Friday, March 25, 2011

Summer Fun To-Do List


In last week’s Fresh Friday post, I mentioned that I would be putting together my list of family activities for warmer weather.  I did this same thing last year and we probably did close to have the things on my list.  This year I’m hoping to do more than half.  Some of the listed activities are duplicates from last year and some are new.  My plan is to print the list, maybe even multiple copies, to place in a few strategic places around my house to keeping me thinking about opportunities to do these activities.  I’m thinking probably on the refrigerator and on or near my night stand.  I hope my list inspires you to come up with your own.

Here’s my list (in no particular order):
  • Endicott Park – This is a huge park with walking trails and a petting zoo about 15 min away; a couple bucks to park during the week.
  • Stone Zoo – They have a free entrance day at the end of the summer!
  • Mini Golf & Ice Cream at Richardson’s – A big dairy farm with mini golf and really good, homemade ice cream
  • Swim at the In-Law’s Pool as much as possible – I’m sure they won’t mind!
  • Walk Lake Quannapowitt as much as possible – Already did this once this year and will definitely go back
  • Walk Lynn Woods – This place is pretty close by, and we’ve never gone.  This is a must do this summer.
  • Walk Breakheart Reservation – We go by this place on our way to church and have never gone.  Also a must do.
  • Rockport/Gloucester – It’s become a tradition, so it has to be on the list.
  • Go to the ocean – We live 15-30 min away from multiple beaches along the coast, and yet we didn’t make it to the ocean even ONCE last summer!  Shame on us!  Definitely a must do!
  • Concert at the Esplanade in Boston – Many shows are free, and you just sit out on the grass.  Not sure how a toddler would do, so this may end up being a summer date night!
  • Tour the USS Constitution – We have a friend in the navy who recently began serving on this ship (how cool is that?) so we’d really like to go and see him, and the ship.
  • Go to the Stoneham pool – It’s free, and has a big kiddie pool with a spraying fountain in it!
  • Pick strawberries – Not sure where exactly, but I know there are a few places around.
  • Have a picnic – Even if it’s while we’re at one of the above places.
Have a great weekend everyone!

~ Carrie ~
 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

2 Thumbs Up

It's been pretty busy around here what with a toddler getting over a cold and cutting 2 year molars (3 down, 1 more to go!), getting ready to take a short vacation, and Bible study last night.  Needless to say, I was not able to put a primitive pick up yesterday.  So, I'm going to count today's post as both My Primitive Pick for the week and my 2 Thumbs Up post. 

There are areas of my house that, from time to time, drive me insane really irritate me because of their lack of organization and constant disarray.  So, this leads me to contemplate what I can do to solve this issue.  One of these most recent areas of my home has been the bookcase in my son's room.  It is a constant disaster area and I don't have the time (nor the desire) to straighten it up every couple days. 


Another thing is that I also want my almost 2-year old to be able to put his books away by himself, without me having to re-do everything he's done.  I couldn't really come up with any good ideas at first, but then (during some online decorative browsing) I stumbled onto this idea on the Better Homes & Gardens web site.  

With a first glance, this could almost look like my son in this picture!  Maybe someday I'll have a picture similar to this...

Brilliant!  No having to stack books upright (which can be very difficult for little ones).  It's very easy for little ones to put away without Mom having to come and fix it all after.  My next thought was, this would be so easy to make!  So, of course, I began strategically planning when I was going to bring this little project up to my hubby.  I waited until he finished his current project, highly praised him for all of his hard work, and then said something like, "You're really getting good at building things!" (which is the absolute truth!).  By this point I think he was beginning to catch on.  I brought up our son's awful bookcase (my husband is quite an organized, type a sort of person) and said I had a solution.  Long story short, he's on board with it, but we haven't really gotten to it yet.  Hopefully soon I'll post about this project being completed!  Then it will be time to move on to the next project!  (I have a wonderful husband!)  

~ Carrie ~

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

“Mama Had Enough”: Battling the Pre-Church Meltdown

Being a pastor’s wife, every Sunday morning from about 7:30 until it’s time to leave for church, it’s just me and my little one.  If I’m not mostly ready to leave the house before the hubby leaves, then I’ve got a lot on my plate to keep my toddler occupied (and clean) while trying to get myself ready to go, bags packed, and out the door by 9:30 (at the latest, but as early as 8:45). 

