Adventures in Garbage

Posts in category Motherhood

Toxic busy-ness

How are we already half way through September!?  The kids started “preschool” and we have been in such a busy state that I don’t even have a decent picture for myself!
We have had some MAJOR work being done on our house.  So major that we are not doing it ourselves. (Except for demo. You can’t keep me out of demo) :) . Anytime “workers” are at our house, it is LITERALLY a non stop battle to keep Alex out of their way.  He wants to be in the middle of all the action all the time.  His biggest tantrum to date was last year when I wouldn’t let him go into our crawl space when a company was out here to insulate. It. is. exhausting. And a true test of my patience. Thankfully the guys we have here are friends and at least pretend pretty well to be tolerant of his non stop questions and constant interruptions.

While the last 2 weeks seem like a crazy busy blur, one thing keeps nagging at me; It’s that “busy state”. The one where for no particular reason you feel “behind” (on a list of things you keep in your mind that no one else sees, which is often filled with tasks and ideas that are of no real importance at the moment but still present in my mind always and forever nagging, nagging, nagging). I am so frequently guilty of this kind of self-induced stress that I have to remind myself that I’m the one making up the time table! No one is checking to see if I washed the pillows after I spilled coffee on them. No one cares about the stack of papers and mail in the cabinet that has needed sorting since December– yet I treat it as if there’s a deadline!

No where is this more evident than when we’re trying leave for a trip. Beyond packing and preparing,  I am so often doing these completely nonsensical jobs while at risk of making us late and getting frazzled about it. “Hey Babe, we need to get goin’. Kids are in the car.” “BUT WAIT! I didn’t clean out the box of playdoh toys!”

The unfortunate side of these phases of busyness, is that the added stress I give myself because of expectations set by myself can definitely affect the rest of the family.  Sometimes it’s an actual loss of my patience towards them or it’s just because when I operate at high speed I give off the impression that I’m annoyed at the world. But either way, it’s not warranted, and not fair to them.

We frequently hear about the importance of “want vs need” when it comes to learning money management. For me, this is equally true about scheduling time. Just as certain choices may land you in financial debt.  Certain “scheduling” choices may land you in time debt or, for me, emotional debt.

If my choosing to clean out the kids’ closets means that my temper will run extra short and by 4pm and we will all be miserable, then maybe, now is not the time. Maybe I need to ask for help. And I know I need to pray for patience. For now, we can go another day with last year’s winter clothes still taking up tons of space, because we had a pleasant afternoon together coloring and doing puzzles and no one needs to scream into a pillow.

Sometimes it’s literal time overspent, and not the emotional tax. Sometimes I just don’t prioritize the things that I think there will be “time for later”– you know, like long term things that never seem to need to be “done right now”: spending one on one time with the kids, getting a much needed weekend away with Jake, getting back into a regular fitness routine, making time for friends, prayer. How often do I back burner these VITAL pieces of life? Every. Single. Day.

The give and take of invested time and invested emotion within our family is so incredibly important. Yet it is frequently the first thing to be given up when something “needs doing.” When I give away my time, I am really giving away theirs. I want to know my kids.  I want them to know me.  I never want the invites for play to stop because they assume I’m always too “busy”. Quality time spent investing in our marriage, our family and friendships trumps pretty much any task that I may think needs doing! But in this crazy vortex of motherhood where you feel simultaneously like you’re overworking, procrastinating, under performing, pressed for time, yet there’s no end in sight- it is so easy to continue to over look what my “busyness” is keeping me from. And it’s days like this where I find myself sending a text to my Dad to see if anyone is at The Cabin this weekend.

I need to invest now. I need to reset now. I need to give up my selfish agendas to think about what they steal from the people I love. I need to unplug. To reconnect. To practice Peace, to give Love, and find Joy. And did I mention Patience? I need a lot of patience.

“I’m weary with my former toil
Here I will sit and rest a while
Under the shadow I will be
Of Jesus Christ the apple tree”

exhale.

Why I hate Pinterest.

