Rename and Reboot – Welcome to Grit & Grace

I’ve been blogging here for almost SEVEN YEARS! From my quiet days with little Hannah to our crazy days now with four kids in four stages, plus an out-of-state move (away from “Olive Street”), it’s been a busy seven years.

As a little refresh, I’m changing the name of the blog to better reflect my vision of writing.

My URL will stay the same as lifeonolivestreet.com because I’m not ready to tackle the technical part of redirects and such, but welcome to

Follow me on Facebook here and on Instagram at @gritandgrace6, and stay tuned for more food, family, and fun!

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Starting the Finishing

 

 

My sister, Kristen, and I were sitting around the other night discussing goals for the new year. While it seems cliche, it’s also a milestone for evaluating and re-evaluating what’s effective and what could be tweaked. Kristen is working on outsourcing some of her tasks and mental load. I’d picked the word “adventure” as kind of a lens for my viewpoint this year, but I hadn’t chosen any physical goals.

Then Kristen mentioned this article about going “deeper not wider” with goals when “you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started. You improve skills rather than learning new ones. You consume media you’ve already stockpiled instead of acquiring more.”

you have to find the value in what you already own or what you’ve already started

This led to a discussion about re-considering making new New Year’s resolutions and instead finishing the goals we’ve already set for ourselves in the past. I haven’t set any major specific goals for a while, but I can think of tons of small projects and books and to-do items that have been sitting in my mind and on my desk and in my basement for a very long time. Most partly-done but some not even started.

“I’ll get around to it.”

“I wish I had time to finish…”

“Someday I’ll be able to…”

Nope!

So instead of starting new things this year, I’m going to focus on finishing! Within 24 hours after that conversation, I was able to create this list:

  • Finish two books I’m in the midst of and maybe finish two more I recently purchased
  • Sew valance
  • Paint and install barn door
  • Finish church membership process
  • Schedule child dedication for Cora and Grant
  • Update birthday books
  • Dye dust ruffle
  • Paint island
  • Conquer the clothes
  • Finish embroidery project
  • Finish chair pads

I’m sure I’ll add more as I continue to mosey around and find things. And not all half-done books or projects are worth finishing, so I will certainly evaluate their worthiness of my time and effort. And the kicker is that these are just the things on my in-progress list, not the things on Brett’s list or my list of new projects.

One of the good things about this goal is that it requires very little monetary cost or mental load. I’ve already purchased most of the supplies and have planned out the projects. I just need to finish them!

So Happy New Year (halfway through February)! Starting the finishing is my adventure. What are your resolutions or words of the year? Or what do you need to finish?

The Attributes of God for Kids

We needed a change. I recently realized we’ve been using the same little devotion book off and on since Hannah was two years old. Now with two older kids, I knew it was time for a next step. We needed something age-appropriate, engaging, and biblically truthful. Something worth the time and effort of doing family devotions.

Luckily as I was starting this search, my friend of 30+ years Lydia White was in the process of publishing this very thing. She hadn’t started with the goal of writing a book; one thing led to another with her spiritual journey and parenting.

“When my faith was challenged, A.W.Tozer’s book The Knowledge of the Holy had a big impact on my life,” Lydia said. “Studying the character of God, changed my heart in a way unlike any other book or Bible study had ever done. Years later as a mom, I finished reading The Jesus Storybook Bible with my daughter and thought, ‘Now what?.’ I went looking for The Knowledge of the Holy on a much simpler level but was unable to find a children’s devotional that walked through the attributes of God. I decided to write out a summary, based on Tozer’s book, at an elementary age level. When another mom offered to illustrate the book and friends began asking for copies, it snowballed into the resource it is today!”

As she was going through the attributes, she found other resources that complemented the material such as songs from Seeds Family Worship and stories in The Jesus Storybook Bible. These are referenced in the book, and the website also provides additional tools like printable memory verses, flash cards, lunchbox notes, and a progress tracking chart/stickers.

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy of The Attributes of God for Kids at the launch party at Signs of Life – a coffeeshop where Lydia and Brett formerly worked as baristas (fun fact!).

Our former devotion book was fine for the toddler years, but we are past due for a deeper resource and I’m excited to do this with the girls. Our job as parents is to point our kids to Christ, and this is a great way for kids to have a solid understanding about the character of God.

“I hope this devotional sparks great conversations within families and provides parents answers to many of the tough questions their kids ask like ‘How old is God?’ or ‘Does God see me when I’m under the blanket?’ My hope is that by understanding the attributes of God, our kids will understand both Who God is and who He has made them to be,” Lydia said.

