dragging my feet

In the past few weeks we’ve dealt, and are still dealing with: a major plumbing snaffu-resulting in a new toilet and clean carpets, my oven stopped working, the A/C is fritzy, my husband was out of town for a week, there is still leaking under my kitchen sink and in my bathroom…and we went on vacation. BUT we’ve had a few miracles as well. I’m not exactly sure which is more miraculous.

First, we drove six hours straight to our vacation destination without stopping. Think about that for a minute… what are the chances? How did it happen that not one of my children needed a potty break? How did the almost 1yo make it? Sure we kept handing back food and drinks. Yes we did play games and sing-I understood it as mandatory to sing when driving into the state of Oklahoma. We did see lots of pretty scenery. We drove through Paris (Texas). This was all without movies and…. air conditioning, because just to continue the trend of everything breaking, our van’s A/c was out, and though my husband and the guy at the place were working on it up until 3 hours AFTER we planned to leave…it wasn’t working. This was no small miracle.

Second, we left our house clean. Not just no dirty dishes clean (which wasn’t literally true anyway-someone had a snack in the last few minutes and put a bowl in the sink—SHAME). We’re talking ovens cleaned, refrigerator cleaned, floors vacuumed, very little dirty laundry, no boxes at all in my bedroom…clean. All it took at the end was when we were ready to get into the car, we first had a five minute pick up. That’s it. I vacuumed for five minutes and my cleaning crew cleaned. It felt amazingly wonderful! I didn’t realize how great it would feel at 1:30am when we arrived at home way past exhausted, to walk into a clean space…an immediately muck it up with all our bags.

Now we have a beautifully clean oven and refrigerator, lots of laundry, and a messy house. But we did have fun at the lake on vacation, and we will get this house back into shape…soonish.

This morning as I was considering just how much I have to clean I saw this neat video This is a new kind of graffiti. It’s called reverse graffiti. Artists are making pictures by cleaning. Maybe I should artistically clean my home..clean spots and parts in a way to make the Mona lisa in clean spots between the toys and laundry. I could say it’ll never last with 9 little people running around, but what do I know. Stranger things have happened. We did drive 6 hours straight.

What struck me about this kind of graffiti was the tagline “cleaning is art”. Is it? It is somewhat creative. It involves organization and making something that wasn’t there before. It does involve creating beauty. It struck at my need to seek to see cleaning as something different than … cleaning.

In addition to my obvious continuing need to clean, I was reminded of why I need this blog to continue…because…I don’t like cleaning (It’s true Cyndi). I like living in a clean home. I like knowing where things are and having clean clothes and dishes to work with…but the actual cleaning? no. I’ve heard rumors of people who mystically enjoy the cleaning process.

Now I enjoy exercising…running even. I enjoy it. I enjoy sweating, I enjoy working out really hard and I enjoy being sore.

I’ve wondered about people who don’t like exercising and wondered why I do. Is it genetic? Is it solely a habit? nature or nurture?

I’m asking, because I’m REALLY hoping to get to a point in which I like cleaning. I’m facing the fact that I may never get there. I know cleaning IS good (“>FamilyWork and just basic health). I know a huge part of parenting is cleaning. With 9 children, cleaning is a large part of my life and it will be for a long time…actually forever. Maybe part of what I need to change is my attitude about duty itself.

I recently watched speech by Dirty Jobs guy Mike Rowe talks about our attitude toward work and the fallacy of “do what you love”.

It’s not that I don’t love motherhood (I don’t give my exhausted feelings much weight-when I feel tired of motherhood I’m actually just tired). I do love motherhood. I love children. The wonder, the cuteness, their funny sayings, how they learn and grow… I love taking care of them, teaching them, nurturing them… I just don’t necessarily love all parts of motherhood (the throw up parts, the poop parts, endless dishes and laundry…) the dirty jobs. Perhaps, I’ve let too much of the world creep in with my attitudes towards work and duty. Did Caroline Wilder feel like she “deserved a vacation”? Not that vacations with children provide for a lack of work ;). I went into motherhood knowing some aspects…I KNEW I wouldn’t get much sleep, for example. I had long remembered my mother’s story of waking up one morning and feeling great and asking my dad what was different. He told her it was probably her first full night sleep in 18 years (her youngest was 4 at the time). I KNEW that. It’s not like I didn’t know there’d be diapers and messes. I did. Kinda. Theoretically. Book learning doesn’t always transfer.

