More thoughts on home management…

I’ve snuck into the computer to blog and I’m kind of afraid to start.  Lately trying to blog in the day makes me so very crabby!  I think it’s because I hate things half-finished and inevitably I’m interrupted and when given the choice to power through or quit, I tend to power through until one of the kids makes it impossible to continue by waking up a baby or putting poop in their hair or some such nonsense.  And THEN I have to quit which makes me even MORE grumpy because not only didn’t I finish what I started, I also had to deal with the fall-out from trying.  Vicious cycle, I’m tellin’ ya.

Today I wanted to pop in and resume my earlier-this-spring discussions of bringing order to the Sparrow house.  Truth be told I’m not going to read my earlier post because, hello, don’t have time for that!  But hopefully I can remember enough to put into context what I’ve been thinking about lately as I work through how to manage the world of summer.

When I first started “getting things in order” I felt really convicted.  I felt convicted of my own sinful sloth and also convicted that there was a better way in general to control my household.  I started out in desperation and worked really hard and made a lot of progress.  I was keeping the kitchen clean, the days had more framework.  We could leave the house more easily without leaving things trashed in our wake.  I was proud of myself and really noticing what can get done when you take things to the next level.  I also felt guilty for all of the years of lost opportunities.  Our lives could have been enriched by my being more “on top of things”!  I think it was good to get to that point but I found the down side of it too.  I was tired.  Completely spent at the end of the day.  I began to resent my husband come nine o’clock at night….didn’t he see me cleaning up all by myself?  I noticed myself getting more and more anxious.  When I couldn’t maintain “the next level” I felt guilty and frustrated with myself.  I was desperate — really desperate — for rest in a new way and I didn’t know how to get it.

And then we switched bedrooms and my husband went out of town for a week and then we did home renovations and I started potty training Jack and every little bit of my new “schedule” flew out the window like it had never existed in the first place.  So here I am with piles of laundry, and messes, and very little rhyme or reason to the days. and I’m wondering.  What I should do next?  Do I put on my big girl pants and jump into the fray of “getting on top of things” with a battle cry of determination?  There must be a way to do it better, right?  So I don’t burn out?  Or do I follow the “easy way” of taking each day as it comes?  Is there a middle ground at all, or is it all or nothing?  I have a really time being ordered AND flexible.

I’ve been thinking about my temperament lately.  I’m phlegmatic.  This means a lot of things, but according to what I’ve read, phlegmatics are not generally internally motivated.  A.k.a. they are prone to laziness.  I don’t want to be a lazy person, certainly, but I want to find a place where I am pushing my comfort zone without pushing it to the point of distress.  Sometimes when you flip yourself inside out, you get to a place where you are committing the opposite sins, you know?  You come down too hard on the other side?

Anyway, thoughts for today.  Baby’s crying in the crib.

The New Twigs: June 2015

Settling into the house ::

Well, we finally did it!  We pulled up the rug in the living room.

Okay, so here’s the full-fledged “before”:

WP_20150407_15_14_52_ProAnd the metamorphosis:

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Drum roll please…

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Can you believe — perfect floors underneath?!  The dining room floor was ruined with staples and nails and we thought it would all be the same.

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Nope!  They even used what appears to be a premium padding.  Not a stain to be seen in the main area.  There is damage from the carpet tack strips, what looks like a razor blade swipe or two, and some mild damage around the two floor vents, but overall it is lovely and I’m so glad we never went through with ordering new flooring.  Perhaps we might replace the dining room flooring and kitchen to match the rest?  We do need to put down half round trim to finish off the place but for now there are not any unsightly gaps between the trim and floor that aren’t concealed by furniture.

Mom and I could not move the piano.  Heaviest. thing. ever.  We cut the carpet out around it.  Hopefully my husband will be able to get the rest. (Also, we left the hallway for him.  Lucky guy!)

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We decided that the room looks smaller without the wall-to-wall carpeting but the possibilities for decorating it are far and beyond anything we could muster with forest green carpeting.  Seriously, nothing matches green carpeting in a good way!

