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Tuesday
Aug262014

Farewell summer… you will be missed

Summer is drawing to a close. Ry started back to school last week and Labor Day is Monday. So yes, that means that the season we all love is ending. 

Of course, where I live Summer will stick around til sometime in mid-December, but for many Labor Day means putting away beach umbrellas and thinking ahead to fall. 

I mean, Starbucks has already released their seasonal favorite, the Pumpkin Spice Latte (seriously? In August?) But before we all get our PSL on let's reflect back on Summer 2014. 

I had big plans for this summer. I am not going to lie. I planned to take my kids to the park, to the beach, to the zoo. And I planned to get my stubborn 2-year-old (almost 3-year-old) potty-trained. 

Yeah... we didn't do most of that. We did go to the beach, but mostly we stayed home, ran through the sprinkler and just enjoyed a slow down during the longest days of the year. 

And let me tell you something my friends, it was glorious. GLORIOUS. There was something utterly blissful about not having anything scheduled. There was something peaceful about waking up in the morning and not have somewhere to be or something we had to do. 

Sure, we had certain obligations that couldn't be missed, like church VBS and a few birthday parties, but for the most part we just spent time together. We enjoyed each other's company we spent A LOT of time outside. We visited the library multiples times a week. We watched movies at home. We ate hotdogs. We sat on our front steps and waved at traffic and laughed every time someone waved back. 

We slowed down. We slowed way down. 

Friends, I can't tell you enough how wonderful this was. We took time to enjoy the summer when our children were one and two. We will never get that back. 

So no. We didn't spend the summer in swim lessons or the toddler tumbling class I had planned on signing my kids up for... but we ran through the sprinklers like it was our jobs... and that I will never regret. 

Wednesday
Aug132014

Give yourself permission to slow down

I see you. I see you at the red light, at the bank drive through. I see you at the park with your kids or date night with your wife. I see you as you pull into the church parking lot or into the supermarket. I see you and I see how fast you're rushing things.

I see your desperation as you move from one task to the next at a breakneck speed. Slow down. 

Just breathe. Just take one minute to stop what you're doing, close your eyes and breathe. 

It is okay to be busy and to enjoy being busy. But I think it is so easy to fall into a trap of manufactured busyness. Being busy for the sake of being busy. I know I do it all the time. 

I push aside the important things because I am "too busy" with other things. 

And during those periods I realize, my plate is full but my soul feels empty.

I do have a lot on my plate right now. But I realize that some of that I can scrape off and save for later. 

Each of us has to decide for ourselves the level of importance we are to give each task we assign ourselves. There are certain non-negotiables, bills have to be paid, children have to be fed and cleaned. But where do our priorities lie in the midst of the other things we find filling up our time and space.  

I urge you, dear friend, to remove one thing from your to do list this week. Take out one distraction. Say no to one request. And instead just allow yourself a moment to feel, relax and spend time on what truly matters to you. 

 

Tuesday
Aug122014

Why (and how) I got rid of OVER half my clothes 

I had a closet full of clothes. Well, I still have a closet full of clothes, it's just not as full as it used to be. That's because I got rid of half my clothes. 

 It had gotten out of hand. The rod in the closet was packed, the shelves were overflowing and my dresser drawers wouldn't close. And the sad thing is, I didn't even wear most of it. I had t-shirts from college, dresses from my first few years of my career and maternity skirts that probably wouldn't be worn again for years. 

My closet was like a scrapbook. A cluttered, disorganized scrapbook that was just taking up space. 

So I just decided to get rid of it all. 

Here are some steps I took. 

1. I evaluated my lifestyle and season of life. I stay home with my children and plan on staying home as long as possible. I also work from home so I don't need as much "professional wear" as I used to. So I knew a lot of my business casual wear could really benefit someone who needed it more than I did. So I bagged up my work clothes and sent them to Goodwill. 

But, the maternity wear was the first to go. I had a girlfriend who was pregnant at the time. She happens to be the same size as me and I know that cute plus size maternity wear is expensive and hard to find. I bagged up ALL my maternity clothes minus one pair of leggings (because they don't make that exact pair anymore and I think I just want to be buried in them) and sent it all to my friend. 

But I still had a TON of clothes. So when I say half I mean clothes that were NONMATERNITY. So yeah, it was a lot. 

