PURPOSE {2014}

I love the concept of “ONE LITTLE WORD” or “OLW” that I think originated HERE as far as I can tell.  Even more so, I love the concept of picking some sort of theme that can be a guide for the year–whether it be a word, a quote, or just a list of hopes for the year that lies before us.

I always try to listen extra hard during the Christmas season and especially during the week following Christmas as we’re winding down and anticipating good things for the coming year.  I like to see what God might be whispering to my heart, telling me to change, or where to put my focus.  And it always amazes me how He sends little subtle messages that help me know how to direct my best efforts.

2014 PURPOSE square resized

My word for 2014 is: PURPOSE

pur·pose n.

1. The object toward which one strives or for which something exists; an aim or a goal.
2. A result or effect that is intended or desired; an intention.
3. Determination; resolution.
4. The matter at hand; the point at issue.
5. To intend or resolve to perform or accomplish.

Idioms: Intentionally; deliberately. with good results.

Our main goal of The Vintage Mother is to post things that are meaningful and purposeful. It’s every intention of ours to motivate and inspire you to become more focused in your personal efforts.  Even if that means a few weeks here and there in between posts so that we can post something worthwhile, then we’re good with that.

My own personal goal for 2014 is to be purposeful in everything I do as a wife, mother, business owner, and friend.  I find how easy it is to get bogged down with tasks and things that don’t mean anything.  That leaves me feeling empty and entirely unsatisfied with the life I’m living.  I don’t like that.

I want to be meaningful in my interactions with others.  I want to make each interaction count.  I want people to know they have meaning in my life, and I want to be purposeful by showing love and serving them.

I want to be deliberate in my mothering.  Making sure I am communicating knowledge to my children and helping direct their inner compasses.  I want to be purposeful in teaching them and strengthening their souls.

I want to be organized. I want my personal and family systems to be deliberate and focused.  I don’t want to spend unnecessary time looking for things.

And I want to be able to look at everything in my home and know it’s purpose.  And if it doesn’t have a purpose, I want to free myself of it.  And be perfectly fine with not having anything ”meaningless” to replace it with.

These are just a few ways I want to live my 2014.

A few days ago, I was in a dear friend’s home and read this quote in her kitchen (the heart of her home)  I was grateful for the subtle message from God as I read this quote.  It made such terribly simple sense to me.  And I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

Purpose of Life QUOTE

As so many of us look for meaning in the 365 days that make up each year, I think we’d do ourselves a favor if we considered the purpose to everything we do.  What a gift that would be for ourselves and our families.

Many best wishes in 2014 from us here at The Vintage Mother.  May the coming year be filled with meaningful, purposeful interactions and experiences.

3 Gifts of Christmas

3 GIFTS OF CHRSTMAS {www.thevintagemother.com}

Through the years I’ve  had several friends ask about our tradition of giving 3 gifts for Christmas.   First, I wish I could take credit for the idea because it has been so neat for our family.  I attended a women’s church meeting the very year Bill and I were first married. We were anticipating spending our first Christmas as a married couple, and this idea was shared.  That was 15 years ago today and we’ve done this every Christmas.

We all know Christmas isn’t Christmas without gifts.  We give gifts as a symbol of God’s greatest gift sent to the world, Jesus Christ.  We give gifts to symbolize the gifts that the wise men gave to the Infant Jesus.  And we give gifts to show love to our families and fellowmen.

But sadly, Christmas has become a season of present purchasing, equalizing the present piles for Christmas Eve, and spending too much money on meaningless things.

Christmas, to me, is a matter of the heart.  How we view and do Christmas is determined by whether or not we are allowing gift giving as an action that  “leads us to Bethlehem”.  And we know that as mothers, even from that first Christmas night, that it was a matter of the heart.   In Luke 2:51 it reads, “Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

Such ponderings lead a woman, a mother of eight, who I don’t know (but wish I did) to ponder on her Christmas, and most specifically her Christmas giving.  I was at a small church event one evening with only about 20 in attendance when she shared her story. It’s a story now when I look back, that I will be forever grateful for.

Her story went something close to this:

It was Christmas Eve, and after wrapping present after present for her 8 children through the month of December, she had both the exhaustion and the eagerness of Christmas morning in front of her.  As she surveyed each of her children’s piles, she could tell from the shapes and sizes what each child had requested that year.  When she got to one of her son’s piles, she noticed there weren’t as many gifts as the other children.  It looked alarmingly small compared to the others.  In her mind, she ran through what he had wanted…and it was just one special toy he’d been asking for for months.  It was there.  In the pile.  Along with a few other things: like some socks, some new books, and another small toy.  But it looked so wimpy compared to the other kids piles…This lead her to a quick late night trip to the local Wal-Mart to fill her cart with other things that would help his pile look the same in comparison to the others.  She got home, wrapped the gifts, surveyed the piles…and this mother of eight went to bed with the satisfaction and joy that Christmas morning brings to mothers everywhere when they know they’ve done a good job with presents for Christmas.

