(On a sadder note, my Father-in-Law lost his mother last week. And, while I am certain Christmas in heaven must be lovely as anything, we will miss her sweet spirit here with us. I was sad to have missed the services and to see out-of town family, but glad we were not there to give anyone a GI virus for Christmas! My love and prayers for Paul and all his family....)
One of my favorite books as a kid, was Stan and Jan Berenstain's Inside, Outside, Upside Down. "Mama, Mama, I went to town. Inside, Outside, Upside Down!" I am thinking of that this morning where, inside, it looks like this:
Yes, that is a barf bowl in front of Ellie. Cal has his own on the other side. Tate had his turn with this thing last week, so he's fine. I just need the energy now to get him ready for school. And, YES, that is a dog on the couch lying on my pillow but, NO, I did not put the pillow on the couch for the dog. That was my station this morning after the kids came down to vomit less and watch tv since I felt like I had been up all night cleaning people up. I have to admit, GiGi is rather nice to snuggle with, but she does sort of think she's people.
Outside, we've got this going on:
No snow days for us. I sort of get one, as I don't have to drive Ellerie to school, but Tate will need to make afternoon kindergarten. Oh blech. The snow IS slowing down, but the weather button on my toolbar is telling me it is 12 degrees out. That's 12 fahrenheit people. Want me to look up the wind chill? Yeah, I don't really want to know either.
As for upside down, that's pretty much my whole house, my budget and my coffee pot. But oddly enough I am feeling pretty happy today, now that I'm awake enough to appreciate anything. I'm happy to have a warm house, I'm happy it's nothing worse with my kids and I'm happy that I don't have to go out in this today. Wish Pip didn't either.
Oh, and yesterday I finally unearthed my sewing room, or at least my sewing machine, and got cracking on Ellerie's quilt and some ideas for some other stuff. And that feels energizing, so I hope I make it back there this afternoon. You know, after I wash ten loads of stinky jammies and sheets. If anyone wants to get me new pillows and extra twin waterproof mattress pads for Christmas, I would not protest ;-)
Happy Tuesday. I hope you're warm whether you're inside or out!
Yesterday was "one of those days." Ick from the start with screaming, mouthy kids and nobody listening and me finding myself at noon with nothing "done" other than putting away a bit of laundry and feeding my kids. I could think of nothing better than curling up on the sofa with some coffee and a good movie as the snow was coming thick and slushy, but I knew it wouldn't happen anyway and we were out of milk. I told myself that as soon as Tate was on the bus, Ellie and I were going to run to the grocery store, grab a few necessities and fly home so I could have more than two minutes to breathe before the boys came home at four. Tate was on at 12:30, but as things go I didn't step out of the door for another hour. One pants peeing incident (not mine) and one picking up of the clothes on the floor which were the ENTIRETY of Elle's dresser AND closet and several punishments due to lack of cooperation in the picking up department and some feet dragging and loss of interest in getting dressed and winter clothes and boots and letting the dog out and then getting her in the crate later, we managed.
Kids are funny. Ellerie wanted NOTHING to do with helping pick up the clothes she had dumped all over the place at home but, suddenly at the store, she was feeling super helpful. First she asked to ride in the giant cart with the truck attached to the front of it. That lasted all of 5 minutes before she just HAD to help me push. No, scratch that, she was all about pushing it herself. Seriously? I can barely push those beasts of carts. Yeesh. So between pretending I wasn't steering the cart with the hand I kept on it and walking slower than molasses in January while Ellie OOHED and AHHED at everything like she'd never been in a store before, I managed to get the 15 odd items we needed and proceeded, what felt like an hour later, to the checkout.
