Summer Cleaning and Real Life on Mondays.

So, we been some serious Summer House cleaning/ Minimalizing as of late. It’s not my favorite thing but I love to have company and I want my family to take rest in this home. One of my priorities  for the year has been to cultivate my home for my family and be more intentional with our home and possessions. It’s not super easy for my disorganized mind to organize a home and declutter. So, we’ve been going through all the extra stuff, the unwanted clutter in our desire for a more simple, intentional home very slowly. My van may be full of clothes right now that need to go to the laundrymat, the second hand store, Goodwill, or the dumpster. I don’t even know how we have so much clothes when we barely buy clothes, remember I didn’t buy clothes for a year and even longer. but I am pretty sure there are some items in there that are over ten years old. And that in essence is the problem, unintentional hoarding. I mean we realize now that not everything is sacred and worth saving but I am not sure how we got all this unwanted “stuff”, especially when we live in a small house with four bodies and clutter baggage for each. Right now the hallway is lined with black bags filled with toys waiting for a toy purge. No matter how much I hate doing this, it really is very much-needed for us, so I am trying with prayer. It’s maybe a tenth of the way there. So say a prayer for me and ask me how it’s going when you see me. I need the encouragement. Sometimes, I think how much I would get done if God made me Type-A, but I realize I am the way I am for a reason, not sure what that reason is yet but…. this is a daily dying to self and my hatred for cleaning for washing dishes.

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That’s my sink right now, unfortunately our dishwasher is broken again and it doesn’t seem like it’s salvageable this time. I’m going to have to tackle these and all dishes in the foreseeable future by hand. I can’t complain there are so many things to be thankful for and not get overwhelmed with days like this. The millions of little God-given gifts each day, that is what I’ll focus on instead. That’s my real-life on Monday.

Benson Family, What’s New?

So, I was going to post a Friday Listening today, but I don’t like to slap those songs together haphazardly so I am going to wait until next week to post. I did want to share what are some of the things that are going on with the Benson family. Here’s what’s been going on lately through pictures.

14672185680_a0727a69c0_oKenny turned 34, wow! We had a small celebration at home with Ice Cream cake and a yummy dinner.

14855788921_55fdd36cdd_o 14835863196_a8a703f77f_o 14672238748_2953d04970_oJust a lot of Summer playing. It’s as hot as all get out, so we play in water all day and go to bed tired. Alice and Emma are growing like weeds and don’t fit in anything anymore. I just love these little birds and am ready for school to start for us so we are back on a schedule and some of this “I am Bored” summer whining will dissipate.

14855799381_d9f22952ab_oWe have been reading a lot through the Summer, Mr.Poppers Penguins, Peter Pan, and Little House, alternatively. The Summer seemed so short and we’ve not quite finished these yet but we’ll just take them into the school year for bedtime chapter books or free reads. I am working on some Charlotte Mason posts and can’t wait to share our Year 2 schedules. I am so ready to be on a schedule again, you’d think Summers are relaxing, well, I say No. Summers are very tiring because we don’t have a normal schedule and everything is busy. I can’t wait until the world is back at school so grocery store trips, Target visits, a random Chic-Fil-A lunch will be less busy. That’s such a nice thing about homeschooling. 🙂

14672240958_1098b6fda5_oI have been try to create daily even if it’s calligraphy practice or some illustrative doodles. It’s been a long time since being in Art school but I want to try to make creativity a part of my daily life for myself and so my children can see it. We screenprint and work on art but a lot of that is after the kids are in bed. I also want to start Nature Journaling with Emma at Home. I think it will be a great shared experience.

14835864706_bd8b6ffef3_oLastly, Kenny no longer works as a librarian as a lot of you may already know, He works in a job that is better suited to our family schedule, but you can’y stop him from continuing to act like a Librarian. hehe. He started Super Awesome Storytime at the Book Tavern at 10:30am on Wednesdays. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll be there most weeks.

