adopted traditions

Let me start by saying, is anyone else looking forward to the new year like I am?  Not that January 1st is the only time for a fresh mindset, but many years I have a tendency to get antsy to try new things at this point in December.  This week of the year tends to be one of my busiest in terms of tasks, so it’s totally inconvenient for me to have such a craving for taking life leaps right now.  Today’s post comes to you as part of a link up of bloggers sharing their Christmas traditions.  I’ve never done a link up before … and something about it grabbed my eye and satisfies an urge to try something new.  Thanks for stopping by and joining me in this little leap!  3-2-1 JUMP!

 

The countdown to Christmas is well on it’s way.  The other day I was going through pictures from last year, trying to get in the Christmas spirit.  Where I live, we don’t have to dream of a white Christmas because the snow is most often already on the ground.  Not this year, and the consensus seems to be that we need a fluffy white blanket covering our exterior in order to get in the right mindset.  There is something seriously wrong with that requirement, so I turned my attention instead to our favorite family traditions to remind myself of what matters most during the holiday season.

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This was the view out our window last year on Christmas morning.  Practically perfect, don’t you think?  We loved the way snowballs formed on the branches, practically begging us to come outside and play!

As I was scrolling through pictures, I came across some I took at our family celebration, which always takes place at my in-law’s house the weekend before the 25th.  It’s a sweet time with my husband’s family.  The house has gotten quite full over the years as our family has grown, with cousins running around playing while the adults sip and chat and catch up on life.  My in-laws are wonderful hosts and are always prepared for our arrival with dinner in the oven so the mood is relaxed and easy.  And the house always smells amazing!

If you’ve been around my blog for awhile, you know I am a big fan of traditions.  It’s always been very important to me as a mother to establish traditions that my boys will want to come home to well into adulthood.  (My husband would say I’ve been pre-grieving the day they leave our nest for years now.  I prefer to call it planning ahead!)  Traditions always bring a sense of stability and peace.  I’ve been blessed to know a handful of women who have been purposeful in creating traditions with their family that started when their kids were young and have lasted well into the empty nest years.  I so admire the work they have put into making things happen and I’ve tried to follow in their footsteps.  It’s work, yes, but work that is well worth it!

I suspect that my boys will remember that I always made extra effort with our meals over Christmas Eve and Day.  They’ll remember going to church and the way we opened presents.  They’ll remember getting Christmas jammies and an ornament every year.  But what they’ll remember most are our times gathered with family.  I’m thankful to my in-laws for creating such a warm environment for all of us to come to.  One of our family’s favorite adopted traditions is singing Happy Birthday to Jesus after dinner.  We turn off the lights, gather ’round and sing out to the King.  For my husband and I, it’s a sweet moment of worship shared with family.  He and our youngest son have birthdays right before Christmas, but they don’t mind letting Jesus take the cake.

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The mood is peaceful, the family is gathered, the light shines into the darkness.  Every year I can’t help but reflect as we sing and I fix my gaze on that candle.  Jesus came to shine light into the darkness.

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And oh, the cake – it tastes so good!  It’s the same recipe every year.  Predictable and delicious and oh-so-sweet.

And, just like that, I’m ready to enter into this last week before Christmas making spirits bright, fluffy white blanket or not.

What matters most to you during the Christmas season?

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If you are new to Progress Over Perfection Blog, welcome!  Thanks for stopping by!  And thanks to Rachael Kincaid of Kincaid Parade for extending the invitation to share about traditions.  It’s been fun! Feel free to stay awhile … or come back again soon for inspiration to pursue progress {over perfection}!

 

Merry Christmas!

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monday moment :: stolen moments

This week will be full-on busy with preparations for two family birthdays, a big Christmas celebration at my in-laws, and helping prepare for a class party in my 5th grader’s classroom.  When I filled out my calendar for the month, it looked like there was very little margin in our time for relaxing together as a family, but as luck would have it, a couple of nights freed up last week.  We seized the time to plop down on the couch, turn out all lights but those that sparkled on the trees, and snuggle in to watch a long movie.  Sometimes, a little laziness is bliss!

IMG_7951  The ethereal light that shines during the month of December doesn’t last long enough, can we agree?

The view outside while watching our movie kept pulling my eyes away from the tv screen.  The sky was the strangest shade of coral, almost orange, well past dusk.  I like to think what I was seeing was a reflection of all the lights adorning homes across our city. Strangers and neighbors coming together in unity, anxious to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year.

