I’ve been working on a scarf for my brother.  It was supposed to be a Christmas present, but I started it after I finished Picasso’s sweater.  At 10PM on Christmas Eve.  A month and a half after I started the scarf, it is finally finished and mailed off to Boise. Is their winter over already?  If so, I’ll credit the scarf for that.

Scarf Detail

  Scarf Detail

I used my own design for the scarf.  I wanted some ribbing and for it to feature cables.  I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted the cables to look though.  I mostly wanted them to resemble a braid, but since I was working without a chart, I kept getting thrown off.

I ran out of yarn in the end, so the scarf wasn’t as long as I wanted it to be.  It is a heavy wool though, so the scarf is very thick and dense.  It should keep him warm!

What projects are you working on?

Here is the full view of the scarf.

Here is the full view of the scarf

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Sunday morning

I woke up this morning pretty much the same way as every day: Cassatt had climbed into bed sometime during the night with Hubby and me, and I had to figure out how to get up without waking him. Then Picasso tried to find a spot, and our queen bed shrank.
I love these mornings of snuggles, of waking up with my sleepy family. We have lazy mornings here, most days we don’t have anywhere to be before noon. So we ease into the busyness of the day slowly.
I know this is a short season of our lives. Before long, Picasso will start kindergarten and we will have rushed mornings. The stress we have some days getting out the door will be multiplied seven fold as I get my distracted kiddo dressed, feed, and out the door on time. I do not look forward to that part of school.
So for now, we enjoy lazy mornings, sleeping in, and wearing pajamas until 9. And I enjoy it more because I know it is a short season of life.

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Time Management and Book Release

Time doesn't expand limitlessly.I am so excited to share this!  Crystal Payne’s book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, will be released tomorrow, January 21.  I can’t wait to get my copy!

As you know, I have been on the launch team, selected to read the book in advance and promote it.  I have enjoyed reading it on my phone, but I ordered it so I can mark up, dog-ear, and really get into the book!  (As a book lover, I don’t usually treat books this way. But this book calls for love of the book more than respect for the pages.)

One thing Crystal recommends is to make a time map for how you will spend your time.  Analytical as I am, I tracked my time for two weeks before I did this.  (OK, I was only going to do one week, but then I decided it didn’t really represent my time since it was a week of snow days.)  I then looked at how I had spent my time, and how I want to spend my time.  I am going to make a real effort at being intentional with my time now!  Here is my time map:

sleeping                                 8 hours
eating/preparing meals     2.5 hours
playing with kids                 3 hours
Time with husband             1/2 hour
driving kids                          1 hour
personal care                       1 hour
devotion/quiet time           1.5 hours
computer work                   1 hour
cleaning                                1 hour
not daily                               2.5 hours

Things that are “not daily” are things I don’t do every day, like errands, Jazzercise, blogging, other cleaning work, etc.

If you add this up, it comes to 22 hours.  I have included 2 hours of “margin” time — to give myself extra in any area that needs it.  So if I have a ton of e-mail to sort through one day, I may spend longer than 1 hour at the computer.  Or if I am put on hold for a long time by insurance, that can be margin time as well.

Have you made a time map for your days?  How does it work for you?

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A new creation

Playing in sunset

I used to believe that sunsets were painted by artists in Heaven. Renoir, van Gogh, and others each took a turn with their paintbrushes every night to paint a beautiful sunset.

God creates the sunset each night.  What if we looked at each of His creations as something created?  Sunsets, flowers, rainbows are easy to see as works of art, creativity on the part of the Creator.

Other things are more difficult to see as art.  Beetles and cockroaches come to mind, but also mud and other things my sons (or my cat) might drag inside for me to see.  But each thing is created by the Creator, in a creative act.

People are creations, also.  Is it possible to see yourself as a work of art, as one who is created by One who loves his creations?  Deep down, it is difficult to see myself as a work of art, as a flower in God’s field.  Yet he created me, as he created you.  He delights in you.  By simply being, you are God’s creation. Embrace it.