I found the new 8×10 area rug, imperfect, for $99.  If you’ve been rug shopping lately, you know that that is a good price!  It’s soft but visually a bit bossy for my liking.  It’s light and bright though and that makes me happy.  I prefer it to a bound remnant of regular carpet anyway and I didn’t find anything else that I was willing to fork over $250 for. And on a side note, that corner fireplace makes the rug seem too far out, but there’s no good solution for that.

We desperately need more functional seating in this room and I’ve been forbidden to buy new furniture.  That is to say, my better half is perhaps more rational than I am in this regard and cautions against the wisdom of spending a bunch of money on furniture that’s going to get ruined by our pack of feral offspring.

Still, we need another chair at least and I’m of a mind to buy one of these and slipcover it –

WP_20150530_12_44_31_Pro There is nothing I DON’T want to do more than slipcover an armchair but this type of chair is a dime a dozen (these particular ones are $40 a piece) and with my own fabric I could probably be out the door for $115 or something.  But gosh, the work.  I don’t even want to think about it.  Then again, slipcovering one chair is better than slipcover two chairs, right?  I kind of do want a matching set ;).  With a round coffee table between them.

Settling into the neighborhood ::

When my neighbor’s husband died at Christmas time my heart sank, not just because of her grief and many other reasons, but because I thought it was the end of an era.  I didn’t really mention the details before, but he had taken his life in their home and I couldn’t fathom she would possibly want to live there after that.  I honestly thought my new dear friend would be gone within a couple of months and the house would go to strangers.  Only, it hasn’t happened that way at all.

I feel like God had a plan in mind for us to help my neighbor when He let all of the pieces fall into place for us to move here.  He allowed us to be there in a special way during the difficult days surrounding her husband’s death, both before and after, and He continues to allow us to share in her life in a way I never would have imagined when we bought the house last year.

Last night my girlies were chasing fireflies at 9:30 at night.  Running rampant through both yards, they found this:

WP_20150605_21_50_21_ProHer husband’s ring.  Before she even knew she even knew it had slipped off of her thumb.

Pretty cool to be part of her story in such a way.

Settling into the community ::

I feel like we’ve made great headway in tapping into the local home school community.  Cementing relationships is something I really struggle with but I feel more “in” than out now.  One of these days (now that I’m not so embarrassed by my house?) I might even host book club.

The local high school home school group put on a play of “Get Smart,” (remember the old TV show?) which Roo and I attended last weekend.  Roo absolutely loved it which I think is pretty funny since it seems like most of it went over her head.  It must have been the secret agents hiding in trashcans and silly agent gadgets that grabbed her.  After we got home I found some episodes on Netflix and she’s been watching them.

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Did I mention the desktop computer is in our closet now?

More on that another time ;)

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Hurray, I finally finished a post!

The Official Room-Switch Review

First off, mount laundry has been overcome! Most of the house is back to where it should be.  Thank you baby Jesus!

As expected, the new rooming situation took some adjustment for all. That said, we are loving the results so far. (Tomorrow, who knows?  Today, yes, awesome.)

Here’s how things stood before the change –

Room 1:  Jack (age 3)
Room 2: Roo & ZouZou (age 5 & 7)
Room 3: Mr. & Mrs. & Evie (age 16 months)

Here’s the new configuration –

Room 1: Roo  & Evie
Room 2: Mr. & Mrs.
Room 3: ZouZou & Jack

Well the first night was a bit bumpy for the older children.  With Jack came the toys and that pleased ZouZou.  Until she realized that with the toys came Jack!  ZouZou is a builder and though she is not obsessive, she certainly likes her items to stay in one piece while she builds them.  Jack, naturally, is a destroyer.  The first night before the official bedtime Jack wrecked one too many of ZouZou’s creations and she burst into tears and proclaimed that she never, ever, ever, ever wanted to share a room with Jack. Thankfully she mostly got over it and things have been going well.  It turns out ZouZou and Jack get along in there despite their playing-together problems because (who knew?) they both mostly like to go to sleep at bedtime!  (When ZouZou and Roo were together they NEVER went to sleep at bedtime.) The second night J & ZZ even fell asleep together in the same bed.  Let me tell you, that really warmed my heart because I feel badly that Jack’s older sisters spend most of their time playing off in their own little world and either ignoring their brother or getting mad at him for ruining their stuff.  Jack desperately needs positive interactions with his older sisters and that was the main reason I wanted him in with ZouZou.  To build a better relationship between the two of them. Watching it happen is awesome.

