I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always love–or am even grateful–for my little house. We’re cramped and it’s rare we host a large gathering (though it does happen!). We’ve got a For Sale By Owner sign in the yard right now and a list started because this time we’re really going to do it–the staging, the packing, the make-it-cute-for-others deal that comes with putting your house on the market.
But even so, every now and then I look around and catch my breath and wonder how much I’ll miss this little house when the day finally comes that we load a UHaul with ten years and too many books.
I always love my house more post-Christmas. Once I get that tree down and pack away decorations, my space feels reclaimed. And sometimes I leave in storage some of those knickknacks that got bumped for my snowman collection and I don’t miss them.
Because there’s margin, white space, an empty spot I can either fill with something new or old or just leave open, inviting, reminding me that a new year is a new start and I don’t have to fill each blank just yet.
3 Ways to Love Your January House
Let something be empty.
A table, the buffet top, a shelf. Leave space for the gifts, both tangible and not, that will come your way this year. My goal is always the kitchen table. It’s our hardest working surface and if I don’t keep it empty, there’s no where for me to work, dinner to be eaten, or a cup of tea to be poured while someone sits with me and pours out heart words.
Put up something new.
We (and by that I mean Joshua) actually put up these shelves right before Christmas and then we loaded them down with Christmas, so now we’re figuring out their purpose. Too much is there right now, and I’ll be simplifying this weekend, but just having a new look for our living room has lifted my heart. And this was a cheap DIY. We bought a board and brackets at Lowe’s, stained the board, cut the lengths we wanted, and ta-da! Instant room makeover. (Again we is really just my husband. I contributed by handing him the picture I had torn out of Better Homes and Gardens at least two years ago.)
Make cleaning fun.
Don’t know about you, but my house always feels a bit grimy once I put away all the decorations. (I think it’s because I’m allergic to dusting. Not dust. The actual act of having to put down my book and clean.) So last fall I began ordering all-natural cleaning products from ePantry. My favorites are Mrs. Meyers because everything always smells so good and fresh. I don’t know about you, but while bleach may work, the smell stings my nose and doesn’t make me feel very welcomed in my own home. Celebrate that you’ve finally put the last box of ornaments away and order this special January cleaning kit from Mrs. Meyers and ePantry.
Thank you to my sweet friend Merideth who blesses me with her talent.
Lately, I’ve been learning a few things about myself. Back in the spring the Splickety staff used the test at 16Personalities to discuss how different–and alike–we all are. I’ve realized for awhile now (pretty much ever since I became a mom) that I walk a line between extravert and introvert and this examination of my personality was pretty spot on.
According to the test, I’m an ENFP-T (the Campaigner)–really? I don’t much feel like a campaigner, but I am these things:
The analysis says people with my personality type “tend to see life as a big, complex puzzle where everything is connected… through a prism of emotion, compassion and mysticism, and are always looking for a deeper meaning.”
Well, that’s pretty true. I dug pomegranate arils out the other day for a salad and then wrote a story describing it that was about more than just pomegranates.
“ENFPs will bring an energy that oftentimes thrusts them into the spotlight, held up by their peers as a leader and a guru – but this isn’t always where independence-loving ENFPs want to be. Worse still if they find themselves beset by the administrative tasks and routine maintenance that can accompany a leadership position.”
Ha, I don’t see myself as a ‘guru’ at anything but sometimes I think others do. At least the people who don’t see me falling apart as a wife and mom on a regular basis are always asking for my advice and opinion and help, especially now that I’m a published and contracted writer. I type that and then figure I sound like a snob. Trust me, I know very little but I am always happy to share that little. I have to humble myself everyday, especially when I edit, and google questions like, “In fiction should numbers be written out?” (Yes, in dialogue especially.)
My favorite part of that description is the part about “administrative tasks”. Please keep those away from me. The paperwork, data, charts, analysis–that’s what I hated about teaching. Just let me read books and lead discussions, already. The decision making and final calling–what I wasn’t good at when I coordinated MOPS. Just let me connect with moms. The find a cute image, schedule posts, and dissect page views of platform building? Ugh, I write 500 words and wish that was enough.
