Wednesday, August 5, 2015


I've been thinking a lot about kindness lately.

It's late in the summer.  The kids have been together too much.  They argue.  They say mean things to each other in an attempt to provoke a reaction.  We talk about what they could have done differently.  It gets better for a while then lather, rinse, repeat.

It drives me crazy and I bet it really isn't that fun for them.

So I've started talking about kindness: what it means, how to do it. what it feels like when you are being kind or someone is kind to you.

Kindness is like a smile that starts from the inside and then you want to share it with someone else.  Sharing it will make you feel even better and perhaps make that smile even bigger so you'll want to do it again.

As I was talking about it, I decided action is a much better teacher.  So I issued a challenge, every day this week they have to do one kind thing for another person in our family (since there are only 4 of us it means a parent or their sibling).  They shouldn't tell the other person they are doing it and they shouldn't expect a thank you.  This challenge is about showing kindness because you care about the other person, because you think it will make them happy.

In our discussions my son said "Fine!  I'll be kind to you because you are making me do it!"

I almost slapped my forehead in frustration.  "No honey, this isn't about making you do something you don't want to do.  It's about doing something because you love the other person and you want to show them."

He nodded.  "Okay then how do I be kind?   Tell me what to do?'

"Well it's not about me telling you.  It's about you doing something because you want to."

"But I'm only 6.  I don't know what I want to do."

"Okay.  How about this:  Pulling the cat's tail is not kind.  Petting the cat is kind.  Hitting your sister is not kind.  You can be kind to her by ..."

"Drawing her a picture?"

"Yes that is kind.  A picture or something like that."

I told them I would also be doing kind things and I would share what I had done so they could understand and hopefully learn about kindness in the process.

So for the month of August we are going to practice intentional kindness in our house.  Kindness to ourselves and to those around us.  I am hoping that when September rolls around we will be filled with a lot more love for each other (or at least the kids won't be fighting so much).

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Style, everyone has it

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to create.  As a pre-teen I made friendship bracelets and woven ribbon barettes.  I moved on to t-shirts adorned with wedding rosebuds from the craft store.  Once I think I tried to make a dress out of an old batik bedspread (it actually turned into a giant floor length poncho).

Once I discovered beads I had found my groove.  I could string beads and make something beautiful.  It was an amazing feeling.  If I want a necklace, I could make one.  And I did. Over and over again. I made them.  I sold them at craft shows, farmer's markets, in stores and on-line.  At one point I even quit my job to make jewelry full time.  I had some success.  I had a piece featured in a fashion spread in the local newspaper. My name was mentioned in the on-line version of Women's Wear Daily.

But life moved on,  I went back to work and didn't have the time necessary to create as I would have liked.  Then came kids and it all went out the window.  I would go weeks or months without making something.  I lost focus.  I began to doubt myself.  Then fear took over.

I'm not good enough.

I don't have style.

I'm not creative.

I believed it.  Sometimes I think I still do.  There is nothing I would love more than to create beautiful things, but ...  So I don't.

I have bags and boxes full of supplies, paint, yarn, beads all waiting for that inspiration to strike.  Pinterest both helps and hurts.  I see all of the cool things I could make and I want to run out, get the supplies and start right now.  But then I get overwhelmed with all of the things.  It's too much.  I can't right now.  So I don't.

But when I do, it's totally worth it.  In fact, despite all of my anxiety about creating, I actually have pieces I've created on display in my home.  Sometimes I amaze myself.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


Lately summer has seemed too long.  The kids are fighting more than ever.  It's hot.  We are doing the same old, same old and it's gotten a tad boring.  So I decided to shake something up.

I grabbed my camera and told the kids we were going for a walk.  Normally a request for a walk is met with grumbling but I told them we were going to take pictures of the cool things we find.  If there was something they liked, we could take a picture.  That seemed to perk things up a bit.

I love our neighborhood, cozy bungalows and tree lined streets with a mix of new and interesting businesses.  When we first moved here we had the bungalows and trees but there were no businesses to speak of.  If we wanted dinner, coffee or to do a little shopping, we had to drive somewhere.  Thanks to the dedication of local residents and the city, our little corner of the world has gotten a lot cooler.  It's now a happening place to be.  I just love it.

Perhaps the only way to get a picture of them together.

My favorite coffee house.

Always mugging for the camera.

Handmade chocolate?  Yes please.

A book for every age.

The only way I can get a picture of her.

Ooh! Mom can you take a picture of the dead bug?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

What I Love

Rather than focusing on the negative, I decided to go around the house and take pictures of the things I love about it.

 The kids' art wall
Tabasco Cat

A scarf from Zara that has become our bedspread

Lotus Furbella

 A place to show my loves.

We built this.  It amazes me to this day that we actually did it.  I love to sit, watch the kids play and chat with the neighbors.

