Sunday, September 30, 2012

31 Days of Margin

Let me start this off by telling you that I am a little stressed out by this whole endeavor of posting something every single day for 31 days. It turns out, however, that I get stressed out rather easily; although if you asked me I would vehemently argue the opposite, insisting that I am completely "breezy," and easygoing always. I'm not even going to ask Adam his opinion on the whole thing.

I actually don't even really know what "31 days" is, and just happened to read a post on Emily's blog and then couldn't stop feeling this strange nudging on my heart and hearing the word MARGIN bouncing around between my ears.

See, today has been one of those days. You know, the ones where you feel like everything is just entirely too hard? Where things feel so completely overwhelming, and it's grey and drizzly and all you really want to do is crawl into bed, pull your covers over your head and hide for a couple hours (or possibly a few weeks). You do understand that feeling right? Please say it's not just me. Sometimes I get all stressed out (read: NOT breezy) even on days like today where nothing terrible happens, just a series of small disappointments and failures and tantrums and mis-steps that all contribute to making me feel like perhaps I can't catch my breath. So Adam told me not to come home until I had spent some time at Starbucks just relaxing and breathing and reading (have I mentioned he's the best?), but I couldn't find my Kindle (shocking, since our house is a hot mess) so I mostly have just been sitting here sipping a salted caramel mocha and thinking.

And I've stumbled into the conviction that God wants to teach me some things about margin. Because our lives currently? Have no margin.

Pages need margins to be read. Words need margin to be understood. Our brains need margin to think, and our lives need space to breathe, to process, to think, to move forward.

And I think we need to figure out this whole margin thing: what is it, what does it look like, how do we get it. . .

So I'm going to do my darndest to commit to taking the next 31 days to listen, read, write, think, ponder, and question . . . what is margin and how can I create some in my life? I hope you'll join me.

And I also hope that you wont be too disappointed if I dont ACTUALLY post every single day this month. Because, like I said, this level of commitment makes me all twitchy and stressed. I just hate disappointing people, ever. Which may, in fact, be a part of the problem.

Friday, September 28, 2012

St. Simons Island

This past weekend, our family had a little getaway to St. Simon's Island, which is about five hours from our house. What a fun treat it was to have our friend offer to let us use their beach house, on the orders that we ONLY take our family and not bring extra kids or more people we could minister to. It was a sweet time as a family of four, we played and slept (not a lot unfortunately) and ate and read and watched the Georgia game. Perfect.

We left after our flag football team's game on Thursday (yup, over a week ago - I'm slightly behind on blogging, as usual). Which meant we arrived at the beach house at approximately 3am. And our key didn't work to get in. By the team we had tried every single other key on the keyring multiple times on every door, it was nearing 3:30am and both kids were wide awake. Thankfully they were cheerful and Jayci kept telling us she would just use her finger to unlock the door while Caden clapped excitedly. We finally tried to sleep in the van in the driveway (classy right) in hopes that a neighbor would wake up soon and have a key. Or maybe that they would call the cops on the creepy family sleeping in the van and we could explain our plight. Sleeping in the van, however, was an epic disaster to say the least. And finally I cried some real tears and Adam relented and we slept for approximately four hours in the local Hampton Inn. Which, now that I think about it, might not have been the best investment since the kids woke up at 8am anyways. Thankfully, a neighbor did have a key. Which meant we were able to enjoy the rest of our week with relatively little drama. Unless you count all the ridiculous temper tantrums and tears from both children and possibly a little bit from me too. I mean, all I wanted was to read three or four books on my Kindle on the beach without being interrupted by silly things like changing Caden's diaper and stopping him from crawling/toddling into the waves. Oh I kid, but I definitely had to decide to change my expectations of "vacation" and recognize that our kids couldn't last much longer than an hour on the beach each day. And that I could have fun playing with my kids instead of just relaxing in the sun . . .
Also my two little beach-haired-blondies? Swoon.
 
Caden did this with his hands the whole time he walked on the sand, he wasn't too sure about having sand everywhere.
 It goes without saying that I took way too many pictures. And I might be biased, but golly are my kids beautiful. Sometimes it takes looking at them through the lens, through eyes choosing to really see, before I remember how beautiful they are both inside and out. I am one lucky momma y'all. Anyways, it was a fun weekend and we are so grateful for all the ways people bless us and love us well on our journey.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Stanley Man: the other ladies in my life

I am so excited that Adam finally wrote a post for y'all! He was a little worried that his hilarity and wit might not translate as well on the blog as they do in person, so make sure you make him feel welcome by leaving a comment or two or twenty. Also, please note that no chickens were harmed in the taking of these pictures (contrary to how it might look based on how Jayci -and Adam- are holding them). And also please note that the Adam typically yells "hey ladies" in a high-pitched voice every time he leaves the house, and then the chickens will follow him around like his own little entourage. Hilarious.
Well I think it’s about time to write a little something for all of you who have been waiting with baited breath for the last three weeks since the grand, probably most amazing announcement to ever grace the Stanley clan blog. Yep, three weeks late. . . I’m sure you have come to realize that we are incredible with our timing and super-organized. Honestly it’s a little intimidating writing on a blog whose author is pretty incredible. I mean an inspirational woman of the year for Glamour, how does one follow that? I feel a little like the kid who didn’t do a great job preparing for his presentation following the student with the highest grade in the class…oh wait that’s exactly how it was 13 years ago when I met Becca. So I guess I’m left with my charm, wit and good looks to once again pull something together.

