Thursday, December 4, 2014

LESS OPINIONS, MORE CONTEMPLATION, MORE FRIENDS



My whole life I've struggled with being head-strong, stubborn, and opinionated. Such traits can be molded into great, character-building qualities, but, in my case, there's been a lot of eating my words and apologizing and, ultimately, life-altering (not in a good way) self-centered decisions. So much so that if I ever have opportunities to talk to younger people about the things I've learned along the way, I tend to give them this little tid-bit of advice: YOU DON'T KNOW IT ALL! I'm still, every stinking day, having to learn this. But what compels me to keep on keeping on with my efforts is when I talk with someone who is full of impetuous opinions. Everything is black and white, right and wrong, and they are obviously on the side of right. In these conversations, I see myself, and I don't like me. It takes a good degree of arrogance (and ignorance) to believe it's your way or the highway and that you've figured it all out.

I know cause I've been arrogant and ignorant. I used to know exactly how to be the most amazing parent ever, BEFORE I HAD KIDS. Now that I have four and am in the depths of it, I have no clue what to do and find myself backing all kinds of methods and just wanting to hug anyone who is trying their darnedest to raise healthy individuals. Also, I've been wrong one too many times and have learned it might be best to keep my mouth shut more often than not. For instance, I used to be an avid public school proponent. Now, while I still love public school, I have chosen to homeschool my kids cause I just want to be with them. I never (again) wish to act like I know how other parents should educate their kids. My way is NOT superior. My way is nuts and breeds a whole lot of crazy. It breeds a whole lot of great stuff, too, but I have loads to learn from other parents doing things a different way than I. Do I struggle with thinking my way is the right way? Sure. I also struggle with thinking I'm a failing idiot. And through all my arrogance and ignorance, the one concrete idea I've become certain of is, the quickest way to comprehensive knowledge or competency of any one subject is to realize and admit you don't have it.

I'm sure my parents and many of my friends and acquaintances will be thrilled to read this, but I'm learning that, in my conversations with others, I want to have less opinions and more contemplation. This is the motto I've sort of adopted for myself. The reason being, I want to be better. I want to grow. I want to have more friends and less opinions. That's not to say making friends is more important than standing up for what you believe. But sometimes, and please don't stone me for saying so, standing up for what you believe is less important than your relationships. Sometimes we fail to be kind because we get so engulfed in our opinions or beliefs. We (I) can miss the forest for the trees and end up losing respect of others because we fail to listen and consider different views. We perhaps are so emotional about a particular subject that logic and reason and compassion escape us.

You know, being married sucks sometimes cause you have to learn stuff about yourself that you wouldn't learn if it weren't for another person, day in and day out, witnessing your issues and lovingly bringing them to your attention. Something Heath has brought to my attention is my impulse to throw around the word hate. "I HATE when the kids do that. I HATE that kind of music. I HATE grapefruit. I HATE...." I really do say it a lot. Like way too much. Like my kids are now saying it. And it's so hyperbolic! Really? You HATE that, Hannah? Geez...so quick and eager to exert my strong emotions. I hate myself. Not really. But seriously, we (and I mean ME especially) have such strong feelings sometimes and are perhaps too quick to let everyone know.  Heath has said to me time and time again, "You don't have to let everyone know exactly how you're feeling, all of the time." I hate when he's right.

Please don't hear me say that I believe nothing is wrong and everything is right, that it's wrong to have opinions and hold fast to them or to feel strongly, even passionately, about any one issue. That's not what I'm proponing. But I AM proponing the idea of checking ourselves and considering the possibility of being wrong, of keeping our emotions and logic in balance. ME ESPECIALLY!!!

You see, I'm a little tired of reading about how much some people love guns. It's not that I hate all guns or anything, but it just seems like some people REEEEEALLY love them and have made it their cause. I just don't get it. And you know, I kinda dislike people shoving their love of guns in my face. So guess what,  I don't want to shove an equal distaste of guns in anyone's face (except right now to illustrate a point. I just randomly chose guns. Please don't attack me with second amendment comments.) You know, as is the case with most controversies, the real truth with the firearms topic likely lies somewhere in the middle, but we feel we have to choose sides, pick a team to back, and wear the jersey on each and every Facebook post every bleeping day.

