When Words Fail

when_words_fail_listen

I have been writing on this blog since 2007, with the main purpose for it to be a place of encouragement & a reflection of the life I’m living portrayed through my photographs and my writing.

I know this is silly but as an encourager, when I fail to find words of encouragement to share with you, I feel guilty.

treetulip

What I have learned along the way is when life is hard and full of Whoa’s and it’s difficult to dig deep & be an encourager with my words, I listen to the beauty of the art I see around me.

Sometimes I try to capture that beauty with my camera or on Instagram. Sometimes I grab my journal or write about it here.

Either way – I listen and I let go of that guilt.

peach

Can I encourage you to listen today? What do you hear?

* flower arrangement: Petal Play Design

How I Saved My Sanity in the Laundry Room

laundry_sanity2

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen the picture above already. I decided it would be fun to share a little more info as to how I maintain my sanity as the main laundry lady for my family of 6, tackling the endless piles of clothes that end up in our dirty clothes bin day after day.

welcome_laundry

In our current home of 979 square feet, we have learned to maximize every square inch.  The main level of our house has two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, kitchen & dining room.  The basement is the Boys’ Lair – where they sleep and hang out.  The laundry room is attached to the Lair but it is also a mud room, closet, storage room & bathroom. This area is not glamorous and it’s rustic & rough around the edges.

pano_laundry_etc

One day we’ll paint the walls. Maybe. Our time & resources have been used to make the “living” areas of our home a place of rest. Even though I feel like I “live” in the laundry room because of the endless loads of laundry, it’s not really a place where I’d pull up a chair and read a book.  This room is used as a place to come in, do what you need to do – wash, brush, put in your contacts, spike up your mohawk with gel, grab the vacuum, scrub out a stain, fold, sort, hang up a shirt – then head out. This isn’t a hang out room…unless you’re playing hide-n-seek, then it’s a great place to hang out & hide!

Now that you’ve had a glimpse of our space, I thought I’d share some of my laundry sanity saving tips. This isn’t mind-blowing information and there are countless laundry tips floating around the internet but every now and then it helps to get a glimpse into how someone else makes things work in a simple way.

laundry_sanity_saver1

1. Birth order dots in the tags

I started doing this when my kids were little and I got tired of looking at the tags to see if this shirt or pair of pants was 4T or 5T and then trying to remember what kid was wearing what size at their particular stage of life.  In those early years of raising babies to toddlers to preschoolers with the sleep deprivation & trying to find that cup of coffee that I could swear I was drinking but cannot find it anymore, sorting laundry was becoming a little too stressful.

I grabbed my black sharpie pen and put a dot in the clothes according to the birth order of each kid. When that kid grew out of that particular pair of pants or shirt and was deemed ok enough to be passed down to the next kid, I would add another dot.

We have 4 kids with 2 years separating them as they were born. 3 boys & 1 girl.  Now they are 13, 11, 9 & 7. Our daughter is the youngest & most of the clothes do not get passed down to her but there are a few that have made it like hoodie sweatshirts & pajamas.  Obviously, this process has been the most helpful for the 3 boys.

The dots made sense to me instead of initials.  Even though our kids have different initials for their first names, if I was using initials to keep track of what shirt belonged to what kid, the tags would be marked up with letters & that would drive me bonkers.  Also, if the clothes made it through all the kids & we wanted to share the hand me downs with another family or donate them to a thrift shop, the labels would only have dots in them.

laundry_saver_dry_erase

2. Write on the washer with a dry erase marker clothes you need to check for stains and/or you do not want to put in the dryer. I’d like to say I started doing this because someone else made the mistake of tossing my favorite shirt in the dryer before checking to see if the stain came out. After the hundredth time of doing this I started using sticky notes & placing them on the washer to help me remember to check the stain or to not put those jeans in the dryer. I finally switched to using a dry erase marker.  This one has a magnet attached to it, so it can stick to the side of my washer. When I have an item I do not want to toss in the dryer, I write it on the lid. When that load is done, the little reminder is gone with a quick swipe of an eraser.

socks_ugh

3. Stop turning socks from inside out

6 people. 1 pair of socks a day. 7 days in a week.  That’s 84 socks.  Sometimes it’s more because my oldest plays sports and he goes through a few pairs on the days he has practice or games.  My husband is the only one in the family who takes his socks off intentionally so they come off the way he put them on. He’s a true example of how we all should be. The rest of us are just lazy. When the socks come out of the dryer, they get tossed in a clean sock bin. Inside out and free. Why fold them together if you’re just going to take them apart to put them on your feet?

