Ruthless Decluttering

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

'I keep doing all this doing,
But there's nothing getting done;
Once a round of something's finished
Then another round's begun."

"I prepare and shop and cook
For meals that disappear too fast -
And I'm thinking of the next one
While I'm cleaning up the last."

"I do 20 loads of laundry,
And I get it put away,
Just to find the hamper full again
Before I end my day."

"Then I mop and dust and vacuum
Till I'm purple in the face...
So why is it that my house
Is a perpetual disgrace?"

"All my efforts just recycle
And replace and rearrange;
Nothing really gets accomplished
'Cause it's all just temporary change."

~ Lilabean: A storybook about simplicity for grown-up girls, Kate Carpenter

***

I am, officially, a ruthless de-clutterer (yes, that's a word).

I feel like I have seen the light. I just have way too much STUFF. Stuff in my house, stuff on my computer, stuff in my head. It's draining me. Sucking away precious time and energy.

The quote above (From the excellent e-book, Lilabean, which I recommend as a lovely little read) really sums up how I feel - even as a stay at home Mum. I feel like I'm on a treadmill. Every day I find myself doing the same things - and not just the things that obviously need to be done (washing, cleaning kitchen, etc) but just ... tidying. Tidying all this stuff that I can't find homes for because there's too much of it.

It makes my head hurt.

It drains my energy.

Physical clutter, at the moment, seems to represent mental clutter. All the stuff makes me feel stressed and makes my mind jump around, ticking over a constant, never-ending, always-expanding to-do list.

Too much stuff, you see. Just ... too much.

I'm still in the midst of our Bible study, Breathe, which I mentioned before. I'm learning about rest, about Sabbath, about peace (and also, funnily enough, being challenged to de-clutter, shortly after I had already resolved to do so. Maybe God thinks I need to hear this a few times before it will sink into my brain). And I realised that something really has to give here. I'm not chasing a perfect, tidy home. I am chasing sanctuary. Part of finding that peace is to do with what goes on in my mind, how to learn to let go of impossible ideals and live with a bit of chaos.

Part of it, though, is definitely physical.

All the stuff is taking up head space as well as actual space, and I've had enough.

Quoting again from the wisdom-packed Lilabean because I love it:

Her anxiety was mounting,
And compounding the attack
Was the sudden realization
Of how little she got back ...

"Simple living" she asserted,
"Is the art I need to learn..
'Cause I'm wasting time on things
That give me nothing in return."

This is how I feel. I'm fed up of being in this endless, panicky loop of Stuff Management. I have so much stuff - paperwork, books, clothes, make-up, everything - and yet, at the same time, it doesn't seem to be the right stuff. So, worrying about keeping up with everyone else, I buy more stuff on impulse, but that isn't quite right, either, so that stuff ends up laying around taking up space and being of no use to me.

I spoke before about how I'm trying to make wiser shopping choices, and I've realised this definitely is an area I need to work on. It's silly how much a new top or dress will pick me up if I'm having a self-esteem low. The thing is, I know deep down that sometimes hormones and societal pressure make me feel that I'm not good enough, but that feeling isn't permanent - but at the time, when I'm having a bad day and I feel low about myself, that not-good-enough feeling seems to be everything, and I can't escape it.

Unless I buy a quick something to make myself feel better. Especially if that thing is on sale - then I feel like I've really done something productive.

No matter how it was made and where it came from and whether or not the person who made it was fairly treated.

I'm not talking all the time. I'm not a serious shopping addict. But it happens enough to create so much stuff that I sometimes feel panicked by it.

***

I started my ruthless declutter in our wardrobe. I was hating our wardrobe. Sometimes I opened the door and I felt like it was going to swallow me whole into its chaos. So I was ruthless: anything that I don't wear is gone. Things I was holding onto pointlessly for sentimental reasons, things that I really like but just never use because they're not practical, things that I bought on impulse but that don't actually look right on me, things that suited me five years ago but don't anymore.

I made a rough estimate of how much all this excess, unused stuff is worth, and I think it's well within the region of £300. (That's just mine - before I forced asked Chris to sort his stuff out too).

£300! Spent on things that I don't even use, wear, or enjoy!

