Friday, May 31, 2013

Published 7:36 AM by with 7 comments

This Moment: Sunshine is Up

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Linking up with Soule Mama on this bright Friday!
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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Published 7:14 AM by with 0 comment

Thoughtful Thursday

There are three ways you can live life... remember that the great writers almost always do things in threes. You can live life as though it's all a cosmic accident; we're nothing but an irritating skin disease on the face of the earth. Maybe you can live your life as though everything's a bad joke. I can't. 

Or you can go out at night and look at the stars and think, yes, they were created by a prime mover, and so were you, but he's aloof perfection, impassible, indifferent to his creation. he doesn't care, or, if he cares, he only cares about the ultimate end of his creation, and so what happens to any part of it on the way is really a matter of indifference. You don't matter to him, I don't matter to him, except possibly as a means to an end. I can't live that way either.

Then there's a third way: to live as though you believe that the power behind the universe is a power of love, a personal power of love, a love so great that all of us really do matter to him. He loves us so much that every single one of our lives has meaning; he really does know about the fall of every sparrow, and the hairs of our head are really counted. That's the only way I can live. 

~ Madeleine L'Engle, The Crosswicks Journal: A Circle of Quiet

Please share a quote you've enjoyed or let me know your thoughts about this quote in the comment section! A good quote can be the bridge that leads us farther along the path of understanding ourselves and the world. 

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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Published 6:30 AM by with 0 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

These little guys called "story cubes" are an absolutely brilliant idea. Kids, teens, adults, anyone could have fun using them! Putting these on our "Someday-in-the-future Family Wish List". 


Ever wondered why there are only three kinds of lettuce sold in the grocery store? Why only a few types of potatoes? There are dozens and dozens of types of vegetables and fruits out there, yet the store sets limits on the consumers by only offering a miniscule selection. It wasn't always this way! Check out why you can only seem to buy five kinds of apples in most grocery stores nowadays

One mother wanted to give her daughter better role models than the typical princesses, Disney channel stars, and modern pop icons that our culture says little girls should emulate. I was so impressed with the beautiful photography session of her daughter dressed as influential women from history

"To believe with certainty, one must begin by doubting." "Sometimes growth is enjoyable and sometimes it is not. But growth is always good." Two quotes from a great article about seven things learned in fifty years, from a guy I personally know. 

I found out that I would have received investigation and punishment in six countries... just for visiting a place with the word "tavern" in the title. Curious to know how many crimes you've committed that can be traced back to your Facebook page? Take a look at this website from Amnesty International called Trial by Timeline

"Interestingly, the characters in the Bible who were the most self-confident about their beliefs were usually the ones who were wrong and rebuked by Jesus, while those who were humble and eager to learn were the ones Jesus used in powerful ways. Wise people admit when they’re wrong, but when it comes to theology most people spend all of their time and energy buttressing and protecting their own personal beliefs instead of critically, prayerfully, humbly, and honestly questioning them." In the course of time, I've changed, grown, and changed again when it comes to my understanding of who God is and who I am. I am so grateful for the "grace of an unchanging God" who does not simply discard me when I worry, doubt, ponder, consider, and CHANGE. This author explains more about why it's not a sin to change your beliefs

Where can a teen girl learn that "conventional beauty is valued above all else", that "valued girls must wait to be asked", and that it's absolutely necessary to have a lot of money if you want to be liked? Why, prom, of course. Here is a thought-provoking article about the damaging messages of prom in today's culture.  

When most older adults retire, the last thing they want to think about doing is raising a family of adopted children. But that's exactly what this family is doing. What better way to help young people than to give them a family and a home, helping them build a future for themselves? An inspiring example of selfless love : )  
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Monday, May 27, 2013

Published 1:33 PM by with 0 comment

Navy friend + Beginning of Summer + Staycation = Yay!

June is always going to be a busy month. Wedding anniversary, Harmony's birthday, vacation time (usually), end of the year performances, summer scheduling begins... it's easy to let my calendar fill up! But I still want to take time for the peaceful moments like last night, when Harmony and I went on a sunset walk around our apartment complex, or yesterday afternoon when my family sat down to a delicious Sunday dinner together.

Blogging may not happen on a perfect schedule, just to warn you : )  If I can write a Monday post, put together a few links on Wednesday, and get a picture up on Friday, then that will be awesome, but if not... please bear with me!