Ok. Before you call sacriledge, let me just recall that statement. I don’t hate Pinterest. I love crafts and creativity. I love art and the ease of sharing ideas or finding inspiration. I absolutely cherish Pinterest Fails, which actually might be the most valuable thing that has come from it oddly enough.

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The second one probably tastes better anyway ;)

To me, the Pinterest Fails are far more relatable than almost everything else it has to offer. I can easily see myself in every slouchy cupcake, in every horrifically misshapen paper mache artwork, and every “what was even the point” picture of a once organized kid’s room.  The best thing about Pinterest Fails is honesty.

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And this is where a large portion of Pinterest and I must go our separate ways. Even when we know we’re seeing pictures of a practically unattainable standard, whether it be food, holiday decor, a family picture, crafts, or beauty tips, there is this sense that what you’re seeing is “the right way”. The idea that people are, in some way, failing because their 2 year old’s party didn’t look like this is when I get angry– and you won’t like me when I’m angry.

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Because you know what every toddler party needs? Tiny personalized metal washers the size of nickles and a trip to the ER for when they’ve all ingested them.

Now, let me be clear, I am not putting down the dedicated individuals who find joy in party planning. My very best friend is one of those. She is SO talented and a serious asset when it comes to any kind of event organization. But that’s not me. While I acknowledge how beautiful the scene above is, I also acknowledge that it would cost me a little bit of sanity to achieve it. For me, the pay off is not there. Running around like the mad person I know I would be, trying to get everything “picture perfect”, would be me just propping up a skin deep lie. The party would have become about my ability to impress my friends and collect compliments rather than celebrating whatever the event is. This is why party planning and I don’t get along. When the planning has usurped the occasion, it’s like forgetting why we’re celebrating in the first place!

I know I’m widely on the outside with my point of view here, but the fact that many marriages start off in debt (and an equal amount of left over stress) because of extravagant wedding expenses is a perfect example. My husband and I always remember, so fondly, our lack of “wedding”. I wore a dress I already owned. We went to a river side park. Other people who cared more than we did decided it should look nice and invited people. The wedding didn’t matter to us because all we wanted out of it was a marriage. And a happy one :) No, I am not saying that big weddings = bad marriages. It’s just that it’s not our style because we’re weird like that. And that should be ok, because that’s not what it’s about!

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So you don’t organize your beach towels in rainbow order- did you have fun at the pool with your kids?

So your Elsa cake looked more like Grimace- did you see the look of pure joy when the kids danced around the living room in greeting each other?

So the entrance you envisioned for your wedding reception wasn’t timed right- do you have a spouse actively on your team choosing Love day in and day out?

So your play room is a mess- as it should be because kids are fast paced, hands on learners who explore everything, all the time, with all of their senses. What do  you think they’ll remember when they’re older? Your involvement in their lives or how much dust was on the ceiling fan? –And if you care about the dust on my ceiling fan, we’re probably not friends anyway…

These things are not failures, nor should the opposites be the supposed expectation! My daughter’s birthday comes in just a few weeks and I promise her that I will not spin that day to be about photo ops that never really happened, a cake that is to be admired not eaten, perfectly coordinated pastel arrangements of hand painted paper mache butterflies, or my own vanity. I want to celebrate her life, the absolute gift from God that she is, and the ball of joyous energy and comedy that she brings into our home. If that means her playing in a cardboard box in the mud, great! Because, frankly, I don’t care what other parents think of my almost 3 year old’s taste in fun. Let’s enjoy a drink together and watch our kids play, because I got a full night sleep last night instead of gluing tea lights in mason jars and stringing them around the porch to make it look like I’ve got my act together.

Last year's birthday- a day at the beach with dear friends, a donut that I didn't even let her eat because it was 9pm, pure joy and a cherished memory.

Last year’s birthday- a day at the beach with dear friends, a donut that I didn’t even let her eat because it was 9pm, pure joy and a cherished memory.

Settin’ Up Shop

Today was the day! I loaded up the truck and took a bunch of items over to my small booth at Dover Antique Mall. I did my set up during their normal business hours, which was actually very encouraging. Many people stopped to chat, inquire about different items, and remark about the “unique” way I find my merchandise.