The Chronicle came out and the storytime was featured in the Chronicle in the front page of the Metro Section. Thank you Sarah Caldwell for coming out. It was great to see it in the Paper. Emma thinks she is a celebrity now because she’s been in the paper around ten times by the age of 7, ha. She asked me last time she was in the paper if you are a famous person if you are in the paper a lot. I said you could be. So this time around solidified it to her, she’s “been in the Nutcracker and the paper lots”. I just laugh quietly to myself, it’s funny, don’t want to spoil the fun. So Life is good even though sometimes it can feel overwhelming and tiresome we are just trying to count it all joy and look at the beautiful gifts we have.

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I forgot, one last thing. Thank you for making my last post: Be Wary of the Flags you Fly my second most read ever. I may not know who all is reading this blog and that’s ok but I hope it can be an encouragement. So, Thank you, Love.

 

Golden Dinosuars and A “can’t-live-without” app for an Unfocused, Procrastinating, Unorganized Homemaker (Yes, that’s a long title)

photo 1 (11)It’s no secret I am a procrastinator and a bit on the unorganized side. I guess I am what you call “disorganized creative” and although I may want certain things in my life just “perfect” and can have anxiety if not achieved, the “home work”  is not one of those areas.

I’ve talked of my randomness here before and I think part the issue comes down to me not using my time well, well that and an official attention deficit diagnosis, ha. I am easily distracted and can spend way too much time reading wikipedia articles about some random 18th century scientist or artist or work on calligraphy practice or watercolor or spray paint gold dinosaurs when I should have taken five minutes to do the dishes in the sink. I fully accept I am this way, my mind takes giant leaps a million times a second and I do believe there was a reason I was created this way, and am happy for it. But I’m trying to make my life more functional, so I’ve slowly made leaps and bounds over the years because of general frustration at my nature and I continue to look for anything that will aide in my attempt at managing a household as well as the many other mom and life duties I am responsible for.

I recently found and was previously unaware of the 30/30 app. I’ve used it for a few days so far and it has really, really helped (more really’s for emphasis) Here’s my run down:

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-Free – The app is free, there are some unnecessary in-app icons you can purchase but the price is my kind of price.

– Lists & Timers -I like lists and list making out of pure necessity, the problem is that I don’t always accomplish the items on the list and can get lost in the list making process altogether. In this app you not only can make lists and there is options to make different lists for your various needs but what’s really amazing is the ability to set individual timers for each listed item. This is a tremendous help for staying on track. I can look at the time allotted and push through till I hear that satisfying buzz. It’s helping to compartmentalize my daily tasks a bit so I don’t get overwhelmed trying to swallow a whole elephant. There is also the ability to add or take away time in 5 minute increments also pause time or bump an item to lower on the list.

-Clean Design- I’m an Aesthetic snob and I like my apps like I like my mid century modern tastes, the app is clean and beautiful.

-Gestures & Ease of Use- There is a bit of a learning curve with the gestures required to work the app but they are clearly explained and it only took me a few attempts to get them down, once mastered the ease of use is quite nice.

-Getting stuff done- Remarkably I finished my entire list for the day yesterday with the help of this app. I just started using it so time will be the judge. I have to spend a few minutes in morning making my list but its worth it at the end of the day.

All in all, my test week is going great and I just wanted to mention this app to blog friends as it may be of some use to you, let me know how it goes. I imagine it will be very useful in the fall with our homeschool load as well especially since we keep lessons short and not over a certain time limit. If you use it or have used it and love it or hate it, let me know as well. So, in conclusion use the 30/30 app if you want to get more done in your day so you have time to for the important things like painting gold dinosaurs.

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aren’t they cute?

 

 

 

Real Life on Mondays 4/21

afterlight (1) I am attempting to show our real life, what it looks like in the real world without the social media facade. Occasionally on Mondays I’ll post an image of our real house and the way it looks in Real Time for transparency and honesty. Like this room which is my daughters’ shared room and is very messy because I have not been consistent with getting Emma to straighten up. The good thing is that it’s mostly toys and clothes and sleeping bag she insists sleeping on the couch with, so it only takes a few moments to clean it up, but we are in the stage were I have to actively monitor her while we learn “first time obedience” so Mom can be lazy about this too.

