Saturday, August 23, 2008

We found a new park!

It's just as close as Corbin to our house and so we walked there. :)

Renna was tired, but of course that didn't stop her from having her own fun

The part I like about this park is that the benches are under trees!

Nice and shady.

The playground is much more interesting here than at Corbin

Renna wasn't too impressed though

Lily liked it!

It even has a spiral slide!

And many tunnels

But what did Lily like the most? the sticks!

If we were on a camping trip she'd be so helpful in gathering kindling.

Since I started posting layouts...

Here's the newest. I actually liked how it turned out, but I went into it with a "whatever" sort of feeling and it was pretty fun just twining around all that yarn and ribbon (attached with brads) We went on a walk today and I found a feather on the walk so I tucked that under the "nesting" title. I might do more layouts like this. That is.. with the whatever/fun sort of feel. My mom told me (right before I was about to work on this and wasn't feeling "up" to being creative) she said, "They all don't have to be incredible." HA.. yeah, that's true, and then I can create sometimes without any pressure that I usually put on myself.

Profound thought for the day: CREATE! It doesn't matter how or when or what for or if you are inspired or not. Inspiration will come as it will, but just have fun and do it. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

from another album

So, I learned how to do some quilling to add to my scrapbooking and made an album for my cousins wedding (she's got married in Hawaii) and I forgot to take pictures of each page but here are just a couple highlights. My goal was to do as much quilling as I could to practice. It was just an 8x8 album. Very fun to do! I made a little shaker box of Hawaiian sand (I collect sand so I had some from Hawaii) to put in it. I love making albums for wedding gifts. Usually I'll take the pictures and do the whole thing, but couldn't go to the wedding of course. She'll have fun putting pictures in though! Her now husband is a great photographer so my meager pictures would have been lame to him anyway. This way they'll have a great place to display HIS stuff. I wish I could see it after she puts the pictures in. :)

The last wedding album I did was last year around June in case someone didn't see it and wanted to. :)

The interactive album that I made for a friend of mine... the pages are all out of order.. sorry about that.

I put them all up on facebook though so people can check it out there, but since I'd told a couple other scrapbookers who also had entered the contest that I put my stuff on my blog I figured I should add a few more pictures of stuff that I've done!

(The happily ever after of course is the last page. I just don't have time to put them in order...)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Doing school!

Lily learned to make circles in school today! She got a little crazy making them and was yelling "sUEkull" (for circle) the whole while. I love how the next picture shows her hand all blurry from the quick rotations! (Oh, and we were also making "balloons" with the circles.)
She's always getting better with the names of colors too! When we were driving home last night she was saying "Gween GO" and "Wed sTop!" as she watched the lights changing in front of us.

"Journaling Can Provoke an Oxytocin Response"

This is an article that Youssef found for me and I found it to be encouraging!


The top question among most of us who are interested in oxytocin is, "How can I get more of it?" I always try to promote natural ways to get an oxytocin rush, instead of buying probably-useless products over the internet.

A new study, published last month and reported by Science Daily, points to still another way: writing about your values and core beliefs.

Jennifer Crocker and Yu Niiya from the University of Michigan and Dominik Mischkowski from the University of Konstanz in Germany, followed up on a different study that showed coffee drinkers were more open to hearing information about why it's bad for you if they had first written about their most important value. Crocker and Niiya wanted to understand what caused this effect.

They did two experiments. First, they had people write for ten minutes; half the subjects wrote about their most important value, the other half about their least important value. Then, they rated how much love or empathy they felt afterwards.

In the second experiment, smokers and non-smokers did the same writing exercise, and then they read an article about the harm of smoking to your health. The people who had written about an important value felt more loving and they were also less defensive about the negative info on smoking.

They didn't test the subjects' blood, but the researchers think that oxytocin is what made the difference. According to the article,
The researchers speculate that the love and connection people feel after writing about important values could affect hormones related to care giving, such as oxytocin. Because oxytocin increases trust, it might account for reduced defensiveness in people who take a few minutes to reflect on their important values.

