Friday, November 30, 2012

November Theme: Transportation

As a former teacher, I truly believe that the most important education takes place in the home.  The foundation we parents set is setting our children up for the rest of their educational experience.  Brad and I have no idea where our boys will go to school when the time comes.  They might go to the public school.  Or maybe a Christian school.  Or montessori.  Or maybe we'll homeschool.  All options are open to us right now.  But one thing we do know is that Micah's education starts at home and it starts now.

So, every month I choose a theme and choose some activities that center around that theme to do with Micah.  Throw in a few letter, number, shape, and color activities and we do at least one "educational" activity a day.  Our theme for November was transportation.  Micah loved this theme.  It's no surprise because he has been all about his cars and trains lately (which is actually the reason why I picked that theme).  Here's a little round-up of some of the activities we did this month. 

We sorted his cars by color.
We made a shape school bus.
Brad made a road to play cars on.
We practiced colors and painted with cardboard tubes.
We played cars using the letters of his name as the road.

We read lots of books about different types of cars and watched a lot of Thomas (a new favorite!).  This was definitely an easy month and Micah had so much fun.  Share your favorite transportation activities, too!

Daddy drew a town on the mirror and they played cars.  Micah loved this one!  He played for days.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Another Thanksgiving has come and gone and I can't help but think, what is it really all about?

We've been trying so hard to be more intentional about what we do and want to set a good example for the boys. Thanksgiving seems so easy. It's a given, it's a day to give thanks to God for all the good things he has given us.  But is that really what we do? And shouldn't that be more than just today? Our little family did a lot today. We played, we watched Charlie Brown Thanksgiving, we baked pie, we made fruit salad, we did laundry, we visited with grandparents and cousins, we ate...a lot. And we prayed and thanked God before the meal.  But we didn't make today about giving thanks.

I think keeping the focus on Thanksgiving is actually a lot harder than we think.  We get caught up in all the delicious food, spending time with family, planning our Black Friday purchases and before we know it the day is over and all we did was give a brief thanks before stuffing our faces. Yes, all of those things are great, but if we didn't do any of the today would still be Thanksgiving. Today would still be a day where we should thank God for the blessings he has given us, a day to reflect on what he has done for us. Today should not be a day unlike any other.

I don't want my children to just be thankful one day out of the year. I want it to be a way of life for them. I want the. To see God's hand at work all around them, working things together for their good, even through the pain. I want them to stop and smell the rain and thank God for providing his earth with water to help the plants grow. I want them to appreciate the hard times as well as the bad, the easy things just as much as the difficult things.

And it all begins with me. I have to have an attitude of gratitude for my children to see.  I have to see God's hand at work in my life and praise him for what He is doing. Instead of worrying about what dish I'm going to bring or whose house we're going to, I should be worrying about if I thanked God for his provision. For his grace. His mercy. His love. His salvation. Because even if I had no food to eat or no house to visit I could still be thankful for so much. Because God is still good and He is faithful. And that is more than enough.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What do we do with Christmas?

Can you believe Christmas is in just over a month?  I'm not one to skip over the importance of Thanksgiving, but Christmas has been heavy on my mind lately. 

I don't think it was a coincidence that we did our month of re-focusing and our Not A Fan study the month before the holiday rush begins.  We just finished spending a month re-focusing on God, learning what it looks like to a true follower of Him, and now we're going to turn around and turn Christmas into a day about getting gifts and eating good food?  It just doesn't sit right with me.

But what do we do with Christmas?

The truth is Brad and I both love to give presents.  And we don't really like asking for lists because that shows very little thought.  There's no element of surprise.  No sense of true gift giving when the person had to tell you what to get.  A gift should be given out of the goodness of your heart, because you want to give someone something.  Not because you feel obligated because they're giving you something.  Or because they're a family member.  And Brad and I love the true sense of gift-giving.  We love searching for the perfect gift, something that says we know the receiver.  Something that shows we've put a lot of thought into it.

