life inspired: the sea in between

“When you have kids there’s this natural concern…this is going to change everything. How are we going to do what we’ve been doing? But you can do just about anything you did with kids that you did without. It’s just a lot more work.” 

Josh Garrels

I know I’m not the only person out there looking to integrate a bit more creativity into the ordinary; in light of that, I’d like to start sharing things that I’ve read or seen that have inspired me lately.

The Sea Between is a documentary about how musician Josh Garrels and his family, along with arts collective/ production house Mason Jar were all invited by the Johnson family to spend a week at their house on Mayne Island where they could enjoy the beautiful surroundings and “let art get made” despite none of them having met before.

I love this sort of “art just because” project. It’s not about making heaps of money or achieving a certain level of fame, it’s just because. I first saw this film when they screened it at Josh Garrels’ concert a couple years ago and I was quite excited to be able to watch it again when they recently posted it on youtube.

There is much to stretch out those creative mind muscles in this film: sentiments about the creative process, ambition, classical vs. personal expression, the shifting music industry, integrating creativity in family life (see above one of my favorite quotes on parenting found at the beginning of this film), and expressing faith in art. And if all that doesn’t inspire you, then I’m sure the music and beautiful scenery will. Enjoy!

the days are long but the years are short

“Memory, my dear Cecily, is the diary that we all carry about with us.”

Miss Prism (The Importance of Being Earnest)

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I love digital photography. I can take endless snapshots of pretty things and sweet moments without worrying about the cost or clutter of film and prints. Of course, the downside is that it takes me forever to get anything printed.

We have one giant family album that I’ve been working on for a while starting with our engagement photos up to the present day: The Lacasse Family Storybook. I’m at least a year behind. There are gaps where I haven’t finished putting in our wedding photos and Mabel hasn’t even made it into the album yet but the good intentions are there on the shelf. I’ll get to it eventually because I know one day my kids will pore over it the way I spent countless hours poring over the “1986” album from our family collection. It wasn’t even a baby album or mostly pictures of me but it was my year and I knew that album back to front.

The task of sifting through the thousands of photos on our various computers and devices is daunting because how can I know which are going to be the key identify-forming, story-telling images? Is it the photo of my coffee in the morning light or one of the 16 photos I just took of Addison holding Mabel because they just looked so cute? And which one of those 16 photos is it?

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Recently someone mentioned to me that they don’t really remember their kids as toddlers because they’re too busy knowing them at their current age. It makes sense. Why spend time dwelling on the way someone was in the past when you are building a relationship with them in the present? But it also totally freaks me out- the next day I took twice as many photos and videos as usual. I got Addison to take a video of me kissing Mabel and a video of me conversing with Joy about the best part of her day; the thought that I won’t remember the feeling of those soft chubby cheeks and the sound of that funny little two-year-old voice makes me feel panicky.

I take photos to hold on the ephemeral but it also acts as a way to draw my attention to all of the gifts in my life. I love scrolling through my Instagram photos, and as I relive all the moments I felt compelled to capture I am tracking our story and God’s faithfulness.

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Because the years fly by but the days are long. Long and messy and frustrating at times and, as a stay-at-home mom, I am often painfully aware of the passage of time. It races by like an unbearably long cargo train, while I sit at the crossing (probably texting my husband, asking what time he’ll be home), an observer of progress. Sometimes it feels like change is happening all around me but I’m stuck in sameness.

But God is present in the sameness. And I’m learning to trace His faithfulness in the midst of it. I must.

The days are long but the years are short. When I look back through pictures from a year, a month, even a week ago I can see how fast my children are changing. This revelation brings a twinge of sadness but also excitement for what lies ahead. With the magic of ordinary days, babyhood vanishes and is replaced with wonders anew. New words and skills are learned, new ideas formed, new stories told as the world is understood through new eyes. And as my children change from glory to glory, I hope that I am changing as well -in spite of the sameness. Not in ways that can be measured and marked on a doorframe, but in the more essential ways, those which are invisible to the eye.

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i hope i remember these days
these days of quiet busyness
these days of noisy innocence
when i was your captive audience

i hope i remember this time
this time of frantic stillness
these moments of static movements
when you were my precious vocation

 

Psalm 139:1-12

You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely.
You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.

Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.

housekeeping 101: 5 ways to get your butt in gear when you just don’t wanna

“I don’t want to brag, but I’m pretty mediocre at housekeeping.”

Anne Taintor

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My house is finally quiet after an hour of convincing my kids to go down for a nap (Seriously, though. Can you remember there ever being a time in your life when someone had to persuade you to have a nap? Me neither). Now I’m sitting on my couch, sipping a cup of coffee, staring at my domain, and searching deep within myself for the motivation to keep chipping away at the chaos that is my living room and kitchen. Housekeeping: it’s not rocket science but it is hard work.

