Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Random Spring WIP

outside baby springIt is spring. The impact of the season is a little lost in a climate such as Houston. But still, it is spring and we are enjoying the more mild weather of the season by being outdoors as often as possible.

Meh. That's how I feel right now. Like the swirling waters of a Houston flash flood my mind is raging with so many thoughts and ideas that none of it makes sense. Like why I'm a rebel and paper towels, parenting, babywearing, feminism, dreams, writing, France, schooling, birth, work, friendships, church, art, Lent, redecorating (is it redecorating if you never decorated in the first place?), organizing, house cleaning, spanking, eating, cooking, books, what kind of mom I am, sacred rhythms, childhood, discipline, and on and on and on. Clear as mud, right? And my house is a mess. Which is pissing me off.

So the machine is back and the very first thing I typed last night had loads of extra letters. I freaked. As in my eyes bulged out of my head, my jaw dropped, I snapped the computer closed and exhaled a slow-mo "noooooooo" as my chin dropped to my chest and I slumped in my chair. The Piano Man came rushing in, worried something was seriously wrong with somebody, as in a live, breathing person not an inanimate object. Since nobody was actually hurt (I beg to differ, the computer IS a person too), he suggested we make another appointment. I didn't want to do that, that would mean going back to the mall! I broke out in a cold sweat just imagining it again. No, I wanted an entirely different approach. The "let's-pretend-nothing-is-wrong-and-try-it-again-where-it-will-be-magically-healed" approach. And you know what? It worked! My friend Mac is back in action. I love that pretty little glowing apple.

So since the machine was out of action for a few days I'm behind on my Weekend WIP. I'm behind on everything though and I can't blame it on the computer. No, wait, maybe I can. The laundry, I'm behind on the laundry and it is totally because of the computer. Crap, that's true too. Man, I was trying to be tongue in cheek.


Knitting is tres slow going these days.
knittingknit washclothknit scrubbie dishclothknitting dishclothMindless knitting: dish rags.

Found some old shelves out by the trash and we're (read: The Piano Man) is using the wood for part of our reorganization/redecorating WIP.
scrap wood
kitchen shelvesShelving between kitchen and dining room.

And in the Living Room:
organize officeCreating an office nook.

organizing houseYarn and knitting finds a place.

Decluttering Magazines.
organize magazinesI love Family Fun and a few other mags but can't hold on to old issues so I'm cutting out the recipes, projects, ideas and articles I want to keep and sorting them into page protectors and binders.

The WIP family:

wooden play shieldThe Piano Man made a shield for the birthday girl.

baby laugh
Smunchie started laughing. We all live to get a giggle from her now.

I've read that one or two photos are enough for each blog post so I guess that means I use too many. Whatever, I don't care. I like pictures.

I tried to get a pic of this last WIP to put up but blogger didn't like the screen shot for some reason. You'll have to click the link to see it. But you totally should, there's a give-away there.

Nevermind, tried again and it worked! Yay me!

You know you want to go check out a blog called The Leaky Boob. Who wouldn't?

So now, I'm going to go back to meh.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Make Over, Make-Me-Over!

I need to win a blog make-over because I need help. Shoot, I need to win a full body make-over (any offers?) but the blog is less intimidating. ;) So I'm hoping to win this from Toddler Awesome.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Post over on The Leaky Boob today. For some reason the possessed keyboard cooperated.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hello Gibberish

face sculpture(These odd little face sculptures were hidden on the side of two buildings in Montmarte Paris. I think they're great.)

I want to write a post for todayr, I hfave several in mind. In fact, I fhave so manry blog posts floating around in myr fhead I can't even pick wfhicfh one to actuallyr write. As I go about mry dayr working, caring for kids, cooking, blafh, blahf, blafh, I am constantlry carrying on mini-conversations withf readers. Crafhting new posts, many that never materialize on my blog. Wfhicfh means I talk to myrself. In mry fhead. Tfhis could mean blogging isn't actuallyr fhealtfhyr for me. Or it means I'm strange and would do tfhat anyrwarys. But I'm not going to do a real tfhougfhtful blog post righft now, as ryou can see, I'm fhaving issues. No, not tfhose kind of issues, tfhoughf I fhave thfose too but computer/typing issues. And track-pad issues. Wfhen I type tfhe letter "H" mryr computer randomlyr contributes an extra "f" or two. And vice versa. Same tfhing hfappens withf tfhe "y" and "r." But it doesn't do it every time, just most every time.