Admittedly, we often fall into the trap at Christmas of giving gifts out of obligation.  It's not right not to buy a gift for my niece.  And we try to come up with something we think she will love, but it's not always a very thoughtful gift (I mean, really, how thoughtful is a Barbie or Littlest Pet Shop toy?).  But that's now what Christmas is about.  And that's not what we want to teach our boys.  So, we've already been struggling with this thought for some time. 

Plus, gift giving just adds to everyone's stuff.  And we're trying to live with less because we know you can't find joy in things.  I think I mentioned before that we got our inspiration for our challenge from a blog I stumbled across.  She has a challenge each month on top of her daily tasks.  Her challenge for November and December is to have a buy-nothing Christmas.  She is cutting down drastically on her gift giving and to those that she is still giving gifts they will be homemade or upcycled gifts.  Honestly, I think this is an awesome idea!  For several years, Brad and I use to give a "date" to my nieces for their birthday.  We picked something fun to do and they got to spend the day just with us.  There was no gift except for the activity that we did.  And they loved it!  Brad and I looked forward to it just as much as they did.  I love that idea!  Brad and I were also talking about our favorite presents from each other and in our top three we both mentioned at least two "acts of kindness" rather than a physical item.  People appreciate our time and thoughtfulness so much more than the things that we buy them. 

But having a buy-nothing Christmas is very hard.  It's hard to get others on board or to understand.  It's hard to stick to.  Brad and I both have some sense of wanting to do this, but we just don't know that we can.  We would love for December to be so much less stressful because instead of worrying about what to buy this person we're just enjoying time with our friends and family.  But it's hard, and I just don't know if we can pull it off.  It has definitely given us something to think about, and I know we will be having several more conversations about it.  I'm sure you can count on more blog posts about it, too, as we process what this Christmas is going to look like for our family as we try to teach our boys that Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ and not receiving gifts.

So, what about you?  What do you do with Christmas?  Do you wish you could make some changes?  Share your thoughts and ideas and maybe together we can figure this out!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Processing our Month of Re-Focusing

Well, October has officially been over for a week now and we are still processing so much of what we did.  It was truly an amazing month.  I wanted to write a little reflection on what it was like for us, but I'm sure this won't be the last you hear of it.

The biggest thing was definitely the Daniel Fast.  That was a lot harder than I expected it to be.  When I was pregnant with Judah I got into some bad eating habits and I knew it was time to break them, but I didn't realize just how bad they were.  Every time I went somewhere in the car I wanted to eat.  I wouldn't even be hungry but I would still want to go through a drive-thru.  Terrible, I know.  What's worse, is I have a family background of obesity and that is a bad association to have.  Plus, I remember growing up and getting any kind of fast food was such a treat.  I loved it when we got McDonald's!  But it's not like that for Micah.  That's not how I want it to be.  I want him to see these trips as something really special.  This is a habit I knew I needed to break!

I'd like to say that I did a great job with the fast, but I'm not sure that's the truth.  As I said, it was very difficult for me.  We ate out a LOT less, but I also broke the rules a couple times.  It was discouraging and frustrating because I knew that I shouldn't but it was just so hard for me not to.  But I won't let that ruin what I did accomplish.  I'm making strides in the right direction and little by little it will improve.  It's a habit and habits can be hard to break, but by God's strength, I will do it.  So, we're not continuing the fast per se, but we are continuing the good habits from the fast.  We're limiting our fast food intake a lot more and we're also incorporating more fruits and vegetables into our everyday eating (we have always eaten a lot of fruit, but now it's our go-to snack).  I really hope that someday I can proudly say I've kicked this habit and trips to McDonald's are a treat and not a regular occurence!