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I grabbed my camera to see what I could capture.  What I got was even more vibrant than reality, which was actually kinda fun.  The perfectionist in me is cringing at posting these amateur photos on a blog my name is attached to.  I have so much to learn!  I have to remind myself that the sentiment behind Monday Moments is standing in awe of what we are given.  It’s not about perfection, it’s about digging beneath … going deeper than surface level … diving in and exploring the wonder of a moment.  When I took these pictures, all was calm in my world.  I was enjoying time with our middle son, watching what he wanted to watch, side-by-side.  I love soaking in these times, being in touch with all the senses, knowing that time is fleeting and the years pass and one day I will remember the cumulative of these moments of togetherness fondly.  They say memories are most secure when they are attached to all the senses.  I want to store these moments away in the crevices in my brain so that I can carry them with me as long as I live, don’t you?

Just a moment later, the lighting changed, revealing a new view.  More subtle this time.

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I’m wondering … what has stolen your attention lately?  Take it in, my friend.  Fight the desire for perfection.  Let it go …

And share your joy with others.

 

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monday moment :: our holiday home

The Christmas season is chock-a-block full of small moments that bring wonder and delight.

Christmas dough bowl

I thought it would be fun to give you a little sneak peak into our home this holiday season.  I like to decorate with lots of white and silver. One of my favorite little details is the contrast between a well worn dough bowl and bright, shiny, purely white ornaments.  Next year I hope to have this baby filled to overflowing with ornaments, but at this point in the season, I’m following the mantra, “Done is better than perfect.”

progressoverperfection Christmas foyer

This year I decided to change things up from our usual tree placement (you can see our Christmas decor from years past here) and put a skinny tree in the foyer rather than hanging garland on the stairwell that looks petrified within a week.  This allowed me to decorate one tree with all the monogram letters, words, and white that I like.  I also added about a dozen glass owls that I bought on sale at World Market a couple of years ago.  They are no longer available, but if you are a fan of gold, these are cute too!  I’ve shared this idea before, but if you are feeling like your tree needs a unifying element, drape it with yarn as a garland.  I chose creamy white because it looks like snow.  Some day I’ll go crazy and use tinsel circa 1978, just because it’s nostalgic and fun!  The skirt is actually a blanket I bought at Target awhile back.  It’s still available here.

Lest you would think that I’ve subjected my family to a single department store replica Christmas tree, we have a tree in our sunroom too.  It is lit but not yet decorated (gasp!).  Our December is ridiculously busy and this weekend is one of the first times we will all be free long enough to turn on the Christmas music, have some hot cocoa, and reminisce as we unpack all the unique glass blown and handmade ornaments that will adorn the second tree.  It’s one of our favorite holiday traditions as a family.  Then we’ll probably pop popcorn, grab all the blankets and pillows we can carry into the family room and snuggle in to watch a Christmas movie.  I can hardly wait!  :)
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It is usually our tradition to leave the stockings down until Christmas Eve, but this year I decided to add them to the stair banister.  I have strip of our family plaid fabric monogrammed with each child’s initials, waiting to be sewn to the cuff of each stocking.  If it gets done this year, it’ll be a last minute project no doubt.  For the time being, I simply attached a pretty holly ornament that I’ve had for years.  I love these ornaments because my sister and I bought them together.  I like to make happy family memories prominent in my decorating any way I can throughout the year!

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Isn’t the patina on the holly so pretty?  It’s a “small moment” that makes me happy.

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I hope your December is full of joy and love and that you are taking the time to slow down and take note of the smallest details that bring such fullness to our lives.  I’m making it a point to make purposeful choices this month about what I want to commit to and then let the rest go.  That means knowing what I will say “yes” to as well as what I am going to say “no” to.  That means no wrestling with my boys to get a picture for a Christmas card (as much as I love to reach out to family and friends this time of year), no fretting over the time basketball and other activities are taking away from our family’s dinner routine … Instead, I did things like sitting down with my calendar at the beginning of the month and blocking off family nights and date nights wherever I could grab them.  I’m resolving to avoid the trap of getting overwhelmed by what I’m not doing (especially in comparison to what others are doing or to my idea of the “perfect” holiday season!) … rather, I am choosing to recognize that the best memories often happen with little or no planning on my part.  They happen when I slow down to see and hear and taste the goodness that surrounds … a lighthearted and sweet conversation I enjoy with one of my guys, friendly chatter overheard between siblings, savoring a ridiculously rich cup of hot chocolate (this recipe absolutely slays me!) while wrapping presents or decorating the tree … every good detail that can be found with a little awareness and a grateful heart.