Unfortunately no pictures of the kids.  Apparently when mom has a camera, it's time to hide.  But I'll get you my pretties.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Out of the Box

The other day I received a phone call from my husband.  He told me that a friend of his from college and his family may be stopping by our house tonight on their way home from vacation.

It was like the scene in an old TV show where the husband lets the wife know he's bringing his boss or important client home in a few minutes and wackiness ensues.  Except there was less wackiness and more panic.
Our house is not really fit for visitors, especially ones I don't know. It's messy, cluttered and the kitchen is half painted.

So I spent the afternoon cleaning.  Well not really cleaning, just picking up.  Getting rid of the stuff that didn't belong where it was. The living room was easy, it is the most used but also the most cleaned.  The kitchen was hopeless, just do the dishes and move on.  There isn't much to say about a room in the midst of a renewal.

The dining room was harder.  Oh the dining room.  I guess I can't really call it a dining room anymore because I can't remember the last time it was used for dining.  Two years ago maybe?  The table has been pushed against the windows and houses the kids' computer, various art supplies, a few legos and random broken toys.  Because it's the main (only) passage way from the living room to the rest of the house it makes more sense not to have the dining table taking up all of the room.

The sideboard that houses our unused china occupies the other wall.  It has served as a dumping ground for all of the papers and things I may need to use again but don't really want to deal with at the present moment.  It also houses bins, files and folders to corral all of the papers and things I may need to use again but don't really want to deal with and now can't find because I put them somewhere.  I hate it.  Every so often I go through all of the junk and get it down to a manageable size.  But it always manages to grow again.

There was no time to do that.  I needed to pick up, put away and move on.  So I did just that, I moved the stuff to another room, a place where it is more suited to be - the office, to be gone through at a later date.

But what then?  The surfaces were clear but so what.  It still looked sad and uninviting.  So I decided to "stage" the area.  I ran around pulling things from different places and arranged them in a nice, inviting way, a flower here, photos there, books laid out like so.

The result was amazing.  It was still my house but it was better, almost like someone else lived there.  It made me happy to see it.  To know that I could if I really tried have a house like the ones on the blogs and TV shows I love.  That maybe, just maybe these little changes would make me look at myself and our house differently and it could truly be a place that I love.  I'd like to think I can get there.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

House Anxiety

I love reading decorating and design blogs.  I pour over the words.  I pin all the pictures.  And then I dream,  "wouldn't it be lovely to live in a house like that ...", "if only my house ..."

After staring at my screen dreams, I look up and see reality.  Things are on the floor.  Papers and junk cover the surfaces.  It causes anxiety.  I need to clean.  Right now.  I need to fix all of this.  Right now.  But there is so much to do, where do I start.  I could start here in the living room.  But if I pick up a toy and return it to it's rightful room, I then get distracted by the mess there.  I must clean that.  Right now.  And when it's time to return something to it's rightful place from that room, the cycle starts all over again.

So I'm left with a messy house with a few things put away in their rightful places.  I've thought about options, I've researched, I've read books and they all do the exact same thing.  They cause more anxiety.

So I stop.  I look.  I think.

The couch, with pillows and blankets askew, may look messy but just a few minute it held my children playing a game together.  That, in and of itself, is something of a minor miracle. So I can look at it and smile.  The couch served it's function as a gathering place, warm and inviting, holding and providing comfort for those I love.  It makes my heart sing just a little bit.  I can accept that mess, no need to start there.  The anxiety lessens just a bit and I can focus my energy on things that need to be done.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

House v. Home

We have lived in our house for almost 16 years.  My relationship with the house has gone from love, Love, LOVE to annoyance, to sometimes hate, landing mostly on indifference.

Annoyance, indifference and hate are not emotions you want to associate with your house.

I love the heck out of the people and animals that live in the house.  But there are so many things about the house that I don't like, things that are wrong, things I want to change but don't have the time to do, things I want to fix but can't.  So I ignore or grumble and grouse when I walk into certain rooms.

I would read design blogs and see the beautiful rooms and I would get sad.  Pinterest could make me depressed or angry.  I wanted my house to look like that and it didn't.  It could but it didn't.

But I didn't do anything and nothing changed.

Then I read the book The Nesting Place It Doesn't Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful and my perspective started to change.  My home was far from perfect but it was filled with love and joy, maybe it could be beautiful too.

As I sat on my sofa one day, I started looking, really looking at my house.  I found that there were things that I really and truly enjoyed about my home.  The giant red sofa that can fit our whole family plus two cats on movie nights.  The table in the entry hall that perfectly describes our family - the vase from China, the candle holder from Ethiopia, the globe, the pictures of our early days with our children.  Seeing these things fills me with joy

I realized that maybe I was the thing that needed to change for me to love my house again.  If I look at it through a lens of hope and possibility, I can see love.  The things I can't fix will still be there but so will the good things. And maybe this stupid old house will feel more like home.