You may be wondering if I put black dots on the kids socks? Nope. Sock companies have done that for me. Hanes, for example, has different colors for different sizes and now that the kids are older, they know what socks belong to them.

quick_fold

4. One quick fold & place in a basket for the kids to put away

Whoa! Won’t the clothes get all wrinkled? Maybe. If my kid wants to wear a wrinkly t-shirt because they failed to put their clothes away that day, I’m fine with that. Letting that “perfection” go has saved my sanity as a mom. If on the rare occasion my kids wear a collared shirt or dress clothes, I will hang those up for them because, this may shock some of you – I do not iron.  The last time I ironed a shirt, I blew a fuse! That was my signal to stay away from the iron, right??

laundry 12 seconds

Were these tips helpful to you or are you stuck on the fact that I allow my kids to leave the house in wrinkled clothes & you think I’m a crazy person?

With each stage & season of life, things change. I’m sure as we grow into the next stage there will be other things that drive me crazy and make me reevaluate the system.

Next on my list – teaching my kids how to do their own laundry. Who has tips for that??

Shakespeare Then & Now

Shakespeare quote // Macbeth

Over the weekend, Stone needed a big book to use as a book press.  He was searching our bookshelves & found the biggest one on a top shelf. The monstrous book was The Complete Works of Shakespeare by David Bevington, the only textbook I have saved from college. I graduated from the University of Maryland in 1994 and I took that class during my last semester.  I’ve saved that book for 20 years. That realization stung a little and weighed as heavy as this textbook.  20 years…

Shakespeare quote // Julius Caesar

Anyway, back to the book.  Stone wanted a big book to sit on top of the duct tape wallet he had just made to see if it could help it stay closed on it’s own.  That duct tape wallet sat underneath Shakespeare for a few days.  After Stone was finished using it, I decided to skim through the book that I haven’t opened since that last semester of college. The Shakespeare class was my last English class requirement I needed to graduate. It wasn’t an easy course and I worked hard to get a C in that class.

Shakespeare quote // Twelfth Night

20 years is a long time. I was 21. If you would have told me then that today I’d be married for 17 years with 4 kids, I would have stared at you in disbelief. Me? A mom? Of 4? Yeah, right. Greg & I were dating at the time and had talked about marriage happening after I graduated from college but it would still be a few years before we ventured down that road.

Honestly, being a mom wasn’t really a part of my life dream at the time.  My dream at the time was to be an agent for the FBI. Don’t laugh.

Shakespeare quote // A Midsummer's Night Dream

Flipping through those pages and seeing my notes in the margin, made me realize a few things:

Reading Shakespeare today is just as difficult as it was then. I’d probably still get a C in that class. Sometimes you need a few days to “sit under” Shakespeare, like Stone’s wallet.  It it challenging and complex making it hard to understand. Just like life. Shakespeare has a way of helping you chase reality away with his writing but at the same time, reflect life.

My handwriting in the margins may be similar but the circumstances of my life have changed. I’m thankful for the similarities and the differences. And I think my family is thankful that I didn’t pursue my dream of being an agent in the FBI…

Do you like to read Shakespeare? Have a favorite Shakespeare quote?

Here for the Community

community_unique

Sharing your unique voice can be a little intimidating but it’s a necessary step in building community.

The intimidation is less scary when you take that step with a friend.

Take that step with me?

I’d love it if you could hop over to read this post & join in on the conversation at the Allume blog today!

A Season to Listen

a_season_to_listen

This winter season has been record breaking & relenting…and I’m not just talking about the weather.

Seasons of life are meant to teach us and if we let them, change us.

If we take the time to LISTEN.

What have I been hearing this season? No matter what, there’s always HOPE.

It’s not anything new but apparently my volume button has been turned down to a whisper, maybe even a hum. I guess it sometimes takes the relentless record breaking seasons of life to get me to listen. 

What have you been hearing during this season?

What I Learned in February

monkey_bread_feb2014

1.  Monkey bread is just as delicious today as it was years ago. Why have I waited so long to make it? My kids loved it, of course.

Make-Your-Own-Foaming-Hand-Soap-in-seconds-for-just-pennies.

2. You can use liquid hand soap to make foam soap. It’s true! We have made the switch at our house. Learn how here. Thank you Jen!

sochi_curling

last year I had the opportunity to go curling with some friends!

3. I am a Winter Olympic nerd. I was addicted. I cannot pick a favorite event because I enjoyed watching whatever event happened to be on.  I memorized all the NBC channels so I could flick back and forth between events.  I told you I was addicted! Did any of you happen to see the skating during the day when Tara Lipinski & Johnny Weir were commentating?  They were fantastic together! In my opinion, they should have been on prime time!

By far my favorite announcer was Chad Salmela! His enthusiastic commentating for the cross country events were so memorable.  Watch this video included in this article to see what I mean & it’ll make you a fan of any cross country event!

g&c&morgan_1

Greg & I celebrated 17 years of marriage on the 22nd! The little flower girl is my second cousin, Morgan. She’s in college now!

