Practicing Gratitude

>> Thursday, August 28, 2014

Hard to believe this is the last Thursday of summer holidays.  A week from today will be the girls' second day back to school.

I can't exactly say I'm thankful for that, but at the same time, I do look forward to the return of a regular routine.  And, quite frankly, this summer has dragged a little, so I'm grateful there will be a little more going on again soon.

I'm thankful for the little getaway and successful shopping trip the girls and I had in The Big City last week and our safe travels there and back.

I'm grateful for the visit we had this week with The Man's parents, who came up and camped on our yard again for a few days like they generally do right before the Labour Day weekend.  It was fun to have them here and it came in handy for The Man to have an extra worker around the shop exactly this week to put up chain-link fence.

I'm thankful my girls have the relationship they do with both sets of grandparents.  Both The Man and I have fond growing-up memories of our grandparents, but both of us come from significantly larger extended families so we never got the kind of one-on-one time our girls get with their grandmas and grandpas.  And I can't imagine that either of our grandparents would have crafted with us or taken us to the local playgrounds the way our parents do with our girls!  It's just so great to see.

I'm grateful August worked out the way it did.  The only week The Man spent living in the semi-truck was exactly the week that the girls and I were in the city, so the timing was perfect.  It's been good having him home most evenings again for a change.  Next month, we'll return to being a regular trucker's family and hardly seeing him again, but at least we had this month.

I'm thankful the weather has been so great the last month and a half, too.  We've really only had two or three real rainfalls since the end of June and it's been good and hot most of the time.  Perfect.

I'm grateful for corn on the cob!!  Mmmm, delicious, sweet, juicy corn!  I'm not a gardener and we really wouldn't need to have a real garden as far as I'm concerned, but I think I'd still always want to grow a small patch of corn.  And a zucchini plant.  And a tomato plant or two.  :)  I do love the fresh eating we can do this time of year!!

What are you thankful for?


Last Week in Pictures

>> Monday, August 25, 2014

The last 10 days have been full.  The GOOD kind of full.

Last weekend was my annual extended family gathering up at the lake.  The weather was PERFECT on Saturday.

It was a little cloudy on Sunday with the occasional rumble of thunder, but good enough for a bit of kayaking.  I love kayaking.

After a little drizzle at lunch, the sun appeared again and the water was almost completely still.

Which was great for more boat rides!

The clouds closed in again around suppertime, but by the time we were heading home later in the evening, they'd moved on once again.

Monday morning I had just enough time to do a few things around the house before the girls and I packed up and headed off to The Big City for a few days.

We drove through rain a few times and arrived at my parents' house in the early evening.  They'd only left the lake that same morning, so they'd only been home for about half an hour when we arrived.

Day 1 the girls hung out with my dad at my old school playground and went out for ice cream while I went shopping (for three hours!!!) at my favourite thrift store.  But... I scored two pairs of dress pants, six tops, two light cardigans, and two hoodies for $70, so I think it was worth it!  Finally, something OTHER than black, grey, and brown in my closet!!   (and finally, two hoodies that aren't falling apart!)

Then I spent almost 45 minutes getting from there to IKEA ~ a trip that, without road construction, would only have taken about 15 (I don't miss dealing with city roadworks at all!!) ~ to pick up a new living room light fixture and some nighttime reading lights for the girls.

Once my mom got home from work, we went out for supper to celebrate my birthday a little early.  We had a bit of a wait before a table opened up, but it was a beautiful evening.

And then the eating was awesome, too.  :)

Day 2 was all about shopping again, this time WITH the girls.  My poor MasterCard barely survived the ordeal.  Man, I cannot believe school supplies cost so much this year!

Amazingly, shoe shopping didn't take that long.  Mack had to try several pairs, but I think we bought the first pair AJ looked at.

Day 3 was spent hanging out with The Man's parents and one sister.  I helped them top and cut freshly-picked green beans that they were planning to can together...

...while the girls made cool stuff with their grandpa in his workshop.

And then Day 4 was travelling home day.  And my 42nd birthday.  Basically uneventful.  It's fun to go away, but it's so great to come home.

Especially when you discover a beautiful birthday bouquet of a dozen chocolate bars waiting for you on the dining room table!!

Needless to say, THIS weekend was all about laundry!!

While eating chocolate.  ;)


WW: I Have the Funnest Family

>> Wednesday, August 20, 2014

More Wordless Wednesday


Practicing Gratitude

>> Thursday, August 14, 2014

Wow, here we are ~ the middle of August, and just under three weeks of summer holiday left.  Yikes!!

