If you’re going to give, give graciously

14 June 2019

I’ve shared before some of my Dad’s parenting one-liner gems. His oft-repeated phrases formed the background of my character development, and I am so grateful for that! Paul David Tripp writes that “parenting is about the willingness to live a life of long-term, intentional repetition,” and my Dad was more than willing.

As I became a parent, I fully expected to pick up the mantel of his favorite phrases and impart his wisdom to a new generation – and I have. What I didn’t expect was that these phrases would still be growing and changing me, years and years after I first heard them, years after you’d expect I might have wrung every drop of goodness from them.

One in particular I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. My Dad would often admonish us, “if you’re going to give, give graciously.” In childhood, this meant that it wasn’t enough to simply shove a coloring book across the table at my sister if I begrudgingly agreed to relinquish it; no, I was supposed to politely (graciously) place it in her hands, ideally with a smile. Our parents were not often satisfied with the bare minimum, and they definitely weren’t satisfied until our hearts were in the right place.

These days, I am the parent, and as the parent, many requests are made of me by a certain little girl. Another pancake? One more book? Can we go outside to draw with chalk? Can we go upstairs? Can you play with me? Can you draw with me? Can you carry me??? Sometimes there’s a clear yes or no to these kinds of requests, and that’s that.

But often, it’s up to me. A year or so ago, I found myself often frustrated, saying yes but only begrudgingly. Feeling over a barrel, I’d huff out an acquiescence before tossing the pancake onto the plate or the chalk into her hand with a harrumph. June usually seemed indifferent to my attitude, but I immediately felt the sting of it. Not only did I feel like my child was getting something over on me (never a pleasant feeling), but I realized I was robbing myself of one of the best parts of parenthood: delighting my child by giving her good gifts. And for what? Usually, the no was simply reflexive and not rooted in any particular reasoning beyond my own agenda.

Thinking back to my Dad’s phrase, I retrained myself to pause for a beat when faced with a request. Was there a real reason to say no? I’d say a gentle but firm no and stick to it. No good reason to say no? I’d say a wholehearted yes, and fully enjoy the glee that followed. I let my yes be yes and my no be no.

And now I get the gift of saying with a smile, yes, let’s have another pancake.

Thanks, Dad. Happy Father’s Day to you and to all the wonderful dads out there. xoxo

Transitioning from 1 to 2 Kiddos: Part Two

11 June 2019

Back at it! We’ll continue with the Q&A format in the next post in this series, but today I wanted to cover gear: what we reused, what we had to buy, and my best recommendations for equipping your family for a second child!

First up: what we reused for baby number two. Answer: almost everything! We used the same infant car seat and base, carrier, high chair, bumbo, activity mat, and the exact same burp cloths. The Rays again lent us their Puj tub for the first few months.

One of our biggest questions was whether we’d need a double stroller, and for our family, the answer has been a definite no. (June was 2.5 when Shep arrived, for reference.) We used our same stroller, adding a glider board for June. She doesn’t use it that much, though, preferring to use her scooter or just run! :)

We also reused our Rock and Play (which has since been recalled, but wasn’t at the time Shep was sleeping in it). Shep moved from the R&P to the Lotus Bassinet after a few months, which we also used and loved with June.

And of course, we’ve trotted out the same toys, books, spoons/cups/containers and more that we collected the first time around. We’re still using the same diaper bag, and I’m still using the same nursing cover.

Onto what we bought for baby number 2! A number of the items were duplicates of ones we already had, and a few were brand new…

new gear for second baby

We bought or were gifted a few special items, including a soft quilt, a silky swaddle (will be his blanket when he gets older!), a Jellycat of his own, and a scrunchy book (he LOVES this toy!).

We purchased a number of items for his nursery, including a crib. We technically could have gotten by without buying a second crib, because Shep hadn’t yet moved to his room when June moved to her big girl bed, but June’s crib was already a hand-me-down and getting a little rickety. John’s parents surprised us with Shep’s crib, making the decision easy!

We bought duplicates of a few beloved items, including another Amcrest camera and white noise machine (we got this portable one to use at school). We also again stocked up on Water Wipes, Up & Up diapers, these swaddles, and Kiinde bags.

Other new items this time around included this sound-only monitor, travel black-out curtains (genius!), a convertible car seat, and a Magic Merlin suit.