Ridiculous, isn't it? Not just ridiculous, actually - it's kind of selfish.


Main wardrobe before and after!


Side cupboard after. Picture the before as like the most mess you've ever seen, crammed into little shelves. Please excuse Jellybean investigating the coathangers.



Bye bye things.

I get the feeling that I'm not the only one who has this problem, either.

So I'm on a mission. To hold on less tightly to my things. To stop buying into the idea of quick-clothes-fixes, to realise I don't need to be cocooned in items in order to feel safe.

To create space. To create breathing room. To create Sabbath.

To create, hopefully, a less frazzled, constantly-tidying-up me.

***

I have so far decluttered five areas:

1. The cupboard under the stairs (utter chaos area, and became a necessary clean-up zone when I opened the door recently and a mop fell on me and whacked me full in the temple. Obviously this occurred whilst Jellybean was whinging and I was running late for something).

2. Our wardrobe

3. Jellybean's wardrobe

4. Our bookshelves

5. My make-up and toiletries (goodbye, seven year old eyeshadow and lipstick! Also, ew).

There are approximately seven million areas left to sort out. Or so it feels.

However.

I have noticed a few curious things since sorting out my clothes. For one thing, I feel like I have more clothes, now, not less. Maybe because I can finally see what I own? Anyway, I'm wearing different outfits and my old clothes feel a bit newer because I've rediscovered them.

Another thing is that I have less ironing to do (I HATE IRONING)

Another thing is that I find hanging my clothes up a lovely task now as opposed to an awful wardrobe-wrestling task like it was before.

I can find decent pyjamas instead of enormous old t-shirts that have holes in them.

Finding our coats is easier because we got rid of the old ones cluttering the cupboard under the stairs.

I was able to actually find the screwdriver and spare batteries in the cupboard without getting concussion.

Already I can see that having less things is creating a bit of ... wiggle room, if you see what I mean. I am appreciating what we actually own a lot more, without feeling overwhelmed by choice. When I've been shopping, too, I have noticed a change - I've found myself actually putting things back on the shelves, saying (sometimes through gritted teeth) 'I don't actually need this, I don't actually need this.'

Fancy joining me in a declutter? Let me know in the comments. Freedom from stuff! We can do this, people!

Teetering on the edge of ... something.

Monday, 16 February 2015

I'm still here! I'm finding lack of time to blog to be a problem, so I thought I'd do a quick update for you.

I am in the middle of a couple of really lovely and busy weeks. It's been about deep heart to heart conversations, loads of family time, booking our holiday (Lanzarote - eeek! Can't wait), going to see The Room at the Redgrave Theatre with the Bristol Bad Film Club (I can't say I've ever laughed, screamed and shouted so much whilst watching a movie. Also I've never lobbed handfuls of plastic spoons at the screen before), catching up with old friends that we haven't seen in a long time, playing lots of board games, jumping up and down in muddy puddles ... etc.

It's been awesome.

If a bit busy.

I am in the midst of a huge, brutal de-clutter of our house at the moment, and so it's even more chaotic than usual here. I'm also dealing with my beautiful, clever, funny daughter, who along with a huge brain boost of learning new words, has also had a huge brain boost of understanding human relations, i.e. 'how to manipulate people to get what I want.' or 'how to throw a mega tantrum when Mummy says no to something'.

She is very strong willed, my daughter. When she wants something, she wants it. NOW.

But she's very cute.

Still, it's definitely a blessed time (yes, I used the B word. I think it's appropriate here). I look at my clever, crazy child sometimes and she literally takes my breath away - as in, for a moment, I forget to inhale. I'm almost shocked by how much I love her. I'm also feeling a real, deep appreciation for my family. When I see Jellybean jumping in puddles with Nanny, or sitting on her Granddad's lap eating chocolate buttons and reading stories, I feel these huge surge of joy in my heart, along with a bit of desperation. Like, 'I want this moment to last forever.'


And I miss my Grandparents.

I'm so happy Jellybean has hers.

