Simple. Quality. {week 37}

simplequality

Wow!  The last two weeks have disappeared before my eyes and it’s been two weeks without a report.  Life has been fascinating lately, so full of highs and lows and everything in between.  I have this desire – a need, really – to sort through it all properly, recording, learning, appreciating.. yet the desire collides daily with the equally relevant necessity to keep moving, keep the routines and structure in place, to dash on to the next thing and do it justice.  So I feel myself running ahead and lagging behind at the same time, trying to hang onto it all.

But it’s such a good life!  I remind myself daily what a blessing it is to have more to do than time to do it in, more to worry about than I can possibly take care of, more, in general, than I know how to handle.  Because of my “more” I’ll never have to wonder what to do next, or how I’ll keep myself busy.  I am terribly blessed.

Some weeks seem to be weeks destined for accomplishment, crossing lots of things off the list.  This past week was the opposite.  I’ve begun affectionately referring to them as “people weeks” and “stuff weeks,” the people weeks being weeks when most of my energies went into people.  Nurturing, building, helping, visiting, serving people.  Stuff weeks are the times when the to-do list is all crossed off and your life feels in order.  I think we’d all like a good balance of the two – people being our purpose for doing all the stuff, anyway, but it’s also nice when enough stuff is done that we feel like life runs smoothly.  This week was a people week in every way and it reminded me of my goal to minimize the stuff in my life so they can all be “people weeks” without throwing life off balance.

This week I got to spend a few hours with one of my dearest friends who was in town for a few days.  I love being around her and enjoy talking with her so much.  We enjoyed lunch, some time at a park with my little girls, and lots of good conversation.  I left the afternoon with a bigger smile on my face and a stronger vision of what I want for my family thanks to her.  I am blessed to enjoy her friendship.  My youngest struggled a lot this week with her behavior, needing extra attention but seeking much of it in negative ways.  It took a lot of time to redirect her to more positive methods and cheer her up.  My kindergartener struggled in similar ways and I recognized how tired they both were with the rigors of the school schedule finally catching up to them.  I enjoyed an afternoon visiting with a neighbor, a few hours spent volunteering at the school, some really good talks with some of my children, and helping a friend by watching her son last minute.   Our whole family appreciated the invitation to spend Monday evening with friends, getting to know them better and admiring their many strengths and talents.  On Friday afternoon I loaded the younger six kids in the van and we headed to Kaysville for a soccer game where I got to catch up with another dear friend who lives there, followed by a fun dinner out with her family.  Saturday was a beautiful day for a drive through Provo Canyon to Midvale to witness the wedding ceremony of our friends’ daughter.  My husband and I stopped to enjoy the scenery a bit on our way home and marvel at the beauty of a world so saturated in color after a week of intermittent rain.  On Saturday we also watched my niece and nephew and loved having a little toddler for everyone to play with, if only for a day.  The afternoon was spent excitedly helping our friends prepare for the wedding reception in their backyard, which turned out to be lovely and then some.  I am grateful they allowed my children to serve, grateful to live next to such amazing people, grateful for the gift of relationships.  It was a very full week, but full in so many good ways.  The week before was similar, including a visit with a friend about her daughter’s upcoming marriage, a hug from a dear friend I should talk to more often, catching up with an acquaintance I haven’t talked to in a while, sitting with my husband while tears streamed down my cheeks as I listened to our dear friends talk about their journey toward Jesus Christ over the past few years.  My heart swelled with pride in my husband and love for so many of the awesome people I live around.  I took notes, laughed, cried, and was filled.  Filled with joy and peace, and also with ideas about what more I must find time/energy/determination to include in our lives.  We went on a great double date with a young couple we know and spent time talking with friends new and old.

Sprinkled in and out of it all has been all sorts of random things – breakdowns, messes, unpleasant discoveries, overflowing laundry hampers, cluttered floors.  Life is very raw around here, but its real and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One thing I did two weeks ago but wasn’t able to write about last week was review all my 2013 goals, see where I stand, and try to identify more measureable things I can do to reach them.  Here we go:

S – smile and savor.  This week I reminded myself to smile.  So often I thought of it while doing a mundane task but I’d like to think that even smiling at your dirty dishes is healthy.  🙂  I realized that I never actually made the happiness reminders I intended to post around the house, so that task has been added to this week’s goals.  This month I am also going to look into the Project Life scrapbooking system to price it out and decide if it is a good system for me and my family.  And finallly, I did a lousy job of journaling over the summer and was challenged last week to pick it back up, specifically with  an eye toward recognizing the Lord’s hand in my life.  I will do that this week.

I – influence.  It brought me joy to say “yes” to some opportunities to serve.  I went out of my way to speak with and encourage a couple of people I don’t talk to enough and it felt right.  This week I will mail two birthday gifts and I will also update my birthday calendar.  I set a goal last week to say aloud to myself every day, “I am the creative force of my own life.”  I remembered it six days.  I have not completed all my thank yous for my birthday letters and I really must finish those.  Two days ago my husband received a bizarre phone call which will soon result in a totally unforseen blessing in our lives.  I had the opportunity to share the details of it with a friend and to testify of God’s goodness in our lives.  I am so grateful He is at work in mine and hope to be a brighter influence in every direction.

