The Red Rain Boots

2014 was a hard year.

It was filled with transitions in our family. Some were welcome changes… had a sweet baby, had our first full year as State Farm business owners. A few were not so welcome… lots of up and downs with Matt’s health and the financial strain of going from full time employee to full time employER.

The strain hit hard and we did our best to push back. We cut back everything we could in the budget and really only bought stuff we “needed”. This meant that Christmas would be a heck of a lot different than it’s been in the past.

Matt and I both LOVE gifts. We love giving them to each other and we love getting them from each other. In an effort to be mature (not my strong suit) and to not spend money we didn’t have (also not my strong suit), I suggested that we not do gifts. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to most people. Plenty of couples don’t do gifts. But we enjoy it so much, it was a big sacrifice for us to let it go.

Especially me.

But I put on my big girl panties and dealt with it.

I had to reassure Matt about 757 times that I really meant it and this wasn’t some trick to make him think I didn’t want gifts but I really wanted him to read between the lines and buy me gifts anyway. Not that I’ve ever done such a thing in the past…

My reassurance gave him the confidence to follow through and we were both going to enjoy the season even if it meant no gifts.

On Christmas Eve morning, which is the time we’ve always exchanged gifts, Matt and I got up early to exchange stockings. We couldn’t cut out everything all at once! The gifts were small but very thoughtful and after we were done we just sat and talked in front of our tree. I couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed… or a lot a bit. It’s Matt’s fault. If he weren’t so awesome at giving gifts, I wouldn’t miss them so much.

We realized time was slipping away and we had to get ready to go to brunch so Matt hopped up and went to the kitchen. He told me to come look at the rain because it was really coming down. When I got into the kitchen, he had opened the door and walked out on the porch. He looked down at a big bag and said “well, what could this be?”

I knew right away that he had cheated.

And I loved him for it.

I took the box inside and tried to keep my cool. But inside I felt like I was going to burst with excitement. The big wrapped box could have had a bag of twizzlers inside and I wouldn’t have cared. It was just being able to experience the excitement and anticipation of such a fun surprise that had me all giddy.

I opened it up and saw the beautiful Hunter logo.

Inside that perfectly British box were the most beautiful shiny RED rain boots.

I couldn’t help it.

I lost it.

I cried. and cried, and cried and cried and cried.

I wasn’t crying over the boots.

Yes, they were beautiful and I had been wanting some for a while now. But these boots represented something so much more. If different seasons bring different weather, this one for us brought storms. As soon as we felt like we were getting a break, the sky seemed to open up and another downpour would begin. We pulled together and made a decision that no matter what, we would choose joy.

There’s a saying that goes like this… “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

So here we are in a shiny New Year with shiny new boots knowing that rain will come and when it does, we’re gonna play in it til it passes.

You’ve Got Mail

First of all, what a great movie. Am I right?

I love mail.

One of my favorite things about Christmas time is all the cards we get from families we know and love. There’s just something so wonderful about a letter… not an email or a text. A letter.

I don’t know what it is about seeing someones hand writing on a page but it just does something to my heart.

And I love sending letters as much as I love receiving them.

So one of my goals for this year is to send at least two notes a week. That might sound like a lot but it’s actually been SO fun to start! I’ve found one key thing has to take place in order for this to happen. So I wanted to share my thoughts on being a consistent and thoughtful note sender… Not sure a “note sender” is an officially recognized title but we’re running with i,t mostly because I’ve got about fifteen solid minutes to take this blog live before my little peeps begin to stir.

Really all you have to do is….

Make it convenient for yourself.

Part of the reason I’ve been so scattered about sending mail in the past is because it seemed like such a PAIN to gather everything I needed. That sounds super lazy but you feel me, right? Who has stamps sitting around all the time? And who wants to brave the post office with kids in tow?

But y’all.

I got a SYSTEM and I am loving it. I have a note drawer right by my favorite spot in my kitchen. My note drawer has notes (didn’t see that one coming, did ya?), a pen I like (because there for sure are pens I don’t like), address book, return address stamp, and stamps. That’s it. That’s all you need.

We all could very easily take five minutes to put together a thoughtful note to a friend or a family member. This year for me is about disconnecting from devices and reconnecting with people in real life. Creating community by encouraging those that God has placed in my path every day.

Thank you for reading and I hope you have the best Thursday ever!

Laura

Go, Stay, Sell, Throw Away

My husband, Matt, and I are super compatible. We aren’t an example of opposites attracting. We are more like an example of the male and female version of the same person. There are a few areas where we differ tho. Perhaps the most obvious would be our views on “stuff”…

I think of myself as a minimalist.

Matt gets weekly offers to be on the next episode of Hoarders.

Ok. Not really. But if he weren’t married to me, it would definitely be a regular on the show.

Most people have a hard time getting rid of stuff. I have a hard time keeping stuff. I started using this quote as I guide for how I view the items in our home and I gotta say I love the direction it’s taking us.