Fitting as much as I can into a 6x7 unit.

Fitting as much as I can into a 6×7 unit.

The owner informed me that the spot to the left of mine, which is 6×14, will likely be empty before fall and that I am welcome to expand or switch spots if I would like to. So, if these next few weeks go well, I really hope to take advantage of that.  I probably have enough projects at home/ in the works to fill all of that space, but the key will be seeing if things actually sell. I’m playing it pretty safe right now. Nothing in my current shop is priced over $40. It’s kind of a market research period. What sells? What doesn’t? Are my prices too high? Or too low? How does my shop compare to others in the mall?

I wanted to highlight my biggest difference with a small write up about who I am and what I'm doing.

I wanted to highlight my biggest difference with a small write up about who I am and what I’m doing.

I had a great side conversation with a fellow crafter-mom of small children who completely understood the biggest push behind the reason I do this work; The need to feel a sense of simple accomplishment.

Motherhood is usually filled with multitasking and never ending jobs, not just a long list of jobs, literally NEVER ENDING jobs. There is true beauty in that. But it can also make you feel down- especially when you are a do-er. I have always been a busy body and I genuinely love to work. I love to get things done and experience the “before / after”.  But I also NEED to get things done and I need to experience the “before / after”. Do you know what kind of job keeps you working til you’re exhausted, then working more, and often leaves you feeling that you have no proof? Parenting.

Early on in my first few months as a new mom I made the observation that “I was literally busy all day, but somehow I got absolutely NOTHING accomplished.” To which my sister responded dryly “Welcome to motherhood.”  It’s so true though! And I had no idea how much of a struggle that would be for me.  Before I was able to pinpoint that issue, I didn’t know why it was stressful for me when my husband would ask “So, what did you guys do today?” To me, it felt “lazy” to not have tangible proof of what I was doing, no completed project, or new goal reached– well, our kids are alive, they’re mostly clothed and based on the cheese crust mustache, they ate today, our house didn’t burn down, and we all have clean underwear for tomorrow.

I have learned 2 things that I need to do frequently during my Mom-week. Firstly, I need to work with my hands. It is truly a release for me. It soothes my over stimulated mom-brain to be able to think from point A to point B, make it happen, and see the result. I accomplished something. Some people bake, some do yoga, others play video games, and some people read, I collect garbage in my garage.– But, more importantly, during my Mom-week I need to tally up the little things. Not necessarily literally, but make a mental note and remember the stories. Many days may not have a comparable “before and after” snap shot. But I can mentally snap shot that time when we caught that toad and let it swim in the kiddie pool. I can high five over the time that someone apologized to their sister, without prompting, because he recognized his own guilt. I can record that hour that we spent, painstakingly, trying to play Don’t Break The Ice with two hammer happy preschoolers. And capture that sound of my kids making their own inside jokes and actually enjoying their friendship. These things are probably more important than everything else on my To-Do do list, yet so often these moments are shunted to one side to make way for laundry, groceries, someone peeing on the floor again, and who knows what else I’ve decided to make “important”.

It is hard. It is exhausting. Sometimes you have nothing to show except the visual and emotional evidence that your day was hard and exhausting. Sometimes you will want to wipe that day from the mental record. But, the good news about this never ending job, is that there is always tomorrow. Tomorrow I can say “yes” when I’m asked to build legos. Tomorrow I can invite them to prepare lunch with me.  Tomorrow I can play monster trucks and not check my phone for the whole 15 minutes. Tomorrow we can make milestone moments to fill the gaps between the “real milestones.”

In the spirit of that sentiment, I am not even going to bother continuing to write a thoughtful conclusion. I was just asked to play Paw Patrol Candyland and being here now, making this moment (and subsequently speeding up the bed time process) is far more real than typing words to faceless strangers.

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:)

World War 3- Moms of the Internet.