4.  If I buy a flower and do not water it, I’m choosing to kill it.  It’s the same thing with marriage. If I do not nurture my marriage, it will die. What am I doing to nurture my marriage? {These thoughts & more were spurred after watching this North Coast message from a few years ago.  It is worth it to watch the entire 56 minutes & 38 seconds.}

ROC race

5. I am crazy.  I registered Greg, my oldest son, Gunnar & myself for the R.O.C. 5K race this summer in Chicago.  R.O.C. stands for Ridiculous Obstacle Course.  Why am I crazy for signing us up?  Maybe because Greg is currently healing from a broken ankle injury that happened a few weeks ago.  Maybe because I’m pretty sure I’ll fall on my face several times during the race from pure exhaustion. Maybe because as soon as we’re done with the race we’ll hop in our car for a 12 hour drive to Virginia for a family reunion. The reasons are endless, but honestly, this is the closest we’ll ever get to an opportunity to do something like Wipeout {one of our favorite shows to watch as a family!}. If you’re local, join us! Or come and cheer us on!

icicle_at_dusk

6. This winter season has made me realize two things 1) I love the snow 2) I do not love the phrase “Polar Vortex”. Seriously, I am 41 years old and I have not heard the phrase Polar Vortex before this year.  Maybe if I lived anywhere near a Pole, it would have come up before now.  It’s winter & it can snow all it wants to snow but please, I’d prefer to not experience another Polar Vortex. Who’s with me?

What did you learn during February?

Be sure to read more What I Learned in February posts from Emily & her community over at Chatting at the Sky.

Fight the Funk

FTF2014

Last week I wrote about clearing out the pig pen dust cloud & fighting the funk. It seems my post resonated with a lot of you out there. No matter your personality type, you will have days where the dust cloud is thick & you’ll need to fight the funk.  Why fight it? If we do not fight it, our defenses are weakened & the temptations that normally do not affect us creep through and we give in a little because we are tired and weak.

Let me be clear about one thing: everyone will have moments of funk.  It’s not a reflection of your character to admit you’re in a funk. The problem comes when we let the funk fester & invade & take over.  Take the time to figure out the what & the why behind the funk & focus on what you can do to fight it off before it reaches the level of weakened defenses.

As a community of friends let’s stick together & help each other with a little linky & hashtag encouragement.

You have two choices {or you can do both!}:

1. Linky! What’s a linky? If you have a blog, write a post about how you fight the funk and share it with us by adding the permalink to the linky below.  Click the blue button below that says “Add your link” to get started.  I’ll keep the linky open through the end of February to give you plenty of time to write a post & add your link. {I’ve added two of my posts so you can see where they go.  If you have any trouble adding your linky, just let me know in the comments}.

2. Hashtag! Join us on Instagram by adding the hashtag #fightthefunk2014 to your image and they’ll show up right below here.  {for those of you new to the hashtag thing, when you add your picture, make sure you type this #fightthefunk2014 into the caption or comment section and it’ll magically appear below!}

 


 

 Loading InLinkz ...

How this Introvert Deals With a Funk

clear_the_funk_1

I’m an introvert and an internal processor & lately my processor has been on overload.  Why?

I’m in a funk.

You see, there’s a situation going on in my life right now that I cannot write about here because it’s not my story to tell but it affects me deeply.  To the core.

What do you do when it’s not your story to tell?  You keep your mouth shut & pray.

Just because I’m keeping my mouth shut doesn’t mean my mind shuts off, it’s basically following me around like a Pig Pen cloud of dust, you know, like Charlie Brown’s friend that’s constantly surrounded by a cloud of dust.  That’s how I feel.  My internal processor has exploded in a cloud of dust.

My husband & family & close friends are helping me sort through the dust cloud but there are a few things that I’m doing that have been helpful.

In no particular order, here’s how an internal processor like me deals with a funk:

Work.

1. Some of you may be confused about my “Work”. Caroline works? Remember last month when I told you about Two for One VA? Karrie & I work together, and even though we have had a slow start, we are enjoying working together & helping our current clients.

book_collage

Read.

- I finished the Harry Potter* series & loved them. I may have even read a few passages out loud, using my best British accent.

- Notes from a Blue Bike* by Tsh Oxenreider – it arrived on my doorstep a few days ago & it’s helping clear the dust cloud.

- The Antelope in the Living Room* by Melanie Shankle – a book about marriage with some comic relief that should be arriving on my doorstep later today.

myq_em_uganda

- all of the posts written by the Uganda Compassion Bloggers – please take some time to read them today. {top left photo by Emily, the rest taken by Mike & found here}

- daily devotional written by Billy Graham – short, sweet & to the point. Just what I need right now.