On another note, how was Easter Weekend? We had so much fun and spent time with friends, family and church. It was beautiful to hear the word and see it lived out through a baptism at our church. My Secret Sister gave me an sweet Easter Bunny that is in my freezer ready for me to pounce on once I recover from the Sugar coma from the last few days. Saturday we went to our friend and neighbors for a Surprise Birthday Party and there was a pinata as well as chocolate cake. Combine that with Easter baskets and Easter egg hunts and more candy than one person really needs in a lifetime, I think we’re good until Halloween.

We’ve talked with Emma prior Easter, during lent about why we celebrate Easter and even though we do the fun stuff like Easter baskets and egg hunts, this is not the reason we celebrate. We’ve been reading about  Passover and faithfulness and how that connects to the story of Christ’s Death and Resurrection and you can’t believe how encouraged I was to listen to her tell me Yesterday “Jesus died on the cross, to erase our sin.”

Here are some lovely pictures of my family this weekend, they are a true blessing and I couldn’t be more thankful even though sometimes I take for granted the blessing they are.

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I hope your Easter was wonderful and full of the redemption story. Also, feel free to show us your real Life on Mondays #reallifeonmondays on IG or social media.

Revisiting Plans & Priorities

 

I have to remind myself of goals and priorities constantly so I don’t forget. In January, I set out to make a list of plans & priorities for the year. Now that it is spring and no longer winter, I thought I should revisit and see how things are going for me so far. This is not a checklist of things I have to mark to validate me as a person but a guide for the type of life I want to create this year.

My categories where Faith, Family, Home, Homeschool, Mother Culture, Art, Writing/Blogging and I just wanted to check in on these things for growth and accountability. Blog friends or Real Life friends I encourage you to ask me how these things are going, I am encouraged when others take interest and likewise take interest in the progress your friends that set priorities this year.

So I’ll go down the list (with excerpts from the Plans and Priorities Post):

Faith

“This is a primary priority because without Faith I am hopeless. 2013 was a year that God helped me begin to unravel from depression and hopelessness and show me to delight in my circumstances, so 2014 will be even more so a testament to what He is doing. I will continue to study and trust more. I want to be more thankful as well this year.”

I have been trying to study more and trust more and grow in contentment and joy. I can say it isn’t an easy battle when a history of depression rears it’s head and you forget truth, but it isn’t my fight really, I am trying to remember to give it up. I just pray I continue to do so. I have been reading a few things for personal study, I read “Keep a Quiet Heart” by Elisabeth Eliott which is helping me to examine my heart. I also stick with my old steady “Morning & Evening” by Charles Spurgeon. I learn so much from this beautiful and encouraging devotion and Spurgeon has a way of putting things to my brain that are equal parts inspiringly truthful, achingly beautiful, and simply revelatory.

We are also very happy to be in a church home for the past year after a very long church search that lasted almost a year prior to that. It is a sweet community of believers and biblical learning that we are happy to take part in.  I am very thankful for the teaching that is really good and encourages me in Faith, this is a recent sermon that blew my mind: Behold I see the Heavens Opened. I encourage you if you live in Augusta, Ga and do not have a church home to join us this Week for our Easter Series.

Family

“Instead of busy-ness, instead of this activity or that event, instead of every kind of distraction I want my family to be a priority and for us to find peacefulness in our home and with each other. This means we will continue in traditions like Sunday Radio Day, no media except music or talk radio. Also, we will make more intentional time together and less sitting around the tv.”

On the busy-ness front this is an ongoing battle that I am hitting with full force daily. It is so easy for our Yeses to become full schedules and stress inducing weeks. I’m not for that. I am not saying this is hermit time for us, -even though sometimes I think I’d like that- I mean that is time to be intentional with our time. Say maybe in your mind, evaluate and answer back with a definite “yes” or “no” when it comes to events that draw you from the home. We have succeeded in doing Sunday Radio Day and trying to reduce the media intake on school days, so I think we are getting somewhere. I can tell the difference between the character of my six year old that plays outside all day versus a little six year old that watches tv all day. We are definitely not an anti-tv house, just trying to reign it in.

We are also being more intentional with family devotions and going through this book together at night time storytime. I wrote a review this month and highly recommend it.

Home

“This is related to the care and cultivating of the home. I want my home to be simple, beautiful and help my family to thrive, so I am making an effort to make it so through the simplest of measures.”