Anyway, in the last two weeks I've been thankful:
  • I discovered clear duct tape does a great job of patching an already-filled 1000 gallon pool (unlike the regular grey stuff which loses its stickiness the instant it gets wet)
  • it's been a year and a half since any of us has been sick with anything more than the sniffles
  • for a great afternoon at the beach with the girls and two of their friends ~ despite a couple of rumbles of thunder and some sprinkles, it was a beautiful day
  • for PERFECT summer weather
  • that our window A/C is still crankin' out the cold ~ I think this is its FIFTEENTH summer!!!
  • for fun evenings with friends
  • for thought-provoking, meaningful conversations with my husband and my daughters
  • that I can use my front door again and that it didn't cost anything to fix or take any time!
  • for a season in which I can walk barefoot indoors and out
  • The Man's been home!
  • our dog, Shadow, might not be as useless as we thought... seems he killed a muskrat that was digging in the flowerbed right in front of the house the other night
  • that it wasn't a REAL rat, like I originally thought when I saw it lying dead on the lawn the next day!!
  • for a couple of nights cool enough and with low enough humidity to enjoy turning off the A/C and sleeping with the windows open
  • going through and sorting the girls' unused and reusable school supplies together yesterday wasn't nearly as long and odious a chore as I was expecting
What are you most thankful for today?



>> Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Can I be brutally vulnerable here for a minute?

How is it you can know something SO WELL with your brain and yet so consistently fail to actually live it out in day-to-day life?  I hear myself diagnosing problems and flippantly tossing out the solutions like they're complete no-brainers, and yet I know I'm talking about attitudes and behaviours that are not evident in my life.

I don't want my good intentions to forever be "lost in translation," but I fear the answer is a willingness to be uncomfortable, to be inconvenienced; and a COMMITMENT to the long, hard work of breaking old habits and forming new ones.  I don't really want to do that.  I'm lazy.  I'm tired of constantly feeling like a work in progress.  My human nature screams in rebellion, I don't have to change if I don't want to!  That's my PREROGATIVE!!  And yet I'm consistently unhappy with who I am.

I'm tired of being feeling stuck ~ trapped between who I am and who I'd like to be.

How does one go about beginning the work of translating
what one knows into what one DOES?


A Simple Woman's DayBook

>> Monday, August 11, 2014

Outside my window... sunshine, the rustling of the breeze through the trees, a few twittering birds.  It's been great to be able to have the windows open at night again!

I am thinking... of what all needs to happen this week as we plan and prepare for a weekend family gathering and a "girls' getaway" shortly afterwards

I am thankful... for early morning quiet.

In the kitchen... the countertops are clear and clean right now, but will likely be covered in green beans, cucumbers, and zucchini at various points this week.

I am wearing... my comfy sweatpants, a ratty old T-shirt, and a thick sweatshirt, socks, and SLIPPERS!  I'm not complaining, but it's almost COLD in here this morning!!

I am creating... a family photo page to add to a friend's online scrapbook project

I am going... to town later today to buy groceries and sell an out-grown set of the girls' books ~ the first of many decluttering steps!

I am wondering... what I will put on the grocery list because I haven't really made my menu yet!!

I am reading... Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider, The Bourne Retribution by Eric Van Lustbader, and When Will My Life Not Suck? by Ramon Presson, for myself, and to the girls at bedtime: Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson

I am hoping... for lake weather this weekend!  Right now, the forecast doesn't look so great...

I am looking forward to... having my husband home again this week.  Last week and this week are the only two weeks this summer he's been able to spend at home.

I am learning... (slowly) to savour simple joys each day instead of waiting for something bigger to come along and make me happy.

Around the house... I am psyching myself to go through the girls' clothing and school supplies this week to take stock, declutter, and see what needs purchasing for fall

I am pondering... what feels like a long "to do" list for the week!

A favorite quote for today... 

One of my favorite things... hot coffee waiting for me when I wake up

A few plans for the rest of the week: not sure yet what I'll try to squeeze in beside the puttering, decluttering, and laundry!

A peek into my day...
The Man giving Mack some "HayDay" pointers!"
(he's become quite an expert!)

* Click the Simple Woman's Daybook graphic at the top of the post to visit our host and other daybookers.


Remembering to Walk

>> Thursday, August 7, 2014

I haven't written about walking in pretty much exactly a year.

Truthfully, it's been almost that long since I walked daily.  Last fall I wrecked the backs of my heels by wearing my old, worn out winter boots and couldn't walk comfortably in ANYTHING for the next week.  Then it was another week before I had new boots.  Shortly thereafter, our extremely brutal winter began, and from mid-January to early May, I worked 3-4 full days a week at the accounting firm again.  May and June were unusually wet, making the gravel roads too sloppy for walking, and then it was summer holidays when I have no routine.  Add to that an increasingly problematic right hip and an almost-2-hr lawn-mowing job that needs to get done twice a week, and it's just been a long, long time since I routinely went for a "real"  walk!!

I miss walking.  I miss beginning my day with that special "Father/daughter" time.  I miss talking to Him about my family ~ immediate, extended, born-into, married-into, and church.  I miss feeling His nearness in the early morning solitude.  I miss the concentrated, conscientious, set-aside time for pouring my heart out in praise, petition, and intercession.

Last Saturday, despite mowing lawn for almost 2 hours in humid 28°C/82°F weather, I walked.  Only one mile instead of my usual two (for obvious reasons), but I walked.  And I asked God to renew my hunger for time with Him, no matter what else I've got going on during the day, no matter what time of day I may need to do it.  And I've walked every day since, regardless of other activities and obligations.