Life is what you make of it.

Put on a smile and let it be something good!

XO,

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Happy Thanksgiving! We are free indeed!

What a great month it has been!  Since it is quickly coming to a close, I wanted to pop in and share why I’m thankful for November and what I’m learning.

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I’m doing Priscilla Shirer’s study, Breathe, right now with a fun group of women from my church.  It is SO good!  The study is, in a nutshell, about taking a break from the things that are overwhelming our lives.  Last week I brought an object lesson to the ladies that I thought was worth sharing here on the blog.

The question on the table:  Are you living free?  If you have placed your faith in Christ, make no mistake, you ARE free – but are you living in freedom, or are you living in bondage to an area of sin?

I brought this box to our Bible study gathering and told the ladies I had a gift for one of them.  I handed it to one of the gals and she opened it.  Inside, I had placed a few $20 bills.  I watched her squirm in her seat, uncomfortable with the gift and confused as to why I would give it to her.  I could tell she wanted to hand it back.  In fact, she subconsciously held it away from her body.  It was pretty funny to watch!

You see, Jesus died for our freedom.  We were given a free gift in our salvation, but do you realize that salvation means that you are free to live free from bondage?  It’s more than just being saved from your sins – it means being saved from bondage to sin.  “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.  Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”  -Galatians 5:1  When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are accepting that He has forgiven our sins and has made us free.  The shackles have been broken. It was interesting to me that in our video session for Breathe, Priscilla talked about freedom as a done deal.  “You were a slave, but now you are free!  The old has gone.  The new has come.”  It’s true. We are free, but I’ll wager a bet that if you are reading this post, you are probably living in bondage to something.  Almost all of us are.

I’ve spent November learning a lot about the negative dialogue I live with in my head (that I’ve grown so accustomed to that I barely even recognize the lies as lies!) and practicing breaking the bondage of how I talk to myself.  It has been so liberating!  It’s a journey that I will have to live out and practice diligently if I want to live out my freedom, but I am coming to believe with all of me that I am free to affirm myself and say goodbye to my old way of speaking to myself.  I have so much more to share on this topic and I am thankful for this outlet to spread the message that is coming to mean so much to me…

It is for freedom that He has set us free.  

What an amazing gift!  I hope this Thanksgiving has you slowing down to truly reflect on your blessings.  And, if by chance you are feeling a little down, friend… look up.  The best is yet to come!

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

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introducing … monday moment

Here we go . . .

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Let it snow!  This was the view out my window today.  Just like I imagine it would be like to live inside a snow globe.  Purely magical.

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In honor of our first real snowfall (4-6 inches predicted!), I decided to raid my refrigerator and pantry for everything I needed to make Barefoot Contessa’s Chicken Noodle Soup.  It’s a family favorite, especially on a day like today. I decided to turn on my current favorite music – All Sons and Daughters on Pandora – and savor the quiet day at home.  Chopping vegetables is very therapeutic to me.  This type of meal is perfect for nights like tonight that I know we won’t be sitting down to dinner together but I still want to nourish my family with warm food.  Chicken soup for the soul, you might say.  :)

monday moment mirepoix

Nothing beats the sizzle and smell of a mirepoix as it hits the pot to soften and the flavors all come together to create something so divine…

monday moment soup And how cute are these little noodle bundles?!

I always say, it’s the little things in life that satisfy my soul’s craving for innocent delight.  Sometimes I find myself peering into another’s world online and wanting “what she has”.  Do you ever do that?  Oh, how easy it is to covet!  Months ago I had the idea to practice satisfaction with what I have already been given by capturing snippets of life through the lens of my camera … which leads me to share with you a new series here on the blog.

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Monday Moment

Monday Moment is all about the lens through which we view the world.  It’s about the small moments that inspire us, that fill us with a sense of awe or wonder.  It’s about the bits of beauty that bring us joy and pleasure.  What it’s NOT about is coveting what someone else has.  It’s about training ourselves to see the beauty we’ve already been given and enjoy it with gratitude.  I hope my Monday Moments inspire you to take your own snapshots of the world around you (either literally or figuratively) and allow them to inspire a sense of contentment.