Soooo…. this has been a big struggle for me, for like, always. I am learning to enjoy the day to day maintenance that comes with making a happy home, knowing that real life looks most days like this and it’s ok as long as I am helping my family to thrive and be happy…also coffee….coffee is my new friend.

Homeschool

“The past ten months we’ve had a new baby in the house and now that that new baby is somewhat an old baby we have gotten into better rhythms at home, especially in regards to school for Emma. As long as she’s learning truth, beauty, and goodness through her schooling we are doing something right.”

We are back on track with school and even though we are a bit behind on the schedule we are trucking through and happily making education a priority again. Emma ( our almost seven year old) is enjoying school time and I am loving this time together, sometimes school is interrupted by Alice’s (our 1 year old) needs  and that’s ok we resign to Mom’s bed to put Alice asleep while I read aloud from “Little House in the Big Woods”.

Mother Culture

“Mother Culture (Self Care and Interests ex. staying healthy-eating healthy, gym time and reading for pleasure and knowledge)- It is helping me to think of getting healthy as a thing I am doing to help myself and my children in the context of being a Mother opposed to some arbitrary goal I set for myself. My goal for this is more health, more wisdom.”

I’ve had a slow start and have started back working out and eating healthier. Thankful that one of my gifts recently was a Fitbit so I can track steps and progress. I am continuing to read and am always adding to my “to-read” list.

Art

“I never completed art school and I am down on myself a lot about it, in 2013 both Kenny started actively pursuing Art making more in our lives and this year I want that to ripen even more. Whether it’s photography or printmaking, I want to see more art making this year. I’ve started making plans based on this and am just praying for the occasional quiet times to work on these.”

I’m getting there, it’s hard to be motivated to make art after a long day of kid wrangling but I just need to be intentional with the time I do have.

Writing/Blogging

“I want to be more consistent with my writing and blogging without being overly ambitious. One plan that I am thinking of is setting a manageable schedule for me to work on this. Something easy-like twice a week, just to write out some of the things I have rolling around in my head.”

I haven’t done much writing lately but have been trying to post frequently and this is something I want to make a priority. It helps to sometimes get mangled thoughts on to “paper”.

I guess to some all of these things up the key word is Intentionality and just being mindful of the details.

So how are you doing with your plans & priorities this year?  Do you need encouragement for plans ahead? I hope to revisit this often and please share what you have going on in your lives.

Real Life on Mondays

 

“be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.”
― Henry David Thoreau

This life is full of illusion. Our modern world tells us that everyone’s homes look like magazine homes and everyone’s lives look like magazine lives. How much farther from the truth can it be? I read a funny post from White House, Black Shutters last week that made me laugh, titled “How to have a Perfectly Clean House”. It was sarcastic to say the least because we know it is impossible to maintain a perfectly clean house every minute unless you sacrifice other things.

On this blog I have said I want to be transparent and real, so before I show any pretty pictures (possible virtual house tour, in the near future) of my home when it’s clean, I want to show real pictures of real life. We love our house it is small and compact and gets cluttered or messy very easily, but we love it and make attempts to keep it tidy for ourselves and for our visitors. Some days that all goes out the window, most days actually.

A friend called our home “bright and cozy”and that’s exactly what we want it to feel like. Our aim is “bright and cozy” and you know what it’s totally ok to see the above picture on the Dining Room table on a Monday after a long week of art and projects. It is also ok to have loads of clean laundry just sitting in baskets waiting to find a home. Seriously though, don’t worry what I think or others, I’ll try not to worry what you think and we’ll be the best of friends. Real life isn’t always pretty but it’s very rewarding. Let’s throw illusion out the door and just be real.

 

As I start this series, Matthew 11 (specifically 25-30) is a good read for Real Life Mondays

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I also wanted to do a quick tutorial for those wanting to stay in touch with this blog, I’ve had a few people say they can’t always see the links on facebook or twitter and would like to get notifications in other ways. There are a few things you can do.

1. The easiest is to get email notifications, there is a box title “Subscribe to Blog via Email” to sign up for email in the sidebar. ->

2. Use your own feed reader and subscribe to the Blog feed by clicking the FeedBurner Rss Feed button in the side bar or clicking here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ellieeugenia.