Now realistically, this should not be a problem in the least bit as when I run errands during the week, I’m usually out the door between 9 and 10 am.  The problem was (and still often is) that Sunday mornings – for whatever reason – were just different.  Whereas on most days it seems he hardly touches most of his toys, on Sunday mornings, he has EVERY toy out and spread out in every corner of the main floor of our home.  Whereas on most days he will have 1-2 (if any) tantrums, on Sunday mornings he has multiple.  Whereas on most days getting him dressed is no big deal, on Sunday mornings getting dressed and changing a diaper is an all out wrestling match.  Okay, so you get the point.  This Mama had enough. 

For quite a while I really, REALLY struggled with my Sunday mornings.  I was to the point that I almost dreaded Sunday mornings, had little to no patience, and counted down the moments until I could put my son in the nursery.  It was a very sad situation!  I tried getting up earlier to make sure I was that much more ready for the day, but even that didn’t solve all of the issues.  Finally, (I think it was on a Sunday afternoon after another horrible morning before church) I was able to see Sunday mornings for what they really were, an attack of the enemy. 

All of our preparations on Sunday mornings are for the purpose of worshipping God and ministering in His name.  For our family, our week pretty much revolves around Sunday – sermon prep, worship team practices, special music, youth group, church dinners, nursery, junior church, etc - , so of course Satan is going to increase his attack.  So what do I do?  I go to God’s Word.

One passage of Scripture immediately comes to mind when I contemplate the attacks of the devil and that’s Ephesians 6:10-18 – the armor of God.  (I won’t include the whole passage here, but feel free to read it / remind yourself of it.) 

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of the dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” (Ephesians 6:10-13)
Although I made myself think that the root of the problem is my son and all the chaos he seems to create on a Sunday morning, it’s not.  Even though I tried to remedy the problem by getting up earlier and getting as much done ahead of time as possible, the problem didn’t go away.  So, I have to ask myself, “Have I “put on the full armor of God?” (vs. 13).  Am I preparing myself daily to do battle with the evil around me?  How do I know for sure?  Continue reading in Ephesians 6.

The Belt of Truth
God is truth.  We can’t allow ourselves to be swayed by the lies of the devil.

Breastplate of Righteousness
We need to guard our hearts with the righteousness of God, admitting we can’t fight this battle alone (much like we can’t earn our own right-standing with God). 

Feet Fitted with the Gospel of Peace
In wherever we go, whatever we do, and wherever God leads, we need to 1) remind ourselves of the gospel and, 2) proclaim the gospel, not only with our words, but with our attitude. 

Shield of Faith
Deflect the attacks of the devil by purposely strengthening your faith each day (by reading your Bible, reading other Christian literature, listening to Christian music, praying, or meeting with fellow believers). 

Helmet of Salvation
Be assured of your salvation through Christ and allow that confidence to help you rise above the trials of life. 

The Sword of the Spirit (God’s Word)
Immerse yourself daily in God’s Word.  Having God’s Word hidden in your heart means you’re ready to reassure and remind yourself of His promises at a moment’s notice. 
That’s all for the actual armor, but at the very end of this passage we are reminded of one more thing at that is prayer.  Communicate with God.  Ask for His guidance.  Praise Him for His provision. 

This isn’t a recipe for avoiding catastrophe, but it is helpful in weathering and defeating the schemes of the evil one that can so easily overwhelm us – even difficult Sunday mornings.  Even if your Sunday mornings aren’t under attack, I hope that this encourages you to reclaim an area of your life that is currently a battle zone. 

“With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18)

~ Carrie ~

P.S.  If you’ve ever seen Mark Lowry’s “My First Comedy Video”, you know exactly what the first part of the title for this Monday’s blog post refers to.  I wouldn’t put myself in the category of the mother in this sketch, but I’m sure most moms have felt themselves on the urge of the meltdown this mom went through.  If you haven’t seen this and/or if you just want a good laugh, please view the video below (and try to ignore the horrendous 90s clothing and hairstyles!).  


Friday, March 18, 2011

Time to “Spring” Into Action!


I know it’s not technically spring yet, but the warmer weather we’ve been having in our area has been enough for me to start thinking about outdoor activities and warm weather plans.  Yesterday (the hubby’s day off) was a really fun day in which our family thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful day: a few short car rides, a walk along a local lake, lunch at a little downtown diner, and playing at our neighborhood park.  By the end of this long, fun day my mind couldn’t help but think about all the things I want to do this summer. 

