Tag Archives: home

The present I almost got but didn’t (but might still)

Sometimes, you have no idea what you’d like for Christmas except things that aren’t really in the “Christmas gift” category:

  • a new car (ours is bursting at the seems)
  • a new microwave (we’re on the edge of our seat waiting for our current one to blow up)
  • new chair covers (we have toddlers)
  • a new phone (that doesn’t randomly turn off multiple times every day)
  • or, uh, LASIK eye surgery (so I never have to worry about putting my contacts in the wrong eyes ever again)

But you know those things won’t fit in your stocking (or the budget) and so you say something along the lines of, I don’t want or need anything. Just surprise me.

And then you’re out running an errand for something completely unrelated and you see it – the perfect gift at the perfect sale price andyouhavetohaveit.

So you snap a phone pic and you tell your husband about it, and make sure he knows to hurry because they only have three left….

Only to hear a few days later that he did hurry, but it was too good a gift at too great a price and so now there’s three other happy ladies this Christmas. (And just maybe he didn’t hurry quite enough.)

And he sends you a photo of another one that’s currently in stock, but even though it’s more expensive it’s not as pretty and you say, no thank you… I just liked that other one.

Of course by this time you’re wishing you would have just bought the too-good-to-be-true present yourself when you found it and had given it to your husband for him to give back to you. (But you know that takes some of the fun out of it for him and it’s not really the point of gift-giving and the whole spirit-of-Christmas thing, so… There’s that.)

And yet by now you’re borderline obsessed with the present you’re not going to get and so you google it and come up empty.

Until you find something similar on ebay, which leads you to something even more similar, which leads you to it.

And it’s nearly the same price so you do a happy dance and forward your husband the link and say things like, you’ll never believe what I just found and yeah, I still really want this thing if it’s okay and want me to just go ahead buy it for you for me?

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you put in requests for Christmas (or birthdays)? Why or why not?

 

Love,
A


When your littles share a bedroom…

There are so many upsides to having the boys share a room. They play with all the same toys anyway. It feels like they are practically in the same size clothes. “Kid stuff” is mostly contained in one room of the house, rather than stashed in every nook and cranny. I believe it helps promote learning to share and respect and play and work together. Bonding. Yup, lots of reasons.

But there are also a couple of downsides.

Today at lunch Judah was yawning and ready for bed. Soon after he finished I changed him, read the boys stories, and put them in bed.

Several minutes later I heard giggling and slapping. I peeked in the door to see Judah on his knees, rocking side to side, slapping his thighs, grinning and “singing” loudly. (My kiwi friends will be pleased to know that I’m almost positive he was doing the “haka”.)

He was happy as a clam and hyper as a… a… I don’t know. A kid who ate fruit loops for lunch? (He didn’t, by the way.)

Of course Levi finds this hilarious so he is in his bed copying and laughing, until I open the door when he dives for cover and pretends to be sleeping.

Most days I’d work really hard to get the boys both sleeping at the same time (they really do need it, and so do I) but every once-and-a-while I just don’t bother. I figure – they’re happy and they will have days where they wind each other up too much. As long as they stay in there and give me some space, I can deal with a few shrieks of laughter and harmless “naughtiness” during nap time. They’ll go to bed early tonight and I’ll cross my fingers that there won’t be too many melt-downs in between.

And I must admit, it’s kind of fun to snoop through a cracked door and watch the boys bonding and having so much fun… even if it is during nap time.

 

Q for you: Did you share a room growing up? If so, do you have fond memories of it? If you have kids, do they share?

 

Love,
A

 


The “perfect” holiday season

Thanksgiving is in a few days and I’m officially excited for Christmas.

Around here that means higher electricity bills (hello, AC!) and less clothes. It means more sweat and more swimming. It means uglier hair and more beautiful evening walks.

Every year we long for our holidays to be “the best ever” and it’s easy to make ourselves crazy with wanting our homes and tables and gifts and trees to look like something out of Martha Stewart. (And don’t get me wrong, I love prettiness all around.)

But I refuse to pursue “pretty” at the expense of “perfect”.

Because perfect holidays don’t come looking like a magazine spread.

Perfect holidays come when there is enough time and space and energy to enjoy the ones we love.