It should have felt like triumph, making it that far. I was moments free of shopping with a toddler and getting home to an awfully messy house but maybe a nice cup of tea. Having started my day a tad grumpy and agitated, every little thing was making me feel more and more stressed and impatient. The slower we went and the less I managed to do off the 30 different lists in my head, the tighter the rubber band in my chest pulled. So there, even at the checkout I couldn't feel calm. The fastest-looking lane was a narrow one and the cart barely fit. Then on top of it, Ellerie wanted to look at the candy and help me load things on the belt, but there was no room to squeeze by the cart. Of course we bumped the lady in front of us in the shins. Pardon us. But that woman parted ways with the register and I heard the beeps of the scanner begin. I was looking down, trying to convince Elle that she'd like to get back in the cart and ride. I flipped open the top of my bag, commenced digging for my wallet and a little pang of panic rose in me. I looked. Yep, no wallet. Bother. I started to ask the cashier to stop scanning and to tell her I had no way to pay for any of it, but I wasn't really looking up at her as I began to speak. I was still sort of rummaging for the wallet that I knew wasn't going to appear. The beeps kept coming. That got my attention and I made eye contact and started to talk again, to explain.
No, no, no, no NO. My cashier was....... wait for it.....
Please don't misunderstand, she was so nice. But NOW? She reassured me it was okay as she tried to speak to me and tried to read my lips and we had a hard time communicating. I had no issues that she was deaf, except that I was kicking myself for never learning more sign language. The Signing Time videos I did with Calvin as a baby wouldn't get me too far. Milk? Grandma? Eat? Dang. We did manage to get this sorted out and she held my groceries and my receipt until I could come back and pay. But I felt the stares of the lady behind me the whole while we navigated our conversation. And then there's the fact that I THEN had to load The Bird in the car, drive home, find the wallet, drive back, unload Birdie and go get the groceries in a snow squall.
I calmed down as I shoved the cart through the 4 inches of slush in the parking lot. I was done and it was sort of comical, but only in a dramedy sort of way: like laughter on the verge of tears.
But I recently made a new friend around here and we hung out at last night while our kids were at church and I didn't feel like crying anymore when I shared the story. We laughed together and pretty hard. Cuz a lot of us have those days. Especially those of us with multiple uncooperative kids. It feels good to laugh about the crud in our lives that we can't really do anything about. It's freeing and it keeps us humble. And to quote my brother-in-law: it's not supposed to be all fun, we're making memories.
Around here, December brings with it snow. (Truthfully, often October or November have already brought it, but this year December is making a grand entrance.) I always love snow at this time of year. All fluffy and bringing promises of snow play and a white Christmas.
And, of course, the kids dig it.
And, apparently, GiGi is not slowed down at all by it.
But it doesn't last folks.
After the holidays are done and we settle into the cold gloom of Feb and March. Then the snow is not as pretty and certainly not as exciting. So happy December 1st from Mother Nature. It's just the, ahem, tip of the iceberg so to speak. ;-)
Tate turned six yesterday. SIX. I've told him he can't be naughty anymore once he's six. Last night he told me that maybe he didn't know he wasn't supposed to be naughty because being six was new him and that he would be sure to act like a good six year old in the morning. We shall see :-)
I love this little knucklehead to pieces even though he is stubborn as the day is long and can get under my skin with his unreasonableness like nobody's business. Oh, that's right. He's six now! Problem solved.
I love that he pretends all day long. I love that he makes up songs and words and stories. I love that he chose to wear to school on his birthday two totally mismatched striped shirts and then layered the plain T over the one with the collar so you couldn't really see it anyway. I love that he is often (when not blinded by some rage over not being able to save his wii game, ahem, or having to wear his pajamas to drop Ellie off at school) very sweet and thoughtful to others, including his siblings. He loves to make cards and to choose the perfect gift for someone else.
I love that yesterday, after he half ate his cake, he made another cake on his plate..
and then decided...
it looked like a hand.
Tate, you're an awesome little dude. Handsome and smart and funny and sweet.
Sometimes, what is in my head isn't exactly what comes out in the post. I just want to be clear(er?) about what it is that has been bothering me this fall. Because I don't want anyone to think I'm sitting here in my fab house all worried about the dust bunnies under my couch or my kids to read this someday (ha!) and to think "Mom was a perfectionist? What?" So here goes, and for me too, because it helps to write it down.
