Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Time to Take it Slow

     Earlier this week, on Monday, my boys reminded me of how very fast this month of October has flown by. "Only nine days before Halloween,"  they said.  And, wow.  It hit me.  They're right - there were only nine days left in the tenth month of the year, this is the beginning of their last year of middle school, we're only four and a half weeks away from thanksgiving, and just sixty-four days shy of Christmas.


Taking a walk.


     This particular Monday began with me waking up late, scrambling to quickly down a cup of coffee and shower before I ran off to CVS, armed with my money-saving plan for the week.  I left the boys home in charge of getting themselves and the girls up and dressed, ready for lessons by the time I returned.  I came hustling in with the next two weeks' worth of paper towel and toilet paper in tow, making another rushed trip out to the car for the other things I purchased, then I shifted quickly into my role as short-order breakfast cook.  After everyone had eaten I moved onto lessons with the kids, which means that there are three very distinct activities going on at the table and everyone has questions that I'm trying to answer.  It was during this time that I was attempting to finish the rest of my grocery list with a couple of sale ads and a calculator spread out in front of myself.  
     Although we were sitting at the table, things really felt chaotic.  The breakfast dishes were piled high, the butter was still sitting out, the counters were cluttered with more things than I can list here, the bar held a few things from my morning trip to the store that had not yet been put away, and that two week supply of toilet paper and paper towel?  Yeah, it was stacked on the sticky floor next to the table where we were sitting.  And, it was during that time of sitting at the table with my kids around me, asking a thousand questions about their different lessons, that my mind was anywhere but in that moment and I was getting frustrated.  I was trying to finish up my money-saving grocery plan that I intended to carry out that very afternoon after my trips to the bank and the library, but before the dance class that my girls had to attend in town.  I was planning it all out, couldn't they see that?  I mean, I wouldn't be home until late, sparing just enough time to brown some meat and toss it with a couple of jars of sauce and a pound of pasta while I finished unloading my grocery haul and before daddy came in from work.  Besides, we had orthodontist appointments on Tuesday and dentist appointments on Wednesday, I can't be bothered with grocery shopping while attending to appointments on the other side of town!  Why can't those boys just see that I'm busy and figure out what an antecedent is on their own?  And, "Yes, Emma, you carry the digit in the ten's place."  "Claire, remember how the silent e makes a vowel say its long sound?"  "Yes, I'll try to find time to show you girls how to use the sewing machine."  (You can insert a silent "ugh" sound and a mommy eye-roll here.  I can't find my crafty desire anywhere under all this stuff of life.  Who has time for things like that?!)
     That was the moment that the boys noticed the busyness that is filling up our days and reminded me that October is nearly gone.  I'm sure, more than anything, it was their way of noticing that although Mama was present, her mind was anywhere but there. I tried not to let their reminder affect me, or at least not let them see what effect it was actually having.  I felt like a balloon quickly deflating.          
     I try so very hard to make sure that our lives are full, but still leaning heavily toward simple.  As homeschoolers, I want them to feel connected socially, but still find their true comfort in home and family.  Finding that balance can be a tricky thing.  I usually realize that I'm out of balance when one of the kids notices and brings it to my attention.  Then I sit back and wonder why the chaos swirling around me wasn't enough to make me snap out of it.  Why wasn't the unwashed or unfolded laundry, the counters piled high with junk, the floors littered with stuff I was too busy to pick up, the spilled tea stains that stay on the tile for a week or more at a time enough to snap me back into the reality I strive for?  Things tend to snowball, moving forward at an ever increasing rate, with one day seeping into the next until we lose large blocks of time.  All the while, my to-do list is never even close to being completed, my frustration level is high, and down time feels like something I cannot even begin to afford.
     Life has a way of catching up to us, doesn't it?  There are so many things going on, pulling for our attention, taking us out of our present moment.  We get caught up in making plans for a later date and we forget what is right in front of us.  We can't seem to enjoy right now for trying so hard to peek into tomorrow...and the days after that.  We find ourselves being called back into the now by our children during the last days of October and we wonder what happened to September, or August and July for that matter.  Where did the time go?  Can I even scrape up a tangible memory about the previous months without taking a ridiculous amount of time to think about it?  Do we not find this same behavior affecting all the aspects of our lives...our jobs, our marriages, our relationship with God?  Can I make sure to kiss my husband goodnight or ask him about his day?  Can I see my job as something positive that I can be thankful for instead of a draining source of negativity?  Can I spend a few moments with God everyday, just inviting Him into my thoughts, into my heart?  Can I spare a few minutes to read with Claire, emphasizing the long vowel words?  Can I sit and explain grammar to my boys without sounding all huffy-puffy because I have things to do...things to plan to do?  Can I just take my girls to the sewing machine and teach them to sew a simple pillow and watch their chubby, little-girl fingers guide the fabric under the needle?  Can I teach them to live in the now if I don't show them by example?  I'm thinking probably not.
     I'm thinking that this Mama needs to learn to slow it down a notch, step back and start living out the important parts of life.  She needs to start showing her children what she knows is really important, what matters most in this uncertain world.  All the planning and busyness never achieves any level of happiness, but rather subtracts from it, and inherently, I believe the kids know this.  It's my job to make sure they don't forget.