I know this isn’t the biggest problem in the world. Whether or not my floors are clean doesn’t impact world peace. Yet, I also know that motherhood done properly does impact world peace. BUT what if everyone grew up in a loving environment? What if everyone grew up with someone who wanted the best for them, encouraged their education, development, health… What would that world look like? What if every politician and military leader had been truly loved as a child. (Not loved in a way that prepared them to lead by teaching them to kill so others would fear them-but really sweetly loved) Would they act differently? Who’s to say my floors don’t matter then. Who’s to say that seeing an adult take over and do what needs to be done doesn’t build trust and security in a child?

I’m more likely to clean when I focus on the trust, health, beauty and character I’m building. So while the to do list reads of floors and laundry and messes to be rid of… the real goal is still lesson number one. love.

Which doesn’t get me out of cleaning up, chore charts and diapers at all.

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a tale of two houses

Last week I was planning out what I wanted to work on before my parents came to visit. I had high hopes that I would be able to tackle a wall in my bedroom that was full of boxes and a basket or four of clean laundry. It had nothing to do with their visit. My parents are great and wouldn’t have said a word about it…but I like deadlines and was using their arrival as a goal. I had also hoped to get to the bottom of my laundry pile…the very bottom not near the bottom, then start on the children’s laundry because so and so needs something for such and such. So when I called my parents Tuesday to check on when they were arriving the next day, and they said they were actually just two hours away….I um….well. Chickens, heads cut off…you know. I did NOT keep doing the dishes I had started. I did not do the half hours worth of tidying that would have mattered. I started on my room. No that doesn’t make sense, but that’s what I did. Only instead of carefully sorting through the boxes as I had been doing on Monday…I sorted and folded the laundry at warp speed then started shuffling boxes around. We will not discuss how many ended up in my closet. I roped my children into my crazy deadline, effectively stressing everyone BUT ending up with a cleaner home and an empty laundry basket. As with many big cleaning projects, much of the time was spent in chaos. chaos with good music playing in the background.

Then came their visit. Flylady schmylady…I don’t need a schedule. I just need my mother! When I am sat down in the middle of the chore it is magically finished. Dishes were washed while I nursed, children distracted while I did other chores, even my bookshelf sorting project which was not high on my priority list but was nagging was started in those amazing two days. At one point we had four children sitting with their math workbooks and four adults…sure that’s what homeschool normally looks like ;). The next day as I read aloud my mom distracted the darling three year old. Errands were completed while simultaneously laundry was being done. It’s like I was cloned, but with a better personality and work ethic…oh and my children liked me better. Even I liked my clone better. I had adult conversation while I did my chores.. My husband and I had a double date with my parents to the temple. It was dreamy.

Then they left. Literally less than two hours later I discovered the water was off. My husband’s insistence that he had delivered the auto-pay form met with the water companies neck deep red tape. Sure they had cashed the check he delievered WITH the auto-pay form; they had mysteriously kept track of that…but the form was no where…oh and they were sure it wasn’t the right form anyway. How they knew that without having it shows amazing omniscience on their part. We suffer from a definite lack of omniscience, just ask our teenage daughters. For example, we did not think to check with the company to see if the paperwork had gone through.To compensate for our lack of omniscience, they wanted my husband to be there to sign something (not me because that would have been possible!! and they don’t take two people on an account as divorced people apparently turn each other’s water off for creative revenge-let’s punish the normal people because some people are idiots!). He has a job. YAY, but he can’t exactly leave the classroom to compensate for their office closing at 4pm. Oh and they don’t take cash or credit cards or debit cards…. They have a unique form of customer service. sigh. He signed the form, but wasn’t able to pay them that day…so 28 hours without water.