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Cookies for Neighbors

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

I have really enjoyed reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.  My favorite chapter has been one about being generous and giving of yourself.  It pointed out there are so many different ways to share yourself, through your time, actions, or money, and that not everything has to be expensive or very time consuming.

One of our Advent activities last month was to bake cookies and give them to the neighbors. We paged through the cookbook and found a recipe for Orange Oatmeal cookies that we made, along with giving cranberry bread.  (Disclosure: the bread I had made to take for Thanksgiving, but forgot to take it with us when we traveled, so it had sat in the freezer for a month.  It was still yummy though.)  Making the plates of cookies was easy enough, but the best part about it was the joy and excitement on my son’s face as we gave them out.  Picasso was running and jumping from house to house, unable to contain his excitement–and he was so much fun to watch!  It was also fun to get thanks from the neighbors, who were surprised and delighted to get the cookies!

There’s no competition when it comes to giving. What matters most is your heart.

— Crystal Paine

I forget that giving doesn’t have to be a grand measure.  I am often so struck by the enormity of need in the community that I am paralyzed and unable to give as I would like to.  I must not forget that simple acts are still acts of giving, and can make as much impact as a grand gesture.  I cannot fix hunger by volunteering in a food pantry, and I cannot fix loneliness with a plate of cookies.  But both make an impact, a dent, however small.  And God can take these small actions and make much more out of them!

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Survival Mode — Seriously

I am getting beyond the point where I can handle this.

We are in survival mode here in St. Louis. The street in front of my house, which is normally cleared once an hour during storms (much more than most streets here), has not been plowed since Sunday and there is no visible pavement.  The streets throughout the city are not much better (many of them worse) and I have not ventured out.  Honestly, as bad as everyone says, I am afraid to drive in this.

Many school districts, including mine, are closed tomorrow for the third day in a row.  My district closed last week, also, for snow.  (Most districts weren’t back from winter break yet.)  So Picasso will have missed an entire week of school.  I am not so concerned about pre-K classes lost as I am about his need for social time–he is lonely!–and my need for a break.

Cassatt isn’t unaffected by this either.  The only way I can get him to nap is when he and I are in the car alone on the way to pick up big brother.  Otherwise, there is too much stimulation and he can force himself to stay awake.  This means he has not had a nap since the week before Christmas!  The lack of sleep is really getting to him, but I can’t seem to get him to sleep any more.

I definitely feel like I am in survival mode.  I have to remember this is only temporary and our regular schedule will come back soon.  Meanwhile, for tomorrow (and as long as this lasts), my goal is to give myself grace.  My most important tasks for tomorrow are to play with the boys, to read to the boys, and to take some quiet time alone.  If I focus on those things, I’m hoping to feel less like survival mode.

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Contemplation: Survival Mode 7-day Challenge (Day 2) and strengths lists

Today is all about contemplation.  I am blogging this week about Crystal Paine’s book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, and her 7-Day Challenge related to the book.

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

The theme for the second day of the challenge is titled “Focus on your Strengths”.

You should put your energy where your strengths are, and try to minimize work in areas you are weak in.  That makes sense!  Only, to focus on your strengths, you have to know what your strengths are.

The challenge task for today was to spend 10 minutes writing down what you excel in, whether it is household or business related (or something completely different.)  One of my goals for this year is to find a path for my career, and I already had that as one of my tasks for today.  So I could cross off two things on my to-do list just by doing it once!  I love when it works out so nicely.

In the course of my thinking/listing strengths, I was brainstorming career ideas.  I am amazed, but an idea really took hold!  This is something I had contemplated before, but always dismissed as “too hard” or “I don’t know enough.”  Now, I’m ready to think about what it takes and follow through.  Maybe something will come of this!  Working on a Business Plan is now part of my tasks for tomorrow.  (Hoping I will get time, with school cancelled tomorrow for a third day in a row.  I’m ready for winter break to end!)

Are you doing the challenge?  What insights did you gain?

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