Yes. This is happening right now.


   I'm so thankful for smart, mindful kids that keep me grounded.  I'm so thankful that their mere mention of excessive busyness makes my heart pause and re-center around them.  Today, this Mama is going to be a great English teacher and she's pulling out that dusty old sewing machine. My girls and I, we've got pillows to make.



   
     Ecclesiastes 3:1 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven
   

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Sugar High

For my husband's birthday last week, I made The Pioneer Woman's Big Chocolate Birthday Cake.  It was divine.  Four full, nine inch layers, each slathered with the most fluffy, whipped chocolate frosting, then piled high with chocolate shavings.  It was honestly the very best homemade chocolate cake I've ever eaten.  And, best of all, he loved it.


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My birthday followed four days after his and my mom and kids made me a yummy red velvet cake topped with pecans.  It was just as delicious as it looks.


This red velvet is soon to be mine!  Mmmm!



Me, at thirty-eight.

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My dad's birthday followed two days after mine and my mom made him his favorite homemade carrot cake.  I don't know if anything can really top carrot cake.  So delicious!  {That chocolate cake was there for the crazies who didn't like carrot cake.  I can't imagine...}

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The very next day was our girls' neighbor-friend's thirteenth birthday.  And, since she had eaten some of Darrell's birthday cake, she asked me if I would make her one, too.  I obliged.  I love the pink curls combined with the chocolate.  So pretty and the perfect girly chocolate cake I think.


And, another Big Chocolate Birthday Cake.  This time with some pink curls for a lovely girl turning thirteen today.  #thepioneerwoman






Now you can see why I titled this post Sugar High.  I think I'm still coming down from the week long sugar marathon, hence my lack of posting...my lack of being able to string two thoughts together.  Anyway, this past week has been delicious in so many ways.




Saturday, October 6, 2012

His Day





















My husband is a quiet, humble man, reserving himself only for those closest to him.  He'll never be the obnoxious guy or the life of the party.  He's the one sitting way over there in the corner telling jokes and funny stories to a few people in a small circle, having them all laughing and nearly rolling in the aisles.

He's the kind of father that every kid wants, the kind that every man hopes to be, and the kind that every woman desires to bless her kids with when the time comes.  He's attentive and gives every last ounce of his time and energy to our kids.  I can honestly say that there isn't one thing I could add or take away to make a better father for my kids.

He's the kind of husband that I always dreamed of having, but everyday I still can't believe that he and his goodness are mine.  He amazes me every single day and I sincerely mean that.  I have not regretted one moment of our 23 years together.  When things are good, he's there cheering along with me.  When things are bad he's there, holding me up.  When I'm bad, all a mess and crumbling down in an ugly heap that he can't understand, he's still there, taking my hand and leading me back.

