tidying up kids papers

 

I am committed to the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. (It IS life changing. It IS magic.) I have worked my way through the easier items such as clothing and DVDs and am now to the big guns…memorabilia. I decided to start with the category that takes up the most space: child art and writing.

So that’s what I’ve been up to this week–sorting through our collection of child papers. Did I say that the collection is vast? Did I mention the overwhelming volume, multiple large boxes, the thousands of individual pages that must be individually assessed? (We have prolific creators).

This year I removed looseleaf paper from the house and have bought everyone a blank book. It has reduced my paper-driven anxiety by about 85%. This whole process of keeping only the things that spark joy that we care enough about to take care of has truly made me a much happier, significantly less angry and anxious person.

The last time I dealt with papers was a year and a half ago. I had gotten into a good groove of sorting through papers at the beginning of each month. But four hours a month of hole punching wasn’t sustainable and the holidays hit and… that was the end of that. Besides, I never did figure out what to keep and what to discard. Neither my intuition nor the internet has helped in that regard.

With kid art it is not quite enough to simply hold a piece of paper in my hand and ask myself if it sparks joy. I also wish to act as historian and curator, and that’s where things get sticky. (Well, maybe they got sticky when my family started producing 200- 300 pieces per month). Mid-game, this is where I’m at.

 

  1. I am committed to going through this stuff several times as I assess the collection and form a game plan. It also gives me time to beef up my skills at tossing things. You know, start with the easy stuff–the easily recognizable trash–and work up to the more emotional pieces.
  2. On the first round, I have kept papers that are worthy of framing, represent a significant investment from the artist, tug at my heart, belong together as a collection.
  3. Lia has produced a serious body of work through the last five years or so. Notebook after notebook is filled from beginning to end with drawings of people. I am playing with the idea to scan the drawings and print a book. Maybe even divide it into sections such as “literary characters” “Greek mythology” “family and friends”.
  4. There is also an awesome collection of portraits of Greek gods and goddesses. I’m thinking of framing the pantheon.
  5. My children will not thank me for handing over a large moving box full of their papers when they leave the nest. They will not want it all. (I have to remind myself of this to find the will to go on.)
  6. Sorting through these papers has made me see, once again, how exploration of their own interests is of such higher educational value than assigned work. (How many worksheets have I kept? None? Three?)

managing the schedule

Our enthusiasm might have outweighed our common sense this weekend. Half of the family left home before 7am and we got back home after 8pm. Church! Church again! (cause we’re suckers) Baby dedication celebration! Graduation party! Park playing!

Next week, we will be wiser. We will not go on the hike (boo) or to the Star Wars band concert (sob). We will be prudent and sensible and only do church (one service, like regular people), a nice quiet afternoon, and an evening graduation party.

And we will hope that such shrewd planning will eliminate need for a three-day recovery time.

It’s always a trick, managing the rhythms of the in breath and the out breath for our family. I aim for balancing it so that outings leave us happily tired and satisfied, home time grounding and invigorating. But our people are growing, developing, and changing, so there is no formula to fall back on other than combining intuition and common sense with a great deal of “well, that didn’t work”.

The Sleep Fairy hasn’t been around for awhile, but she has returned with vim and vigor. Every morning, Lia wakes up later and later.  <Current time is 1:35pm. Lia has emerged for the sustenance of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich (at least, I found the evidence of said sandwich) before returning to her nest of blankets and pillows.> It’s yet another benefit of homeschooling–we can honor and support the physical processes of growing up.

 

And…I’m back.

Two years later, I’m ready to return. I’m returning to this diary of daily life. To the act of pausing to record, to spin, to toil over words and meaning.

Two years have taken me out to the other side of my first mid-life crisis, through health problems, through the grieving of the end of the Baby Years. I can now look at pictures of my babies without sobbing uncontrollably–it has dialed down to a small ache and a tear or two. I can read through my old posts without feeling like my heart is being ripped to shreds. See, I’ve come so far!