Roo’s transition to the new room with Evie was a rather drastic change.  It was not at all unusual for her and ZouZou to play for an hour together (mostly making noise and messes) after they went to their room at the end of the day.  Rooming with Evie, Roo has to sneak into the bedroom and be very, very, quiet.  She can’t really come in and out at will either because that would wake up Evie.  She’s allowed to do whatever she wants in there as long as she doesn’t wake up her sister but she doesn’t enjoy playing alone all that much.  Without her old ZouZou partner in crime, she pretty much ends up just going to bed.  What a novel idea.

Our house is usually quiet now after the kids go into their rooms at night.

As for Evie, she’s doing fine for naps.  We have to be more careful about children running loudly down the hall because her room is in the middle of the hallway and across from the main bathroom.   Nights have been basically what I expected.  Sometimes she sleeps well, sometimes she sleeps horribly.  Her first night was okay.  Her second night was Awful (think, five wakings before midnight), and her third night was her best with a wake up around 2 a.m. and 6 a.m.. (I have never really had a kid who slept through 2 a.m. until they were fully weaned and I am not much bothered by having to get up a couple of times.)  However, the wakings have increased in the last couple of nights and I hope that gets better.  (Teething.  You are killing me!)  I would prefer not to have to get out of bed three or four times in the middle of the night.  But that’s just me. Either way, I still prefer to have her in a different room. When she shared with us, I rarely fell asleep before her first waking and that often meant I would go to bed around 11:45 p.m. (okay, usually later) and lay awake until her first waking a half hour later (my body didn’t know how to relax until then I guess) when she would come into bed with us.  Then, depending on who-knows-what, she might want to nurse for a half hour or more.  I dreaded going to bed. I don’t miss that.  Nor does Mr. S.. He and I, we definitely appreciate having a kid-free room again!

I wish we had moved Evie out earlier, though I don’t know when we would have done it.  She probably could have transitioned six months ago but I guess I wasn’t ready.  It’s weird, I know why I cosleep, but I don’t know why I cosleep.  It’s convenient and wildly inconvenient at the same time.  Comfortable and miserable.  I love and hate it.  Right now, I love that the time for cosleeping over.  For a little while at least.

p.s. I was going to throw a few photos in here of home reno and whatnot but apparently my phone and computer aren’t talking to each other tonight.  Maybe next time.

Hello Out There???

Can you hear me?  I know you can’t see me buried underneath the wardrobes of six people!

It’s bad you guys.  The level of disarray that has gone into the great room switch is bad, bad, bad.  Feels like moving into the upstairs all over again — without the kitchen part, thank goodness.  But still, I thought I couldn’t possibly, but somehow did?, underestimate the amount of wacko involved in putting every member of this family into a different room.

The clothes.  Did they breed? Very possibly.  The girls have been rooming together for so long, I have yet to successfully separate their socks and underwear into their new respective rooms.  It’s like a divorce or divvying up the estate. Heck, I can hardly tell which clothes belong to which girl anymore.  And the tights!  I can’t fathom why we own this many pairs?  I really thought I had done well with paring down the wardrobes but holy moly, I guess I didn’t get to the tights.  Honestly, it feels like I didn’t get to anything else either!

In my defense, I had only recently gotten the summer clothes bin out from the basement and put it into the girls’ closet.  No one had fully transitioned to warm weather stuff and finalizing that on top of the location switch leads me to believe I need an advanced degree in something to figure this situation out!  What a mess.  I’m left drinking chocolate milk out of stemless wine glasses because you know what is not happening around here?  Every other thing that should be happening.  Oh, and you know who ran out of laundry detergent this week?  Yep.  This girl.

Maybe the thing about moving people around is that you are suddenly dealing with new sizes of everything in regard to storage and you have to rethink the whole she-bang.  The closet that held so-and-so’s wardrobe just fine cannot be used in the same way by the new inhabitant.  The dresser that fit into one room doesn’t work in another.  The new dresser doesn’t fit the new occupant’s clothes properly.  There’s overflow where there didn’t used to be.  Combined drawers can no longer be combined.  Etc. Etc. Etc.  Hence, the fun!