M – my health.  I’m still getting up in the mornings.  Lately there have been a few conflicts with responsibilities the children have which prevent me from doing what I want to do, but I’m doing it whenever I can.  This week I worked on improving my time and it was nice to whittle away at it while pushing myself.  I do need to get more sleep.

P – participate.  All of the “people” we had in our week provided ample opportunities to participate.   One event I forgot to mention was a sew-a-thon at a church in my community.  Their building is aging and they are trying to raise funds to replace the stained glass windows in the chapel.  (Incidentally, it’s also the church where part of the movie FootLoose was filmed.)  I felt that I should go and support their cause.  I had the opportunity to piece together 9 quilt backs for various quilt tops which they will auction off at a Baazar later in the year.  It felt so good to be a part of their earnest efforts.  I planned another picinic lunch with a friend next week and am getting ready to host my in-laws in a few days as well.  This week I plan to attend the modern quilt group meeting and have my fingers crossed that I’ll even be able to take something to share.  I will also blog at least four times this week.

L – live ahead.  I finished a quilt for yesterday’s wedding with two weeks to spare.  I started a project in my basement that I really want to finish before the holiday season arrives.  it’s a good start if I just keep after it!  I also have a goal to have our yard all ready for winter – weeded, properly cared for in every way, but mid-October.   So far all I’ve done is some weeding for a couple of hours.  I must get outside every day for 15 minutes to work on it.

E – embrace technology.  I realized that I haven’t set new goals for this category.  I had several at the beginning of the year and after finishing them I haven’t done as much.  I do need to organize my Pinterest boards, go through pictures and wrap up some posts I thought I’d published over the summer but which are, in fact, sitting as drafts.  Some of them are in response to questions/requests of friends and I’m so embarrassed that I haven’t finished them yet!  I will get these things caught up in September.

Ok.  I think these are some simple things I can do in the next week or two.  On to Quality.

Q – quality of life factor.  As I mentioned before, while I’ve worked hard at this, two weeks of running constantly have certainly shown me my weaknesses!  This week I cleaned up one small area of our unfinished basement (I do this, and then sevreal months later the kids go on some sort of creative spree and move EVERYTHING around, which is what I’m now fixing!) and set up a small painting area to finish a project.  Yesterday my husband and I also started cleaning out our storage room.  There is much yet to do but it does feel good to have begun.  I can’t tell you how badly I want to tear through it but I’m making myself do it 15 minutes at a time.  I took a load of things to the thrift store, cleaned out the garage with my husband and began to curate the book collection in our home.  So far I’ve made it through one bookcase.  This week I will continue working in all these areas.

U – urgency in important matters.  Just today my husband and I had an in-depth conversation about this very thing.  It’s not the first brainstorming/planning session of it’s kind to take place this week.  We talked about it for 2 hours yesterday on our drive two and from the wedding, as well as for an hour while cleaning the garage.  I think we’re learning good things about us and good things about our children who are all so different from one another!  I’ve taken lots of notes and we’re getting close to writing a specific, updated plan for the spiritual and character development of each member of our family.  When we’ve decided on a few more details we will post it on a wall in our bedroom.  We will keep working on this, and will also go to the temple – and get our oldest three children there as well – this week.

A – aim higher.  The Agile approach to school/grades seems to be working.  A few details are still under development but I’m liking it.  The best plan for aiming higher in our family seems to be having regular interviews with each child to review progress.  I’ve done that with several of them and the goal is to do it twice monthly.  That means I need to do it a second time with all of them in the next 15 days.  I will also get a new motivational quote up on our chalkboard this week.

L – laugh.  Yesterday we had a very unpleasant surprise.  I thought I handled it exceptinoally well by calmly and very softly asking one of the children to go get their father.  He bested me, though, and looked at a highly frustrating scenario and laughed.  Laughed hard.  I laughed with him.  And then we went to work.

I – Inject the spirit.  I’m still struggling with this one.  I am working so hard at our morning and evening routines, but haven’t been able to successfully incorporate this consistently.  We read scriptures together every night and pray together as a family daily, but I’m referring to something more in this focus area.  I seem to get stuck on this, which tells me I need to pray for help with it.  I had a fantastic but not easy interview with one of my daughters that ended so well it made me cry.

T – take inventory.  As a result of yesterday’s unpleasant experience, we have started on this with our food storage.  We also set a goal for adding a specific amount of money to our savings account this month, no matter what, and in spite of other problems I am happy to say that we’ve done it.

Y – yes to youth.  We had more friends over this week and it was nice.  I have a vision for something to do in the basement, so continuing to reorganize it is a priority in this category as well.

Quality.  We’re still moving along.  I am enjoying the exhilaration of being totally needed, totally exhausted, totally committed to my family each day.  I am stretching, growing, becoming stronger and better.  I have never lived a stage in which so many things were crucial all at once and while I’m sometimes daunted by it, it feels so good to just work at it.  I have never felt so determined in my life.

And now I’m off to cook dinner and prep for a special evening celebrating my daughter’s achievement at Church.  I am so proud of her and want it to be a special night.  I am such a lucky mom.  Life is good!

Have an amazing week,
Jennifer

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