Sunday, March 27, 2011

My "UN-Regets List" {What I Won't Say}!

Our oldest daughter is turning 5 tomorrow! Really?? FIVE.YEARS.OLD!
Where have I been? It seems like I was JUST holding her as a small baby....

The baby who never napped longer than 29 minutes and 30 seconds exactly. You could set your clock by it. Never.  Not once, any longer.
The baby who nursed for 2 years and never took a bottle. The baby who would only let Mommy or Daddy hold her. The same baby who slept in my arms every night but walked right into Church Sunday School and didn't even have time to kiss me good-bye. 
The same baby who made me a Mommy.  Yes, the same baby who was there when both of her younger sisters were born, feeding me ice chips and cheering me on.  The same baby who refused baby food and really didn't care to "touch" table food either:) The same "baby" who melts my heart every single day. 
Yes, the same girl who is so much like me, it is scary.
The same girl who now insists she dresses herself, and asks to run the vacuum cleaner {I sure hope her cleaning streak lasts well into the teen years}.
The same girl that gave me a "Pep Talk" just this morning so that I wouldn't cry at her birthday party today. 

Yes, it's an emotional time for me. I suspect the next few months will produce lots and lots of bittersweet and tearful moments as our girls all have milestone birthdays coming this spring and summer. I am praying for the strength of the Lord in this time. I sure don't "feel" like we have been on this parenting journey for 5 years already, but the calendar is saying something totally different! LOL. 

As I ponder and reflect on our parenting journey thus far, I can not even put into words how very GRATEFUL I am. If I had 10,000 tongues, I could not thank God enough for my children and my husband!! I am so blessed and so very grateful!

In honor of our 5 year mark as parents, I have compiled my "Un-Regrets" List. It is a list of things I will NOT say at the end of my life on earth. These are strictly mine. They are just for me. If they would not be on your list, that's OK! I would love to read your list, too:)

At the end of my life, I will NOT say...

  1. I really wish I would have held my babies LESS.
  2. I wish I would have been more SELFISH.
  3. I wish I would've made my babies cry it out. After all, crying is good for the lungs, right? {Yeah, like bleeding is good for the veins, lol}.
  4. I wish I would've made my kids more independent and less connected to me.
  5. I wish I would've been more harsh, less understanding and more demanding.
  6. I wish I would've spent less TIME with my children and husband.
  7. I wish I would've put everything and everyone else before my family.
  8. I sure wish I would've shamed my children, broken their little spirits and made them afraid of me.
  9. I sure wish I would've spent less time shaping my children's souls and hearts for Christ.
  10. I really could've been someone successful had I not "just" been a Wife, Mommy and Wedding Planner from home. 
  11. I wish I would've spanked/hit/beat my kids.
  12. I wish I would not have kissed my kids so much. 
  13. I wish I wouldn't have taught our girls to be modest young ladies.
  14. I wish I would have argued with my husband more.
  15. I sure wish I would've fed my kids more junk foods. 
  16. I wish I would've turned on the TV more.
  17. I wish we would've had less FUN. 
  18. I wish I would've focused on being more worldly and popular and less God-like, humble and meek.
  19. I wish I would have held more grudges and forgiven less.
  20. I wish I would have worried more and prayed less.
Whew, now that I know what I don't want to say, I had better get to living like the Lord intends for me so I truly can say I don't have ANY regrets!!


Blessings,
Aria:)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Stopping "The Girl Next Door" Syndrome...{Standing Firm}

And, because this blog is mainly for my own reflection and collection purposes, I am going to also post an article I LOVED reading about standing firm in your convictions. How many times have you made a decision and felt really good about it, and then you hear about someone else doing things differently and start to second-guess yourself? I know as a first-time mother with a non-sleeping baby (the 1st of 3 non-sleepers, but that is a whole other post, lol:), I would leave the library story time in TEARS after all the other mothers who wore their size 0 jeans, looking well-rested and refreshed, told me how their newborns all slept for 10-12 glorious hours per night! Ugh, it was a blow to my heart----seriously! I doubted if my child would EVER sleep all night-or ever in her own bed----both of which she does perfectly now:) But....at the time, I honestly was not sure if I was on the right path. Well, here is the blog post. I sure hope someone else loves it as much as I did. I wish I would've read it 5 years ago, lol!



The Girl Next Door has decided to:
  • homeschool
  • put her kids in public school
  • quit her job
  • go back to work
  • switch to all organic foods
  • start clipping coupons
  • swear off Facebook, blogs and social media
  • start her own blog dedicated to her passion
  • hire a housecleaner
  • fire her housecleaner and start doing the work herself and donate the savings
You name it and you are bound to run into someone whose convictions go counter to yours and tempt you to doubt your own priorities, goals, and decisions.
There are so many choices in the world. And probably as many combinations of choices as there are people in the world. It is all too easy to see what someone else has decided to do in her home and then to doubt your own convictions about what you and your family should do.

