Laresa Watkins

The Silence of Winter

Jan 18, 2018
mommyinbonlee

This week’s photo challenge from The Daily Post is “Silence.”  I find it so fitting for the months of January and February, when life calms down from the excitement of fall and Christmas, and we spend long days bundled up at home getting caught up on schoolwork and just enjoying being together.  I relish this time before ball season and VBS planning start up.

We had a great snow yesterday.  We measured 12 inches in some spots in our yard, which is almost unheard of in NC! We’ve had a wonderful time playing and eating snow cream and riding the four wheeler.  We love walking through the woods by our house.

I thought these pictures were perfect for this photo challenge, because nothing is more silent than the woods when there is snow on the ground:

 

 

 

 

 

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

The months of January and February seem long and slow to me, but they are a time for planning and working and healing.  God illustrates this for us in his creation during winter, when everything takes a break from showing off to get ready for spring.

We’ve had a great time in the snow the past couple of days:

 

 

 

 

 

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says, “Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.” -Lewis Carroll

 

 

Balance in the Chaos-Taking Care of Yourself

Nov 30, 2017
mommyinbonlee

 

In my mom’s group a few weeks ago we were talking about disciplining in anger and how to avoid that.  One mom pointed out that she had a difficult time dealing with her children when her blood sugar was low, and all of us agreed that we had a hard time when we were running on little sleep.  I’m sure all of us have gotten into a habit, at some point or another, of not taking the best care of ourselves.  We do things for other people all day long, and it’s hard to stop and spend time on ourselves. The problem with this is that everyone around us suffers when we don’t take care of ourselves.

While being healthy and feeling good are important to me, the main reason that I need to take care of myself is for my mental well-being (in other words, so I don’t lose it on anyone in my family).  When Charlie cries for an hour because he can’t wear shorts in December, I cannot handle myself very well if I only got 5 hours of sleep.  When I have 10 emails to return, school to teach, and my phone won’t stop beeping with text messages, I get frazzled and can’t focus if I’ve had too much coffee and no breakfast.  In order to handle life’s everyday stressors with grace and compassion, I have to care for myself.

My suggestions aren’t things that take a lot of time.  You don’t have to find a babysitter or take your kids to a germy gym childcare to work out.  You don’t have to get up at the break of dawn or spend hours cooking an organic farm-fresh meal.  These are just a few simple things that you can incorporate into your day that will enable you to have more balance when a chaotic moment is inevitably thrown your way.

1-Get a good night’s sleep

It seems to be the cool thing for women my age to brag about how much coffee they need to drink during the day.  Now, I am a coffee lover, so I’m not downing coffee, but on an everyday basis we should not have to drink coffee all day long in order to get everything on our to-do lists completed.  It’s not healthy.  We need to take care of ourselves by getting more sleep!

I am putting this first because it is so important to me.  I need at least 7 hours of sleep at night, and if I don’t get it I am cranky all day long.  Even thought I know this about myself, it is still really hard for me to make myself go to sleep at night.  After I get the kids in bed I want to spend time reading, watching TV, or playing a game on my phone.  After 15+ hours of hearing “Mom! Mom! Mom!” and “Laresa! Laresa! Laresa!”, my time alone at the end of the day is just wonderful and I hate for it to end. I have to really be disciplined and make myself stop whatever I am doing, turn out the lights, and go to sleep.

It really helps me to sleep better if I get up at the same time each morning, so I have also gotten back into the habit of setting my alarm.

That being said, for all of my friends who have new babies: you just go on drinking your coffee all day.  😉

2-Work Out

There is nothing worse than the 3:00 slump.  That time in the afternoon when we feel like shirking all of our duties and laying down for a nap? Whether you work at home like me or work at a job outside of the home, I know we all experience this during our day. It’s difficult no matter what you do, because we can’t just stop what we’re doing and sit down when we feel a little sluggish.

I have found that if I have a good workout in the morning I don’t experience this tired, cranky feeling in the afternoon. The problem is that I don’t have much time to work out. I used to love going to the gym or walking miles at the park, but that just isn’t feasible for me now.

I have tried lots of different YouTube workouts that I like, but right now I am really enjoying a new app called Aaptiv. You download the app and instantly have access to tons of great workouts.  You can choose from strength training, outdoor running, yoga, and so much more.  You can also select how long you want to work out, which is a huge plus for me since some mornings I have more time than others.  If it’s a morning that I have to take Maddie to gymnastics or we have a MOMS meeting or science co-op and I have to get everyone ready and out the door in a hurry, I choose a short workout so I can get a good workout in without putting a strain on our chaotic mornings.