Anyway, I'm writing this on paper right now. Mad red pen scribbles on a piece of A4 paper, standing next to the hob as a saucepan of cabbage spits and hisses at me, their leaves all glossy, the smell of garlic wafting up. I am finding time for what I love, just about, but for once my priorities are right. I have to be flexible, weaving writing in and out of all the other life things that happen. Making the less important things squeeze up a bit to make more time for people. And more time for God. More time for Sabbath. More rest - real rest.

Please, Lord, more Sabbath.


(Funnily enough I stopped writing here to sit down, rest, and eat dinner).

(Also I can't stop staring at that dude on the back of our cereal box, I've never noticed him before).

I feel that I am teetering on the edge of ... something. But I'm not sure what it is. Chris and I keep talking about our faith and what it really means. We talk about action and deeds, society, faith, salvation, Christian culture. That makes us sound all deep and thoughtful, but that's not really true. I take lots of attempts to get to what I really want to say. We waffle a lot and get distracted. We talk whilst feeding Jellybean and washing up and shuffling cards and stuff. Our chats can be disjointed but we carry them on later, which is nice.

Anyway, I'm fed up of getting tied up in knots over little things. You know? I've noticed it sometimes in Christian culture. We (and please understand I include myself in this) get so hung up on little issues that we forget about the big ones that we're supposed to be doing something about. And we get so caught up in society that says 'me, me, me, everything for me and everything about me.'

I feel like my life should look really different than this.

You know, if I really appreciated, deep down, what Jesus has done.

If I really did what He did.

If I really loved people like He did.

My life would look so different.

I would be so different.

Christians get a pretty bad rep sometimes through The Media and stuff, but you know, Jesus was so not as He's painted to be sometimes. He's ... counter-cultural. Caring beyond surface level. Incredibly just. He defended the weak and helpless, befriended the social outcasts, ate meals with known sinners. He didn't try and climb the social/religious 'ladder' of the day. In fact, He kind of despised all that. All the rituals and the niceties and the desperate concern for looking good to others.

He was shocking to people.

I want to do what He did. As in, the stuff He told us to do and then did it Himself to be an example. The caring. The standing up for people that need help. The desperate concern for the state of the world.

Action, that's what it was. It was words, and then action.

If I really did as He did, my life would look different, for sure.

I love my life. I've been blessed down to my bones. I've been looking back on where I've been and how much I've changed and I feel gratitude like a little explosion somewhere in my stomach: woah. I forgot I used to feel that way. I forgot I used to do that. I forgot that I was that weak, that cowardly, that afraid.

I still am, obviously, as far as I've come, I'm nowhere near perfect. I still remain, sometimes, in some ways, weak and cowardly and afraid. But I don't feel so ashamed of it anymore. I feel liberated. I have issues, but they're not going to defeat me. And actually, I can come along with baggage and issues and Jesus will accept me anyway.

Baggage and issues don't make us exempt from being able to work.

Not for salvation. My salvation is done and paid for. But ... for love. Why should I live in my blessed bubble and not care about anyone else? That's not the way I want to live. My time on Earth should count. Not in a big, show-offy way. I don't think I'll ever be well-known or do anything wild or dangerous like travel across the world and evangelize or anything. I've never been on missions like most of my church friends have. In fact I've never been to a big Christian conference, either. Don't tell anyone, I might get exiled.*

*That is obviously a joke.

I don't know. I just know that I feel conviction stirring in me. Jellybean does this thing right now where she grabs my hand and leads me somewhere, and she's actually really strong for a little person. You have to go where she's leading you.

That's what it feels like. This conviction feeling.

It keeps cropping up. Similar themes. Of conversation and things I read. I opened up my Bible today and found a post-it note stuck in a page with a highlighted passage (and I have highlighted it for you like it is in my Bible):

"Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter - 
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and He will say:
Here am I.

If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves on behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday."

~ Isaiah 58:6-10

Really this is the kind of thing that Christians like to highlight because it makes you feel all inspired and fired up, but WOW, that's hit me today. 

Teetering on the edge, of something. I don't know what.

Maybe I just need to kind of jump and see what happens.

