One of the things I have done over the years that has added immense value to me is to regularly document our family life. The benefits include: a succinct way to organize photos and memories, a digital scrapbook/record book of daily life that will be archived in a way that brings our entire family joy when they look back at it, and a momentary pause for me to make some deeper connections between the day to day details of life and larger themes of God’s goodness and faithfulness. (That last one there is basically the equivalent of therapy for me!) Finally, documenting in this way also motivates me to make sure we are planning our days, weeks, and months with something worth documenting–not just for the photo ops but mostly so we don’t let too much time go by without intentionally seeking out fun and family time.
The years I have practiced this (2015, 2017, 2019—okay, noted that I tend to follow an every other year, or odd year pattern) have been noticeably good years, not because of all of the things we do are good, but because this writing and reflecting allows me to sift the good from the hard in a mentally and emotionally productive way. I plan to do this monthly; without further explanation, here’s what we have been up to in January thus far.
We returned from our Chattanooga/Cleveland Christmas travels on NYE and settled in for several days to reset the house and pack up and put away all of the Christmas decorations. We found places for our gifts, tidied up several areas of the house, refilled the fridge, and got prepared for the kids going back to school…virtually. There has been lots of coffee in its various forms. And we have put some systems in place to cultivate good habits.
Speaking of school… Thankfully, our kids’ schools have been able to remain in person the entire first semester. They have been virtual these first three weeks of January with an expected return to in person on Monday, January 25. In my opinion it hasn’t been too terrible. The schools did great communicating expectations and getting families set up with needed materials. With the ages of our kids, we have been thankfully, pretty hands-off. The slower mornings have been nice, but there has been an unpredictable amount of idle time between class meetings and some inconsistency with teachers’ engagement and assignment workload. Everyone is doing their best and we have tried to all maintain and grace-filled and low-key optimistic outlook.
I know the kids are all missing their friends and the nice break out of the house going to school each day affords them. I have been thrilled to have everyone home and tried to manage my (now) routines and work while also keeping them fed and organized. In the few short months they have all been at school, it’s almost as if I forgot that I did this for eight years homeschooling. (*Hank and Maggie have been THRILLED to have the siblings home all day to keep them covered in snuggles, scratches, and kisses!)
Friends and Fellowship:
Despite the pandemic going on, we have tried to maintain some level of hanging out with our people. I feel like we have needed this now, maybe more than ever. The kids are pretty plugged in with the Crossroads Youth group and lots of friends they have made from chapel, Bible study, and around the neighborhood. We have had a few groups over to the house for a meal.
This has been a shifting season for our family in that Ryan and I do a lot of fellowshipping and socializing in our own groups (deployed spouses group, newly attending Crossroads preaching team, and OCF) and the kids have their stuff. We are finding it rare that we are all together as a family within larger group settings. I guess this is all part of letting them grow up.
Around the House:
Mostly, though…we have just spent a lot of time around the house doing those mundane January things. Trying to balance hibernation mode with moving our bodies and engaging our minds.
Donating things to Goodwill-clearing physical and mental clutter. Watching family movies. Burning new candles. Taking walks in the freezing cold. Looking up at the big, blue, winter sky. Going to bed at unreasonably early times–and thankfully sleeping all night and waking feeling rested. Letting in the daylight. Doing our second murder mastery box. Making Ryan stratas for his lunch.
Crafting–making polymer clay earrings. Upcycling a thrifted wreath and making something pretty for my front door. Upcycling a stool from a neighborhood curb alert. Looking for creative ways to transform things and make art. At home fitness. Weights. Stretching. Strength. Flexibility. Cooking three meals a day. Breathing in the cold air. Blue skies. Empty tree branches and seeing the sky from a clear vantage point but also eagerly awaiting spring blooms and fully covered trees in summer. A laughable threat of snow. Trips to the grocery store to keep the hungry teenagers fed.
This may seem like a weird category to include but for me it’s kind of like a time capsule–a very vulnerable one. These are the things I have screenshot throughout the month. These are usually memes, information, or personal reminders that resonate with me. Things that I will send or share with only a few close people who I know will receive them in the spirit I have intended them. (That said, I may or may not continue to include these throughout the year.) It’s a mashup of funny and irreverent…somewhat political…good words…truth telling…and possibly some weird things I’ve googled, stories I’ve read, or new information to investigate further.
Alright, that’s a wrap for this month’s update. What have you been up to? What’s going on in your world?