Saturday, November 29, 2014

why did i write that last post?

I mean I dont really believe in "jinxing" things, but man, my housekeeping has taken a nosedive since that last post.  More than jinxing, its probably "pride cometh before the fall".

I felt at my rope today, seeing toys scattered and piles of papers that appear from nowhere.  I knew it was bad when my husband wondered aloud how friends of our with 6 kids have a clean house. He wasnt comparing, he was just genuinely amazed because his home growing up was messy and my house growing up was messy and it just seemed miraculous to him that a big family kept it reasonably clean.

So, I am not making any claims today, but as I clean today,  I am listening to this podcast:  "Whose Well Done are you Working For?"   I think I need to hear that in a bad way. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

scheduling myself and finding peace

It has been quiet here.  I have thought about writing several times, but I am trying something new and I wanted to really stick to it to see if it works. It may be working. . .

You see, I am not a natural housekeeper.  I like a clean house, I have ve and ry good schedules for my children's chores, and I am even a good organizer of some things.  But the house just always seems to get away from me.  I get overwhelmed, dont know where to start, dont know how to prioritize.  And it all gets dirty again so quickly.

So I tried Fly Lady this summer.  It is a cleaning system to help you get housekeeping routines.  But her routines were too much for me, even though she breaks it down into small chunks.  Looking back, summer is probably not the time to start any kind of program because life is so topsy turvy.

So I took her ideas and made myself a schedule that fits my life.  I thought about the times when I actually have two hands free and I could do something around the house.  I thought about when I have little chunks of time and when I have bigger chunks.   And I thought about what my "zones" would be in my little house.

So here is what I have been doing for almost a month.  My house doesnt look a whole lot cleaner, but I know the piles that are gone that were there a few weeks ago. And I know how much  more peaceful I feel.  If I have a minute, I look at my schedule and see what to work on right then.  If something comes up and I cant work on anything, then I dont freak out because I know I will have time tomorrow or the next day.  Mostly it has helped me not feel overwhelmed, the schedule tells me what to do next.

For those who like details, here is a sample day:
clean kitchen table (so we can homeschool there later)
kitchen cleaning
start dinner (this is chopping veggies or something I cant do with a baby in arms)
my bathroom (cleaning my bathroom all at once is almost impossible for me to get to.  So I do one thing each day- toilet, sink, mirror, tub, floor.  Should mean I clean the whole thing once a week)
15 minutes on the zone of the week (my zones are my bedroom, babys room, kitchen, bathroom and closets, living room)
5 minutes on a hot spot (this is an area where clutter collects, like where I put bills, where my purse sits, countertops, etc)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

mother nurture

The past few days, really weeks, I have needed to be fed.  I feed children, pets, a husband, and do a lot of other activities that require something of me.  And thats OK, thats an honor. 

But Charlotte Mason was onto something when she coined the phrase "Mother Nurture".  Sometimes the mother needs to be mothered.    Our hearts and minds need something to pour into us to give us some fuel to keep pour into others.

So when I heard that one of my favorite authors, Barbara Kingsolver, was speaking just an hour away, a little voice started saying "Go!" 

And I did, and I was blessed.  She spoke with such grace and wisdom and warmth, I was beaming in the first 10 minutes I was there.  I didnt even take any notes, but here are a few parts I remember:

Advice to young artists:
  - Stop Smoking!  We need artists with lifetime of wisdom and experience to share with us.  (implied meaning- we dont want you to die young!)
- Live simply.  Dont move to New York to be an artist, or your life will be defined by money.  Live somewhere with low rent and living expenses so you have more time to make art.
- To students- study many subjects, not just the field of art you are working in. 

She described the writers life as ideal for an introvert.  8 hours by yourself typing is heaven to her. (Would be hard for me!)

She described the process of writing The Bean Trees as one where she had written many stories about the people she met in Tuscon and couldn't find a way they were connected to bring them together into a novel.  Then she realized the connection was her experience of meeting these people as an outsider looking in.  So that became the basis for the main character in the book. 

There is more, but that is all this tired mama mind can retain right now. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

almost the big one

my birthday is near and this year I have realized:

1)  All the things I want for my birthday are practical.  And thats really what I want.
- a dishwasher
- a grill
- my wedding ring fixed
- a bigger, better food processor

Sounds boring, but really any of those would be great.  Not things I need, but things that would be fun.  I guess I have never been a fur and diamonds kind of person, but at least at this point in my life, practical is awesome.

2) A lunch out with the girlfriends is just not happening right now.
We all have kids, some have many many kids.  And usually one is sick. 
Some of us homeschool which means the kids come along.
Girl time at a busy restaurant with energetic children. . . not gonna happen.