If you have ever volunteered during the reading or writing portion of an early elementary school day, it’s likely that you have heard the term “small moment”.  Children are taught to look at small moments that happen during their day and expound on them in their writing. Stretch them out by looking at all the little details of that moment – noting the five senses, what they were feeling in the moment, etc. – to tell the bigger picture story.  It’s a wonderful way for young people to learn to become more keenly aware of the world around them.

Somewhere along the way, we lose touch with our ability to do this.  As adults, we are often so busy that we miss the little bits of beauty that are all around us, whether it is beauty in a physical object or an intangible feeling that a moment creates in us.  It really doesn’t take much to make me happy … and I bet you would say the same about yourself.  Yet, there are times when we live our lives on a rabbit trail of trying to satisfy that which feels dissatisfied rather than appreciating what we’ve already been given.  We need look no further than our spending habits to see this rabbit trail in action.

Monday Moment is a way for me to practice finding satisfaction in what I’ve already been given rather than being tempted to covet and over consume as a result.  It’s also an opportunity for me to  pursue another goal that I’ve had for a long time, which is to improve my photography skills.  The third bonus:  maybe you will be encouraged to look at the world around you with a fresh perspective, too!

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Happy… Halloween?

I’ve been about as visible as a ghost here on the blog over the past couple of months.  Since it’s Halloween (Yikes!  Where did October go?!), I thought I would pop in and share my seasonal decor.  We’re not much into decorating for Halloween around here, but I do love pumpkins.  I’ve been meaning to follow up on a few requests I’ve had to post pictures of our house this time of year, so here goes…
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It seems like I’m always doing dishes, so this tiny blue velvet pumpkin brings a little smile to my face.  It sits on a windowsill right behind my sink.

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For the past year or so I had been on the hunt for an antique dough bowl that was just the right size for my dining table.  Finally found one in a tiny town about a half hour from home.  It was a gift from my hubby on my birthday, so it holds sentimental value as well.  Soon after finding it, I saw that Pottery Barn and Ballard Designs have begun selling them as well.  Vintage is almost always better in my book, not that I’m opposed to catalog shopping…

 

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Pumpkins en masse seem to be the theme around here.

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The lighting in our dining room makes it very hard to photograph well for a novice like me.  Awhile back I posted a picture on Instagram of some changes I finally decided to make to our hutch and I’ve tried a few times to take pictures and have never been happy with them. I’ve been wanting to take an online photography class for years now.  I think I’m finally going to go for it!

 

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Every time I look at these pumpkins perched on a stack of cookbooks I covered in wrapping paper from Homegoods, I think of that nursery rhyme.  “Three little pumpkins sitting on a fence…”  Once a preschool Mom, always a preschool Mom.  I kinda miss those days.

 

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The right side of the hutch.  I made the plate stand with a single place setting of gold dipped flatware from Anthropologie that I couldn’t pass up.  I held the fork and the spoon together with a little removable blue putty and wrapped them in silver thread.  That dish of corks could tell some stories of family and friends gathered around the table and simple, relaxed evenings enjoyed with my hubby.  I’m all about memories on display, celebrating life’s simple pleasures.

Join me in the family room, won’t you?

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I have a new obsession with Spark Modern pillows on Etsy.  Great fabrics, fast turnaround, and quality workmanship.  You may remember that I changed the look of our family room with blue pillows at the beginning of the summer (you can see that look here).  Blue was fresh, but when Autumn asked me for a new color scheme, I had to oblige.  The deliciously soft throw on the arm of the chair was a sale find at Anthropologie.

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I found this little planter at the same antique store that I got the dough bowl.  I’m not normally a fan of terra cotta that hasn’t found it’s natural aged patina, but the shape is fantastic.  There may be some paint involved in the spring … I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve to repurpose this fun find.

pumpkin lantern

White pumpkins and seeded eucalyptus are my favorite go-to’s for autumn.  You can see more of my obsession with seeded eucalyptus on Instagram.
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Speaking of more… more pillows from Spark Modern!  I told you I’m obsessed.  Look carefully and you’ll see a pop of orange carried over into the kitchen.

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The sun decided to make a brief appearance and magnify the bright hues of the season.  Not that I’m complaining… it’s a blustery Halloween.  Hope yours is a fun one!

