Focusing on What’s Important This Year

As I looked at the last year and made plans for the new one I came away with a super long list of things I wanted to improve for our family—because now that it’s January 1st we will magically change into this super family with perfect children always wearing matching clothes and smiling all the time.  Everything on our To Do list will be instantly completed.  We’ll be like those families I read blogs about who are building homes for the poor while their 8 year old earns a Bachelors Degree.  Because, you know, it’s January and this all magically happens, right?

But seriously as I looked back at year I saw that there was a lot to be proud of.  We were happy overall–that alone is a huge accomplishment to celebrate.  And we went through some very big life changes–buying a house, my husband’s retirement from the military and start a new job, our family getting settled for somewhat permanent life.  We helped others and had fun together and somewhere along the way my children became more educated.  But I also felt like we were so busy last year but not necessarily getting done what we wanted.  It seems like we were reacting to things instead of being proactive.  Too often we were rushing around and were tired but didn’t always have a lot to show for it.

Too often we were doing things because I thought it was the “right thing.”  Because if I didn’t do it, who would?  Because I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.  Because others expected us to.  Because we hadn’t made a better plan.  Because we had waited until the last minute.

I realize as I look back, we need to be more purposeful in choosing how to spend our time, and with that we will hopefully have more time for the things that are truly important.

I was wasting huge amounts of time and then we were rushing to get caught up.  And in agreeing to things maybe I didn’t want to do, I was becoming bitter and overwhelmed.  And my kids were paying the price.

And so, as I go into the new year, I am not making a list of resolutions or outcomes I want, but instead I have made a list of questions to ask myself.  Before committing to something, before I make the family schedule, before choosing how to spend my time, I will ask myself these four questions…


And you notice “Is this good for others?” isn’t on the list.  I of course would like to be a better friend and volunteer in my community even more.  But in this season of my life, when I looked at where we’ve gotten off track, I realized I need to focus less on others and more on my immediate family.  I can’t worry if I’ll hurt someone’s feelings if I can’t go to their event or give their child a ride.  I can’t worry about what others think of me, either in real life or on social media.  And I can’t do things simply because others expect me to do it, even if that means it doesn’t get done.  But the biggest part of all is that I can’t feel guilty for saying this and drawing these boundaries.

I started this a bit at the end of this past year.  Yes it was hard for me.  I know I let some people down and I felt huge amounts of guilt for it.  But in saying “no” to others and “yes” to myself more, I was happier and had more time with my kids.  I’m not saying to become totally selfish or reclusive or walk around hurting people’s feeling, just that it’s okay to focus inward more and outward less, especially when committing time, energy, or finances.

And so as we move into a new year and a new decade and a new page for our family, my goal is to be more purposeful and in doing so hopefully help us to bring more peace AND productivity to our lives.

How Well Do You Know Your Partner? Game

How well do you know your partner gameSo we recently have experienced a lot of family time with visits and vacations–one of which was celebrating Colton’s baptism.  My mom, aunt, and sister (the godmother) were all able to come out for the big event.

[If you are looking for a great game that encourages writing and laugher but don’t want my back story, click here.]

Hippity Hop Jousting

Hippity Hop Jousting

The girls loved that it was a “Sissy Weekend” since there were three sister pairs hanging out together (my other aunt who couldn’t come probably didn’t love it as much).  They made signs welcoming everyone to Sissy Land and spent the whole ride to the airport chanting “Sissy day!  Sissy day!” (It was a very long ride.)

With all the hype the girls really wanted to do special sissy activities.  They organized some such as “Dressing like your sister” day (way more fun than we thought) and the “Hippity Hop Jousting” (hilarious but dangerous).

Wearing our matching outfits

Wearing our matching outfits

But my sister organized by far the best activity–The Sissy Game! Or what groups that include more than sisters would call How Well Do you Know Your Partner?

Remember, the old Newlywed Game show?  Well, the Sissy Game is just like it.  And of course, it isn’t limited to sisters, any pairing can work–brothers, parent/child, best friends, etc.

How to Play

Everyone needs a dry erase board and dry erase markers. DSCN1892 Don’t have a board for everyone?  Just laminate a piece of paper and it instantly becomes a dry erase sheet.

Separate each pair to make two teams–one member on Side A and one on Side B.  Be sure they are not sitting near each other.

