Friday, August 20, 2010

Playroom on a budget

I decided to take a break from the serious stuff today and share some fun stuff I've been doing. As you know if you read my blog very often I have 3 sweet adorable grandkids, two girls ages 3 and 6 and a boy age 5.

Since our son got married and moved out we have an extra room and decided to turn it into a playroom for the kids. Hubby wanted to keep the costs down and I wanted it to be very very fun and colorful so we came up with a plan and here are the results. I wish I had taken a before picture.
Through this process I have come to love Ikea for all the unique kids stuff they have. If you notice the swing in the first picture that was one of the great things we found. We decided to go with a park theme. So we have a tree, a picnic bench and all kinds of cats and dogs. (yes I even let the dogs be part of the scene) :)

We took off the closet doors and make an arts and crafts room out of the closet. We still need to add shelves but it's almost done. I got the table idea from Ikea and the hanging pockets were only $6.99 each.
The shelving was on sale at Target and of course we had to have everyones names on the wall. :)
This was my last find at Ikea - perfect a big leaf to hang over the bed and those are my two cute little lady bugs sitting under the leaf!
Poor Matty is a little out numbered but he still has a good time with the girls. He always gets to be the one rescuing someone when they are playing. This is the picnic table under the tree. This is where they play games together and eat their snacks and lunches.
The rug is suppose to be grass. :) Anna has all her houses set out to make a little neighborhood and Mathew and Kaitlyn are playing a game. Thank you to Edma and Hennie for donating a TV to the cause! That is what they are looking at . It is a TV with a VHS in it which is perfect because I can find all the favoritie kids videos on VHS for $1.

Oh and last but certainly not least hubby put in the flooring which of course saved us a bunch of money. It was so much fun putting it all together but even more fun to see them all enjoy it and feel they have a little place of their own when they come to our house.

I'm going to take a Blog Break for a couple weeks but I'll be back!

"Enjoy the good life every day of your life.
And enjoy your grandchildren. " (The Message revised)
Psalm 128:6

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Friendships Among Women - A Giver and A Taker

This is our final post on friendships among women.  Today is the 5th way to improve your friendships.  So just to recap here are the five ways to improve your friendships:

1. Don't expect one friend to meet all your needs.
2. Be a happy and positive friend
3. Be a genuine sounding board 
4. Be a trustworthy friend
5. Be a giver and a taker kind of friend

 Being a giver and a taker in friendship
True friendship as with most relationships should be a give and take of emotional support, practical support and camaraderie.  If you are in a pinch, asking a friend to help should be easy and comfortable.

A friendship will occasionally become lopsided now that then to to circumstances and need but the regular flow of a healthy friendship should be one of give and take. 

Unfortunately, there are friends who will drain you - some call these emotional vampires - they come to you for support, favors and everything else without ever offering the same in return.  These type of friends will take advantage of your kindness and never stop to offer a helping hand when you need one.  In fact, they will make you feel as though they are inconvenienced if you ever ask them to help in the smallest way. 

We never should keep score in a friendship but it is NOT acceptable to always be the one who is giving and it is NOT acceptable to always be the one who is taking either.  There should be a healthy balance for a friendship to truly be a friendship worth investing into.

We need to look at ourselves and make sure we are not guilty of taking without giving and of getting so involved in our own lives and trials that we forget to reach out to a friend that is going through something.  On the other hand we also need to be a friend that can receive without feeling like we have to do something in return.  Like everything in life it's balance and that is when a friendship is at it's best.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Friendships Among Women - Being a Trusted Friend

Ok just 2 more tips on how to improve your friendships!

Tip number 4 probably should be tip number 1 because I do believe it is the most important one.  Without this one the friendship will definitely suffer if it even lasts.

Tip number four for improving your friendships:

4.  Being a Trustworthy Friend - So what does this mean?  What is Trust in a relationship?

Well, of course there is the obvious of not telling a secret or confidence of a friend, but trust goes must deeper than that.   Here are a few elements of trust that we may not always think about but are just as important as keeping in confidence the things our friends share with us.

a.  Being a reliable person - Being a person that can be counted on.  Whether it's keeping a commitment, being available as much as possible if a friend is in crisis or even just giving a friend a ride to pick up a car at the shop.

b. Showing respect - respect for another person is not repeating information that is private or embarrassing.  Being the kind of person that a friend could share their deepest fears, worries, life experiences and not worry that it will come out later or be used against them.  Confidences shared between friends are to be respected.