We have lived in our home for almost six years now so the amount of stuff we’ve accumulated is shocking to me. Add two kids to the mix and this minimalist started feeling like the walls were closing in.

So to start the year off right, I committed to clean out and reorganize each area of our home.

I do have rules I follow and I wanted to share them with you. Maybe you have a hard time deciding what to do with all your stuff. Maybe one of your goals this year is to simplify your life. If so, hopefully these ideas will get you off to a good start!

1. Take one room at a time: If you try to tackle your whole house during one afternoon, chances are, you’re going to feel overwhelmed. Most of us don’t make the best judgement calls when we feel like we’re drowning. Just bite off a little at a time. It will all got done eventually but doing a little at a time will give you a feeling of accomplishment as you see complete each room.

2. Give yourself guidelines: The William Morris quote is my mantra this year. Do I think it’s beautiful? Keep it. Do I think it’s useful? Keep it. If I can’t say YES to one or both of those questions, it’s gone.

3. Organize: I have four “piles” when I’m cleaning out a space in my home. What’s gonna go. What’s gonna stay. What’s gonna sell. What’s gonna throw away. Make a pile of items you want to donate to your local thrift store. Make a pile of items you know you wanna keep. Make a pile of items you think you could actually get some money for. The facebook garage sale sites are awesome for this. Just join your local group, take pictures, post them, and get MONEY. If you know it’s too yuck to donate or sell and you know you definitely don’t want to keep it, just throw it away. Each time you tackle a new room, take a big ol` black trash bag and fill the sucker up.

4. Commit to the Clean: Once you get each area cleaned up, commit to keep it that way. Figure out what you need to do to make the area function for you. I don’t have a junk drawer because I think the whole idea of one is crazy. We have a drawer in our kitchen that has things we need access to on a daily basis. It’s got a pen, marker, chalk, chip clips, tape, scissor, paper, batteries, bandaids… that’s pretty much it. It’s more like an organization station (please make fun of me for this).

Hope this helps you keep your home a happy one!

Little words, Big meaning

Happy (almost) New Year, friends!

We are busy planning for an awesome night out on the to… oh wait, nope. We have kids. I forgot. We will be in our jammies by 8:00 and might make it to sip sparkling cider when the ball drops. Might.

I wanted to share a fun little something I’ve been working on for my girl’s rooms. I’ll have a blog tutorial coming up in the next few weeks but I figured I should probably actually finish the project before I post about it. So here we are in the idea phase.

Reese is two and rapidly learning all kind of new words, phrases, and meanings. It’s pretty scary having a little person follow you around and mimic you all. day. long. What if I say something I don’t want her to say?

Scratch that.

I’m for SURE going to say stuff I don’t want her to say. So for the sake of teaching the both of us to be careful with our words, we are skipping past the generic “be nice” and going straight for more of the meat and potatoes of words.

But really what’s the point of knowing words if she doesn’t know the meaning? So we’re going to do both.

It should be pretty easy for her to remember these words since they’ll be hanging in her room (pictures and tutorial pronto. promise).

So here’s the list including a little description of how I’ll be trying to communicate the meaning:

be kind – kind means i love you
be authentic – authentic means to just be YOU
be generous – generous means to take what you have and give it away
be respectful – respectful means to be kind to yourself AND to others
be confident – confident means to love who GOD made you to be
be sensitive – sensitive means to see a friend and care about them

The list will grow but we’re going to start here. The whole goal this year is to be intentional in conversation with Reese and Rowe. To invest in their little selves so they can begin to understand the value of putting others first. We will look for opportunities to use these words and talk about their meaning as much as possible.

So here’s to a new year and a new opportunity to be careful little mouths what you say.

Here’s to learning and re-learning the weight of our words and choosing to be kind, authentic, generous, respectful, confident, and sensitive.

Do More of What You Love

I felt kind of selfish when I first wrote this one down on my list.

But the more I think on it, the more I am convinced that this is one of the most important things I can do to make this year different than any year prior. 
I’ve spent a lot of time doing what I think I should love. Doing what I think I’m good at. Doing what I’ve done in the past. Doing what others expect of me. But what about the things that make me come alive? What about the things that I haven’t even discovered I’m good at because I’ve been to afraid to attempt them? What about the big dreams that I pushed aside because I’m too… (fill in the blank). 
I want to use this time I’ve been given to find out what I love. Then do more of that.
I know there are things I do because they need to be done. Those things will still be done. Duh.
But this is the year to break out of the mold and try new things, try old things again, and try not to squander any of the gifts God placed in me to fulfill HIS purpose.
To do more of what I love, I’ll need to…
coffee with friends more
sing more
decorate and design more
thrift more
run more
laugh more
write more
encourage others more
do house projects more
memorize scripture more
rest more
date my man more
talk to my kids more
With only so much time in a day, I’ll need to also make a list of what things I need to do less of. That one might hurt a bit more. But really, my more list looks like so much fun, I don’t think I’ll mind getting rid of whatever I need to in order to make the good stuff happen.
What do you want more of this upcoming year?