Thfis. Is so. Annoyring.

Montmarte"The torture of the anvil life with thin wings."
(On a wall in Montmart, Paris)

Tfhe computer went into tfhe Apple Store today for thfem to save tfhe day. Guess wfhat tfhey said. Yep, tfhere's a problem. You need a new thfing. Ok, tfhey didn't say thfing, I'm not sure wfhat tfhey said but I need a new thfing and tfhey don't fhave thfe tfhing I need so it is on order. Wfhen tfhis new thfing comes in tfhey'll call and we'll take thfe computer up wfhere it will fhave to stay 1-3 days. So in tfhat 1-3 days I'll be reading books. Yes, tfhat's wfhat I've decided. Not cleaning, not cooking, not writing, but reading books. I can always fhind ways to avoid productivity. But reading is productive! I swear, I only read productive reading materials. Tfhe Nanny Diaries qualifies as productive literature, rigfht? HFYR. Yum. Fun. Random letters.

So because I don't want to drive myself crazy trying to post pictures from L's b-day wfhen my track pad isn't working correctly and I'll drive myself crazy trying to write any of tfhe otfher potential posts rattling around in my hfead and cleaning up excess letters constantly. All serious posting is postponed until I hfave a macfhine tfhat doesn't give my written voice some sort of bizarre lisp. I will try to post some WIP tomorrow and maybe copy and paste an old post or sometfhing I've written but never shfared. Maybe. Maybe not. I don't like to commit. Oddly enoughf, thfe madness witfh my computer seems to be reflecting some of my own feelings, a sudden onset of gibberish. Maybe some "quiet" is a good idea to sort thfings out.

Face sculpture
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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Are you crafty?

Have you seen this site? Very cool! They have a Facebook page too. Crafters of all ages will find something to create there. Got to love that!

Oui, Oui, Da, Da

Tomorrow is a special day, my second daughter celebrates her 9th birthday. Her beginning was rough not because of too many physical complications but rather some emotional challenges my family suffered through. The day L was born my family lost one of the most wonderful people this world has ever known, my maternal grandmother. Ouida Bailey was not exactly a saint but pretty close. The daughter of an evangelist she traveled around with her twin and younger sister as a trio called the Blue Bonnet Sisters. Her middle name was Kentucky, her twin bearing Texas as her second name. Quiet and unassuming, Ouida was not usually the one to garner a lot of attention. Grandma studied piano and German in college and went on to marry a young man in the military. Living up to her name (yes in French and Russian), my grandmother almost never said no to anyone. Sweet, kind, gentle and giving, Grandma taught piano for years, not having children until later in life when first my uncle and then my mom were born several years apart. Grandma was very involved in my childhood, often babysitting and spending time with us, sharing music and ice cream. Somewhat of a nervous person she worried about all of us, reminding us over and over again of safety practices and wanted to be sure we were cautious. A victim of domestic violence my grandmother struggled with fear, a struggle that was only amplified with the onset of dementia. Late in my pregnancy with L, fearing I wouldn't get to see her again, I flew from Illinois to Florida to see her. The disease had destroyed much of her mind and she only had a few lucid moments of remembering who I was and during one of brief instances, with her hand on my baby bump, she spoke blessings over me and my family. Those blessings have stayed with me ever since. The morning of March 25, 2001 my grandmother breathed her last and died at 10.10 EST. Preparing to lead worship at my church, I was off to the side praying when I felt a strong contraction that set itself apart from all the others I had experienced off and on in the previous few weeks. Noting the time I knew that I would be having a baby that day. My watch read 9.10 CST. A few hours later I got the message that grandma had past and after a phone call with my mom, I took a nap. It was a strong contraction that woke me and I knew I was in active labor, something that I had wanted desperately just the day before when it was happening I wished would stopped and wait another week. L was born at 7 that evening, my first home birth. As I held my beautiful new baby, who's name meant pure beauty, I wondered if she would be like my grandmother in any way. As I grieved my grandmother's passing I also rejoiced, my family was richly blessed. Though born in Illinois, Lavinia was born during Texas Blue Bonnet Season and having lived here since she was not yet two, I have celebrated my daughter and my grandmother every year with the Texas Blue Bonnets. Tomorrow we will have cake and presents, sing songs, play, eat L's favorite food, talk with my parents and my mom and I will acknowledge at some point the other special woman we honor on March 25th. L knows that her birthday also marks the day Grandma Bailey moved on and though her personality is very different from her great-grandma's, they share a unique bond. Those of us that have been privileged to know either of them and especially those that have been so favored as to know them both are blessed people indeed.

