Wednesday, 31 August 2011

New month, new challenge

Our 30 day habit challenge has ended. For those who joined in, how did you do? Have you created a new habit, a new "just what you do" in your life?

For myself, I can't call this month a habit-forming success. Two weeks of family vacations were not terribly conducive to creating habit. Integrating habit into your everyday routine is difficult to do when your typical routine has gone out the window, replaced by long days spent at the beach and late evenings spent playing games and talking with loved ones.

I am not, however, going to call the past month a complete failure, either. I did discover a way to read the Bible notation-free, I learned that habit formation is best done within typical routine, and I did get more Bible reading done than I would have had I not been attempting this challenge. While it might not be a resounding success, I'll take what I can from the experience.

Tomorrow is a new month and, with summer quickly coming to an end, another chance to spend 30 days developing a new habit. As with last month, I want to invite you to join in. Pick a new habit and just do it consistently for the next 30 days, until it's simply "what you do", an easy part of your daily routine.

I am going to tackle, once again, spending focused time with God, with a particular emphasis on reading Scripture. August was a decent start, but if there is any one habit I want (and need) in my life right now, it is this one. With our typical routine once again in place this month, I can work towards making this habit a natural part of that.

Will you be joining us in September? If so, what challenge have you chosen to take on for the next 30 days?

Wordless Wednesday: Extreme sports


Monday, 29 August 2011

Children's Book Review: Sounds of the Ferry




Title: Sounds of the Ferry
Author: Sara Leach
Publisher: Poppy Productions
Published: May 1, 2011
Paperback: 32 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9782818-2-3




From the Publisher

Following up on their best-selling adventures in "Mountain Machines", author Sara Leach and illustrator Steven Corvelo board a ferry to explore the sounds and sights of a sea voyage. Full of detail, recurring characters and colorful marine life, this rhyming picture book takes children aged two to six on an entertaining ferry ride full of things that churn, hum, hiss, roar, groan, zip, screech, splash and clang - lots of fun!

My Review

I was born on Vancouver Island but grew up in the prairies. We spent our summers driving back to the coast, and my favourite part was always the ferry. I loved the long wait, the thrill of driving on board, the bellowing horn as it pulled away from shore. I loved the slide and toy boats. I loved the gift shop and the pens they sold with the floating boat the glided from end to end as you tipped it. I loved the rare glimpses of seals or other ocean life. I loved the way the ferry rocked back and forth - sky, sea, sky, sea, sky, sea. I loved the smell. The wind. The mist. I loved it all, and I love that I now get to share the experience with my own children as we travel between the island and the mainland.

Author Sara Leach captures that joy perfectly in her book Sounds of the Ferry. From the cars driving aboard (ca-chunk, ca-chunk) to the three chiming bells signaling arrival, the entire ferry experience is laid out through its many sounds. The rhyming prose is delightful and the illustrations are excellent. It was particularly fun to watch the characters throughout their journey. The boy enjoyed the activity at the back of the book, prompting readers to go back and find certain pictures in the story. Fun from start to finish!

Buy It!

You can purchase a copy of Sounds of the Ferry at Chapters or directly from the author's website.


(This is an unpaid review. I received a complementary copy of the author's book in order to provide my honest review of it. I receive no compensation for any sales made as a result of this review.)

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Weekend Reading


Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Wordless Wednesday: New rainboots!



Thank you, Auntie Sarah and Auntie Katie!



(Boots purchased from Paint Your Boots.)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Lessons from the journey (a four-year blogiversary)

Today marks four years since the creation of The Hippie Housewife blog. Happy blogiversary to me!

Four years ago, I realized that I don't wanna go through life simply accepting the most common decision as the only option. I want my choices to be informed and deliberate. And so began a journey, a journey that has taught me a few lessons so far, a journey that has no end in sight because it is the journey itself that matters most anyway.

Know where you're heading

When I first started The Hippie Housewife, I included the tagline "...leaving the mainstream behind." It was, at the time, a very accurate description. I was walking away from the unquestioning path of just doing what was normal and expected.

Over time, though, I learned that walking away from something wasn't enough. You have to know where you're heading instead. Thus began a more focused leg of the journey. I dropped the tagline and began heading towards something: an intentional life. These past few years have been a journey intended to lead me towards a more intentional way of living.

There is only this moment

While having a purpose and direction is good, it is the moments themselves that matter. A life spent living from one moment to the next cannot co-exist with a life of past regrets or future worries. My journey towards a more intentional life has forced me to choose between the two, and I choose the former: I choose a life of presence and gratitude over regret and worry.

There is only this moment.

Every moment presents a choice.

Those choices shape our character.

I am in this moment and it is all I have. What can I do to bring peace in this moment? How can I fill this moment with joy - or find the joy already present in it? What can I do in this moment to live the life I desire to live, to be the person I desire to be?

Shape your habits

But living every moment with intention is exhausting, if not impossible. Being continually aware of what you are thinking and doing and saying is hard! Which has lead me to what I believe to be the foundation of an intentional life: habit.