So, so, so much fun.  Would you care to come take over all of this fun for me?  I can’t stand anymore of this fun.

At this very moment I’m trying not to look at my maternity wardrobe perched precariousy in an underbed bag on top of an end table — in the middle of the livingroom.  With folded dishtowels on top of it.

What is even going on here?

After we ripped up the carpet in the girls old room and painted it we decided that we liked it best of all and would move into that room ourselves.  That’s the perk of being the parents right?  Commandeering all of the best stuff?  The curtains we had bought before look quite a bit better in there ;).  Then we realized that it’s stupid to move in without doing the baseboard trim which set us back in the settling-in thing.  No point in putting those underbed bags back in yet.  Oh and our closet is currently unusable.  Partly because its trimmed in bright teal paint that needs to be primed back to white…and partly because its getting turned into a computer “room” with only space for clothes in the margins.

Ahhhhhhhhh.

It’s wonderful and I’m blessed.  And s.t.r.e.s.s.e.d.

Oh golly am I stressed out by all of this upheaval.

Jesus take the wheel.

There’s something else too.

This might be shallow, but here’ goes.  My forest green rug is driving me nuts in a way I can’t even describe.  I think it’s because I have a heart for making things pretty and even if my efforts fall far short of anything in a magazine, it helps me to be surrounded by items that have been chosen by me in some small capacity.  I like to make things my own, I guess.  To have dominion over my little corner of the world.  But what can you do with a forest green rug in a living room?  There is no saving that situation.  Oy, does it rub against my sense of beauty and loveliness!   I’m nearly obsessed with its speedy removal.  Gaaaaaaa!

Okay, ENOUGH rug talk.  I need to go gather my mental resources and make a plan to conquer mount-wardrobe tomorrow.  Followed by mount laundry.

Hope you had a wonderful weekend!

~ Liz

Story of a Morning

While cutting an english muffin in half, I stab my palm with a knife.  Stings, but not a mortal wound.

Child exits his bedroom, sans diaper, poop smeared up his back, on his shirt, and on his hands.

With help of hubby, who is nearly late for work, we get dirty child into bathtub.

I attempt to take bleach down from a high shelf to clean poop from child’s bedroom floor.

The bleach bottle slips and sails over my head, lands on the floor, the cap goes flying, and a half a gallon of it pours out onto the kitchen wood flooring.

Bleach gets into my knife wound.

Thankfully husband, now late for work, is still around to hold baby.  Lest she play in the bleach on the floor.

Good news is.  My dining room has never been so clean.

Rug Removal, Mother’s Day, Ikea, Treasure Strewing…

Last weekend we pulled up the carpeting in the girls’ room in anticipation for the great room switcheroo of 2015.  The flooring underneath was stained by the carpet padding but eventually the wood can definitely be refinished.  For now, we plan to move Evie and Roo in there and throw down an area rug.  It feels so good to be rid of that putrid dog-hair looking carpet!

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The room needs new trim (half-round or something) where the floor meets the baseboards.  You can very clearly see that they ripped it out when they put down the carpeting because the wood is unfinished about an inch from the crack on both the baseboards and the wood floor.

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We painted the room in a neutral tone and let Roo pick out a color for the closet which will be her new special little spot once she and Evie take over the room and Jack and ZouZou take over the other big room.  Roo chose the paint color “Key Largo” for the closet which, as you might guess from the name, is a glowing (GLOWING!) shade of tropical teal.  I’ll have to post a picture when it’s finished.

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To ease the pain of separation and also to make the prospect of rooming with Jack more palatable, I’m going to order some sort of sheer princess canopy to hang over ZouZou’s bed.  It will probably get destroyed in about 30 minutes, but at least we will have tried, right?

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I’m excited about the prospect of moving Evie out of our room but terrified of the potential sleep deprivation involved.  She co-sleeps and nurses at night.  A lot.  A maddening amount to be honest.  The dark circles under my eyes and chronic ache in my shoulders can certainly attest to that fact.  We’ve been wanting to get her out of our bedroom for months now.  Looks like the feat will happen within the week.  An educated guess tells me this will involve a couple of nights of me hopping out of bed four or five times in the night followed by a traumatic night weaning.  Can’t wait.