The second most challenging part of the month was my limited computer time.  I waste a lot of time on the computer looking for good ideas, reading blogs, catching up on facebook, etc.  And sometimes that time can creep up into my time with the boys.  I tell Micah to play trains by himself so that I can send a couple e-mails, which inevitably leads to checking facebook.  Or after dinner, I let Brad play with the boys while I catch up on some blogs.  It's not that I don't spend any quality time with my boys, it's just that I could do better.  Limiting my time to an hour after the boys were in bed was one of the best things I could have done!  I enjoyed my time with the boys so much more.  I was there with them.  We made crafts and played with Micah's toys.  We read books and went for walks.  And I noticed a huge decrease in the amount of tantrums going on in the house.  I enjoyed my boys.  This was probably the most rewarding part of the challenge, which is why I'm continuing it.  This might seem obvious to some, but I have decided that I will not spend any time on the computer while the boys are awake.  No checking facebook.  No sending e-mails.  No looking up something real quick.  Nothing.  The only difference is that if I want to go on the computer during nap time I can, and I'm not limiting myself to an hour.  It was hard to get everything done sometimes (I do legitimately have to do work on the computer plus that's how I relax so sometimes I felt like I was choosing between more work and relaxing).  I am so excited about continuing to have that quality time with my boys.  After all, as I've said many times before, they are only this young once and I want to enjoy it as much as I can.

Last, as a general reflection, I will say that it was very hard for me to go through different parts of our house and give things away.  I realized how much I associate my own happiness with "things."  I wasn't finding my joy in the Lord.  I wanted a cute outfit so that others would give me their approval.  I was seeking the approval of men, not God.  The Bible tells us that man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the inside.  He knows my heart and no cute outfit is going to fool him.  So, this month I've learned to look to him for approval more than I look to others.  I benefited greatly from my daily devotional time with him and just felt him tugging at my heart, calling me closer to him.  I can't say that I'm perfect and have it all down now.  I still want cute clothes and nice serving dishes, but I'm learning that my value is not found in those things.  This is a lesson that I know God is going to continue to teach me.  It is my prayer that some day instead of a compliment about my outfit, someone tells me that they can see the glory of the Lord shining through me.  Then, I will know that I have achieved what I set out for.  Until that day, I will keep working at it.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day 29: Prayer walk at the arboretum and Day 30: Finish home management binder

Day 29 was Brad's idea.  He decided early on that we should go for a prayer walk at the arboretum.  We visited the arboretum for the first time in August and loved it so much we bought a membership.  We've been looking for a chance to go back so this was perfect.  It was a bit chilly, but we bundled the boys up and set out for a nice family walk.  As we walked, Brad prayed aloud.  He told Micah what we were doing and why it was so important, then one by one he prayed for different people in our lives.  He encouraged Micah, too, to thank God for his friends and family.  We ended with a prayer for our own family.  We prayed that God would reveal himself to us and continue to lead us and show us what he wants us to do.  We prayed for the boys.  That they would grow up to love him with all of their hearts and that they would have a passion for his Word and his people.  It was a great experience, made all the better by being outside and surrounded by such beautiful creation.  I'm so glad we have this membership so that we can continue to enjoy God's creation in this way.

Day 30 was our last day (we ended a day early because of Micah's birthday and Halloween).  I finally finished my home management binder.  I finished filling in all of the paperwork and organized it in a binder.  I still have to make a cover for it, but it's definitely useable.  This is still an ongoing project, however.  As we use it more we will discover parts we need or don't need.  I will adjust it to fit what we want.  But I'm proud of the work it is right now and I'm eager to really start using it!

Well, that's it.  All of the tasks that we did for the month of October.  I'll write up a reflection soon because there was so much to process and I can't wait to share with you!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Day 27: Free day and Day 28: Read a proverb a day

We were so busy every day with our daily tasks that we decided to take a day off so day 27 was a free day and we did nothing.

Day 28 our task was to read a Proverb a day.  Brad and I know how important it is that we do some sort of daily devotional together and we go through spurts of being really good about it and being really bad about it.  Since we were trying to re-focus our whole family, we knew that we had to set an example.  It's just so hard for us to find time together to do a real devotional so we decided that we would read a Proverb every day.  There are 31 Proverbs and 31 days in the month of October so it worked out well.  We typically ended the day together reading.  It's such a nice way to end the day!  While I would love for us to start our day in this manner, it's just hard to count on it, with two unpredictable boys.  So, we make the most out of what we're given.  And we loved our time together.  I feel like our marriage is so blessed when we spend time reading Scripture together.  This is a habit we definitely have every intention of keeping, and we have currently moved on to Ecclesiastes.

