Thursday, May 27, 2010

A Hope Chest for your Daughter-in-Law-( for my readers)

Along with having a lot of things I want to remember to say to my future daughter-in-laws, there are also a lot of things I want to remember to give to them- things that have impacted my life that I hope to share with them as well.  I don't have a chest yet, and mostly only have ideas of what I want it to contain, but over the years I hope to collect a variety of things that will be not only sentimental but helpful.

Here are just a few ideas of things that you could include in a hope chest for your future daughter-in-laws:

  • Special books that you have enjoyed or found helpful (such as The Love Dare)
  • A special or homemade tablecloth & napkin set
  • A cute, handmade apron (this one I plan to make once I meet her someday so it fits her style!)
  • A vintage floral vase
  • A journal for her to write letters to her future daughters or daughter-in-laws
  • A family cookbook (okay- so this one will be covered by my blog, but you could also do a nice handwritten version, or a nice box of family recipe cards)

Obviously, this is just scratching the surface- there are so many more ideas I am sure you can all come up with!  As I think of things I plan to put them in the sidebar so you all have ideas always at your finger tips (right over there --------->).  I would also love if you would share some of your ideas with me (and the rest of my readers) in a comment!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Best Morning Gift! (TYA)

Alright you guys- this one goes for you and your spouses!  Do you know what the single best gift you can give yourself every night before bed is?  Well, I will tell you (and by the time you are reading this it is hopefully already engrained in you if you have been living with me up till now!)!

Empty your kitchen sink!

Clean before bed...

You will be amazed how dramatically different this can make your mornings run!  I can wake up to a train wreck of a house, but if my sink is empty and shiny all the rest of the mess seems, some how, so much more manageable!  I don't know all the psychology behind it, but it works!

... morning bliss!

Do I always manage to do it?  Well, no.  But if I don't, for whatever reason, in the evening (like being exhausted... or wanting to blog) I always regret it in the morning!  So, do yourself a favor, and just do your dishes!

Want another little tip?  Clean as you go!  If you wake up in the morning with a clean sink, try to keep it that way all day!  Just rinse your dishes off as you dirty them and even as you cook.  This way your dishes are much easier to clean than if you wait to do them all before bed AND it is much more manageable to throw 2-3 dishes in the dishwasher right before bed, when you really don't want to, than having to attack an entire sink-full (and sometimes counter-full)!

And boys, if your wife is especially tired (or you just want to show her how much you love her)- DO THEM FOR HER!  Don't do it as though you are trying to show her she has failed in some way though.  Make it clear that you love her and appreciate what she does so you genuinely want to give her a break!  Make me proud boys!

And you can all thank me in the morning!  :-)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dear DILs- Give yourself a break!

To My Dear Daughter-in-Laws,

This week the message I have for you is one of grace, one of giving yourself a break.  I am writing this letter to you, much in part, to convince myself of this message as much as you since it an be a difficult one to accept for ourselves. 

Let me elaborate.  This week has been a long one. My husband (your father-in-law) has been out of town, I had to attend the memorial service for a friend's newborn baby who didn't make it, I had to host preschool co-op at my house yesterday, my car has been having strange issues all week (which of course has to happen when my husband is out of town), and to top it all off I found out last night that I have raging ear and sinus infections that make my head feel as though it is about to explode!  The boys (who are currently almost 4 and 10 months) have been waking up for all sorts of random reasons at night and I have been left utterly exhausted.

This morning by the time that we were already late for Friday School, no one was even dressed yet, and I walked into my room to find that R-Man had stripped my bed of all the bedding and pillows (again) to "help" me since he thought he had wet the bed (when in reality he had only peed in his diaper), I completely lost it!  Any semblance of reason I once possessed vanished, and I managed to exhibit every ungodly, unself-controlled characteristic that I have been working so hard to rid myself of.

It was a sad, sad moment that I came out of feeling like the worst mom and Christian in the world.  Especially after R-Man looked into my tear-streaked face, gave me a hug and said, "I'm sorry for taking all the covers off the bed mommy.  I love you."  Ugh- my heart broke.  He didn't mean to be bad, moreover, he was trying to be helpful.  Beyond even that he had (and seems to always have) a measure of grace I rarely have for people- including myself.  He is so quick to forgive.  Oh how I wish that I had his childlike grace!

The grace continued when I finally managed to arrive at Friday School (which is just at a generous friend's house, luckily, and not in a more structured environment) and each mama (a couple in particular) expressed their love and sympathy to me.  As I cried and recounted my week, and morning in particular, they hugged me and told me how much they could relate, and after some sweet time just hanging out with them and watching our children play, they insisted that I leave the boys and go have some time to myself (which didn't last long due to car problems, but the thought was there!).

