a place for everything and everything in it’s place**

**assuming you live alone or if you do not live alone…assuming you have a guard dog for every item of importance, a beeper on that item with redeemable energy source, or a time turner to return to when you last had that item and track it.

This may or may not be a result of starting a chore chart. This may or may not be a result of having more than one person in the house (okay we have 11). sigh. paperwork.

So last week I was given a piece of paper which I am supposed to bring back tomorrow with the kitty getting broken. Having not carried my file cabinet to the vet.’s office, I tried to put it in my purse. My purse is too small for this on purpose. So I put it in the van, got it home, was exhausted and the baby needed to be nursed so I WALKED RIGHT PAST the file cabinet, sat down in the rocking chair and put the very important thing on the table next to me. There it stayed quite happily…until someone, who is not me, cleaned. No one can remember touching this paper or putting it anywhere. it is gone.

I don’t get very important papers while relaxing next to my file cabinet with time to spare. I get them shoved in my hand at the end of a hectic doctor appointment, or the end of church, or thrown in my near direction as someone walks in the door, or placed near me as a I nurse, do laundry…

It’s harder than it looks to then remember at the end of whatever it is that I was doing that I need to take care of this piece of paper.

Okay and my files are a mess because in one move they were dumped upside down. That was 4 moves ago.

Now let’s pretend the paper actually gets to where it’s going. This happens. Really. When my husband needed the social security card for hannah, I walked right to the file cabinet, and had it in my hands in seconds. Even when the paper gets to where it should go there is another obstacle to be overcome. The paper has to STAY THERE. This should be the easy part. Paper doesn’t normally have a means of locomotion and my file cabinets are generally wind free.

Yet little children are curious little cuties. I have been unsettled about my filing cabinets ever since I found a lost library book in the filing cabinet. No it wasn’t filed under L or anything cute and smart. It was smushing down some random papers. Some little person had put it there. Ever since I kinda feel I should patrol the cabinets a little better. At one point we considered putting them in our bedroom, but our children can unlock that door…even the 3yo can bend a paper clip and get it open. She even calls paper clips “keys”. Yes I do pretend I don’t know that.

As funny and frightening as that is…it means my file cabinets aren’t really safe. Now I could go for locked file cabinets and guard dogs and beeping papers or a magic wand, and I do joke about all of those things. If only I had put a beeper on my brain I say. My children suggest possible locations for my brain–the most frequently being by a beach which then is followed by the suggestion that we go look. But that really isn’t the problem. My children don’t regularly go through the mail and file cabinets looking for potentially stress inducing material. Now sometimes when I’m working with all that paper it is more available, but still…that’s not generally the problem.

The real problem is that I don’t put things where they go as soon as I can. Most of the time that would work. So is Pavlov available? Do I get chocolate every time I put something away? what? no? What if there was a chocolate in the file cabinet and everytime I walked in the house I had to go get one…I bet I would make time to stop and get one though I seem to struggle to make the time to get there to put something important away. Of course the chocolate would have to be sugar free and that kinda takes the zing out of the thing…but still.

sigh. basically I have more work to do and I have once again made my really rather charmed life a little bit harder on my self.

Pick myself up. Try again. Be grateful my husband won’t laugh at me and has perfected the concerned and understanding smile and nod.

Posted in Situations Awaiting Wisdom | 1 Comment

chore charts and earning your promotion

I had to laugh as I opened the blog this morning with trepitation. I had skipped two days. yes I was busy creating a chore chart and having a wonderful date with my husband. What greated me: “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly”. well said.

A wonderful lady I admire talks about earning your promotion in your own home. As a newlywed it’s just you and your husband doing everything…the little children come along and it’s you and your husband doing more than everything. The at some point your husband becomes more and more busy just trying to provide for all these people and suddenly it’s you doing almost everything alone. Well…almost alone. You with your entourage doing everything alone.