3. This is the one I do since Google Reader became a thing of the past. It’s called Feedly.com and it is a great alternative to Google Reader. There is also a smart app for Feedly so it’s great for waiting room reading or just anytime reading. You have to sign up and then enter in the blog address to subscribe but it’s a great way to stay in touch with blogging friends.

Let me know if you have any questions or need help at all, I’m happy to help walk anyone through the process.

<3 Ellie

The Growing Years

It seemed like only yesterday she was born, my little Alice. Life is so temporal and it quickly moves on without a listen to our pleas to slow down for just one minute more. Time is moving so fast yet there are times it feels like we are stuck in place. It’s like that old Jewel song, “Or am I standing still  With the scenery flying by”, truly truly. You’ll remember that one if you are as old as me.

I am so thankful for the big and little joys and blessings we’ve experienced and are experiencing in our lives. Let me tell you how it has been a rough couple of years with many struggles such as depression, debilitating anxiety, financial burdens, things much darker etc. you name it, and how we are being delivered slowly and surely into Provision and Grace from that stuck in placeness. I know I’ve talked some about these things and don’t want to delve in this post -in another post soon- but just know God is so big, bigger than all these things by unfathomable lengths that it puts my mind at ease when the darkness beckons. I am so happy and there is Joy here, all year round and this past weekend beautiful little birthday joys.

Birthdays celebrate anniversaries of new life, Alice’s birthday is on the 23rd of March, Emma’s in two months, Kenny and I also in the Summer.We just love them, we love birthdays here, we love those days where we can smile and know another year has passed and we are the better for it. I am thankful for Alice’s first year that has been such a gift for me. My life changed after Emma and again more and more after Alice. Isn’t it funny how God uses children to change and grow us? I am so truly undeserving, you don’t even know (maybe if you knew you wouldn’t be reading this right now, but it is so ok, more than ok) and I am so thankful.

I am so happy to celebrate in this Easter season celebrate spiritual new life as well. It’s a birthday for souls, hearts and minds. It’s not about me, this life is not about me. There is so much more, so let us rejoice in the knowledge that we can never deserve new life freely given on our own but can revel in it none the less and be transformed by it. I am happy He chose me and is revealing Himself to me and I am being changed.

For Alice and for the rest of My Family for that matter I am never perfect and I fail a lot,- You know those Human flaws and all- in my humaness I pray that each year I can grow in wisdom to be a better Wife and Mother, I need so much of the growing. I pray for my children as they age that they would know true Love and Joy from above. So we are thankful for the birthdays and new life. These are the growing years and we pray they never end.

Not In Me

…No list of sins I have not done, no list of virtues I pursue,
No list of those I am not like can earn myself a place with you.
O God! Be merciful to me. I am a sinner through and through.
My only hope of righteousness is not in me, but only you…

Enjoy a lovely montage of Alice’s party, also the top Image is our wonderful family in wood from our friend Jennifer over at Minnie and the Monster. You may remember she did a Nativity for us as well. Go buy some stuff and tell her I sent you. 🙂

p.s. now that the house is clean because of the party, seriously- it definitely wasn’t before, I’ve had some friends and followers ask about posting a house tour. Im not sure if it’s house tour worthy but Ill definitely get on it soon.

Intentionality and Lent

 

Today is the 2nd day of Lent, yesterday was Ash Wednesday. In recent years we have started to organically observe in our family a few religious holidays that my husband and I were not familiar with growing up. We marvel at how advent and lent are ways for us to point to Him and how we learn so much in the journey to the cross leading up to Easter Sunday or to Christmas. Not only has it been a healthy experience for our family, we are more thoughtful during the seasons and it helps to reflect and remember Grace in our lives.