It’s nice to be validated. To realize that there’s nothing wrong with me for not being good at/enjoying those tasks. I just enjoy other tasks more. And I struggle with these time consumers because while I didn’t always find my strengths to be exact in this study, the weaknesses… well, those were unfortunately true.
ENFP personalities tend to have poor practical skills, difficulty focusing, overthink everything, get stressed easily, are highly emotional, and fiercely independent.
But the beauty of having your weaknesses pointed out (and mine have been shown to me with this test and the loving words of some kind friends) is that when I’m aware these are my tendencies, I can make a conscious effort to recognize when I’m being a crazed, anxious, difficult person and step back to examine the why. Which is helping me do something I’ve never done before–say no and guard the time I need. Because while I might have tipped the scales toward extravert, I also know the introvert rises up everyday and needs a little time of withdrawal.
That’s why I get up early and sit in the dim light and drink my first cup of coffee without a three year old baby in my lap. Then I study.
Ever wonder what a personality test would say about Jesus? It’s comforting to me when I realize He too was misunderstood by those closest to him. In Mark 4, he’s teaching so many parables and then takes his disciples alone and aside and explains the deeper meaning, yet, still when they cross the Sea of Galilee that night and the storm blows up and He rebukes the waves they ask—”Who is this man?”
They didn’t really know him, not yet.
I’m paging though My Utmost for His Highest for probably the fifth time and this line yesterday, “We can only be used by God after we allow Him to show us the deep, hidden areas of our own character.” It’s when we see our own shortcomings that we can surrender to grace. I’m not so good at that (ahem, independent is another word for likes-to-do-things-my-own-way). Chambers goes on to say it is our pride that holds us back from understanding Christ’s work in us.
But I want to understand. So I’ve lain down a list that’s between me and Jesus of those areas in which I don’t surrender. Maybe you have one too? And maybe instead of being consumed with how others perceive me–or how I perceive myself–I can become consumed with knowing and understanding God so He can work in me—conform me to His image.
And speaking of surrender, that’s a major theme in Katherine Reay’s Dear Mr. Knightley which I finished just the other day.
Loved Dear Mr. Knightley—talk about introspective. Sam’s journey from hidden to found is delicate and though she appears fragile, we discover she’s a steel magnolia (trapped in Chicago). I learned I don’t really know Austen, so I’m adding Emma to my list (might read with Madelynne) and definitely Jane Eyre for a Bronte fix. This story is told in letters, which is unique, and at first I wondered how we’d really get the tale, but then I got lost in the first person narration. My only complaint was that she had to come out of it at the end (for justifiable and necessary reasons) but I hated losing Sam’s voice at that moment. Took me a few pages to feel we were still in her head. Which, the writer in me knows, is the trick of third person deep POV. Harder than one would imagine. So get this one if you like a good romance (not steamy but slow and savory) and appreciate good literature. Yes, I realize I just made romance sound like pot roast. But that’s the kind of story this is—wholesome and filling.
Oh, and if you’re interested I’m venturing over to Goodreads, so you can find me there if you want to talk books.
One more thing!
You can get some these goodies for free this week over at ePantry. I love ePantry. They send me items that make my daughter say, “I like to clean with the good-smelling spray.” Win-win.
She’s talking about that Meyer’s Multi-purpose spray. Favorite cleaning product EVER. I use it on everything and worry about nothing.
The sweethearts at ePantry (y’all they write me handwritten notes) will send you a free Mrs. Meyer’s cleaning kit with a $20 purchase. To make it super simple, they’ll suggest a basket for you based on your answers to four simple questions. You can add/delete as you want/need but this is the easiest, cheapest, funnest way to freshen your January house. Just go here to sign up or here if you’re an existing customer. They’ll take care of the rest.
Enjoy! I know I do, especially when the kids are cleaning and I’m reading. Sure, sometimes that happens.