Today being Memorial Day, we've been thinking of everyone who serves in the military, including our close friends. Chris's best friend, Nick, who met Chris during Boy Scouts when they were young and was the best man in our wedding three years ago, is arriving on Wednesday to visit for a week before his next deployment begins. He's in the navy, so we are lucky if we get to see him once a year. Harmony's special camel stuffed animal, which she takes with her everywhere, was Nick's gift to her last year when he was able to meet her for the first time.

We're looking forward to having a lovely staycation with Nick, my family, and other friends here in St. Louis! In the plans are visits to the Botanical Gardens, Cahokia Mounds across the river, Shakespeare in the Park, movie nights, long conversations, and shared meals. I'm hoping for a little time to get back into playing my guitar and mandolin, too!

Thank you to everyone in the military for protecting our country. To my friends who serve, we think of you often and pray for your safety, especially when you are away.

Picture from our wedding, taken by the talented Jim Larson

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Published 6:37 AM by with 12 comments

This Moment: Happy Birthday, Mom

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Linking up with Soule Mama on this sunny Friday!
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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Published 1:14 PM by with 0 comment

Thoughtful Thursday

Every week I'm going to share a quote that I've been pondering lately. I search for quotes that capture a nugget of wisdom, insight, or truth. A good quote can be the bridge that leads us farther along the path of understanding ourselves and our world. 

Madeleine L'Engle's book "A Circle of Quiet", the first in her quartet of the Crosswicks Journals, is full of gems, so many Thursdays will probably be devoted to her, like this one today! Please feel free to share your thoughts about the quote in the comment section if you'd like : ) 

"Here we are, living in a world of 'identity crises', and most of us have no idea what an identity is. Half the problem is that an identity is something which must be understood intuitively, rather than in terms of provable fact. An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy. I found that I could think about this strange thing, the self, only in terms of the characters in the novel I was writing, or in terms of other people, never of myself. If I try self-consciously to become a person, I will never be one. The most real people, those who are able to forget their selfish selves, who have true compassion, are usually the most distinct individuals. But that comes second. Personhood comes first, and our civilization tempts, if not teaches, us to reverse the process."

~ Madeleine L'Engle, "A Circle of Quiet"

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Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Published 12:17 PM by with 1 comment

Should Children Have a Bedtime?

Sleep. Before parenthood, I had no idea that sleep would become such a precious commodity. Now that I'm finally getting three to four hours of sleep in a row (Harmony still wakes up once or twice a night to nurse), I'm feeling much more rested!

Since I teach music lessons in the evening during the week, our bedtime routine is a bit different than what might be called "normal". Harmony refuses to go to bed without me present. Chris feeds her dinner, if she'll eat any solid food that day, and begins getting her ready for bed. I arrive home between 8:00 and 8:30, she nurses, we read "Goodnight Moon", finish getting ready for bed, I sing to her, and eventually she falls asleep, usually between 8:45 and 9:15. She wakes up in the morning around 7:30 or 8:00, and always appears rested; plus, she is FINALLY taking decent naps, once in the morning and usually an afternoon nap after I've left to teach, so that has been a huge improvement compared to the no-napping months we went through at the beginning!

As Harmony gets older, we'll adjust our bedtime routine. Once she stops nursing, that will make life easier for everyone. Maybe she'll let dad put her to bed then.

She is always tired when bedtime rolls around, so getting her to go to sleep is not a big deal at all, thankfully. But what about when she gets older? When she's three, what will her bedtime be? What about age five? Eight?

One mother believes that it's better to let the child decide what time they should go to sleep. It's an interesting idea, and would certainly eliminate many bedtime battles, but I'm sure there are downsides, as there are with anything. (Before you write your thoughts on this idea, please read the actual article to see first-hand what she says! Thanks!)

What does YOUR child's bedtime routine look like? And also, what time do they go to bed? Is it a set time by the parent that changes according to age? What do you do when your child doesn't want to go to bed yet?

Please let me know what you think!

Note: I didn't have much free time today, so instead of the usual Wednesday Wanderings post, this previously written post is what's for lunch : )  Hopefully we'll see some folks respond!
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Monday, May 20, 2013

Published 7:04 AM by with 0 comment


~ Diving: into the farmer's markets that started back up this month. Kale, spinach, green onions, lettuce, and asparagus are all in season! Support your local farmers!