Unfortunately or fortunately, I have expereince with water outages. So I didn’t skip a beat with cooking or drinking. I had plenty of water stored. I didn’t take into account washing dishes. oops. It’s challenging to simultaneously poor water while washing dishes…and it takes too much water to soak and scrub dishes for 11 people. Heating up water on the stove to wash your dishes? Not. a. chance. Basically a chore I dislike is now infestisimately harder, and I have less time to do it. I need to disperse water various other places (bathrooms),get a cashier’s check, and find paperwork-maybe…just maybe THAT should have been my pre-parents coming goal.

It may or may not surprise you that no laundry was done. The empty laundry basket is no empty.

Did I mention the baby has figured out how to push chairs and climb on them and thinks she can swivel the rocking chair around enough to climb onto the piano?

Which all goes to reinforce my theory that no matter what I do, we are constantly one step away from chaos.

This week was basically like a tornado..with my parent’s visit as the very peaceful eye of the tornado. Or like I lived in two parallel universes..my house and life WITH my parents and without!

We did happen to mention to my parents that the house across the street is for sale. If only they didn’t have a life, because they make mine MUCH more possible.

WATER it’s good stuff.

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motherhood…isn’t it about time?

I’ve been thinking this morning about the internet. In my lifetime there has been a fundamental shift, similar to the shift from farms and fields to cities. This fundamental shift is a change in interpersonal relationships. The internet has changed how we see ourselves, how we see others and how we see time. We are constantly bombarded with words and images. We can with a click or two find the greatness. We can see amazing performances from long ago …just the part we like, skipping the ticket buying, the waiting in line, the waiting for the lights to dim, the watching of the whole performance…skipping to that one song, or play or piece. We can see thousands of different homemade items..all better than our own efforts. We can see all varieties of people’s best efforts…in seconds. We watch tv and people make miraculous changes in 30 minutes time.

Motherhood doesn’t fit that so well. We read the same book over and over and over and over and over again. We go on wanders following snails or worms…noticing leaves and flowers and butterflies. Bubbles are fascinating. Whole hours spent sitting and snuggling. It takes longer for me to change a baby’s diaper, clothes and nurse them than it takes for murder mysteries to be solved.

I can wash the dishes and clean the kitchen or I can see the best, newest hottest talking dog on youtube, read the latest greatest thing, see the cinderella princess photoshop thing, bid on ebay and give my opinion in the comments section of an article the author spent a lifetime researching. Surely *I* know enough after my 5 minute perusal to set them straight.

Virtual hugs and likes and offers of undying affection in facebook statuses take seconds. Compare that to cleaning up after a potty training child with patience and love.

It takes longer for me to do my family’s laundry for the week than it takes for Frodo to get rid of the ring and overthrow all of Mordor.

It’s hard not to be distracted. It’s hard not to think there is something better I could do with my time, or more important or more worthwhile. It’s difficult not to think it should be easy and quick and frankly…all done already. Why oh why me?

Goodness every Sunday night we can see how a house can be built in a week…an amazing house perfectly suited for some needy family.

I am going to have to start reminding myself more frequently “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass”. Kissing owies, making dinner, cleaning messes…small things. Small things worth doing.

Motherhood is in the trenches. It’s messy and physically demanding and in your face and wonderful and it takes time…there is NOTHING virtual about it.

It occurs to me that values cannot be formed without this messy, daily interaction. This is why families are so important. Love cannnot be developed virutally or before the commercial break. Patience, hardwork, courage…these are not inspired by a virutal reality.

isn’t it about time

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in case you hadn’t noticed…

So drugs. My tooth pain lead to a root canal which didn’t go quite as planned and led to a major infection which led to drugs. As fun as that all was, I mean who doesn’t want to spend money to hear dentist office drills and the smell of dying teeth, it didn’t exactly encourage a functional life. Now this blog is many things but it is NOT Alice in Wonderland, dreamy, stream of consciousness writing. If it were maybe the drugs would be a help. As it is, I have had trouble stringing sentences together in any sort of coherent way. Now maybe that would be entertainment, but it would not be writing.

