June 24, 2015

Embracing the Toy Years

We have toy clutter.

A LOT of toy clutter.

This is because we have a lot of toys.

Do we have too many toys?


Do we need to "cull the herd," as my husband is fond of saying?


But even once we cull the herd...and do a major-league organizing overhaul, as I manage to do once or twice a year...we will still have toy clutter.


Because we have a 4 and a 6 year old.

And while I am not a fan of clutter of any kind. And I am not a fan of looking at piles of toys all the time...which aren't appealing to the eye even when they're cleaned up. I've come to a conclusion:

These are The Toy Years.

You begin life as a parent in the Baby Contraption Years. That's when your house is taken over by swings and bouncy seats and pack-n-plays and high chairs.

Then you breathe this giant sigh of relief as you pack up those monstrosities. And you think to yourself, "Finally, no more baby clutter."

And then the toys move in.

First there are the Big Toy Years, when your world is taken over by giant play kitchens and kid-sized tables and chairs and Little Tykes cars. Then come the little parts...Legos of every color, shape and size and tons of teeny-tiny Playmobil parts and Littlest Pets accessories. Not to mention art supplies EVERYWHERE.

At the moment, I sit astride both of these stages...we still have a play kitchen and we have lots of Legos. The only kind of house filled with more kid clutter than ours is one with more kids...especially if you add a baby (and all of their contraptions) into the mix.

Which we will not.

But I digress.

So we have a lot of toy clutter. Everywhere. All the time.

And sometimes it drives me nuts. And I think it drives my husband nuts pretty much all of the time. (This is illustrated by him threatening to throw all of the toys away at least twice a day.)

But the thing is...our desire for a clutter-free home is not really in keeping with our desire for happy kids and a relaxed life. And I'm not entirely sure what it's driven by...though I have a sneaking suspicion that it's a combination of the tidy homes we both grew up in and the Pottery Barn catalog.

Either way, I've decided to try and let go of my constant desire for things to be picked up and put away and nice and neat. I really don't want to have a constant "organizational/decluttering/cleaning" buzz in the back of my brain...I imagine it sounding a lot like those old blue-glowing bug zappers. (Do they still make those? I had a friend as a kid whose house backed up to the woods and they had one by their patio. I can still hear it...dtzzzz...dtzzzz...dtzzzz.)

The day will come...and it will come quicker than I would like...when there won't be any toys anymore. They won't want to build crazy flying contraptions with their Legos and they won't want to create forts from blankets and pillows and they won't want to use their beautiful imaginations to create elaborate games that involve getting out every flippin' toy in the house.

And some days that will feel great...to have a house that is once again mine. But mostly, I think I'll miss this. A lot.

So I'm going to embrace The Toy Years. And I'm going to carefully step through that minefield in my family room...because stepping on Legos hurts like hell. And I'm not going to shake my head when I walk into my daughter's room and see the fifty million things she has displayed on the top of her dresser or the ridiculous number of toys in her closet or the unkempt stack of books on the floor beside her bed.

I will still cull the herd a bit. Because there are toys they don't play with that can be donated so someone else can enjoy them. But the rest of the stuff? I'm just going to let it go and live in it.

And smile.

Because these are The Toy Years. And they're pretty great.

Until next time, spend some time enjoying the stage of life you're in right now. Whatever it is. Quit fighting against it and trying to make it something it's not. Let it go and live in it.

Embrace it.

June 10, 2015

Free Kindle Book Download Today Only (6/10/15): Romantic Mystery, Eclipse Lake by Mae Claire

Hey friends!
Just wanted to let you know that an author friend of mine, Mae Claire, is offering a free kindle download from Amazon today only (6/10/15) of her romantic mystery, Eclipse Lake, as part of a promotion for the release of her newest book, Myth and Magic. 

Here's the book blurb and the link to the free download. If you enjoy Romantic Mysteries, check it out!

Eclipse Lake

Small towns hold the darkest secrets.

Fifteen years after leaving his criminal past and estranged brother behind, widower Dane Carlisle returns to his hometown on the banks of sleepy Eclipse Lake. Now, a successful businessman, he has kept his troubled past a secret from most everyone, including his seventeen-year-old son.

But memories in small towns are bitter and long.

Ellie Sullivan, a nature photographer for a national magazine, has a habit of ping-ponging across the map. Her latest assignment leads her to Eclipse Lake where she becomes caught up in the enmity between Dane, his brother Jonah, and a vengeful town sheriff. When freshly-discovered skeletal remains are linked to an unsolved murder and Dane's past, Ellie is left questioning her growing attraction for a man who harbors long-buried secrets.

Could be a fun summer read! Check it out or free on Amazon today:


Until next time, happy reading!

June 9, 2015

Making Peace With It

Make peace with it.

For me, these words always conjured up the idea of some major grievance. You were seriously wronged or hurt by another person. You're holding a major grudge. You're holding onto hatred or blame or guilt. Something horrible happened to you, or you did something awful in the past.

These were the things that you made peace with.

Or so I thought, until the other day, when a friend used these words with me when we were talking about something I was struggling with internally. She asked me if I could just make peace with it. Could I accept that it just is and that is okay? Could I let go of the black and white/right and wrong thinking that was forcing me to pick a side in my internal debate? Could I give a little on both sides? Could I just make peace with it?

I this case, "Making peace with it" had nothing to do with another person. No one had done anything to me. I hadn't made some horrible mistake. It had to do with two dueling parts of my psyche. It had to do with me trying desperately to come to a conclusion before moving forward. And since I couldn't find a way to reconcile these to opposing forces in my mind, I remained stuck. I was asking her advice on how to resolve this debate.

But instead of helping me resolve it, she asked if I could just accept it. Accept that there were two sides to this coin that couldn't be reconciled. Accept that maybe both things are true. Decide that that's okay. And move on.

Make peace with it, she said.

I just stared at her. Blankly. Frozen by the idea.

I am a debater. I like to hash things out until I come to a conclusion. Talk through it, and then decide. Believing not so much that there is an absolute right and wrong in most cases, but that there is a right and wrong for me...or at least a right and wrong for me right now.

Instead, she was asking me to hold both sides-- both of these beliefs, these realities that seemed contrary-- and allow them to coexist. In me.

That is so weird.

I looked at her dumbly. "I'll have to think on that," was all I could say. She seemed okay with that.

But I've been turning it over and over in my brain ever since we talked.

How could I make this work?

It's true that I had been stuck. The internal debate had kept me from being able to move forward. I wasn't making progress one way or the other, which was hugely frustrating. And maybe my inertia was, in fact, due to my inability to reconcile these opposing forces: a belief and a feeling, both true, both real, and both completely at odds with one another.

Make peace with it, she had said.

So I decided to give it a try.

When I had thoughts on one side of the coin, I acknowledged them, accepted them, and tried to do something to support them. And when I had thoughts on the other side of the coin, I did the same thing: acknowledge, accept and act.

I don't really know how it's working yet in terms of unsticking me. It's still too early to tell. But I have discovered one thing. Despite the fact that the beliefs behind them are contrary, the actions I have been taking to support these ideas have not been in opposition. Which is kind of cool. And I feel a little bit lighter without the weight of the ongoing argument inside of me.

So, this begs the question: What else could I benefit from making peace with?

I'll have to think on that.

Until next time, look inside yourself and see if there's anything you can make peace with...and then give it try. You might feel a bit lighter too.