I’m almost hesitant to keep updating the “at home” portion of my blog, even as young as it is. I already had one ‘”anonymous commenter” whom I wouldn’t approve. If/when this page begins to get more outside traffic, I refuse to play host to Mom Wars. And when you write about parenting, from any perspective, it’s almost a given. If you are currently a mom of small children, or a frequenter of The Google, you are probably well aware of mom wars. You need barely to announce a pregnancy before opinions and suggestions just start rolling in, quickly followed by a countering suggestion, another opinion. Before you know it, someone is ALL CAPS shouting about how someone else is a terrible parent because “DID THEY EVEN READ THE LABEL OF THAT CHEESE STICK!?”  But first you probably have to decipher the 85 abreviated words about how “LO never wanted to CS with DH. They tried FF at SILs but ended up just letting LO CIO.” – I just threw up in my mouth a little bit.

I am open and honest about the difficulties involved in this job.  I will not pretend to have it figured out. I will not pretend that I am not eating peanut butter out of the jar for “dinner” right now because it’s been that kind of exhausting day. I will happily share any of my abundant examples of how quickly and crazily things get out of hand in my house.

like this episode.

like this episode.

 I hope to promote a sense of humor about otherwise stressful situations because we’ve all been there.  We have all just wanted to get out of the store as quickly as possible. We have all felt as tantrumy as the boneless 2 year old you’re carrying through the Target parking lot, screaming because she dropped the Starbucks receipt somewhere inside the store. We have all wondered, at one time or another, if we are handling something the right way. I want my mom friends to know that we all experience chaos, confusion, and frustration, as well as peace, love, and joy (sometimes simultaneously).

case in point- that time my son dumped hot chocolate powder all over the ottoman, licked it off, then ran outside on a pantsless sugar rush.

case in point- that time my son dumped hot chocolate powder all over the ottoman, licked most of it off, then ran outside on a pantsless sugar rush.

My way is not yours,  your way is not mine. But I value the army of diverse mothers that we are; That we each nurture wonderfully unique children who will get to experience the beauty of those differences when they interact with each other.
It doesn’t matter to me if your baby was delivered via c-section, with or without meds, or at home . I care that you’re both feeling well.  It doesn’t matter to me if you’re co-sleeping or crib sleeping. I care that you’re getting enough sleep. It doesn’t matter to me if you’re breast or bottle feeding. I care that your baby is loved and nourished. It doesn’t matter to me whether you work in the home or out. I care that you feel the value of your unique position in the lives of your family members.

I always cringe when a new mom posts a light weight question on the Internet and is bombarded with 200 forceful answers. As if she needs more to overwhelm her with a collicky 8 day old. I know we are all looking to have our choices affirmed by the decisions and actions of others. But, as moms, we MUST know the value of mutual grace and support! The truth is, New Mom, you will have doubts. You will not know what to expect until you have experienced it. And still your children will continue to shock and amaze you. You know your child better than anyone. No one else’s experience is your experience and your intuition is one of your most powerful tools. But on the day that you just can’t take another second of it and you feel like you need to scream into the couch, my door is open. Drop your kids off or stay for cup of coffee. Just know that when you enter, you’re likely to find a scene like this.

Make yourself at home.

Make yourself at home.

 

Driving Under The Influence… of Kids

Assuming you survive the task of getting your kids dressed and shoed, you may, at some point in your life, find your self in the car with them. Most likely cutting the line really close between late and super late.  Here is the run down of a typical 35 minute drive.

8:35 We get to the car. Kid A is paying zero attention and walks around the car at least twice. Kid B flips out because she wanted to climb into her seat herself instead of being lifted, which would have been an additional 6 minute wait, at least. You find yourself in some kind of haggling war over how many rocks and/or sticks Kid A can bring into the car. – Everyone hates buckles.

8:42-We finally back down the driveway.

8:43– Kid B drops her cup. You try and try, Stretch Armstrong style, to reach blindly to the back but to no avail. It is lodged between her seat and door. She cries.

 

or at least pretends to with shocking accuracy.

We almost made it 2 minutes!

8:45– Kid A begins incessant questions about boating operations. You quickly realize that you don’t know enough about inboard/outboard motors or the local ecosystem to satisfy a 4 year old.

