Birthday Parties – Off the Beam!

With the dawn of the Pinterest and Instagram age, it feels like a brand new era. This is a time in history when we comb through dumpsters for pallets to turn into patio furniture. A time when we add mason jars to our Christmas lists so we can make lighting fixtures. A time when lunch boxes look more like art than peanut butter and jelly.

Did we always do this? Because I don’t remember having sandwiches cut into the shapes of dolphins diving into a blueberry sea.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Pinterest ideas and Instagram proof when people actually follow through on the ideas. Especially now that I’ve learned that I don’t need to keep up with the fancy pace of life on Pinterest.

But I learned this lesson the hard way.

Okay, so remember that little book I told you about a few months agoFor the Love by this girl, Jen Hatmaker? (You should check her out. She’s really going places. Ha!!)

She talks about how life is like a balance beam. We tend to pack too many tricks into our routine and we fall on our faces. We need to look at our beam, keeping in mind our season of life, and make adjustments to our routine. Which things will stay on our beam and which things do we need to cut from our routine?

I’m here today to testify to the freedom that comes when birthday parties are OFF THE BEAM!

I could usually avoid Pinterest until it was time to plan for my kids’ birthday parties. Then I wanted ideas. I needed to see how everyone else was doing it and how I could do it just as well. I love my kids with ALL MY HEART and obviously, this is best conveyed with a birthday party worthy of Instagram documentation.

Once upon a time, I about gave myself an ulcer constructing a cupcake train out of graham crackers and marshmallows, toothpicks and unicorn tears (only to have it melt in the eleventy thousand degree Florida June humidity). I bought dowel rods and handkerchiefs to create bindles full of goodies because the plastic goody bags from the Dollar Tree were too easy, I guess.

train party collage for blog

And then? I can’t let one outshine the other. Because if you do it up for one kid, you have to do it up just as fancy for the other. Exactly the same level of fancy. Because if not, then the slighted four-year-old might end up robbing a liquor store or something.

brave party collage for blogSo four months later, to go with a Brave theme, I went insane planning and orchestrating a Highland games complete with tartans, archery, and even a flippin’ caber toss.

Because Pinterest and pressure and mommy guilt.

It wasn’t long before I found myself dreading the celebration of my children’s births! And that’s just wrong.

So the next year?

Chuck E. Cheese and Jesus blessed my socks off.

The kids had begged to have a party with Chuck. After doing a little research, I found it was cheaper with no clean up, no prep, no stress. The kids had a BLAST because pizza and games with lights and noise. I had a blast because my only job was to have fun, take pictures, and participate in the party with my kids.

And you know what? They LOVED having their actual mama at the party instead of the event coordinator version of me who is running on antacids and comparison.

If amazing birthday parties are your thing and you love it and it fulfills you and brings you joy, ROCK ON, sister!!! That trick works with your beam routine. I love seeing the creativity come through in all the ways families celebrate each other.

But for me? For this season of life? It feels so liberating to toss Pinterest-inspired birthday extravaganzas OFF the beam.

How’s your beam looking right now? Are there tricks you could consider putting off your beam? I’d love for you to tell me in the comments!

My Stats Monitor was a Gremlin

comparison is the thief of joy
There is something missing from this website.

You probably wouldn’t notice it at all.

But I do. Every day.

When I decided to start this new blog, I decided to start fresh with my mind “right.” Or at least as right as it could be. I wanted to really think about what my goals are here.

What do I want to accomplish?

I want to encourage you.

That’s it.

It’s a little funny because this goal is the exact same goal as when I started my first blog, Stinker Babies. I wanted to encourage any readers I had by being honest and real. I wanted to help others know they weren’t alone in what they were feeling or experiencing.

But something got in the way of that simple goal. There was one little thing that I naively added to the first website. Just like an adorable gremlin, I thought it would be this interesting little thing that ended up being a controlling, freaky monster.

My stats monitor became my measuring stick of how “good” I was.

The stats didn’t measure how encouraged people were or if they left feeling less alone in the world. Even if I was achieving my original goal, I didn’t feel successful unless a certain number of hits were happening.

I found myself writing with clicks, comments, and numbers in mind instead of hearts touched or smiles brightened. It was scary how easily it began to be about campaigns and recognition. For me.

I found myself constantly comparing stats with others. I felt discouraged, lonely, and frustrated because I would never measure up.

Once, I wrote a post that I was feeling really great about. It was original. It was funny. It had something for everyone. I loved it.  Barely a week later, another blogger wrote a very, very similar post. But she did it absolutely beautifully. And it went viral (as it should have). And everyone sang her praises for weeks (as they should have).

And I had all the feelings. And it was not pretty.

I was too busy looking at the stories that others were living out and trying to make mine look like theirs. I picked the ending I wanted for my story and I was trying to force the plot to move in that direction. That does not make for a very good story. I more-than-momentarily forgot that my story is the only one I’m meant to live out. Not hers. Not his. Not yours.

I took a long time away from blogging to refocus. My posts were very few and far apart this last year. I spent some time praying and really listening to see if I was even supposed to keep writing at all.

I feel like I’m starting fresh where I’m meant to be and it’s not with a million visitors. It’s not with paid advertisers. It’s not with a book deal.

And it’s definitely not with a real-time stats monitor.

It’s with a new home on the web and refocused intentions and you.