Entries for the ‘daily life’ Category

Doing My Best

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

Every year I have plans for making the holidays less stressful, and here I am, less than a week from Christmas barely sleeping because of stress. Its not any one thing, I think its just the pressure I put on myself about how things should go. Every year I get better about lowering my expectations, but I still have a way to go.

This past Saturday we hosted a birthday party for my almost seven year old, her first ever party.

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It was an art themed party, and it was a lot of work. The poor girl has never had a party before- because who has time to add another party into the December mix?! I bought art canvas, baked cupcakes, made aprons from tea towels and did my best to facilitate fun.

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Thankfully my kids are all on break now. I realized the other day that winter break is my favorite! Two weeks is the perfect amount of time to take a break from the hustle and bustle of school without getting so bored that there is fighting (name calling yes, but no fighting yet). Seriously, knowing I don’t have to get up and do anything tomorrow (and tomorrow) is heavenly. We all lay around in our pajamas long past when we should, meals are improvised and I totally don’t care how long the kids play video games. I don’t want it to last forever, because then it would feel like summer vacation and during summer I always want to ship my kids off to somewhere else. Today, I like having them around.

We’ve got 98% of our shopping done, but we did brave World Market and Target today where the lines were 15-20min long. I have empathy for anyone who is out there doing last minute shopping, especially the tired, cranky, nap deprived children.

Last minute Christmas shopping is exhausting (or at least the long lines are)! #sisters

A photo posted by Heather Hales (@heatherhalesdesigns) on

I’ve been listening to Christmas music since Halloween and I’m done. I am very much looking forward to spending this weekend with family, but I’m ready for January. Ready to be done with the holidays and on with the new year. How about you…ready for January, or still scrambling to be ready for Christmas?

Where ever you are at, may your season be merry and bright (and not too cold).

Enjoying the Holiday Season

Tuesday, November 1st, 2016

In case you don’t know, my birthday is December 25, (yes, really). The whole Christmas season has always been my favorite time of year, one giant celebration with my birthday at the center.  I love the whole magic of the holiday- the closer it gets to December the more I feel the fabric of our communities change. There is a kindness, a gentleness (I’ve never been to black friday- maybe it is an exception) a sense of wonder that overtakes everything.  I just love that feeling. For most of my adult life I have held out on Christmas, I felt that I had to wait until Dec 1 before I decorated, baked, listened to carols etc.- everything needed to wait until that magical date on the calendar. That was just how I had always celebrated and made the season special.

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Last year was a stressful time for me, I was a bit depressed about of our life situation, some family stuff and really overwhelmed with planning a huge Christmas party for my church. I needed that Christmas Cheer sooner than December 1, so I started listening to music and watching Christmas movies in November. It helped….but what really struck me is how I felt AFTER Christmas. Much has been written about “Post Holiday Let-Down“, its something I always felt and figured was just a normal thing that happened after a big celebration. After last year, I found that for me, celebrating the holiday longer (starting earlier than Dec 1), made me ready and GLAD that the holiday was over. There was no let down last year, just a pleasant acceptance of the fun we had and the desire to move forward!

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With that little life lesson learned, I’m starting the Holiday’s today- Nov 1. Guilt free carols, baking, house decorating, Christmas movie watching and more! I’m not jumping straight from Halloween to Christmas, but I am lumping Thanksgiving and Christmas into “Holiday Season”. I’ll be hosting both holidays this year and am looking forward to decorating and building traditions in our new (and forever) home.

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In preparation for Thanksgiving, I’m going to do a “Gratitude-30” month again.  Today I am extremely grateful for a strong and healthy body, for the health of my family. It might seem silly, but I am grateful our bodies function as they should- my fingers, toes and legs work as they should. I am so thankful for health. Why don’t you join me in this month of gratitude? Comment here and tell me what you are grateful for today….

Weekend Re-cap

Sunday, October 9th, 2016

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This weekend was a balancing act between Pinners Conference, *new* house projects and being a wife/mother. The balancing act is starting to get old…I’m SO READY to be in our home and settled!  Six more days until we move…

I had a great time teaching embroidery and helping Bonnie with her class- but most of all I loved chatting and spending time with Stephanie and Bonnie. The older I get the more of a homebody I become, but I sure am glad I got out of the house and spent time with these inspiring ladies I call friends.

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I decided to really take a break from everything today (well, I did spend a wee bit of time on craigslist looking for tables and couches for the new house….and maybe an hour combing through Stephanie’s archives for a picture I remember seeing once upon a time that I wanted to use as inspiration for the girls room). But that was it!  I cooked dinner for my family, something I haven’t done in what feels like ages, I made chicken tikka masala and brownie sundaes for dessert. I didn’t pack anything, I didn’t even visit the house today.