This is an element I love about the book. For each attribute of God, it applies the impact on their identities. For example, when it says, “God is…” it follows with “You are…” Like “Because God is Omnipresent, you are never alone.”

As we’re going through the lessons, the girls love listening and answering the questions. They enjoy the Seeds Family Worship songs that go along (SFM songs are direct scripture). I love that my kids are learning the most important subject – who God is.

And they call it “the Miss Lydia book.” :)

Check out The Attributes of God for Kids on their website or Amazon.

Eclipse Day

How does one celebrate a rare solar event? This question popped into my mind early as my mom was planning my grandparents’ 70th anniversary which coincided with the solar eclipse. Further investigation revealed that we live in an area to view 99.6% totality!

I’m not an event planner, so I’d planned to take the kids to our cul-de-sac for casual viewing (with the special glasses, of course). I was thrilled when my friend Lydia organized a Solar Eclipse Party for the preschool set at her mother-in-law’s farm. They went all out, and it was a blast!

There were happy sun balloons, decorations, lunch, cupcakes, and friends!

Unfortunately, complete cloud cover moved in about three minutes before totality, but we were able to see most of the first part of the eclipse and were able to experience the darkness, temperature change, and animal confusion as the cicadas and frogs had different sound patterns.

Susie had visual aides prepared in case of clouds and was able to reenact the eclipse for us. :) Violet was able to see the first part of the eclipse, and Cora tried her best to be like the big kids. They both did great keeping the glasses on while looking.

Even though our viewing wasn’t optimal, it was a fun day that the girls will remember. While they may not remember the actual eclipse, they’ll remember feeding chickens, having a picnic party, and playing with friends in the dark at lunchtime.

First Days of School: 2017-18

It’s “fall” once again – school, preschool, MOPS, ballet lessons, and church nights are all getting back into our routine. Here are our traditional first day of school pics and interviews. Hannah – Second grade

  • Class of 2028
  • Favorite book: whatever currently reading
  • This year I want to learn: cursive and multiplication
  • When I grow up, I want to be: a vet

Violet

  • Class of 2031
  • Favorite book: The Pigeon Takes a Bath
  • This year I want to learn: about animals
  • When I grow up, I want to be: a mommy and a ballet teacher

Cora

  • Class of 2033
  • Favorite book: anything Star Wars/Moana/princess
  • When I grow up, I want to be: in music theater

Meet My Happy Boxes: Planning that Works for Me

img_2700With each seasonal transition, I’ve seen tons of posts about fitness goals, healthy eating challenges, and planners. People ask for planner advice, but after years of hit-and-miss techniques I feel like there’s no straight answer. And the options are indeed overwhelming! Printables, bullet journals, Erin Condren, binders, monthly/weekly/daily, white boards, phone apps! There are a lot of factors for planner success such as age of kids, number of activities, what you want to plan. I’ll share what works for me, and maybe you can adapt it for your family.

I’ve been using this particular style of planner for two years, and I like that it has the option to go by the school year instead of the calendar year. This works much better for me as I can sit down in August with Hannah’s school schedule and fill everything in.

My favorite thing about this planner – the boxes. I labeled the boxes with the categories that I want to track:

  • Schedule – These are our daily activities. It includes scheduled events such as “parent-teacher conference 10am” as well as errands and to-do items such as “pick up Rx.”
  • School – First grade was a whole new world of responsibilities. This helps us keep track of the days’ specials (need gym shoes?), tests, homework due, library book due, guided reading book due, bring xyz for a science experiment, wear purple for the principal’s birthday, etc.
  • Food – Meal planning is huge for me. This helps me think ahead for smart shopping and coordinate meals with the day’s activities. For example, I’m not going to plan a slow cooker meal on a MOPS day because I won’t have time in the morning to prep it. I also star meals that are family favorites so I can remember to make them in the future.
  • Housework – I don’t have a cleaning schedule or a to-do list. Instead I have a “did” list. Usually I shoot for one thing per day. It could just be a load of laundry. But I write down what I DID, and it’s a documentation of productivity.
  • Memories – These are funny things the girls said or little things we did that I want to be able to look back on. It’s a very small journaling aspect.
  • Work – I don’t have work for a “job,” but this box includes my MOPS tasks, Kansas City Moms Blog schedule, and planning for this blog.