Monday, November 5, 2012

6 months

This was a big month for Judah.  He has really started to come out and be more active.  He's not a passive observer anymore.  Now, he likes to be part of whatever we're doing.  He is such a smiley boy and laughs all the time.  He is very easy going, but if he doesn't like something, he'll let you know.  Judah still has a bit of a temper and if he's upset about something it doesn't take long for you to know it.  He has started to grab at everything.  If Micah has it, Judah wants it, and Micah is often willing to oblige (but it goes both ways and Micah likes to take what Judah has).  Here are some of Judah's milestones this month:

*He went to Grand Rapids with us and Mimi to see Art Prize.  Mommy wore him the entire time and he did so great!

*Judah joined us for our sixth (?) annual apple picking trip with the Lows.  The crop was terrible this year and we didn't even actually pick any apples, but we did go on the hayrack ride and played in the children's zoo.  And Judah got to watch big brother ride the moo choo train. :)

*Judah also went to a pumpkin patch.  He played in the corn pit, but was really not a fan.  Every time he touched the corn, he started to cry, but if one of us was holding him he was fine.  I'm sure that will change next year!

*We celebrated Micah's 2nd birthday with a Yo Gabba Gabba party.  Judah played in the jumper almost the entire time.  He loved people watching and was so excited to see all of big brother's new presents!

*Judah attended SHINE Fest at our church, Boo at the Zoo, and went trick-or-treating for the first time.  We didn't buy him a full costume because he's so little, but I did get him a Muno hat and mittens.  It worked out perfectly because he was so bundled up that you could really only see his head anyway.  It was chilly, but Judah loves being outside so he did great.

*We went to the Children's Museum Downtown.  This was the first time that Judah really got to play at the children's museum.  It was so neat to see him playing and interacting with the different exhibits.  I was lucky that Daddy was with us so that we could each play with one boy!

*Judah learned to roll tummy to back and he is a rolling machine!  As soon as we put him down on the floor to play, he rolls to his tummy.  If I leave him for any amount of time, he is never in the same place that I left him, he scoots and rolls all over.  He's also doing "baby push-ups."  I don't think it's going to be long before he starts getting his legs under himself and creeping on all fours.

*He also learned how to sit on his own this month.  He thinks he is such a big boy when he sits all by himself.  He's still slightly wobbly, but for the most part I am comfortable walking away from him while he is sitting.  It's obvious that a whole new world has opened up to him now that he can sit because he loves playing on the floor!

Judah is getting to become such a big boy, I cannot believe it.  We are really loving watching him grow up and just become more and more the person he was made to be, but I do wish that time would slow down.  The days go by so fast!

Annual trip to County Line Orchard with the Lows.  When we started this seven (we missed a year) years ago, there was four of us.  Wow, how we've grown!

Muno for Halloween.

Judah's first Halloween.

Playing at the Children's Museum.

In the corn pit at Konow's.

Mommy's little pumpkin!

Day 25: Clean out the kitchen and Day 26: Complete a project

The blog that I read that first inspired me to do this month has done some pretty radical cleaning out.  One thing that really got my attention was they cleaned out their entire kitchen.  They literally took everything out of their cabinets and laid it out so that they could see it all.  Then, they went through it and decided what they really needed and what they could get rid of.  Almost immediately, I knew this was something we needed to do.

