28 April 2014

Tinies With Littles

Maggie Gyllenhaal in American Life (Away we go)
So, tiny living with littles.

It's honestly pretty great, but I get the reservations. I think most people assume people who live in tiny homes with kiddos are the Fishers from Away We Go. While I cannot deny Maggie Gyllenhaal's sweet style in this hilarious film (we cannot move forward in our friendship until you have seen it), I don't know many people like that. Which is totally okay with me. Seriously. I love and accept all forms of weirdness, but sometimes it's still weird.

But other than "hippie reasons" to have a small home, there are some awfully great parenting ones.

1. The smaller your space : The smaller the chase. Our house is a rectangle with the bathroom in the middle, making the rest of the space a "C" shape. This means that no, I cannot see Rory 100% of the time, but I can find him in 10 seconds or less. No baby gates or "play areas" in this house (not that those aren't totally fine, it just makes my life significantly easier, maybe it would make yours harder! No judgement here, man.), he can play wherever and whenever without being too far for me to check in on.

built-in bunk beds
This. It's simple and adorable. I would probably lean away from the white toward the natural board look, but that's because too much white makes me feel like I'm in a hospital... or cell.

2. The smaller your space : The less you clean. Now, there is definitely some worry about clutter in small spaces and the fact that it can go from clean to disaster area is less than 5 minutes with the assistance of a determined 20 month old and project-oriented husband - BUT - I can vacuum my whole house in that same amount of time. Cleaning the bathroom (singular) takes all of 10 minutes unless we are doing deep cleaning. Sweeping? 3 minutes. Mopping? 5. So you have more time to play with baby! Or toddler... yikes.

My blog is called "Where In The World Is Malialani," if it's news to you that I like to travel... you are broken. I will post a picture of our maps some time, but this one is pretty neat. It is printed on a sheet and not the wall, so it can easily go up, have things tagged to it, and come down without much fuss or damage to your wall. Brilliant! It is also much more to scale than most maps... bravo. We spend wake-ups asking Rory where in the world he wants to go and he gets to pick a spot and we tell him a fact about that spot or make up an adventure. Maps + Kids = Wonder.

3. The smaller the space | The less crap accumulated. Let's face it? Most kids toys are unecessary. They play with them for maybe 10 seconds and then it's into the bathroom to destroy a roll of toilet paper. Parents in the US drop ridiculous amounts of money on toys that are thrown out or donated to Goodwill within 6 months. When you have less space to throw crappy toys into, you start to get very picky about which toys stay and which get to live at grandma and grandpa's house. How excited would you be if you could say no to toys you hate because "Oh! There's just not enough space for this gem, let's leave it with Nana?"

Also this! We've discussed my desire for 12 children right? And my desire for tiny living? Perfect... We often chat with our good friends about how many rooms you need for children and always end up with one for boys and one for girls. Less trouble that way... or maybe more trouble, who am I to know the future of my babies? ... Probably more trouble if they are my kids, regardless of how many rooms we have.

4. The smaller the space | The more creative the time. Maybe "more creative" is a little bit presumptuous, there is definitely a need for creativity with kids no matter the amount of space you have. With small space though? There is no "new room" to visit. Rory and I read a lot of books, play with a lot of toys, go on a lot of walks, watch a lot of movies, do a lot of yoga, play with a lot of magnets, color a lot of pictures - and it's still only 9:30am? WTF. Seriously though, you have to get really creative time management in a small space. It's good to do one thing in one area, like the living room, then move to the kitchen for a snack while you tidy the living room again to do a different thing there. The more often you tidy a tiny space? The less likely your child will be to get bored. And it has created the very strange but awesome desire in Rory to tidy with me, which is a fun game in itself. It might seem exhausting, but it's actually pretty simple because, again, there is less space and less stuff to tidy.

Built-in for an entryway. This is something I wish we had on the regular. We have a smattering of shoeboxes and coat hangers and shelves piled precariously next to our door, but it's so temporary feeling and just not exactly what I want.

5. The smaller your space | The more the outdoors call. Again "more" might be a bit of an exaggeration. But we are very lucky to live on quite a bit of land and Rory revels in exploring every bit of it. Climbing on old stumps, feeding the donkeys, walking through long grass, jumping in puddles - there is just so much for him to do. We also love to go to the park and run around, we usually bring his soccer ball and he just kicks it around for literally hours. Long walks are the best, Rory just marches forever. And then naps. The best naps.

Perfect shirt for the nitty-gritty of motherhood
And you obviously need this to describe living with littles in general... actually, I have needed this shirt for most of my life.

24 April 2014

Jumping On The Bed

I remember sheet changing day to be the best day when I was younger. There is just something so appealing about a naked bed. It is so excellent for jumping and rolling around on. It is somehow significantly better than when there are sheets.