Right, Wrong, and In Between

Some situations are clearly right. And some decisions are clearly wrong. There is good and there is bad. Make no mistake. But there is also a lot of gray in between.
I have found myself in the dilemma of feeling good and confident in something that FishPapa and I have chosen for our family and then five minutes later, I’m wringing my hands because someone who does not know me or my situation has made a blanket statement dictating that I do the contrary.
It was uncomfortable — to say the least. In its extreme, it distressed me. What do you do when you find yourself there?

Don’t let others’ personal choices make you doubt your own.

1. Seek out God’s word.

I believe the Bible is God-breathed and therefore gives us direction on a multitude of topics. Here is where God makes good and bad very clear. But often we find gray areas, too.
In Mere Christianity, CS Lewis says,
When it tells you to feed the hungry, it does not give you lessons in cookery. When it tells you to read the Scriptures it does not give you lessons in Hebrew and Greek, or even in English grammar. It was never intended to replace  or supersede the ordinary human arts and sciences: it is rather a director which will set them all to the right jobs, and a source of energy which give them all new life, if only they will put themselves at its disposal.
What are “the right jobs” to which Scripture is directing you? What are the clear cut decisions? Which areas of life is God allowing room for your particular personality, family, and season of life?

2. Consult with your husband.

I have found that when I know my husband feels good about what we’re doing as a family, I feel good about it, too. I have not only his support, but also his guidance which helps me immensely. During my recent hand-wringing moment, he was the quick voice of reason to lead me through the clouds of doubt.
Sometimes discussion is difficult. I give you that. And there are trying seasons for every marriage. But, communication really is key to success in your family life. For inspiration, check out Simple Mom’s questions for developing a Family Mission statement. These might be helpful in facilitating discussion.

3. Refine your goals.

Once you know that you have God and your husband backing you, sit down and write out your goals, or revisit previously written goals. These can be immensely helpful in reminding you where you are going and what your priorities for your family are. They also are instrumental in reminding you that your life can’t be lived by someone else.

4. Take every thought captive.

If you’ve gotten this far and you’re still unsettled, well, I don’t think you should be. If you’ve searched the Scriptures, consulted your husband, taken a realistic look at your life, and honestly determined the best course of action for you and your family, you should be able to rest right where you are.
Trust that God has led you to this decision and pray for peace. He will be a refuge to you.
But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
Psalm 5:11

How do YOU stand firm in your convictions?

Blessings,
Aria:)

The Personal Inner Work of Parenting-Getting more JOY in our homes.



I have always thought of Parenting as more than just "having kids" and "providing the basic essentials of life" for them. You remember the sayings, "children are to be seen but not heard." "3 squares and a cot", meaning 3 meals per day and a bed---the bare minimum for survival, etc. Based on my own childhood, I knew I wanted to do things differently. Be more involved, be more LOVING, be more selfless and more SACRIFICING for my children. I truly believe parenting is a lot of personal sacrifice. I am blessed to have a wonderfully loving husband who also co-parents with these same values. 

Along the path of my mothering journey, I have discovered that it takes {a LOT} inner, spiritual WORK in order for me to be the best mother I can be. Having 3 small children 4 (almost 5), 2 and 10 months old is certainly a challenge, especially when you throw in our Attachment Parenting Philosophy and Homeschooling as well! I am learning to totally and full depend on GOD (and NOT myself) for the energy, the answers and the directions on how to minister to my husband and our children. I realize that my personality can get in the way of God's will and HIS purpose for our family. I am learning to submit my will and it is a learning process for sure! During this Lenten Season, I have been able to S-L-O-W down enough to quiet my mind to hear from God---what a blessing it has been~and some painful revelations have occurred as well.

Here is a WONDERFUL blog post that I was blessed by this week. I hope you will enjoy it as well! Carrie is the blogger, and she gives some wonderful tips on how to work on yourself (instead of automatically attempting to change everyone else around you, *ahem*, note to self:) and create more joy in your home.

Carrie's wonderful blog can be found here. Enjoy!