~ Preparing: essential oils and herbal tinctures for summer use. Natural bug spray, here we come!

~ Planning: a new set of posts called "Thoughtful Thursday", where I will be sharing quotes 
that I'm currently pondering.

~ Remembering: the delicious home-made breakfast with my family over Mother's Day weekend which included local, free range bacon, the best I've ever tasted! 

~ Reading: stories together at a favorite haunt, the Tavern of Fine Arts.

~ Savoring: my favorite spring time treat, artichokes, on sale for one dollar each! Not very local, but certainly very loved in my household. We enjoy food around here, as you can tell.

~ Discoveringletterboxes once more; our warm-weather hobby is officially back! 

~ Sending: fervent thanks to everyone who blessed us with hand-me-down, thrifted, or new summer clothes for Harmony!

~ Wishing: that we'd been able to spend more time exploring the beautiful Elephant Rocks State Park of Missouri. We'll go back again someday : )

~ Hearing: the classical radio station. It's a few months old now, but we are still thrilled to have it available every day!

~ Hoping: that the pollen will calm down a bit so that we can venture outside again without sneezing fits, itching eyes, or dripping noses.

~ Plottingcharacter development for my book that will be written during NaNoWriMo this year. Yes, there's even a title already! Most of the brainstorming is done at night when I'm lying in bed awake with Harmony. More details to come as November approaches.

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Published 6:00 AM by with 9 comments

This Moment: Her Favorite Things

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Joining with Soule Mama on this contemplative Friday.

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Published 7:33 AM by with 0 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

Pinterest is the place to go for creative ideas. But sometimes our own attempts to replicate the projects we see there don't turn out quite the same as the pretty little pictures online ; )  Here are some hilarious examples of Pinterest fails


"In practice, there are some sins that are socially acceptable, even in the Church. There's one sin in particular that has pervaded our society and churches so silently we hardly give it a second thought." What might it be? Visit this article to find out what one author thinks. 

Worry is one of the greatest plagues of the mind, my mind included. Once a tiny niggle of a doubt creeps in, it soon drags all my hope, cheer, joy, determination, and peace down the drain to be replaced by fear. These ten steps to take when you are worried were very helpful! I'm writing them down on a piece of paper to keep handy for all times. 

"We don’t suddenly become people when we start to toddle, speak recognizable words, respect our elders, vote or get married. We are all there from the beginning and waiting, hoping to connect with someone who can really see us, the person. We have a powerful instinctive need to understand and be understood, and we trust our parents to show us the way." A great quote by Janet Lansbury, who has written some articles that I've found helpful as a parent. Check it out!

With Harmony around, Chris and I have been much more aware of all the chemicals in our apartment: cleaning agents, laundry soap, window cleaner, and more. We're trying to eliminate as many of the chemicals as possible to make our home both more environmentally friendly and more safe for children. Here are some great recipes for home-made cleaning supplies!

Interested in some carbonated black coffee? No? Me either. But the idea is fascinating.

"Wanting to connect and stay connected to God is born into us and yet sometimes the reality of this connecting seems to drift away like the radio station that begins to come in and out when your car is leaving the broadcast range of the station. I remind myself with the notion that regardless of whether the connection feels like it is there or not, it is there. It is not dependent on how I may be feeling or performing at any given time. This truth is a great comfort to me." How do you view prayer

In honor of Mother's Day (which I enjoyed very much!), I'll end with this lovely poem by Diane Loomans which was posted here

If I had my child to raise all over again, 

I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.
I'd finger paint more, and point the finger less.
I would do less correcting and more connecting.
I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes. 
I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.
I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.
I would run through the fields and gaze at more stars.
I'd do more hugging and less tugging. 

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Published 8:12 AM by with 2 comments

Do Children Have Too Much Access to Technology? Part 2

This is a continuation of my thoughts from a previous post. Please read part one first, if you haven't done so yet!


After more discussion, questions, asking for advice, and research, Chris and I feel more sure that going the route of minimal technology with our child(ren) is the best plan for our family. Here are two of our main reasons for this decision: we believe that young people need to have their selves and minds firmly established in reality before floating away through the digital ether, and we want our children to have the foundations of physical hobbies and a love of nature.