To earn your promotion is to change in your role from grunt laborer to manager in your home. I love that idea and I really like the images it creates in my brain….me with clipboards going around to check all of the chores being done to ensure quality or me relaxing with a book while the house gets cleaned around me…it’s just that it doesn’t ever look like that in my home. I also don’t believe leadership is that way. I’m a fan of servant leadership…Jesus washed His disciples feet. He did delegate responsibilities so that He could spend more time teaching and helping people, but he also wasn’t above doing anything. Becoming a manager in my home doesn’t mean I’m above scrubbing floors.

Earning your promotion is work. It takes a lot of work to teach and encourage your children to do a job right. It frequently takes more time than doing the very job yourself. It also can be counter productive to the family work idea of working together. Yes we sometimes need to divide and conquer, but I always try to keep in mind the bonding aspect of working together. We try and clean at the same time. We also have what we call kitchen time. These are the chores surrounding meals that bring everyone in the kitchen at some point to get the meal on the table and cleaned up. Divided responsibilities…but working towards the same goal. We all need to be reminded that it is the same goal-so that they see their small job (sweeping under the table) as part of the whole experience we’re going for (a peaceful dinner….hey it might happen in bits and spurts in between the scattered conversation, spills, needs expressed, and last minute “mom I forgot to tell you I need to be there now” kinds of things).

I did finally make a chore chart. Make being a strong word for what actually happened. I did write on a bunch of 3×5 cards all of the chores I want done. Every family member has a slot. The older children have a room for the week that they keep tidy. The younger children each help one older child with that responsibility. The colorful cards at the bottom are all the chores for each zone. Whenever an additional chore is needed for computer time or due to excessive whining about chores…they can pic a chore from the zone we are in. I like that. It’ll help get those chores done and keep me from assiging them something random. They like the deeper cleaning chores anyway-children love to dust and wash windows. I don’t know why.

Things I have noticed…
I haven’t yet really gotten on the menu planning phase. I’m working towards that again. Everytime before I shop I ask my children what they want to eat, then I censor out all the junkfood, they recognize that I’m not going to buy it this time either and they generally say “food”. Now that we have a cook, they are much more opinionated. HURRAH.

It is easier to have specific responsibilities than to just tell them to help.

Checking up on everything is a pain. There isn’t really a way around it. “You get what you inspect, not what you expect” is true.

Chore charts don’t work when I’m not home until they are a habit. Yesterday we were gone for 7 wonderful hours. Children were all fed and were taken care of and playing well together-in a huge tent that took up a bulk of our large living room…but the kitchen and the laundry.

So why do all this extra work? Why go to the trouble of making a chore chart, following through, nagging ( i mean of course politely inviting the children to help and lovingly reminding them when they have forgotten due to the sweet tenderness of their young brains)…why do all of that? Is it because you want a clean house? well yeah. Is it because you want to teach your children to work and be repsonisble? yeah. is it because they help make this mess? yeah. It is all of that. It is also the bonding power of work done together and for a common goal. The cleaning helps make your house clean, but working together makes it a home.

Now as soon as I can find my camera I will post a picture. a place for everything and everything in the place your children put it. sigh

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anything worth doing is worth doing badly.

Have you ever heard this quote? It’s a perfect yet dangerous quote for a perfectionist procrastinator like me. I’m not actually a perfectionist, but in some certain cases…cases in which I will avoid doing something because I won’t have the time, energy, perfect storage thingy, house structure, or whatever else I can come up with. It’s the guilt free excuse of I would do that but I can’t…sorry. oh look facebook.

I’ve heard that quote used for so many things…homeschooling, cleaning, music, exercise… you have to start some where. Start where you are. My brain quickly dodges that little motivational tidbit with something akin to “something this important should be done right”. But until I googled it today I didn’t know that was only part of the quote. The whole quote is this…” Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly until you learn to do it well. ”


huh. my excuses don’t work as well for that. Just maybe that’s a good idea. Now I do think there should be planning and thought…preparation. It’s just that any good procrastinator knows that there is a tipping point at which planning and preparation become an avoidance technique.

