up traveling from one of my allergy websites to The worst cities right now for pollen? Eugene, Portland, Salem - all Oregon - all surrounding cities.
See the red dot on the map? That's us. That's us longing to be outside when it is sunny but only getting out for short increments. That's us all on allergy medicine. That red dot? It's proof that I am not crazy and that my eyes itch constantly for a reason.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monday Moment

This Monday Moment is inspired by my son David. He is 4 (but constantly thinking about turning 5 in a couple months). He is so cute-- full of funny things to say.

One day last week I was working on memorizing a Bible Verse when David wanted to know what it was all about. I shared it with him and asked him what he thought it meant. The conversation went a little bit like this:

David: "Momma, what are you writing?"
Momma: "I am writing a Bible verse over and over so I can remember it."
David: "What is it?"
Momma: "Set your mind on things above, not earthly things. Colossians 3:2"
Momma: "Do you know what it means?"
David: "Uh... it is like when you are walking down the street getting ready to punch someone and instead of that, you think about it and decide not to do it."

I don't think I will run into that situation myself... but I also won't forget the verse now.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

My Dad Cares

He cares. I have always known that he cares about me. He cares what is going on in my world. He cares about my struggles. He cares about my triumphs. He cares about my feelings. He cares about my future. He cares enough to call. He cares enough to pray. He cared when I was a teenager. He cared enought to let me struggle. He cared enough not to let go. He cared so much that he gave me wings to fly on my own. My dad cares. He carries me on my rough days. His caring propels me on my best days. Without his careful and precise attention, I would not know how to care so well for my children. He cares. He cares enough to pass on his faith to me. My dad's care gave me a glimpse of my heavenly father's ever-faithful and merciful love. My image of God is tinted by the caring heart my dad showed me. His loving care is responsible for much of who I am today. I am incredibly grateful for my dad.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Thankful Thursday #43

Here are some things that are filling up my Thanks Tank this week:

1. Fresh Air: It has been so cool here in the NW! We have had cloudy, rainy days this past week but I made sure to at least step outside and breathe some fresh air. Starting today it is supposed to warm up and I am very excited. Our highs are going to get in the mid 70s!! I am thankful for this “heat wave”.
2. Snail Mail: I got an encouraging card in the mail this week and it was a blessing. I love getting mail in my mailbox. When I think about it, the US PO system amazes me.
3. Pictures: I love pictures of my kids. I was trying to locate some specific pictures yesterday and I had so much fun going through my family pictures. My pictures are treasures to me.
4. 3 year olds: As I watched my three year old walk in the bathroom with a toy and dry it off, I couldn't help but smile. He is very concerned and upset that Elisabeth is getting “EVERY THING WET”. He is TOO, TOO cute.
5. My Dad: There has never been a day that I have not known that my dad cares for me. His heart is so big. He is an incredible person and I thank God for him.
6. My husband: If he is willing to get in an extra small kiddie rollercoaster (see yesterday’s post), he is one dedicated dad! (We had no idea those little cars were that small.) I am very thankful for my husband. He loves and plays with intensity.
7. Laughter: I spent some time just laughing with my kids last night. Laughter is priceless.
8. Kids in the Kitchen: The boys and I made cookies yesterday. I think we will be cooking and baking together a lot this summer.
9. Family Fun: This past weekend our little town had its big event: The Strawberry Festival. We took the kids to the parade and then visited the Carnival later in the day. It was a lo t of fun for all of us. The kids will probably be talking about it for a long time. (Stop by the family blog tomorrow for some pictures!)
10. Jonathan’s teacher: School ends tomorrow for my 1st grader. I am thankful for the teacher he had this year. She had interesting projects and useful lessons. The homework was productive work and just the right amount. She made learning fun this year and for that I am extremely thankful. (Jonathan says she is moving to a 2nd grade classroom next year and he is hoping to have her again!)
11. A year of Thankful Thursdays: So, randomly I decided to look back a year (a year ago on my blog) and I discovered that on June 14, 2007, I wrote my 1st Thursday Thanks Tank. I am thankful for my Thankful Thursdays and how they have encouraged me (to look on the bright side) and made me more aware of all that I am blessed with. I am thankful that I ended up on Without Fear where I found my inspiration for this Thankful exercise (Thanks Pam!). (I am also thankful for all of the ladies of Thankful Thursdays. It is always exciting to see so many people participate there!)