3) I really am OK with getting older. 
We got family pictures taken recently and my gray hair was all over the place.  Usually this would bother me and I would notice every wrinkle and tummy roll.  But all I could do is tear up at how beautiful our family is.  Those pictures captured it all (including grey hair) but also all the glory of love in our little home.

4) I am definitely ambivalent about technology.
I need a new phone.  Mine echoes at random times.  It cuts off conversations without warning. The next logical step is a smart phone.  Even my husband has one.  But I know at some level that being disconnected is good sometimes.  Silence and Solitude are valuable commodities.  Someday, I know I will cave and get a phone.  But for my birthday?  No thanks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

receiving the rain

Its been a dry spell. 

It hadnt rained for probably 3 weeks.  I noticed the lack of rain because, of course, I had planted winter rye and hairy vetch as a cover crop in the garden.  I watered the seeds and though some straggly little bits came up, it sure didnt look like the lush green carpet I was hoping for.

But then the rain came.  Now, we have had rain off and on for several days.  All the brown grass has brightened to beautiful green and where I planted those seeds there are now the beginning of a cover crop.

Though I watered it, paid attention to their growth, even called the seed company to see if I had done something wrong, there was nothing I could do but wait for a good soaking rain. 

Relationships have been like this for me lately.  I listen, I call, I text and sometimes the connection just doesnt happen.  Kids have sports. Moms are sick.  Relatives are in town.  Life is busy.

And all I can do is wait.  I can't force friendships to go how I want them to.  I can give my effort, but there is something more needed.  I don't know the word for it, its the soaking rain that makes relationships grow. 

I don't know the word, but I know it when I experience it.  And I know it is a gift. 

So I am waiting on that breakthrough.  I am waiting for some grace to pour down and soak in and strengthen the roots I can't get to.  I waiting for the growth to appear.

Monday, October 13, 2014

cleaning out the garage

nothing very exciting going on around here.  Just about the best thing in my life is having an (almost) cleaned out garage.  We were those people.  You know, the ones with a garage packed with stuff and no room for a car.  We have some new storage space now, so it was time to liberate the garage.  We moved in this house a couple years ago and many things were just dumped in the garage and pretty much labeled "deal with it later".  So now is later. 

Things we found:

My wedding bouquet. Yes, it is 17 years old.  Yes, it is dry and lopsided and not displayable.  and YES, i kept it because it brings tears to my eyes. 

A box of odds and ends from when my husband renovated the bathroom. . . in our old house.  Anyone need a fake gold toilet paper holder?

Dozens of lego instructions.  Reeeeally glad we held onto those, especially since it is impossible to recreate any of them now that the pieces have vanished.

Three tubs of fabric.  Ummm, maybe I have a little fabric hoarding problem.  In my defense, a lot of fabric was given to me. I see lots of sewing in my future.

A whole tub of vintage linens (tablecloths, pillowcases, crochet doilies, handkerchiefs).  I love these things. I would wallpaper my house in them if I could.  They were all my grandmothers.  I cannot part with them.  I need to find creative, non cluttery uses for them.  ideas? 

Just a few things that were taking up room i the garage.  Most of it is gone to the trash or to the other storage area.  Just a little bit more work and I can get the car in there!!

Friday, October 3, 2014

mama genius

Lest that title give the wrong impression, I am NOT a genius.  I am regularly beaten by my children in just about every board and card game.  The calculator is my best friend and it takes me forever to read a book.

But every mama is a kind of genius.  I realized this when my oldest was a newborn and I devoured the parenting books.  Sometimes he did just like they said, but many times the situation they described just didnt apply to us.  It was then that I realized there was a parenting manual inside of me, not necessarily a voice, but a strong knowing of what my baby needed.  That internal guide was right almost all the time.

The powerful thing about the internet, about this connecting of isolated mamas is that I can glean from the genius of many other mamas.  I can see an organization system that is the answer to my overflowing pantry.  I can find a jedi costume that requires just one bedsheet.  I can read a blog of a mom who has been where I am and come out on the other side. 

So here is a little piece of genius that maybe will help someone out there. 

A couple weeks ago we had hit a wall in math.  It was adding two digit numbers and it just got too confusing.  There were tears in math almost everyday.

I decided we needed to put aside the workbook and do math in a totally different way.  I pulled out one of the several change jars that take up space in our home.  (Seriously, does anyone else's husband have a change jar in their nightstand, on their dresser, on their desk and TWO on the hallway bookshelf? )  I told my son if he could count all the change in the jar, he could keep 10% of what he counted.  It was a game changer.  He now eagerly sorts, organizes and counts change.  We got some of those paper wrappers from the bank and he has gone through two of the jars already.  He loves it and it is helping me declutter.  Yay!  Ironically, it is doing all the same math skills we were doing in the workbook and he is writing down his work so I can check it and doing lots of adding in his head. 

What's your  latest mama genius idea?