My house is a wreck. There are toys everywhere. Currently dishes from last night are in the sink. I can't remember the last time I mopped the kitchen. I vac my living room area rug daily (sometimes more than once) but only because I let the kids snack in there and it gets covered in crumbs. My kids probably watch too much tv. I am not always good about the cat box. I prefer reading blogs to reading the news and I would rather sew or dream about home improvement than actually clean my house. Do not. I repeat, do NOT put your hands in between my couch cushions looking for something. I am not responsible for what will be stuck to you when you pull it out. I try to wipe down the sinks and toilets quickly every couple days, but please do not look at any of my baseboards. Or my windows. Or in my closets. Yes, sometimes the chaos gets to me, and I do have things that I randomly get sort of OCD about, but overall I am not obsessed about all of it enough to go crazy. I prefer some freedom and enjoyment to a perfect house or a perfect schedule.
I think what is really getting to me is more a question of the bigger issues. Moral, social priorities maybe? Like, this season it bothers me that I don't have a lot of money to do fabulous things for my own family, so is it wrong that I didn't do an Operation Christmas Child box in leu of the hopes of buying my own kids Legos and Playmobil that they truly don't need? Is it wrong that I'm not volunteering or helping out with different causes and opportunities to help when I feel that I can barely keep my own schedule and kids in line? Is it okay that I want to fix up my house when there are people that don't even have houses? Is it more important to teach my kids to obey me or to be on time? Does it matter my kids don't pick up before they go to bed, but they do get their teeth brushed and go to bed early? Is it okay that I don't have a weekly date night with my husband? If I were exercising would I have more energy and be a better mother? How do I prioritize, at any given time, taking care of my family, taking care of myself and taking care of others... all things that I see great value in... without feeling as if I have neglected something/someone? THIS tedious balance is what I struggle with. I am not a decisive person in many regards and I am highly analytical so I find I myself thinking a lot about "what ifs." It's a dangerous place to go because, truthfully, you can't know what might happen or what would have happened in any situation. You can only guess and I have a big imagination.
So this is where I am. Trying to figure out what is best and knowing that, in some ways, I can't possibly. Trying to forgive myself for not always knowing and for sometimes knowing but still making the wrong choice. Grace is a big word for me right now. I easily give grace to others, knowing that none of us is perfect. I am certain that God gives me grace as well. I just need to give it to myself.
So is it a desire for perfection? Maybe in a strange way. I guess I do sort of wish I knew how to make a "perfect choice." But I also realize that is rather impossible at all times and most of the time I can go with it. I think this is just a time of hashing it out for me and apparently I have to get stressed in order to force myself to shake things up a bit. I imagine this is why I procrastinate as well :-) I don't like to be told what to do, so I get tired of so many (often conflicting) messages regarding how I should spend my time, money and energy. All claiming to be the secret to something: organized living, spiritual fullness, fixing the world, disciplining my kids, a clean house, getting out of debt, a healthy body, good skin. Sometimes my brain feels like a BING commercial's version of search engine overload. And then this is when I decide I need to stop over-thinking things and just do what I can when I can, say sorry when I mess up and just do my best.
Hebrews 4: 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
"Marilla, isn't it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?"Anne of Green Gables
I don't know if I have a thing against the word "balance" because I truly believe it doesn't exist or because I'm feeling left out because it doesn't exist for me. I have information overload. I know too much about the "ideal" and I can't seem to fit it all into the puzzle of my life.
I should spend time with God.
I should spend fun time with my kids.
I should spend time reading with them too.
I should exercise and eat right.
I should spend time alone with my husband.
I should get out more and spend time with friends.
I should to educate myself about the world around me.
I need to make good decisions. I should probably take time and think about some of those big ones too.
I need to find time to work from home.
I need to make sure there are clean underwear and clean dishes every day.
I need to feed us every day. more than once.
I should get enough sleep.
I should save my loose change
volunteer at school
practice spelling words
donate at church
get involved in my community
bridge the gaps
pay the bills
feed the children
save the whales
support our troops
wash the sheets
stop and smell the roses
Have I run out of time yet?
No matter, I've run out of energy.