This brings me to my theory. You can all prepare yourselves for a good laugh, because I'm about to make a poor man's effort at being philosophical. I have come up with this over-simplified theory that involves, and this is where the good belly laugh comes in...football. It's a highly educated theory, folks, one that came to me while watching Gilmore Girls or surfing Instagram I'm sure, and I'm 100% positive I'm not the first person to form such a theory, but I've given it a name and call it the Tendency to Team theory. We are a society of people who love to be on teams.  It's the football mentality, and it spills over into all areas of our lives. We are driven by the competition of it all. Cheering. Taunting. Winning. Red team. Blue team. Democrat. Republican. We pick sides or teams and love fighting for the win. "But fighting for and choosing sides of an argument concerning beliefs is different than backing a football team," you might say. Very true. At least, I can only hope we would agree on that, and while football is only a game (sorry to burst your bubble), sometimes we unintentionally make larger matters a similar sort of game. We want to choose a side and win and can forget the layers of an issue for being so caught up in the fight. If we are honest with ourselves and one another, we will see and admit that, oftentimes, political and even spiritual issues are very layered and are embedded in more grey area than we want to accept.

Unfortunately, issues are never quite as simple as we would like to make them. And unfortunately, we can do ourselves and others a disservice by failing to entertain different perspectives. You know, if I sat down with some of the gun-happy Facebookers out there and had a real conversation about firearms, one that I wasn't bound and determined to win, I'd probably learn something. I might even somewhat shift my perspective by the end of our discussion, but ONLY if I check my head-strong opinions at the door. If I go into the conversation with the football mentality, the "we play to win the game" mentality, I will leave with my same near-sightedness and, most likely, one less friend. But if I come to the table with less of a desire to be right and more of a desire to further contemplate the issue, I might gain a friend. I might even gain some new knowledge or a different perspective. And guess what! We probably won't fully agree with one another in the end! But we can coexist with some degree of mutual respect rather than barking at one another, "GUNS, GUNS, GUNS!" or "NO GUNS, NO GUNS, NO GUNS!" Less opinions. More contemplation.

All of this is such a complicated concept. Actually, I'm stupid for even trying to take it on. It's such a complicated issue that it deserves pages and pages of research and doctoral level scholarly consideration. I mean, let's be serious, I am not a scholar. I'm simply a self-reflector and observer with an analogy involving a sport I don't even really understand. And, for the record, I believe in right and wrong. I believe in taking a stand, but I believe in doing so with less hurried opinions and more serious contemplation. Here's something to think about...some synonyms for contemplation are: attention, study, heed, reflection, regard, examination, review, discussion. Now check out the antonyms: disregard, ignorance, neglect, thoughtlessness, disdain, disrespect, negligence, omission. I don't know about you, but if I'm choosing teams, which, according to my fancy pants Tendency to Team theory, is our customary way, I choose the synonym team. I don't want anything to do with that other stuff. Who in their right mind wants to become more negligent, thoughtless, and disrespectful? I've been part of that team too many times, and I just end up feeling foolish like a losing football fan with a painted chest and one of those number one foam hands dragging the ground. So here's to the betterment of self. To the respect of others. To using the word HATE less often. To less opinions, more contemplation, and to being friends.

Monday, December 1, 2014

MY NEW FAVORITE PRODUCTS FROM START CREATIVE

I don't know when I've been so excited about a product or blog post! I'm serious. I'm practically bursting at the seams over these notebooks from Start Creative. You see, when I was a kid and was bored in church, my mom would play this game with me where she would draw a squiggly line or series of lines, and it was my job to make her seemingly insignificant scribbles into something like a face or an animal or whatever those lines looked like to me.  I LOVED the game then, and quite honestly, love it today. So when I was approached by Start Creative about their product, I think I freaked them out with my exclamation points!!!!!  (Beware of an overabundance of exclamation points ahead!) Each page of the Start Creative notebooks has a little something to boost creativity and get your little ones imagining and creating. It's the game my mom and I used to play! These are so great for traveling or anytime you need some peace and quiet. I kid you not. You gotta have 'em. 