So what is the point of all this?  What am I trying to tell you?  Having young kids is hard.  There will be times when things pile up so high and your responsibilities feel so insurmountable that you will feel like giving up, yet even that isn't an option because little people are depending on you for the simplest of needs.  There will be times that you scream and cry and feel like a total failure... but God is faithful.  He will give you the strength to do what is set before you, and if you don't have the strength He will place people around you to help you.  Look around you because you are sure to find family and friends (especially other moms, and of course, there's me!) who will be happy to help you- if you let them (which is often the hardest part).

Be kind to yourself.

Be gentle with yourself.

Give yourself a break, if from nothing else, than at least from expectations- yours and other people's (even if they are just perceived!).  I am sure we will talk about this much more over the years that I am writing to you, just promise me that you won't ever let what you think I think of you cause you any more stress because I obviously haven't always had it all together... and most likely still won't when you meet me (although hopefully it will be a bit more calm)!

Now, I just need to follow my own advice.  First though, I want to say a little prayer for you.

Dear Jesus,
Thank you so much for having my son's future wives in your mind even now.  I pray that you would prepare each them in particularly wonderful and unique ways to well suite each other in your perfect timing.
And Lord, I pray that when my daughter-in-laws are stressed and exhausted and have their hands full with little ones, that you would give them an extra measure of grace.  I pray that you would surround them with wonderful women who are close to you and would be an encouragement to their very soul.
Help me to be a help and not a hindrance to them.  Give me wisdom to encourage and assist them without giving them a heavier burden.  Help me to remember what these times are like so that I can be empathetic and compassionate.
And Lord, please help me prepare my sons to be sensitive to their wives in these times as well.  Please guide them to become the kind of men who take pride in helping their wives when they see their burden becoming overwhelming.  Help them be gentle and kind with them.  And please give all of them the time and the desire to sit at your feet often so that they can be fully equipped to do that which you have called them to. 
In Jesus Precious Name,

Monday, April 12, 2010

Small Memories in a Box

As I have mentioned before, it my hope to not only use this blog as a way to record my thoughts for my kids, but also as a way to inspire you to do the same.  There are so many different ways to leave a legacy and I hope that over the course of time I will present an idea that somehow strikes a chord with you.

The idea I want to talk about today for leaving a legacy is a memory card box.  Basically, a memory card box is a small box that you collect short, spur of the moment memories in.  It is a way of keeping up on the little day-to-day things that you may otherwise forget.  Here is what you do:
  1. Get a box.  Fairly simple- ya still with me?  You can use whatever kind of box you want- anything from a shoebox to an elaborately carved wooden box could work.  You could get a paper-mache box from the craft store and mod podge it with personal photos or papers, or you could simply buy a plastic 3x5 card filing box from an office supply store.  Some other fun ideas could be: an empty paint can (you can buy them at home improvement stores and easily embellish them with scrapbooking supplies), a small chest, a glass jar or canister decorated with ribbons, a cigar box, a vintage lunch pale, a small vintage suitcase, a recipe file box, a hat box, an old cookie tin- the options are endless!
  2. Make it yours!  As mentioned above, you can decorate the box to let you and your family shine through- it will make what is inside that much more special!
  3. Pick a theme.  If you have chosen a small box that can easily be displayed on a counter or entry room table, you may want to pick a very simple theme, such as "Ways you make me smile!"  By leaving a small pad of paper or 3x5 cards with a pen near the box, you can quickly jot down sweet memories of your family and place them in the box for safe keeping.  Other "small box" ideas could be: We Laughed When..., Out of the Mouths of Babes, The Little Things You Do, Joyful Moments, Highs & Lows, You Showed Grace When... (can be replaced with any fruit of the Spirit), Family Praises, Quick Prayers, Our Goofiest Times, etc... 
  4. Start Writing!  If your children are old enough to write they can contribute to a box such as this as well and will have fun looking back at the moments they thought were special but have probably long forgotten!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Who I am now...

Dear Kids... no, that's not right.  By the time you read this you won't be kids anymore, you'll be (dun, dun, dun) adults.  Weird.  And goodness know I loathe being called, "Kid"- it's so condescending. Hmmm... how should I refer to you then?  A dilemma, indeed.  Well, maybe I will just have to change it up as I go!  For today, though, I guess I will just say-

My Dear Loves (endearing, hm?  By the way, this is meant to include both my children and their spouses),

As of today I am approximately 3 weeks from my 26th birthday (April 29, 1984- hurry, go mark your calendar so you don't forget!  Don't worry if you do though- I won't give you too hard a time.  And honestly, I would probably give your father a much harder time for such an indiscretion than I would you guys!). 

I am currently the mother of two little boys here on earth- R-Man who is about to turn 4 and Lion Cub who just turned 10 months yesterday.  I also miscarried a little boy we named Micah at 10 1/2 weeks in November of 2008.  I thought that I would do well adjusting to having two children.  I was well prepared.  Everything was organized and ready for Lion Cub's arrival.  However, after 10 months I am finally realizing that the only one of us who has actually done a spectacular job of adjusting is R-Man. 

