Posts tagged challenge
A one-week challenge: Always Clean

Let's talk truth here, friends. I stink at cleaning. Wait, let me rephrase that. I stink at cleaning on a regular basis. If I know we're hosting friends or family, I know how to get the place to sparkle (after many, many hours), but on a day-to-day (or more like hour-to-hour with three kids) our house can be an absolute mess - sink overflowing with dishes, laundry unfolded all around the actual laundry room, dust bunnies multiplying under every piece of furniture.

I grew up in an Always Clean house. My mom spent a lot of her life energy making our home warm, tasty, and clean enough to always have a hint of bleach smell throughout. Sometimes I wonder how our kids will remember the state of our house. My guess is that it won't really stand out, but nevertheless, I think about it.

And sometimes I wonder, "What would it be like to have an always clean house?" Would we have friends over more often? Would I sleep better at night? Could we avoid more sinus infections/common colds?

I recently came upon this list on Pinterest from the Gaddis Family Adventure, and it got me thinking. What if I tried it? What if for at least one week, I kept to a regular weekday schedule, rather than sporadic weekend and vacation, for cleaning? Would I feel more relaxed at home? Better about the environment I create for my family?

So for the next week, I'm going to follow this (slightly modified) plan, which includes daily morning and evening tasks as well as a handful of weekly tasks. We are a family of five with a three-story house, two children in full-time school/one in preschool, and two full-time working parents. I'm nervous to see how this is going to go, but I want to try it.

Wanna try it with me? You'll make me braver.

Here's what I'm thinking.

**Adapted from the Gaddis Family Adventure.

I'm going to have to set the alarm earlier to accomplish dishes, laundry, and another domestic duty on top of lunch prep, kid prep, and my prep. Follow @parscaeli over on Instagram this week to see how I handle the additional tasks. I'll be keeping it real, sharing the journey, and trying not to take cleaning too seriously.

How do you keep your home mess-free and clean?

xoxo, MJ

PS. In our house, my husband handles a lot of the dishes, vacuuming, and laundry. We'll see how he adapts to this new schedule, too!

Happiness: Turn It from Two Dads

 It's time for some happiness, friends! Welcome to Thursday and the every-other week series that Joy and I have going on. It's lovingly titled Turn It, and we're talking about how difficulties can become strengths when viewed differently. If you missed Joy's first post about the amazing work being done with MRIs and children's fears, go ahead, check it out (and join us back here!!).

I have two (short, I promise) Turn It stories to share with you this week.

1. Have you seen this story floating around the interwebs? If you were brave enough to follow the link, you'll see an adorable photo/video of a little boy named Carter. Carter travels via wheelchair because of spina bifida.

And if you click over to see this photo of Carter in his Halloween costume, you won't see a little boy who suffers from a challenging disease. You'll see a thriving boy who is living a happy childhood thanks to the assistance of his loving father.

Carter's dad turned it. Carter's wheelchair serves as the foundation to a magical ice cream truck complete with service windows full of ice cream cones. Not just anyone can wear this incredible costume. It was made to delight and show off the talents of one very special ice cream truck driver.

2. Story two comes from my home. The main character of this story is my husband. He is a problem solver by profession and vocation, and he so easily carries over these talents to his life as a dad.

As a co-parent with him, I find myself watching some of his (very successful) strategies.

We have three kiddos (7, 5, and 2), and boo boos, scrapes, cuts, and bruises are a daily happening. My husband and I are working to raise strong children, able to express themselves while also knowing when the sobbing over a hangnail is just too extreme.

A while back, we had reached a stage of parenthood when our children were running to us with every knick and teeny, tiny mark. My reassurance that said injury would be fine seemed to only aggravate every attention-seeking need my children have. The crying seemed to multiply.

My husband started a ritual that is now a part of our family dynamic. When M falls down and hurts her ankle, she comes over to her dad (same process here). Her dad listens carefully and attentively (that's what we all want anyway, right?), and offers his hand. He then says

"Squeeze my hand and show me how bad it hurts."

My daughter squeezes with all her might and receives the silliest, loudest, funniest reaction from her father. She in turn laughs, forgets the pain, and makes her own face to top his performance.

Last week my 2-year old son observed his older sister C fall down from the monkey bars. He ran over to her, offered a caring face and an outstretched hand. He said, "Squeeze my hand and show me how bad it hurts." He does a great silly face; I think it's in his genes.

Today is my baby boy's third birthday. And I am incredibly grateful that his life entered mine. Happy birthday L!

Have you noticed someone around you turning their difficulty around? In even small ways?


A Summer of Happiness with Fun


Helllloo, Thursday and Summer of Happiness bookclubbers! We're making our way through the inspiring chapters of Gretchen Rubin's useful guide, The Happiness Project. This week we're smack dab in the middle of F-U-N. Gretchen challenges herself to add more fun into her life through these resolutions:

  • Find more fun.
  • Take time to be silly.
  • Go off the path.
  • Start a collection.

First off, can I say that as a new blogger (here we are in month 3 of Pars Caeli) that I was interested to see how much of this chapter Gretchen filled with comments from her blog readers!