Now I balance my inefficiency well..not only can I procrastinate, but I can also rush in and do it badly and make it all lastingly worse in a matter of mniutes. Really, it’s a talent. I’m sure it’s an innate part of me…related to my lack of sensor between my brain and mouth and my speedy digestive system that manages to gain weight, but can’t handle sugar. Some things just don’t even occur to me. This is true especially in the crafty, homemakey kind of fields. A little planning and thought could make this whatever I’m going to buy match all the other whatevers because I need to buy them anyway and they will look better matching. But that frequently doesn’t even occur to me until after the fact. Very very frequently.

I’ve been pondering about my procrastination abilities (really it’s self analysis not another procrastination technique 😉 ). How do you tell if this is a situation in which a little preparation will make a huge difference, or if this is a situation in which just getting it done even if it’s not done perfectly will make a big difference? Hey I bet I could waste a ton of time figuring that out!

This whole thought process started with a chore chart. I have frequently whipped out a chore chart in ten minutes flat and called it good…then watched it go the way of all chore charts, sure that children just avoid work and just don’t like to help and it’s easier to do it myself. I’m equally sure if I take the time and do it just martha stewart right, it will be a beauty to be hold and be so efficient and motivating, my children will cheerfully do their part to bring our home to a zen like state. maybe my expectations are a little wonky. Maybe I it’s easier to whine about children not helping more than I enjoy teaching them how to help and following through.

Any chore chart takes time. Chores also have to be taught…children work best if things are borken down in to specific steps. Anyone who has ever tried to clean a room with a child, or with themselves knows, it’s nice to be told where to start and to be cheered on in the process.

What’s this you say? This blog is false advertizing. Anyone who can introduce you to the Family Work article must inherently be the model to be followed and have some sort of Waltons family with everyone working together…um no.

I’m going to put the WHOLE quote on my fridge and not stop after the first failed attempt at a chore chart. Neither am I going to wait around and hope the perfect chore chart falls into my lap for only 79.95. I keep talking about it…keep threatening my children with it…it’s time. I know it has to be fairly simple, because *I* have to follow through on it, and I know me. It needs to be specific, so that it can be easily understood. It also needs to be reasonably nice to look at…so it doesn’t annoy me to bits. Wish me luck.

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away from home

Surely you’ve noticed that the less time you spend at home, the worse it looks…even when no one is in the home to mess it up. This is a miracle. It is not a miracle when the mom leaves various amounts of children at home for various lengths of time to do various errands. That is exhausting and messy.

yesterday. At 6am I was trying to sneak out to the grocery store. Three little girls answered their “mom’s sneaking out” alarms and woke up. Our house is chilly because we have all the windows open at night, so it doesn’t get too far over 80 degrees in the afternoon (landlord is still negotiating the A/C fix). So I get everyone sweaters and sweatshirts and longer pants and socks and shoes. My tiptoe out before 6:15 has now become drag people out before 7am. Then dear son (11) wakes up and offers to put on a show and be their slave until I get back. He’s good at this so all three little dears stay home…so 45 minutes of my morning gone… I sneak out with Hannah.

I shop quickly, but not quick enough for Becca who decides within 5 minutes of my leaving that THIS IS INJUSTICE AND A TRAVESTY AGAINST ALL HUMANITY. I brought cantaloupe to make it up to her, but her older sisters looked frazzled when I came home. This leads to one of those stupid decisions you feel like you have to make, but know you’re going to regret…I take Becca with me on my errands. This means Abigail wants to come and I need Natalie to come…so it’s just the 5 of us.

Errands consisted of driving 45 to pick up wheat and oats bulk and driving another 30 to take the girl kitties to get their shots in preparation for them getting broken (spayed-we call it broken because it’s quite obvious they work just fine the way they are…that’s what we DON’T want). We drive, make a bathroom stop by the temple which is beautiful, pick up our wheat with a price increase, but otherwise get to the vet in fairly good time.