We have a pretty decent sized kitchen, but I really don't like the way our cabinets space is set up.  We have a lot of drawers, which can make storing this difficult.  Also, I love to bake and host parties so we have a lot of kitchenware.  But there's also a lot of stuff that we don't use, and it was time for  us to go through it all and make that decision.  We didn't empty everything out like the blogger did (she mentioned how time consuming that was and we just didn't have the time for it), but we did go through each cabinet and got ride of several items.  The one that was hardest for me was a set of dishes.  They were cute dishes I got from IKEA years ago and like to use when I'm hosting my friends.  But the truth is I rarely use them.  Even when I'm hosting, I use my regular plates and nice serving dishes.  Plus, my taste has changed and I didn't like them as much anymore.  We also got ride of a lot of extra coffee mugs.  Brad and I don't drink coffee, although we love tea, but we had a LOT of coffee mugs.  In addition to the set of 12 that matches our everyday dishes we had probably 10 additional mugs.  Honestly, we rarely use any except for our Mickey and Minnie mugs that we got in Disney, but some of them have sentimental value, and it is nice to have some mugs for when you have guests that like coffee (or tea or hot chocolate).  We got ride of so much that we were able to condense all of our glassware onto two shelves instead of three.  Then, we moved our medicine containers (see earlier post) to the top shelf along with all of my cupcake decorating supplies (finally! a place for them!).  That left us a whole smaller empty shelf where the medicine used to be.  Of course, we have since filled it with straws and toothpicks, but I feel like my kitchen is so much less cluttered now, and I love it!  Now, my hope is that we don't try to fill it up again.

Day 26 was our last complete a project day.  Brad's project was to hang the shelf in Judah's room.  Back when it was still Micah's room, he was playing around while we were changing his diaper and he accidentally pulled it off the wall.  Ever since, it has been sitting on our dresser waiting to be re-hung.  Brad finally got around to it.  After over an hour of trying to find the right screws and dry wall anchors he finally got it on there securely.  I am so happy!  Now, his room looks a little more complete (although, if I was honest with myself I could give you a whole list of things I still want to do in both of the boys' rooms, but for now they're okay).

My project was to put together some busy bags for Micah.  Micah is a very busy little boy and he can be hard to wrangle sometimes, especially when we're in a waiting room of any kind.  I've seen so many pins about busy bags and how awesome they are I knew I wanted to make some.  I just haven't had the time.  So, I finally sat down, went through a LOT of blogs to find what I thought would work for Micah and set to work to make them.  I started with four bags, I'm hoping to add to the collection.  I made these shape builders out of pipe cleaners and straws, this pipe cleaner color match out of a puffs container (I still want to decorate the container, but it works for now), this pom pom stuffer our of poms poms and a take and toss container, and this shape/letter maker from popsicle sticks and velcro.  Micah actually has a bunch of different appointments coming up in the next few weeks so we'll get a chance to try them out.  I can't wait!

What about you?  Have you made any busy bags for your kids?  Share your favorite ideas!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Day 23: Participate in Not a Fan study and Day 24: Make a prayer picture book for Micah

For the past four weeks, our church has been participating in a church-wide study.  Through weekly small groups, Sunday sermons, daily devotional e-mails, and a weekly blog post we are reading the Not a Fan book.  When Brad and I first heard about this study we thought it was "nice," but we just didn't have time to participate.  Brad's work hours make it difficult for us to make any kind of regular commitment, plus we really hate being away from the boys on a regular basis.  So, I signed up for the weekly e-mails and called it good enough.  But a week before we started our month of re-focusing (which just happened to be the week that we really started talking about it) we watched a trailer for the study at church.  Both of us were gripped.  It seemed like this study correlated so perfectly with what we were trying to do in October.  We talked about it and decided that we could commit for six weeks.  It was obvious to me that this was something God wanted us to do as part of our month of activities.  So, even though we started the study at the beginning of the month, our task for Day 23 was to participate in Not a Fan at church.  I have to say, we loving the movie and small group discussion.  For me, personally, it has been like a punch in the gut sometimes.  God is using this study to speak to me in so many different ways.  Brad and I are both reading the book as well, but we're a bit behind.  I'm guessing that when we do truly sit down and read the book it will hit us in a new way and be the push we need to keep up all that we have learned through this challenge.