I am one of those people who is great at planning, but struggles (sometimes) with following through.  Thinking about it is fun.  Actually preparing to do it is not fun.  I just want to be able to snap my fingers and be there.  Or, another struggle I’ll admit to is just forgetting or failing to be proactive.  What I mean is, I get doing my normal everyday stuff (laundry, dishes, cleaning stuff, organizing, shopping, cooking) and forget to make time for fun.  Is that normal? 

Last spring, while at a local MOPS group, the leader had a great idea.  She made sure everyone had a paper and pencil and asked us to make a list of things that we wanted to do with our families between now and when (I dare say) the cold weather returns.  I worked and worked and worked on my list only to come up with 3-4 things – for the entire summer!  And it was pretty much the same stuff that we normally do.  I was a little discouraged until the MOPS leader said that she now wanted us to share with everyone what was on our list.  By the time everyone had finished sharing, I had a list of at least a dozen LOCAL activities – not long trips, not even anything all that expensive, just local and fun!  I was so impressed. 

So, this brings me to this year.  I’m starting to think about what to do this spring and summer.  It’s so easy to think that there isn’t much to do in your area, but get creative and talk to other people.  You will surely discover some fun, cheap things to do with your family that will result in tons of quality time, laughter, and memories.  Over the next week or two, I will be working on my list and then I will share it (probably on another Friday).  So, stay tuned.  Maybe something on my list will inspire you!  You don't have to be a mom to take this challenge.  You don't even have to married or have children to take this challenge!  Take advantage of the nice weather (which can change with the blink of an eye in New England) and decide who you want to invest more of your time into.  Dishes and laundry can wait.  You’ll never regret spending quality time with your family and friends!

~ Carrie ~

Thursday, March 17, 2011

2 Thumbs Up

I must say that during our current bedtime woes with our almost 2 year old, the thought has crossed my mind that something like this could be what is actually going on.  Most people don't give toddlers enough credit.  Parents know... they're smarter than they usually let on.  Watch, learn, and laugh.  

 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Primitive Pick

It's a miserably rainy day here and I've recently gotten all of my spring decorations up (which isn't much), so my primitive pick for today is...

Spring Decor!!

Sounds a little generic, I know, but decorating for has always been difficult for me (I'll explain why), so I wanted to lay out a few things that I've learned on how to decorate for spring.  

So what's so hard about decorating for spring?  Pull out some bunnies, eggs, and flowers and that's it.  Or is it?  If you have a very specific decor in your home, especially a very specific color palette, then you (like me) may have a hard time figuring out how to include some spring colors and decorations without it totally contrasting the rest of your home.  My living room, dining room, and kitchen are all mostly made up of neutrals (thankfully), but I do have some things that get in my way: a wine-colored recliner, a deep red color under the chair rail in the dining room, and a big sage green jelly cabinet (to name a few).  The things I decorate with cannot clash with these pieces because they are all so BIG!  So... here are a few suggestions (along with a link to where you can find a few of these things, since I don't have pictures for everything).  

1.  Glass - Bring in the light, whether it's a mirror, an old window pane, or some pitchers or other glass serving-type pieces.  Put it on display in a prominent place in your home - on a shelf, an entry-way wall, a mantel, or the table.  
Country Sampler


2.  Garden Items - You may not be able to get out and do much yard work yet, so why not bring the great outdoors in.  Decorate with some watering cans that match your existing decor, clay flower pots (with/without flowers in them, maybe even nested somehow), faux birds (can be found in a huge variety of colors, textures, and sizes), and birdhouses.  
Country Sampler


3.  Baskets - Since I've recently discussed baskets, I'll simply say this... Wicker or woven baskets in particular are nice this time of year because of their resemblance to nests and tree branches.  So if you haven't included more baskets in your decor yet, now is the time!
Pottery Barn

4.  Flowers - A few flowers in some strategic places go a long way.  For me, these places are my entryway (where people enter my home) and the dining room table.  Wherever the focal points of your home are, flowers easily brighten (and warm) up a stuffy, cold house once spring is on the way.  My particular choice is daffodils for two reasons: 1) I can get a small bunch of them from my grocery store for $1.99 and they are more than worth the money; and 2) They come in yellow or white, so if you want the ambiance of the flowers but can't handle the yellow in your decor, go for white.  There are, however, numerous other springtime flowers to choose from.  
Country Sampler

So, this is all I've learned so far.  Any other suggestions would be marvelous.  Stay tuned for some pictures of some pictures of my house with a few spring decorations.  For now, I think I'll wait to until the sun comes out before taking any.  