Then we sit and wait. Well, *I* sit and wait. Natalie snuggles her kitties as much as she can while leaving them in the cat carrier becasue the dogs surrounding us make her nervous. Abi asks if she can kiss the doggies, and any babies who walk in (short answer…no but you may blow them a kiss (I got a pouty face for that bit of parenting)). As the wait increased due to some vet emergency or something, the behavior got less restrained. Sure they started out sitting near chairs, but they started getting more friendly with all the many animals around us. At one point a little black puppy came in and Abigail lost it completely “I WANT A BLACK PUPPY! HUMMMPH” She tosses her curls and stares at me like I’m rhett buttler. I’m not. I’m me, so I look at her bemused and try to talk her down from the wall. All this time I am wrestling the baby who wants more than anything to crawl around with all these great animals so close! I don’t care how often you clean a vet office floor…it is not clean enough for my crawling baby. Would now be a good time to reveal to the captive vetrinarian office that I have 5 more children at home? maybe not.

Our vet appointment ends with the casual throw out…oh since we treated tape worms you’ll need to keep these two separated from your other two kitties until you get them treated. I should have just bought the stuff and done it myself, but that thought didn’t occur to me until 4am this morning, when the three remaining braincells I have finally had cleared out everything else that was cluttering their in box. So this afternoon we will be having the girl kitties inside the house. Litterbox, kitty food, crawling baby. One of these things just doesn’t belong. This means i get the joy and privilege of making a return visit to the vet tomorrow and I have now become the litter box defender. the food and water are on their own. oh and the kitties are litter box trained…this should go well.

Finally we get our kitties checked and shot and dewormified and we leave. I’m feeling like I have been through a major skirmish. We get home a little late for homeschool park day, but I KNOW the children need it. Off we go. We play and play and play. The other mommies talk about their in laws. My in laws are wonderful, really really wonderful. I keep my mouth shut because their in laws really are bad…alcoholic, it’s your fault you were abused bad. I’m leaving the park feeling grateful…but wait, I’m not leaving the park. Really what I’m doing is looking throughout the park for my 9yo’s purse which she left on a random park bench while playing. A purse with money and a library book in it (and a few other things precious only to a 9yo). Why didn’t she leave it with me? Why couldn’t the theif take the money and run…heck take the book too, I’ll pay for it, but don’t take the purse she made and the little trinkety things. sigh..great wails of sadness escape the normally quiet, but occaissionally exceedingly dramatic 9yo. Good park feeling gone…long gone when I receive a call from my landlord. good news…he found an A/C technician that can come today..at 5:30.

It is 4, I’m heading home from the park with tired, very sandy people—okay me, I got roped into looking for that ONE sand toy they burried as treasure that is now the favorite sand toy ever-and now a part of park lore. I decide to bath babies quickly and take a minor break before getting dinner and the house together. WRONG ANSWER. By saying 5:30, what landlord meant was 4:45. AGGH. I hurriedly make dinner and start bread. YAY I HAVE WHEAT! until the power goes out. ooops. Landlord didn’t mean to turn out the power…it’ll only be 20 minutes in the midst of dinner making for hungry park children and bread making.

Power comes on, dinner is eaten, I start clean up, but am disrupted by the nurseathon. I knew it would happen. I tried to nurse hannah regularly throughout the crazy day, but seeing how I haven’t been home for more than one hour at a stretch since 7am…she’s ready for uninterupted, rocking chair, relaxing nursing. I was hungry too, but didn’t want dinner because bread was baking.

So that is where my poor hapless husband finds me…asleep at 7:50 in the rocking chair. I slept right through the timer for my bread. and that is when I lose it. He wisely takes the baby, doesn’t really listen to my incoherent babbling about worms and sand and purses and puppies, leads me to bed and takes care of everything else.

I regret to inform you no fly lady was done in the midst of this day. I know. You’re shocked.

ps my husband informs me that “everything else” last night included a bird in the house(second bird this week-I think they are nesting in our chimney). The indoor cats met the darling bird, great craziness ensued with the girls screaming and birds flying into things and cats winning, then daughter saved the bird and put the poor thing outside. I’m not sure that worked well…. I slept through it all.