2. I evaluated what I really wore. I think I was doing what a lot of women do, I found myself wearing the same few outfits again and again, ignoring the rest of my closet. I have some favorite pieces and some that are just functional for my life at this moment. 
3. I developed a uniform. Okay, so I know this sounds boring, but it's not. I have come up with outfits that are functional, comfortable and cute. It is usually a skirt/maxiskirt/pant with a tank top/tee and a cardigan. For more dressy events it is usually a dress and cardigan with a nice pair of flats. My clothes are usually very basic colors, navy, blue or gray and I dress it up with a colorful scarf or statement necklace. 
I still have lots of cute blouses (four) and two denim jackets (because I am so cute in a denim jacket). 
4. If I didn't love it, I tossed it. I had clothes, usually stuff people had given me, that I just hated. But I felt guilty getting rid of it because it was a gift. But that's not right. No one wants to give you a gift with a big dose of guilt attached to it. 
Also, if I didn't LOVE the way I looked or felt in it I let it go. Someone else might really enjoy it, even if I didn't. 

 

5. I got rid of unnecessary duplicates. I had multiple pairs of khakis. Really? I hate khaki. Is there a fabric LESS flattering to the female rear-end? So those went, minus one pair, just in case. I had several pair of black slacks, so I paired it down to just one. 

However, I will say I still own three black dresses, three identical dresses in different colors and a myriad of black cardigans. 

I am hoarding cardigans. I can't stop it. It's a disease. 

I feel so much better about my closet now. I feel more pulled together, I feel less guilty about the amount of clothing I have, and I know that lots of women in my area were able to benefit by getting great clothes for a steal at Goodwill or our local mission store. 

In total I took about 15 bags of clothes (it's shameful that I had that much. I know! I know!). 

I didn't do it all at once. It took several months (about five total) to get my closet the way I wanted it. I was constantly evaluating and reevaluating the space. I would take out a pile, go through it and then go through it again. 

I would keep the "tossed" clothes for a couple days and then take them to the mission store or Goodwill. That way I could give myself time to think about each item. 

I also tried to go for a capsule wardrobe, meaning almost everything I own matches everything else I own. I cannot tell you how easy it is to get dressed when 85% of your clothes coordinate. 

What tips do you have for steamlining your wardrobe? 

Friday
Aug082014

Confessions of a reformed judgy mcjudgerson

I am in constant danger of falling off my high horse. I am not a snob, no way, she who shops at the Dollar General can't be a snob. I am something worse- judgmental.

This is something I have always struggled with. It has gotten better. But there was a time, not to long ago when it peaked.  Nothing brings out the Mrs. McJudgerson like motherhood, right? *Sighs in shame.

Then I got conviction in the form of a Facebook post.  A friend posted  a challenge to encourage someone instead of judge.  

It struck me. I have always considered myself an encourager, but is it authentic encouragement when I am silently judging someone for their mistakes and shortcomings? What does that make me? A big, fat hypocrite!

When I told my friend that a judgmental attitude was something I was struggling with she pointed out to me that sitting in judgement is not "a job we can master because we weren't created to do it." She pointed out that we were created by God to love and encourage one another and she challenged me to see God in everyone.  "It's much easier to love our brothers and sisters when we see our Father in their eyes and hearts," she said. 

We are told time and time again by our Father not to judge.

Luke 6:37 says: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven."

Again in Matthew 7 it is repeated "For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye." (Matthew 7: 1-5)

I end by asking this, what is judgement? For me it is my way of having others validate my life choices. "This is the right way to do it, don't you agree?"

But if I need others to validate my life choices am I living authentically?

 

Tuesday
Aug052014

See our combo coop for quail and chicken

 

A few months back my husband had a brilliant idea. 

"Let's get quail," he said. 

"Sure," I said and we happily clapper our hands in giddiness. 

But the thing about plans in the House of Senn, they quickly spiral out of control and become something much, much larger. So instead of bringing home a few quail, we decided to throw in a few chickens too. 

We wanted to get backyard birds for several reasons. 

1. We want fresh eggs from healthy birds. 

2. We want meat from healthy birds. 

3. We want our children to experience agriculture. 

4. We don't want to rely on others for all of our food sources. 

Jason built our combo coop (as we call it) with his own two hands. For much of the project he sawed the wood by hand. Then he realized that was for the birds (pun intended!) and purchased a skill saw. 

He designed the entire thing from the ground up based on a few that he saw in the parking lot of our local hardware store. 

Needless to say I am pretty proud of Jason and the way it turned out. 

See how Jason did it ALL in the video: 

Next week I will talk about the birds and how we care for them.