Saturday, February 25, 2017

snowflakes, social media, and secrets from the dollar tree

It's practically March and I forgot to post my Valentine's pictures.

I had them sitting in a draft folder on Blogger and just never added words.

And now I'm on my computer, pulling up the photos and... they looked much better on my phone.

I rarely use a real camera anymore because a) the only camera in this house is Mackenzie's and I have to go up to her apartment to borrow it, as well as text her for permission to use it because b) it's expensive and the last time I used it someone that rhymes with Shmayden knocked it off the desk and broke the $400 lens, and also c) I'm lazy. 

So unless Sammy wants to surprise me with an iPhone7 plus - or whatever it is that my son Jason has that has an EXTREMELY nice camera - I am just going to have to post grainy, sometimes out of focus photos here. Sigh. #firstworldproblems

In spite of these phone photos, our Valentine's celebration was delightful. We had pink heart pancakes and our traditional table of treats, and this year Sammy surprised me with chocolate dipped strawberries as well as chocolate dipped heart shaped shortbread cookies ....sooooo yummy.

Madison wore Hayden's first Valentine's outfit (minus the beanie, she wore a bow instead) and was the cutest cupid I've ever seen.

The day before Valentine's Day I asked Hayden if he remembered how we celebrate the holiday. He said yes - everyone gets a new toothbrush and their own tiny toothpaste !

I have never, to my knowledge, given our kids new toothbrushes or tiny toothpastes for Valentine's Day. Heart shaped pancakes, a table decorated with doilies and candy, sticky notes with promises for dates with Mommy - these are all things our children typically look forward to on February 14th every year. 

But I did not want Hayden to be disappointed (he was SO excited when he told me what he was expecting)... and also The Dollar Tree had spiderman toothbrushes when I went to pick up balloons and streamers. So it wasn't too hard to make his wildest dreams come true.

Lily got into the chocolate chips that were waiting in little red and white dishes on the dining room table before everyone else came down for breakfast. 

side note: I started sprinkling chocolate chips on our kids' pancakes mannnnny years ago and now they actually believe pancakes are naked without them. I'm not even kidding, we were out of them one morning when I made pancakes and nobody would eat them.  #pancakesnobs

Anyhoot, I have a really cute video of Lily with chocolate chips on her face just before everyone came down for pancakes, but I didn't have enough video footage to fill the whole song up. I'll post it  later if I can find it, but like my blurry photos, it's ... less than perfect. 

But it is real life. Which is pretty much how we roll here on A Perfect Lily. 

And that reminds me of something I was pondering the other day.

I was looking at some photo galleries on Instagram- lovely, color coordinating photos that were never out of focus, all forming a coherent display of that user's "brand" - and then I looked at mine. And the contrast was... stark.

And then I peeked in on some well-polished, well-read blogs I visit occasionally, and I noticed the same obvious difference.

And then I read an article on Pinterest about "how to increase traffic to your social media sites" (gain followers on Instagram, boost readership on your blog, get more retweets on Twitter, etc.) and I was like... who has time for this ???

I do understand that some people actually make money off these things, so I'm not saying there's something inherently evil about sprucing things up if you need to ... but sometimes - because I can tend to be a perfectionist - I need to remind myself that comparisons are odious.

Or the thief of life.

Or something .... that I really need to avoid.

In both real life and "online life", I don't really have time for the comparison game, you know?

It's like when my neighbor, many years ago, made a comment about the state of my rosebushes outside. (I should note that his yard looked like something out of Better Homes & Gardens, whereas mine ... was lucky to have the grass mowed each week.) I just smiled, blinked back a few embarrassing tears, and told him, "I'm just trying to keep people alive over here. Some day I hope my yard will look as lovely as yours."

So as I looked at those other impressive blogs and beautiful IG galleries the other day, I (again) smiled and blinked back a few embarrassing tears and gave myself that same little speech. "I'm just trying to keep people alive over here. Some day maybe my (photos, blog, house, wardrobe,whatever) will look like theirs."

Or maybe not.

Because when you are doing important things .... like growing children, and not a readership ... those other things really do need to take a backseat to what's important, yes ?

I also reminded myself that the reason the comparison game fails so miserably for the most part, is that the dynamics of my life are far different than the ones I might view through the (very tiny) lens of social media.

This same principle applies to other areas of life as well - gazing across the lawn at my neighbor's yard, flipping through a magazine and coveting the wardrobe I wish I had, perusing Pinterest and realizing there are a thousand places I've never been, or even just hanging up the phone with a friend and yearning for a simpler life.

I can't keep holding up someone else's apples to my oranges and expecting them to be the same.

And neither can you.

I say this, because lately I have been on the receiving end of a number of emails or texts or direct messages asking me the age old question : how do you do it all?