So here I am off any pain medication for a full 24 hours. I’m still taking antibiotics…again. I am still afraid to eat anything solid (does chili count–because that was my big venture yesterday into “real” food). I no longer look like a half chipmunk, but I still have a cheek with….character.

Unsurprisingly this blog was not my biggest problem in the last two weeks. I wasn’t exactly winning mother of the year. We muddled along is the best I can say. I don’t really feel loving when my mouth is throbbing, my stomach is reminding me I forgot to eat with the antibiotic and I’m debating over how much pain medicine I can take and remain upright. Along for the ride we had a difficult funeral to attend for a really nice man.

Have I mentioned laundry? um no. dishes? not so much. It appears that even when I feel like someone’s taking a hammer to my skull, my children still get hungry, make messes and need me.

Sounds like a perfect time to have mother’s day. Nothing says “You’re the best mother” like being in enough pain to want to yell at all your children to just leave you alone. I’m not normally a wimp…I’ve had many of my children without drugs…it’s just I didn’t have to MOTHER AT THE SAME TIME. I was with my husband, everyone was helping me and never did some darling little offspring of mine, whom it is my duty to love and nurture, pop in and say “I just wet my bed”.

I still don’t feel great, but if I waited for that nothing would ever happen. So here we go again. Baby steps. Back to flying. Do most fly babies have grass stains and bumps and bruises like this?

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tracking from the deep end

Hello, my name is Britt and I’m a messaholic. Last weekend I was struggling with three main things…I had promised my children to use the computer less, it was a holiday, and my teeth went absolutely nutso causing pain and swelling!. If you stir these things together you DON’T get a good blog posting environment…or a clean environment either. I’ve heard it said that when you are stressed you go back to what you are used to not what you know you should do.

Here’s a recap for you of my weekend…I was trying to maintain some semblance of holiday while holding an onion on my cheek. What? You don’t hold onions on your cheek randomly and swig garlic? My husband called it my onion cell phone. I was eating lots of vegetables and raw foods so my body could have the best possible hope of getting rid of the infection that was making me look like a one cheeked chipmunk. (I did go to the dentist Monday and I am the happy owner of really special teeth. So special I need a specialist to perform a lovely double root canal—NEXT THURSDAY). Now this is Easter…so while I was trying to do this I was also trying to make a lovely dinner, have good solid family time, spend extra time at church and encourage my little to sit still while the olders sang in the choir with husband.

I was NOT trying to clean. I kinda pretended a little that I was doing some of it, but really no. The fly baby that is me crash landed and told itself it was a temporary refueling stop…then I ran for it.

Now we have a few children..and as has been documented one good child can send your home to chaosville in a few short, energetic hours of play. My children had a weekend.

My husband lovingly did not once mention the blog, cleaning, or anything of the sort. He did laundry and cooked and cleaned and basically tried to make me laugh and didn’t take me too seriously.

Starting yesterday I began to think I needed to blog. I needed to be accountable, and that is part of what this blog is…coming face to face with the philosophy I believe in. I’ve been thinking I need to be a little more specific in my accountability.

In any good diet, you track what you eat. Why? Because we lie to ourselves constantly…or we conveniently don’t really look at the exact truth. We tell ourselves we’ll just have one serving of ice cream, then we eat half the carton…the larger half. We tell ourselves we haven’t eaten much today, but 8 little diet looking like meals…adds up to a lot. All those walk through the kitchen munchies add up. At least that’s my experience having 8 times having had to loose baby weight. It doesn’t just jump off. You have to actually eat less and exercise. It does not work if you actually eat more, but tell yourself it’s less, and stopping every exercise video because the kids interrupt you and end up counting your very slow walk to the park half a block away. If this becomes the norm….you end up gaining weight.

I’m an expert at counting what doesn’t count.

Something is always going to pop up in life..some obstacle, new situation, new circumstance or issue. One of the things I wanted to do was change the basic things I do every day so I can even in chaos, keep our home running smoothly. I understood that maybe I wouldn’t do the weekly zone on a really tough day, but I wanted to maintain the routines AND make less excuses on the bigger issues.