Below is a song I wrote dedicated to these two special people.

Oui, Oui, Da, Da

By Jessica Martin-Weber for Ouida and Lavinia

One of two she always had an and
All along the way she’d quietly stand
Low tones warm and soft
Never held herself aloft
Heavy eyelids with lashes low
She was one to take it slow
Blue bonnet fields bobbing, bobbing, bobbing
Smiles and laughter sobbing, sobbing

Almost invisible

Yes, yes almost invisible
Oui, oui Presque invisible
Да, Да, Почти невидимый
She could never say no.

Affection from another of desire
Breathes into being a gentle fire
Promises made and hopes begin to bloom
Then delicate flower crushed too soon
Purple eyelids heavy and low
He wasn’t one to take it slow
Blue bonnet fields bobbing, bobbing, bobbing
Smiles and laughter sobbing, sobbing

Almost invisible

Yes, yes almost invisible
Oui, oui Presque invisible
Да, Да, Почти невидимый
She could never say no.

From her carved flesh and womb
She had another to groom
Time sang it’s sweet sad song
Two more mother’s come along
Now her eyelids heavy and low
She was one to take it slow
Blue bonnet fields bobbing, bobbing, bobbing
Smiles and laughter sobbing, sobbing

Like a woman pushed and torn
One dies and one is born
In the agony and bliss
It all comes down to this
Our stories intertwine
What is yours and what is mine
The songs of love and loss
We bear each other’s cross
To share a legacy of love

When she went on her way
I held pure beauty that day
Victory wept for yes
We knew our souls were blessed
Our eyelids heavy and low
Neither one the other would know
Blue bonnet fields bobbing, bobbing, bobbing
Smiles and laughter sobbing, sobbing

Yes, yes almost invisible
Oui, oui Presque invisible
Да, Да, Почти невидимый
Yes, yes, no longer invisible
Oui, oui, jamais plus invisible
Да, Да, больше невидимый

I love you Grandma.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

If you read my blog...

Would you mind clicking that little banner on the side there for Top Mommy Blogs and vote for me? Pretty please? Pretty please with chocolate syrup, whipped cream and a cherry on top? And go check out the site too and discover some other cool blogs.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Measure of Indecency

Vote for my post on Mom Blog Networkankles
Hello! Up here! My eyes. You’ve been so busy staring elsewhere that you probably haven’t even noticed I have eyes let alone looked in them long enough to tell me what color they are. I admit, the color of my eyes can be hard to nail down, it really depends on what I’m wearing or the color of the frames on my glasses provided I’m wearing any. Glasses! I always wear socks with sneakers, I was talking about glasses. Ugh, why must you only see me for that? As though that’s all I’m good for. It’s not like they are new, they’ve been around as long as humans have and most everyone has them.

Excuse me, it bothers you when I walk? You do realize that the primary function of my ankles is to help me walk on my feet, don’t you? I see, seeing them used in a different way is gross. Uh-huh. Would you rather I just sit around with my feet up, my ankles hidden discretely beneath my pants or skirt until they are to be viewed and touched for pleasure? Hmmmm, this could complicate things, like my life. And caring for my children. So it makes other people uncomfortable to see a woman’s ankles when she’s chasing her children around, keeping them safe, providing them with the best opportunities and using her ankles as, oh, I don’t know, how they are intended to be used? I should be worried about offending other people? Interesting. I’m really far more concerned about doing the best I can for my children. Research shows that mothers that are able to should let their children run and be active and for that to happen best a mother needs her ankles to chase after them. Saving them only for her partner’s pleasure would get in the way of her children’s health! Oh, I can use them, you just want me to cover them up. With a blanket. Or one of those fashionable things made just for that.