R-Man has been so laid back and go with the flow (for the most part anyway) as far as Lion Cub is concerned, I am sometimes left in complete awe!  His incessant screaming never seems to fluster or annoy R-Man in the least, he doesn't even bat an eyelash (even for hours on end in the car!), and he is so quick to help when I ask that I truly need to be more grateful for his demeanor than I am!  He is a spunky hip-hop star with a personality that can hardly be contained in that little 3'4", 31 lb body!

Lion Cub is adorable and a little shy, on the other hand.  He demands lots of attention and has been a challenge to me these past 10 months.  I love him dearly but sometimes I have no idea what to do with him!  He can melt my heart and drive me crazy within a two minute period, but at least now that he is getting a little older and starting to really play I am seeing some light at the end of the tunnel.

I think one of the hardest things to adjust to has been the age gap between the two boys- just over three years (which was never what I had planned).  I went from a fairly self-sufficient 3 year old all the way back to the starting gate and that proved to be a very difficult transition.  My hope is to have our next child/children a bit closer together but I also want to not have to "try" this time and just let it happen in the Lord's timing.

Hmmmm... what else about me.  I have been a DONA trained Birth and Postpartum Doula for about a year and a half now which has been very rewarding.  I have attended 5 (almost 6- she had him to fast!) births but haven't been to any since Lion Cub was born & probably won't be attending any more in the near future since it is rather difficult with young kiddos.  It is something I hope to keep up on, though, and be able to get back into more once they are grown.

Whatever free time I have (and sometimes not so free, but I find myself doing it anyway- shame on me!  Hey, I said I was going to be honest!) I usually spend blogging, reading or crafting.  Typically, all three hobbies overlap each other, as I review lots of books on my blogs and love sharing my crafts through my blog as well.  I just recently finished a challenge to read the Bible in 90 days (high rewarding but a ton of work!) and have now embarked on reading my first Jane Austen Novel (Sense & Sensibility). 

And to finish off today's post I thought I would give you a few little pieces of trivia- I love Snapple White Raspberry Tea and Starbuck's Coffee Frappacinos, and I loathed the color pink until I had boys and now it is my favorite (over compensating I guess!).

More to come!  I love you all!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

It's a Kick-Off Party!!

Ultimate Blog Party 2010

At Last!  At Last!  The Research Years is going LIVE!  And I figured what better time to do it than during the biggest mom blogging party on the planet- The Ultimate Blog Party?!  I would like to equally welcome those from the Blog Party and all my wonderful readers from Mama Kenz Studio (and my other blogs)!

So, what is The Research Years all about?  Well, I'm glad you asked!  The Research Years is all about leaving a legacy for my kids and meeting them and their spouses in the future, where I am at now.  It is about being honest with them- reminding them what life was really like when they were young so that they and their spouses don't suffer from any unrealistic delusions or expectations.  It is about sharing with them what I learn as I go, so that some day when they are 26, or 30, or 45, they can look back and see what I was writing to them when I was that age.  I plan on turning this blog into a series of books that I can present to them at different, relevant points in their lives (ya know the big ones- leaving for college, getting married, having babies, etc...).

I plan to cover all of the following on The Research Years:
  • day-to-day life 
  • my own trials and errors
  • recipes
  • general homemaking ideas and info
  • how the Lord is working in my life
  • prayers for them
  • thoughts on marriage and raising kids
  • family history 
  • and more! 
All of these topics will be written from the perspective of addressing them directly, but my hope is that as you all get to spy in on what I have to say to them, you may be able to learn and relate right along with me.  You can read more about what fueled this blog in the below post.

In addition to the posts that will be directly written to my children and their future spouses, I plan on writing some posts just specifically for my readers.  These posts will pretty much center around leaving a legacy and building a memory inheritance for our kids.  I will post about a wide variety of ideas on how you can prepare for what you want to share with and pass on to your children in the future- everything from hope chests to homemaking journals and beyond!  Eventually I may even end up hitting on some genealogy topics as well.

I am so glad you took the time to stop by and check out this new blogging venture!  I am incredibly excited about it and can't wait to see where it will go!  My dearest hope and prayer is that the Lord will use this new venue to bless not only my children and myself, but all of you as well!  I greatly appreciate your support and would love to hear from each and every one of you!

Make sure you keep coming throughout the next week for lots of new posts and legacy leaving ideas!  Also, don't forget to stop by Mama Kenz Studio (my main blog) for lots of book reviews and a giveaway this week!

PS- Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I have a brand spankin' new Facebook fan page as well (make sure you check out the discussions section), lots of ways for you to subscribe, and you can also follow me on Twitter (Chic_Mama)!   Also, if I get enough interest, I will probably start a Blog Frog community as well!