This generation of children is growing up with instantaneous access to fast-paced entertainment everywhere they turn. Television, iPad, iPod, video game systems: all intended to provide quick "fun", a flashing story, a thrill of conquering, a bit of instant information, and more. It is all NOW; it is immediate gratification. Small wonder that a child's attention span becomes less and less able to focus, as I hear so many parents complain, or that children and even toddlers can become seriously addicted to technology!

If you spend time with a baby you will notice that they explore their world with all their senses. They touch, smell, nibble, suck, poke, smack, listen, look, and absorb everything around them with their whole bodies in motion. Technology only stimulates a very limited set of their growing skills. One woman wisely states that she believes computers are "superb tools",  but "they’re not for young children whose bodies and beings are hardwired to upload the realities of their immediate worlds. Let them learn, according to their natures, not according to advertising’s genius at selling stuff.  Children need trees, friends, bikes, things like that. In time, kids will pick up basic computer skills with frightening agility, so there’s absolutely no need to start early."

With the advent of social media like Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat, children (most young people don't wait until the "legal" age of thirteen to get a profile) also have to face a completely new level of confusion beyond the already complex systems of face-to-face interactions. As one author says, modern day children are forced at an early age to "try on different identities. With social media, teens have the opportunity (and challenge) to play with the digital self -- which can be harder and harder to distinguish from the physical self as collisions take place between virtual and real, and as the lines between the digital and physical grow blurred and indistinguishable....It effectively places them in the unenviable and daunting spot of having to play the equivalent of 50 games of "telephone," that group activity you may remember from childhood in which participants whisper a message to another participant at the same time... The "final" message is a far cry from the intended meaning initiated at the start of the game. And the end result can often be public, permanent and painful."

Along with the emergence of online identities comes the worry that children may become so entrenched in technology and immediate satisfaction that they might miss out on learning some very important life skills. Sherry Turkle, a professor of science, technology and society at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of the book “Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other", has interviewed parents, teenagers and children about the use of gadgets during early development. She says "that children who do not learn real interactions, which often have flaws and imperfections, will come to know a world where perfect, shiny screens give them a false sense of intimacy without risk. And they need to be able to think independently of a device. They need to be able to explore their imagination. To be able to gather themselves and know who they are. So someday they can form a relationship with another person without a panic of being alone. If you don’t teach your children to be alone, they’ll only know how to be lonely.”

As I have been discovering for myself recently, real life is far more interesting and important than spending all my time constantly checking Facebook. It's a long process, but I'm slowly whittling down the time I spend online in general, especially as Harmony gets older and is more observant of my actions. These last few months have been wonderful because she is experiencing spring for the first time! We spend more time outside since that's her favorite place to be. (Now if only my allergies would abate; outside time has lessened this past week because the ridiculous amounts of pollen have been making me miserable.) 

This is what we want Harmony to love: nature, playtime at the park, weather of all kinds, and exploration of her world. Perhaps if more children were allowed/encouraged/enabled to immerse themselves in true nature, then we would have more grounded, peaceful people. But "instead of whiling away the hours discovering wilderness with friends, young people are exploring in solitude the warrens of the less pristine internet," as one author writes. 

We don't think technology is evil. 

We just want it to have a correct place in our lives, below the priorities of family, real friends, hands-on activities, the outdoors, travel, adventure, active play. 

We want Harmony and any other children we have to be reliant first upon their imaginations, their ingenuity, their resourcefulness, their hands, their minds, before turning to the computer for anything. 

We want Harmony to have the ability to turn her phone off (although she won't be getting a phone for quite a long time), leave it in the car, and go on a long hike, or enjoy a dinner party, or go camping, or explore the city, using her eyes and ears and self to investigate and interact instead of gluing them to her phone every two minutes. 

We don't want Harmony to need to sign up for a "digital detox" camp someday, just so she can learn to function on a basic level without technology. 

We hope that we will be able to live a humble, active, exciting, mutually beneficial life as a family focused on each other, instead of focused on our iPad or computer or phone.

We want to teach Harmony how to truly be alive. And that means living life, not living vicariously through a screen. 