Sometimes that comes with a gorgeous party spread laid out around a pinterest-worthy centerpiece and other times that comes with a backyard BBQ and impromptu game of cricket while dining on picnic wear.

Either way, perfect is achievable. As long as we have the right idea of perfect. 

 

Q for you: Do you stress about having the “perfect” holidays?

 

Love,
A

 


The pull

 

Some days the pull is heavier than others.

If I’m honest, most days heaven never even crosses my mind.

But lately, there’s been death. Illness. Struggle.

And also less dramatic things like the gentle bent toward sin that you can feel when you’re really, really honest with yourself.

I’ve felt it lately – that bent.

It’s not the “big” things that are hard. (I’ve never had a genuine desire to murder someone or steal the Queen’s crown jewels or run a big insurance scam.)

It’s the little things – That small tug of jealousy in your heart. That tinge of desire to gossip. That undercurrent of pride. That hint of dishonesty. That pull to judge. That appeal of self-righteousness. That tendency to be critical.

And that’s when I really long for heaven – for that place where the tug of sin no longer has any grip, anywhere to latch on, any hold whatsoever of my heart.

I recognize my frailty. I’m still so weak, even in my holiness, even in my right-standing with Him.

There are areas yet unsanctified.

It’s only in him that I’m truly home.

And so

my heart

continues to long

for heaven.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you think about heaven much? In what way?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited.

 


The key to a cleaner floor

A few months back I bought a used hand-vac from one of our local thrift stores.

I was pretty excited about my $14.95 find, and hoped it would fill the space of the much-needed family dog. (Well, the cleaning-up-under-the-table part at least. Admittedly, the handy-vac isn’t all that cuddly to snuggle up to.)

What a novelty to be able to whip that thing out and suck up a mess in 30 seconds flat.

Of course Levi is obsessed too. He gets a real high from being let loose in the house with it. (I’ll be reminding him of this in a few years, no doubt.)

I thought that it might become one of those things that fades in appeal. But so far, so good.

I’m proud to say that I’ve probably vacuumed more in the last couple of months than I have in the last year (don’t judge), and Levi’s not slowing down anytime soon either.

Sometimes convenience is just a novelty that quickly wears out and leaves us with unwanted stuff cluttering up our closets.

Other times it’s the key to a truly cleaner floor.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Handy-vacs and other “novelty” cleaning items – yay or nay?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | FIve minutes a day, unedited.


Americans are nice

Living in Australia, one of the things I miss is the level of customer service that’s offered in America.

You just can’t compare the two, and it’s too difficult to explain without experiencing it first hand.

Australians aren’t rude, they’re just different.

Americans have “customer service” ingrained in them. Yes, I know there are exceptions, and you’ll sometimes run into a rude phone rep or server or whatever, but by and large American customer service is amazing.

Today I was in Costo and had to go to the membership desk.

“May I have a coupon book please?” I asked.

“Why yes of course you can!” said the customer service rep. But it wasn’t just her words, it was her tone, her expression, her gesture, her massive smile, and the twinkle in her eye. It was as if she had been waiting all day for someone to ask her that question so she could give them a coupon book.

She was so nice! SO nice.

I half expected her to hand me some cotton candy too.

Yes, it was just a few little words, but it made a huge impression on me. Totally made me grin all the way back to the checkout and then out the door.

Hours later I’m still thinking about it.

Maybe she was a shining example, but to me she was not just a good Costco employee, she was a really nice American.

As much as Americans are known for being loud and large and demanding and confident, they should also be known for being warm and friendly and positive and encouraging.

I love America. And Americans.

It’s good to be home.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you think Americans are nice? Or is it just Oregonian Americans that are so nice?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


Pack your bags, baby

I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m packing well in advance of my trip.

And by “well in advance”, I mean four days.

I’m normally a have-all-the-lists-made-in-advance-but-pack-the-day-before sort of person.

But this time, I thought I’d experiment and do it on the weekend since we leave on a Tuesday.

So far, so good.

The biggest thing I’ve noticed is that it’s taking me way longer. Way.

I have too much time to deliberate about what to wear. (And wonder what people are wearing “over there” these days. And what the weather will be like. And if I will have enough pairs of undies.)