Instead I found myself whittling away at the daily routines…making the bare minimum so bare as to be unrecognizable. Instead of “cleaning”, I need to make sure I do Every. Step.

Time to track my cleaning, and probably reread my own blog.

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good habits

WOOHOO!! Happy Dance! We are definitely starting to reap the benefits of good habits. This has been a tough week for habits. Two days we’ve had 3 or more extra children until after 9pm. Dinners with 13 or 14 children around is a little chaotic. Normally when I have a few extra children over I give myself a pass. Then add to that a holiday week. This is normally another time I give myself a pass. I don’t know how I expect us to have clothes to wear or clean dishes to eat on when I’m not doing what we normally do. What ends up happening is we muddle through the holiday and then the week after is UGGGH.

Last night I didn’t make dinner, I didn’t put the food away, I didn’t sweep or set the table. I didn’t unload the dishwasher…but it all got done. It was wonderful for my husband to just pick up the chore chart and know who to ask…AND because the children have gotten into the habit of doing it, there was less discussion and frustration and grumpiness.

The funny/ridiculous thing was it was my night to do dishes. Even after everything else was done, I didn’t want to do it. I had finally nursed the baby to sleep, it was almost 9 and the little were all asleep. My husband was ready to watch a movie…he doesn’t work tomorrow and the holiday mood was setting in strongly. It only took 8 minutes to do the dshes. Amazing. I then sat down to the movie with a clean kitchen.

Now during these last two months I have gotten frustrated at times because my children can make messes so completely and so quickly. In this week, if someone stopped over at random moments they would either think I’m a horrible housekeeper or a pretty good one. I’m a little disappointed in that. I kinda hoped this would mean I would avoid those front door surprises (and I had a few this week).

Last night was a reminder again that a clean house isn’t what I’m doing fly lady for. I’m doing fly lady to get me in good routines and to provide the environment I want for my children. We are all more creative, we behave better and it’s just plain safer when we clean. We also enjoy all those wonderful benefits of working together. I’m doing this so it’s my habit to clean the kitchen even on a holiday after a long week. With the chore chart functioning the dishes have been done in the 7 or 8 o’ clock hour instead of around 10pm. That’s wonderful!

A house isn’t going to stay clean with children…but good habits developed are an amazing, wonderful thing!

Now I just need to clean my bedroom, which for some reason became the site of a huge tent/house/stuffed animal game that I somehow failed to notice.

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sweet spot

The first library book I remember loosing as an adult is “Make your house do the housework”. The irony was not lost on me. I bought the book. My house was not doing the housework, it was a black hole attracting all available non-nailed-down items.

Yesterday I helped a friend move. I’m very familiar with how much junk stuff I have. I’m probably more familiar than most people having packed and moved everything three times in the last three years . I’ve touched everything we have (at least through the box). I’m reminded of Little House on the Prairie, in which packing was a one day job. ONE DAY! I have discovered two main problems that explain the amount of stuff we have: I overestimate what we need to live, and I underestimate how much time it will take to finish That Great Project. That and I have nine children and a husband, all of whom contribute.

First I overestimate what we need to live on. I have heard many Born Organized people talk about how children need six everyday outfits and two church outfits. That’s a great plan. It reduces laundry considerably. It keeps a room cleaner. It is easier to dress a child. There are only two obstacles here…the child and me. I have seven daughters who like clothes. I also have me who likes my children to look cute. Frequently my idea of cute and my child’s idea of cute differ. In some cases there are clothes in this house that I would like them to wear, they don’t wear them, they put them on the floor, later clean up their room and it goes through the laundry. I wonder how much less laundry I’d have if we got rid of the clothes they don’t ever even wear.

This also applies to kitchen gadgets, toys, toys, toys, baby stuff I don’t even use…all that stuff in the garage and…..dare I say it….books. I know my husband thinks you can never have too many books. I don’t even know how some of these got here anyway, but I have books I DON’T LIKE READING. They are frequently used for tent making. You know when your dear sweet child asks you to read a book to them and then AGGHHHH it’s some disney monstrosity that will take hours of your life to read, whilst sucking energy and braincells from you? A few of those could go.

