Tag Archives: spring

The Toy Free Summer Challenge- How to Jumpstart Imagination

At the moment it’s a gorgeous, sunny afternoon in Midtown Atlanta.  The windows are open and the fans are spinning with the sweet, peaceful drone that’s hypnotized me since I was a child.  To my left is a lovely iced coffee with stevia and coconut cream that Selah (9) made for me after she  folded a load of laundry.  The children’s bedroom is basically immaculate.  The TV is off and there is no one asking for batteries or chargers or to talk on the phone. In front of me are  my four children, a 4th grader, 2nd grader, kindergartener and 3 year old, all playing contentedly with a pile of construction paper and one pair of scissors. Yes, I mean together. Yes, I mean without fighting. No, they don’t have anything battery operated involved, especially with letters like DS, Xbox, Wii, I(enter your choice of pad, phone, touch)… It’s a moment of bliss. Something to be documented.  And it’s all because we made a commitment together as a family yesterday. We’re spending the summer without toys!!

Wait, let me explain,
Last week I had a moment where I lost my cool with the kids and threatened to take all of their toys away and give them to goodwill.  I say threatened because it was one of the few times that I really didn’t expect to go through with it all the way.  The poor crew was already in one room with 2 sets of bunks and hardly any toys…. Anyway, the story… Poor Selah and Jake asked me to go ahead and do it!  Now, if I were assuming adult motivations in my children, which we all often do, I would have gotten more angry. I would have yelled at them to not talk back, treated them poorly for the defiance they were clearly showing. Instead, I looked in their eyes and didn’t assume it was just defiance. Instead I asked them why they would say that and if it’s really how they feel.  To my surprise they were as serious as I was! They weren’t trying to trap me or call my bluff. They both agreed they would rather go without toys than have the constant stress and pressure of picking them up. So we sat down and talked about what that would mean for all of us. Lucas got involved. They all got excited… The idea of  the Toy Free Summer Challenge was born.
Also, we have been in a rut, so to speak, and I know other families get in them, too.  They play the same thing, they do the same thing and they fight over the same thing.  For our family, it’s always creative, but for yours it may not be. I’ve had friend ask me how I get my kids to play together. I’ll share some other tips on that later.  But for a lot of people, joining in the Toy Free Summer Challenge could really help jump start imaginations that have been going dormant amid a world of Ipad, Itouch… well, key word being I, I, I…right?  Let’s help them snap out of it!!  Get your kids creating!!

The goal is to get rid of anything that  creates mess, causes solidarity, destroys any community in your family and wreaks general  havoc in the house, so we can enjoy our moments better. Here are the rules for our family. Yours may be different.


  1. Things that are messy and doesn’t get put away on a regular basis.
  2. Anything that causes strife and gets fought over instead of shared and played with together.
  3. Things that don’t get played with, or we are tired of, but still takes up space.
  4. Anything that drives someone else in the family nuts.
  5. Anything that steals our peace, space or happy moments. (by fighting, excluding, hoarding…)
  6. Anything that makes noise, causes hyper-focus and ignoring of parents and/or siblings
  7. Extra blankets, cuddlies, stuffed animals, lovies… things that we can live without but cause clutter.
  8. Movies, handheld games, zone-out material other than books


  1. Games that require multiple players
  2. Smiles
  3. Things that require creativity, instead of direct it
  4. Hugs
  5. Things that we work with together on a regular basis without conflict.
  7. Smiles
  8. Things that have been consistently cared for and put away. (legos!)

So, it’s a work in progress, as anything like this is, but in this case it is the brainchild of a little boy and girl.  We’ll give them some time to perfect the process, shall we?

Feel free to do your own version of the Toy Free Summer Challenge and tell us about it!!  We’re so excited about creating this concept for a stress-free summer outside the box, by boxing things up!!!

Clear it out and find the space to move and breath, together…



Filed under Candid Kid-versations, Family, Purging Clutter, Uncategorized

Down. Not a Place To Be On A Beautiful Day.

So, I’m in a funk.  A little depressed.  I’ve no where to go.  It’s absolutely gorgeous outside.  We went and played tag with the kids at the park and I couldn’t stop closing my eyes to breath deep.  I love the promise of spring.

The boys are sleeping in their room. Selah is napping on my bed.  Poor Travis is exhausted and sawing logs on the couch.  Me?  I could seriously use a nap.  I’ve hardly slept all week.  I’m sitting in a corner because there is nowhere else to go in this itty bitty house of ours. I’d love to sleep, but I’m being girlie and depressed.  Emotions have been churning this week.  I’ve decided maybe it’s time to think through them, so here I go.