That morning was like the other Christmas mornings they’d experienced together as a family.  Everyone seemed happy and pleasantly surprised with the gifts they were given, and happy that they’d received even more than they’d anticipated.  Later that morning as she looked around the room, she saw the boy whose pile she’d  completed just a few hours before, only interested and playing with the one toy he requested.  Later she would find that he only played with that same toy for weeks after.  A sick feeling came over her.  And she vowed that next Christmas, she would change things.

She prayed.  She pondered.  She researched.  And listened to her heart.  And came up with the idea of giving THREE GIFTS OF CHRISTMAS, reminiscent of the gifts of the 3 Wise Men.

In the Bible, is says in Matthew 2:11 “When they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshiped him: and…presented unto him gifts; gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

What do we know about the gifts that were given to Baby Jesus?  We know that they were symbolic, that they were meaningful because they were rare, that they had been well thought through, for each signified something important.  Gold symbolized Jesus’ royalty, frankincense, an incense used in the temple–his divinity, and myrrh, his suffering and death as it was a substance used for cleaning and burial.

This mother’s gifts would also have power and meaning. And she thought too, that she could offer three gifts with purpose.

GOLD gift of wonder {www.thevintagemother.com}GOLD {The Gift of Wonder} wrapped in GOLD

These are gifts that tickle and delight. They are the gifts that are really wanted or desired–The gift that the receiver just can’t go without! A wanted toy, a planned outing, a season pass… something they just HAVE to have.

FRANKINCENSE the gift of meaning {www.thevintagemother.com}

FRANKINSENCE {The Gift of Meaning} wrapped in RED

These are gifts that have meaning and express affection. These might include: a scrapbook, a quilt, a special doll, an heirloom, a childhood memento, a piece of jewelry,  a treasure box, a framed photograph, or letters from the heart. This gift is extremely worthwhile and something that shows love.
MYRRH the gift of usefulness {www.thevintagemother.com}
MYRRH {The Gift of Usefulness} wrapped in GREEN

These are gifts that are truly needed. Look at your loved one’s needs and choose a gift that would be truly useful. These might include a new coat, a down comforter, or a new pair of shoes and socks. Use this gift for something practical yet worthwhile.

I’ve had many people ask me when I tell them we do this in our family, “Do you really give JUST THREE gifts?”  And the answer is, for the most part, yes.  Some gifts end up being “package deals” of sort, but the point is that with these three gifts our children know we thought specifically about each one.

It is hard to narrow it down to three.  It takes time, and energy and thought.  And Santa brings a little something as well—so the tradition of Santa can be preserved, but the focus is on the special wrapped gifts from Mom and Dad—symbolizing those special three gifts given to the Savior long ago.

I hope this inspires you to consider how you give gifts as future Christmases come and go, and the purpose behind them.

If you are interested in receiving a sheet of information regarding the 3 Gifts of Christmas, please email me katie {at} thevintagemother {dot} com

FREE Printable Chore Chart

One thing I love about this time of year is the opportunity it allows for our family to get into a routine.  In the summer, we’re usually relaxed with the day-to-day tasks we encourage during the school year.  But by the beginning of the new school year, everyone’s ready for some family structure and a system that works.

We have tried many chore charts, and I really think there are some fantastic resoures out there.  We’ve tried pictures, treats, incentives, stickers…all in the name of helping my children to take responsibility for their little lives, become independent, and earn privileges. Some have worked. Others haven’t.

This system in particular though has become a favorite.  I think it’s because it’s simple and focused and easy for everyone.  Plus it’s tried-and-true.  We did this last year in our home and I have to say, for the most part, it really worked for us.

FREE PRINTABLE Chore Chart | www.thevintagemother.com

It’s just a simple piece of paper, laminated, then with magnetic strips on the back. The only other thing you need is a dry erase marker.

FREE PRINTABLE Chore Chart | www.thevintagemother.com

It’s customizable to a degree, as you can pen in your own child’s name and the responsibilities you want him or her to do during the school week.  (We have different charts for Saturday chores, and our family rests on Sunday.)

Each child is responsible for his or her own chart.  Then the child is asked to “star” those tasks he or she has completed with a dry erase marker. Simple.