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The minivan AC has been fixed!  We went all of last summer in the van with no air because we were quoted $1200 for the fix.  Shopping around for repairs is challenging when the car you want repaired is the only one that will fit the whole family!  We figured at best we would save a couple of hundred dollars by taking it somewhere else so we decided to just suffer through (and believe you me, there was plenty of suffering for my poor little children!) until this year when it would be more financially feasible.  Well, we just got the van back from a different place than where we got our first quote and the total for the thing, with tax, was $160.  ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY.  I’m going to choose to believe that the van was miraculously healed instead of wishing ill on the guy who caused us all of that inconvenience last year.  (I would never wish him to be caught on a closed highway at midnight, during a thunderstorm, under an overpass, after a ninety degree day, with a crying baby, a poopy toddler, one cussing adult, and two exhausted little girls — for two and a half hours.  That would be downright cruel.)

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On Mother’s Day I went to Ikea alone.  I really should have found a cozy park bench somewhere and just rested, but the whole room switch thing had me motivated to get a few things and I couldn’t resist.  I tried to find a small desk to put in the closet for Roo but nothing in the furniture department could woo me.  (Funny story — while standing in the desk area of Ikea I overheard a woman say to her husband “That looks cheap.  Like it wouldn’t last long.”  Oh dear lady.  YOU ARE IN IKEA!)  Anyway, I was uber proud of myself because instead of spending way too much money on a cheaply made desk, I bought two sturdy wall brackets and a piece of table top from the Handyman’s corner.  Voila, floating desk for $10.  $2 + $2 + $4 = $10.  Okay, maybe $8.  I like my kind of math.  And I happen to think brackets are useful in the long term, so win for the environment or something. I confess that I did buy a metal stool for her at $5 and a bunch of pillow inserts so that I can make throw pillows.  On my shopping list was about ten other things that I couldn’t bring myself to purchase.  I have a thing now about trying to only buy stuff I am in love with.  And that isn’t going to die a materialistic death in half a year.  I’ve been bad about that in the past.

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When my neighbor heard what I did for Mother’s Day she was bummed because she would have gone with me, had she known.  It’s probably for the best because I am NOT the person that wanders through the displays, opening cupboards, and sitting in all of the furniture.  I’m the girl that enters through the back doors and practically runs through the bottom level.  Though perhaps I could be persuaded to meander with the right company :).

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Yesterday we found pretty rocks and jewels strewn in our front grass.  My neighbor is a treasure strew-er.  When she knows kids will be digging in dirt, she’ll hide plastic dinos or small toys when they aren’t looking — for them to discover like archeologists.  She’ll toss large plastic diamonds in the grass and pretend to come upon one….”What is this?  Oh my goodness, right there!  Do see that? Look around, maybe you can find more!” The kids never seem to be the wiser.  They just know that life a Lenny’s house is so much fun!

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Well that’s it for today.  I have to go make lunch and I’m sorry for any typos!

Daybook

Outside my window:: Silence and darkness.  It’s warm though.  Hitting the 80s this week.

Listening to:: The fan at the end of the hallway as I sit in the living room.  The notification pings on my computer of my husband messaging me from the computer in the basement. We’re chatting about poop and “[making you a] Mother’s Day.”  Those are unrelated topics, thankfully.

Clothing myself in:: An old fushia ribbed tank from Old Navy, and a pair of cropped pajama pants that are part of a set I bought right before ZouZou was born, to wear after ZouZou was born.  I sort of think a fresh set of pajamas per baby is reasonable, though come to think of it I didn’t get a pair to wear after Evie was born.

Talking to my children about these books::  Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (a chapter book).  Seriously silly stuff.  Mrs. Piggle Wiggle is a lady that knows everything about children.  Mothers of children call Mrs. Piggle Wiggle to ask for help in dealing with their errant children and she gives them her cures:  The Won’t-Pick-Up-Toys Cure, the Never-Want-To-Go-To-Bedders Cure, the Answer-Backer Cure (Mrs, Piggle Wiggle lends out her parrot to cure that one.  You guessed it, that parrot talks back!), and so on.  I wish the chapters were a teeny tiny bit shorter because it’s hard to get a whole one in with an Evie in the house.  (She is very jealous of books.)  I also wish I could call Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.  I would need her on speed dial.

