Thursday, October 5, 2017

Michigan Magic

A few weeks ago, some really thoughtful, generous friends offered us a few days at a lake house situated on Lake Michigan. 

With a giddy heart, I jumped at the unexpected offer. 
A handful of days away from the norm lakeside for next to nothing? 
We'd be crazy to not make time for such a trip as soon as possible. 

So right after church, we loaded up the old minivan and started north. 











Our only goal for this trip was to be together doing a whole lot of nothing. 
Our nothing looked a lot like eating a bunch of yummy food, enjoying the beach, sleeping in, soaking in the house hot tub, making s'mores, and playing.   

Of course it was kind of chilly. 
Definitely not swimming weather.
But the kids loved playing in the sand and splashing in the waves a bit. 

The house we stayed in was beautiful. 


I think the best way to describe this house would be European lodge. 
Lots of it reminded me of houses I saw in Germany. 
But so much of the inside was like a cozy lodge with dark wood paneling, fireplaces everywhere, and a staircase that was almost a ladder. 



This living room had huge sliding doors on three sides. 
I LOVED having all those open all day. 
One evening, it was a little chilly and a few candles were lit. 
We all watched a movie under blankets. 
Perfect. 

This living room had several deer heads and even a bear. 
You can see it on the right side of this picture. 
I though the girls would be terrified but they loved this guy. 
They kissed its nose good morning and goodnight everyday.  



One day we visited Port St Joseph.








Larissa has been really wanting a scarf of her own. 
We found this super soft infinity scarf in a thrift shop.
It's perfect for her and she wore it every day. 




This port town has so many cool shops and a sandy park along the lake shore. 
You can tell it must be a really fun place in the summer months. 
It was pretty sleepy while we were there.  

Also I'm terrible at taking location shots and rule at taking pictures of my kids. 
It's probably a very good thing I'm not a travel blogger. 







I'm so glad we took this little pause. 
I'm so thankful for the gift it was from our friends. 
I love my family but I don't always *ahem* enjoy them like I should. 

But Adam and I looked at each other countless times to just gush over each kid and their sweetness/funniness/ridiculousness/quirkiness/cuteness/loveliness. 

We looked at each other countless times too and just enjoyed what we saw in each other.
What our time together through the years has looked like. 
We've been together 12 years.
We're still growing up together. 
It's an endless adventure. 

These pauses help us to keep going with joy in our eyes, strength in our bodies, and faith in our hearts. 


Saturday, September 9, 2017

Yard Sale Helpers


Last week our neighborhood put on its yearly yard sale.
I joined in our first summer here because we had quite a bit of furniture from our rental house (which had very little storage) that wasn't needed in the new house.
Our new house also came apparently partially furnished with the previous owners cast offs most of which wasn't worth keeping around.
It was a lot of work.
I had to be up sooooo early, price everything, lug out too many tables, make crazy change transactions (mostly in my head), and deal with all the leftovers afterward.
By the end of it all, it felt like a lot of time and energy with not much return.



I decided to jump in on the action again this year.
To make it all easier and more motivating for me and to hopefully bring in more reward I did a few key things:

1. "Would I rather have a dollar in my hand right now than this item?"
With the mentality that I craved more free space for our family and fewer space-sucking items, I cleared stuff out for weeks with the very motivating promise of eager bargain hunters  just searching for what I didn't want anymore.  
As I combed through closets, bins, drawers, cabinets, and even our attic I asked myself with each item I saw "Would I rather have a dollar than this thing?"

That one little question made it incredibly easy for me to make a quick, no-regret decisions.



2. Set a purpose for the $$$ you make from the sale
If a dollar isn't terribly motivating for you, set a purpose for the money you might make from the sale. If you are able to get rid of 100 items, each marked $1, that's $100!!! A purpose we set for our money was to buy our daughters a bunk bed for the room they share. You wouldn't believe how much that goal encouraged even them to throw out toys, shoes, and clothes for the sake of their own bunk bed.

3. Make space to keep items until the sale
When I decided it would be worth it for us to have a yard sale, I asked Adam if he would help me by parking his car in the driveway for the month so I could use his garage space to keep items together and out of the way until the sale. He had no problem with that. Having a designated space to toss things to while I combed through the house made it simple to get things out of our way and out of the reach of young hands. Also it kept young eyes from seeing and asking for the toys and clothes I was sure we didn't need and wouldn't miss.