Two years away has helped me to let go of any self-inflicted pressure or hope to make my blog like all those nice ones I read. There is no niche here. There will not be many photos. There will not be regular posting. There will not be a treasure trove of carefully crafted posts that always end nicely. And I’m okay with that. Great with that! <insert Julie Andrews singing Cinderella’s “In My Own Little Corner”>

Right now, I am in my cool, dark room, with the door closed. There is a wild (and noisy) foosball game going on in the living room, contestants clad only in underwear. I had planned to work on sewing my slinky opera dress, but the sheer volume of noise drove me to my room where the hollow core door filters out a teeny bit of the sound.

We spent some time today during school looking at physical maps of the Pacific Northwest. We are hoping to make a road trip up there this summer as part of Devo’s sabbatical. Sierra Nevadas! Shasta! Cascades! Mt. St. Helens! (No, it will not erupt while we are there, Levi. I promise.) Olympic rainforest! Banff! Lia would like to extend the trip and come back down through as many states as possible, “But not that state that’s just all corn, what state is that again, Mommy?”. It turns out that both Lia and Amelie really want to go to Four Corners. Amelie spread eagled on the floor, practicing for touching all four states. Kiri set up housekeeping for her calico critters under the red umbrella.

Amelie and Levi have been learning to do round-offs. We are a month and a half in to gymnastics and it has been a wild success with the three oldest children. Apparently, there is an entire section of youtube taken over by small teeny-bopper gymnasts showing off their skills in their backyards and basements and encouraging you to like their posts and doing shout outs to commenters. I find it fascinating and puzzling. But we thank them for giving us lots of instruction on how to do the things the kids want to learn to do. A few youtube tutorials and an hour on the trampoline and they can both do something that is recognizable as an attempted round-off. Self-driven research and practice warms my Mommy heart.

 

 

I’d like to thank the Olympics

Hey hey!  A moment to celebrate making it through Wednesday evening.  Wednesday evenings, the night of Children’s Choir then rush home to make a quick meal that has become The NeverEnding Meal and then they get wilder and wilder until I’m wild-eyed and I fling them into their beds.

I’m sitting here feeling happy and peaceful, rather than strung out and exasperated (which is the usual Wednesday evening modus operandi).  Of course, I felt strung out and exasperated for an hour or so around 6pm, so maybe I just got it out of the way earlier.

I’d like to thank the Olympics for sponsoring this unusually calm evening.  In particular, I’d like to thank the women snowboarding half pipers and the pairs figure skaters.  I’d like to commiserate with the snowboarders who didn’t do well, and give a moment of thanks for the face-hiding goggles in their moments of international scrutiny.  I could use a pair of those goggles.

I’d also like to thank the figure skaters for inspiring extended conversations about the itchiness of skating costumes.  Also for inspiring Levi to try to roller skate while lifting a foot.  No small feat when the foot + skate probably weighs half as much as he does.

Chemistry for kids

We’ve been loving our science curriculum — Chemistry by REAL Science Odyssey.  I never took chemistry in high school (though it’s on my transcript, go figure), so it’s eye opening to all of us.  Amelie, especially has taken a shine to the elements.  Her birthday gift to me earlier this week was a collection of elements that she had written out and illustrated, it’s pretty darling.

We got this book from the library.  Highly recommend.  I think we need one for our library.

But back to the curriculum.  Frankly, it doesn’t look like much.  The layout is kind of plain.  But the contents are fantastic.  A bit of read aloud (or read to yourself), and then the labs.  I am not much of a project girl – I lose enthusiasm for messes or things that take too long.  But these labs are interesting and just the right size so that none of us (Mommy included) loses interest.  There is a consistent emphasis on observation and data recording.  Scientific method for six (and nine) (and 33) year olds.

Today the girls made muffins for our lab.  Well, the half that we put baking powder in were muffins.  The other half (minus baking powder) were more like hockey pucks.  Carbon dioxide, it’s good for the plants, it’s good for the muffins.  Lucky for us, the hockey pucks still taste good thanks to the (very) liberal sprinkling of cinnamon sugar.

I’m thinking now that we need a gigantic periodic table on our living room wall.

end of summer, photos and notes

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:: Friday night supper on the back porch, blueberry cornbread and a strawberry smoothie.

