Simplify

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A long time ago my mother-in-law gave me a little plaque that says, “simplify.”  It has held a lot of meaning for me through the years but recently that plaque has been catching my eye.  As I have been pondering on this, it seems like I have always just lived simply.  I haven’t wanted to do or have extravagant things, just have always longed for the basic things in life.  I grew up with the knowledge that our family didn’t have a lot of money and sometimes that was frustrating to me when I was comparing myself to others, but looking back I am grateful for the small and simple things in my life when I was growing up.  We would take turns going to my grandparent’s homes on Sundays after church and what sweet memories those are to me.  I loved going to their homes.  My Grandpa and Grandma on my dad’s side was always an adventure.  They had this amazing hanging bench swing in a gazebo in the back yard, so many wonderful memories there.  My Grandma and Grandpa on my mom’s side lived on a little farm in the middle of nowhere land, but it was always so much fun to go.  My Grandma would play cards with us almost every time we went and she would always make us think that we were going to win, BUT she always won and won BIG!  She was also an avid reader.  I loved looking at the books on her shelf and asking her what she was reading.  My mom in past years told me that I was a lot like my Grandma and I am so grateful for that.  Today some of my most prized possessions are some of my Grandma’s books that I have.  They are tender and sweet memories of my beloved Grandma.  I guess this is where my love of simple things comes from, the simple memories of my life that I treasure.

I know that my kids will not remember the “stuff” they get but the feeling that they had when they worked hard for something and the small memories.  I hope they remember all the silly tickle fights we have and the kissy hugs and long road trips to their Grandma’s and Grandpa’s homes.  When we were looking for a home, instead of a big house with all the room that we want for cheaper, we decided a smaller home closer to my husband’s work was more important.  Our home we live in is nothing fancy, but it FEELS like home and we love to have fun.  We don’t have any streaming video or cable or video gaming systems, we have PBS and we have each other.  Every night is a gift to spend together and it usually goes too fast, bedtime seems to come faster every night.  We don’t have money to have expensive clothes for any of us, but I am grateful for all the people in my life that have passed down clothes to us, what a blessing.  We don’t have a huge budget by any means but we have the basics and we choose to live simply and enjoy the small things.  I can’t imagine life without my amazing husband and my precious little ones, who are teaching me so much.  I am grateful for the memories of those that are not here physically, but who I can hear cheering me on, when I am feeling down.  I am grateful to live a simple, yet full life, where I can hopefully make a difference in a little way, just like my Grandma.

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Driving Thoughts

This past weekend we were able to go and visit our parents and some family members. It is always something we all look forward to and we always have fun, but the one thing that my kids forget until we are like 2 hours into the drive, is that when we go to visit we spend like a total of 15 hours in the car.  We do things to break the drive up but really, it is just a lot of sitting and driving. This time the ride was particularly adventurous with potty training.  Well, I potty trained her like a month ago, but you just never know how it will go when you don’t have ready access to a potty.  We took along the training potty and we used it on the side of the road more than once.  I was super nervous about her staying dry through the night, but she did great and kept her new sleeping bag dry the whole trip.

While we were driving we of course had the normal sibling drama happening, “Mom, she is touching me!”  “Her foot is too close to me.” “Stop looking at me.” “I don’t want to share the crayons.” You know, it is always interesting to see what is going to be said.  It was during those times that I or my cute husband would try and focus the kids’ attention on something OUTSIDE the car.  “Hey, look at those construction vehicles.” “Did you just see that purple truck go by?” “Don’t worry we have already gone 3 hours, we only have 4 more to go…” It was a game to get them to stop focusing on each other and what the other person had “done” to them and focus their attention to something that they couldn’t control but that they could see.  Other times I really wanted to point out something outside, but they were having a laughing fit about something that was so funny and playing together great.  I had to stop myself a couple of times from saying anything and focus my attention on the love and joy that I felt in those moments.

It got me thinking about life.  Sometimes it is good to shift our focus outward on things that we can’t necessarily control but that is a good learning moment.  Other times when the focus is inward with our family and close friends we need to savor those moments and stop looking for something outside to grab our attention.  The best times in life are with the ones we love are in small spaces with loud laughter and tickle wars.  Don’t forget to enjoy those times by focusing inward.