Check out the Flower and Craft Warehouse Outdoor and Easter sections for some of these very things that I've suggested... at really great prices, too!

~ Carrie ~

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Life24/7

Happy birthday to my wonderful husband!  Thank you for supporting me in my blogging endeavors and sharing your life with me!  I love you so much! 

Birthday Cake Before 


...And After

Monday, March 14, 2011

Need a little peace...


“Oftentimes parenting can feel like a battle. And the “enemy” is your two-year-old who’s just thrown their dinner on the floor (again); or your fifteen-year-old, who’s just slammed the door on you (again). But still your job is to show them what our Father in heaven is like. Yes, they need to learn to live under authority. But they also need to learn of a God who welcomes His enemies, loves His enemies and gives His life for his enemies.” (Gospel Centred Family by Tim Chester and Ed Moll)

My husband and I are currently in an all-out bedtime “battle” with our son.  We’re going through one of those “phases” as people call them.  We’re calling it a phase because we’re really not sure what started all of this or why it continues on, nap after nap… night after night.  It totally caught us off-guard and we’ve found ourselves quite perplexed, not to mention frustrated, regarding what we should do. 

So, in the midst of some very long nights (I think I may have gotten more sleep when he was a newborn), I have to try to remind myself of what my primary purpose is as a parent.  It is not to provide discipline and order to my son’s life.  It is not to teach him how to eat healthy.  It is not to teach him how to read, write, or count.  It is not even to teach him right and wrong.  Simply put, my primary purpose as a parent is to teach my son to love God and love others – even at just shy of 2.  So even at a very desperate time as a mom, I have to ask myself some tough questions.  Have I emphasized perfect behavior over perfect love?  Have I emphasized facts over faith?  Have I let morality out-shine the gospel?

The answers to these questions don’t solve mine and my husband’s current dilemma, but it does make less of it.  God is greater than our bedtime battles.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.  Let your reasonableness be known to everyone.  The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, thing about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. 
Philippians 4:4-8

Whatever your battle is, whether it be with a 2 year old or a 20 year old, join with me in praying for peace in our hearts and homes.

~ Carrie ~

Friday, March 11, 2011

Fresh Fridays

In the midst of a very sleepless week, I've asked myself several times what I put joy in.  Do I put my joy in keeping my routine?  Perfectly balancing a budget?  Getting my son to eat all of his vegetables? Getting a full night's sleep?  It's during these days (and sometimes weeks) that I have to challenge myself to get past the spilled milk and remember that God is good.  

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
   let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
   that those who love your name may rejoice in you. 
                                                             Psalm 5:11

I took time to enjoy a little spontaneous craft time with my boy this week, and we had a lot of fun!  It also made a few rainy days a little more sunny!


I hope that even as the rains of life come, you'll seek the joy of the Lord.  Rest in the comfort His Word brings.  Find peace in communing with him in daily prayer.  And take time to enjoy life!  

~ Carrie ~




Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Primitive Pick

My primitive pick for this week is... (drum roll, please)

Dish Towels

Yes, you read that correctly.  Dish towels are an easy way to add a little bit of seasonal decor to your kitchen.  I often have a hard time finding ways to include my kitchen in my holiday and seasonal decorating throughout the year.  Counter space is always taken up by cooking and baking supplies, and most of my wall space is covered with cupboards and appliances.  So how do you bring a little spring, Christmas, Thanksgiving, fall, etc. into your kitchen?  

Here are two options that I have in my house. 
This is a dish towel that I have hanging off my cupboard to the left of my sink on an antique dish towel rack.  It was a wonderful Christmas gift from my mom, so I'm not sure where you can find these.




This was a house-warming gift from my husband's parents and it goes great in my kitchen/dining room area.  I'm privileged to have so many people around me who share my taste in decor!
In my home, these two towels are "for decorative use only" (which is quite the joke in our family, since my husband and father never seem to know what towel they can dry their hands on - whether at my house or my parents!).  I do have some that are regular hand / dish drying towels.  So even if the only spot for a nice dish towel like this is hanging from the oven door, refrigerator handle, or cabinet door, it's still festively brightening up an otherwise undecorated area of your home.  Dish towels like these can be found in a number of places (and for a variety of prices) such as: Wal-Mart, Target, TJ Maxx, Christmas Tree Shops, Home Goods, and other specialty home decor stores.  

~ Carrie ~