Books, Christianity, Lifestyle, Parenthood, Simplification, Writing

Present over Shopping

Here’s a fact about me. I’m always on the hunt for something. I love to research, whether it be our next vacation, an updated leather jacket, or a new home. And all that researching usually amounts to absolutely nothing.

Most of the time, I can spend hours scrolling the internet, walking up and down aisles, or driving down neighborhood streets, and I don’t make a single decision. I’ve just wasted time.

I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, though. Specifically, memoirs by authors like Glennon Doyle Melton and Shauna Niequist, two people with wonderful – albeit very different – writing styles. But the common denominator of both is this: As women we must learn to be fully present where we are, how we are created.

love-warrior

Something I’ve realized through all this nonfiction therapy is that my researching is an addiction. An addiction wrapped in the guise of shopping, or planning, or bettering my family. Especially in the last few weeks, I’ve even felt the binge and purge as it’s happening. While looking for a new pair of boots online I spent hours and placed numerous shoes in my shopping cart (the binge). Then they just sat there without ever purchasing (the purge). I would wander into a store with the intention of finding a gift for someone else, and then I get this manic feeling, like I’m running out of time or someone is going to take everything away from me before I can get to it.

I need these things. I deserve to have this. This is what would complete my closet.

This is the binge. The purge is that I buy it and then return it the next day. Or I keep it but purge by vomiting my guilt out to my husband as I tally up what I’ve spent.

present-over-perfect

But this is in no way limited to shopping for clothes. I binge looking at vacations rentals. I binge birthday party ideas for my children. I binge on researching what book I’ll read next. And sometimes I either forget to purge, or think I can handle all this consumption. This is when I become sick.

When I become sick, the binging no longer works. I can tell I’m spending too much time looking up information or cities or black jeans because I’m doing it while nursing my son, or feeding breakfast to the kids. I feel a thrill when I begin a new hunt, and then get an anxious feeling moments later; a nauseous feeling like I’m doing something I shouldn’t be.

That nausea is the holy spirit, gently guiding me back to the present. I have to learn to be in the here and now – not planning the future, or my wardrobe. The spirit has me lay down my phone and look into the eyes of my baby. The spirit asks me to enjoy my coffee while the children giggle about milk mustaches and jelly kisses. The spirit guides me to meditation instead of spending nap times searching for the perfect Halloween costumes.

Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom.

That nausea is my invitation to a better way. It’s a wake-up call to get out of my head and back to what makes me truly come alive.

Today I’ve come up with a new plan for my life. When I find myself slipping into research mode – whether that be shopping for kids costumes or vacation homes – I will either read or write. If the children are present, I can either read to them, or we can play a game.

There’s no room in my life right now for anything other than today.

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Books

What I’m Reading Now

With spring comes Spring Break, that lovely week involving vacations and ample time for new books. Right now I’m rotating between a few, multi-tasking novels with baby planning books. I love being able to go from toddler discipline strategies straight to the Scottish highlands. It makes for a great mental break, as well!

  1. Outlander Book 7: A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon – I’ve been fully ingrained in this series since last summer, when I began reading right before Starz debuted season one of the TV adaptation. Gabaldon has a way of taking the reader straight to Scotland with her skillful use of Scottish brogue and character/scenic descriptions. There’s history, romance, wonderfully crafted characters, and superb writing. I’ve even convinced my husband to start reading them.
  2. Lisette’s List by Susan Vreeland – My mother-in-law gave me this book because of my love for all things French. I had already read a few of the author’s other books, which include Luncheon of the Boating Party and Girl in Hyacinth Blue. Although I’m only about an 1/8 of the way through the story, this one seems to be just as carefully written as her others. Vreeland’s specialty is obviously historical fiction dealing with French art. Lisette’s List focuses on Pisarro and Cezanne.
  3. Bringing Up Bébé by Pamela Druckerman – Another francophile book, this is my second foray into the world of French child-rearing, and I’m getting more out of it than before. One reason is that I had underlined many of the passages my first time around. Another is certainly that Druckerman has an entire section of the book devoted to discipline for toddlers, something that I was less focused on when preparing for my first child. Now I’m underlining and highlighting at the same time.
  4. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf – I’m currently listening to this on Audible when in the car. Woolf’s To the Lighthouse is one of my favorites; I love the modernist method of free associative thinking that she employs in her writing. Mrs. Dalloway seems to be similar in writing style thus far, although I’m only a few chapters in.

What are you reading right now? I’m quickly going through these and would love other recommendations, especially when it comes to great literature and babies!

Baby, Books, Parenthood

The Tradition of Bedtime Stories

Griffin’s room is, primarily, centered around books. We love them, and in turn want him to grow up surrounded by them.

BooksAs parents, there are a few things that we’re very diligent about. Griffin’s bedtime routine is one of them. We always begin by feeding him, followed by a bath with lots of fun bubbles, lotion with a mini massage, and then snuggling into PJs. After this, Jeremy and I both sit on either side of him and take turns reading from one of his many storybooks. A prayer is the last thing we do before tucking him into his crib.

I love this routine. I think Griffin does, as well. It’s our most intimate family time right now – a time when lights are dim and noises are at a minimal. He may not fully understand what’s going on, but he realizes that when all of these elements are present, it’s time to go down for the night. Very rarely does he take more than a few minutes to settle.

But a new survey suggests that we may be one of the few families that do this. The Today Show actually discussed the survey, although I first heard about it from Media Bistro.

Only 33% of parents read bedtime stories to their children. Of those parents, 50% admitted that their children devoted more time to television and video games than to books. These were all children ages 8 and younger.

I was actually really surprised and sad about this. There’s a huge market for children’s books, so when are they being read? Do the parents just wait for kids to reach the age when they can read to themselves? Do they perhaps pick a different time of day to read to them?

Maybe I was just a nerdy kid, but I remember many afternoons as a little girl spent curled up in the window seat in my bedroom, surrounded by stuffed animals as I read Nancy Drew and Baby Sitters Club mysteries. Later I would sneak my mom’s Mary Higgins Clark and Nora Roberts paperbacks. My love of reading was a direct result of my parents’ love for it. They read to me and fostered a desire to explore books on my own.

If not for parents instilling this from the beginning, what hope do books have in the future?