The return of…

Motivated Moms. Yep, I bit the bullet, spent my 8 bucks and bought myself a chore list. Of all the “keep your house clean” (or in my case, not a disaster) this is the only one that’s ever come close to helping me. It’s not perfect, I’m never going to wash the siding, but it gives me a set list of tasks each day, as well as a couple of extras, in a handy check list. I don’t have to think through what I need to do, I just have to look at the list and see what’s left. Brain power is at a premium and the less I have to devote to stuff like this the better. You can find her stuff here: http://www.motivatedmoms.com/ She has full size and half size, by the day or by the week, with or without bible verses even, if that’s your thing. There is also an app. Like I said, it’s not perfect, but it works pretty well. Right now she also has a July-July calendar out, so you can still get a full year.

I don’t get paid for any of that, btw, just like it and find it useful so I’m passing it on.

We are also coming on the return of school time. Which is funny because we never really stopped, but we have a more formal feel in the fall and winter. Sort of. But now I’m thinking about things I’m going to add in, things I’m going to take out, how to incorporate the things I’m learning now. So it sort of feels like back to school. More for me than anyone else. Plus I love school supplies, so there’s that.

I’d you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know my love of fall. I can see we have passed the peak of summer now and are in the long slide into fall. For me, fall always started with my birthday in early September. Now Owl has a birthday in mid-August, so it feels that much closer. Which means it has been nearly a year with this tiny person on board. I’m still sort of surprised she is here at all. That she is 1, is shocking. I love toddlerhood though, so I’m excited to see who she turns out to be.

Days of the week

Something about Monday always catches me off guard. Like, what, I don’t know it’s coming? It’s changed…ever? But somehow, it blindsides me and my husband heads out the door and I’m nursing a baby and talking to the big kid while looking longingly at my coffee out of reach and wondering just what did I think we were going to do today? Do you remember?

This is where my love of lists comes from. Sometimes just getting down bullet points gets me enough room in my head to figure out a plan. So. A list:

  • My crazy ass living room plan continues apace. I will have a bigger update on that when its prettier. Right now it’s a huge jumble. Suffice it to say, it’s a big step. Still hoping it works like I want.
  • This week begins the Project Based Homeschooling Master Class that I signed up for. It’s been a long time since I took a class in anything. I’m super excited and already thrilled with what I’ve read. And I’m also wondering what compelled me to try a class with an almost 11 month old and limited time. ;)
  • Work. It continues. I’ll leave it at that.
  • Somehow I have a baby that is almost 1. Uhhhh. Huh. I remember hearing once that a first birthday party is more for the parents to celebrate making it that far. I find that I am stunned and amazed I’ve almost made it through a year as mom of two. There were a couple moments in there I wasn’t sure we would.
  • School, learning, projects, parenting. This is the constant round of background contemplation.
  • Art and journaling. I’ve actually been drawing/painting/goofing around artily lately. It’s nice. I missed it. No idea where I’m going with it, but for now, I’m enjoying. I’ve remembered my love of watercolors.
  • YouTube and tutorials. It’s like going down the rabbit hole. This weekend I learned how to rehair a My Little Pony. And what’s amazing is I’m sure this will come in handy at some point.
  • I need a house elf.
  • Tuesdays are usually more organized. They aren’t as surprising. So I’m looking forward to that. Now, where’s my coffee?

    Paint chip calendar from Pinterest

    About Wednesday I decided to make something I saw on Pinterest. This Paint Chip Calendar was the one that got me interested and it links to the one that inspired her and so on.

    Our white board calendar is starting to crack and show its age and is frankly too small. But replacements that were larger were upwards of $60 and well…no. This one didn’t cost much overall, but I had a lot of the supplies on hand already. If you don’t it would be more pricey. I spent $10 for the frame at Ikea, maybe $4 for the paper for the background and days of the week and splurged on the giant circle paper punch which was $11. Paint chips were free and I had the adhesives already.

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    Initial layout

    This project is totally doable by just about anyone. BUT if you aren’t a scrapbooker and don’t have a jillion paper crafting tools it will take longer. A lot longer. Be prepared for a lot of measuring and cutting and some wonkiness. It is hard to get 35 paint chips to the same size if you aren’t using something like a punch. And getting them laid out evenly is similarly time consuming.

    It was fun though, and I like the final result. If I were to make it again I would probably get a more substantial frame with glass, and I’d spring for a paper punch for the squares.

    The end result isn’t perfect, and there’s a lot of glare, so excuse the picture. It is colorful and it makes me happy and it is bigger, so it fits the bill, even with flaws.

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    Crystal

    Life gets busy. And fast. There are grocery trips and errands, cars to register, camps and classes, housework, schoolwork, playdates. Things slide into one another. Breakfast becomes playtime becomes driving becomes napping becomes bath time becomes bedtime becomes morning all over again. Days meld into months and May, June…July?! How did we get here? Oh and then next month there’s more campclasseserrandsdrivingplaying…

    Then there are things that make moments

    Stop

    And crystallize with heartbreaking clarity.