I thought I would kick things off by introducing you all to some of our family members who have yet to get much respect and attention on this blog. These ladies are some of the hardest working, best looking, and friendliest you have ever met. Somehow Becca shrieks and runs from them every time they come to say hello. I think you may have seen pictures of them when they were tiny peepers, but now that they have grown, their true colors are shining. Our 5 chickens have all survived our crazy routine, or lack of routine, and are thriving chasing any insect that flies and scratching for grubs. They will come to greet you when you walk out the back door and are always close by when working in the garden, waiting for a snack that’s unearthed. They really are ridiculously funny to watch. We have come to see how each one has a unique personality and I tend play out their conversations in my head.
 
We each named one chicken and I believe Jayci was the first to name hers. At the time she was going through a phase where she would attach a "y" to the end of a word and then repeat the word without the y. Like Zacky Zack or Mavy Mav. So her chicken is Boingy Boing, an easter egger. Its fitting really. Boingy Boing, BB for short, is the most skittish of our ladies. She will cluck, hop and run from any quick movement. We noticed she's more of a rule follower. Our little chicken run fence became too little for the ladies and they began to escape in to the yard…and the neighbors yard. Not BB, she would be hanging out waiting for us to bring the other back squaking remarks like “told you guys that was a bad idea”, or “maybe next time you’ll listen to me.” You would have heard it too if you were here…
Zack named his chicken Bigfoot, a golden laced wynadotte. It’s an unfortunate name for any lady, but when she was young she did have ginormous feet compared to her body. She has grown into them for the most part, but will occasionally trip sending BB into a frenzy thinking the sky is falling or something like that. She has always been shy and reluctant to let you touch her. She pretty much stays at the rear of the flock sorting through what the others have left behind. It would be safe to say she's at the bottom of the pecking order.
Domino, a plymoth barred rock, was named by Danielle because of her black and white coloring. Domino is usually the first on over the fence and will come up without fear. She is often the one terrorizing Becca by following her around and will try to follow you in the house. She is super friendly and is most often the one I will hold to show an interested neighbor or kid. She is also one of the biggest chickens we have.

Peep, a partridge rock, named by Becca. Peep got her name because she is supposed to lay a pastel colored egg, at least thats what we thought when she was a chick. Turns out she is not the easter egger we thought she was. Her name remained the same none the less. She was by far the least afraid of us and had the most human interaction when she was young. Now she is a little more cautious, it may or may not be because we would ask the kids to chase them back to the run. She is slowly warming up to the idea of being held again.

Finally we have Madea, an Australorp, named by yours truly. Why Madea? Well look at her, and she has attitude. She will let the others know how shes feeling and will chase you around if you have a tasty treat. She has always allowed us to hold her and even though she has attitude with the other hens she is pretty docile around us. There may be an errant peck here or there, but she is quick to come when called.
Well those are the other ladies in my life. They have not started laying yet, but should any day. I joke with the neighbors they will have to earn their keep and will wind up on the table if they don’t produce any eggs, but that’s not something that will ever happen. They are pets with benefits. I have grand plans for a chicken friendly garden in the back yard, but that’s something that is still up for discussion with Becca, who just like Boingy Boing, runs whenever Bigfoot missteps.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Butterfly Birthday Party

As soon as Jayci requested a butterfly birthday party, I quickly agreed, happy to celebrate with anything that wasn't princesses for once. She also requested beach balls, crafts, music, and chocolate cake. We complied, and celebrated our sweet little four year old girl exactly how she wanted, surrounded by her friends and family and "big brothers" (yes plural, look closely and see who showed up for the party!)

Also, I literally threaded the balloons with needle and thread in order to hang them (an idea I believe I originally saw via Pinterest). It wasn't hard to thread. It was hard, however, to hang and keep untangled and such. However, I think they looked pretty awesome, so yay pinterest.

I told you Jayci requested beach balls. Go big or go home right?
Another fabulous and oh-so-delicious cake created by Adam. He said that he just wanted to make my sister (a pastry chef in Amsterdam) proud. Well that from-scratch chocolate cake with buttercream icing with just a little homemade strawberry jam mixed in . . . I'd say it might do the trick, what do you think Emma?
All the little girls got their own butterfly wings when they arrived.
There were three well-organized craft tables set up outside, which I failed to capture on camera. Which is unfortunate considering how proud I was of how organized those things were, complete with instructions and labeled ziploc bags. What? Who am I?

I did, however, capture some of the finished creations. Cute right?
 
 There was a "create your own" kids mix for the kids. It was fun to see what they chose to put in their mix . . . most of them wanted goldfish and raisins and cereal. Jayci loves Craisins and animal crackers so her mix contained lots of those too!
 
Look who decided he likes cake now? Smart boy.
There was a large butterfly pinata which I also did a poor job adequately photographing. Which is probably because Adam was hoisting it via a large rope onto the highest possible tree branch, using his truck to pull it, just minutes before guests arrived. It was an impressive process really.
The kids, surprisingly, weren't having much luck busting open the pinata with the soft Dora bat, so we had Zack step in and he hit it once with a large stick and that did the trick.
Overall, it was (as usual) chaotic and fun and full of life and love and celebrating our sweet little girl turning four! Also, if she could slow down with all the growing up, that would be great. Sigh.

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