Thanks for stopping by!
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monogram hat diy

The school year has started for us (THRILLED to share that we are off to a great start!!)  … but that doesn’t mean the summer fun has ended.  Tonight our church youth group is hosting a kids v. adults kickball match.  Breaking out my sweatpants!  #80’sflashback

Kidding about the sweatpants.  Monograms are more my style.  I don’t think I’ll be much of an asset to the team (leave that to the men), but I was able to complete a little something to wear for the occasion that has been on my mind for a while now — a monogrammed baseball cap.  Fashion first!

progress over perfection blog diy hat

When I get a project in my head, it consumes me until I’m able to bring it to completion.  I didn’t want to purchase a monogrammed hat online because, quite frankly, I don’t love how I look in a lot of hats.  Bummer to have one customized then never wear it.  I have searched multiple stores and online for the right size iron-on letters in a font I like and have come up empty handed.  So I decided to create my own.  I found a plain black baseball cap at Hobby Lobby for under $5.  At that price, it doesn’t matter how much or how little I wear it.  I had very little to lose with this diy!

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Side note:  Sooo my hat needs a lint roller.  And, a pointed tip sharp pair of scissors makes this job much easier.  I love this pair from Martha Stewart that I found at Hobby Lobby so much that I labelled them with washi tape so that they don’t disappear or get used for anything other than paper.

I created the letters in Microsoft Word using Word Art (just choose Simple block letters, Word Art Style 1).  I played around a lot with the fonts, but in the end chose PT Sans Caption because I thought it worked out best with my particular monogram.  I used a 96 point font, but resized the word art so that the center initial was about three inches high.  After I printed it onto the fabric transfer paper, I simply penned in a very subtle kick and roundness to the bottom of the letters to amp up the style a bit.

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Note that when you use this particular fusible fabric, you do not need to create a mirror image of your letters; you can just print them normally.  After you print the word art, you will cut around the letters and iron them directly to your hat … no peeling necessary as with other products.  Nor do you have the funky shiny look that you get with regular iron-on transfers.

progress over perfection diy monogram hat

Ironing the letters to the rounded baseball cap was easier than you might think.  I put a cereal bowl behind the hat to give it a more solid surface.  I then positioned the letter and used the tip of my iron to adhere it in place (this only took a second) before using more of the hot iron surface to secure the letter permanently (another 10-15 seconds).  Time will tell how long it will hold up, but for the price I’ll live with the uncertainty.

Every once in awhile DIY is the fastest, easiest way to get the look you are after.  This makes me wonder, how many more DIY projects are in my future this school year?  Could be fun…

Happy Labor Day weekend!

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how to (stylishly) hide electrical cords

Electrical cords can be such an eyesore.  Lately I’ve been on a kick to deal with these little details that can ruin the look of a beautiful room.

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I love the over scaled look of these lamps (found here), but do not love seeing the cords run catywampus across the back of my sofa. My solution?  Simple Velcro reusable ties that can be found at home improvement stores like Lowes.  For this project, I wrapped black 8″ x 1/2″ ties around the legs of the console to secure my cords and keep them out of sight.

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Almost every time I sat down to watch tv, I found my eyes wandering to an exposed black cord beneath our console. One day I was wandering through Anthropologie and it hit me – jute!  It took all of five minutes to wrap that bothersome cord.  Is it strange that this look makes me purely happy?  It’s very organic and now I want to wrap every exposed cord in my house in jute.

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progress over perfection blog

Recently I purchased this sweet and petite lamp.  I have long since adored the soft glow of a small lamp in the kitchen, so I was thrilled when I found it.  (Bonus: each of my guys has commented how much they like it, too :)  The cord was black and too long, but Husband quickly snipped it shorter and I grabbed a roll of kitchen twine and wrapped it up to conceal it.  More happiness.

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I need to paint the switch and plug white, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.  For now, I cheated and made the black and white look appear intentional by wrapping a plant pot similarly.  Band-aid fixes never sit well with me for long, so I’m moving this project up on my priority list.

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Tending to these little details adds an extra level of finesse and style to a room’s decor.  It’s the little things that make me happy!

Thanks for stopping by!