I have a problem with confrontation. Not that I don’t like it.  I actually enjoy it.  I love a good debate on just about anything from diapers to presidential candidates.  I love it when someone actually talks to me about something that I did wrong, rather than hold a grudge or tell everyone else.  I call my home a ‘no-gossip zone’.  I try not to say things that I would not say directly to someone.  It just happens to be that I will be direct about things others wouldn’t dream of.  So, well…I can be a bit of a shock.

My problem isn’t actual confrontation. It’s the fear and pain of NO confrontation.  Of no resolution.  The tension of not being open.  Several months ago on my personal blog I posted some frustration I was working through from the effects of a very unhealthy, toxic friendship. Writing it out is how I deal, so that’s what I did.  Someone got on and commented as ‘anonymous’ and completely misjudged the post or chose to see it differently.  Now, I had no problem with them not agreeing, and I can take criticism. But how the heck do you respond like that to someone and be so cowardly to do it without naming yourself?  I just don’t get that.  My guess is that there is a good chance that it was, in fact, written by the person I was venting about. Sounds like something she would do, along with writing a song about her victimization.

Several months ago I disagreed with a friend on something that was a pretty big deal. It was a painful thing to do.  She refused to talk to me about it, only communicating by email.  I could not compromise on what I knew was clear truth.  I’ve done it before and I won’t go there.  It was  one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and something I never ever wanted to do without talking face to face, and a hug of  ‘I love you but I can’t go there’ . Ultimately, our very special friendship of 11 years (in which I never remember ONE fight) was over in just 3 or 4 emails.  She chose to un-invite me to her wedding and never speak to me again.  I can’t even tell you how much it hurt.   She emailed me this week to tell me that she was thinking of us and praying for Jacob.  My heart is raw all over again. 

I sent the list of links that I posted her (on the Jimmy Hemmel Show) to some friends, and rather than clicking on a few of the moms from church I sent it to the whole group.  It was a VERY stupid thing to do.  Yes, I think it was very funny, and most of the moms in the group did, too.  But one didn’t, maybe more. One mom emailed Lisa to complain (the co-owner of the group with me).  I immediately recognised that is was a stupid, stupid thing to do.  Just to save a few clicks of the mouse, is all.  I apologised on the group.  Several of my friends defended me.   I love them for it, but I didn’t want to perpetuate the problem.  Yet the offended emailed another mom to defend her stance again.  Why the heck wouldn’t someone just be forthcoming and respond to the whole group, or email ME since I’m the one who posted something inappropriate?  I just don’t get that.

So, in thinking about it, the problem is that I didn’t feel like I could defend myself appropriate. I feel like my heart is misunderstood and has been judged.  How do you talk to someone who posts as ‘anonymous’ and is then gone?  How do you show someone how much you really DO care and aren’t just trying to judge and ruin them, when they refuse to see you face to face?  And how to I go to church tomorrow, knowing that one woman out of 50 in the email group things I’m some trashy monster of a mom that posts lewd things to church groups, when they chose to tell others they were offended but not tell me?

We as women feel so challenged to our core if someone doesn’t ‘like’ us?  Driven to please everyone.  Always feeling misunderstood, too much yet not enough all at once. Too lazy but too busy…   I think it’s at the core of every woman’s soul to be seen as whole, yet none of us feel whole.   We feel like if we can portray the image then maybe we have a fighting chance at actually experiencing the peace of wholeness.  So we fight to look the way we want to be seen, just hoping it will come true.  And our daughters see it.  And they learn it. And it goes on.

I am an island.  I live in a neighborhood where I know several families.  Knew them before I moved here.  They’re all a block or two away.  Yet I am alone.  I have no one to call when I feel like this.  Because everyone assumes that I’m so busy. Or that I have it all together.  Why do women do this to ourselves?  We work so hard to look like we have it together that in never occurs to anyone that we may need a call, or a knock on the door when our man is out of town.  Islands, all of us.

 Ironically, we celebrated 4 years of owning this house this week.  It’s taken me a good part of that 4 years to stop being angry at not being included, and to understand that we just have to make other friends.  Now, I’m not saying that these are bad people. Not at all. They’re precious and lovely.  Or that I sit around and dwell on this, pitying myself for 4 years straight.  It just comes up once in awhile when I’m lonely.  And I think we all do it.  The funny thing is that I just read a neighbor mama’s blog.  She’s one of the fun ones.  All happy all of the time, endless slew of friends to hang out with.  I love her.  She’s fun.  To my utter amazement, she feels like I do!  How can that be? Wow.

So, here’s my challenge.  Go call a friend. Someone you’ve been thinking about this week, but haven’t talked to. The woman that looks like she has it all together? She doesn’t. She needs to know that you think about her every now and them.  She needs a hug.  Don’t be an island.


Filed under All Posts, Inner Sessions