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life interupted

My mom and I were talking yesterday about how we know we’re alive…another something to overcome, another situation awaiting wisdom. Yesterday my landlord was here for 7 hours taking care of quite a few different things. He was mostly up in the attic. I was glad, I did want him to do what he was doing. It’s just that he had the hose through my bedroom and up the ladder to the attic.

Let’s see stairs, water, outside. How attractive is that to a child? We couldn’t shut the door because the hose was going through the door way. How many times do you suppose I had to go retrieve the 9mo from going outside to play with the mud the hose was making? How many times did she try to go up the ladder, or mess with the plugs and cords? I was helping to turn the water on and off and getting other things he needed (I was a 7th child and very comfortable in the role of gofer). Two little girls were taking advantage of my open bedroom door and making a tent of my bed. Older children were leveraging for additional computer time.

That’s life though isn’t it? The interruption, the “different” situation, something to be fixed, dealt with, taken care of, arranged? If you don’t have a new something to deal with, wait five minutes.

The ladder was the main problem yesterday…a ladder half down in the middle of the hallway (most of the time I folded up the bottom stairs so the curious georges wouldn’t get any ideas-I cannot begin to fathom the damage they could do with a hose in the house-or the attic. ). How do I carry a sleeping baby under or around the ladder to get her to bed? How do I get to the laundry or back with baskets of clothes? How do I distract children from the obvious and amazingness of an open attic?
I found myself squeezing through the small space between the ladder and the wall quite frequently. How often do you need that skill? The real skills you are developing are creativity, ingenuity, determination, and hopefully gratitude…those are the skills that last.

Last weekend in conference Lynn G. Robbins spoke about the lists we make in life…generally to do lists. He spoke about the lists we could make…to be lists.

Whenever there is an interruption, it is in our to do list. Lasting “to be” qualities can never be interrupted. There is always a way to love. nothing about yesterday could interrupt anything really important.

Whenever I think of this I think of Eric Fromm, Corrie Ten Boom or Immaculee Ilibagiza

These are amazing individuals who emerged from great tragedy with their humanity in tact. They emerged from a horror with love, gratitude and education.

Surely I can survive a mere inconvenience the same?

Yet I’m afraid this is a lesson I will need to learn over and over and over again.

Posted in perspective, short and simple, Situations Awaiting Wisdom | 2 Comments

your house-a love story

I first saw our house about 9 months ago. Our baby was only 3 weeks old. We had looked a little before the baby came, then Chris continued alone and at times with a friend. We were looking in a certain neighborhood, within 20 minutes of Chris’ work. We needed a house with room for 11 people, and an reasonable Landlord. It wasn’t easy. Every evening the children would gather around and look at the pictures Chris brought home. Sometimes we’d look on line as he was in the house. Natalie always looks at the trees, Kalani’s always wishing for her own room, some of the little ones like stairs, a big yard or pretty paint.

Chris wanted me to see this particular house. When we first walked in, I loved the vaulted ceiling and the large open space. With 7 daughters the prospect of more than 2 bathrooms was welcome. The size the bedrooms, the laundry room immediately off the dining room…the pantry, fenced yard. It was decided. We went home and answered a hundred questions for the children. We started planning and packing.

ugh…we somehow survived those weeks of packing with a newborn and with so much help it still brings tears to my eyes, we moved.

Unpacking was slow, interrupted by nursing, the needs of the children, the exhaustion of me, and possibly facebook. In the mean time we started noticing things . The master bath is not level…so it pools on one side. The placement of this door and that window make bed placement difficult. The back door requires a master’s degree and a little English to open. There seems to be a ‘possum who likes the back yard.

Finding a house is a bit like attraction to a spouse. There is a definite spark, and undefinable interest. This frequently carries through, with some up and downs, to the contract made…then comes…the rest.
When you plan to move in to a house, it is usually clean, and you plan that it will always be that way. You can’t imagine ever letting it get dirty…after all it has x, y, and z that you’ve never had before and that will make it so much easier. It will be wonderful!

The move from attraction to love in a house or with your spouse requires character. Once you move in all of the flaws are more apparent and all of the great aspects are quickly taken for granted. The daily care and housekeeping stretch on before you into forever. It becomes deeper and more personal as memories are made and we choose to accept or judge.