Rory has noticed it too.

There is some kind of magic about jumping on the bed. Especially a naked bed. And lately? I have needed that magic. I have been tired, so tired. And tired with a toddler is unlike any other kind. But just because you're exhausted? Doesn't mean life stops, does it? I have been overly needy of Mark, overly exhausted with Rory, and overly critical of myself this week. Magic of any kind is greatly needed.

So this week, I irresponsibly jumped on my bed with my son.

There are times when we just fail. Not in a big, Youtube video worthy way, just in little things. Like demanding my husband read my needy little mind, or getting cross with my sleepy teething 20 month old, or being self-critical of myself, my home, and my time management (or lack thereof). And when we fail? We need to just accept that we have failed and move forward. There is no starting over. Not really. There is only the realization that we have messed up and trying to do better next time.

Failure is a part of life. But it doesn't need to define life. When we ask forgiveness for our short-comings and move forward, a failure becomes just another experience. A teaching moment. Lord knows I have had a lot of a teaching moments, but as long as I learn from them? I think it will be alright. At least, I think that today. Remind me tomorrow.

20 April 2014

For Long Walks With No Destination

Sometimes I get very busy with what I am doing.

I get so busy that I forget that my sweet little has the love-language of quality time and his own checklist. Where as mine might include dishes, tidying, and planting my new plants; His includes pirate ships, tickle fights, and a long walk with no destination.

If I am being honest, I often forget his to-do list. I feel like mine is full of must-happen-now! things and his is just there to accomplish afterwards, if we have time. But that's not really the case, is it?
If I refuse to prioritize Rory's list, what does that teach him about his self-worth and how to treat others? Nothing. I teach him nothing.

There's a balance to it, like with all things. Sometimes, mommy's things have to come first, like going to get groceries so the husband and baby won't starve. But other times, a lot of time, mommy lists can probably wait for pirate ships, ticklefights, and long walks with no destinations.

Because, let's get real, how long will he want me involved in his to-do list?
(Forever, obviously, but just in case he doesn't because he gets hit on the head by a meteorite or something...)

There needs to be some semblance of equality stressed. Rory's desires are just as important as my own. Neither one of us gets to just always do the things we want. That isn't how life works - at least, not a healthy one. I cried about this earlier this week - like a ninny - it was stressing me out to no end. I had my agenda and Rory wasn't working with it, Rory had his agenda and I wasn't working with it, and Mark was left confused as to why we were so frustrated with one another.

Balance. It's good for the soul. So this weekend? We are doing a mixture of Mommy ordained must-happens and Rory commanded if-we-feel-likes. And Mark is being very generous with us. Because he is the best husband I have. ;)

18 April 2014

Day Dreamy Home

I am in love (see: obsessed) with the whole tiny homes movement. It's partially because we live in one, but also because I am just fascinated by such a counter-cultural phenomenon taking up in America. The "bigger is better" concept still has hold on the US, but there is a tiny revolution of sustainability that I am so excited about!

I often wish we could build our own tiny house, designed with our little family in mind, but odds are that won't occur for some time. I do day dream that the layout of our 550sqft was a little different, but that is kind of a pipe dream. But in our ity little house, there are several things that I constantly wish we had.

3. A washer and dryer - not having laundry on site makes for long days and large loads, especially with a toddler. I wouldn't mind drying clothes on a rack either, so perhaps just a washer? There are so many great eco-friendly and tiny options available these days, I found this one just the other day. I'm not sure about the rest of the house design, but I do like this washer/dryer combo.
Washer and dryer
Panda also makes a pretty cute tiny two-in-one combination, but I haven't seen it used in any of the tiny home models I've looked at. The reviews seem decent though...

2. A dish washer - if for no other reason than a place to hide the dishes. So maybe just a bigger sink? I am just not disciplined enough to do the dishes every time I use one. The shame.
Tiny Kitchen. I think taking a couple of our small cupboard doors off would make the room feel larger
Just look at that pretty little kitchen! I must be honest, I probably spend the least amount of time scrolling through dishwashers, but I definitely crave having one more often than a washer/dryer.

1. A bathtub - and no, not for Rory. For me. I love a good long bath. There is nothing more relaxing or wonderful than a long bath after a long day. Especially after having a baby. And I guess it would be good for kiddos too... but mostly for me.
old galvanized bathtub
Beautiful. Just beautiful. I'm thinking something old and lovely, with a holder like the one above, but made by my husband so as to be $60 or so cheaper. :)

There is so much to tell you about in my dream space. But I'll save that for another day... Or you can just stalk my obsession on Pinterest. That's always a thing.