Watch.

American Idol. The combination of Keith, JLo & Harry make me happy.

Downton Abbey.

Counting the days until May 5. #JackisBack

Write.

Mostly in my journal lately & that’s completely ok & therapeutic for me.  Some days it’s only a few lines and other days it’s a few pages.

Knit.

When it’s cold outside, I knit. I haven’t picked up my knitting needles in over a year but on Super Bowl Sunday, I decided to give it a try again.  I have a bag full of yarn just waiting to be created into something.  My hexipuff making days have stalled out for now & I needed to train my brain again to knit & purl.

Exercise.

Those of you that know me well, know that this is hard for me.  At the beginning of the year, 2 of my local friends encouraged me to get back into the gym & we started going to classes again.  The first day I pulled a butt muscle during warm up exercises.  I’m not joking.  Lame, right?  I went to a few more classes that week and didn’t push myself too hard.  Then, the next week, I got sick.  Maybe my body was trying to tell me something? Exercising makes me sick?  No! If there’s one way to make the dust cloud easier to navigate through, it’s exercising.

Laugh.

My husband & kids are extremely helpful in this area.  Watching them laugh is seriously contagious. Also, remembering that I pulled a butt muscle during warm up exercises makes me laugh too.

Music.

I shared our latest playlist with you earlier this week.

Shop.

I never thought this was true about me but Greg pointed it out and I have denied it for a while -  shopping is therapy for me. Sometimes it’s just window shopping & sometimes that window shopping turns into a little item getting placed in my cart or arriving on my doorstep.

List.

Before I shut my computer down at night, I grab a sticky note and write down my list of to-dos for the next day & put the sticky note on my desk beside my computer.  Before I open my computer the next day, there’s my list reminding what’s most important to get done today.

color_layers

good_evening

Outside.

Even when the temperatures are below freezing & the ground is covered with a blanket of snow.  Dress warmly & get outside, even if it’s just for a few minutes.

Nourish.

Eat and drink healthy things.  Simple as that but this can be a struggle because the funk in me wants to eat Lays potato chips as the main course! I fight the funk with fresh fruits & veggies with a side of Lays.  Much better, right?

What helps you clear the dust cloud & fight the funk?

*affiliate links are used in this post
thank you for your support!

Polar Vortex Survival Playlist

polar_vortex_survival_playlist

Polar Vortex. Chiberia. Winter Storm Hercules, Ion, Maximus & now Nika on the way this week.

Most would agree, this has been a memorable winter.  School is never cancelled here, but this past month, my kids have had 4 “snow” days.  Snow is in quotation marks, because in order for it to actually count as a “snow” day, you have to be able to play in the snow, right?  School was cancelled because of the dangerously low temperatures, not because of snow.  We were confined to stay inside Logan Manor and gaze upon the beautiful snow from the inside of our frosted window panes.

We had fun making blanket forts in the basement, playing Uno Blast, watching a few movies, drinking hot chocolate & of course, listening to music.

Here’s our latest, the Polar Vortex Survival Playlist.  It has a mixture of new & old, making the kids & momma happy.

Happy – Pharrell Williams
Say Something – A Great Big World featuring Christina Aguilera
Riptide – Vance Joy {this is the free single of the week on iTunes until tomorrow}
Pompeii – Bastille
Story of My Life – One Direction
This is What it Feels Like – Armin van Buuren featuring Trevor Guthrie
Unconditionally – Katy Perry
Don’t Stop Believin’ - Journey
Shake it Up – The Cars
We Belong – Pat Benatar
Reflections – MisterWives {this one is new & it isn’t available on grooveshark yet so it’s not in the playlist below – but it has become a favorite!}

{if you’re reading this in an email or on a mobile device, find a computer to listen to the Grooveshark player below or click here}.

4 Whoa’s in 3 Weeks

stone_9

eden_7

1. My two youngest celebrated birthdays! Stone turned 9 a few weeks ago & today Eden turns 7.  I blinked and these two are full fledged little people that bring such a tremendous joy to our family every day.

polar_vortex

2. The Polar Vortex! Seriously, this has been a major Whoa! The temperatures have been ridiculous.  Despite that, some of the sunrises & sunsets have been ridiculously memorable.

tea

3. Illness.  Not much to say about this other than, well, Whoa.

Screen-Shot-2014-01-22-at-12.10.54-PM-550x133

4. Two of my dear friends are hopping on a plane to Uganda tomorrow and they just happen to be sisters.  Myquillyn and Emily are traveling with Compassion International along with a team of people to tell us firsthand what Compassion and the local church in Uganda are doing for the children there & how we can help.  Would you follow along with their journey too?  And tell some friends?  Click here to follow along.

Compassion Bloggers ganda Trip 2014