I’m grateful for the rest that honoring the Sabbath can bring from our daily struggles and busy-ness. When we got to church I was so tired I thought I might fall asleep, by the second hour of church I was feeling much more awake and I enjoyed a great Sunday School lesson and then a relief society lesson by one of my favorite teachers. It was about family and how we can strengthen and protect our families.  My role as mother is something I have been thinking a lot about in the last few months.  Back in August I introduced myself to someone new and unashamedly said I was “at home with my kids” when asked what I did for a living. That was the first time in my LIFE that I didn’t feel ashamed, or less-than for admitting that I am a SAHM (the person asking me was a working single mother). It took years for me to get to this point. I feel like I finally see and value my role in our family. I find it kind of funny that my husband has always seen and valued my role as a mother and wife at home, while I was blinded by voices and societal pressures around me.

This is not meant to add any fuel to the fire of women fighting against each other over who is a better mom. I think as women we demean ourselves when we play that game.  Its hard to be a mom, period. As women we need to stand by our sisters and support them in the choices they make and not tear each other down.

After my day of rest I feel ready to tackle my to-do list for the week…
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Summer Roadtrip

Saturday, July 16th, 2016

This summer we drove 4,513 miles in two weeks, hitting 11 states (not including Arizona). The main purpose of the trip was to go back to Kansas (where my husband and I met while attending KU) and visit with friends and family we hadn’t seen in a long time.  It was an absolute blast!  I lost track of how many times I told my husband we should move back. BECAUSE KANSAS IN THE SUMMER IS GREEN!

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After visiting our Alma Mater, we attended our friend GR’s annual firework show.  It was a great show, probably one of the top ten I’ve ever seen, but the best part was helping with the root beer floats and being able to see so many people I knew years ago as they came through the line with their children.

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After Kansas we went to Nauvoo, IL. It was beautiful and educational. The two weeks we had to make this trip were just about the right amount of time, although I wished we’d had a few more days to spend with friends and an extra day in Wyoming. When planning this trip a friend told me that her family would create a theme or a motto for their trip- you know to give everyone a lens with which to view their experiences. Our unplanned motto was “Keep your hands to yourself”, as we found ourselves chanting this multiple times a day.

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After Nauvoo we went back to Missouri to spend time with my Sister & Brother-in law. My kids were over the moon because their Aunt & Uncle let them take rides and drive the golf cart- I think it was the highlight of their trip.

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We spent the next two days driving across the entire state of Nebraska (that was the day the check engine light came on, and we couldn’t find a decent park to eat lunch at) and Wyoming. Those were LOOOOONG days, for everyone.

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The good days and wonderful experiences far outweighed the long days in the car.  We are so grateful for friends and family who put us up for a night or two; the Garcia’s, the Gordon-Rosses,  and dinner with the Tenny’s.

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We average about six to seven years between trips like this. Next time we do this our oldest will be out of the house….which makes me sad. I’m so not ready for our family structure to change; but I’m glad they will have these memories.

Internet Worthy House

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

Dear Pinterest-

After three years of living in this rental house I finally hung something up on the living room walls. It started before breakfast when I was scrolling through FB and one of my groups announced an estate sale a mere 5 min from my house.

“Self”, I said, “lets go! Lets go find a treasure we don’t need and probably can’t afford.” As I’m rather obliging, I threw my hair in a pony, woke the kids to tell them I was leaving and off I went. As luck would have it I found more treasures than money in my pocket but settled on two late 60’s arm chairs.

After I got the chairs set up in my taupe/beige-y living room I realized the room lacked any color and character. “Paint! It needs paint” I said to my daughter, “Today is the day, we are painting today!”

Of course I went straight to you so your interweb of pins could tell me what color I should paint my bland living room. Oh, but pinterest, the over abundance of color. It was too much and I simply couldn’t decide.  I sort of lied to my daughter and said, “Oh, not today, Daddy will be mad if we paint without letting him pick the color too”. Which is the truth, but that wouldn’t have stopped me from painting today if I had found a color I loved.

I sat in my new chair and pondered what to do. The mirror, the lovely aqua mirror that has been sitting on the floor in the living room for three years! “Today is the day, I am going to hang it”, I thought.