Day 24 my task was to make a prayer picture book for Micah.  A while ago I found this pin on pinterest and thought it would be great to make someday.  Micah has become more and more interested in praying for people so I thought now was the perfect time to make it.  So, I ordered some pictures of friends and family through Shutterfly and printed others off the internet of our church or organizations that we support.  I'm still working on getting them into an album, but it's definitely a work in progress, and one I'm sure we'll be using with Micah for a long time.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Day 21: Finish a project and Day 22: No TV for a week

Day 21 was another finish a project day.  I actually loved these days because stuff that needed to be done was finally getting done!  Brad's project was to organize the extra wires and cords.  You know, the camera cord, the iPod charger, the cord that you have no idea what it's for, but you're still saving it.  If you're like me you have all of these cords in one drawer and when you need one it's a big, tangled mess.  Well, I found this pin on pinterest and loved it.  So, Brad organized all of the cords for us.  Now, when we need a cord, it's nice and neat and easy to get!

My task was to organize the medicine cabinet.  Seriously, our medicine cabinet was getting out of control.  It was just a mess of pill bottles and in desperate need of some organization.  Once again, I turned to trusty pinterest and found this pin.  I bought two containers from Target and separated our medicine into two categories: preventative (vitamins mostly along with Tums and allergy medicine) and pain relief (tylenol, motrin, etc.).  The containers didn't fit into our cabinet so we did a little re-arranging when we cleaned out the kitchen (that's to come in a future post) and now they're in a different cabinet.  But it's working out great so far!

Day 22 our task was no TV for a week.  We've done this before because we felt like the TV was starting to affect Micah.  But this time it was really for everyone.  Admittedly, I got into a bad habit of letting Micah watch too much TV so that I could feed Judah or put him down for a nap.  Then, when the boys were in bed, Brad and I would veg out on the couch and watch TV for hours.  It was ridiculous.  We should have been using our time better.  Spending quality time with each other by playing games or just talking.  Many nights we go to bed and end up staying up at least another hour because we're just trying to touch base with each other.  Then, we complain about not getting to bed at a good time.  So, I tried to be really strict about keeping the TV off.  So, Brad put it downstairs in the basement for the week.  I have to be honest, we hardly missed it!  Micah did ask a couple times to "watch Boo" but then he looked at the empty space where the TV should be and went off to do something else.

We had a great week without the TV.  We went to the library and read lots of books.  We played with Micah's new train set (a LOT!).  We jumped in puddles outside and made some crafts.  Brad and I got a lot done, too.  It was a really nice week.  And I learned how to better occupy Micah while taking care of Judah.  Sometimes it was hard, but for the most part it was a pretty smooth week.  Now that the TV is back, we are really limiting Micah's TV time.  He gets to watch one show when he wakes up in the morning and one when he gets up from his nap.  It can take him a while to really wake up sometimes and he needs that slower transition.  But other than that we're encouraging a lot more play around here, and Mommy's planning a lot more crafts!  I love it because it's really quality time with my boys, which was a major goal of this month.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

I Officially Have a 2 Year Old

How can my little boy be two-years-old already?  It was just yesterday that I was in the hospital being induced.  I wish that time would just slow down.  I am trying so hard to just soak up this time with him and cherish every minute.

Micah has brought so much joy to my life.  Not a day goes by that I don't bust out laughing at something he does or says.  Watching him experience new things is so much fun.  To see the world through his eyes is just so exciting!  The world is full of possibility.  It's no wonder that Jesus told us to have faith like a child, they just accept things and love you.  It's amazing to witness.  I pray all the time that I could be more like my son.

Micah challenges me, too.  I don't mean because he throws tantrums (which he does his fair share of), but because he challenges me to step out of my comfort zone.  He literally pulls me down to the ground to play trains with him.  He brings me a book and backs himself into my lap and tells me to read.  For the thousandth time.  He stands at the door with his shoes and asks to go for a "leetle walk."  And when we go for that "leetle walk" he stops to pick up sticks or rocks or he wants to walk through a puddle.  Or he gets mad because we're not heading in the direction of the library.  But when I stop what I want to do and spend time with him the way that he wants I experience so much more of the world.  I see things differently.  I take my time.  And it makes the day so much better.  I never regret the time that I spend with him.