high heel shoesWow. That really makes it difficult not to mention, uncomfortable and likely dangerous. What exactly would be adequate coverage? Adequate and safe? When I’m using them to care for my children, how much can you actually see anyway? I know socks that reveal more and ankles are plastered all over magazines, billboards, TV, and movies to sell everything from sports drinks to cars to furniture. Honestly. I’m not showing any more than what you’d see watching a sitcom. Probably less, actually. And if you think that’s shocking, what about flip-flops and open toe shoes that reveal ankles AND toe cleavage? Nobody is insisting those be covered up. But a mother running around caring for her children, now that is disgusting. Please tell me, what is the measure of indecency we hold as standard? But another man seeing my ankles while I run after kids could be a turn on? Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight. A woman doing the best she can caring for her children, using her body as it is intended is going to be an indecent turn on? Now who is disgusting? But there could be a slip and they might SEE something! Gasp! Oh dear, what will we do! Mothers around the world are seducing men left and right using their ankles as they take care of their children! What is the world coming to?!

Now you’re saying that it is ok to use them but not only do you not want to see them used “that way” but it should stop once the child is one? How exactly does that make sense? Excuse me, but my child still needs me and it is encouraged by the experts that mothers continue to chase after their children as long as it is mutually beneficial and both parties are comfortable with it. Seriously, I don’t see how there is a magic switch that is flipped when a child turns one that she would no longer need me to walk after her. She may not even be ready to walk herself yet at that point! No, there is nothing inappropriate about me continuing to care for my child that way and I’m offended that you would say there is. It doesn’t excite me sexually, I’m not that one-dimensional, thanks. I may run around and use my ankles in a fashion only appropriate with my husband in our private times along but trust me, I couldn’t even begin to compare caring for my children to making love with my husband! I am not abusing my child by continuing to trot after them. My ankles have more than one purpose and I can differentiate between their functions, it isn’t that difficult actually and I already do it with other areas of my body so why should this be any different?

dress shoes
Honestly, I am sorry it makes you uncomfortable but I really can’t help but wonder if that reflects more on your issues than my ankles and my mothering. Your issues don’t have much weight in my caring for my children, sorry. If other women feel uncomfortable with their ankles so exposed while they care for their children, fine. It doesn’t bother me and if they can figure out how to gallop around after kids while hiding under a blanket then more power to them. In fact, I’m impressed, I just can’t get it to work. So I’m going to continue doing what is best for my children and while I’m not going to parade around with my ankles just hanging out there all the time for the world to see, I’m not going to hide me or my children just to make you feel better. There is nothing wrong with what I’m doing, I’m not ashamed of my ankles or using them to race around after my children. Not every woman can, I’m blessed to be able to. And no, I’m not going to cover to protect your sensibilities. Maybe your sensibilities aren’t that sensible. It is, after all, only natural for a mother to hasten to protect and give her children her best. This is my best. If you don’t like it then put a blanket over your head!

Once upon a time in a bygone era, ankles were considered a sexually indecent part of the body for a woman to show, a flamboyant display of indecency if they were revealed. Other era’s featured fashion that regularly revealed the breast mostly bare including the nipples showing while covering most every other part of the body with clothing. What we consider indecent now was at one time the height of fashion and accepted by the majority of society. Likewise, what has been considered inappropriate and immodest exposure in the past are now considered commonplace even in most of the extremely conservative circles. This post was inspired by some recent online conversations I was able to read (thanks to Woman Uncensored for sharing them) and by this article. It is intended as satire regarding nursing and "extended breastfeeding." Not that I need to explain but for the record my husband completely supports me breastfeeding our children. Also, no ankle or foot fetish here. But aren't these shoes amazing? I love them. Well, love to look at them. Wearing them, not so much. Seriously, what could be more sexy that a woman scurrying after her children in a pair of smokin' hot, deadly heels?

breastfeeding and high heel shoes

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Custom Designed Interactive Game

"I'm bored." My 8 year old sauntered in, conjuring the most bland expression she could devise.

Looking up from my dinner preparations I assessed the situation. One sister was playing outside happily, another was reading in her room, one was napping and the other was, well, on me.

"I'm bored!" She reiterated with an exasperated emphasis. "Can I have something to eat?"

"Eating because you're bored isn't a good idea, you don't want to start that. It becomes a bad habit with health consequences that can be hard to break. We're going to be eating before long anyway, I'm making dinner. Think you can wait?" I asked.