I want my walk to once again become something I cannot function well without, physically and spiritually.  It seems to be the only time I can concentrate well, the only time I spend more time talking with God for more than just the odd couple of sentences.  It's the only time I really ever spend listening.

I NEED that exercise ~ not just for my body, but even more for my soul.


Shut OPEN the front door!

>> Wednesday, August 6, 2014

We've had several unusually wet years lately. And last winter, for the second time in three years, the high ground water levels caused frost heaves that created problems around the yard.

The most notable one of which was the seizing of our front door.

The door is in our front porch/toyroom, which is an addition, so its foundation is separate from the main house and its footing is obviously not as deep.  Three winters ago, when it happened the first time, it settled again once the frost came out of the ground in spring and we could use the door again.  But that didn't happen when the frost wedged the door shut again this past winter.  This time, the door frame itself actually cracked along the top and the wood on the one side of the crack is almost a quarter of an inch higher than the half still at the original height.

And so we've been using our back door since about last Christmas, which is just altogether rather inconvenient.  Our back porch is quite small ~ really only room for about one person at a time ~ and so all of our stuff is still in the front porch.  (Except The Man's, because the back door has always been "his" entrance while the front door has been for the rest of the family and our guests.)  So whenever you left the house, you had to grab all your gear from the front, haul it across the house, and then put it on and go out the back door.  It was a bit of a pain, especially in the winter when there is SO much "stuff!"

But no more!!  After talking about how we might solve the problem with a few people, The Man finally had time to pull off the trim to try and see what actually needed to be done to make the door usable again this past weekend.  And all it really needed was a removal of the weather stripping he'd attached in fall!  That's it!  We could've been using that door all this time, but the weather stripping was wedging the door too tightly after the shift.

Obviously, there's still a problem there that hasn't gone away and will still need to be addressed, but it sure is great to be able to use that front door again in the mean time!!  Isn't it nice when things can be fixed so simply and inexpensively??  (oh, if only that would be true for my car's air conditioning, which quit on us last week!)

I LOVE being able to use my front door again!  And I loved how The Man and I had a good laugh at ourselves for putting off such a simple job for so long just because we were a little worried the solution would be a bit of work.



Moving On

>> Monday, August 4, 2014

If you still visit this blog every now and again, I assume you've noticed a bit of a change lately.

It's time to begin a new chapter on this blog.  I feel like my focus has changed again over the last while, and as such, the blog should probably reflect that.  I know I have only a handful of readers left (if that!), but I still come here daily, if for no other reason than to follow the links to my favourite blog reads, so visually, I needed this space to feel lighter, more relaxed, less claustrophobic...

I've found myself drawn to minimalist/simple living blogs over the last year or so.  I think it was Kelly Oribine's The Year of Less that first got me interested in the concept of living a fuller life with an emptier house.  Unfortunately (for me), she discontinued that blog as she conscientiously and systematically worked at decluttering her life, but she had already inspired me to look at THINGS differently, to re-examine my priorities.  (And thankfully, she didn't quit blogging altogether!  I still enjoy her posts here.)  Other blogs, like Becoming Minimalist, Be More with Less, and The ExtraOrdinary Simple Life have also become favourites of late, and continue to push me in a new direction.  (And if none of them have a new post, I can always find something to fill the gap over at Tsh Oxenreider's The Art of Simple blog community.)

Of course, I've been slow to actually put much of what I learn into practice, but I feel like the attitude adjustment needed to come first.  I have no problems getting rid of stuff, but I still always want to replace it with more stuff.  Better stuff.  You know, stuff that will make me feel like I'm getting somewhere in life.  I routinely forget that the thrill of the hunt for the perfect whatever ends as soon as the money flies out of my bank account.  And I almost never remember (until it's too late) that stuff isn't what makes life better or more enjoyable.

But I'm working on it.  I'm overwhelmed by clutter and unfinished projects right now (and un-begun projects that I keep talking about wanting to do!) and quite honestly, when that happens, I just do nothing.  Since it's summer, I'm not beating myself up about it, but I am slowly developing a course of action.  I'm also trying to get better at tackling smaller things right away when they crop up or pop into mind, rather than waiting until they become part of a larger issue or project.

So I feel like I'm at the beginning of another journey.  Well, maybe not so much another journey as finally having a practical route in mind for getting to the destination I felt led to three years ago.  I feel like I've spent all this time thinking about the place I want to be without ever working out how I was going to get there, and then being constantly frustrated by my lack of progress.  It's like I set the globe spinning, closed my eyes, jabbed my finger, did all the tourist research about the location I discovered upon opening my eyes... but never worked out how I was actually going to get there.

I have begun to suspect that
the key to being able to look forward to tomorrow
is hidden in fully enjoying today.

So it's time to get moving.  I'm still "Laughing at the Future."  But now I understand that getting there means learning how to enjoy the present first.  Because year by year, day by day, moment by moment...

that's what the future becomes.


The Elevator Project: July

>> Friday, August 1, 2014

Now, on to August!!


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