James Pennebaker has shown that writing about things that bother you can boost your immune system's functioning. A release of oxytocin also could explain that effect.

So, before you spend $49.95, sit down and think about what matters to you -- and write it down.

August 18, 2008


I wonder if oxytocin can make you more sensitive too. It seems like when I actually do share with people the things that are really important to me and they have a negative reaction it bothers me more. Not that disagreement is a problem it's just the not listening or disregard for my excitement. It seems like it could be possible to be in a disagreement and talk about it while still respecting and considering the other persons point of view. I know I don't express that very well far too often, and it is truly so difficult when every human so desperately wants to be listened to and understood. We shouldn't give up that desire! I'm so thankful that God knows me so well and yet still loves me. My husband too! Even when I'm upset with Youssef over something I'm always so glad that we got married! A bit after our anniversary when we were sort of evaluating our lives together (thus far) we realized that the reason we are so good for each other is that we accept the other person and don't want to change them. I'm glad my husband is my best friend. That was always my dream... to have a best friend to be married to and grow old with...

In "Shall We Dance" there is a part in it about why we get married... "We want a witness to our lives..." The big things, the small things... and everything in between.. to not live our lives unobserved by another human being.

*sigh* it was such a beautiful section of that movie! And now that my oxytocin levels are built up after that little bit of journaling I actually do feel more uplifted and now I even feel ready to tackle my messy house!

(I like knowing some of these scientific discoveries about how we are made to function because then it's easier to get into that contented and joyful place where God wants me to be!)

Trimming trees

Youssef trimmed the trees on Saturday. They still have some dead branches, but they are WAY better than they used to be.

There's a very large pile in our backyard that will slowly need to be burned in our little BBQ.

Sisters.. sisters... there were never such devoted sisters..

I set Renna on the chair to turn on a show for Lily
(the one that I recorded of myself reading a story. Doing all the voices and everything.)

And Lily decided to scoot up next to Renna and hold her hand! So cute! She's such a sweet big sister. Yesterday on the way to church Lily was making faces at Renna and Renna was giggling! I was cracking up too because it was so funny to hear Lily make this little fake laugh so that Renna would crack up. I'm going to be sad when Renna is in the forward facing carseat because then they won't be able to see each other as well and play like that.

I think Lily is starting to appreciate her sister more and more. It's really fun to see. :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Me and the Girls!

We had a pretty fun day today. A picnic in our back yard with tortilla pizza's and my contemplations.
As I watched Lily play I thought of each moment in our lives and how I'd never have that moment again. I scrapbook memories, but they can never be remembered like the moment can be lived. Lily ran from one place to the other chattering and squealing all the while. My tomatoes are ripening in my pathetic little garden. I imagined what my yard would look like if I could afford perennials like I'd like with flowers and lovely leaves, but even without them I had an even better view with Lily enjoying the outdoors. Renna fell asleep and I put her inside in her bed and Lily and I did some "school" (I got her a little board book all about the continents and a foam puzzle that she can learn the continents of the world with. Along with coloring stuff and things that I can teach her colors and numbers and shapes and letters with.)

Then Lily played in her sandbox while I read from "The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe."

Lily is starting this thing where she's not really taking naps, but then she really needs one the next day. I put her in her room today for some quiet time and it was really nice for her to read some books and let me clean and stuff, but then she was super tired and went to sleep at like 3 or something till 5. Oh well, she'll be up tonight I guess. Lily was looking at "princess" books. She's so into princess things and dressing up! She's also wearing a dress that my Grandma made for me when I was 4 or 5! It was my favorite dress because it twirled really good.

Renna woke up when Lily was still sleeping so I got to play with just her! We played with a rainbow as you can see in the picture. It's a little blurry because I had to turn off the flash to get the rainbow. She's rolling all over the floor. It's pretty funny where she ends up in her rolling. It's also really fun to watch her develop! Lily was pulling herself up at this age and never did much scooting as walking along the furniture was more interesting I guess! Renna is a little less adventurous, but probably because Lily is just so fun to watch that she doesn't need to look for more interesting stuff! (Lily was dressed in her fancy red dress today for a while and I was throwing some chiffon fabric up in the air and she would run under it as it fluttered down. Renna loved watching all that!)