Do you remember the first time you saw your house? How long had you been looking? What was the first thing you noticed. What were you looking forward to in moving in? Which window did you most like…which cupboards? What were your plans then?

With a spouse we have anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, dates and other reminders of our courtship and wedding. The more often we remember and keep alive that spark, the better our relationship.

What about our house? Do you celebrate your house? What a wonderful thing it is to have a house. perhaps we can make a plan…choose a day (maybe the day you bought your house, or first moved in). Remember how your first felt about it, or what you’ve since discovered. Remember why you chose it and how you envisioned you would keep your home.

Love is never a place you fall. Love is what you do.

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penny wise, pound foolish…making room

I frequently create messes (especially hot spots) because I don’t think I have time right then to do it right. Like yesterday. We came home from the library. I was carrying a baby, my purse, a backpack full of books and holding the hand of a toddler who needed her diaper changed. Did I put my purse down in a great place? um no. I dropped it on the bar stool on the way to the nearest couch so I could sit down and take care of what needed to be done. I later found my purse on the floor (blessedly not opened and reorganized). How much time would it have really taken for me to put my purse 3 feet over on the file cabinet? How much effort? How much time did it take for me later to find my purse? How often do we do that? Now add time for keys (which in my hurry I put in my pocket not in my purse), my phone, which was lovingly left on the dashboard of the car… How much time would I save if I put things where they go the first time?

Now I understand that there are exceptions…but I am a professional exception maker. Exceptions should be exceptional. Going to the library is not exceptional…it happens every week. Coming in from the car, carrying more than I have hands for really isn’t all that exceptional.

This is what I’d call penny wise, pound foolish behavior. I’m saving seconds now which I will pay for with high interest in hours of stress later. Cleaning is investing an hour now to reap many many hours later. It’s debt or saving.

Studies have shown that the person who works with a messy desk spends, on average, one and a half hours per day looking for things or being distracted by things. That’s seven and a half hours per week,” says time management speaker and consultant Dr. Donald E. Wetmore

What would you do with seven and a half hours a week? Doesn’t that sound like heaven to have seven hours a week un scheduled? What a gift! I don’t really spend enough time at a desk to have my messy desk take that much time away from me, but how about my kitchen? how about time spent finding my keys or my cell phone? How about time spent looking for children’s shoes! How many days of my life have I spent looking for the other shoe, or the favorite dress? I’m stealing time from myself!

I’m not just stealing time either…it clutters up my brain and stresses me out.

What could I be doing with all that extra time and brain power? I want to find out!

This week I have been more sensitive to this behavior because I have been purposely making room. I have been decluttering because this weekend is General Conference for my church.

I want to be able to sit in a peaceful environment, with a calm mind and feel the spirit. I want to be ready to learn and grow and make changes in my life. When God whispers what he wants me to do, I don’t want to be doubting myself because I can’t even get the laundry done…or hesitating because I’m too stressed about how behind I am. Part of that is being OUT of the habit of making excuses for myself, and instead developing greater trust that God made me and has great plans for me.

This whole month of cleaning has put us all in a better place, in a better mood. What do you want to prepare for? What do you want to make room for? What are you looking forward to doing?

just keeping it real…my baby just crawled over to my purse…which I apparently put next to my rocking chair last night after volleyball. I was only carrying my purse last night. oh my. theory and practice. I think I need more practice.

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bed time routine..with gratitude

Last night was wonderful and peaceful. Gratitude had done it’s work in my heart. I was finishing my evening routine. I decided to pick up the camera to give an idea of what is going on during my evening routine…(or late night routine, I may or may not have spent an hour watching BYU men’s volleyball team beat long beach state). I’m not a night person. I think I’ve mentioned that. My before bed routine frequently starts at noon. BUT I can’t escape the dishes and the only way to go to bed with a clean sink is to do it right before I go to bed.

