4 Great Ways to Keep Christmas Simple

DSC_4934-7-2

How can we keep Christmas simple in the face of consumerism and peer pressure? How many Christmas lights are enough? How can we make the holidays festive without becoming burdensome?

Each family must answer these questions based on what works for you. Talk together about what is really important to you, and let the rest go.

Here are some principles that have helped to guide us….

Lauri4 Great Ways to Keep Christmas Simple

Beyond Cyber Monday

Radnor 1-1

Sometimes writing a poem is the most effective way for me to work through heavy emotions. So let’s start here.

the air turns crisp
leaves carpet the neighborhood
each day more branches are bared
more chimneys breathe out smoke
changing seasons

the baby stands
toys carpet the living room
each day more syllables are shared
more laughter evoked
changing seasons

the cells turn malignant
get-well cards carpet the bedside
each day more courage is required
more care is desired
changing seasons…

LauriBeyond Cyber Monday

Creating the Climate

Red Leaf

I’m fascinated by the subtle art (or blatant responsibility!) of influencing my environment. The climate in my home is my responsibility. I may not want that responsibility at times, but it is true that my home is whatever I make it. The weather inside my home is dependent upon my moods. The pace flows from my commitments and my demands. Any stinkin’ thinkin’ in my head rains upon the people around me. Like I was realizing with my Project List, these choices are mine! Part of me shrinks from it. I naturally want to defer to another person, to blame someone else for the hard parts of my life. But another part of me is exhilerated at the prospect of the change I can bring! Not long ago, I was in a conversation that was rather infuriating. But I just sat there, wishing the whining would end, rather than proactively shifting the conversation with good questions and encouragement. Afterwards, I had a hard talk with myself: I have the power to change the course of a conversation. With my attitude, with my encouragement, with small acts of kindness, I can relax a worried brow, or offer hope to a hurting heart. I can share a smile or a hug any time, for free! I can infuse my home with peace and make it a haven. An oasis.  You can share a smile or a hug any time, for free! Or,  I can make excuses for why I withhold smiles and hugs and kindnesses. I can bury resentment about the things in …

[email protected]Creating the Climate
[email protected]How to be a Stay at Home Mom without losing your mind

Who made this Project List, anyway?

exc-53adcc9be4b087682314e482

  As I learn to focus on what matters (and explore minimalism), I’m frequently asking myself “What is important?”. It starts off being about physical stuff: how can I cut back on the amount of possessions I have or think I need? What is essential? Along the way I’ve begun to ask myself what is essential and important in other areas of life too: time commitments, projects, books-to-read, emotional investments. My project and task lists seem to be never ending, as I’m sure yours are. But then I asked myself, “Who made this list?” “Who decided these projects should be in queue?” I may have literally looked over my shoulder to see if I could pass the buck anywhere else, but alas! They fall squarely on me. I choose these projects. I seem to think they need to be done in my slivers of free time. Some of them fall into the mandatory category of “keep our living space livable”, but what about discretionary projects? Things like: Assemble a baby book for each of my three children (of which I have exactly two pages of one book completed. My oldest is nearly six). Sew Christmas stockings. (Really? Is this important? I don’t even believe in Santa Claus!) Make a baby quilt for the third baby. Hem the awesome jeans my super-tall-model-sister passed along to me. Repair an antique quilt handed down from my grandma. Mending, mending, mending. Of course, the list goes on and on (and that brief list doesn’t …

LauriWho made this Project List, anyway?

How I’m Shedding Baby Fat

Brownies

  Our third baby is eight months already. That means I can get back in shape, right? Actually, I’m excited for that. Excited to be done healing from childbirth, to not worry about milk production (which has been an issue for me, and means you can’t really cut back food or increase exercise), and generally to be healthy and whole. I feel great. I’d still like my clothes to fit a bit better though… Maybe you’re with me, where those last stubborn pounds just don’t want to drop. Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, a doctor, or a personal trainer. I’m just sharing what I’ve been learning, and what has helped me. Really, I’m not even looking for quick weight-loss, but sustained healthy habits (and to stay trim). Here are my 5 helps: 1. “I enjoy sweets with people.” This little mantra (which I made up a while ago) has been SO helpful!! It works as a positive affirmation as well as a reminder. At various times in my life I have cut out sugar all together, but I would rather be moderate. How I wish I had the self-control to simply be moderate! Apparently I don’t. But if “I enjoy sweets with people”, I can have sweets occasionally without hiding in the pantry with a spoon in the Nutella jar. Another aspect to enjoying sweets with people is that I don’t need to decline a home baked treat my friend offers me. I can savor it with her! Or …

LauriHow I’m Shedding Baby Fat

An Afternoon Solitude Ideal

exc-538651f3e4b0644f725070d7

The storm is blowing in cool, fresh air this afternoon through our back porch. It’s my favorite place to spend solitude during nap time (unless it’s stifling hot, and even then the sprawling tree shades and protects). 

Today I actually met my ideal of getting all the little ones down for naps at the same time. I’ve been learning from Leo Babauta (over at Zen Habits, and his new book “Letting Go”) about letting go of frustrating ideals. When I don’t get any solitude in the afternoon, I get cranky and unpleasant. While I’d like to guarantee that I ALWAYS get my quiet, it is better for me to learn to

LauriAn Afternoon Solitude Ideal

Learning from Laryngitis

exc-538651f3e4b0644f725070d7

I’ve been three days without a voice. Following a spring of allergies and catching colds, a bout with bronchitis left me silent. I could whisper, but not even much of that. It’s a strange feeling, not being able to laugh or talk or sing or call for someone. And even stranger to figure out family communication. 

How do we keep the children in line without a voice? How do we operate? How can we take care of each other? Here are some of the things I learned:

LauriLearning from Laryngitis

Some important lessons about grieving

exc-535ec0a1e4b0f06595c0c730

I’ve been out of pocket the last several weeks, as I traveled with our five-month-old to California for my grandmother’s memorial service.  

It was an extraordinarily beautiful weekend. Knowing all their chicks were returning, my parents rented a house to fit all of us. They wanted us to be together.

My family has begun a tradition that I hope continues for generations to come: when folks come for a funeral, we also host a dinner for extended family and close friends to come share a meal and stories of the loved one who has passed away. 

LauriSome important lessons about grieving