Edit: I've had several people sincerely/gently leave comments for me on Facebook saying that balance is the most important thing to achieve with technology. I absolutely agree! In the first post about this subject (linked at the top of page) I wrote this, which I wanted to share here again as well, because I whole-heartedly believe it:

I'm not about to forbid all electronics from my home either. If you deny a child something completely, then they often become entranced with it as the forbidden fruit, so instead we want to teach moderation and wisdom. We have a television, a computer, an iPad, an iPod, a radio, and cell phones in our home (no smart phones, just the basic call and text phone without internet). We all enjoy time to veg out in front of a good movie or listen to a TED talk online or browse the news on Google. I can chat with friends all over the world via Skype. Email and this blog connect me with lovely readers and writers and dreamers. Technology does great and wonderful things in our world today.

We all want balance in our lives. That is what we hope, and aspire, to achieve. 
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Friday, May 10, 2013

Published 6:23 AM by with 8 comments

This Moment: Stairs in the Japanese Garden

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Linking up with Soule Mama on this pollen-filled Friday!

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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Published 11:03 AM by with 2 comments

Wednesday Wanderings

Today all the links are related to parenting or children, so enjoy! There was also one article that made me think deeply about my past experience as a child, so I wrote more about it at the end of this post.

Some children are more difficult than others. Much as I hate labels, the fact stands. That doesn't mean they have less value, intelligence, or beauty, or are deserving of less love, but they take an extra amount of patience and understanding. Even though we may want some sort of concrete diagnosis of a problem that might help "solve" them, sometimes there is just no cure except to love them harder.

Speaking of learning how to deal with difficult children, I was so excited to find this article, because it gave some wonderful ideas on how to handle temper tantrums without having a meltdown of your own! Yes, Harmony throws tantrums already. Time to don my super-hero cape ; )

"The other day, my husband came home tired after a long day at work. He wasn’t feeling well, he’d had a fight with a co-worker, and he’d encountered snag after snag in a report that had to be done by the end of the day. He had yet to tell me, but he was also very concerned about upcoming budget cuts. He came inside, changed out of his work clothes, and sighed as he sank wearily into a living room chair.

I told him that he hadn’t yet fixed the drain in the kids’ bathroom sink, and that I expected him to do it as soon as possible.

“Are you serious?” he asked me. “I just got home, and – ”

“I asked you to do something,” I told him firmly, “and I expect you to do it with a good attitude.”

This is how one blogger begins a story that explores how we discipline our children. It's an intriguing read, that challenged what I thought about this subject. Also, once you've read the article, head on over to this place where a woman writes about how she no longer sees God's parenting as deliberately cruel, by "snatching us up and taking us out to the woodshed". 

Some countries ban parents from giving their child certain names. If you want to name your baby "Justice", "Mafia No Fear", "Honour", or "Rogue", don't move here!

"Loving my wife and children takes creativity of the highest sort. So does working my job, and loving my friends and neighbors. Yesterday’s affection cannot be recycled. Today’s bread must be fresh." So writes one man who contemplates what it means to be a creative parent.

This last link really struck a chord with me, so I wrote my thoughts on it first. 

I'm hoping that when the day comes where a stranger incredulously asks me, "Are you really HER mother?" and points to my fair-skinned, light haired daughter, that I will be calm and gracious enough to simply reply, "Yes, and I love her very much." My mom used to get asked if she was the babysitter or the nanny for my sister and I when we were younger; she has light skin, hazel eyes, and brown hair, but my sister and I looked much more like our dad: dark tanned skin, very dark hair, dark eyes. It wasn't until we were much older that we began to really show features of both our parents instead of just one.

My mom always responded with a smile to those people who questioned her, not making a big deal out of what could have escalated into an awkward situation, yet even as a little child I remember feeling hurt that a stranger would be so presumptuous. Even if we had been adopted, my mom would still be my mom! To us, skin color didn't matter. We were a family.

Racial stereotypes still exist, though. If we lived in a place like New York, or California, then I would probably get mistaken for a Hispanic nanny more often. Technically Chris and I are a "biracial" couple. But how about we focus on the only race there is: the human race! People groups from all over the world may have different nationalities, ancestry, features, cultures, and ethnicities, but we are all part of humanity. Let's celebrate how our diversity makes us beautiful, not separate.

Hopefully more and more people will be willing to look past stereotypes and only see a mother and child at the playground or supermarket, instead of assuming that I might be something else based on my heritage. My daughter is my daughter. End of story : )

Here is the article where another mom talks about raising children who don't look exactly like their parents.