17 April 2014

Mission Moments: Lifesong

14-04 MM email

Lifesong Farms. We are thankful, with the help and expertise of our friends at Plant Sciences, Inc., to have active strawberry farms in Ukraine and Zambia. Our hope is to not only create jobs and self-worth for orphan caregivers, but also  provide future employment opportunities as orphans grow into adults. Eventually, we aim to establish sustainability to help fund on-going orphan care. Hear the stories behind the farms...

Bearing Fruit in Sergey {UKRAINE}

Like each and every child our Ukraine team reaches out to through Constant Christian Presence, Sergey was full of potential. Coming from a life of hurt, God breathed hope into his heart and life. Through the team's support, mentorship and love, Sergey came to know Christ while developing relationships and life skills that is leading him towards a fruitful future.

Now, he and another orphan graduate are involved in helping manage a nursery, as well as play an important role in Lifesong Farms-Ukraine.

Listen in to his story...

Strawberries Help Send Kids to School {ZAMBIA}

Last month, Lifesong Farms-Zambia team were pleased to present the first check to the Lifesong School at a special ceremony. As the farm continues to grow and show profits, we hope to have many more check ceremonies in the future as we grow towards sustainability!

zambia farms
Farm team presenting $5,000 check to Lifesong Zambia School


Story of Lifesong Farms - Learn how Lifesong Farms got started in Lifesong Zambia. Watch Video
Impact on Farm Workers -  Listen in to our Quality Manager, Pilijah, as she shares how her job has impacted her and her family. Watch Video
Christian Alliance for Orphans CAFO2014 {May 1-2; CHICAGO} -  CAFO2014 inspires and equips Christians to care for orphans with wisdom-guided love. Register today! Learn More & Register
Celebrate Life Tour - featuring Cheri Keaggy & Zambia Children's Choir! Buy Tickets Today

07 April 2014


I have been a little spiritually and emotionally spent.

Maybe more than a little. Maybe a lot.

We were recently turned down by a local church for support. They feel as though we don't have a strong enough emphasis on evangelism. And because they have decided not to support us as a church, they don't feel it's appropriate for us to share with their congregation. I am a little discouraged by this. We are still in talks with several others churches, one we will visit this month, another in June, and we will be attending our conference's annual meeting in May. So it isn't as if the world is over - but I'm still feeling a little put out. The truth is, for more fundamentalist churches, we probably don't have a strong enough emphasis on classic evangelism.

I believe in holistic ministry. I believe that living out my convictions, loving people, caring for people - those are the ways I spread the gospel. I definitely believe in sharing my beliefs, but there is a time and a place and I am so not a door-to-door type of person. I am awkward. For the love of the land, I am awkward. It takes people a solid two or three tries to get me in a conversation where I am coherent! I do much better working alongside people, having conversations as they come, asking hard questions where they make sense, and keeping things light and sarcastic when life calls for it.

I will give you a for instance. For instance, I had a dear friend call me at 5:30am several weeks ago because she needed to go to Urgent Care. I blinked the sleep out of my eyes and then physically got on my knees and prayed for her situation. We ended up at Urgent Care several hours later when it opened (8:00am, thank the dear Lord) and I simply sat there and made bad jokes and sarcastic comments. I am nothing if not a killer comedian, especially within hospital walls. At 5:30am? My friend needed prayer and words of the Spirit, but in the hospital? She needed to be distracted.

Now, I'm not saying I am the best at reading all of these scenarios, I am definitely not. I am mostly saying that evangelism doesn't always have to look like asking people if they know Jesus. Sometimes it looks like being sarcastic in an Emergency room, other times it looks like lending a neighbor a drill or a cup of sugar, and sometimes it does look like asking someone if they know Jesus (tiny sweet baby or pierced and risen King).

Mark and I are less classical evangelism and more "love your neighbor as yourself." This does not necessarily mean that we are right and the church that told us "no" was unjust - I think there is a time and place for both. It just means we weren't a right fit for that church, which, if I am being honest? Isn't that surprising. Just disappointing.

It is also hard because what we will be doing in Oaxaca is hard to pin down. I can riddle off the ministries happening there in great detail - but what we will be doing specifically? It will depend on what people need. If people need support to outlying rural churches? That's what we'll do. If people need us to tag along with Semillas de Salud and the health ministry they do all over the region? That's what we'll do. If people need us to be volunteers with the youth group? That is what we will do. It's a little nonspecific, but hopefully very helpful to the people and missionaries in Oaxaca, as well as to us and our hopes to learn about being long-term missionaries.

So, that's that.

I don't feel like I am ending on a very upbeat note, but that's kind of where I am at right now. Somewhere in the middle of trying very hard to stay positive and wanting to hide in my closet until Summer. But it's nice outside today, so I will get back to it.

Cheers, guys, thanks for all the encouragement.