***

Sorry for the wiffle waffles, this is one of the most rambling self-indulgent posts I've written in a while. It just helps to get my thoughts down, I guess. And out there, because it's harder to ignore things once you've said them to other people ;)

I'm reading two completely different but equally awesome books at the moment that I can't wait to write about soon. I'm also really desperate to make my blog look a bit nicer but with no idea where to start. Also, I've got some more specific posts lined up ready to go. So hopefully there will be lots coming up soon.

Thank you for listening as always!

Abel and Cole - a review

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Bit of a review today. I've been trying to be more aware of what I'm putting into my body - I've been stuffing my face with junk food recently, and I'm tired, lethargic, and achy pretty much all the time. Part of the lethargy I think is due to a bit of worry and lack of sleep, but still, the junk food doesn't help. So I've been trying to make changes for the health of our family. Which means cutting down on processed food, and eating more fresh things.

Yesterday, a very nice man delivered this to my house:


Yes, I have signed up to Abel and Cole. Again. Before I carry on with this post I should say that I am not in any way affiliated with them, I just ... like their fruit and veg. ;)

I have been using Abel and Cole to get fruit and vegetables delivered on and off for the past year. I started looking into it when I wanted to wean Jellybean. I felt mildly concerned about pesticides sprayed on fruit and veg I buy from the supermarket. I also felt it would be nice to support farmers, and it felt like a slightly more ethical choice than buying from supermarkets.

On the downside, it's more expensive. Not massively, but it's definitely a more expensive way of shopping when you don't have the option to buy things that are yellow-stickered or on a two for £3 offer. That is why I haven't been using it constantly: it's just a bit too expensive for us on weeks when we have a really low budget for food.

I have been trying, though. I've been mulling over the choices I make with my shopping and where I spend my money, and it's throwing up some challenging questions about whether I really understand where my money goes and whether I am supporting the right people. But more on that another time.



Jellybean obviously had to get involved the moment she saw a tomato. Seconds later, she took a huge bite out of one of them. 


Loads of fruit this time (and a couple of beetroots sneaking amongst them)

If you sign up for a weekly box, you just get the one box packed carefully with your produce, which they either give to you in person or leave somewhere safe (which you arrange with the driver). I had extra boxes this time because I ordered extra stuff, as Abel and Cole have an online store with interesting storecupboard food as well as fresh things.

What I like about Abel and Cole is that you can skip weeks, and skip individual items if you don't want them. Or, you can remove items altogether (they know, for example, never to send me mushrooms). This is quite handy because some weeks I might have carrots or potatoes already and don't need more arriving in my box, so I can skip those items and they will replace it with something else instead.

This is what we got in a medium fruit and veg box:


In the brown bags are potatoes (they send potatoes every week unless you've skipped them) and Jerusalem artichokes, which look like this:


Sort of like ... potatoes, crossed with ginger.

I have no idea what to do with them.


But, when you sign up to Abel and Cole for the first time, they send you a free book, which has recipes for all the fruit and veg they might send you (even the really weird ones). They also explain how to prepare them and what they go well with.


Plus they send you recipe cards every week in the box, too.


They also send lots of free stuff. To entice me back, they sent me a free bottle of olive oil and a teatowel this time (I am a sucker for freebies).

But in the time I used them, they sent me, as a random free gift, marmalade, a loaf of bread, another bottle of olive oil, a second pot of marmalade (!) and lots of little fresh things snuck into the box: chillis, bits of fresh horseradish, or lemons. So they're pretty generous in that respect.


I ordered some extra bits too: bulgar wheat (no idea how to cook that) polenta (again ... no idea) and a couple of packs of dried beans (those I know how to cook). Also rapeseed oil because I keep hearing things about how good and healthy it is.

I also ordered:


Yes. I know. Tofu. A lot of people I know hate it. But, I'm going to try it.


The other fruit and veg box company I've heard of is Riverford, but I chose Abel and Cole because they had the ability to skip things, which was important to my mushroom-hating self.

I feel mixed things about a fruit and veg box: I like the idea of eating seasonal, fresh, organic produce. As I get older (and more boring) these things become more important to me. However, you can't really cheat with a veg box: you need to cook and eat it all, which means you need to be prepared for lots of home cooking.

I won't get it every week purely for budget reasons. But, so far, I've been really happy with them.