In my own reading:: Just finished The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society and wholeheartedly recommend it.  It’s fiction and instead of chapters, the book is made up of letters sent back and forth between a group of people regarding the German occupation of the English Channel island Guernsey during WWII.  I enjoyed the wit and humor very much and I love happy endings. I also checked out Kristin Lavransdatter from the library and am four pages into that one.  I’m not sure how I will do because I have trouble with names that aren’t written in plain old English.  My mind has no filing process for such words and I forget who is who.  It’s awfully hard to follow a story well under such circumstances.

Thinking and thinking:: About how to be hard on myself and merciful too.  To demand more of myself and yet not get discouraged when I fail.  There is a lot of “support” online these days for moms in the trenches and “your doing a good job mom” stuff I appreciate that and sometimes I do need to hear that at the end of the day my kids simply need to know that I love them.  But I also need to be pushed to be a better mom by loving my kids in concrete ways.  Love is more than just giving hugs and kisses and saying I love you.  Love is caring for little minds and little bodies and little souls.  When I fail to do that, to teach them well and feed them well and guide and guard them, I fail to love them.  Obviously! And I fail so very much and it’s hard to see all of my failures and accept my human weakness and be gentle with myself so that I don’t want to just throw in the towel.  To trust God to meet me in my littleness, ya know?

Pondering::  Then he said to all ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’ Lk 9:23

Carefully cultivating rhythm::  Hmmm.  Rhythm.  I don’t know what to say about this one.  Around here we have spurs of honest to goodness, real, quality rhythm and then we get out of whack.  I’m hoping to work towards a better solid daily routine for at least Roo in the next few weeks.  We have our “normal” but I’m hoping to refine that.  Help her to get a better grasp of what each day will look like.  She really does thrive on knowing when and what will happen each day and I know she will be receptive to having more of a plan.  As for the other kiddos, it will be nice to settle into a warm weather rhythm.  The little ones love to be outside and I need to adjust my own day to accommodate more backyard time and less screen time.

Creating by hand::  When we moved, we took our four old kitchen chairs to the basement.  Months ago I bought some fabric to recover the seats but I was intimidated by the project because it involved a staple gun and I wasn’t 100% sure things would turn out how I hoped.  Finally I couldn’t ignore the (somewhat expensive) supplies any longer and last week, I got up the nerve and started stapling.  Come what may!  Well, I finished one of the chairs and I am completely happy with how it turned out.  That was a few days ago and somehow I have not found my success inspirational to go ahead and do the other three so who knows when those will get done.

Oh, and I put together a fabric journal cover for a present for a First Communicant last week.  I needed something last minute because I entirely forgot that you are supposed to give First Communion gifts.

On my list of other sewing things to do is fix a thrifted to-big, strapless dress to fit ZouZou and finish slipcovering this stupid living room chair I am sitting in right this very minute.

Learning lessons in:: Homeschooling. I’m always learning more.  And yet it seems like never enough.

Encouraging learning in:: Proper handwriting.  Roo took to handwriting more slowly than reading.  When she was doing kindergarten work we eventually switched to doing most of her lessons verbally because I could tell that the writing part was slowing down her progress in other areas and I didn’t want her frustration to stunt her growth and color her whole learning experience from the get-go.  Well, she’s grown more confident in her writing now and its time to buckle down and work on penmanship and such.

Keeping house::  I’m behind on laundry.  I should be folding right now.  The loads are clean.  Didn’t I tell you I like to wash and dry?  It’s just the putting away part :(.

Crafting in the kitchen::  Since my husband has worked the last two Saturdays our grocery shopping has kind of gone awry and the cupboards are not looking too good right now.  Tonight I was going to order pizza but providentially Mr. S. got off of work at 6:30 p.m. (last night he got home at 8 p.m.) and was able to grab a rotisserie chicken, bagged salad, and fresh bread at the store on the way home.  Does that count as crafting in the kitchen?  Oh wait!  I made chocolate chip cookies today.  I truly cannot remember the last time I made cookies.