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Monday, May 06, 2013

Published 1:28 PM by with 2 comments

"Goodbye, Facebook", Part 3

It's been a few months since I rejoined Facebook after a long sabbatical. Leaving Facebook was tough at first; I tried to cut back my internet usage in general, but Facebook was the main pull.

So I left it behind.

I still wrote emails, enjoyed keeping up with blogging, checked the news (although I'm doing that much less nowadays, after my near meltdown over the Boston bombing media coverage), and Google searched stuff every day. The computer didn't gather dust.

Yet when I closed off one major outlet of social communication, other opportunities to enjoy life seemed to open up.

I went out for coffee with friends. Had fun with Harmony. Played music and read books. Had late night conversations with Chris. The real world grew more tasteful, like eating an apple after eliminating sugar from your diet. It was refreshing. Life moved more slowly. I finally realized how addicted I had become to online interaction instead of real interaction. Yes, it was humbling. Addiction is hard to see until you begin to defeat it.

And you know what?

I missed Facebook.

My mind still wanted to quantify people, conversations, events, and random thoughts into "Facebook nuggets", condensing all aspects of my life into bite-sized posts. It was so convenient to think that I knew who a person was by their posts or pictures. Facebook made portraying my life as all rainbows and roses quite simple.

Real life is hard and messy and complicated. Especially as an adult who remembers living without an online presence (I was ten when we got internet for the first time, twelve before I learned how to actually use it well), I know the person I present on social media isn't the real me, it's just a part of who I am. Children and teens in our culture today already have a much more difficult time differentiating between who they are online and who they truly are on the inside. If it is detrimental to their development as whole, heart-healthy human beings, then who am I to think that I can escape the same fate?

After a while, I felt like Facebook no longer had a pull on me. The addiction had been broken. I knew that people had sent messages, invited me to events, and tried to contact me there, so after some initial reluctance, I finally went back.

What surprised me the most was how easy it was to fall back into old habits.

At first, I only checked messages and event invites and responded to chats from several groups I was part of. Then I'd catch myself scrolling through the newsfeed. Then I'd say, "just five more minutes". A half hour would go by. Then the quiet space of Harmony's entire nap time, usually devoted to accomplishing housework or writing, would be wasted on Facebook. That was what really made me stop and take note: I was once again WASTING time instead of using my time wisely or setting boundaries for myself.

Not everyone has such an addictive personality as I do. If you are one of those people who can sit down in front of the computer, casually browse for ten minutes, then leave and ignore the siren call of Facebook for the rest of the day, then I congratulate you! That is not who I am, unfortunately, much as I wish it was. I intentionally have to limit my screen access so that it doesn't take over my waking hours. That's why my phone is only for calling and texting, with no internet access, too.

Something as miniscule in the grand scheme of things as being sucked in to Facebook-Land may not seem very important, but for me, it was a small symptom of a greater negligence: that of not using the time I have been given for the best use. That's why I am testing out a new goal of limiting my computer time to when Harmony is either asleep or with someone else, so that when she is around, my attention isn't diverted. If I'm cooking,  cleaning, doing paperwork, reading, etc. and Harmony wants me, I always stop what I'm doing to help her. But if I'm on the computer, my reaction time to her is much more slow. And she's a smart cookie... now if she sees me sitting at the computer desk, she will often begin crying and come over to drag me away. Harmony knows how the shiny white screen can suck mama in to its depths.

It seems like I'm always trying to figure out how to prioritize my time. I guess I see life as being too short to squander the time we have been blessed with! If I wasn't so weak when it came to telling myself "no", then this wouldn't be so much of an issue. So now Facebook is at the bottom of the online list, below emails and writing. Online time is a lower priority than spending time with Chris or Harmony. And so on.

If you've read this far, then I'd like to say this: please don't let my own struggles make you feel guilty for anything. Everyone has their own personal battles, and this is a major one for me right now. Hopefully these new boundaries I've set will help me use my time carefully. I'll still be on Facebook, but I'll be on it much less.

There can be balance. There can be wholeness.

Life is a journey.