4. Mark things the easy way: don't
Don't mark all your stuff! Other than bigger, well working items that really could go for $5, $10, or even $20, my time is too valuable to spend it marking individual items as 50 cents here and $1.50 there. There was no agonizing over what that unwanted item was worth to me. It was much better for me to just make two signs posted at the front of our driveway stating that everything was a dollar unless marked otherwise. So simple! So easy! And shoppers are usually way fine with paying a straight up dollar than negotiating over cents.

I've also heard of people not marking anything at all and just setting out a by donation box with very good results. Generally people are more generous than you would ask of them.

5. For the last hour, make everything 50% off
Would you rather get half of your initial asking price and get rid of everything or have to lug everything back into your house and make nothing for it? If the former, then mark it all down! When I made the price signs for our driveway, I wrote on the back that everything was half off. When I had about an hour left of my sale, it was easier than pie to simply turn the sign around and let the flood of shoppers fill the driveway, people handing me 50 cents over and over again and walking off with my unwanted stuff. It was great!

Bonus: If like me, you really don't want to shuffle around what's left at the end, cart it all out to the curb and put a for free sign on it. Others benefit without having to pay higher prices at Goodwill and I didn't have to run an extra errand. If anything is left, feel free to trash what you couldn't even give away.



Maybe it goes without saying, but our yard sale was incredibly successful.
The best I've ever put on.
We were able to make over $200, get rid of countless unnecessary items that were eating up extra living space, and the new bunk bed is scheduled to arrive in just a couple days.
Woot woot!

Also no yard sale is complete without....

A Terre Haute specialty and the best donuts you'll ever have!
Adam made sure I was well supplied. 


Friday, September 1, 2017

The Change Continues

Continuing the theme of my recent post A Change of Heart, God seems to be continuing His work by asking me to change how I think about stuff.

Like actual stuff.
In that post I focused mainly on my clothing stuff but I feel a total overhaul from the inside out on how I view possessions altogether.

The word minimalism is thrown around a lot but in my case it feels like more than that.
I don't have an ideal that I'm striving for.
No certain number of items or a clear picture in my head.
I'm not pining away just hoping someone, someday will call me a minimalist.

Instead I am simply being compelled to weed out what I can and stop bringing in more to make room for greater things.
Some of those wonderful "things": Christ and my soul, my husband and marriage, my kids, and our ministry both at church and in the foster care system.

Adam and I are trying to get control of our money rather than being controlled by our impulses.
There's no good reason for us to live pay check to pay check so by God's wisdom, we are trying to change that.
The sad fact is that various debts are keeping us from following His ultimate lead.
We both feel a mutual and intense call to keep our door and hearts open to more kids.
But now we must first obey Him in getting out of debt so that we can make room and stability for more kids.....maybe quite a few if God says so.

Of course a bigger house and financial stability are never prerequisites to God doing whatever He wants to do..... but in our case, He's asking us to first obey Him in this dry, hard work of being self controlled and disciplined before we can walk into a more exciting adventure.



Our first practical step was creating a budget.
We've done it for a bit now and are tweaking it as we go, as we get to know our needs better.

Personally, I've been overhauling my desire for new somethings.
Anything.
Even if it's only new to me.
I LOVE bargain hunting especially at Goodwill or yardsales.
It seems harmless at the time but then I $20 and $30 us to death.

God is making me see that I don't always need those cheap thrills to enjoy myself or look good or make our house better.
I've got all I need!
And WAY too much more.

I'm trying to cut way way way back on my personal spending.
I'm trying to not only be happy with what I have, but less of what I have.

Some books that I've devoured lately on the subject.....





The first two are available as audio books on Hoopla.
The last I was able to find at our library.

They have been so motivating to me to look at what seems to be an endless hunger for more.
It's an endless hunger if I don't first ask God to fill me with gratitude, contentment, and generosity.

The physical outcome has been a complete weeding out of every space in our house of stuff that was a cheap thrill and now serves no purpose.
I've really never been much of a clutter bug.
I'm good at clearing out but the clearing out has always been because we are constantly bringing in.
Not this time.
God is doing a new thing and I'm ready to check myself before I wreck myself once again.