With a sigh she grumbled that she could wait, making it clear she didn't want to.

"There's nothing to do, can I play wii or watch a movie?" came next.

Coming off of a couple of weeks of sickness, we had resorted to watching movies, playing computer games, and wii far more often than usual as a means of distraction from fevers. Though we had also read, knit, played games and fit some school work in, often just laying on the couch was all we had energy for. It was even worse when I was the one sick, the last to come down with the virus it became a free-for-all. In just that short amount of time I was hearing something that had, just weeks before, been rare in our house.

"On a beautiful day like this? When we're healthy and there is so much to explore?" I was tempted to inform her that when I was a kid, if I complained about being bored I'd be given an unsavory chore to do such as pulling weeds. Realizing that wouldn't be helpful and she had, in fact, worked turning over the garden just earlier that day and enjoyed it, I racked my brain for another idea, inwardly cursing the effects of excessive movie-watching and video game playing on my daughter's imagination and play. And her increased ability to whine.

"Why don't you go play outside with H? She's having a great time." I redirected.

"I'm tired of playing that, I want something fun, like a game. Why can't I play wii?" whined L.

"We've had a lot of screen time lately and we don't want to miss out on all the other fun there is to be had. It is the middle of the week, no screen media during the week, only on week-ends. If you'd like to play a game, you're welcome to pick one and ask your sisters to join you. I can play too once dinner is in the oven." I made my suggestions, hoping something would sound appealing.

No go.

After more suggestions that were shot down quickly by L, who had apparently done everything already, I got an idea.

"You could build an obstacle course!"

"A what?" she puzzled.

Encouraged that she didn't shoot it down right away I went on.

"An obstacle course. You could design one and then we could all run it."

"What would I build it with? We don't have anything." she was starting to whine again.

Instead of pointing out that we do, in fact, have loads of stuff and suggest some that would be ideal for an obstacle course, I decided to give her the opportunity to be creative on her own.

"Whatever you can find." I said. "Look around the yard, check out what's in the house and car port and see what you can put together to create a fun and challenging obstacle course."

At this point I should point out that if you try this with your children be sure that anything that could be truly dangerous for them to scavenger should be put safely out of their reach with clear instructions that they are only touch those objects with the assistance of an adult. Saws, boards with nails, lawn equipment, etc. could be very enticing for obstacle course building.

Mulling over the idea for a minute, L stood chewing on her lip considering the possibilities. A moment later though she gave me a doubtful look.

"Ok, I'll try it. I don't think it will actually be fun but if you're not going to let me play wii..." her voice trailed off.

"Let me know when you're ready for us, I can't wait to run your course."

A short while later, maybe 45 minutes or so, an excited little girl bounded into the house.

"I'm ready! It's ready! I just did it and it is so much fun!" She could barely catch her breath, bouncing up and down and gesturing to outside.

"All right!" I said. "Let's get everyone and give it a try!"

We rounded up the family and invaded our front yard. L explained the course, walking through it herself and giggling with delight at some of her ingenious challenges. There were a few elements that would have been tough to accomplish or possibly dangerous for those that were either smaller or larger than she so we discussed and agreed upon some modifications. There was a balance beam of two reclaimed fence rails I had still around from an art piece, jumping on, yes on, not over, Coke cans she grabbed from the recycling (yes, sometimes we drink soda, I know, I know!), running with one foot in a bucket, racing holding a ball between your knees, running to the finish line (a jump rope held up) holding a branch sticking out like a tail, and a few other funny tasks as part of the course. Everyone took a turn running it to the cheers of the rest of the family. It didn't matter who got the best time, we just had a blast. All of us thanked L for sharing her creation with us and after Jeremy and I went inside to finish the last of our dinner preparations, the girls continued to run the course and make alterations, constantly improving and devising knew challenges right up until we called for them to clean it up and come in to dinner. All through dinner we laughed as we reminisced about our Olympian feats of front yard athleticism. Plans were soon afoot for the next obstacle course to be built.