FREE PRINTABLE Chore Chart | www.thevintagemother.com

We hope you’ll download this template when you get the chance so you can see if it works for you.  And as always, we’d love tfor you to pin this and get the word out.  Also, tell us what you think!

DOWNLOAD FREE PRINTABLE HERE

UPDATE: I think the above link actually works now.  Please leave a comment if not and I will get it sent to you. THANK YOU!

Keep the Coins {Travel Game for Kids}

When we were young we loved playing this game with our family.  I remember my mom making little coin bags as part of her vacation preparation.  Now that I have a family of my own, we have loved introducing our kids to this game. They love it and make sure that it is part of my vacation preparation as well.

This is how it works.  Make little coin bags for each child in your family.  My bag measures about 6″ x 7″.  As you begin your travels, give each child a bag with a roll of coins in it.  We often use a roll of dimes (which is $5) and sometimes a roll of quarters (which is $10).  Explain to the kids that the roll of coins is theirs to keep unless they do things that cause them to lose coins like fighting, arguing, yelling, throwing things in the car, etc.  Every time the kids do something that causes them to lose a coin they have to give a coin to the parents.  I always tell my kids that I will ask for a coin one time and if they choose to complain then I will ask them for 2 coins instead.  The kids quickly learn that they would rather have spending money for their vacation rather than losing it to bad behavior.  In all the times I have played this game with my kids I think I have never collected more than 6 coins from a single child on a 12 hour car ride.  Now, that is pretty good!

Sound fun?  It really is!  Give it a try this summer as you make travel plan with your family.  It will soon become a fun memory for them just as it has become for me.

Happy Traveling!

Keep the Coins Travel Game for Kids | www.thevintagemother.com

 

 

 

 

Good Things {Deck Box}

We are loving this beautiful Spring time.  It seems like we have been waiting so long for better weather.  Now that the days are getting longer and warmer, we feel like Spring is finally here to stay.  The last couple of weeks we have spent the evenings sitting on the back porch or visiting with our neighbors we haven’t seen all winter.  It is one of my favorite times of year.  The kids seem to be happier when they can get outside to play games together and enjoy spending time with their friends.

Recently, I have been frustrated by one thing.  Along with the nicer, warmer weather, my kids have started to reacquaint themselves with all of their favorite toys of summer.  We seem to have every ball, bat, mitt, net, water gun and racket going through a rigorous test to see if it is still working.  The boys will be playing soccer and zoom right into a game of flag football right before my eyes.  I’ll step away for a bit only to come back and see them breaking out their baseball mitts followed by hitting tennis balls off the side of the house.  Does this sound familiar to any of you?  Frankly, it looks exhausting to me but the boys are loving it!

Last week with day after day of good weather, I noticed that the balls, bats, mitts, nets, water guns and rackets were everywhere in the back yard.  Although I would ask the boys to pick them up, it just wasn’t getting done.  To say the least, things were starting to look a little messy in the yard.  We have talked several times about taking care of the things which we have, so that they will be able to enjoy them for a long time.   For some reason this year, it has been a little harder for them to get back in the habit of cleaning up their outside toys.

Over the weekend I thought of a great idea that could fix my frustration.  A deck box.  Yes, that was the answer. “Get a deck box for the back porch.”   Now, if you are unfamiliar with a deck box, let me help you out a little.

Good Things {Deck Box} | www.thevintagemother.com

A deck box is typically made for yards with pools and other beautiful outside patios and porches.  You will often see the deck box pictured storing pool toys and patio cushions.  Sadly, we have none of those, but we do have a little backyard full of toys that need a place to be put away.  I wanted a hinged box that could stand the elements and would not fade because I knew the deck box would be staying outside through the winter as well.  I did a little research online and headed out to my local Target store and found a perfect hinged, very large deck box to fit my needs.   We brought it home and put it together (actually the man of the house did) and set it out on the porch. It fit perfectly!  Within minutes, everything in the backyard was thrown into the box.  Now, as the boys head out the back door, they stop at the box and gather the toys needed for their play.  They also know that they need to put the toys back in the box before they head inside the house.  So far it is working great!

If you haven’t thought of a deck box to help with your families organization you might want to give it a try.  There are numerous size and styles to choose from.  It is a simple solution that might be just what you need.

World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

We all have our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  This one is a combination of all my favorites, and has topped the list for a few years now.  I’m so excited to share it with you! There’s milk chocolate, semi-sweet, coconut, oatmeal…and of course, butter!  Mmmmm….there are few cookies I love that don’t call for butter!  But my most favorite part about these cookies is the method by which you make them.  It’s tried-and-true, through and through, and really a fantastic way to enjoy cookies when you need a quick treat or have unexpected visitors drop by.  And who doesn’t want to be the Mom with cookies baked when the kids come home?