Lately Renna has been pretty into her Binky. It's quite nice because she was really wanting to just suck or chew on something and would end up just yelling at her toys because she wasn't able to fit the whole toy in her mouth or something! It was pretty funny, but also drove me nuts. Now she's been more content and I'm glad she's so much happier. I was a thumb sucker and know how hard it can be to get a kid to stop sucking their thumb, so the Bink is a nice option. (Plus I think she looks pretty cute with it! :)

Saturday, August 09, 2008

*Want* To Do lists

So, after Heathers comment on the last post (and after reading the post that I did over again) I realized that it didn't come out the way that I meant it.

I tried to explain more on the comments of the last post though so I won't get into that, but I did want to share something else related to it. I've probably talked about this before though... it takes me a while to learn stuff so my ranting and repeating things on here is for that reason not to tell other people what to do.

I was thinking today a bunch and was remembering a story that I'd heard a long time ago. It was about a woman who was married to an abusive controlling husband that gave her this list of things he expected her to do around the house and how to behave toward him and everything. It was a pretty daunting list and she never could do everything to his satisfaction. It was miserable as you can imagine. Well.. somehow in the story he dies or something and she marries another man. This man was really wonderful and loving and didn't expect anything from her except her love and they had a wonderful relationship. Well, after they'd been married for several years she was cleaning out some papers and found one of the lists made by her first husband. She started to cry as she read through the list because she realized that all these years that she'd been married to her wonderful husband she'd still be doing those same things that were on the list, and she didn't even realize it!

The analogy of course is comparing our new life in Christ with our old life and how before we become His we are weighed down by laws and rules and our sinful selves can't do anything good enough to get to heaven. We need to take the only way that Jesus made to get to heaven.

Anyway, what I was thinking about it was that it also can apply to how I am now. I'm some how trying to go back to laws and lists and formulas... why? Why do we as humans think it is some how easier to follow a list to do something than to just do things because we want to? I actually want to do the things on my list... I want to obey God.. I want to love my children and husband... I don't need lists in the day to help me out!

That doesn't mean that I'm doing anything differently.. I even can still make lists. But I've decided that my lists and everything I do in the day is going to be because I *want* to do it. When it's Youssef's birthday I don't need to get him a present. I want to find him something! When so many wives wish that their husband would *want* to do something for them it's a deeper meaning than what we usually think of as a want. I asked Youssef one time, "Do you want to change Renna's diaper?" It would have been fine for him to say, "Actually I have to finish this one part of the story I'm writing. Can I do it some other time for you?" There's nothing wrong with that. But it was interesting because someone said (I think it was my brother) "Wow, she not only wants you to change a diaper she wants you to WANT to do it!" Well, it's true. I would like my husband to want to do things for me. Not because he actually really likes changing diapers or something, but because he's showing his love for me by what attitude he does something with. He ALWAYS does too! Most of this that I'm explaining now is because of how Youssef has treated me and always showing his love for me by the attitude that he has when he helps me and by not expecting anything of me. When we were first married that made me feel so free. And that's the way we should feel with God too. I've been trying to change my attitude about things. Every day things like cleaning and doing things for other people... doing artistic stuff too. It's too easy for me to tell myself that I "need" to do whatever and beat myself up until I get something done. I can work that way, but I work SO much better and am so much happier when I accomplish my *want* to do list. The list is just the same you understand... it's all about the attitude.