Anyway, this chapter poses the broad question: what do you consider fun? I identified with Gretchen's inner struggle of what I'd like to enjoy and what I do enjoy. Here's a useful definition of fun that she uses:


Fun: an activity that's very satisfying, has no economic significance, doesn't create social harm, and doesn't necessarily lead to praise or recognition.

What goes running through your head? Where do you find the fun in your life?

Remember back to your childhood, when you were 10, what did you love to do? I remember being really delighted to be in the double digits when I turned ten. I spent lots of time swimming, playing tennis, hanging out and playing games with my family, reading, drawing...


Forgive me for not being more interesting...I still love doing all of those things. I've added a few more to the list of fun but that first list is a known quantity. I always have fun when engaged in those activities.

I identified with Gretchen's accumulation and time investment in blank books. Couldn't you just visualize her as a red-headed little girl, parked in front of the TV with a snack and all of her goodies, ready to make her next collage? I used to spend extensive time writing poetry and quotations in "fancy writing" (emergent calligraphy), and coloring the backgrounds so that I could hang them up or save them in a special sketchbook. (Gee, I am totally still 10.)

Here's a notion that stuck with me - the three types of fun.

1. Challenging fun: it's the most rewarding but requires the most work to step outside of ourselves.
2. Accommodating fun: having fun with/for the sake of others. It strengthens relationships and builds memories.
3. Relaxing fun: no coordination or heavy investment necessary but the passivity of it all makes us LESS happy than the accommodating and much less happy than challenging fun.

This blog is totally challenging fun for me. Just sayin'.

Alright. so it's time to set a resolution for the week, based on Gretchen's ideas.


Take time to be silly.

Though I love to joke, I'm not the best at silly. Silly can frustrate me or at least make me want to move on to the next task more quickly. But this week I'm starting off on my journey to put more silly back into my life.


How about you, reader friends? Where will you find some fun this week?

Thanks for stopping over! It's always so lovely to have you here.


Don't forget to enter our giveaway (winner announced on Monday)!!


Summer of Happiness: Does what you do all day bring you joy?

It's Thursday, friends, and that means it's time for some Happiness. Catching you up to speed, we're tagging along to Denise's great summer bookclub of the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. If you want to hear my take on adding energy to your life or decreasing negativity in your relationships, follow those cheery pink word links.

First a recap of last week. I followed my own path on the resolution list and made a conscious effort to create less negative experiences. Can I break this down for you, friends? Going into this last week, I really thought, "this will have no effect." But, huh, it did. There were a few moments this past week where I could have pressed an issue (like I typically do) or turned a comment into sarcasm (yup, guilty), and I didn't. I took that one extra inhale and kept it to myself. My hubby and I have had some long work nights this week, and eliminating unnecessary negativity (is any negativity necessary? Talk amongst yourselves) helped both us move through the hills and valleys more easily. And even have a sense of humor about it.

This week: a topic near and dear (and always here), happiness in our work.

Gretchen's five resolutions start this chapter titled: Aim Higher
  • Launch a blog
  • Enjoy the fun of failure
  • Ask for help
  • Work smart
  • Enjoy now
Let me just go sprinting from the gates here...ENJOY THE FUN of failure? Say what? I knew this was going to be a challenge for me to read. Yes on the perfectionist. Yes on the fear of failure. Yes on the need to please.

Moving on.

First nod of agreement: "Being happy can make a big difference in your work life." I have been both happy and unhappy with my worklife at various stages in my career, and as I look back with my brilliant hindsight, I see how some doors closed and windows opened because of my experience. Have you seen this, too?

Here's another that rang a bell: Challenge and novelty are key elements to happiness. Yes. I get this. In the doldrums of day-to-day, if I can insert a surprising twist or turn the mundane into race for myself, I find energy and capacity just waiting to be tapped.

"One reason that challenge brings happiness is that it allows you to expand your self-definition."

As she wrote about blogging, I found myself wanting to pull out a highlighter, which I never use (and of course this is a library book). I've only been blogging since April, and so that rush, the adrenaline of hitting the publish button is still fresh and this wondering of "where in the world do I think this is headed?", still palpable.

I appreciated her ideas on Working Smarter. I don't work in the same way. I find myself setting small goals (send those three emails, finish that project, make phone call) and then adding a bonus to meet that (connect with coworker, take a walk, put on a new song) to add happiness and my version of effectiveness in my work.

And, lastly, I can never get enough of Enjoy Now sorts of themes. I can never be reminded enough. It's really an outcry, a prayer, to be reminded of all the Good gifts we've been given. I really loved reading her positive letter to the negative book review.

This week I'm going to enjoy now and sit back to drink in her first resolution - launch a blog. I'll be busy doing my work in the coming week and away from Pars Caeli as I invite friends over the housesit and entertain (oh, and will you ever be entertained!). And my intuitions tell me I'm going to be a little homesick, too. So, if you're on the fence, not sure if you should or if it's the right time, let me be the one to encourage you:

Launch a blog.

And here's my golden nugget to motivate us both.
Happy work week, friends. That's what the majority are, right? So we might as well make them happy.

How do you add happiness to your job or your vocation?