Monday, November 20, 2017

BULLET JOURNALING

So, back in September, I took the bullet journaling plunge.  I was inspired by Modern Mrs. Darcy, after she raved about it and how it changed her world.  Her SUPER helpful post is full of tips and links to great tools that she loves.  It also links to this 3 minute intro video by the guy who started it, if you want to see the very most basic point of bullet journaling.

Untitled

For the past several years, I've used Erin Condren planners, and I do like them, and they are pretty.  But, I liked the idea of having complete customizability.  I have a tendency to like to control things, and also make them my own, so it seemed right up my ally.  Plus, I used to be able to keep track of everything in my brain.  That ship has sailed in the past several years, and I was regularly having the feeling that I would think of something that I needed to do, and it would leave my brain.  It may or may not ever return.

Enter bullet journaling.  For me, it has become a little life-saver and one of my favorite things to come out of 2017.  I still am committed to my iCalendar, and John and I share events and have several calendars each.  I've really gotten on board with this during 2017 as well, and it has helped even out some of our scheduling snafus, though they still happen from time to time.  As a side note, because of John, I always put the location of whatever event it is into the calendar, and my Apple watch will helpfully remind me when it is time to leave with directions and traffic updates.  So wonderful.  Helps me to be a little less late. 😜🤷🏻‍♀️

So, bullet journaling does not replace this digital - it works in beautiful harmony with it.  It allows me to get things out of my brain and organize them in a way that is helpful to me.  My personality is such that I see endless possibilities and ideas.  This is both amazing and overwhelming.  When the ideas are free-flowing and not wrangled, I can sometimes feel paralyzed with where to start, because I have only 24 hours a day, just like you.  The bullet journal has become the place where I wrangle the ideas and hopes into tangible plans usually assigning them into blocks of time in days or weeks or realizing which things I have to give up.

It is also a mini-creative outlet.  I've tried to keep it fairly simple so that I am likely to keep it up, and so far, I have struck a balance with some prettiness that does not take long.  I've also figured out what works best for me, but this has been trail and error and will probably continue to evolve the longer I use it.

I took Anne's suggestion and got the Leuchtturm 1917 Hardcover Medium Dotted Journal and LOVE it.  I like these pens for basic writing.  My favorite find for bullet journaling are the Tombow Dual Brush Pens - I have both the Bright Palette and the Muted Palette.  I also bought these stencils.  And then I got several sizes of Post-It Notes from Target.

For the monthly layout, I started with what the Bullet Journaling guy suggested and hated it.  For me, a list of stuff on numbers did not help me figure out what each week was going to look like.

Untitled

So, for October, I changed it up to a layout that much better lets me see how each week is shaping up.   I've stuck with this and been very pleased.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

For the weekly layouts, I've landed on this set up pictured below.  It leaves me enough room for a lot of stuff on each day.  I did try having each day vertical, but didn't like it as well.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

Another helpful feature of my bullet journal are the collections.  I have a Book Log which helps me keep track of what I want to read and whether or not I've procured it, and one for the kids (which I need to work on - I have vastly more books that I want to read with them!).  I also keep a running list of blog post ideas as they come to me.  It is so nice to not feel like I'm losing stuff from my brain.  When I very first started, I did a "September Brain Dump" where I wrote out all the tasks that I was contemplating,  Being able to see them all helped me to group some together and know when to tackle them and prioritize others or let some of them go forever.

I also keep a page for Cookie Plans where I map out cookie orders that I have coming up.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

I knew I wanted a different method of meal planning, so a quick instagram search led to some great options.  I mostly copied this one from Sublime Reflections and have been pleased with it.  I keep the little post-its with meals that we like stuck in a back page to reuse when they sound good.

Untitled

So - this may or may not be for you, but I LOVE it for me!  I'm thinking of adding a sleep tracker next month to create some better sleep habits for myself and possibly a water tracker cause basically, I suck at drinking water.  The possibilities and ways that you can use this are endless.  If you look at the #bulletjournal hashtag on Instagram, you will either be super inspired or super overwhelmed.