In order to handle the rigors of family life, I have posited in the last few posts that we must think about biography, balance of the physical body and the inner bodies, faith and faithfulness (our beliefs, and how faithful are we in ACTION to our beliefs).  In addition to the things I already mentioned in the first three parts of this series, I want to name some concrete actions you could take to start your own inner work so you can be centered for your best parenting:

  • Create a space in your day for meditation and prayer.  It may be that you do this whilst you nurse a baby or in the shower.  As a parent, you may not really get even fifteen minutes to yourself to sit quietly, so you have to be open to cultivating a new kind of practice that entails quieting your mind whilst moving or doing something else.  This is just a season; children do grow!
  • Watch your computer habit.  Most mothers I speak with use their computers as an escape tool at times.  Force yourself to be present even if you don’t want to.  If you are trying to escape because you are tired, bored, resentful, work on trying to fix the root cause of those feelings with action, not escape. 
  • Practice cultivating silence in the home when you can.  Less words, more warm smiles and hugs, soft humming, silence and reverence together.
  • If it speaks to you, you could start using Rudolf Steiner’s six basic meditative exercises.  These meditative exercises can be used in conjunction with other religious or spiritual practices.  I suggest starting with one at a time, going through all of them, and then eventually working in combination of exercises.
  • Work in the arts:  music, painting, sculpting, crafts, reading all build up your reserves of energy. 
  • Have an area of your own personality, will that you are working and striving to cultivate.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Have rhythm in your life.  Keep striving for this if it is a difficult area for you.  Write down what you want to do in the area of rhythm, and do it for forty days.  If you “fall off the wagon”, get back on.
  • Keep in mind that each minute is a new start.  Keep striving and going.
  • Balance your year by season – there are some seasons where we are move active in outside the home activities and some seasons where we might be home more.  Look at your year.
  • Look at your monthly rhythm – many women feel tired around the time of their menstrual cycles, and it may be worth it to plan this into your monthly rhythm as much as you can to honor that time.  This is a beautiful time, not a time to be medicated and rushed through.
  • Where are your “no’s” in life?  What are your boundaries for you personally?  No’s help maintain balance, no’s help us find the time to be home and centered for our own inner work and parenting in an unhurried manner.
  • Wake up before your children.  If you are rubbing your eyes and the children are already fighting, making a mess, helping themselves to what is in the kitchen, then the morning is not off to the best start.
  • Keep a day of rest, a Sabbath.  This is important during the weekly rhythm.  You yourself must hold how to do this. 
  • I think it is important to work toward being objective in parenting. Many times if we can just pull back and look at things without so much emotion, we find the right answers for our children.   If we can let go of guilt, which does NOTHING to move any situation forward, we can reach more joy in our homes. 
Aren't those some awesome tips? I know I am incorporating some into my week starting tomorrow!


Blessings,
Aria:)

Monday, March 14, 2011

FREE Easter Lapbook Download! {and some of my faves}

Well, we are still enjoying our special Lent Mini-Break from weekly blogging updates! I have also chosen to take a break from Facebook-and has that been eye-opening for me!  Since my screen time is now more limited, we are achieving a bit more balance. We are having so much fun-taking walks when the spring weather finally shows, playing games, reading TONS of books and making cake pops! Have you all seen these yet? Our almost 5 year old (Mommy shedding tears here:') requested them for her birthday, so we made a couple of batches to see how it works first. They are YUMMY!


I also wanted to share a few of my favorite links I have discovered lately~~~ENJOY!!
Please let me know if you were blessed by any of them;)

Here is a GREAT lapbook download for all of us with Pre-school aged kiddos celebrating Easter!

This was JUST what I needed to confirm my need to "unplug" and just "BE" with my husband and kids (instead of trying to capture every moment and make it "perfect". I sure am enjoying making memories instead of making blog posts, lol:)


Some of the BEST writing on parenting I have EVER READ!

This is something I am going to have to re-visit often and meditate on. I have to constantly remember that I am the Weather.

These are some of my recent faves. I hope you all will enjoy them!
Blessings,
Aria:)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lent Linky Love! {the one with my "Mini-Break"}

For the first time, my husband and I are participating in the Lenten Celebration. As a part of it,  I am taking a break from the weekly blogging I have been doing wrapping up our home school week. I hope you will still tune in as I continue to submit my schedule, my will and my desires to Christ in an effort to better serve my God, my husband and our children!

During the Lenten Season, I would like to share some of my very favorite links to other websites, articles, news, literature, videos, music etc that truly blesses my soul and subjects that are close to my heart.

My first link is one that is ENCOURAGING!!! I know I need encouragement every.single.day!  I sure hope you enjoy it! Take a few minutes to listen to Anne Graham Lotz talk about Jesus and share some of her testimony. I have NEVER heard Him described this way-it is heart-changing!! PLEASE enjoy:)



My second link this week is one of our recently-discovered worship songs that our entire family loves to sing! You should hear Elle singing this song---it is so beautiful to watch:) I have it on video, I will have to post it one day. For now, here is the "real" version by Kari Jobe {"The More I Seek You"}

And, one of my all-time favorites! Help Me Believe by Kirk Franklin! This really touches my spirit!! Enjoy!

Blessings,
Aria:)
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