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how to set limits on older kids’ screen time

We’ve all heard the lectures about limiting screen time for our children — about the negative affects of violent video games (loss of empathy being the most compelling to me), about childhood obesity and the moral decline of our society.  If you are a parent, your pediatrician has probably handed you written information on the topic since your child’s six month well-check.  Limiting screen time for younger children is pretty simple.  You say no and you hide the remote, get out a basket of toys, and if you are properly motivated, you get down on the floor and engage with your child in imaginative play.  It seems hard at the time because there are just so many things that need to get done that parking your kiddo in front of the tube seems like your easiest route to productivity or – for crying out loud – a Mommy Time Out.  I’ve been there!  “Been” being the operative word.  But what about limiting screen time when your children get older?

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I’m not going to lie.  Our family spends more than an ample amount of time in front of screens.  Odds are yours does, too.  It leaves me feeling dissatisfied and I can tell my boys feel the same.  The allure of those screens can and does wear out, presenting a mother with the perfect time to strike up a new routine.  We’ve hit that point in the summer that we’re coasting along in our relaxed routine and I just know that it’s time to shake things up.  So I did a little Internet surfing to see what other parents are doing to limit screen time, with a focus on upper elementary age and older.  Here’s what caught my eye.

1.  Make gradual changes.  I’ll admit to dreaming of cutting off cable tv altogether.  An article I found on webmd suggested purposefully cutting back even an hour a week.  One potential way to do this is to eliminate tv during meals (which we rarely do anyway) and all screens for an hour before going to bed.  Reading before bed sounds great, but reading to your children, no matter what age, is even sweeter.  I’m planning to choose a classic to read to my boys.  This is something we have enjoyed in the past, but is not a part of our regular routine by a long shot. If you are thinking, like I have in the past, that your kids just wouldn’t get into it or are too old for that, I dare you to give it a try.  I sit in the hallway outside of my boys’ bedrooms and read to them while they are in their rooms.  They can be quietly doing other things while they are listening; I don’t care.  I found that when I approached reading to them in this relaxed manner, they relaxed too, and really got into it.  (Side note — our youngest is a reluctant non-fiction reader, but he loves when I read stories to him.  You bet I’ll give my time to share good literature with him!)  Another idea I had was to listen to a classic on CD as a family – something that would provoke discussion.  My husband plans to listen to 1984 by George Orwell on a road trip he has planned with our 16 year old.  For more on reading at all ages, listen to this podcast on becoming a lifelong learner.  I found it very inspiring!

2.  Provide alternatives to screen time.  When we’re on autopilot in our relaxed summer routine, we can get stumped for ideas to break out of our rut.  Last night I had my boys turn off all screens at 5:00 and find other things to do.  I told them I wanted a list of 10 alternatives to screen time from each of them before they went to bed.  This morning it occurs to me that I never got their lists; they were too busy shooting hoops and playing cards (Middle taught us how to play Golf.  It’s fun!) and having a ping pong tournament with us to bother.  Have board games available and be willing to play along (one of the tips I found frequently is to limit your own screen time and set a proper example).  Set out a puzzle and offer a prize or bragging rights for the person who places the final piece.  Start a running game of Cribbage that you can put down and pick back up again.  Again, replacing just 15-30 minutes of screen time a day with a family building activity creates closer bonds and stronger families.  Little by little good things happen.

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 A little healthy competition among family is fun.  After nine holes of “golf,” I was beat!

3.  Allow your children to plan their screen time.  Tell them there will be limits, tell them why, and give them the power to choose when they will have screen time.  Let them DVR television shows they enjoy, negotiate a gaming schedule with their siblings if necessary, then make sure to follow through with the plan.  Can you hear my desire for boundaries and routine?  It must be time for school to start soon because my biological clock is ticking!

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 I found this fun box at Homegoods.  It’s perfect for storing a couple of decks of cards.

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4.  Stand firm and be consistent.  You may not be the most popular person in the house for setting limits on your children’s freedom in screen time, but you must remember that you are the parent and you make the house rules.  I’m not a big fan of barking orders at my kids just to be in control.  Few people like a dictator, but no matter how much they may deny it, children crave a leader.  They crave boundaries.  Making gradual changes, providing fun family-bonding alternatives to screen time, and giving your kids a say in how they use their screen time seems to me a great way to tip the gluttony scale to one of more balance.  Let’s face it — screens are a part of our lives.  But they don’t have to dominate our time.  I’m challenging myself to put these tips into practice over these last weeks of summer. Lifelong happy memories aren’t made on Xbox, and summer is short.  And if you need any more motivation to make what matters happen, go watch this video.  You only get 16 summers.