I showed Enid the notebooks, and she jumped right in without any directions and started drawing and coloring and having a blast. She said, "This is so FUN!"



Sometimes all kids need is a little push to get creative, and these notebooks are PERFECT for this!


I was getting some photos of Enid drawing and the other kids were waiting on the sidelines, begging to draw in their own. 




Silas said this is Ringo Starr. 



They all, ages twelve, eight, and five, enjoyed these little doodle notebooks so very much. I'm telling you, if you don't put these in your kids' stockings this Christmas, you're a sad excuse for a Santa. They are PERFECT stocking stuffers!



Thanks so much to Start Creative for opening my eyes to their fantastic products!!  I sincerely mean it. Now y'all go order some notebooks for your kids and enjoy a 10% discount with code MUMSY10 now through December 5th. You will NOT be sorry!



Saturday, November 29, 2014

SMALL BUSINESSES ARE WHERE IT'S AT: STRAWBERRY MOTH

Yes, I realize posts around here have been slim to none this month, and I'm really REALLY missing it. I'm especially missing the writing. I can actually tell part of my brain has suffered from lack of writing practice. Like I can barely form sentences, and the ones I do form are mostly boring. So I'm back, or making a concerted effort to be. My failure to post has also taken me away from the Facebook world, which, quite honestly, has been kinda nice. Facebook brings me down. Too much opinion going on over there, in my opinion.

So if I'm not blogging and I'm not Facebooking, have I cut myself from the online world completely? Ha! Hardly. I love it too much. And, frankly, I need it for business. Then where have I been spending my social media energies? I've been in Instagram world, the world of less words and more pictures. Me likey the Instagram world, and I'm wondering how long Facebook will survive its imminent domination.

I've made mention of my Instagram love once or twenty times on this blog, but I'm gonna mention it more right now. Instagram is so much cooler than Facebook or Twitter or your mom. (Just felt appropriate. Probably was not.)  And if you haven't joined the society of tiny squares, you need to just bite the bullet and get with the times before your kids are rolling their eyes at you, if they aren't already.

The thing I love most about Instagram is its ability to bring people together, people from around the world, from all walks of life, who would never have met otherwise. I also very much enjoy and grow from finding other artists and illustrators out there, my new favorite being Jessica Duthu of Strawberry Moth. Jessica makes art and products geared toward kids and babies, which makes me slightly sad because I want all of the above pictured tshirts for myself. (If this were Instagram I would insert a frown emoji or possibly one with tears.) Because I cannot have them for myself, I will have to settle for living vicariously through my children. And what about these oh-so-awesome pennants, people?! You love them, admit it. I love them. A lot! Almost as much as I love these ridiculously cute illustrated greeting cards. And Jessica's site is perfection as well.

The moral of the story is, go join Instagram, check out Strawberry Moth (@strawberrymoth on IG), and support small businesses when you're making your Christmas lists and checking them twice. And look out for more blog posts flooding your Facebook feed this month. I'm steadily creeping my way back.

Friday, November 14, 2014

BOOKS FOR CHRISTMAS 2014

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 //

This time of year, though lovely, can be quite overwhelming for a parent. There's the change of seasons which means cleaning out the drawers and closets and getting the tubs of saved hand-me-downs from the attic and figuring out if you kept anything of worth for your younger children or if you need to buy all new stuff, which, if you're anything like me, takes so long that you might as well just leave all the tubs out until spring when the whole switcheroo/buying of new clothes happens all over again. And also, why can't I remember how to dress kids and myself for winter?! What in the world did I wear last year????!!!!  I mean, I know I didn't go naked. I had to have worn SOMETHING. Oh, and to make matters worse, I put all my sweaters in a tub (without a lid) in the garage all spring and summer long, so they may or may not be salvageable. Y'all. Don't be like me. Please be better than me.