Plus, their produce is seriously tasty - their apples are so good!

Have you tried a fruit and veg box? What did you think? Also, what the heck am I going to do with tofu?! Comments much appreciated :)

Country kids - trees, sticks, and freezing cold toes

Saturday, 7 February 2015

We took Jellybean to the woods for the first time this week.


My lovely Father-in-law has lent me his amazing Canon DSLR for a little while, which is awesome as I haven't used a proper camera for ages.

I got to capture Jellybean's awed face as she stared up at the big trees (not putting that on here, sadly, because I'm still a bit iffy about putting up photos that show her face). I love seeing the world through here eyes - everything is fascinating to her, and it makes me appreciate everything a lot more.


She loved it. She admired leaves and sticks.



She chilled out on a tree stump.


She was fascinated by the tree stumps actually. She wanted to go back and look at this one again when we started walking away from it.


I admired her cute little shadow.


And photographed the beautiful trees.

There's something about bare trees that I really like. Bold, strong lines in the landscape. Love it.

Unfortunately we only stayed for about twenty minutes because our toes started going numb. Also unfortunately, I am having a bad attack of my trigeminal neuralgia at the moment, partly due to my (foolish) drop in medication, and partly because the cold sets it off. Bah. I hate being indoors all the time, and I feel a bit guilty that Jellybean has to stay in with me. Desperate for spring to arrive now so we can get out and explore more. And desperate for our holidays to come this year so we can explore new places with her.

Still ... I'm trying to enjoy the moment. I have to admit, it's quite nice looking at these pictures in my pyjamas, tucked up in my bed at half past ten in the morning ;)

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

I have linked this post to the Country Kids linky on the awesome Coombe Mill blog - for more outdoor ideas for kids from other bloggers, you should click the picture above!


The Sabbath

Friday, 6 February 2015

Recently, I have been thinking and learning a lot about rest.

This is the Bible study that we have started - Breathe, by Priscilla Shirer. When I first picked up this tiny book, I thought: Yes. This is going to be easy. It's so small! And she even prints the Bible verses in the book so I don't have to do constant Bible-page-flicking like I've done with previous studies.

Yes, I am lazy.

I am also wrong.



It's not easy. It's not easy at all. In fact, it's so hard-hitting that sometimes I have to put down the book and just ... exhale. Practically every sentence she writes seems to describe the way I live: busy constantly in my mind, always cluttered, plagued with guilt, never resting.

Rest. Sabbath.

The only thing I really knew about Sabbath is the basics: that Sunday should be a day of rest. No shopping, no working, etc. I always thought of the Sabbath as a kind of old-fashioned principle, because not a lot of Christians that I know follow it to the letter. I mean, how many people in my church spend Sunday evenings ironing uniforms and packing lunches? A lot. Because they have to. There's no time.

There's no time.

I've been thinking a lot about guilt recently and how it holds me back. I'm writing a post about it which I will finish at some point. There just seems to be a lot of pressure in our society. Especially as women. We have rich opportunities in our country. We can work in whatever field we want. We can excel in both career and family life. We can have it all. I see people carving paths for themselves as writers or vloggers or illustrators or artists purely through the internet. There's just ... endless knowledge there, and endless possibilities.

We have to work hard.

This is the thing, we have to work hard. It's not necessarily because everyone is striving for an amazing promotion or anything. It's more - societal pressure. How much can you fit in? How many activities can you take your child to? How many places can you go? How much can you do outside of work? How many people can you meet up with? How many enriching activities can you squeeze in for yourself? How many connections can you make on social media? This is kind of a good thing - it's good to have variety, it's good to love life, it's good to see the world and be with people - but it becomes something else, eventually. Society tells us we need to be busy to have a 'full' life.

But where is the chance to stop?

To rest?

To be still?

There isn't. Even with me, as a stay at home Mum. The only reason I'm writing this right now is because I'm having a bad attack of my trigeminal neuralgia and I've had to up the dose of my medication,and they're making me feel so spaced out I can't move very much. I am bound to the sofa.