8:50– Kid B still wants her cup and presses the same button on a toy remote for 45 second straight. “i-i-i’ve-i-i–ive g- -i-ive-I’ve got a remote and I’m ready to roll. I can change channels cause, I’m in control” … Oh how much I loath thee, tiny taunting remote. You promise yourself, that at a red light you will get the cup and break the remote.

8:52– Everyone is apparently STARVING. Even though they just finished breakfast. So, you one handedly manage to open and hand out bags of pretzles.

8:53– These pretzles are making them thirsty.  And now neither kid has their cup.

When asked why his cup is not in the cup holder, Kid A responds that he needed a place for his hand.

When asked why his cup is not in the cup holder, Kid A responds that he needed a place for his hand.

8:56– The thirst, apparently equivalent to 6 days in the Sahara, continues. You cave, pull over on a side road and get the cups.

8:58– You pass a local farm where the cows are fairly close, the kids wave and moo and both seem in good spirits. Your spirits rise and you enjoy the music on the radio. However, the mooing quickly turns to other sounds, which lead to lip trills, which lead to spitting, which leads to a lot of pointed glaring and stern words through the rear view mirror.

9:01– You see some horses not far ahead and point them out to divert from the spitting. Kid B is mortally wounded because the horses are not on her side of the street. She hates horses now and never wants to see them ever again.

She already misses the horses that she has sworn out of her life.

She already misses the horses that she has just sworn out of her life. And yes, this car seat is mostly held together by yogurt spills.

 

9:03– Finally, the highway! We’re halfway there! Kid A is excited to see a large dump truck up ahead.

9:04– Kid A is furious that you won’t keep pace with the 28 mile per hour dump truck. –You try to explain that we are on the fast side of the road and we can’t block up the cars behind us. You quickly realize that you don’t know enough about dump truck transmissions or roadway systems to satisfy a 4 year old. — Kid B has dropped her cup again. You begin to brainstorm about a retractable cup/line pulley system that can be attached to car seats. You wonder if any of the Sharks would invest in your idea. Probably not. Stash it away with your dog-umbrella idea and your sink brush attachment.

It's a brush with a stretchy rubber back that you put over the end of your retractable faucet. The water comes though the brush while you clean. I KNOW! RIGHT!?

It’s a brush with a stretchy rubber back that you put over the end of your retractable faucet. The water comes though the brush while you clean. I KNOW! RIGHT!?

9:07– At last you come to a stop light and can reach the cup. You gently toss it into her lap. Bad move. It knocks that bag of pretzels out of her hand. The light turns green. You apologize to Kid B and try your Stretch Armstrong moves again. This time, you succeed.

9:10– Kid A wonders aloud where Grandma is right now. You tell him she is at work. He hypothesizes about every other possibility in the universe about where she might be. (I say universe because Mars was one of the options). You repeat that she is at work, and that Grandma is not an astronaut. More hypotheses- finally you agree “yeah, maybe.” without really having listened. Another mistake. “Are we going there now Mom?” “Going where?” “To the aquarium with Grandma!” ‘… umm, no Buddy, she’s at work, teaching the kids.” “Auughgh! This is terrible news for me!”

9:11– Kid B has decided she doesn’t want pretzels anymore. She wants a different snack. You don’t have one. But she’s “soooo hungry!” – Kid A asks if they have snacks at the aquarium. “WE’RE NOT GOING TO THE AQUARIUM!”

9:15– We arrive at gymnastics feeling as though I just carried two kids up Mount Everest. And right when we reached the peak, Kid B drops her cup again.

 

there is very little different between 30 minutes and 3 days when traveling with kids. I vacuumed this 2 days ago.

there is very little difference between 30 minutes and 3 days when traveling with kids. I vacuumed this 2 days ago.

Beach is to Sand as Child is to Mess.

You know how it is.  You wake up bursting with joyous energy,  throw on that crisp, clean apron. Magically your hair and make up are immaculate, and then *Ding* your fresh batch of morning muffins are ready! Your kids sit calmly on their stools. No crumbs fall. And even if they did,  you would have that counter top shining again in no time! While they eat, your kids listen attentively while you practice their French flash cards. Next, you will all skip on down, merrily, to the farmers market to get fresh veggies for dinner. No one cries.