A note about that last one: when June began to roll and we needed to transition her out of the SwaddleMe swaddles, I was expecting it to be terrible but it was totally fine: she just flipped onto her stomach and was happy as a clam. Shep, on the other hand, had the ability to roll, but seemed to forget about that ability when he was in the bassinet and stuck on his back – so he would just wail and flail. I took to the internet in desperation, and landed on the Magic Merlin suit. It is THE most ridiculous-looking contraption (baby sumo suit!) and ridiculously expensive (borrow it if you can!), but it was exactly what we needed to smooth the transition.

The Merlin suit is safe to wear when babies can roll, since their arms are out, but since it’s padded, it stifles the startle reflex and gives them the feeling of compression they’re looking for. We only used this suit for about a month (you’re supposed to discontinue use once they’re consistently rolling over in it), but it was so helpful for that brief period!

Finally, we did buy a few items of clothing to fill in the gaps here and there, but, as with June, the lion’s share of Shep’s wardrobe was on loan from my older sister, who has a baby boy almost exactly two years older than Shep. Between our two kids, Kate’s generous loans have literally saved us thousands of dollars, and I am so grateful!!

Any more gear questions? I’m happy to answer! Or, anyone else out there who used the Merlin and giggled every time their child was zipped into it? :)

Transitioning from 1 to 2 Kiddos, Part One

Mid-year goals review

5 June 2019

If there’s one thing my PowerSheets have taught me, it’s that visibility is key to progress. It’s not usually hard to do the things I want to do, it’s just that life gets in the way. There will always be something louder or more urgent than organizing photos, taking evening walks, or celebrating a Sabbath. Writing things down, checking in on my PowerSheets throughout the month, and sharing my goals here – each of those actions are a reminder to move forward, a little prod to take action.

And as you’ll see below, the little by little adds up…

Goal no. 1: Finish organizing our family photos, and create our first two albums.
Progress I’ve made: This feels like the never-ending project (a year and a half and counting), but friends, THE END IS IN SIGHT! In addition to all the steps I took last year, this year I have backed-up, culled, edited, and sorted ALL of my iPhone photos from 2017-2012 (and cleaned my phone off as I went!).
What I hope to accomplish in the next six months: I need to cull and sort my iPhone photos from 2011, 2010, and 2009 (those will be easy) as well as the photos from 2018 and the first half of 2019 (those will be hard). Then, I need to copy relevant photos from Facebook into my external hard drive sorting system, and then I will be ready to create my first album!! (I’ll likely use Artifact Uprising!) I’m planning to include five years in each album; the first one will cover 2005-2009.

Many of you have asked for more details about the steps I’m taking. I am happily planning to share in the next few months!

Goal no. 2: Ride bikes as a family, and complete the MS ride in New Bern.
Progress I’ve made: We took our road bikes to the shop for a tune-up, acquired two bike seats (for free!), figured out we can’t attach the seats to our road bikes (boo), bought a used trailer off Facebook Marketplace (earlier this week!), and as of last night, took our first bike ride as a family of four!!
What I hope to accomplish in the next six months: This goal was on hold for most of this year as we waited for Shep to grow :) Now that we have the okay from our pediatrician, we are excited to ramp up in a big way to get ready for the MS Ride we have in our sights. Honestly, it seems slightly hard to believe that we’ll actually pull off a 100-mile ride from today’s vantage point, when we’ve taken exactly one ride for the entire year, but we have all the motivation we need: John’s cousin was hit with a sudden and devastating onset of MS in March. There are a lot harder and more impossible things than riding our bikes for a few miles.

Goal no. 3: Rest in the Lord as we carve out weekly Sabbaths.
Progress I’ve made: I have read much of what the Bible has to say about a Sabbath (and collected my notes in a Google doc). I gathered ideas from episode 002 of Nancy’s podcast. I’m a few pages into this book, which has been recommended by many. We’ve worshipped in church *almost* every week this year.
What I hope to accomplish in the next six months: Much! I’d like to come to a shared understanding with John of what Sabbath means for our family, then work backwards to identify the steps it will take to make it happen each week. And then I want to live it out, piece by piece!

Goal no. 4: Give my best to our church.
Progress I’ve made: The creative team I helped spearhead is off and running! We helped add life and color to Easter services and we’ve firmed up messaging across several different platforms.
What I hope to accomplish in the next six months: The last piece I’ve been asked about but haven’t touched is auditing and improving the church’s web presence.

Goal no. 5: Move my body throughout the day, every day.
Progress I’ve made: At the beginning of the year, I introduced this as “the goal I really don’t want to set but know I need to.” Friends, it’s been slow going. We have picked back up with evening walks, but I’ve fallen out of many of the habits I began at the beginning of the year (a mini walk midway through the day, standing for the first hour) as my workload has picked up.
What I hope to accomplish in the next six months: I just reactivated my mini walk alarms on my phone. I have a goal this month to jury-rig a standing desk upstairs for days I’m at home. I’d like to hit 10k steps more days than not each week.