Oh my heavens! The fiasco of hanging a heavy mirror is not even funny. Especially since I have only used a power tool one other time in my life. I had no idea what I was really doing and took eleventy million trips between the garage, the living room and google because I forgot everything under the sun and only had a vague idea of how dry wall screws work.

But Look Internet! I hung the mirror!

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It looks tiny in comparison to the large and empty wall space all around it. There should be more, but I’m tired now. I know the space does not and will probably never look like the living rooms of IG and pinterest, and today I am ok-ish with that.

I’m pretty sure my friends will not stop liking me because my house looks bland or boring. I’m fairly certain my kids will still be moderately cared for in our mismatched brown house, although I secretly think a perfect house might make perfect children and perfect everything because that is what you, sweet Pinterest, have been whispering to me for years.

I’ll admit to being a bit nervous about new people. People who don’t know me and like me yet, they *might* judge me on my house…I guess I’ll just have to be extra kind so the new people in my life will be so blinded by my shiny kindness they won’t be able to see the not quite perfect-ness of my home.

Maybe in another year or so I’ll get around to making some colorful pillows for the couch…but then again, maybe not, because that would mean picking a color scheme and accents and maybe actually painting….I haven’t got energy for that. I’ve got kids to raise, a husband to help and vintage clothing patterns to sew.

xo

Heather

 

Happiness- 30

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

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I don’t know that this interview was meant to be too terribly thought provoking, but it was, for me. I thought about what makes people happy and how much or little we need to be happy. I know intellectually that I have a pretty good life, but sometimes the emotions of that get lost in the first world dramas of my day.

In the fashion of Whole 30, I’ve decided to create a Happiness 30. Thirty days of making an actual list of what I am grateful for that day. Because I need accountability, I will be posting my daily list on my Instagram account- and occasionally linking over here.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The How of Happiness, has identified 12 behaviors that lead to greater happiness. I’ve decided to focus on six of those behaviors as a way to gauge my own success over the next thirty days.

  • avoid social comparison
  • practice acts of kindness
  • express gratitude
  • learn to forgive
  • intense focus on the present moment
  • practice religion and spirituality

If you’d like to participate (I really would love to see what this looks like for you!) please tag your photos #happiness30

 

 

 

Parenting is Not for Wimps

Monday, January 25th, 2016

For the last 2 months my week day mornings consist of nagging my teenager to hurry up, get dressed, brush his teeth, pack his lunch etc. I’ve offered him money if he can be ready to leave for school on time. I’ve threatened to take his bedroom door off so he can’t go back to bed after we’ve read and prayed together as a family. I’ve threatened on many occasions that if he isn’t ready on time he will need to find his own way to school….and every time I’ve failed to follow through, rationalizing in my head that this time an exception should be granted.

But, not today. I warned him right after he got up that if he wasn’t in the car by 7:40am he would need to find his own way to school. He wasn’t ready until 7:45am. He wasn’t that late, I started to rationalize; and he did get dressed faster today than any other day…I didn’t want to penalize that. Plus, I’d never ridden the route with him before, and all the cars backing out of driveways…would they see him, would he see them?

I swallowed my fears and gathered my courage to tell him he needed to find his own way to school.

He stormed out of the house as if I were the devil.

I texted my husband, who was already at work:

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After a stomach churning twenty minutes he made it to school.  Riding his bike to school also meant he had to ride home.  When he arrived home he was coming from the “wrong” direction.  He told me he rode home ALONG THE FRONTAGE ROAD to avoid seeing the kids from his old school.  THE FRONTAGE ROAD, the road with really fast cars and not so friendly homeless men!!!!

I know, I know…this was character building (for both of us), it taught him responsibility, and independence (you know that skill he’s going to need when he moves out at 18). He even told me it wasn’t so bad and he may do it again.  It took a lot of guts, but I turned to him and said, “If you’re not ready by 7:40 that will be your only method of getting to school”.

I know this is a good thing for him, but man it was hard for me. I have no problem helping my kids be successful when they are helping themselves, but I get mean and snarly when they don’t help themselves and I just enable them. Enabling isn’t really good for either of us, but it is the easy way out (at least in the short term).

Sick Days

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

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It seems this winter we’ve been taking a few sick days. Nothing too serious, but lots of resting on the couch and middle of the day naps. I am truly grateful for the way our lives are structured that allow sick days to be slow days. I’m grateful these do not cause me to rearrange my schedule or inconvenience others, that my only responsibilities at this stage of life are to my family.