Here is what was going on at 10:44pm last night at our home:

When you are an artist you use whatever quiet time you can find…for Natalie, that frequently means late at night. She’s been on a pottery kick lately. It’s cozy to have her in the dining room creating and talking through her day while I clean up around the kitchen. She’s a talker and there I was, a captive audience. It’s much more pleasant to do dishes with entertainment, especially if your teen is non drama filled.

sigh. Isn’t he a great dad? When the baby woke up he got her back to sleep so I could keep doing what I was doing and not fall into baby holding stupor…besides after a full day of work and choir with the older children, he was ready for a little stupor mixed with watching volleyball. And yes. my 3yo is awake at 10:44. Too often actually. She woke up with me yesterday morning some how at 5am, took an exceedingly long nap and then was wide awake quite late. She sat near her dad watching volleyball and declared “I like boys”. Dad was gently trying to encourage the focus towards the volleyball and away from the boys.

Raymond popped out of his room saying “Are you taking pictures?” WHHAAAAT? He had been up reading and came out to get a drink. He assured me he was actually asleep and not in all in breach of bedtime and proved it by sleepwalking for the picture…then having me retake it until he was happy with the effect. If I wasn’t in a good mood his book would have been confiscated.

The little lady has just been informed that the picture taking party is done and mom is actually going to bed to sleep. no matter how many times she pointed to the rocking chair and told me I need to hold her and rock…no matter how many pouty faces she made…I was tired. We went to bed.

this is what gratitude can do. Normally I would have grumpily tried to get everyone to bed, fallen into a baby stupor while watching volleyball…which except for the grump, doesn’t sound half bad…

Instead everyone ended up in bed, the kitchen cleaned, the team won, with a wonderful feeling of contentment. I love what gratitude can do. It’s amazing how frequently I forget that.

Why don’t we do what we know will make us happy? I know I’m happier with the dishes done, laundry caught up, home running smoothly, with gratitude in my heart. So why don’t I always live that way? I’m like a garden..gratitude is what makes the soul ready to plant and all that daily hard work is what keeps things growing…yet I skip a day, forget and before I know it, I’m a hard hearted fool wondering why I’m not happy.

That one reason I took those pictures last night…to remind me to see that way. To remind me that in the midst of a very average night I can feel joy.

Happy Friday.

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gratitude check.

yesterday. it was bad. It was lost for two hours, so late it didn’t matter..landlord wants us to pay $1000 we don’t have for something we didn’t do bad. I had intended to finish writing a tada post…but that’s difficult when you’re lost in traffic and on the phone with insurance and landlord. I have problems with tada anyway, which I will need to address.

I even tried to keep my attitude in check by going for a walk with the kiddos yesterday afternoon. It was a beautiful day…but my little darling on her bike decided to NOT keep the rule of stopping at the corner and waiting for mom. So I spent the “Walk” desperately pleading the 3yo to peddle faster-trying to distract her from every flower and leaf she wanted to carefully place in her compartment, or carrying her and her big wheel and racing to keep them in sight.

It wasn’t exactly the zen like experience I had hoped for.

So today…this post is going to be something different.

Here are two word pictures:
A few years ago I saw a family circus cartoon. It’s thanksgiving. The meal is over the children are running around like crazy people (full of energy because they didn’t overeat). The husband is sitting down watching the game with his feet up and the mom is in the kitchen surrounded by dirty dishes, pots, pans, bowls, and leftovers. You know that feeling? A bit of overwelm, a bit of frustration that holidays really mean more work, a bit of this will take forever and there is a loud noise from the other room–that’s your book desparately calling you.

You know those feelings? The feelings that you wish you weren’t the mother? There is a thought bubble in this picture. It said (I’m paraphrasing) “I’m so grateful for enough food to feed my family, dishes, a safe place to feed them and a day surrounded by the people I love”. Oh. ya. she could be thinking that. *I* wasn’t thinking that…huh.