But - if you think you might want to start - just start.  There are much more exhaustive instructions and ideas available online if you want, but ultimately, you really have to just do it to figure it out and figure out what works for you.  Don't overthink it - just start writing!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

CARTI FESTIVAL OF TREES FANCY FUN

This year, with our friends' new job at CARTI, we decided it would make a great time to get involved with some of their special events during this week, the Festival of Trees.  Truthfully, I've long wanted John to be able to go to the Sugar Plum Ball with some/all of our girls, but the dates have never worked out before.  This year, he was able to take all three girls who were over the moon excited about a special night out.

IMG_0965

I let them pick their dresses from Amazon, and they came complete with a hoop petticoat.  😂 But, they looked adorable and felt so special.

IMG_0952
IMG_0953
IMG_0956

The event had some highs and lows.  At one point, they had to evacuate due to a fire alarm, and Lily was wailing that they were going to die.  🙄 Obviously.

Untitled

After 20 minutes, they were allowed back inside.  And though the fire alarm did go off again, they did not have to evacuate a second time and got to enjoy all the fun of dancing and eating and partying with friends.  It will be a cherished memory for them.  Bella led the conga line like the little extravert that she is, while Lily and Violet enjoyed dancing and seeing friends.

Untitled
Untitled

Last night, John and I headed out to Tux N' Trees, and I loved the opportunity to get super dressed up.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

It was a beautiful event with decorated trees, a silent auction, a delicious dinner and some fun dancing.  We also got to hear the story of a current cancer patient who reminded me so very much of my father.  This man has terminal brain cancer and has four (relatively young) kids.  His humor and persona are compelling, but his love for the Lord and testimony for him were the most moving parts.  We were honored to sit with he and his wife at dinner and blown away by the way they are handling this hard road so graciously and in a way that is so honoring to the Lord.  It was a visceral reminder of how fleeting this life truly is.

Thanks, CARTI, for putting on excellent events this week and more importantly, for providing so many tremendous resources and care for your patients!

Friday, November 17, 2017

GETTING COUNSELING & PERSPECTIVE

Untitled
(I felt like this was such a calming scene.)

Today I sat down with a counselor by myself for the first time in 16 years.  The last time I went to counseling was just in the wake of September 11th which had come months after my father's pancreatic cancer diagnosis.  My mind and soul were in crisis, and the counseling was really helpful to get me back on track.

This time around, I can honestly say that I am not in complete crisis, which I am incredibly grateful for.  John and I like and love each other.  So many things are going right in our lives, and I never get over feeling thankful for the gifts the Lord has placed in front of us.

That said, it has dawned on us recently that we are deep into our lives (for our age), and we have gone at pretty much everything very intensely.  My counselor confirmed this, so I know I am not being totally dramatic.  😜  We've had a business for 10 years.  We were gifted 4 children within 4 years, and then got a second business.  We introduced the added layers of adoption and being a transracial family and all that it entails.

Basically, our lives are full of wonderful, challenging, encouraging, heartbreaking, good and hard things.  It's all mixed up together, and sometimes, it is a lot to take in.  In recent months, John has begun meeting with an executive coach who is also a licensed therapist, and it has been a real answer to prayer.  We need perspective and help.  When I saw all the help he was getting, I decided that I could also use the help and got myself an appointment with a local counselor.

There have been times this year when it has felt as if we were drowning.  Drowning in stress.  Drowning in work.  Drowning in the ways that we make things hard.  Drowning in the things that are actually hard.  Again, it should be noted that neither John nor Carol does anything halfway, which has major pros and cons.

So today, I sat on the comfy red couch in the calm office and poured out our stories.  There was comfort just in telling it all to someone new.  We have the dearest and best friends and family who have walked so many of these stories with us, but it is really helpful to have someone that exists completely outside of our sphere to look at it all afresh with me.  It's like we are the frogs in the boiling pot, and we've boiled most of the people around us too.  I needed a frog who could get dropped into the pot and jump out right away.  So I found my new frog.  To help me process.  To ask questions and make observant comments.  To be encouraging.  At the end of our session, she prayed with me as tears rolled down my cheeks.

I want to stay in the game, and we've fully realized this year that the stress level that we've had for the last many years is not sustainable.  As we made the effort to slow down and rest, it has become that much more apparent that many things lie underneath the surface that need to be addressed.  There are habits and misperceptions about life and the ways that we enter situations.  And also recognizing that there may not be massive changes to make on the outside of our life, but we have to make some changes on the inside to be able to continue in a healthy way.

