Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Choosing Gratitude over Stress and Guilt

In a group today a great panel of women talked about how to create margin in family life. This goal rose to the top of the discussion for me. It aligned with a goal I have set for myself of replacing the word gratitude for the word shame, or the feeling of guilt. 

I feel guilty at times I am able to be home with our children, when I stop myself and swap the words, it is a mind shift. 

I am so lucky to have this choice. 

I am grateful for this time. 

There is also the feeling of shame if I did a poor job with my day. 

I feel guilty if I didn't manage to find time to make that phone call (I hate making phone calls! Next year's goal) or if I missed an appointment or did not get the house tidy by the time my first child rolls in the door. 

To replace that flustered feeling of annoyance with one of being grateful is not easy. 

“Being grateful does not mean that everything is necessarily good. It just means that you can accept it as a gift.” ― Roy T. Bennett

A gift of the everyday is my desired outlook. As simple as it sounds I am finding myself working diligently to replace the word "Stress" with "Grateful" in my day to day patterns. I am grateful to be healthy, to have energy to worry! How can I shift that energy into a more life fulfilling direction? As I work towards this goal I am finding small slivers of new space and energy for renewal.

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. They are the things that fill our lives with comfort and our hearts with gladness -- just the pure air to breathe and the strength to breath it; just warmth and shelter and home folks; just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.” 
― Laura Ingalls WilderWritings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder: On Wisdom and Virtues

I am so grateful for these children, look at how they have grown from 
this pumpkin day eight years ago! 
I want to give thanks for hard bits and the amazing bits. 
May the busy they bring leave margin for exponential joy.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Room On The Couch, Upsides to Downsizing With a Big Family

October, the world is getting colder and we had a day of rain. We have been working together to create space for our family, welcome in a new sweet Foster sibling and fix projects before the weather turns. We have a historically high number of schools as kids are in different stages nursery, elementary, junior high and different high schools. We are driving and juggling sports teams, trying as always to make sure being a big family does not become a burden to the kids chances of success.

But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. Exodus 17:12

A shared project is a much lighter load. We have been working on house projects trying to fit twelve of us with efficiency and humor into a smaller space. I admit I think I (mom) have had the hardest time with the change, but as the weather turns projects are being finished up and I am seeing the gains. A laundry room with wall to wall drying rack was a huge hit this summer, now nine lockers and a curtain to hide the chaos of that many shoes, books and paper treasures. 
M is ready for action. Everyone helped!

Hide the mess with an entry way that serves as a mudroom. Sheff did a great job in two weekends so pleased with the functionality. Not sure about wet boots and coats but one step at a time!
Helps to hang clothes although this was in the summer when  two loads fit on the outside clothes line. 
Entry way/Mudroom.
Piping for curtain rods and  multiple panels so kids can use in a hurry.

Typical moment, love the hugs.
Like any mama it can be difficult getting things done with littles. As I imagine and explore adding in a small amount of paid work, I am mindful of enjoying this time and not wishing away the busy days of firsts with my last little ones. First steps, first words, first time of tasting sour and seeing rain. The moments that both delight and amaze me, and make me grateful for these years.

One of the goals in this move for us was to come together. I have been fighting this call tooth and nail. I want my cake and to eat it too, how humbling to see how God is working in this new time for our family. With one space for watching telivision we come together and have to debate and decide what we watch. We have an extra table at the back of this room for projects and folding laundry, mom rarely sits but is in the same space with everyone. This is also where forts are made and race cars zoom underfoot. 

We used to have four telivisions I am embarrassed to admit. With almost everyone sharing bedrooms kids talk into the night and support each other more visibly during the day. Some patterns that worked before continue to do so here, chores, spending most of the time playing outside. The new patterns are born of less space, more work for mom, more connectedness as a family. I continue to pray for a gentle spirit in this change (not my feisty Irish one that needs to question the sanity of thirty two pairs of tennis shoes by the front door) and work on my ability to welcome the imperfection that comes with less space and a big family. I struggle feeling less able to host (something we enjoy) with out more space. But I know this is exactly where we need to be right now! 

Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the ufading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 1 Peter 3:4
I love these photos, with lots of open seating, the majority of the family squished onto one couch. As the world turns in grief and pain with historic shootings and political turmoil, what a comfort it is to snuggle in with family. Not to take this closeness lightly, but rather, to give thanks.
A whole extra couch:) 8 Otis people in a row, I guess we CAN host!

So peacful around here Dad fell asleep!