I find myself in this scenario pretty often. Not the quiet house, but the “trying to get motivated to do the hard work” part and over time I have developed a few tricks to get my butt off the couch, some of which occasionally work. Today, instead of putting my tricks into action I have decided to put them into a nice little guide. Maybe then one of us can have a clean house.

So without any further ado, I give you…

Housekeeping 101: Lesson 1

5 ways to get your butt in gear when you just don’t wanna.

1. Imagine Bugs

I’m naming this one first because it really is VERY motivating. You can feel free to imagine whatever kind of insect, rodent, or pest that is the most relevant to you. Our last apartment in Victoria had a bit of a silverfish problem so I found that picturing in my mind’s eye a family of silverfish feasting on my breadcrumbs and dust at night could usually motivate me to sweep and vacuum. In the summertime, thinking about a trail of ants when I’m tempted to leave a sticky spill on the floor for another day seems to do the trick.

When it comes to deep cleaning, you could try getting a full on infestation. I’ve tried this technique as well and  I have to say that having sand fleas was was quite effective in getting me to steam clean my carpets and wash my curtains (Side note: I don’t recommend bringing large amounts of driftwood into your house- no matter how cute the Thanksgiving centerpiece turned out). Closet decluttering and mouse-nest-hunting can be one and the same, it’s all a matter of perspective.

Once your infestation is under control, you might try my next tip:

2. Host a regular gathering

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As anyone who’s been to my house can testify, I am a firm believer that your house does not have to be perfectly clean in order to have people over. In fact, I think we should all just throw that myth out the window right now. Loneliness and isolation are a major issue in our city and, according to this article in the Georgia Strait, “those aged 24 to 34 and people living in suites in houses (such as basement apartments) reported higher rates of loneliness.”  I wonder if all my fellow basement suite dwellers are sitting alone in their caves thinking that their suite isn’t clean enough/bright enough/open concept enough/ big enough/minimalist enough to have their friends over; I say enough of that! In fact, I challenge you all to invite someone over this week and not clean up at all AND (this is the tough one) not apologize for the mess. It is both a humbling and liberating experience.

And now that I have released you from the feeling that your house HAS to be clean to have friends over, we can get back to our original topic. Consider, for example, you want your house to be clean for sanitary reasons (not just for the sake of appearances) but have trouble getting down to it- oh, the monotony of it all. Company is very good for this as they can be used as leverage to motivate yourself to clean the house. I tend to procrastinate cleaning my bathroom and am always amazed at how fast I can clean it in the 10 minutes before guests arrive (or in a 5 minute trip to the bathroom when I realize that I forgot to clean it after they arrive). Seriously, it makes me wonder why I was putting off all week. Which brings me to my 3rd motivational technique.

3. Do it as fast as possible

Set a timer for 5 minutes (0r 10 minutes, or 15 minutes, or 10 seconds if that’s all you can handle) and clean as much as you can as fast as possible. Make a game of it, see if you can beat your record from last time. Alternately, put on a peppy song and speed clean for the duration of the song. I recommend this song:

About 7 minutes of peppy speed-cleaning candy right there.

However, if you’re really having one of those days, and find you just don’t have the pep for 10 minutes, or even 10 seconds of speed cleaning, please refer to my next tip.

4. Do it as slowly as possible

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When you’re tired and sluggish, your body is weary from pushing 100 pounds of toddlers and stroller to the library and back, and you’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume of chaos and don’t know where to start, I recommend that you work as slowly as possible.

Pick any spot. A shelf or a corner perhaps. The smaller the area the better. If you need to sit down to access it, that’s ideal. For example, you might try detailing the armrest of your couch. Or maybe take a minute to research recipes on Pinterest.

Or you could take the global approach. Instead of focusing on one area or one task, focus on one item at a time. Some days I find myself slowly orbiting my planet like a robotic space probe looking for signs of life, sending data to my brain as I handle and identify each misplaced item, one at a time. Beep boop beep…garbage…beep boop boop…toy…beep boop beep…dirty laundry. The key here is to keep up any sort of forward momentum no matter how slow because, as we all know, if you’re not working against the toddler tornado it WILL consume you.

And my final tip…

5. Use one housekeeping task to get out of another housekeeping task

This is my final tip and a favored technique in our household. There’s nothing like a well-timed trip to the washing machine the minute a child declares he/she a has a poopy diaper. “Can you do it, honey? I’m just putting a load in.”  Sometimes Addison and I even fight over who gets to do the dishes and clean up from dinner while the other one gets the kids ready for bed. I just love to pop on some headphones around 8 pm and get down to wiping table and chairs and sweeping the post-dinner debris, or propping up my laptop on the window sill and washing the dishes to an episode of my current Netflix interest, productively tuning out the toddler wrangling in the background.

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Alternately, it can be difficult to do the dishes, if the act isn’t helping me get out of some other responsibility. In which case, I put them off until there is some other task that I need to do but want to do less than the dishes. You could try this technique as well. Or just wait until it becomes absolutely necessary due to lack of counter space. Whatever happens first 🙂

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Happy Cleaning!