He sacrifices so much; he is steadfast and devoted.  He loves fiercely, he has a quiet but hilarious sense of humor, and I'm proud to call him my soul mate.  Today is his 42nd birthday and today I celebrate him and all the goodness that he brings to this world.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Keeping it Real

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Today has been a tough one for me.  It has been one of those days where, although I'm moving as quickly as I can, everything is still falling down around me, like I can't quite get a grip on any one task.  My temper has been short, the bathrooms need cleaning, the bedrooms are a mess, school work is turning into drudgery, the bills are were piled until I sat down two hours ago to pay them and that led to this blog post.

The kitchen, as you can see above, is a total disaster with books piled, research papers in progress, even more papers and books piled on the counters along with peppers to freeze, pumpkins to stuff in a couple of days, boxes of cereal and loaves of bread to put back in the pantry, flour stuck on the bar where the girls made their own version of playdoh. {And, I'm personally wanting to update the kitchen so badly I can hardly stand it.  New paint on both the walls and cabinets, no wallpaper, and new rugs.  But, that's another post.} I won't even mention how badly all.those.cabinets need to be scrubbed.

The dog needs to be bathed and clothes need to be washed, but I haven't even done one single load today.  Can I tell you about the monster dust bunnies swinging around on my ceiling fans?  Ugh.  Seriously, I'm scared to turn the blades off in fear of what might land on our heads.  The furniture is in need of dusting, too.  I can't even think about dinner right now, simple is the only thing that comes to mind.  Spaghetti, yes.

The day is winding down and I'm going to have to get a start on that spaghetti soon.    Or I may just sit down and cry.
And, say a prayer of gratefulness for all the things I do have.

And, wait for tomorrow.  And, begin again.





Monday, October 1, 2012

Autumn Links to Love


Happy October!  This is probably my favorite month of the year.  It's always chock full of birthdays and cooler weather, bonfires and hot dogs, tent-pitching and dressing up, and generally trying to take it all in.  Here are some links I found over the weekend that will fit in perfectly over the coming weeks.



Some of these are laugh out loud funny and I can completely relate to every one of them.  Click over here to Tales From a Gypsy Mama to read the other eighty-five.

100 Ways You Know You’re a Mom
  1. You are pretty much embarrassment-proof.
  2. A trip to the grocery store alone is your idea of a spontaneous getaway.
  3. You buy enough milk on a weekly basis to sponsor an entire dairy farm.
  4. When you put on make up the kids get excited that you’re all going out.
  5. If you don’t change the toilet paper roll, it doesn’t get changed.
  6. You can’t remember what the words “personal space” mean.
  7. You use photo shop for removing boogers more than for removing blemishes.
  8. You wash the same load of laundry at least twice before you remember to empty it.
  9. You know the names of all of the teenage mutant ninja turtles.
  10. You consider Goldfish crackers a food group.

  11. You can’t remember a time when you didn’t drive a minivan.
  12. Lugging the baby carrier is your idea of a workout.
  13. You listen to your kids’ favorite tunes even when you’re driving by yourself.
  14. You have a love-hate relationship with The Wiggles.
  15. You can’t remember the last time you ate a meal while it was still hot.



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Then, click over to this site to see some cute kids' crafts ideas for fall.  I love the pine cones hanging on the door and the colorful leaf art at the bottom left.






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Doesn't this look like the perfect fall breakfast?  Yum!




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There are lots of cute ideas here for the younger kids like fall window painting and an adorable owl family craft.




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Now, if I was supermom I think I'd try my hand at this haunted house.  Amazing!



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I'd love to have this hanging on the door, but considering how many times it gets opened and slammed shut during the course of a day, I'm not sure those mini pumpkins would survive very long.




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What I really want is one of these.  All to myself.





Happy Fall, Y'all!