    The kids laughing in the backseat at nothing but each other.

    The baby snuggling into me while she naps.

    The utter silence at 4 am right before the birds start singing.

    The big kid asking if she can paint right after breakfast.

    Sleepy blinking eyeballs and a smile in the morning.

    Husband laughing and playing with the girls.

    Driving through the shady green woods on the way home.

    Those crystal moments that will go with you forever, solidified in the moment’s pause they create.

    A breath before the swirl of activity rushes back in.

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    The things I CAN do

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    In my ongoing effort to focus on things that are good, I’ve been focusing on what I can do for my girls. I can’t give them everything they want. I can’t whisk us into a new house. I can’t not work. It is easy to get hung up on those can’t thoughts and to feel frustrated and trapped. But you know what, I can do a lot of things that may seem small, but make a difference.

    I can hold them while they sleep. I can be the first person they see when they wake. (At least while they are little.) I can make sure their imaginations are well supplied. I can be kind and patient. (Most days. I’m still learning too.) I can smile a lot. I can have days where we throw out the schedule. I can let them make messes. I can be there when they need me. I can dry their tears or let them cry on my shoulder.

    I can be present.

    It isn’t always easy and if I’m honest it isn’t always fun (sometimes mama just wants to zone out with a good book/bad tv) but it is something in my control. I can’t control neighborhoods or houses or a whole host of other things, but this I can.

    I can love them and let them know it.
    I can make sure their is never a doubt in their mind that Mama loves them and is always going to be there.

    Hung up.

    All my life has been governed by the concept of getting chores done before you can play. Some of my most vivid memories are of being told I could play outside, on the weekend, with the rest of the family…AFTER my room was clean. And not until then.

    This meant I spent a lot of time in my room, alone, not cleaning it. I read, played, did things, and occasionally peeked outside wishing I could go out. And was usually asked if I was done.

    This idea of having to be done with everything less pleasant in order to do anything fun has stuck with me. There is a constant nagging that say we must do the school, the housework, the grocery shopping, the gnarly unfun chores before we are allowed to enjoy life. Problem is, we all hate cleaning. We get hung up on that and waste entire days doing nothing. Not the stuff that we don’t enjoy, and certainly not the things we would enjoy.

    You know what? Screw that. Screw the antiquated thinking that requires a perfect house before going to the park. Screw the thinking that fun an enjoyment is only possible if you do all the shitty stuff first. Because you know what? The shitty stuff will ALWAYS be there. No one ever suffered from a lack of dishes. But the good stuff, the kid time, the time when they still want to run around the park or play in the mud – that’ll be gone tomorrow.

    I don’t want my kid to look at me with that same disappointment I felt when I couldn’t go outside. It really isn’t worth it.

    So, bring on the summer of, “Fuck it. Lets go out and play.” I think we will all be happier for it.

    Morning pile up

    This morning was, and continues to be, the equivalent of a ten car pile-up during rush hour. No fatalities, thankfully, but a big damn mess and a whole lot of folks waiting for it to get cleaned up.

    It started last night. Husband had a work thing after work and didn’t end up getting home until after 9. This would have been fine, except non of the children would sleep until he got home. Which meant Owl held out until 10, and I don’t actually know when Bee went to sleep. By the time he got home I was really at the end of my patience.

    Owl is working on her top teeth. This means sleep is pretty fractured. And it also means she screams, a really high pitched, ear-ringing shriek, when she is bored, frustrated, angry, wants to nurse, or just cause. This noise actually makes my ears ring. But she’s 10 months old, all I can do is speak quietly to her, tell her it’s too loud, meet her needs promptly. She did this a while back and then stopped for close to a month. It seems to be directly tied to teeth and development. She got to crawling and get first tooth came in and she stopped. So, I wait patiently, break out the Signing Time videos and start teaching.

    Bee just needs to go outside and run around. And the only way to do that is to pack up the car, and go somewhere. The backyard is close to unusable due to the large neighbor dog who uses it to take large and fragrant poops. And the 7yo doesn’t want to play in dog shit any more than I want her to. Packing up and going to a park is possible, but by the time we get everyone moving and there, it’s time to eat or come home.

    Frustrations. But overall minor ones. But when they pile up, it seems like every single thing comes to the party to pitch in. I lost an earring down the shower drain, cut myself shaving, still haven’t finished my breakfast (it’s 11am), the car needs to be registered, the diapers aren’t dry yet, we are out of food, Husband might be late again tonight, the neighbors have started 4th of July fireworks already, I didn’t get maternity or newborn pictures with either kid because I couldn’t afford it and that makes me sad, it sounds like someone was just on my front porch trying to get in (!!!), and my coffee is out of reach.

    Everything small, and manageable, when taken alone. Well, except for the potential prowler, that one is kinda huge and scary. (There was no one there when we checked.) All together though, the list leaves me feeling like I’m trying to sort out which car to pull out of the giant wreck first.

    I’m sure the cosmic pile up will ease up soon. But for now the eye-rolling 7yo may drive me to drink.