Some thoughts on thoughtfulness

Giving is good for the soulSomeone did something very thoughtful for me today. My dear aunt brought over some supper for me. She knew that my kids and I have been sick for a while and she wanted to help. It was fantastic! And I’m not just talking about the cooking. Being able to take one night off from the never-ending suppertime routine changed the whole tone of what could have been an otherwise rough night. But even better was the fact that someone was thinking of me enough to go to the trouble of making food and then bringing it over to my house. It made me feel happy, and it made me feel special.

And that got me thinking about thoughtfulness (again). It’s always in the back of my mind, because I really enjoy doing thoughtful things for other people. It’s so fun to see their happiness and excitement, and to know that the thing I did brought them joy … giving is good for the soul.

But I don’t get around to it much anymore, now that I have kids. Why? Because being thoughtful takes work. It requires planning. Time. Energy. Extra steps. And even though I have great intentions, this well-meaning item on my to-do list just moves further and further down as things get busy and life gets chaotic.

So instead of giving up on it entirely, I really want to make this a priority in my life. I’ve decided I’m going to try to do one thoughtful thing each week for the rest of this year. It doesn’t have to be anything grandiose or dramatic; sometimes the small things are the most meaningful.

To help get me started, I’m going to borrow a few things out of the playbooks of some especially thoughtful people (you know who you are! And if you don’t, well, then I guess I have to be more thoughtful about acknowledging the thoughtful people in my life : )

Some simple ideas:

  • Email someone a funny or sweet picture that reminds you of them
  • Go ahead and set up that lunch date you’ve been meaning to schedule
  • Call someone you haven’t talked to in forever
  • Write a hand-written letter or card
  • Bring someone a coffee
  • If you’re a hugger, give a bunch of them out
  • Make someone a mini care package to help them get through whatever craziness is going on in their life right now
  • Schedule a fun outside activity like biking, hiking or even just going for a quick walk with a friend

Setting yourself up for success:

  • Add friends’ and extended family members’ birthdays and anniversaries to your Google calendar (with reminders!)
  • Buy some cards for all occasions. A very thoughtful woman once told me that she periodically goes to the store and gets all of the nice cards she sees, so she always has something on hand when needed.
  • Create a stash of generic adult and kid gifts. A few super smart women I know do this. You don’t think you’d run into that many situations where you’d need an emergency gift, but it turns out that yes, yes you do! So it’s nice to be prepared.

I hope this helps you feel a little inspired and motivated, too – because this crazy world can always use a little more sunshine! And everyone deserves to feel a little bit special. So c’mon friends, let’s get out there and spread some happiness : )

Then there were five! The baby is here.

Sorry I haven’t written in so long, but life’s been really exciting and busy! My baby girl was born in June and our family could not be happier! She’s happy, healthy and wonderful. 🙂

Steve and I are just in love with this peanut!

I have to say, life with three kids is WAY more exciting. Challenging sure, but honestly not as crazy as I thought it was going to be. Watching my girls and nephews together has given me a much higher tolerance for chaos though. Thankfully I also recovered a lot quicker than I expected from the delivery so I could get right back to ranching these wild kiddos! Continue reading

A moment of clarity and the best hug imaginable

Today was a long day. It was so long. It was also good, and frustrating, and rewarding, and exhausting. And did I mention really, really long? That’s probably because I was watching the kids and also (foolishly) trying to tackle a large project: organizing the terrifying basement.

Here’s the backstory: My husband and his buddies are leaving for a big ice fishing trip early tomorrow morning, so he invited them all to stay overnight at our place tonight. Since it’s the eve of what they call a “vacation,” I knew they’d be uber jolly. And by jolly, I mean noisy, and boisterous, and rowdy, and any other word you can substitute for LOUD.  I thought it’d be best for everyone if their schoolboy sleepover shenanigans were kept downstairs, away from the sleeping babies. Unfortunately, our basement  was still filled to the brim with stuff from our big move last month. I really didn’t know if I could get it cleaned up in one day, but I was desperate for a good night’s sleep, so I decided it was worth a try.

The morning was still young as I confidently walked downstairs to survey the battlefield. I had a belly full of peanut butter toast and coffee coursing through my veins; I felt that I could conquer the world! But my optimism was short-lived: there were so many totes and boxes and random piles of stuff that I instantly got stress blindness (totally a thing) and had to sit down and regroup. After I gave myself a quick pep talk, I turned on some music, rolled up my sleeves and got to work. I let my sons and nieces eat snacks and dig through the toy totes while I furiously organized and cleaned. The kids played great together and I made amazing progress — but it was taking a lot longer than I expected!

I had to take a lot of breaks with the kids (including the usual lunchtime festivities and a trip to the park), but in between I kept plugging away. By the time the kids got up from nap, and I was getting dangerously close to the finish line. After my nieces went home, I was down to just two kids. “My efficiency just doubled!” I joyfully exclaimed to myself. But I was wrong. The boys were incredibly wild. I started getting frustrated as they followed me around, messing up all of the toys I had literally just picked up. But I stubbornly pushed on and I could feel myself getting crabbier by the minute. “How long could it possibly take to finish this stupid project?” I kept asking myself. Suddenly, it was 6:45 p.m. Good grief, no wonder the kids were so crazed up! It was well past their suppertime.

I ran upstairs, intensely upset that I lost track of time and neglected my mom duties. I quickly warmed up some leftovers, and called my husband in a frenzy. Once he answered, all of my pent-up frustration came spewing out like liquid hot magma from a very angry volcano. He said he was almost home and would be there soon to help. I hung up the phone, feeling guilty for losing my temper. To make things worse, my three-year-old was giving me a look like, “Good God, lady!”

I went over to him and tried to explain myself. “Remember when I was working so hard today? I was trying and trying and trying to get the basement clean, but I couldn’t! It was really hard work, and I’m feeling really frustrated right now.” He looked at me very solemnly and said, “Did you work REALLY hard and get REALLY tired?” I said, “Yes! I’m so tired right now.” He said, “I know just what to do!” Then he got a huge smile on his face and jumped into my arms with the biggest, warmest, most heart-melting hug ever.

There I was, trapped in my glass case of emotion, until that hug snapped me right out of it! It gave me a moment of extreme clarity; I looked at myself and thought, What am I doing? Why in the world am I freaking out? I have this little person who loves me so much, no matter what. It doesn’t matter if the stupid house is messy or the basement looks like a U-haul exploded in it. Get over it! Your kids love you. That’s what really matters.

I felt relief and happiness wash over me. I took my time with that hug, not only because I really, really needed it, but also because I know there will come a time when he won’t rush over with that giant smile and dive into my arms anymore (at least not like he did tonight!). It sounds corny, but it felt like a little slice of heaven. Thank you, God, for reminding me of my priorities, and thank you for my kiddos!

Epilogue: I did get the basement clean, thanks to my husband (when he came home, he took over suppertime duties so I could finish it up). I thanked him profusely and also apologized for my outburst. Then I gave the kids extra bedtime stories, snuggles and kisses. Finally, I went downstairs to say hi to my hubby’s friends and asked them what they thought of the basement. They said it looked “good,” which is good enough for me — especially since they are being a bunch of rowdy wildebeests down there right now. I have a feeling they are going to have a rough start to their “vacation” 🙂