Another aspect of respect is not talking about a friend when they are not with you - gossiping about them or saying anything that you would not say if they were there. Be a kind of person that if a friend shares a hurt or a fear they never have to worry about what you will do with that information.

c.  Be kind - as you get to know a person and that relationship turns into a friendship we need to be careful not to use the other persons insecurities as ammunition against them even if we become angry.  A true friend protects, not harms.

d.  Be honest - This is sometimes the hardest of all the points of trustworthiness.  Being a friend that will speak the truth in love.  Sometimes we see a friend making bad choices and we don't want to hurt the friendship so we don't speak up or we actually tell them they are right when we know they are not.
This of course has to be done in a very mature and appropriate manner but the people who truly care about us will correct us if we are getting off track because they know in the long run they are helping us. 

e.  Be will to extend trust - trust goes two ways - that means that if your friend is willing to vulnerable with you, share hurts, fears and insecurities, then you need to be open to them.  There are always areas that we may feel we need to protect and that is ok but I am talking about the everyday life stuff.  Not just looking like we have it all together and our friend is always in need.  Just being transparent. 

If we have been hurt alot in life it is hard sometimes to trust and trust does need to be earned.  This is something that takes time but if you are a trustworthy friend you will be rewarded with trustworthy friendships and loads of respect.

Proverbs 17:9
He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Friendships Among Women - a Genuine Sounding Board

Our 3rd tip to improving your friendships is to be a "Genuine Sounding Board"

3.  Be a "Sounding Board" for a friend, in other words be a good listener

Taking a genuine interest in what others have to say and really listening to someone is important in developing solid relationships.  Letting go of the “me, me, me” and focusing on the other person not only makes the other person feel valued and appreciated, but they feel that they can really talk to someone who cares. Those who take the time to really listen to our thoughts and feelings, and then help us work through difficult times and situations, share our lives at a much deeper level than those who don’t.  This is what being a good friend is all about.

Here are some tips on being a better listener for your friends:
Be an active listener - be fully aware of the other person paying attention to their words and their body language without "zoning out." The active listener is listening attentively and trying to clarify and commit to short term memory the key points being expressed.

There are other skills which can be used to help you be a better listener:
  1. Clarifying – If you don't understand what has been said it is necessary to check by asking for clarification. 
  2. Minimal "encouragers" – These are the nods and "mmmm" noises that one makes when chatting with people to let them know one is listening
  3. Reflecting – From time to time reflect back the important facts or feelings.
  4. Challenging – This skill can be used when there is a mismatch between what the person is saying and their body language, e.g. somebody says they are really happy, but they actually look miserable. Challenging is also used when people are saying things that are contradictory. It is a skill that is used with respect – it is not the same as criticism.
  5. Good body language – Leaning slightly towards the other party can indicate that they are being listened to – just as looking away or glancing at one's watch would tell them that one isn't actually there for them. (this also means not playing with your phone while someone is talking)
  6. Be open and non judgmental - this encourages people to feel free to say whatever they need to without fearing an adverse reaction
I think it is getting more and more difficult for us to be good listeners in our society as we have so many distractions.  As with our last tip, being a happy positive friend, this one is also a learned skill that we need to practice and be aware of.  Think about how we like others to respond to us and you will have a pretty good idea of what you need to do. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Friendships Among Women - Being a HAPPY Friend

We are continuing on in our series on Friendships Among Women - We are looking at 5 tips to improve your friendships. So here is step 2:

2. Be a Happy and Positive Person:
In a study that looked at the happiness of nearly 5000 individuals over a period of twenty years, researchers found that when an individual becomes happy, the network effect can be measured up to three degrees. One person's happiness triggers a chain reaction that benefits not only their friends, but their friends' friends, and their friends' friends' friends. The effect lasts for up to one year.

These effects are limited by both time and space. The closer a friend lives to you, the stronger the emotional contagion. But as distance increases, the effect dissipates.

So be a Tigger not an Eeyore friend - According to the study people are 15% more likely to be happy if a friend is happy, 10% more likely to be happy if a friend of a friend is happy, and 6% more likely if to be happy if a friend of a friend of a friend is happy. In other words, be a happy person and you will affect all those around you especially your friends and your family.

Remember "happiness is a choice" and you will find even in the most difficult of circumstances you can stay mostly happy and positive. Now I realize we all have times of grief and for periods of time and times of crisis and tragedy that is normal and healthy but what we are talking about here are the everyday challenges of life. For some of us those everyday challenges are very big but we still have a choice as to how we react to those times.

One of the best gifts we can give our friendships is a happy and positive attitude. It will make you a person that people want to be with and your attitude will spread to your friends giving them a higher degree of happiness.

Happiness and being positive is a learned behavior. I spent years being a negative person, complaining and discontent. It was actually during the worst times of my life that I finally realized that I do have a choice to be happy and that my circumstances do not have to dictate my moods and my attitudes. Of course, I believe it was God that has given me the peace and the happiness that I can now most of the time live my life in but as with most things in life, WE have to take the first step and do our part before God can do His. So I had to choose to speak positively, I had to choose to trust God and to put my trust and hope in Him, I had to choose to be happy in the morning when I woke up and realized all the difficult things in my life were still there. At first it's hard but then after time it become a habit and it becomes part of your thinking process.

Again, we all have time we need to vent and get our feelings out - so do that - talk it out with a friend, journal your feelings but then get up and choose to be happy.

Ecclesiastes 3:12
I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.