In the summer, I order the new planner and transfer anything from the previous year. (would stickers and color-coding jazz it up? yes, but I like the clean simplicity of pen and boxes) I go through the school calendar and fill in the new paper calendar as well as our Google calendar.

The Google calendar keeps Brett and I on the same page and provides a mobile version of our main activities. I only include appointments and scheduled activities on the Google calendar. There are a lot of schedule/calendar apps (I’ve heard rave reviews of Cozi for bigger kids!), so look around for what meets your needs.

The third form of calendar that I use is a white board in our eating area. This is for family reference – activities and dinner plans. Now that Hannah’s a reader, this is especially useful.

I keep my planner always open on my desk as part of my “mommy workstation.” It helps me keep an eye on things and easily jot down what I’m doing.

Maybe this seems overwhelming: the meal planning, the planner, the online calendar, the whiteboard, etc. But I didn’t start doing all that at once. If you’re jumping into better planning, pick one and add later.

I think the two most important aspects are meal planning and writing down commitments. Meal planning is huge for sanity and budget reasons. Writing down responsibilities for work or school or friends is also of great importance because we forget! Time gets away from us, and we can drop the ball and let people down if we lose track of our commitments.

So it takes three things to keep us on-track with our schedule. I’m still tweaking, such as now using pencil for my planner instead of pen, but this works well for us. Paper planner for me, mobile calendar app for us adults, and posted white board for the family.

I plan according to the school year not the calendar year, so I’ve ordered my next blank slate and can’t wait to fill in those boxes!

Clothes: Where I was, What I did, and What I’m doing next

used-clothes

A little over a year ago, I was staring at my closet. My style and my sizes have fluctuated over the last few years, so I’ve had a pretty high turnover of fashion. I’ve gotten rid of a lot. It felt good. I feel like I’m finally finding my style. What I buy and how I buy have changed a lot in the last few years.

Looking over my closet, I noticed that about 70% of my clothes were purchased used. I’ve been a big fan of ThredUp.com (aff link) for years, and our house here is literally a mere 90 seconds away from a good consignment store (seriously, it’s dangerous) Clothes Mentor. So a challenge entered my head – if such a high percent of my clothes was already being purchased used, why not shoot for 100?

So I did it. And then I wrote about it. Of course, I’m a blogger. Read more of my reasons and what I did in a full post over on Kansas City Moms Blog. I detail the why and how of my year of buying used. And I never even set foot in a thrift store.

Here are a few examples of outfits purchased in the last year, just to show that a person can have a used wardrobe on a budget without looking frumpy and dumpy (I hope, haha). And buying used doesn’t just mean sketchy brands from thrift stores.

pink-shirt

Spring – Here is an Express shirt (ThredUp) paired with some 7 for All Mankind jeans (Clothes Mentor). Total outfit cost $28 for me. New would have been over $150.disney-shirts

Summer – This isn’t my favorite shirt, but this picture shows a money-saving tip from our Disney trip. I wanted us to all have Disney shirts to wear on the trip, so the girls could feel festive (without paying park gift shop prices, yikes!). So off to our local children’s consignment store I went. All our shirts above (Mickey, Minnie, and Cinderella) were found and purchased for about $4 each. I found two for myself by looking in the 14-16 size (girls) section.

roller-coaster

This one just makes me laugh. So fun to take Hannah on her first big roller coaster, even if she wouldn’t sit up front with me. :) This Minnie tank top is still in Disney parks gift shops for $34. Mine was $4 at Once Upon a Child. date-night-outfit

Date night! Gap shirt (Clothes Mentor) and distressed jeans (ThredUp).vest

Fall – Almost everything in this shot is used. Downeast tank, Lands End vest, and Steve Madden shoes were from ThredUp, and Old Navy maternity jeans were from Swap.com. I think my coffee cost more than my tank top. ;)

If 2016 was my year of buying used, what is 2017? 

I still plan to buy used as much as possible, but I want to branch out into supporting more small businesses. This is not as budget-friendly as buying used, but I think there are a lot of other economic advantages of supporting small businesses. Plus, cute and unique items. So Target has been permanently dethroned as my primary clothes source, though it is no longer completely off the table.

And I’m not one of those writers that takes on crazy personal challenges for the sole purpose of personal publicity. When 2016 began, I was in a nine-month blogging “break” and Kansas City Moms Blog was nowhere on my radar. So the clothes thing started just for me, but I’m excited to share it to encourage others to think about other shopping options.

So here’s to new adventures in 2017, and happy shopping!