Otherwise I'd be moving. I'd be cleaning or job hunting or sorting or cooking or something. I can't stop. Guilt holds me back. Because I feel I need to be busy. I feel a twinge of guilt, too, when Jellybean spends the day pottering around with me while I tidy up and try and keep on top of my hideous laundry situation. What does she get from that? I feel bad that we're not swimming or learning Makaton or something.

The thing is - she is learning. She's learning every day. She learns from me. She watches me and copies me. She sweeps up using the broom like I do. She strums the ukulele like Daddy does. She tries to put eyeshadow on her face because she's watched me put my make-up on (I put it on my eyelids, by the way. She seems to think eyeshadow looks good on her cheeks. And her chin.)


And her dolly.

She watches.

Does she see me rest?

Resting, I've come to realise, is not really about what you're doing, but more about the state of your mind. I am constantly busy in that sense. Things tick over in my brain all the time. I don't have room to just enjoy what's happening right now. I don't have room, even, for God.

Which is terrible.

The Sabbath is way more important than I thought. Did you know that God created rest? 'On the seventh day, He rested, and looked over at all He had done'. I always thought the rest part was an afterthought. I live my life, in fact, like rest is an afterthought. 'I'll relax, but only when I've done everything.'

Not so. God tells us rest is actually essential.

God didn't need to rest. But He did.

Why?

Maybe because He knows we need to do the same?

Maybe something about resting - stopping, pausing, creating peace in your life - is actually fundamental to the way we live?

Maybe it's more than an afterthought. Maybe it's key.

The thing is, the Sabbath is more than just a Sunday. It's a principle that we can apply to every area of life. What is crowding out God? What is becoming more important than Him, than anything else? How can I make space to just breathe?

Church is different for us now, on a Sunday. The mornings are busy as we get ourselves and Jellybean ready. During worship, I chase around after her as she enjoys the space of the church. In the sermon, I sit in the back and try to listen as she plays with the toys and brings me things to look at. Sometimes I am on Sunday School and have to get there early and bring things and help to set things up and try and make videos work to show the kids. Sometimes Chris is in charge of the camera during the sermon. That is church now, for us. That's just the way it is. And that's fine - that's part of having a small child. It's still important to go. It's still important not to miss it.

I do feel relief, still, when I walk into that building and see those people. I am aware that I need it, I need them.

But our Sundays don't look like the Sabbath I sometimes imagine.

I'm learning, though, that the Sabbath is a principle I can apply to every area of my life. In Breathe, Shirer writes:

'Somehow our culture has caused us to believe that busier is better. We've become unknowingly convinced that taking time to create rest and tranquillity means we are unfit, weak, or incompetent. We've reject the art of saying 'no' without guilt or regret. We've fallen prey to the myth that if we don't have as much or don't do as much as others, then we're somehow not valuable.'

Which sums me up, really.

I feel like I live in this tension. Between wanting to strip everything back and say 'enough', and wanting to gather more and more. More stuff. More money. More experiences. More things. More people. More.

I really want to listen to that voice that says 'enough is enough'.

Shirer also says this:

We have to know when we've worked enough, tried enough, gathered enough, purchased enough, said enough, stored enough, kept enough, created enough, produced enough, generated enough, consumed enough, laboured enough, expended enough, spent enough. Somebody has got to say 'ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.'

And now the word 'enough' no longer makes sense to me because I typed it so much.

But do you see? I'm so busy, all the time. When I'm with Jellybean, I'm thinking constantly, ticking over scenarios in my head that might not even happen. When I'm with Chris, I'm trying to just be with him, but the temptation of picking up my phone and flicking through Twitter is really strong. When we eat dinner, we rush. Thinking of the next thing. Thinking of bathtime and getting Jellybean to bed.

I can't remember the last time we ate a meal slowly and savoured it. The last time I laid the table nicely just for the sake of it, just for us. The last time we lingered over our meal and savoured both the food and our time with each other.

I can't remember the last time I just spontaneously prayed. The last time I felt prompted to pray for someone out of the blue.

I'm blocking out my loved ones, with this busyness. I'm blocking out God. And I'm gaining nothing by my frantic collecting of things and money and experiences.