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As we are more reflective of our lives we reexamine the ways we live in the day to day. Instead of doing a traditional sacrifice of some sort during Lent this year I am reflecting on how I can be more intentional- My goal for 2014-with my Family and what are things we can do to implement intentionality in our daily lives. When I say intentionality I mean that We are being mindful of every little thing. Being intentional to me is just examining our hearts and motives in the every day and changing the things we feel led to change. For example, Why do I spend so much time on Social Media? or Do I feel like I am benefitted by the time spent? Probably not for the most part, there are groups that do encourage me and I would be sad to part with but most of the time spent is just browsing mindlessly. So, What are ways I can modify this? I could only check at certain times of the day and especially not this constant checking I do now. I need to think on that more. It’s a journey.

I am trying to be more intentional in my home with the daily activities and tasks like the keeping up of the home. Honestly so far it’s been a wonderful learning experience and am surprised at how much our Family is changing in these things. Sometimes with young kids things get forgotten and put to the side and then your house ends up looking like something out of Hoarders. I can’t really use kids as an excuse though, my house always looked that way, ha. But now, guys, the house is in a state where I’m not embarrassed to have last minute guests like I have in the past. Woohoo, so I m expecting texts and phone calls for visitors any minute, right? Getting the house presentable has never been about keeping up appearances for me but an honest desire to make a comfortable home for my Family and for guests in our home. I think we are one step forward because of prayer and prompting. Thank you God.

There are so so many ways I want to be more intentional, whether it’s playing with my 6 -almost 7- year old more (We broke out the cards yesterday for some War and Slapjack, not to mention trying to do tea times daily, just sweet time together) or making a homemade breakfast for my husband on a week day (this is very rare and does not happen often, so don’t think it does), I am trying with His help to love my family in the little spaces. I know I fail at this time and again but with the help of the Spirit, I want to try.

What are you doing for Lent in your homes? How are you being more Intentional this year during Lent and throughout the year?

Busy-ness

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I’m opting out the busy-ness cycle. The one where I spend more time away from home than at it. The one where there is always something scribbled in on the calendar, a place to be at, something to do, something to be running from and to.  I am not saying “Let’s all be hermits”, even though sometimes that sounds so alluring. I am saying that I am only human and it’s too much for me, is it too much for you?

Americans seem to be the busiest of people, bustling here and there every minute of the day. It is an epidemic in our culture that we don’t seem to think is a problem. and why are we so busy? Does busy-ness prove our worth to others because only important people have places to go? Or are we trying to prove our worth to ourselves? I fall into this trap too, we all do, I think. Maybe we think that if we are busy we are being productive, but studies show that busy-ness is not productivity either. I’d like to boycott busy-ness, no thank you.

I never thought of myself has a homebody really, I love company and people, I love chatting and laughter more than anyone else. But I am finding as I get older busy-ness takes time away from my family, and how well I can take care of them. I don’t have to explain the particulars but know the house takes a hit, like a bomb of “got no time” went off and I overwhelmingly can’t tackle it. Time at home, non busy-ness helps me to begin reversing that. No to mention that we as Humans need rest. I can’t imagine it is good for our spirit to be restless all the days. We know from a spiritual aspect God rested and encourages rest. I want to be home more, take care of my family well. I want my kids to be bored, yes bored. I want them to create their own fun like we did when we were kids, or we create it as a family. (and before anyone says I’m a mean mom we do co-op and ballet and soccer in the fall, its not all staring at walls, but it is plenty) I want us to create moments out of rest. You can argue that I am wrong but I don’t think kids need too much and I believe that it is not beneficial for them, the studies seem to uphold that as well. I think kids the most are affected by busy-ness in their character and how they behave. Life is a balance, when things are out balance we may act out of balance. This is purely what I have seen with own child but smooth and easy days that I can invest in her and in her character make for a happier child and a happier Mother. I’ve seen the behavior a rushed week makes and the behavior a smooth and easy week makes and I’ll take the latter. It affects me too, a harried Mother is not a nice Mother. If you are my neighbor, you may already know this.

I will tell you I am the worst at this and I am learning. Scaling back on the busy-ness of life means sweet moments like our Olympics Party and tea times in the afternoon, which I couldn’t ever do in years past because of busy-ness or I was too tired at the end of the week. Busy-ness steals time away from the family. When your car is more your home than your home, like it has been for us in the past, it makes life more difficult. It’s already working for us. All I can do is pray for my rest and ways my family can relax together. Are you finding times for rest in your home or do you desire that as well?

 

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