I started a new system since the normal "get it done" theories never have worked for me, and I thought I'd share it so that I can remember it better and you never know... maybe it will encourage someone. :)

For house stuff, I've started in the back of our house in our bedroom and just tidied, made the bed.. walked around and thought, "What do I want to clean? What do I want to straighten?" I work my way through the house this way and so far it's really great. I'm actually cleaning more and better and then when the girls want to do something with me I can stop and play with them. I really do want to play ball with them or run around playing tag with Lily.. or lay on the floor with Renna! I even cleaned some of our appliance type things. The waffle maker was dirty and rather than thinking (like I normally would) that I should have some sort of system for when I should clean my appliances or what days or times or whatever. I just cleaned it. It wasn't the "just get it done" attitude either. That doesn't work for me. That makes my stomach tighten and is about the most depressing way of doing something I can think of. I just thought, "I want to clean this" and I did. It felt SO good! Not only to have it clean, but even the whole time I was doing it. It was satisfying and felt great because of that! I wish someone had told this to me when I was young. Even emptying the dishwasher today I had to work on my attitude.. first I kept thinking how much I hate to empty the dishwasher, but then I forced myself to think why I'd want to. So that I don't have to do it later! (That's a good one) I'm also glad we have a dishwasher (falling apart as it is) because then I don't have to wash all the dishes by hand (I always wash some by hand though) but.. well.. it just made me feel so much better.

Anyway, I don't know if this makes much sense to anyone but myself, but it's just really nice and I want to keep it up. I want to be joyful. My other epiphany was how I had been blaming things in my past for not being as joyful now or like I'd some how changed because of those things so much that I never could be care free like I was when I was younger. Here's the thing though. It wasn't those things that caused me to be the way I am now. I let those things change me. There is a way back to being joyful again. I used to sing all the time because I was praising God. Especially when I was depressed I'd sing worship songs or hymns and I'd remember and then be joyful again. I know now what to do in my life to be happy. I knew before, but I thought I'd lost it or something. For me it's remembering to want to do things. If I'm depressed or feeling lazy there is a part of me that wants to get up and do something. A part that really WANTS to be happy. I don't force myself into being joyful, but if I do what I want to do (and understand that since I'm a child of God we aren't talking sinful wants here but wanting to do good like Paul explains in Romans) then true joyfulness comes!

I never quite understood what Jesus meant when he said that his burden was easy and light compared to the burden that the scribes and other religious rulers laid on the backs of the people. Some people feel that from their church or family, the burdens of what is expected of them. I mainly felt it from myself. What I expected of me. The thing is though, I never felt better when I tried to lower my expectations! That actually wasn't the problem. It was just my attitude. The verse, "If you love me, keep my commandments." Has a new meaning to me that I didn't fully understand before. I understood intellectually but how does that look in real life? When I want to read my Bible should I just do it.. no matter what time of day it is? Or should I only read it in the morning for "devotions" or at night or what ever time other people have suggested is a good time? Perhaps I do want to read it every morning... that's good too! My main discovery is that when I "fail" at something or don't finish something or fall behind on the list of "to do" things I beat myself up (in my head of course) and then feel terrible and inevitably can't accomplish other things because I "failed" in that area.

SO! All of that said, you should understand when I say that I'm going to be doing what I want to do from now on! I haven't made my *want* to do list yet, but I'm going to. It doesn't feel burdensome anymore. It feels freeing and fun to think of all the things I want to do! I don't HAVE to do them or have a time when I'm SUPPOSED to do them. I want to have a time each morning in the shower or while I'm wandering around the house doing the "want to tidy" stuff where I can think. What do I *want* to do today? I've said *want* a lot in this post, but I'm trying to drill this into my head. Yesterday I drilled it in so well that I was joyfully scrubbing my floor and playing with Lily almost at the same time! It was a wonderful afternoon (after I finished vacuuming like I said I was going to do in that last post that is and started having this epiphany.)

Ok.. I wanted to write this.. but now I've run out of stuff to say and I don't have a good ending, but we are going to go see "Kung Fu Panda"!!! So.. I'm wanting to stop blogging for now.. I'll get back on when I want to again.

I like this new way of thinking. :)

Friday, August 08, 2008

Slowing down...

At least slowing down the blog posts.

I just thought I'd post this to say that I won't be posting very often anymore.