To be fit and happy::  I don’t know if running after Jack and toting around Evie counts as being fit?  I do not exercise.  I never have.

Giving thanks:: For prayers answered.

Loving the moments when:: Evie shows her true colors.  The girl is what we, in this house, refer to as “a contender” now.  She fifteen-months-old going on three years (at least!).  She has attitude for miles and expressions galore and I just think she’s the funniest little thing.

Planning for the week ahead::  I got a text tonight from an old neighbor and am expecting a last minute playdate here tomorrow morning (at what time, I do not know), Thursday is homeschool co-op day and Mr. S. has gotten the day off so that he can watch Jack for once (it’s such a long day for Jack!) and we can drive his car with the air conditioning instead of the van with the broken AC. (It’s getting fixed next week, yay!)  Then Friday will be another home day unless someone proposes a park playdate.  This weekend will be Mr. S.’s first full weekend in three weeks and we plan to enjoy it to the full.  Maybe even with a babysitter on Saturday morning.  Then Sunday is Mother’s Day.  I don’t know what to ask for for Mother’s Day this year.  Mr. S. is kind of notoriously bad at planning special occasions which is my fault perhaps because I didn’t train him properly and don’t tell him what to do.  Anyway, I confess I am not really one of those women who wants to spend Mother’s Day doting on my children in thanksgiving for being a mother and I might just ask to spend the afternoon by myself somewhere.  Would that be un-motherly of me?

On Hiring Help

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If you remember, I mentioned that I have hired a teenager to help me clean once a week for a couple of hours.  She’s been coming for well over a month now and I am really happy with how things are going.

Each week I marvel at God’s provision because the fifteen-year-old who comes to help me clean lives down the street and brings along her two little sisters who are thirteen and ten.  The mom specifically told me not to pay the younger ones because they want to come.  More often than not the thirteen-year-old helps me clean and the ten-year-old plays with the girls and even takes care of Evie (when Evie will let her).  Jack’s kind of difficult to manage so I usually let him watch TV.  Sometimes the thirteen-year-old watches kids, but she usually asks me how she can help clean and we chat.  God bless her, one day I asked her to grab a load of laundry from the dryer and she brought it up — folded.  Pinch me!

Right now I don’t have a set cleaning routine for my helper each week.  I haven’t decided if this is good or bad.  One week I might have her work on one of the “that bothers me but I don’t know when I will get to it” list of cleaning tasks and another week I might have do a general tidying.  (Though I try not to waste time by having her do work that will be undone by nightfall.)  The exception is the bathroom — I have her do some level of bathroom cleaning every week.  You better believe I am going to take advantage of the opportunity to have someone else clean the toilets!  Two hours sounds like a long time, but a teenager doesn’t necessarily have the same cleaning power as a woman with years of housekeeping under her belt, so I have to remember to keep my expectations reasonable.

I’ve been thinking about my philosophy about hiring people to help me clean. There are arguments against it.  Shouldn’t my children be doing the work?  Would that money be better spent elsewhere?  Couldn’t I easily add that cleaning into my daily schedule?

In regards to having the kids clean, right now I need some of my burdens lifted, not increased!  Yes, they need to learn responsibility and I want them to learn how to take care of a house, but we are definitely not to the level yet where their cleaning makes my life significantly easier, that’s for sure!

Money-wise, I don’t know, I guess. We do have a lot of debt, student loan debt in particular.  Would it be better for us to take that $80 a month I spend on cleaning and put it toward a loan?  Part of me wonders, but part of me holds fast to the fact that [watch out, I am about to get on my platform] I am a very strong believer in limiting the amount of time we spend breaking our backs for the future when we have to live in the present.  If I am frugal to the max but living a lifestyle that renders me incapable of truly caring for myself and my family (tired, cranky, overwhelmed, etc…), how is that beneficial to anyone involved?

And I like balance. It’s worth trying to achieve.