So here's my plug for counseling and getting perspective and help.  If you feel in any way like you could benefit from it - take the plunge!  I'm so looking forward to more sessions on the red couch with my new frog.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

WRAPPING UP FALL: HIGHS & LOWS

We are one week out from Thanksgiving.  Where did the fall go?  Why am I forever surprised at how fast life whizzes by? 🤔🙄

I figured it was time for another High/Low post to wrap up our fall fun, since this delightful season is almost at a close. (seriously - what happened?)

Untitled
(not pictured: the rest of the awesome Grandma who let her grandkids bury her in leaves)

High: We really did have a blast at JBU Homecoming weekend back at the beginning of October.  Seeing old friends and family never disappoints.

IMG_1896
(college friend turned cookie friend!)
IMG_1898
(they are both really tall)
IMG_1907
IMG_1913
IMG_1836
IMG_1834

High: Our friends really are so wonderful.  John and I regularly remind ourselves to be overly grateful for the people we walk through life with - seriously.  It is by far one of the greatest gifts we have been given.  None of these people are perfect and none of the relationships are perfect, but there is a lot of grace and a lot of love and a lot of people who are there if you need them.  And I do.

IMG_1965
Untitled

Low:  My thumbs are so very black.  I need tips on how to keep my mums alive next year.  Or maybe I just need someone to come and care for them for me.  Or I need fake mums.

Untitled
Or maybe I am just going for the dried look!  I like to keep y'all on your toes. 😜

High:  John has gotten some sweet date times in with three of our four kiddos - Violet will be up next for her one on one time.  He took William to a PJ Masks Live show and Sonic - which was William's favorite part of the night. 🤣  He took Bella to Barnes and Noble to pick out some books and then to Purple Cow for milkshakes.  And he and Lily climbed Pinnacle, and we are learning that Lily's got some major hiking skills since she scampered up the mountain in record time.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

Low: The Dodgers lost the World Series.  Obviously, we were very invested in this series.  Game Seven was hugely disappointing in our home.  But, we did watch with friends, and we did have the most amazing Dodger Dog Bar.  Face paint made an appearance, and I had balloons and baseball paraphernalia borrowed from my neighbor.  The Dodgers had a great season, and if someone had to beat them, the Astros seemed like a pretty great team.

Untitled
IMG_0825
IMG_0826
Untitled
Untitled
(Violet was all of us.)

High: Courtney and I celebrated her birthday a few weeks late with a spa morning, and It. Was. Amazing. 🙌🏻

Untitled
Untitled
(No make-up, post massage, post facial, post pedicures and so very relaxed)

Low: Parent Observation Day at Dance class.  Because Violet thrives on routine and having me in the room is too much for her, this day throws off everything.  And William didn't want to go in because "I'M NOT A GIRL!" So, yeah.  We were a spectacle and then some.  But, Violet did perk up and participate in tap and stretching, so it did turn around towards the end.

Untitled

High: The budding kindness I see in all of my children.  The twins attend a developmental preschool, which means they are surrounded with children at all levels of development for their age.  In their class alone, there are several kids in wheelchairs with varying levels of needs as well as a couple of kids with Down Syndrome.  I LOVE that this is the environment they are in, and I LOVE when I get to see them loving on other kids.

Untitled

I've also seen Lily and Bella step up their kindness towards William and Violet who have difficult moments - as we all do.  It is so encouraging to see Lily help Violet up and down from a stool or for Bella to make sure William can walk through our woods.

Untitled
Untitled

Obviously, they all have rough moments and certainly are regular siblings, but this is a HIGH, not a LOW, so I don't have to cover those.

High:  Getting a visit from our Rwandan friend, Joel.  Next time, we just need him to bring his precious wife, Annie!  Or, we just need to plan our next trip to Rwanda.

Untitled

High/Low: This is the time of year when all of the school activities ramp up.  I love getting to see the girls during the school day.  I detest when they ask me for a loan for $70 more worth of pledges so they can get a bouncy ball from the Fun Run.  When I said that we could go to Target and get a bouncy ball for $3, then there were tears, declaring, "You never take me to Target!" 😂😒 Also, that's patently untrue.

Untitled
Untitled
Untitled
Untitled

Welp, that pretty much sums up our fall.  We're heading into Thanksgiving ready celebrate gratitude and food.

Untitled