In between Sesame Street and Curious George this morning I came across this-Writing Your Way to Happiness- article while trolling through facebook. Its a great read if you have a minute.  I’ve always been a writer, I started my first journal when I was in first grade. Writing has always been my preferred method of expressing my emotions- which in turn helps me to see things a little clearer.  It was nice to read the scientific data backing up what I have always felt to be true.

I’ve always loved letter writing as well, I only wish I had kept all of my correspondence over the years. I’ve tried to reach out to friends and relatives via letters, but it seems these days everyone just prefers email or text (which has its place!). To me, there is nothing more cathartic than blue ball point ink on college ruled paper. every time.

 

a little recap

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

We finished out 2014 with a trip to the beach and time with extended family, which was full of everything you would expect.

Sunset at Laguna Beach yesterday. Today it's back to cacti. #lagunabeach #beach #california

A photo posted by Heather Hales (@heatherhalesdesigns) on

I finally finished another book, The Friday Night Knitting Club, I started it in 2014, but didn’t finish it until the new year.  I sat down to check my book stats…2014 I was more than 10 books behind the last two years. Sigh, I guess I spent more time in the sewing room than I did hiding behind a book- which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This rag doll was my first sewing finish of 2015.

First finished project of 2015!! #Ballerina #Doll #ragdoll

A photo posted by Heather Hales (@heatherhalesdesigns) on

December and January are busy months for our family, we have 2 birthdays in Dec (yours truly hit 37 on the 25th) + Christmas January has New Years, a birthday and our Wedding anniversary.  We celebrated 17 years this year.  At the risk of it being taken wrong let me just say marriage is work. No matter how much you love each other or how amazing your friendship is- its still work. I get so tired of the Hollywood stereotype of happily every after, it is just not real.

For Christmas I made my girl friends some fun oilcloth cosmetic bags, they are easy to make and super practical. I made one for myself and then kept going….I’ve offered a few for sale on IG- follow me to check it out.

I love making these! #oilcloth #cosmeticbag

A photo posted by Heather Hales (@heatherhalesdesigns) on

I’m going to give away 2 mini-bags later in the week but only on IG- so follow me to hear about it!

According to my kids the best part of Christmas was when we told them we’d agreed to get a cat.

Do share- what have you been up to?

The Most Wonderful Time of The Year

Monday, December 15th, 2014

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It doesn’t feel like the most wonderful time of the year. I feel like I’ve been riding an emotional roller coaster at the state fair after eating too much cotton candy.  My head is spinning, my stomach aches and the tears are just too close to the surface. All I wanted to do this past weekend was sit in my closet and throw myself a little pity party.  I knew for sure I did not want to dress up, put a smile on and be social….but my kids did, and my good friend was hosting the party…and I didn’t want to be the chump friend who wasn’t there to help.

I plastered my public smile on, reapplied some mascara and went out into the world in something other than my pajamas.  Our little family of 5 sat down and I began to survey the room. While wondering how long we had to stay and hoping one of the kids would act up and we’d all have to go home, someone asked me to help serve food.

I’m sure you have all heard the adage that when life is hard you should loose yourself in service to others- and maybe you thought ya right, who wants my help when I’m just being a grouch.  People, I am here to say all it takes is a willing heart.  Because let me tell you how I spent Saturday evening serving ham and potatoes with a genuine smile on my face- making chit chat with those who came through my line.  Feeling grateful to have something to do and knowing I was helping in some way. Not once did I think about myself, not once did I ponder on my own problems- I just served; both literally and figuratively.

I think God really wanted to underline the point of serving others for me because the next day in church were two beautiful, I mean beautiful, talks on kindness and service. About reaching beyond our own little circle of comfort and serving/showing kindness to everyone, for no other reason than they are our fellow men.

Serving didn’t solve my problems, it didn’t even change my perspective on them- but what it did do was provide a respite from thinking about them.  I suppose one could say serving others is a form of self medication….seems a whole lot healthier than numbing my problems with alcohol or drugs. Maybe my motives for service are selfish (just hoping to feel better myself), but I don’t think that makes the acts of kindness any less valid.

It is easy to get lost in your own problems and think you have nothing to offer, but I’ll tell you what…service and kindness don’t always take money and grand gestures. Sometimes all it takes is a warm smile, sitting with someone who is alone, offering a kind word, a genuine question of “how are you?”, a simple text message saying “I’m thinking of you”.

Example is a powerful thing and I am so grateful for those I know who respond to the world with genuine kindness and an open heart. I’m grateful to see those example, because you cannot become what you don’t see.

I guess I am standing on my tiny internet platform and challenging you to reach out to others- do something today that improves the day of someone else, and I promise it will improve your day too.