Aaptiv even has a series of workouts for parents-they’re all around 15 minutes long and give you a great workout in a short span of time.  And, for all of my friends who are expecting, they even offer a great prenatal workout program with different workouts that are appropriate for each trimester.  I wish it had been around when I was pregnant.

They’re offering a free trial right now, so if you’re like me and you need a quick, easy workout you can do at home, you should give it a go.

3-Essential Oils-I have become an essential oil freak.  I used to burn candles all the time to have my house smelling good, but now I constantly have some sort of oil running in my diffusers to not only make my house smell nice, but to keep us all healthy.  When it comes to keeping me balanced, I turn, of course, to DoTerra’s Balance.  🙂

I think I finally convinced my husband of the awesomeness of essential oils last week when he used my Tea Tree Oil on an ulcer in his mouth.  It was gone the next morning!

4-Eating Well- I’m not talking hours of meal planning or crazy shakes or anything like that. I once heard the advice that I should eat 5 servings of fruits/veggies every day, and that’s what I do.  I also try to drink plenty of water.  Doing those simple, non-time-consuming things makes me feel so much better and better-able to handle life’s craziness.

 

Our bodies are gifts from God, and it’s so important we take care of them.  When we do, we feel better, are kinder when faced with tough situations, and can find some balance in this chaos.

Balance in the Chaos – A Good Morning

Nov 18, 2017
mommyinbonlee

I am a morning person.  Before having children I was a high school teacher, and I got up at 5:30 every morning to spend time on a devotion, take long showers, drink coffee, watch the news, and just get my mind in order for the day.  Jason is not a morning person and was usually asleep during this time, so I had the house to myself. It was a good time for me.

After becoming a mom, my time in the mornings became hit or miss.  When the kids were babies, I slept later out of sheer necessity.  Now I’m on a pretty good schedule, but I’ll get out of whack during the summer and it takes me awhile to get used to going to bed and getting up at decent hours again.

But, ya’ll, that time in the morning is so important to me.  When I hit snooze too many times and sleep too late and end up having to rush around to do what needs to be done in the morning, my whole day is out of whack. That’s why I’m making it the very first post in this series aimed at finding balance in our chaotic lives. If it is at all possible for you to wake up a little earlier in the morning and have some time alone, just some time to get a jump-start on your day, it will make such a difference to you.  I’m not saying you have to get up at 4:30 or anything like that (because I think women who do that are a little crazy, but whatever floats your boat), but maybe 6:15 instead of 6:30, anything to give yourself a little extra time.

Here is what I do with my extra time most mornings:

1-Spend some time with God– I keep a book of people I am praying for and things I am praying about.  I spend some time thanking God for who he is and for all of my blessings, then I pray through my list, and do a short devotion.

In Isaiah 61:3 Isaiah tell us some of what Jesus wants for his people:

“to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.”
He wants us to go through our days with a beautiful headdress, not ashes! Gladness, not mourning! Spirits of praise, not faint spirits! He wants us to be strong and glorify him in our day-to-day life. He will grant us all of these things, and spending a few minutes talking with him in the morning while our minds are fresh and we’re uninterrupted by everyday tasks gets us started on the right path for the day.

I highly recommend She Reads Truth.  You can pay to get the Bible studies on your phone or in book form, or you can go straight to their website to do your studies for free.  They have many great devotions to choose from, but I love doing the current one.  Knowing that women all over the world are doing the same devotion that day is so special to me.

If you don’t have much time (maybe you pressed the snooze button too many times and you have to lock yourself in the bathroom for your quiet time-not that I ever do this, but it could possibly happen 😉 ), I recommend Christine Caine’s “First Things First” Devotion.  She is just a straight-forward, get-it-done type of woman, and when you sign up for this you will get an e-mail each morning with a Bible verse and a couple of paragraphs about the verse.  You can read this in just a couple of minutes and it will help direct your thoughts for the day. I read it while I’m brushing my teeth.