I cannot believe how much Micah has grown this year.  His vocabulary (I think) is quite impressive.  He can tell you exactly what he wants.  He loves to play with his toys, too.  One of my favorite things to do is to sneak up on him playing in the toy room and just watch.  He's starting to make the toys interact and I love when Mater says to "Kacow" (Lightning McQueen) " 'Lo." and Kacow responds back, "Hi!"  But, most importantly, Micah is learning about God and how much he loves him.  When I put Micah to bed he always asks to pray for specific people (usually his cousins or uncles).  At breakfast, he reminds us to read his "Veggie book." And he loves sitting in worship with us at church.  It is my prayer that Micah will continue to grow in the knowledge and love of our savior.  We have so  much to look forward to together!

November--going for a ride in the laundry basket.

December--helping Mommy decorate cookies.

January--playing in the snow...the one day we had some.
February--enjoying a day at the Shedd Aquarium.

March--watching the parade with Oma and Boompa.

April--jumping in puddles with Daddy.

May--playing in the sprinkler with Daddy.

June--picking strawberries with Mommy and Oma.

July--4th of July shaving cream painting.

August--he couldn't decide between riding the bike and pushing the cart so he did both!

September--riding the train at the farm.

October--all dressed up for Trunk-or-Treating.

Day 19: Go through books and Day 20: Go through DVDs

I desperately need to catch up, but I don't want to do too much in one post so I will just try to be more diligent about blogging.  I'm also working on a post about Micah's 2nd birthday.  Hopefully I will get that in soon, too.  Anyway...

Day 19 the task was to go through our books.  Both Brad and I really enjoy reading and we have quite the collection of books.  I remember hearing a sermon once and the pastor mentioned that what is in the center of your living room is a good reflection of what you value.  So many people have a TV in the middle of their living room and that says a lot.  Admittedly, we do have a TV in the middle of our living room, but it is surrounded by books and games.  Our entertainment center has six shelves of books filled to overflowing.  Most of the books are more reference-type books, not fiction.  We have a lot of books about ministry and Bible study as we have both served in several different leadership roles in different ministries.  I also have several books from college that I loved.  But the truth is we have a lot of books that we just will never read or never read again.  While I love Jodi Piccoult, the chances of me re-reading any of her books are very slim.  So why keep her books?  If I do ever decide to re-read one I can always get it from the library.  In fact, a couple years ago Brad and I committed to not buying any fiction books because we rarely re-read them.  We always get them from the library in order to save money.  So why were we holding on to so many books that will never be read again?  Isn't it better to share them with other people who maybe have never read them?  So, we went through all of our books and got ride of three shopping bags full of books.  This was the first time, however, that our donation did not go directly to GoodWill.  I had a bag for GoodWill, but I also gave a bag to church.  This bag had a lot of our ministry books that I think other people at church might find useful (including some books that I picked up at a Children's Ministry conference--the church may or may not have footed the bill for those books anyway...).  And the third bag was full of books to give to friends and family.  Books that I liked and thought others might enjoy reading, too.  I'm glad to get all of these books out of my house and even more excited about reading the books I haven't yet and finding new books to read now that we have more room!

Day 20 our task was similar except this time we went through our DVDs.  Since we don't have TV, Brad and I have purchased several different TV shows on DVD.  We still kept many of our collections, but a few of them we've decided we no longer enjoy so they weren't holding on to.  We didn't get rid of a lot of DVDs, but every little bit helps, and my DVD drawers actually look nice and organized now--with room for more!

I am seriously loving all of the space that I am gaining by donating so much.  And we're not missing anything that we've given up.  It's all stuff that we weren't using anyway.  A less cluttered house definitely makes a happier Mom!