I'm always struggling with the balance of time-waster/escapist type things and real life. I like reading and watching movies and being on facebook and blogs... but.. why do we never read stories or watch movies about people who are reading or watching movies? What is really important? Spending time right here is important.. with the people around me. I thought that this was a way to connect with my friends, and it is to a certain extent, but as moving is being discussed more and more between Youssef and myself I got to thinking how I'd miss things here and my friends here. Then I realized that I really don't spend much time with people often in real life. How would it be different when we move? Sadly.. it won't be much different at all. I say sadly because I really don't spend much non-computer time with people here. I blog pictures of my children, but how often do I just sit and play with them for an hour? An hour isn't very long, yet I give them tiny little moments in my day (and take pictures of that) then spend way too much time blogging or facebooking rather than just enjoying this short time of baby/toddlerhood that I have. I always want to escape where I am and go to the next thing or back to a previous moment, but can't seem to enjoy the right now times. I always see the goals or the things I "should" have done. When Renna was first born I enjoyed each moment for the next month, just holding my baby... my senses were more heightened no doubt, but.. there must be some way to keep that going.

Speaking of playing with my kids... Lily just brought me her little foam sewing animals (where you "sew" them with a shoelace thingy) and for the first time she actually used up all the string. She's also been into wearing dresses or her night gown all day long and has gotten pretty good and pulling it up and tucking it under her chin to use the toilet and pull her underpants up and down to do so. It sounds like a small thing, but it's just another independent step for her as she figures things out. Renna is getting better at balancing when she sits up and rolls over all the time and scoots just a little bit. Not long distances, but definitely around in circles.

I'm in the process of printing out ALL the pictures that I need to scrapbook. It's pretty overwhelming in some ways, and I keep staying up too late which is not a good thing for my patience as it runs shorter the more tired I am. Not good.

So many of us are so far bellow our potential. I don't mean guilt tripping ourselves into doing things, but just in living.. in doing what we love and what we like to see done. Relaxing is important too, but my problem is that I do too much in a way too intensely and then am so tired that I don't do the small stuff that turn into bigger things and try to escape them because I'm so worn out from the intense overdoing part, but then everything escalates to the point where I'm so behind on housework/laundry/projects/whatever that I overload again.... Lily wants to play outside and I put a video on for her because I need to clean up the kitchen from it getting so bad.

And.. I got on this to say that I wasn't going to blog as often as I have been (though I'd already started slowing down, but I was just putting pictures up on facebook so it was just as much or more if you include that.) .. and here I am.. talking more.. escaping life.. wishing for a "break" someone else to answer the "help me" whine from Lily to hold her baby doll or untangle her "sewing" stuff. A nap would have been the best thing for me today, but Lily didn't want to take a nap today... *sigh* Do I really need a break? Maybe just more energy? Regardless I'm explaining what my failings are and actually failing as I explain it.. so.. yes.. I'm getting off the computer now.. I think I need to vacuum.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

a "typical" dinner

Actually, we do have sushi a lot so this is pretty typical! Though I hadn't made shrimp to go with it before. I "over cooked" some of it in the oil, but actually liked the shrimp crispy like that (I like most things crispy.) We had ginger ale with this meal too! Oh, such good stuff! Yesterday I did a meal inspired by a Rachel Ray recipe. I was at my moms and got to see the show. We don't watch TV at home (I never could remember when the shows that I wanted to watch were on and then ended up just never watching it.) Anyway, it was really good! I used whole grain spaghetti and after it was cooked threw it in with the stir-fry veggies and added terriyaki sauce and orange juice concentrate! Just a little of each till it was the flavor I wanted. Really good! And easy too! And good for you. Anyway, it was sort of like what she did only I used what I had.

Here Lily is eating just the Nori (seaweed) It's crunchy and in my opinion doesn't have a whole lot of flavor (unless you get the seasoned kind.) She really wanted it... it's good for you right? She ate that whole sheet too, and said it was like a chip. She ate some of the sushi rolls too and also just the rice and everything else on the table, but this was the dessert I guess. ;)

A typical sushi meal last about 2 hours! It's nice to have a relaxing meal like that where we make and eat and talk and make and eat and talk. We had green tea too! The only problem with a meal like this is that by the time we are done eating I'm really REALLY not ready to clean up.

Youssef likes to make all his sushi and then eat it. I prefer to make and eat as I go.
(We only had canned tuna, tomatoes, and avocados for sushi this time.)