Have a wonderful Thursday and take time to be thankful!

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tips for Productivity at Home

I landed on a wonderful blog last night: Simple Mom.

There is a absolutely fantastic post today that you must check out:
36 Tips for Productivity in the Home

This was just the encouragement I needed for this cloudy Monday. I think I need to put these tips somewhere that I can read them all the time!

Friday, June 06, 2008

Kids in Training

Last Friday I had one of those days. It was the kind where my kids were out of control. I couldn’t keep them from fighting, from complaining, from crying no matter what I did. I pulled out all of the stops. I got out numerous activities. I gave them great snacks. I hugged them. I disciplined them. I separated them. I sang along to kiddie songs! Nothing—absolutely nothing—worked. What’s worse was that it wasn’t an isolated event. It seemed that it was just a day that had built on the previous day and the day before than. I was frustrated and angry. I was in tears and I brought my anguish and sheer frustration to God. During naptime, I was hit with something wonderful – nothing short of an answer to my prayer. My kids needed, desperately needed, chores. It was clear. They needed to WORK.

My oldest child is 7 but I also have a 4 year old, a 3 year old and a 6 month old. Somewhere in the midst of being a busy mom, I didn’t take the time to figure out appropriate chores. It just seemed like a huge task for me. It isn’t to say that my kids never help out. I often ask them to put up their toys, help in the kitchen, or help a sibling. I just have never given them specific jobs. Now I realize that work is necessary for their character and my sanity.

So, last Friday, when my oldest got home and everyone sat down for the afternoon snack, I informed them we were going to start something new. We were going to have daily chores. I was met with interested and confused looks. Much to my amazement, the idea was not treated with resistance. For chore number 1, I choose an activity that would seem fun to them and accomplish something that I really love. We swept and mopped the kitchen floor. Everyone had fun. Everyone WORKED. I did not let them give up when they were tired of it. I had them clean the tables and the pantry doors. I made sure it was more than fun. I made sure they worked.

Each day since, we have had chores. Every afternoon the kids want to know what chores they will have to do that day. I am trying to give them jobs that actually help me out – not just “kid jobs”. Here are some of the chores: cleaning up their room, laundry (1. bringing clothes downstairs and helping load the washer 2. Putting the folded clothes in their drawers), clipping coupons, making beds, and unloading the kid dishes from the dishwasher. Right now I am staying involved with them as they work. They are learning how to do household chores.

What’s working about this? The kids expect to work now. I have been surprised that they don’t complain about having to work around the house. The kids seem to be more aware of all of the “jobs” to do. The kids are working together. When one person finishes their chore, chore time is still happening. They can wait on their brothers or they can help them. They cannot go play during the work time. Every time someone has finished first, they have begun to help their siblings. This brings real joy to my heart.

I don't want my kids to think they need to be entertained constantly. I want them to understand that working is a good thing. I want them to experience working together. I want to encourage helpful habits and a good attitude about work. If you have any tips about kids and chores, I’d love to hear them. I am serious about this being a long term change at our house.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Thursday Thanks Tank #42

Here are some ways my Thanks Tank is being filled this week:
1. Dirty Hands: My boys and I planted some sunflower seeds yesterday. (The package said they were kid-sized sunflowers. I cannot wait to see them!) It was fun and exciting for the boys. I got joy out of seeing their little hands play in the dirt.
2. Community Pool: The boys have been taking swimming lessons there. I swam laps there this week. I am so thankful this little town has the community pool!
3. Humility: I needed help this week. It is hard to ask for help. I am thankful for humility and the condition of the heart that it brings.
4. My body: I saw this picture on Jessica’s blog and wow- what a wonderful reminder that our body’s are amazing! (By the way-Click on the picture to make it bigger.)

5. Exercise: I have started exercising again (aside from the daily lifting of children, that is!). It feels wonderful!
6. Allergy Editorial: My friend Sharon emailed me a link to this: “A Plea for My Daughter” I can relate to it so well, I am probably going to email it out to people I know. That’s why I am thankful for it—it is another way to share about dealing with food allergies.
7. Kisses: I am thankful for the kind of kisses that make boo-boos better.
8. Confidence: This week I experienced failure. I am thankful that I can renew myself and find confidence in God. (Proverbs 3:26- For the Lord will be your confidence and keep your foot from being snared.)
9. Cleanliness: I have been cleaning extra this week. I am really enjoying the results!