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Friday, May 03, 2013

Published 8:31 AM by with 2 comments

The Tradition of May Day Baskets

Several people have expressed interest in hearing the history behind my family's May Day baskets. May Day is an ancient tradition dating back thousands of years, to the once pagan-then secularized celebration of spring on May 1st. Like many holiday traditions, various aspects were adopted by Christian communities with activities such as "May crownings" of the Queen of the May, Maypole dances, handing out flowers, etc.

Back when I was still pretty young, my mom would gather flowers from our yard and around the neighborhood (we had several sweet neighbors who always gave us free reign of their flowers in the yard and on the trees), draw and decorate small cards saying "Happy May Day!", and arrange the flowers in small green strawberry baskets.

Side note: Remember those strawberry baskets? Whatever happened to them? We haven't been able to find them for several years.

Then we would take the flowers to our neighbor's houses, put them on the doorstep or hang them on the doorknob, ring the doorbell, and run away to hide around the corner and watch with delight as the neighbors would open the door and exclaim, "Oh, what beautiful flowers! I wonder who put them there?" And then we would jump out and shout, "Happy May Day!"

In later years, we began delivering baskets to retirement communities, or making trips to friends who lived a short distance away. The element of surprise didn't matter too much; it was fun just to give flowers away as a celebration of springtime!

When I went away to college, my sister was a teenager, so the tradition came to a close as we busied ourselves with school and other pursuits. Now, we are beginning again during Harmony's first experience of spring. She was still a bit too young to help out with any of the creative fun, but we had several lovely friends over from church who were happy to help decorate the baskets that we made from craft supplies that we already had and left-over paper plates. We found printable tags with a May Day poem online. After decorating the plate cones, we attached the tags with our names on the back and a loop of ribbon to hang the baskets up, then put a coffee filter inside it. The flowers were in small bunches with the bottom stems wrapped in a wet paper towel, tucked inside a plastic bag.

Then my mom and I delivered the flowers (some from the yard, some bought on sale) to our friends who live in the local area. We wished that we had enough time/flowers/resources to take flowers to more people, but maybe we'll be able to distribute to a wider range next year!

We so much enjoy bringing a little joy of springtime to our friends. Does anyone else take part in spring traditions? Do you hand out May Day baskets? Tell us about it in the comment section!

My "moment" from this week is from our distribution of May Day flowers : )

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Published 6:49 AM by with 7 comments

This Moment: May Day Baskets

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor, and remember. 

If you're inspired to do the same, come share your moment with me in the comment section!

Linking up with Soule Mama on this (now) rainy Friday morning!

Edit: If you'd like to know more about this tradition that we love, I just wrote more about it here!

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Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Published 8:17 AM by with 0 comment

Wednesday Wanderings

I've found this series about the daily rituals of artists, philosophers, writers, musicians, and other creative minds to be fascinating. There is no "one true way" to help your creative juices flow, but it's interesting to see how others did it; who knows, maybe one of their habits will click with you!

Here's another article detailing creative rituals of famous writers! Who do you think this quote was for? "He would go into the study in the morning for a hearty breakfast and stay there until dinner at about 5:00. Since he skipped lunch, and since his family would not venture near the study - they would blow a horn if they needed him - he could usually work uninterruptedly for several hours..."

Everyone tells mothers to enjoy every single second of their children's lives. "They grow up so fast, it happens in the blink of an eye!" Well, I can't enjoy every minute, especially when Harmony is throwing one of her colossal tantrums. This author says that you don't have to "carpe diem" all the time.

Did I already post that article somewhere? Hmmm... forgetfulness...

Disney is such a controversial topic in the Mommy War zone. Chris and I have some fairly strong views on Disney already, but a new show on the Disney network called "Jessie" has convinced us that our children at the very least will not be watching that channel!

In this digital age of online EVERYTHING, most people have probably given up keeping a pen-and-paper journal of their life's events, thoughts, and questions. But are there still good reasons to write in a diary? One author thinks so!

Can you tell the difference between phrases from the King James version of the Bible and Shakespeare? You might think this is a piece of cake... and then you might be surprised at the answers! I got a few phrases mixed up, yes. It was trickier than I thought.

Lately, my own students have been talking a lot about what they personally think of school exams and tests at the end of the year. They have no idea that I'm interested in studying education, so it's not like I'm encouraging them to speak! It is a topic naturally on their minds as they approach the end of the school year. I've been fascinated to hear their own thoughts about school.
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