This has now become one of our favorite family activities. Since the first one we've had to toss crunched cans into a pitcher (one actually got in!), bounce on a ball a few feet, hop through a swing, balance on a skateboard, kick soccer balls, and more. The girls get very creative in coming up with daring exercises for us to try. Setting up an obstacle course for the family to enjoy together gets more of an enthusiastic response than the weekend chance to watch a movie or play wii. Which is exactly how we like it. Not that they are ready to give up Mario Kart or anything. ;)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Huggz Heal

I guest posted over here today. This was not an easy post to write for me personally and readers should know there could be triggers for abuse victims. In this particular post I talk about how even loving, devoted parents can slip into patterns of abuse with their children, in fact, I think often that is the case. The abusers rarely are the monsters we'd like to imagine them to be. The truth is, they are usually just like you and me. The danger of teachings by Michael Pearl and his wife Debbie Pearl is just that it is easy for parents seeking to raise their children "right" and to be godly people don't realize just how far it, how far they can go. My family was a part of ATI, then called ATIA or Advanced Training Institute (of America) and my parents really believed they were doing what was right. I believe that later their understanding changed. It is a slippery slope and the intentions are for the best. Unfortunately, that doesn't ensure that the outcome is.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Extreme Spring Cleaning

Organization and keeping a tidy house are not my strong suits. Or Jeremy's for that matter. Not. At. All. We try, sort of. It just doesn't come easily for me and I struggle to find balance between keeping my house clean and my life organized and, well, everything else. Between homeschooling, writing, working, studying, nursing, bouncing, playing, watching, cooking, knitting, music, laundering, changing, bathing, feeding, etc. I am bound to have dust bunnies multiplying. But it isn't the breeding fuzz that is the real problem. No, it is the clutter. I don't know what to do with it. What to keep, what to toss, what to give away and how the heck to store what stays. It is completely overwhelming. We had a system once. It was a good system. It worked. Granted, I had a part time house cleaner/nanny and only 3 kids, not 5, but it worked! Even after the house cleaner was gone it worked. Until it didn't. Which was after we moved and had another daughter. And now another. Oh, and we added homeschooling in there too. Radically changed our income (as in a lot less). And changed our eating. Changed our toys. Changed our parenting. Shoot, changed just about everything. Except the system.

This week we are doing "Extreme Spring Cleaning" and "Extreme Decluttering/Organizing/Decorating." Attempting to anyway. The need is great and so are the demands. I don't get very far before having to do something so unproductive as nurse, make a meal, change a diaper, lay a toddler down for a nap, supervise some homework, get a snack ready, and so on and so forth. Tuesday was day two of this madness and I think we're all pleasantly surprised to discover we're having fun. Not too surprising I've approached this whole thing without much of a plan. I'm a winger. A fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type, get an idea and go for it, making it up as I go along. In an effort to be somewhat prepared I did check out organization books from the library and got some tips and ideas. The first thing I picked up on was to ditch the books. Ok, not all of them but seriously, do only people that actually LIKE cleaning and organizing write those types of books? I think reading and understanding a French novel would be easier for me than some of those books. What are those writers thinking? If I needed a book like that do you actually think I'd alread speak organizian? If I spoke the language then I wouldn't need your book in the first place. The forward on one book made me sneer: "I've always loved to systemize people's lives, to organize a room and make a meal plan and now I get to share that love with you!" Whatever you over-cheerful freak of nature. Seriously, I'm not looking to love the act of organizing just the result, thanks. The books with pictures help and so do the ones that don't try to get inside my head. I can see how identifying why there is clutter can be helpful but anything that makes me feel worse about it is actually going the opposite direction. Guilt is not helpful. Besides, I know why. Too much stuff, not enough storage, small house, big family, bad habits, and higher priorities. All that adds up to mess. Duh.

Some of the books have had good ideas. I've also used flylady.net (she's weird too, no, I'm not putting shoes on to house clean, thanks.), organizedhome.com has some great tips too and I like her book since in her forward she describes her house as being worse than mine at one point in time so I can get her. Unlike the "love to clean" chic. I don't even know her and I want to slap her. I'm picking from here and there what I think will work for us and then throw it together with my own style and ideas and it is kind of working. The most amazing thing is we're having fun. I find this shocking. We've made charts, teams, games and incentives for all of us. Cheering each other on and setting the timer we're getting more done in 15 minute rushes than we have in 3 hours on a weekend.