World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies | www.thevintagemother.com

World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe comes purposely doubled so you can bake immediately and freeze the rest. But it can be easily halved to fit your family’s needs, or if you don’t have a powerful mixer. I use a Bosch.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups butter (4 sticks)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 cups oats (regular or quick)
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 bag larger milk chocolate chips (Guittard or Ghiradelli)
  • 2 cups coconut
Instructions
  1. Cream together shortening and sugars.
  2. Add eggs and vanilla.
  3. Mix up dry ingredients in a separate bowl.
  4. Add to wet ingredients.
  5. Add in both bags of chocolate chips and coconut.
  6. Mix together well. Batter will be thick.
  7. Use a cookie-sized ice cream scoop to drop cookies onto cookie sheet.
  8. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.
  9. Bake desired amount of cookies for immediate eating.
  10. Cover an unused cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  11. Drop the remaining amount of cookie dough balls side by side onto parchment.
  12. Put cookie sheet with cookie dough balls into the freezer.
  13. Freeze overnight or for several hours.
  14. Store balls in large freezer Ziploc until ready to cook again.
  15. When ready to bake the frozen balls, put balls on sheet like usual.
  16. Put them in the oven and then let them thaw while the oven is preheating.
  17. When preheated oven signals, adjust cooking time for needed baking.
  18. I usually cook the full time (8 or so minutes) once my oven dings ready.
  19. ENJOY! www.thevintagemother.com

World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies | www.the vintagemother.comWorld's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies | www.thevintagemother.com

Putting Your House To Sleep

Several weeks ago I mentioned in another post about putting my “house to sleep.”  Both Katie and I have this tradition in our home which has become one of our favorite times of the evening. Our mother did something similar and we knew that when the lights were turned off in the kitchen and the stove light was turned on that the kitchen was closed for the night.  We knew that the day was soon coming to an end.

As the day comes to a close I find myself making a conscious effort to quiet my life down.  I begin by making my way around our home, going from room to room.  As I do this I pick up a few things here and there, turning off lights and turning on lamps.  I’m thoughtful about the day and making mental notes of what needs to be done the next day.  But most of all, I am putting an end to the day we have had.  I am consciously creating a peaceful and quiet feeling in our home.

PicMonkey Evening Collage | www.thevintagemother.com

In our home I have several lights and lamps on dimmers.  It was an easy switch that we made years ago to provide us with options with our lighting.  I absolutely love that with our lights we can create a totally different feeling in our home.  When I make my way around the house it is usually around the same time that my kids begin their bedtime routine.  By beginning to put our home to sleep, it helps my children know that it is time to wind down, relax, and prepare for quiet time and bed.

Years ago I remember my parents receiving a Christmas Neighbor gift that was a framed picture of our family home at dusk.  I used to love to look at it as a little girl because the glow of our home at night was so beautiful and peaceful.  I suppose that is why I have always taken pictures of our home in the evening as well.  I love to see the gentle glow of dimmed lights knowing that occasionally it is a beautiful and peaceful place inside.

The Power of Planning

The Power of Planning | www.thevintagemother.comWhen we were young our parents would hold weekly calendaring sessions.   We would gather as a family, usually on Sunday night, and discuss the schedule for the week.

When I got married I thought this is something that all families did.  I learned that that was not the case but luckily my husband thought that it sounded like a good practice to begin in our new life together.  Over the years this one simple practice has become something important for our marriage and also for our family.

Every Sunday night my husband and I sit down together after we get the kids in bed and put the “house to sleep” (a subject for another post).   My hubby often brings my calendar to me which I love.   We begin by going through the week.  As we visit about each day, we discuss anything that would be important for one of us to know.  We discuss our schedules, our children’s schedules and any other needs of the family.  We remind each other about lessons, meetings for work and church, projects due at school, birthdays and other holidays.  We are able to ask each other how we can help out, as well as ask each other for help. This is one of the most important parts of our family planning.  We have learned to work together to raise our children and keep our family running as smoothly as possible.

Over the years we have learned and have come to appreciate the power of planning.  We look forward each week to this time we spend with each other.   It has become one of our favorite times together as a couple.  I love that we use this time to communicate and talk with one another.  Often times our planning sessions lead to other discussions like family goals or how to meet the needs of a specific child.  We are able to discuss concerns or needs that we as a couple might have and how we can better support one another.

Do you use the power of planning in your home?  What do you do as a mother to help with the planning of your family?  We would love to hear.