As always, have a Thankful Thursday and a thankful heart!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Works-for-Me Wednesday

Oh, this looks goooood! From time to time, I head over to Rocks in My Dryer to see what Shannon has on her blog. Every Wednesday she hosts Works-for-Me Wednesday. This Wednesday it is a "Mom-I'm Bored Edition". I am going to be looking at this as I can today. I can always use ideas for the kids! It sounds like such a wonderful thing, I have to share it.

Here's the link to Works For Me: The "Mom, I'm Bored" Edition

Wednesday Words

Today's words deal with my focus this week: happiness and grace.

The first quote is from a book that I have read off an on for years (Freedom of Simplicity). I found myself re-reading parts of it this week. The second quote is from one of my favorite authors and it touched my heart yesterday.

Never put happiness at center stage. It is the by-product of a life of service, never the chief end of life. Happiness is not a right to be grasped but a serendipity to be enjoyed.
Richard J. Foster, Freedom of Simplicity

Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace.
Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace

Tuesday, June 03, 2008


I struggle.
I struggle with getting in shape. I struggle with keeping my house in order. I struggle with spending my money irresponsibly. I struggle with being lonely. I struggle with my patience. I struggle with disciplining my kids. I struggle with being content.
I struggle with my confidence.
I struggle. I know I am not alone. Everyone struggles with something.
I struggle but I know it is okay to struggle. Struggling is better than giving up.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Peanut Allergy Stress

Yesterday we went to a church play. It was an incredible program and both of our older boys had small parts. After the play there was an announcement to head downstairs for the art show and for refreshments. My heart sank, “why didn’t I ask if there were going to be food?” I had checked the bulletin in the morning but I had not asked anyone about it. The kids had been dismissed and had headed down immediately.

Seth took off downstairs. He had Thomas with him and found Jonathan right away. Then, he looks around to see people bringing out trays of cookies and offering them to the kids and guests. To him, it felt as if someone was handing out camouflaged poison. Where was David???

Since David is 4 ½ cookies and sweets are very tempting to him. We’d like to think he wouldn’t take something like that without asking us but we know that when it comes down to it, we can’t count on it yet. More than likely he would ask the person handing out the food if there were nuts in the food. That doesn’t work. The cookie might be touching a peanut butter cookie or it might be made with a product that is not nut safe.

Seth found David and took him outside. He explained to him that the food wasn’t safe for him. He explained that not any of it was safe—that there was no way to know. He talked to David a bit and calmed him down. Then, he started to give him the candy bracelet that was in his treat bag given to him for being in the show. He read the candy label and it was not safe (had a peanut warning on it). David was upset again. Seth then promised him that we would go to McDonalds playland for a treat.

Meanwhile, I am inside, with my 6 month old and my 3 year old, trying to keep the 3 year old from grabbing lots of cookies. People are trying to help me by giving him animal crackers. All the while, my 7 year old wants to show me his art work.

This was a stressful situation. We had to get out of there as soon as possible. We left absolutely stressed out. We realized that no one did anything wrong. But we left feeling frustrated and a bit angry.

Oh, dealing with this allergy so difficult! I believe in a lot of ways, it will get easier as he gets older. And, we are still learning. I have so much to learn. I should have asked if there was going to be food. I should have asked instead of thinking it would have been publicized. Then, I could have prepared. I could have brought David some kind of special treat. I could have talked to him ahead of time and told him he could not have any of the food there. I could have prepared my other kids appropriately. I don’t expect that events change because of our struggle. I don’t. I also don’t want to avoid public events because of the allergy. I just have to find that middle ground. I realize that just telling the people about the peanut allergy is not enough. I need to be more proactive. I need to make it a point to find out when there is going to be food served—-and especially served to the kids. I realize that I cannot talk about the peanut allergy to people enough.

The following words were shared with me last night. They make sense to me and I hope that thoughtfulness will happen more and more as I am more proactive.

“Having a child with a severe food allergy is like having a child with a disability. As parents, you are responsible but you hope that others will make concessions for your child.”