With our charts, teams, breaks, relays, challenges, stickers and chocolate we're knocking mess out one square inch at a time. Fun activities such as building an obstacle course from the junk we're getting rid of and pickings from the recycle bin (including cans!) keep us moving, energizing us and keeping it fun. It is a family event all the way around, run an obstacle course, celebrate, do a 15 minute declutter rush, celebrate, bag up stuff to go, celebrate, play wii fit, celebrate, organize yarn, celebrate, you get the idea. Every evening we do something fun. The park, movie night, game night, bake cookies, and dream up decorating ideas for when the clutter is taken care of helps keep us motivated. We're painting and planning, figuring out how to make the most of the little space we have. I'm scouring freecycle for shelving and other helpful pieces to turn the house from mess to best dress. Decluttering freely, I'm following the advice from the books and getting rid of stuff, lots of it even if I think the person who gave it to us will be hurt when they come and visit and they don't see it out. If we don't like it, don't use it, it's broken, isn't our style, etc. then it is out of here.

Our obstacle course

I went through the house this morning and took pictures and seeing it on the computer screen made me see it through different eyes. A big part of the problem is that I don't know HOW to organize, what is the best way to store old school work for record keeping, for example? Particularly since we have very little closets and built in storage. What to do with the arts and crafts? Or the piles of music books that I'm not going to get rid of because we actually do use them. There are plenty of things we don't need but I can't even get to some of it to figure that out. I want to post the pictures and get suggestions from those that have that annoying knack of seeing a mess and turning it into a page from Better Homes and Garden. Those of you with the Martha Stewart touch, want to help? I'll swallow my pride and post my in-progress pics for suggestions if you think you can help.

After the house has gone through it's own version of "Biggest Looser," then comes the real hard part, maintaining. According to those that love to clean and organize, we'll be happier for it. I'm pretty happy right now but wouldn't complain to be happier, I guess. But can those sources really be trusted? Guess we'll see. We're working on figuring out how decluttering and more than the most basic of housework will fit into our routine. But for now, one piece of junk out the door at a time.

Friday, March 12, 2010

To Grow Imaginations- part 1

A shoe zoomed by my head with a “swoosh” sound effect from my three year old. I looked up from my perch on the couch just in time to see the tiny homemade fairy with crazy yarn hair and a little stuffed giraffe fly by tucked into one of my daughter’s sneakers. The shoe was followed by a wooden toy boat loaded with more homemade fairies and various small wooden animal shapes bobbing along in the air supported by my 5 year old’s arm. Following the boat was yet another shoe, this one sparkly and red from last year’s Dorothy costume for Halloween with more fairies, tiny people and animals tucked inside with my 8 year old daughter providing sound effects. I paused in my reading to see if I could catch the tale being woven with flying shoes, boats, funny fairies, and wooden animals in the amazing minds of my three daughters. They called back and forth to each other with the voices of fantasy play about a magical land they had to reach before nightfall. Though it was early morning, nightfall was apparently coming quickly judging by the urgency with which they encouraged each other along. I couldn’t catch it all but their land of fantasy sounded truly fascinating.

Like most parents, we’ve experienced the fun of picking out just the right toys for our children for holidays and birthdays only to have our youngsters captivated by the wrapping paper and boxes over the gifts we selected for them. At first I was slightly hurt by their apparent lack of appreciation of all that I went through to find the perfect gift, hide it and then wrap it up for them. Actually, they did seem to appreciate that last part a bit but the toy itself was profoundly neglected in favor of the packaging they had ripped apart. Eventually my disappointment gave way to rationalizing their choice, they were so young and when everything was cleaned up they could see and play with the toy properly. Besides, when they got older their appreciation and anticipation of the gift inside the packaging would grow. I told myself that for quite sometime.

With three children close in age it didn’t take long for the toys to begin pilling up and still the boxes and wrapping paper were the best part. We began to assess the situation of trying to keep the toys caroled and I noticed that I was less than thrilled with them myself. Not just because they were regularly under foot and actually not played with that often but because most of them were an ugly nuisance. The colors seemed tacky, the beeps and whirls down right irritating, the music out of tune, and they seemed to rob my children of something that I couldn’t put my finger on. It didn’t help that there were just so many of them! I was overwhelmed with the shear amount of toys available, how to pick which one to play with at any given moment? Did they even matter any more? One thing was certain, the toys were in the way of our lives but I wasn’t sure how or why.