how to find God’s will for your life

I’ve been an absent blogger.  I laid my struggles with a few areas of personal defeat candidly before you (read the several posts below), and then I disappeared from the blogosphere.  My disappearance was not at all my intention.  It just sort of happened.  Summer has pulled me to and fro as I have wrestled with some of the same issues of my physical self over and over again in different ways.  Looking back on the past month, I can see that God has been so readily at work in my wrestling nature and I think I’m ready to blog again.  This time, I’m getting right down to it with a post titled “how to find God’s will for your life.”  Not that I have this totally figured out, but I think I’m onto something good.  God has dropped many opportunities and ideas and bits of encouragement into my lap over this past month in particular.  As I have put it all together, I think I have something to share that I hope will resonate with you… because I know that this question of God’s will for our life is a pertinent one that many of us ask and wrestle over to one degree or another.

First, let me confess that moving forward in God’s will has been a MIGHTY BIG stumbling block for me.  What if I’m off track?  What if I make the wrong choice?  What if I miss His will altogether?  I’ve been pretty forthright with you about my issue of feeling STUCK in so many areas of my life.  I can attribute this struggle to my over analytic nature, to my desire to please God above all else, to insecurity… whatever the case, the question of what exactly God wants from me has been far too complicated.  Can you relate?  At least a bit, at some time?

If so, I have good news for you… IT’S NOT AS HARD TO FIGURE OUT GOD’S WILL FOR YOUR LIFE AS YOU THINK!  Here’s the secret I am testing out, in a nutshell:

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I’m not even going to take credit for this simple equation.  It was inspired by a podcast I came across by Edie Wadsworth of the blog Life In Grace, which you can listen to here read about here.  When I find something good and encouraging, I’m not going to keep it to myself, so go check it out in your spare time.  A few of her freeing words that really spoke to me in this area…

“(God) has given you everything you need in Jesus’ perfect life, death, and resurrection.  You don’t need to do ANYthing to please Him or find Him or discern His will.  He is pleased with Jesus and sees you as one redeemed by Christ.  He has placed you in various stations in life and called you to serve your neighbor, since all of YOUR needs have already been met in Him.  He has gifted you in certain ways, so that you may serve your neighbor and meet his needs.  And the beautiful kicker is this — God hides Himself in your vocation, so that all the service you render to your neighbor is sacred, because it is, in reality, GOD at work through you, meeting the needs of the neighbor.”

This is how God gets all the glory for what we do!  And that’s what pleases God.  We are His hands and feet, but it is really God who is at work to will and to act according to His good purpose.

You guys, for so long I have poo-pooed the fact that I’m just a Mom, a wife, a homemaker.  Not that I want a high-powered career, but really, God, isn’t there some grander purpose for which You created me to serve You?  Typing this makes me feel just as foolish as I sound — no one is more important to me than my 4 guys!  I have wanted to believe that the mundane daily tasks of being a wife, a mother, a homemaker were the behind-the-scenes to the Grand Stage Performance of my life.  BUT, when I begin to view my tasks as service that blesses both God and others, my life takes on more importance… more value… more meaning.  Have you ever struggled with feeling like maybe your life really doesn’t matter much?  Have you ever felt insignificant?  Allow me to suggest that you have a misplaced view of importance.

I’m off to make dinner for my guys.  Because they need to eat, and I’m passionate about cooking, I will choose to see it as a valuable act of service.  I’m testing a new recipe for beef enchiladas, which I will be serving weary travelers at a school-sponsored event in a couple of weeks.  Again, meeting needs with my passions, talents, and abilities.  Then I’m going to fold the laundry and cheer my son on at a basketball game.  While at the game, I’ll keep my eye open to how I can share goodness with others through a smile, a friendly hello that is not just in passing, or God knows what else.  My point is, these are all things that I might do anyway . . . but why not have fun taking a more cheerful view of the way we go about the days we’ve been given?  Our days can be dull and lack luster if we allow ourselves to forget that we are part of God’s grand game of Life and we are each His chosen playing piece.

Have a great day, my long lost friends!  I hope this encouragement finds you well . . . or sets you on a more cheerful path!

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To read more on finding your passion or “calling,” check out this post.  I’ve also been inspired by the book Love Does by Bob Goff.