Why do I always have to go an compare myself to what other people are doing? What others say is the best thing? We're told that we need balance and not to put all our eggs in one basket, but then we're also told not to do too much or take on too many things. Believe me when I say that I DON'T. We really don't do a lot of "extras" around here... not many sports, no music classes or dance lessons, very little volunteering. I don't hit the gym, no one is in a book club or the PTO. I'm pretty sure it's about priorities, not balance, but I still can't figure it out. I am also aware that this is a season of my life. I'm at home with three young children and that's just a huge chunk of my daily focus, as it should be. So why am I left feeling like I don't have it together or I don't do enough for others or I'm somehow not managing my life the way I ought to be? Is it because I know what OTHER people, with OTHER kids and OTHER budgets and OTHER situations are managing to do? Or is no one managing it and I am just led to believe by the media and the "experts" that they are? Our world is made so small through media and internet and social and psychological knowledge. And a whole lot of good can come out of that. A WHOLE LOT. But then, it can also bring with it a whole lot of guilt and confusion over what is and should be important at any given time.... at least for me. Sometimes I long for less knowledge and understanding because it seems that it brings with it a whole lot of decisions and responsibility that I'm not always up for. There's an old Keith Green song that I grew up listening to with the lyrics "just keep doing your best, pray that it's blessed, and He'll take care of the rest."
1. we DIDN'T get a puppy this week. In a brief moment of insanity, I was determined to adopt a RIDICULOUSLY cute puppy on Wednesday. Luckily someone else got him first. Thursday was one of the worst days ever with the kids (Tate spent the morning in TO having some kind of awful attitude to start the day and then stripped naked in the car in protest to his pajamas still being on while we took Ellie to preschool, Cal was home with double ear infections but driving me nuts, I couldn't find my keys to get Ellie and had to leave her at preschool for an extra 1/2 hour while I frantically searched for them, you know, that kind of day ALL DAY LONG), so I was pretty sure after that God was just trying to tell me not to be sad about the puppy, which I was. I'm nuts.
2. that Calvin is back at school today and feeling a bit better. Did I mention he was driving me crazy? His ears hurt, but he wasn't so sick that he couldn't cause a ruckus and fight with his brother and whine about being bored and generally be a pain.
3. that the boys still let me choose their clothes for school since this is the sort of thing they throw together on their own (please excuse the BLAH living room)
It may be difficult to tell, but this is a 40 degree day and cal's attire is not really appropriate for that reason and then Tate is wearing sweatpants (fine) with a Christmas sweater. HUH?
4. that my parents came up this afternoon for an impromptu visit and mom brought me some beautiful pieced quilt blocks and tops done by my great-grandmother and that she trusts me to try to put them together and finish them up. I'm flattered and nervous and excited. (more on these later)
5. that I get to see Toy Story 3 tonight. I've had a long week and I am looking forward to a family movie night.
So, Cal was feeling a bit more cooperative on Monday. Isn't he awesome? I mean, I don't care so much what he thinks. I'M proud of this costume.
The sweater vest is just a luck thrift from Salvation Army. I made the little felt patch to help out anyone (small children for one) who might not know what an old fashioned golfer would look like. The hat pattern I found from this, aptly named, Clever Girl. It turned out a tad big for even my guy's head, ahem, so I just added a piece of elastic in the back to hold it tight, rather than fuss with pulling out seams, etc. As cute as I think the hat is, I doubt he'll chose to wear it for "regular life."
And so, the carving began.
With a lot of fun
And a request for polka dots, cuz that's how my girl rolls.
The first customer at my Halloween Costume Shoppe appears to be satisfied.
Ellerie recently discovered Disney Fairies and is in love with Tinkerbell. I admit that if it was a toss up between Fairies and Princesses, I'll take the Fairies any day. She, of course, wanted to be Tinkerbell for Halloween, but when I pointed out that Tink wears green, not pink, Elle hedged.
No worries, she would be a PINK Tinkerbell. I love her determination to be both Tink and wear her beloved favorite color. And I love that I got to make a fairy costume.
I used Hillary Lang's instructions for her version at Wee Wonderfuls, all of which were easy and clear, except the waistband. I am still certain that mine is nothing like hers, but it worked and stays together when Pink Tink is twirling which is hugely important! The only thing I purposely changed was attaching the wings with snaps rather than sewing them on. I KNOW I'm going to need to wash this thing at some point....
But, I must admit, the crown is my favorite and all my own doing. It was inspired by this crown I found on Etsy and the grown up versions found at this Etsy site (OH MY!). And, I've made crowns before (1, 2, 3) so the format was easy and I just got to play.