So there's the clothes stuff.  Then, oh dear, here comes all the holidays. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the holidays. I truly do. But it can overwhelm! Growing up, my mom hated Christmas. I now understand why. All the pressure to plan a most perfect Christmas experience...it's for the birds. Especially when I really need to spend money on our bathrooms that need to be redone and all the other stuff that's falling apart around the house. So there's guilt if you don't get all the right stuff for a perfect Christmas and guilt if you do.

There's one kind of gift I don't feel guilty buying or giving, and that's books. So today I'm sharing my book picks for this Christmas. I've said it so many times, but I'll say it again, I don't love most children's books, and when I'm looking for children's books I DO like, I look for ones that my kids, all ages, can enjoy. I especially love if they can enjoy them together. I think all of these will accomplish that goal. And the illustrations!!!!  There are no words for how much I love all of these illustrations. Really, I could enjoy them for that reason alone, even if they had no words. Don't judge.

Now that I've crossed a few Christmas gifts off my list this morning, I'm now off to dig through some tubs and attempt to clothe these kids for the sudden winter weather that has descended upon us here in Arkansas! Wish me luck!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

LITTLE-BISCUITS: A NEW PHASE

I've completely fallen off the face of the earth, or so it would seem if my existence were directly related to the consistency of posts on this blog. And thanks to all of you sweet friends who have said things like, "I miss your blog posts!" I miss blogging!!  But I've had to take a little blog hiatus because I've been working. Like, a lot. And while I sorta feel like Enid in this picture above, all the hard work is finally starting to come together, and I'm getting excited for things to come. 

A few months ago, all of you wonderful people supported me in a new venture, my digital portrait and template venture, Little-Biscuits. Your support meant a crazy lot to me, and I'll always be very grateful for how well Little-Biscuits was received. 

After several months of creating lots and lots of portraits of super cute kids and pets, my business partner, Heather, and I decided it was time to take Little-Biscuits to the next level. So, after lots of research, we found a way to offer customers high quality printed Little-Biscuits products. This certainly changes things at LB. When you used to order a portrait, you would get the digital file along with 8 digital templates of printable products. The idea was you could easily print from home or use your digital portrait file in as many ways as you like. Over these few months, we decided to nix the digital files and make it even easier for you to get your hands on LB products, with the simple click of a button. 

On the Little-Biscuits site, you will notice a slight price change in the portrait. That is because you are no longer getting the digital file along with all of the templates. Instead, you can save that money and put it toward ordering party invitations and other fun printed products, delivered to your door. Products like this party invitation! I really love the new layout and size of the invites!

And another new option we offer is having us put your child's name on some of the products, like this invite for Palmer. 


What goes perfectly with party invites? Cupcake toppers, obviously. 




A cool new product we are offering is stickers, which would be a really unique party favor at your child's or pet's birthday parties!


Or put them on school supplies or a lunch box for fun personalization.

The gift box sticker is also a new product for us, too. We were offering the tag template that you cut out and make for your child, but now, click a button and get these great gift box stickers with your child's LB portrait on them.




And you'll find all of the other LB products.  








Of course the Dress-Me Notepad which I love very much. I especially love the convenience of this new size. Stick it in your purse with a few crayons and take it to the doctor's office or church or anywhere your kids might need to sit still and quiet for awhile.


And I'm happy to introduce another fun and NEW product.  Puzzles!


Puzzles come in three different levels of difficulty, too! My kids LOVED putting together the puzzle!!!


Of course, let's not forget our furry Little-Biscuits! Pets are family, too, after all, and deserve to be celebrated. 



Thank you so much for all your support and for following along with Little-Biscuits. Next week we will be featured on one of my favorite blogs, and they will be doing a Little-Biscuits giveaway! So stay tuned for that!!

And a HUGE thanks to Rachel Smith for all her master photography work! And to all of the others who have helped make all this possible. You know who you are.