I'm taking full advantage of the fact that our neighborhood is having its annual yard sale this weekend.
I'll have my own which has been crazy motivating to let go of things.

One little step, one little prayer at a time, God is continuing to change me from the inside out dealing with heart clutter I didn't even know was there.





Monday, August 21, 2017

Summer Memories

This was just one more crazy wonderful summer for the books. 
I LOVE having kids around for summer days. 

Sure, there are the times I would do anything to have someone take them for a day or two (or three) so I could get some sanity back, but crazy really can be pretty wonderful. 

So this is what summer 2017 looked like with a 4, almost 3, and almost 2 year old....





Mid June we went on vacation with my family to the gulf. 
We rented a big house on the ocean together. 
It was about an hour's drive from New Orleans so we planned on spending a day there.

We were really looking forward to seeing it. 
Adam and I had heard some warnings about going with a young family from other young families but we only saw the G rated side of the town. 
We simply wondered around the french quarter, looking at whatever caught our attention. 




We enjoyed some beignets and after walking and getting SO hot I had the best iced cafe au lait of my life!
The girls really loved seeing the jazz musicians who played up and down the streets. 
I loved the architecture and styling.





Of course there was a ton of time on the beach.
It was just a short little walk away so we were able to go every day.












The girls have been so into playing in rainstorms this summer. 
Every time one pops up, they ask to go outside.
I think it's the umbrellas.



 Adam and I celebrated our 8th anniversary in June by going to the beautiful wedding of two friends.


 I loved getting a chance to get a little fancy together.
And goofy. Always goofy.


Happy 8 years, man. 
You're my favorite. 
Also is it just me or does this guy just get better and better with every passing year?
Seriously. 


Enter more water.
My kids and I are water loving human beings.
We swam at least once a week some where.
Anywhere.
This is a favorite swimming spot.

This pool is at Shakamak State Park.
It has a zero entry length and a kid pool. 
Ideal for our usual party of 4.
Plus I get to lay like a beached jellyfish soaking up the sun while I can. 

 At the start of the summer, we learned that our son had several small cataracts in each eye.
His first surgery was in July on his left eye.
There was a bit of a complication when it became infected.
Our doctor was really concerned that it could be a specific type of infection that would be very aggressive and would leave him blind.
So she was very aggressive with antibiotics, extra checkups, and delayed surgery on the right eye.
It all healed up well and we just completed surgery on the right eye last week.

So far all is well and we are expecting to get him fitted for glasses when we go in for a checkup this week.



We've been able to go for a few short hikes at another favorite state park, Turkey Run


The girls are starting to be drawn off trail to climb on fallen limbs and big rocks.
That's pretty fun. 
I'm looking forward to longer walks and trickier paths with them.



The fourth of July was spent with Adam's family in his parents hometown.
We got to see the teeny little parade.


Cousin time. 
We all wish it could happen more often. 
Taking group photos like this with big kids who used to be tiny and little kids who used to only be wishes- it's enough to get all the moms misty eyed. 



We celebrated our July baby who turned 3!
Fun fact: Kenna cried each and every time she was sung to, even if it was just Adam and I.
Even when her South Carolina cousins sent her a happy birthday video.....oy vey.
She's not very fond of such concentrated attention.


Towards the end of July it got to be so hot, nearly in the 100's.
We walked to the park thinking nothing of it. 
By the time we got there though, the kids were too miserably hot too play. 
After several minutes of me telling them to buzz off and play and them stubbornly refusing (with good reason) I remembered a little creek at the side of the park. 


 Ahhhhh! So much better.

I don't know that we would have been able to walk home without this refreshing stream. 



Another day, another walk. 
We walked to get a smootie and surprise Daddy who was sermon writing at Java Haute. 



Every Wednesday for about a month we met a group a friends to swim.
Good times!!!
The kids could swim for up to 3 hours and the moms got to catch up. 
We would pack lunches and stay through the hottest part of the day heading home for naps when the little ones were at their wits end. 

 Then of course we got to send Larissa off to school.
She's starting in on her 2nd full week and things are going so well!

Here we are holding on to summer moments as long as we can in our own backyard. 

*sigh*
Love 'em.