Many years ago I was in South Africa. We were in traffic, driving towards Durban for a meeting. On a steep hill near where our car had stopped there was a small squatter camp. Most of the houses were made out of cardboard boxes, blankets and scrap metal. We passed it often on the way to town. This particular day we were in traffic and could see it more closely. I’ll never forget the family I saw. A young girl (maybe 8-though she was VERY thin so it was hard to tell) was pulling a blanket around her. She handed her dress to her mom who put it in a huge pot on the fire. Laundry day. Her mom was washing her one dress. She was using water she had carried on her head (most likely). Traffic eased and we drove away. It was just a minute of my life but I’ve thought of it many many times since.

So many thoughts flood my head as I think of those images. Sorrow, wondering what I can do to make a difference…and gratitude. Today, in everything I do today..I want to find something to be grateful for. If you think of something you are grateful for, post a comment.

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CHOAS-um no. people come over anyway.

Yesterday morning at 10am my landlord called. This was expected. He had come home from his son’s wedding and was ready to deal with our issues (no A/C and dishwasher). I call in the troups, we have a 15 minute cleanup. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was for me to walk into my kitchen and have it already clean! I didn’t have to madly do dishes in the 15 minutes before someone arrives. I also can’t fully express how very short lived that joy was. As I left the kitchen and walked into the dinning room and discovered that someone had decided to get out a snack…tortilla chips. Apparently part of the joy of tortilla chips is throwing them around randomly. They were everywhere…including the computer room that is adjacent to the dining room. Ahh the joys of precision…I very precisely had children pick up the chips, swept and vacuumed. sigh. We were ready. The Landlord lives 20 minutes away. Sure I had also found crayon on the wall and someone had stepped on banana in the hall…but we fixed all that.

still ready

and ready

and what was happening today again?

so at 4:30 when the doorbell rang

I’m not sure what you are doing at 4:30, but I am normally awakening from afternoon stupor-heightened by having to drive my daughter to seminary. I am normally beginning to be aware that my children will want to eat again, and realizing that I still haven’t done the menu planning I wished I had. My children are frequently whiny at that point having just woken from a nap, or having missed a nap, or just in general thinking dinner should be now and could it be popsicles?

My house also looked distinctly lived in. Sure the kitchen was clean, and yes the rooms had been vacuumed…it’s just that in between then and the time the door bell rang, someone had decided to make a fort out of couch cushions…and in the entry way there was a chair with a bead race thing on it. They had been playing some game or other and there were various phonics books around as well as a stack of stories I had read to the children.

In the midst of the whiney children and attempting to think of dinner, I was talking with the landlord and going over what needed to be done and trying to gently point out a few hundred things we would really appreciate…”so when would be good for my husband to help you clean out the garage?” or “remember how this need to be nailed down so no one gets hurt tripping over it?” or “I know you mentioned you wanted to trim the bushes…right?”

Of course my dishwasher worked for him. serioiusly dishwasher? is that how it’s going to be? sigh.

We have one more day to wait for the A/C…but it’s less of an issue now that the baby doesn’t have a fever. I’m much more patient with my house being in the 80’s when the baby isn’t 104.

Through it all I kept reminding myself…this is why I needed to be thinking of precision, not perfection. I can have peace in having done what I needed to do…I can’t control the outcome. Should I start being more wary of what posts and thoughts come into my mind-are they really God’s way of saying…uh oh…she’s going to have this and this and this and this happen today..she better not set her sites on a clean house .

People will come over. We have lives. Children are naturally creative and creativity is a messy thing. Living with precision, means I accept where I am and do what’s right in that moment. I don’t stress about where I am, or worry about what other people think about where I am. I don’t worry about the future and get overwelmed by how much I’ll need to do in the future. Frankly, I’m glad I don’t know. Precision, means focusing on right now. Don’t rest up for future messes, give up because of future problems….just do what needs doing. and smile(Hi cyndi! :waves madly:). If all else fails and you can’t see the floor anway look instead at the people walking around on the floor (or rolling and crawling while meoowing). They’re really cute people.

Yesterday amidst all the landlord, dinner making mess…my three little girls (5, 5, and 3) pulled me into the livingroom to show me what they were working on. They were learning sommersaults and cartwheels. So really the couch cushions on the floor were quite serendipitous. And honestly the house was cleaner under all the play stuff. really.

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