Amazing, isn’t it, how something unseen can bring you to your knees?
One dreaded word gets thrown about like parade candy this time of year but with less enthusiasm.
Respiratory. Hand-foot-mouth. And every mother’s nightmare that often appears at 3 a.m. and never quite makes it to the toilet.
Our nightmare with the lingering effects of a virus began long before my five year old’s diagnosis of Clinically Isolated Syndrome. Our first brush with just how tricky viruses can be happened in May 2013, a month most folks in my circle are happy to forget existed.
That’s when my husband presented with heart attack symptoms and was eventually diagnosed as having perimyocarditis. Likely caused by a virus like Fifth’s Disease which the kids had a month earlier.
Then, last fall, the stomach virus descended upon us with a vengeance. We don’t know, doctors don’t know, there’s just no way to know if three subsequent rounds of this virus triggered Amelia’s autoimmune reaction. Maybe the virus and its dehydrating effects worsened an underlying condition. We don’t know. But I do know and believe this whole heartedly–
The last time I remember feeling like a normal family was September a year ago. The last month we experienced with no virus, no sickness, no doctors visits.
So when the school starts sending home the warnings, when my girls tell me who got sick in the hall (or on the lunch table!), when all I want to do is wrap a bubble around our life and get away from it all–I go to my knees.
And my kitchen sink. Because maybe I can’t prevent Amelia from being sick, maybe I can’t keep everything at bay, but I can make sure my kids have clean hands.
We started an ePantry trial over the summer because I jumped on an offer from Modern Mrs. Darcy. Pretty sweet. Free candle. $10 credit. I ordered all purpose cleaner, sponges, and hand soap. Going greener and cleaner has been heavy on mind as I research all I can to help keep my daughter well.
There’s no guarantees anything will work, but if reducing harsh chemicals and enjoying the scent of basil all year long can at least help prevent a relapse, I’m going to try.
ePantry has been awesome. The products are excellent quality, but better than that is the customer service. When I realized my VIP trial was about to run out and I hadn’t placed another order, they gave me an extension and a discount. They respond to email–as in real people with names and personalities respond to email. They want to make this experience easy and affordable, and this company is dedicated to reducing waste and improving our environment.
Really, it’s a win for everyone.
Here’s a little snapshot of what I’m getting next time:
For almost three years, I’ve been making my own all-purpose cleaner. That’s been great, but it’s never worked all that well on wood, and like I said, with virus season upon us, I’m all for anything “disinfecting”. So we’re going to try these products from Method and Seventh Generation for dusting and bathrooms. What I love about trying them from EPantry versus Wal-mart is this: if I hate it, EPantry will take care of me. I’m a person to them, a customer.
How ePantry works
Take advantage of this exclusive offer by clicking here or on one of those great pictures.
Answer a few simple questions about your home, cleaning schedule, and preferred products. ePantry will make suggestions based on your answers.
Customize your basket! Add, delete, tailor it to your family and your budget.
Including your FREE hand soap and $10 credit, your total must come to $20. Free shipping too! (This minimum is for first time only.)
When you’re done, click Finish and Pay. Easy peasy.
Here’s an example of what I’d recommend for a first-timer’s basket:
1. Your FREE soap (and get another while you’re at it). 2. All Better Balm because winter dry skin is coming. I’m always searching for great hand cream. 3. Those sponges that make my kids want to wash the dishes. 4. This organic hand sanitizer. Because that other kind is gross. 5. Everyone loves a good, natural body wash. 6. Dish soap that won’t harm your septic system or your hands. 7. Our favorite multi-surface cleaner. The girls spray this everywhere and on everything. It ruins nothing. And my house smells like Basil all the time. Perfect for when we stick the For Sale sign in the yard again.
A lot of you have asked how I get my kids to help with chores. I’ll post about that next week along with a free customizable chore chart, but in the meantime, place your order and get ready for fall housecleaning.
Just don’t welcome any viruses in with your pumpkin spice.