"...whether you choose or no to take any trouble about the formation of habits, it is habit, all the same, which will govern ninety-nine one-hundredths of [one's] life. We are all mere creatures of habit. We think our accustomed thoughts, make our usual small talk, go through the trivial round, the common task, without any self-determining effort of will at all. If it were not so––if we had to think, to deliberate, about each operation of the bath or the table––life would not be worth having; the perpetually repeated effort of decision would wear us out. But, let us be thankful, life is not thus laborious. For a hundred times we act or think, it is not necessary to choose, to will, say, more than once.
Charlotte Mason, Volume 1: Home Education, page 110

Like it or not, our lives are governed by our habits. The habits that already exist in our lives are often the things that are most detrimental to living an intentional life. But if we intentionally create desired habits in our lives, we will have created sustainable change.

Habits are created through doing. Pick a new habit and just start doing it, consistently, until it's simply "what you do". Once the habit has become an easy part of your daily routine, move on to the next habit. In this way, you will have created intentional, sustainable change in your life, one habit at a time.

Continuing the journey

These are the lessons I have learned thus far: Have a purpose and work towards it through the development of intentional habits. But this is only one stretch of my journey. There is so much more to learn on this path towards a more intentional life. I look forward to those lessons, knowing they will come in their own way and at the right time. In the meantime, I will continue towards my destination, seeking to live in the moment through the deliberate creation of habits.

What have the past few years meant to you? Where has your journey taken you? What lessons have you learned along the way? I'd love for you to share a few words with us!

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Undone

Sometimes the wonder of it all completely unravels me.

I watch as the boy puts a comforting arm around his little brother. I love his sweet spirit. He's getting so big, looking so grown up, all long bony limbs that somehow still fit just right when he curls up on my lap. I never know where our conversations will take us next and am I saying the right things, answering him well?

The toddler grins with wild joy as he wrestles with his big brother. I love that grin, so unrestrained and carefree. He looks older every day and where has my baby gone? In his place is this toddler who laughs and laughs over the littlest things, delighting in making others laugh along with him. And I do, I laugh. How could I not?

They laugh at each other and help each other and love each other and yes, fight with each other, but oh, they adore each other. I watch them grow and it's not the growth that brings tears to my eyes, but them, oh them. They are so very alive and the simple fact of their existence seems nearly magical.

What am I to do with these two little lives? The wonder, the responsibility, the indescribable joy and fear. Some days I feel barely more than a child myself, an imposter in this grown-up's body, and here I am to raise these boys into men who live and love and hopefully don't need too much therapy?

I am woefully inadequate and embarrassingly imperfect. Some days I feel anything but gentle. Some days I yell and they cry and when my sweet little boy comes up to me and tells me I'm sorry, Mommy, for making you mad, my heart splits straight down the middle and it is me, all me, who should be apologizing. We pray together and I add my own silent ending, begging that these are the moments he remembers most of all - not that I yelled, but that I asked his forgiveness.

But I cannot live in the past, with its regrets, nor in the future, with its worries. There is only this moment and in it I can choose to bring peace, to speak kindness, to encourage, to love, to find joy. And they fill it with such joy when I have the eyes to see.

Maybe that is the answer. May I always have the eyes to see this joy, even when patience wears thin and body cries out for sleep and self becomes too preoccupied with Self. Even then, there is joy. Joy drawing from gratitude, and gratitude drawing from the awareness that all of this - all of them - is a precious gift.

May I always have the eyes to see.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Notation-free Bible reading

One of my biggest frustrations when reading Scripture has always been the notations. I find footnotes, cross-references, and even verse numbers to be distracting when I'm reading large portions of Scripture (although, of course, they are very useful for more in-depth Bible study). It feels to me as though they break up the text, inserting unnatural pauses and distracting from the bigger picture. The English Standard Version (ESV) in particular, my preferred translation, includes an enormous number of footnotes and cross-references; I often give up and revert back to the relatively-less annotated NIV translation when reading long passages.

Since beginning the 30-day Scripture reading challenge, I have found myself using BibleGateway.com more often than usual in order to get my daily reading in when I can. (Whose bright idea was it to start the challenge on the first day of our two-week family vacation, anyway? Oh right, it was mine.) As my eyes started swimming at the sheer number of extra characters on the screen, I started to wonder...

...And sure enough, you can make BibleGateway.com notation-free with just a few quick clicks. The joy!

Chances are you already knew this. If not, and if you too find the extra verses, footnotes, and cross-references to be a distraction when reading large portions of Scripture, then read on!

Here we are, Romans 2, ESV, on BibleGateway.com. Oh, the annotations! The distractions! How can anyone get through this?


Easy, nearly-smacks-you-in-the-face fix. Click on the Page Options button beside the translation selection.


Choose your options. I removed footnotes, cross-references, and verse numbers. I left the headings because I don't find them distracting, and I turned on red letters because I was raised with a red-letter Bible and I like it. Even though, of course, Romans contains no red letters.


VoilĂ ! Notation-free Bible reading. Ahhhh, so much easier on the eyes.


Now what to do about my two more noisy Bible-reading distractions...hmmm. I don't suppose any has discovered a mute option on children, eh?