Maybe the Sabbath isn't just about cutting back on certain things (although that is important). Maybe it's about my attitude. It's about making space, on whatever day of the week, to be calm. To be still. It's about having pockets of time in which nothing else matters but God. Nothing else matters but my loved ones who are with me.

'Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God brought you out of there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. That is why the Lord your God has commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.' - Deut 5:12-15

That is the point of having Sabbath. Is it not? To remember God. To rest in His presence. To reflect upon all He has done. And sometimes, I forget what I've been freed from. When I forget what He's done, I become very ego-centric. My mind is filled with thoughts of things that will benefit me and me only.

When I stop to remember all He has done, I am floored and humbled and amazed again. Because believe me, He has freed me from some stuff I wouldn't wish upon anyone.

I need to make gaps in which to just remember.

I need to make space to breathe.

I need to make time - proper, uninterrupted, focused time - for my husband and child.

I need to rest.

***

I have written about this subject before - here I talk about turning off all the noise of modern life, and here I talk about truly resting (which, funnily enough, I wrote a couple of days before we started our study, which is all about rest). It turns out, slowing down - stopping - is actually incredibly difficult and is something I'm obviously wrestling with right now.

Sorry for all the waffle, just getting things straight in my head. Expect more posts about this soon. Do you feel tired and burnt out by modern life? Comments are appreciated as always :)

Photography challenge, week 5 - lifestyle

So, I've decided to try and join in with Mummy B's weekly photography challenge. This is especially interesting to me having borrowed my Father-in-law's camera, so I've been playing around with that.

Anyway, the photo I have chosen is this one:


At the moment, I am having an attack of TN (click here if you don't know what I'm on about!) and the cold seems to trigger it. I'm having to stay inside. In my attempt to make life more interesting for my lovely daughter, we've played with everything - toys, messy play, colouring, dancing .. you name it.

So it makes my house look like a tip.

But ... that kind of sums up our life right now! :)


Sticker books: the stuff of nightmares

Monday, 2 February 2015

We recently bought our daughter a Peppa Pig sticker book.


This is partly because she is obsessed with Peppa, and partly because I am obsessed with looking up 'travelling with toddler' tips on Pinterest in preparation for our holiday this year (you know, the one I haven't actually booked. Argh) and every pin I see suggests that stickers are the ultimate tool for parents trying to keep small children occupied on planes.

I have become somewhat obsessed with the idea of buying sticker books. So we bought one. To, you know, test it.

Initially I was in my element because as a kid, I flipping loved sticker books. I had a kind of grave responsibility about me when I had a new sticker book. Must put them in the right place, must put them in the right place. However, I forget that I am parenting a destructive toddler and not a quiet, careful primary-school aged child.

OH THE CHAOS.


George Pig seems quite happy in spite of his impending suffocation due to the enormous crack in his space helmet.

She just doesn't get the concept that once the sticker is on, it's on, and you can't peel it off again. Or rather, you can, but it will rip. Jellybean doesn't really mind them ripping though. She says 'Uh oh!' merrily whilst discarding half of Danny Dog's face over her shoulder. You remember that scene from Toy Story 3 when the toys are left in the toddler room at the nursery and nearly get destroyed? It's a bit like that.


The only page that remains unscathed. Because the stickers are too fiddly to peel off.

We have finished putting the stickers in now. And she's still obsessed with it. You're supposed to make up your own stories, which is, er, interesting.


The only story I can possibly tell on the Dinosaur Park page is one of unspeakable horror.

She also likes to stick all the stickers on the same spot, causing them to become permanently welded together:


This one isn't too bad, but ...


ARGH!!! WHY???

Now, whenever Jellybean drags out the sticker book, I literally have to bite my lip to stop my OCD side from screaming. However, the sticker book does achieve this:


That's right. That's a seventeen month old. Looking at a book. Not running around the house. Not demanding chocolate or bananas or television. Not trying to put her hands on the hot radiator or her fingers in plug sockets. Not trying to climb the stairs or empty my kitchen cupboards.

Just sitting. By herself. Reading.

Which definitely makes the sticker ruining worth it.

Parents of toddlers: sticker books! They are the future! Just get used to finding half bits of stickers all over your floor.
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