One person playing the role of “host” asks a question (they can also be a player).  Side A writes their answer and Side B writes the answer for Side A.  For example, “What is your favorite food?”  Side A would write down their favorite food and Side B would write what they think the answer is for their partner.

Then everyone holds up their boards and you see if the answers match.  If they correctly guessed their partner’s answer, their pair gets a point.

Can you tell how much fun they had?

Can you tell how much fun they had?

Alternate between the sides, so for the next question Side B would do their answers and Side A would guess their partner’s response.

Depending on their age, you can use words or pictures to answer the questions.

List of Partner Game Questions

Partner Game Question Cards

I uploaded the questions in two different formats.  You can just use the list if you have only one person playing the role of host.  If you want to spice things up, use the card format to cut up the questions and have people take turns pulling them out of a hat.  And of course, you can make up your own questions.

This was such a great game to play with a wide range of ages.  In a matter of minutes everyone was laughing and having a blast.  My daughters especially loved it.  They were so excited to keep playing.  Mia especially LOVED writing down the answers.  Zoe actually preferred drawing her responses.  And no surprise, the identical twins won the game.

The great part is they can use pictures and/or words

The great part is they can use pictures and/or words

Since I mentioned Colton’s baptism, it’s really only fitting that I include at least one picture from it…

San antonio (2)


Father’s Day Gift

With Father’s Day on Sunday I wanted to share my favorite gift.  We give these to my husband every year, usually with something else since he’s come to expect it (but still enjoys them).  The best part is that it’s sentimental and special while also being something quick and easy.

P1060830Basically I have our girls write an essay about their daddy, which we transcribe onto a picture they painted.  There are lots of sheets floating around pinterest with questions to ask the little ones about their Dad and while I liked the idea, I just didn’t want to do some worksheet or have a checklist.


I found that this way really captures our P1060845daughters’ personalities.  It’s produced such gems as Mia saying, “Daddy is smart because he knows all about we girls and we’re smart, right?”  And my personal favorite from her, “His job is to clean the house.  Mommy sometimes gets to do it and now it’s Daddy’s turn.”


While we do write it in more of a story format, here are some questions and sentence starters we use to help write our essay:

  • How old is Daddy?P1060833
  • What does he look like?
  • What is his favorite food?
  • What is his favorite color?
  • What does Daddy usually wear?
  • Daddy’s job is ________.
  • Daddy is smart because _____.
  • Daddy always tells me _____.
  • I am happy when Daddy ____.
  • I love Daddy because _____.

I bought the frames the first year and keep adding the new pictures each time.  I also keep the old ones behind it in the same frame so that we have all of them together.  It’s fun every year to go back and re-read what they wrote last time.

Busy working on this years paintings

Busy working on this years paintings

Father's Day Gift

We hung them near Ed’s nightstand.  I like to think that he has them there to cheer him up when he’s had a rough day or remind him how much he is loved when he’s heading out to work at 4 am.  Even when things aren’t going perfectly he can remember he is always two little girls’ hero.

“Daddy takes us to the mall to get smoothies. P1060847That’s what he does.  He always tells me stories and plays shenanigans.  He catches fish and lizards for me.  When he does that stuff he teaches us to do it too.  He’s strong.  Daddy is silly and pretty.  He finds lovey for me all by himself.  All by himself he climbs mountains and goes done the hole in the cave ceiling.  I love him because he is so good.  He is good at being a daddy.  He is a good daddy!”   ~Zoe

Handprint Keepsakes

Writing about our rock mosaics yesterday P1020261reminded me of the handprint keepsakes we made this past Christmas. Mainly because we used the same air-dry clay. I thought I would share them because it took me a long time to find a method I liked, really longer than it should.  I am probably the only person who hadn’t thought of this yet, but just in case you haven’t either, I thought I would share.

I had wanted to make cheap, simple handprints of the girls for a few Christmases. One year we tried the plaster handprint kits as well as some other plaster molds but they took too long to harden or cost too much money.  Salt dough had been suggested but I don’t like the rough texture and cracking of the salt dough.  And I didn’t want to do one of the professional kits.

P1020259Then we came across the Crayola Air-Dry Clay. It worked perfect! We just rolled out a small round section, pressed in the handprints, and let it dry. I wanted them to look homemade so I kept the rough edges.

I liked the white color of the clay but we had the girls paint them to make them more special. And then we sprayed them with a sealant. My only suggestion is to not roll them out too thin.

These are wonderful keepsakes for yourself but also make very special gifts for grandparents.


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