And I'm absolutely not opposed to offering a little insight into how things operate at The Rice Ranch. If I can help other moms to learn from my mistakes, or share some of the things God has helped me with over the years, I am more than happy to do so. I still reach out to women older and more experienced than I am for wisdom on a host of issues - parenting, cooking, cleaning, you name it - and I'm honored that others would do the same to me.

But I never want to give the impression that we've got this whole thing figured out around here. I don't post pictures of rotting vegetables in my refrigerator drawer, spilled milk/dog pee on my dining room carpet, dirty laundry, bickering children, or overgrown weeds in my backyard. What you see here and on Instagram are just tiny snippets of our lives, and not the whole picture of who we are. And they are the snippets I allow you to see... because honestly, who wants to show the world their dirty laundry?

My family is so different than yours, and even if we shared a few similarities, on any given day we are each going to be functioning under a completely unique set of circumstances ... just as no two snowflakes are the same, so are no two families, in my humble opinion.

I can share some things that have worked for us, but I also hope that when people ask me - how do you do it all ? - they realize that "this" isn't the whole picture.

We have good days and bad days here, days when I managed to keep everyone alive and got the laundry (somewhat) caught up, and I put dinner on the table.... and days when it feels like it's all falling apart.

I'm posting pictures of our Valentine's Day morning because it was fun and sweet, and my children and Sam and I love any excuse to put everything else on hold and celebrate. We are really into holidays here at The Rice Ranch - but if that's not your "thing" there's no rule that says it has to be. 

What I'm really trying to say is:  I'm just running in my own lane here. 

I take average blurry photos on my cell phone, my blog looks homemade because it is, my wardrobe consists of whatever-was-on-sale that random afternoon I had time to run to the mall, my home decorating style could be described as "practical" and "well loved", my Instagram "gallery" is really just a hodgepodge of happy moments in my life....

... and all of that holds true for pretty much everything else going on around here. 

To quote a tagline from a show I've heard before : it might not be a perfect life... but it's our life.

So here's to keeping it real, ditching the comparison game, embracing the life that is ours, and realizing that sometimes The Dollar Tree sells the greatest gifts of all.

took this with my little ole cell phone, no filter. take THAT, Canon 70d !!

Amen, and Happy Saturday.


Bethany Eicher said...

Yes, and Amen. Great post!

Cindy said...

I agree completely and have to remind myself - often - not to compare myself with others. I read, probably on facebook, "You're comparing your behind the scenes with their highlight reel." SO true.

Stef said...

All of this, so true. I love to look at those polished (seemingly perfect) feeds, but I rarely invest in them or even take them too seriously. Its too fake looking to be real :)

Its funny that people have asked you how you do it all. What I've come to love most about you over the years is how obvious it is that you're NOT doing it all... and that's ok! As a young mom in today's world, we're being led to believe we can and should do it all, but its such a lie. I like how honest and open your feed is and especially your stories (I think my kids get just as excited to see "Rice Ranch movies" as they do real movies!) the other day my 12 year old said he wished you'd post more of them :)

I think the burning question my husband and I have... or rather, the burning prayer famlies like you have increased in our hearts is, "Lord, please take away our selfish desires and need for perfection and help us to see beauty only in what you find beautiful."

and P.S. if you visit Seattle we'd love to meet you!

cathy said...

Amen is right!
We do the best we can do with what we've got, girlfriend


Anne B. said...

who cares about grainy pics when the subjects of your photos are so sweet and precious?!??!??!!! Thanks for just keeping it real (and humorous much of the time!)!!

Kristy Sayer-Jones @ Southern In Law said...

I'll take a real story over a fake photoshopped one any day! You've got heart behind your words and your photos and that's what counts! <3

Unknown said...

This. This is the reason you and Deanna from eanfe are my fave bloggers of all time. You're real. You love Jesus. And you're hysterical. Thanks:)

Mallett and Associates said...

I was just checking your blog (we always do) to see if you posted to encourage myself and of course this post was spot-on! Thank you for sharing. I find having a large busy family can leave a mom lonely for fellowship of the non-related type :-) I admire you and your family for your faith and honesty.
Lily is growing up! Our daughter Glory is turning five very soon and we've been following (stalking?) you since shortly after she was born.

alamama said...

LOVE, LOVE your blog. Even though I am a bad reader who never comments, I enjoy your honesty and golly the pics of your cute babies! It's funny, we have never met but through the Potter's House chain, we know some of the same people. Anyway, God bless and have a wonderful day!

Unknown said...

Thank you for your humility. As a fellow mom in the " just trying to keep everyone alive" season, this post was affirming. Being a mom is a messy job and the perception of perfection can isolate those of us that are doing our best to juggle life today.

Unknown said...

Thank you for your honesty and humility. I go to the cape cod fellowship church, have 5 little ones & home school. I would love to ask you a few questions... Could you please email me back at jmackiewicz0430@yahoo?