At one point I wondered if it would be better for me to simply pay a mother’s helper and do a couple of hours of intense cleaning myself.  In my situation I sort of get a mother’s helper thrown in for free, but I think that might be a good option in the future if we can’t rationalize what we’re doing now.  As I see it, the bottom line is that I have to live like energy is currency.  It doesn’t come from an unlimited supply and when you use it one place you can expect to use it somewhere else — though I’m sure my husband would certainly prefer a sparkling clean house and an energetic wife at the end of the day ;).  I do a lot of cleaning on cleaning days, but that is cleaning I don’t do on other days, so it evens out.

Speaking of husbands, when mine comes home on cleaning days, he inevitably says “The house looks nice” and I say “Thank you!” Like I did it all myself!  But honestly, I feel like hiring someone to help me is a fruit of me taking care of my household.  I have seen a need in our family for a better maintained house and found a way to help meet that need. I love that.  I know not everyone has a hard time taking care of the house, but I do and this is working for us.  Yay!

I’ve noticed that when the girls are over helping me, I get this feeling that I am not alone in this endeavor to raise my family.  That I don’t have to do everything myself.  It’s frighteningly easy, especially when you are mom-tired, to feel lonely in your efforts.  To despair that you are the only one who will ever mop that floor or clean the blinds or dust the high shelves (even if you aren’t because you have a husband and kids to help you!).  It buoys me to be able to delegate even a small portion of my responsibility and I am thankful for that.  I am also thankful for the opportunity to help a teenage girl learn responsibility and make a bit of money.  It’s a win, win.

I’ve Been Thinking

Two posts in one day?  Seriously, Liz, this is too much!  

I know, right?

Well anyway, I’ve been thinking that I’ll post fewer family photos on here from now on.  I just don’t trust the creeps of the internet and there’s no way (at least for me) to get around that. I don’t want to privatize Twig and controlling content seems like a reasonable alternative.  Clearly this is not a place I use to make money, so it hardly makes a difference if I lose one of my three readers due to loss of interest!  I like to read blogs that have pictures so I apologize in advance to all of my picture-loving friends.  I’m sure there will be a few scattered in now and again, but not like before.

Admittedly, this will make my blogging life so. much. easier and I’m kind of excited to write more freely.  Less technical frustration. Time saved and all of that.

Before we go to limited pics, here’s a picture from Easter 2015 to keep you up to date.

WP_20150405_12_23_12_ProDon’t be fooled by our looks of innocence.  Troublemakers, every last one of us ;).

Crazy Driver

I have about fifteen minutes and I’m a slow writer, so here’ goes…

Mr. S. has been working waves of overtime lately.  One week he’ll clock maybe an hour or two and the next week, he’ll go in early and work through lunches and stay late.  It’s good financially but hard in every other respect.  Long work weeks are conducive to family life.  I’m getting really tired and yelling a lot.

I’ve never been good at video racing games.  Can’t stay on the track to save my life!  My “work” at home feels a little bit like a video race game.  I’ll pull back onto the raceway for a second or two and then go careening into a wall and spin out of control and then sit there for a few minutes in shock before ever-so-slowly dragging myself back to the road.  I’m trying not to get discouraged about it.  It’s best just to know this about myself, so that I don’t get too impressed with my skills or too down about my lack of them when any sort of turn or obstacle comes up on the screen.

Perspective is always good.  I still talked to my prayer partner at least once or twice a week and it helps to remind me that challenges, though unique, are universal.  We all have something, some cross, that looms large in front of us.  Clicking through news stories online doesn’t bring me any feeling of solidarity with those struggling through life.  It doesn’t seem real to me, or maybe the horrific suffering in the world overwhelms me to the point of lonely numbness.  But talking to a friends — sharing relate-able stories?  That helps.  And praying together.  We all need someone in our corner.

As I look at this upcoming week, part of me doesn’t know where to start.  The tiredness is like cottonballs in my brain stopping the connections from working.  All of the concrete household things that need to be done are relatively easy for me to wrap my efforts around but the moment I try to reach out and grasp somewhat intangible stuff — like meal planning, scheduling appointments, plans for the summer — I feel like I’m blindly pawing at thin air.   I forget what I’m trying to do.

I know I need some rest, like I wrote about.  What I don’t know, is when I will get it, at least in the form of a stress-free chunk of time.  So for now, I will carve out little tiny scraps of time.  While Evie naps and Jack watches Wild Krats.

One day at time…

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