 

2-Start a load of laundry– So, I wouldn’t necessarily say this is something I enjoy doing in the morning, but by having a load of laundry going, I feel a sense of accomplishment.  I actually put a load of clothes in the washing machine before I go to bed at night, then set the “delay wash” so the clothes begin washing around 5.  After my devotion time I’ll throw the clothes in the dryer. There may be another chore (unloading the dishwasher, etc.) that you would rather get out of the way, but by going ahead and doing something small, you’ll just feel better.

In addition to that, make your bed.  It has actually been proven that making your bed will make your day more productive, and actually make you more happy and peaceful! It only takes a second.  This is one of my kids’ chores each morning, and they don’t understand why I feel it’s so important, but one day they’ll get it.

 

3-Work out- I’m going to talk further about this in a later post, but I just want to mention this as part of a good start to your day.  To me, the greatest benefit of working out in first thing in the morning is that I don’t get that mid-afternoon slump.  I went through a stage where around 3:00 every afternoon, I was getting really tired and grouchy, and I’ve found that working out, even just for 10 minutes in the mornings, solves that problem.

I don’t have time to go to the gym (again, I don’t care to get up at 4:30 in the morning) so I love to find workouts on YouTube.

I’ve also found a new app I’m trying out and I LOVE called aaptiv.  More about it later, but if you’re looking for a good workout in the mornings, go ahead and try it out.

 

So, there are 3 simple things you can do in the morning if you’ll wake up 30 minutes sooner than you are now.  You’ll have more energy, begin your days feeling productive, and most importantly, feel prepared to wear your beautiful headdress all day long.

 

 

 

Balance in the Chaos

Nov 14, 2017
mommyinbonlee

 

We all have lots to do, right? I don’t care if you have children or you don’t, if you work or you stay home with kids, if you are in school or retired, we all have TOO MUCH TO DO.

I am, personally, very careful with my schedule.  I’m pretty good at knowing my limits and those of my family, and I’m not afraid to say no when I can.  But even though I do guard our time, sometimes the everyday chaos of life overwhelms me.

For example, I lost it on Jason last week.  It was Monday, the day that I set aside for the kids and I to stay home and get ahead on our week.  We do lots of schoolwork and housework, and I plan and do things like return e-mails and other little tasks that I may have been putting off.

On this particular Monday, my poor husband sent me an e-mail asking me to do something for him, and having that extra thing to do just put me over the edge.  I shot back a quick message telling him how overwhelmed I was feeling and informing him that he was just going to have to find someone else to do this work.  Then, when he didn’t respond back quickly enough for my liking, I sent him another message demanding he “hear me.” After his response that he did “hear me” but that he was having a really busy day at work, I continued about my frustrating Monday, anxious and worried that I couldn’t get it all done.

Well, you know what? I did get it all done that day.  I looked at my to-do list with all of the items crossed off, and I wondered why I had freaked out and added to my husbands worries, when there was really no need to. I had basically ruined everyone’s day, including my own, for no reason.

For a while now, I have felt a nudging to look at myself and my reactions to this chaotic life.  You know, it is what it is.  God created us to work and help each other and serve him.  The key is to do those things with the right heart, which is definitely where I am lacking.

As I have been reflecting on this, doing some reading and trying some different things to help myself find some balance in the chaos, I have come up with some strategies that are working well for me (well…most of the time), and I feel led to share them with you.  I’ve narrowed my ideas down and am going to share them in blog posts every two or three nights for the next couple of weeks. I would love to do a post every night, but I learned during Write 31 Days that I have to do my writing early in the morning or after we get the kids in bed at night, and (spoiler) I realize how important my sleep is for me.

Speaking of sleep….I need to go to sleep.  But I do hope you’ll check back in a couple of days and see what I’ve come up with, and I pray it will be a help to someone who is searching for a little balance.

 

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Peek

Nov 2, 2017
mommyinbonlee

This week’s photo challenge from The Daily Post is “Peek.”

I took this picture when we went to the fair last month.

Jason and I both refused to go on this ride with the kids, because we’re both in the stage of life where we get sick when we spin around too many times.  We left it to Charlie to spin the teacup, and he struggled a bit until he finally gave up and they just rode around in a circle talking about what they were going to ride next.

This was toward the beginning of our day, when I was still concerned with taking pictures. I stood there like a madwoman, trying to get a picture of the kids through the little door in their teacup, but the timing had to be perfect and the door would never quite face where I was standing so I could see both kids.  This was the best one I could get, with Charlie peeking through and a glimpse of Maddie’s head.

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