Oh, what’s that?  Your mornings don’t look like that? That’s good.  Because we probably couldn’t be friends. Do they look more like this?

A soggy bowl of cereal. 2 pajama clad kids. 1 sitting on his neck. The other clamping a clutcher grabber to her face. The breakfast of champions.

A soggy bowl of cereal. The other already eaten by the dog. 2 pajama clad kids. 1 sitting on his neck. The other clamping a clutcher grabber to her face. The breakfast of champions.

Most days I’m just happy if we all manage to get out of our pajamas. Some days I get super motivated to attempt to do a fun activity, or create one that will occupy them so that I can get some work done. Most recently, this idea was for paint stamps.

We had a few left over mini red potatoes. I cut them in halves and made a few different shapes for each kid. Stuck in a few corn handles and got out the finger paints.

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paint

I’m feeling really on top of my mom game right about now.

Thankfully I had the foresight to contain this activity to the kiddie pool. Or at least I thought so. For a long time they painted and stamped happily, even keeping their shapes on the paper. Things were going so well I decided to step into the garage to work on rehabing this great dresser I picked up (the details of which will be up shortly). And then the silence, except for a giggle here and there, became too suspicious.

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Looks about right.

Here’s one thing I knew would be essential for me to adapt to, as someone who generally likes an orderly home when I became a Mom; Sometimes it really is necessary for my sanity take the 5 minute iced coffee break and just plan to clean up whatever mischief ensues. Kids and messes- It’s like going to the beach and trying to keep the sand off. At some point, you’re just going to have to accept that it is part of the experience. (Side note. I really hate sand). And if you go to the beach and just think about how much you hate the sand, cursing under your breath every time it sticks to your leg or flies into your face, constantly trying to keep it off your beach blanket,  you’re going to miss the waves. You won’t see the sun set or the magic of real dolphins swimming past. You missed the moment. So much fun can be had on the sand, and so much fun can be had in the mess– it’s about the experience.

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OBX 2014

Our Day Out

Today the boys headed over to the fair grounds to check out a truck show.  So, Aryn and I set out for a fun day together too. Technically, I had to meet up with some buyers who were picking up some furniture pieces from me, but we won’t let that cramp our style! After jammin out in the car to my 1990 album of Minnie~n~Me (now available on iTunes for all you 90’s girls to reminisce with almost tearful enjoyment),  The first and inevitable stop, was Starbucks.

This girl and her smoothie drinks.

This girl and her smoothie drinks.

Here’s a trick of the mom trade: always carry a pocket knife. I may be borrowing from the Boy Scouts here, but this definitely came in handy today. Ever been stuck with no sippy cup when your kid needs a drink? Or gets one from the drive through?  Those milk and juice jugs are not at all spill proof. Even regular water bottles can be a nightmare. In the car, it is a wet lap, wet car seat, and tear fest waiting to happen. Whether the tears are from getting wet or from when you take the water bottle and stop them from getting more wet, this will be determined by your child. Anyway, this option largely reduces the spill problem. Simply poke and twist a small hole in the cap of any plastic drink bottle with a pocket knife,  thread a straw through to the bottom and BAM! kids cup.

Knowing is half the battle.

Knowing is half the battle.

It even helps if the straw is cramped a bit and slows the flow. The whole thing is more manageable for tiny hands and then, if the container gets knocked, dropped, or thrown the spill is minimal! Mom is happy and I’m sure the employees of the various Starbucks and Chick-fil-A’s that we’ve wrecked in the past appreciate it too.

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This is the face of a mom and kid who didn’t have to endlessly smear smoothie puddles around on the floor trying to sop it up with useless, cardboard,  counter top napkins.

So,  go get yourself a pocket knife and don’t worry when people stare. Your ingenuity will be worth it. And the cracker crumbs in your car seats will survive another day without becoming spilled milk sludge.

Do you have a trick of the trade item you count on to make Mom life easier? Let’s hear all about it!

In the mean time, we’re off to hit up the thrift shops!