I do underestimate the amount of time a project will take. I have a beautiful big closet full of boxes of craft potential. A quilt or three half made. All sorts of neat and beautiful things that are making my already beautiful closet an annoyance-everyday. Then there is the scrapbooking stuff. It used to be that we couldn’t even have a memory without dressing to match that cute paper I found. I would love to say I’ve never done that.

Now to be fair, some of that has been dormant because of all the moves and job stress. I do want to scrapbook baby books ( albeit in a way that doesn’t involve hardware, three kinds of font and a second mortgage). I do need to consider what I really do want to finish and let go of the rest. I cannot let the projects I have not finished define me.

Now here I could mention my husband’s box of scout books that are SO old as no longer be at all useful….or his map collection. But I won’t. I have my own problems.

Now I know Fly Lady has a 27 fling boogie. And that’s fabulous. Get rid of junk any possible way you can. It’s just that every once in a while I need to have a 27,000 fling stomp. This needs to be done. It will greatly benefit my life.

I just need to find the sweet spot between having enough stuff to live creatively and beautifully, while having little enough stuff to live peacefully.

A few years ago my parents, those wonderful people, were going on a mission to Nigeria. My mom decided they needed to get rid of 1/3 of their stuff before they went! WOW! What an ambitious project. Having raised 8 children herself, they had a few things left over. They did it, though she had to struggle with my dad along the way. They went and took their few suitcases. My dad realized that they REALLY didn’t need all that stuff. He was living just fine in Nigeria with much less.

Now I’m not ready to cut down to a bare minimum, but i am ready to consider that all this stuff isn’t really mine anyway. maybe God has another plan for all this stuff. Maybe someone else badly needs what is sitting in a box IN MY WAY! What is really the sacrifice there?

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turning a corner

We turned a corner today. I wonder how many more times I will turn this very same corner? Parenting many children does feel like driving around in circles at times.

I decided to wait out the chore chart. I sat everyone down, reminded them where the chore chart is, told them I would direct them to it ONCE a day and then they would just accumulate chores like the United States accumulating debt. They had other suggestions, like mom should remind them all as often as needed, or ditch the chore chart, or why do we have to clean anyway…the chores started flying just about when the eyes started rolling.

Then worse (well better for me and husband, but worse for chores) we left on a date that night. They cooked, they set the table, they…fizzled in a heap and read their books. No one was going to be there to check up on them.

So when I came home from my date, I refused to do their chores. I also didn’t wake them up because I LIKE SLEEP. Good for you if you can get them out of bed and start them at their chores. I’m not you, but you have probably noticed that before now. So today when they woke up they discovered that dishes and floors and counters were all patiently waiting for them. Dishes are even less fun the next day, and I detest making breakfast having to wade through the remnants of yesterday, but we survived.

They all took it like Kellys. They accepted that I surely wasn’t going all out on saturday morning breakfast because I couldn’t see the counters. (Accepted means they mumbled in silence and out of my hearing so they didn’t continue receiving more chores). Before dinner there was significant progress and dinner chores were all done!

After dinner we played a game together-it was cozy, I beat all my children by a lovely, wide margin in Rummy. There was a wonderful feeling of saturday being preparation for Sunday and chores done… and then I noticed that people had snuck (sneaked? snookered? snuckeded?) in and snacked and did NOT put their dishes away. (nor did the darling 3yo pick up her carrot peelings-she can peel it herself, hurrah-carrot stains and sticks like that Rebecca Black Friday song that I refuse to link-boo) The children have learned they can’t leave dishes in the sink so they leave them on the TABLE!

One corner turner, next obstacle met. It’d be nice for once to have a straight away and pick up speed…but I did say I felt like I was driving in circles.

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chore charts-lessons not yet learned

So there it hangs on the wall. Every single night this week dinner has been a rush as children go one way with one parent and another way with another parent, or the parents go some where, or something is happening…Maybe this all explains why my dinner dishes were consistently getting done at 10pm. To compound this business is my exhaustion from driving seminary this week-and teaching two days of that. Me out of the house by 5:30am means me tired at 8:30.