Goal no. 6: Connect more deeply in our neighborhood.
Progress I’ve made: Katie and I enjoyed ten successful weeks of our meal exchange before their move. I have gotten to know our across-the-street neighbors. I read this book. I’m actively looking for potential friends each time we go to the pool :)
What I hope to accomplish in the next six months: I have a bead on a new friend prospect who actually reached out to me via our neighborhood Facebook group… planning to be bold and invite her to do something soon!!

Goal no. 7: Complete our family room.
Progress I’ve made: We hung a mirror over our fireplace, refreshed our gallery wall and refreshed a few frames in it, found an ottoman for our big chair, added a lamp and a plant, printed and framed a few photos for our mantel, came up with a garland system (more about that soon!), installed a new rug and sold our old one, and switched out a few pillows.
What I hope to accomplish in the next six months: I would love to make a final decision on our coffee table, add a floor lamp behind one of our chairs, switch out our throw blanket, replace our bar stools, and maybe add curtains??

Goal no. 8: Kick off The Years of Making Magic.
Progress I’ve made: Done!
What I hope to accomplish in the next six months: I’m considering this goal complete! Now I just get to enjoy checking things off for the next few years :)

How about you, friends? Are your goals for the year still going strong, or have they changed?

P.S. If you’re looking for help with goal setting and achieving, the PowerSheets I use are on sale this week for $29. A little birdie told me there are only a few left, and at the rate they’re selling, that stock won’t last long!

June 2019 Goals

3 June 2019

For the last several years, June has been synonymous with blueberries for our family. There’s a pick-your-own patch not too far from our house, and when the blues are in season, we try to go at least once a week. We venture out in the early evening, after work or after dinner, the golden hour when the heat has slacked just a little bit. This particular farm is magic, and the berries are so plentiful and perfect you can fill a pint without trying in about five minutes – but we always linger longer than that, enjoying the evening and each other. This is “the good stuff,” as they say, and I am so looking forward to another month of it.

P.S. I’m working on a post for later this week with an (almost) mid-year update on my 2019 goals for you – lots of good progress has been made!!

On my calendar this month:
— Blueberry picking, of course! I’m hoping to make these muffins with our bounty.
— A beach week with some of our extended family! June is SO excited to have a sleepover with her cousin MULTIPLE DAYS IN A ROW!
— Filming June in June Volume 4! The hunt for the perfect song is on!

What I’m loving right now:
— Going to the pool! We splurged on a membership for the first time this year and are trying to go once a week.
Nancy’s podcast! And I’m not just saying that because she’s my friend :) She delivers a powerful punch in a short amount of time (usually 15-20 minutes). My favorite episode so far is number 002!
— Our brother- and sister-in-law got Shep this little dish to commemorate his baptism, and I thought it was lovely. I know we’ve chatted about baptism gifts in the past, so I thought I’d pass it along as a great suggestion!

What I read in May:
— Finished Where the Crawdads Sing. Loved it – going on my favorite fiction list.
— Almost finished with This is Where You Belong. I would rate it good – nothing groundbreaking, but if you don’t love where you live and are struggling with how to change your perspective, it might spark some ideas for you!
— A few pages into Pillars of the Earth – a classic BELOVED by my sister and several friends. It’s an intimidating size but with so many enthusiastic evangelizers, I’m excited to dig in!

Revisiting my May goals:
Book our camping trip for later this year (still in progress! We’re close!)
Send out invites to a book swap party!! (Done! I can’t wait!!)
Finish culling and sorting 2015, 2014, and 2013 photos (DONE!! Also 2012! I am on fire!!!)
Write a Marvelous Money post on investing (not yet!)
Commission an art print from Katie in prep for Father’s Day (Noodled around with this myself… need to print a test print!)
Order Shep’s bike helmet (Done! Now to find a bike trailer – we are hoping to find a Burley Bee used!)
Refresh our living room mantel

June goals:
— Finally book our camping trip!
— Cull and sort remaining iPhone photos – 2011, 2010, 2009
— Download and sort Facebook photos
— Plan my book swap party!
— Sign up for the MS Ride (it’s in September!! Eek!)
— Create a standing desk upstairs
— Define Sabbath for our family

I’d love to hear: what does June mean for you? What are you looking forward to this month?

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