Monday, 15 August 2011

Be kind

After all these years online, it still never fails to shock me that people can use such cruel, mocking, and biting words when hidden behind the anonymity of a computer screen.

Things that would never be said to another's face are gleefully shared through email, on Facebook, in forums, and on blogs, sometimes masked behind motives of being "direct" and "for your own good" while other times unabashedly mean-spirited. The venomous words seem to flow even more freely when the writer knows he or she won't have to be held accountable for them by anyone they know. As much as I seek to avoid it, it seems that I stumble across this sort of thoughtlessness and cruelty every day. Some days I want to leave the online world altogether; I do not want to become hardened to such unkindness.

Why do we tear one another down this way? My heart sinks at the spiteful words I read, at the assumptions and accusations, at the judgment and derision. I wonder at the way a person can take the actions and beliefs of another, exaggerate them to the extreme, and then mock them mercilessly. I am saddened by the lack of love, the determination to tear down, and the pride.

Woman against woman. Mother against mother. Person against person. Who needs persecution or oppression when we will so freely tear down our own?

I know I cannot change the heart of another. I can only examine my own heart, my own words. What pride do I harbor? What assumptions and judgments do I make? Do I use my own words to build up and encourage, or to tear down and belittle?

Every moment presents a choice, and those choices shape us. There is only this moment, and in it I must choose. What will I think? say? do? How will I have spent it when it passes by? What can I do in this moment to be the person I desire to be?

Not only before I speak, but before I write, I must be sure my words are true, useful, encouraging, kind, and gentle. Even if I think no one I know will read them, I am responsible and accountable for my words.

May I take this opportunity to say thank you, my dear readers, for your own kind and uplifting words? I am grateful that this space has always been free of mocking and unkindness. Even where you have disagreed with me, you have said so respectfully, and you have allowed me the courtesy of dialogue to better understand where the other is coming from. You have given me encouragement, perspective, accountability, and cause to continue writing.

I am glad you are here.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Weekend Reading

Friday, 12 August 2011

Sitting

We have said our good-byes, exchanged lingering hugs, and waved as the full vehicle pulled away from the curb. Grandparents and aunties, heading back home. It was a good week. A busy week. The boy has requested that we stay home today. Oh yes. We will stay home.

Two weeks, two sets of families. It was good to visit, and now it is good to just sit.

Our week at the beach with my in-laws was lovely and relaxing. We watched the tide come in and go back out, over and over all week long. Beautiful. The boys played in the tide pools and flew kites and dug for clams and I, I took far too many pictures and ate delicious cherries and enjoyed the daily retreat to the motel where I could sit in silence while the toddler napped.

Our week at home with my parents and sisters was full of laughter and adventure and fun. We ate picnic lunches every day while out exploring. Rollercoasters and oceans and waterslides (oh my!). We played games in the evening and stayed up too late at night and and slept in too late in the morning. It was a wonderfully full house.

Now they are gone and it is quiet here. We are all engrossed in our own activities. The sweet toddler lines books end-to-end across the couch, then oh-so-carefully stands his farm animals on them. The preschooler loses himself in Lego, humming softly to himself as he builds his creations. And I, I just sit and breathe in the quiet, the peace, as I catch up with the online world.

There are remnants. Two jars filled with wildflowers picked by the boy and my youngest sister. Belated birthday gifts on the counter. Duplo houses and a zoo. Bags of bathing suits and spare clothes near the front door and towels on the bathroom floor and spare bedding piled on the bed and oh yes, I must move the sheets to the dryer. Soon. Not yet.

Right now, I am busy sitting.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

My Parenting Wish: Through A Child’s Eyes

You can find me over at Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources today, guest posting on the topic of compassionate understanding:

My parenting wish is that parents would have the ability to view situations through their child’s eyes. When we take the time to consider our child’s perspective or to talk with them through what happened, we find more often than not that their motives were sincere and good at best, and merely ignorant (lacking in experience, understanding, and wisdom) at worst...

Read the rest over at Little Hearts!

Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources is run by L. R. Knost, a homeschooling mother of six and a published, award-winning author whose works include a devotional guide, a children's writing curriculum, and a children's church curriculum. She is also the author of Wisdom for Little Hearts, a children's book series designed to entertain and instruct children while equipping parents, teachers, and caregivers with 'Gentle Parenting' discipline techniques. Be sure to check out some of the other great posts while you're there, such as my personal favourite, Glimpses.

Monday, 1 August 2011

Gone fishing

Well, not literally. Then again, maybe we will!

We leave tomorrow to spend a week at the beach with my lovely in-laws. The day we get back, my family will be coming to stay with us for a few days. I'm excited to spend time with our families, but I'm already exhausted too! My introverted self will be hiding in my room for a couple days after all this visiting is over.

In the meantime, things will be a little quiet around here. Watch for me over at Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources tomorrow, and I already have a few links to share with you over the weekend.

For those of you who will be joining us in our 30 day habit challenge, today is Day 1! I wish you every success and look forward to hearing how it goes for you. If you haven't already, it's not too late to choose something and spend the next 30 days turning it into a habit!

I hope you all are having an enjoyable summer so far. See you more regularly in a couple of weeks!