Things I have learned from having a chore chart:

My children will gladly go out side to check the mail, run the length of the house to get the phone, but they will not so much as reach out their hand to check what their chore is.

My younger children need lots of help to do their chores-I knew this, but the time it takes is daunting when dinner is invovled.

The older children are not home enough in the evenings to do their chores unless they remember to do them RIGHT AWAY. —which would involve them knowing what they were supposed to do. (see first thing learned)

Apparently when I go over the rules for going on walks I forgot to mention don’t drop your pants and pee on the neighbors plants. I kinda thought we were past that.

Don’t combine a chore chart with a screen timeout (drastically reduced tv and computer time). My house is always messier when we cut out tv. The children start out grumpier because of the horrible cruel and unusual nature of no tv for a month or so. I know it will get better, they will be more active and creative…they won’t be bored and their learning will increase…but right now I’ve just got the mess.

The screen limitations include me. It’s challenging to keep up with a blog on reduced computer time. But if I expect my children to, I need to. ugh.

This is definitely a situation awaiting wisdom. I want children to work and have more responsibilities.

If I don’t get any wisdom, I’ll settle for sleep.

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I kept telling myself I was going to write a tada post a week. I kept reading about it on flylady. Make a list of your accomplishments, record your progres, pat yourself on the back…

I’m not very good at that. Much of what we do as moms is necessary. It’s frequently taken for granted when it is there and noticed in frustration if it isn’t there (where’s dinner? do I have any clean socks?). When I do the laundry no one stands and claps. When I feed my children I don’t exactly think “I have done a great thing…I’ll have to post this on facebook, I have fed my children today”. It’s more of a “of course I fed my children, and guess what they’re going to want to eat again in about 20 minutes”. So writing down I fed my children, got them where they were supposed to be and dressed them….doesn’t really work as a tada. it feels more like a duh.

I’ve been feeling very sisyphusish lately. This is mostly because although I can notice some changes in our overall home, my children can do a whole lot of damage in one bad day…or even one good day that doesn’t include mom. Let’s take at random, last saturday. My husband and I had a wonderful day at the temple. It was inspiring, beautiful, I felt a greater love for my husband, I was able to help other people…it was a wonderful wonderful day.

I came home to my loving children. They were all happy, well fed, had been playing and well taken care of. it’s just that the evidence of the care and feeding and play were ALL OVER. Somehow the 7 children at home had used about 20 plates, a zillion cups and an exponential amount of spoons, forks, knives and other dishes.

The play was obviously wonderful…there was a ginormous tent comprising of the entire living room. It was clearly made by the 14yo, 11 yo and 9yo…for the little children. That’s wonderful. I’m glad they were taking time to do that for the children and they love it. It’s just that many many blankets were involved and various sheets from various beds…many books, apparently every stuffed animal we had was needed as well as a bunch of toys.

The contrast between the beautiful, clean temple and my home was difficult at best. I was glad to see all the smiling faces, but overwhelmed at the amount of work.

It was kind of a hopeless feeling. No matter what I do, my children can undo it times a zillion in a good solid hour of play.

It’s ironic but the hope I need to maintain to clean and do the basics required of a family..relies on me focusing NOT on a goal of having that done. The goal of a family is not a clean house. It’s love. I’m trying to raise loving, responsible adults. How very disappointed I would be if in 20 years I could say my house had been clean every day, but my children were not doing well? So why does it get me down? The older children had been loving and responsible towards my most precious children. Yes they had neglected the house, but what they had done was great.

Maybe I would feel better writing a tada list if I wrote it talking about what I hoped to be building with those basic chores. Instead of writing “fed the children” I could write built trust in my children by nurturing them. Helped them know I will always care for them. Showed them an example of love and responsibility by doing all those daily chores that take care of their basic needs. I was like the Savior today by feeding the hungry and clothing the naked.

I don’t have faith or hope that my home will always be clean. I do have hope that my family will be loving and together forever.

now how do I keep that stuck in my brain while I do all the laundry I need to do today?

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