Maybe it’s a little less stressful to pack a few days in advance, but I think I like the just-get-it-done pressure of doing it the day before. (It’s just that I’m learning with kids, the less pressure the better. You never know when melt-downs might strike!)

There will still be plenty of “last minute” things to put in – electronics, toiletries, snacks – but I can say that I already have three of the four of us packed. I’ve impressed myself. (And the fourth one can do his own packing.)

The biggest dilema is the shoes. I hate packing shoes.

(How many pairs of shoes do you take when you travel??)

Good thing I still have three more days to change my mind.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you enjoy packing or hate it?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


How to own a house outright (by first proving your not in the mafia)

A blog I follow recently posted about their family’s journey to purchase a new home in Bend, Oregon.

This is a debt-free family who had a sizable down payment, and had worked out their budget to be able to PAY OFF a 15-year mortgage in its entirety after three years.

THREE YEARS.

They did this by renting, saving like crazy, and making the pay off their first priority… knowing that after three years they will be able to have income freed up for travel and other things.

Imagine living in a house you own outright. (Dream come true!)

The “funny” thing is this family had a really hard time finding a lender.

They had no debt, amble money, and an amazing plan.

Just hardly a credit record.

Seems a little backwards, doesn’t it? Especially considering all of those who’s mortgages are turning upside-down these days.

The good news is these guys found a loan (after proving they aren’t in the mafia), got their house, and their story is now inspiring many others (like me!) that all of this is actually possible.

These are precarious financial times we live in, but all of us (I’d hope) are trying to be smart with the money we have – whether it’s a little or a lot.

STOP.

 

Q for you: What would you give up in the short-term to be able to own your house outright, quicker? Or be able to buy a house in the first place?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


I love my Oregon

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” We’ve heard this cliche spoken a million times. Usually in regards to relationships.

But it’s also true of places.

We’re gearing up for a trip to Oregon in two-and-a-half weeks (what?? so soon??!) and my heart is about to explode with excitement about it.

I’ve lived overseas for most of my adult life.

I moved out when I was 17. Took off for Europe when I was 18. Returned to Oregon at 19. Left for Asia at 22. And have been living in Australia since 23.

In the 18ish years I’ve been living on my own, only 4ish of them were actually in Oregon.

But in my mind, Oregon (Central Oregon actually) is this near-perfect place that I always can’t wait to get back to. (Yes, having my family and church and “old” friends there definitely contribute to that.)

I realize that some of my perception has grown out of a longing and homesickness for the familiar, but still, there’s this awareness of just how incredible my little mountain “town” really is.

An awareness that certainly wasn’t there until I “grew up” and moved away.

And I know it’s real because I go back there and it does not disappoint.

It really is that awesome.

Who knows if I’ll ever live there again.

I might live the rest of my days in Australia. Or not.

But I know one thing for certain, my heart is big enough to have two homes (not including my real one in heaven).

I love my Oregon. I can’t wait to introduce the newest Booker boy to her goodness, and my other Booker boys to the glories of her summer.

Two-and-a-half weeks and counting…

until I’ll be home.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Have you experienced the “absence makes the heart grow fonder” phenomenon in regards to a person or a place?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited


More

I’m having one of those “alien” days.

The kind where you feel like a foreigner in your own land.

I’ve written about this before – about the feeling that you belong, but not quite. The longing for something more.

It’s the hope of heaven. The promise of a real home.

And it’s not that I’m discontent where I’m at.

The opposite really – I love my home, my family, the life we’ve built.

But I know there’s more.

Perhaps it has something to do with returning from a place (Sydney) where I always feel a glimpse of destiny. A something “other” that I don’t even know how to pinpoint.

Perhaps it has something to do with remembering what it’s like to connect with friends from a special (favorite) season of my life.

But whatever it is, the feeling is there. Real, raw, a little bit nagging.

The calm after the storm and the anticipation of the next one all rolled into one.

And I remember that I’m an alien here.

I really don’t belong.

My passport says USA. My address says Australia. But my heart says heaven.

My home is not here.

STOP.

 

Q for you: Do you ever feel like you belong, and yet don’t belong?

 

Love,
A

 

Click Clink Five | Five minutes a day, unedited