:: And we’ve discovered Monopoly.  Any game with play money is of utmost interest.  Today’s school (actually, today’s dayconsisted entirely of games with money.  (Or, as we discovered with the new-to-us Bibleopoly, it’s not money, it’s offering.  Whoever made up that particular knock off certainly had a sense of humor.  At least, I hope they weren’t serious.)  Lunch and supper were not eaten at the dining table, as it was holding the ongoing Game of Life.  Fascinating to see how acing worksheets of place value exercises don’t seem to make the jump to understanding the difference between $5,000 and $50,000.  They understand now, now that it matters.  I particularly loved how they love to acquire children in Life.  Children, I am informed, are what make them rich.  Indeed.

:: We did our first one-night camping trip.  (Did you see the deer?) I wasn’t sure if it would be worth the effort packing and unpacking for just one night.  It was! It was!  I loved packing only one day’s worth of clothes and one day’s worth of food.  It took us two hours to pack up and go, and everything was clean and put away by bedtime after we got back.  Without monumental effort.  Our next trip is already reserved – Joshua Tree in October.

::  I’ve picked up a total of three pairs of roller skates for $2 a piece over the last several months.  Our church’s thrift store is a gold mine of treasures with golden-hearted people who do the pricing.  Roller skates are an excellent way to get from your bedroom to breakfast.  Most days our house resembles a roller derby.  Even Kiri can put one foot in a skate and hop along to get where she wants to go.

:: We made an awesome geoboard using this tutorial.  We eventually filled in the entire pegboard with the screws.  The geometric exercise often shifts into rubber band shooting sprees (I’m sure shooting rubber bands is teaching them scientific principles).  It’s big enough that several of us can play at the same time.

:: A “This is How We Roll” photo to add to my collection.  Home Depot has awesome new car carts.

:: A photo of a lovely, lovely moment during the school day.

:: The obligatory, traditional First Day of School photo.  We go to the same lake and take a picture on the same stump every year.  After our stint as tourists this summer, we’ve taken to trying to strike some sort of pose other than Stand and Smile.  I like to think of this one as “I’m Going Somewhere”.

:: I love the last photo of me and my True Love.  Love.  Warm.  Kind of smooshed.  Happy.



popcorn (again), etc.

:: popcorn update

I figured if I was making enough popcorn to write a post about it, maybe I was making enough popcorn to merit spending money on and allotting precious kitchen space to a machine dedicated to making popcorn with ease.  Gone are the days of my childhood where popcorn makers were larger than your stock pot – or so I hoped.

We welcomed an air popper into our household this week and immediately put it to the test.  A whole stock pot full of popcorn in two minutes, wowee.  Everybody knows how to make popcorn now, and we all stand around and watch them pop.  Very exciting.  Also very satisfying.

The popcorn still could probably use a minute in the oven to crisp up.  Because it’s an air popper, it doesn’t use any oil and I’m having wild thoughts about using butter solely for flavor.  Because I can.  But I probably won’t.

Turns out the kids love plain popcorn liberally dusted with cinnamon.  I shouldn’t have been surprised — they all love to eat applesauce with more cinnamon than you can shake a stick at.

:: lumps, bumps, and sunscreen

I went to the doctor on Friday to check out a lump on my chest that I saw in the mirror that morning.  I won’t kid that there aren’t some scary thoughts associated with the word lump.  (Lump.  Rather an ugly word in itself, but kinda satisfying to say.  Lump.  Lllluuuummmmp.  Not like the word “vulgar” – that’s just ugly all the way around.)

It turned out to be a sebaceous cyst.  (Not worrisome).

Then, since I was there, I made the doctor (made being the operative word) do a breast exam as well — I hadn’t had one since I finished breastfeeding.  Can we just talk breast exams for a moment?  I really don’t see how a brief feel-feel, and another brief feel-feel qualify as a thorough breast exam.

And then, since I was there (let’s kill all the birds with the stone), I had the doctor look at a rough spot on my temple.  Pre-cancerous sun damage.  Ouch.  He froze it with his big bottle of frozen torture and I squeezed my eyes shut and remembered holding my great-grandma’s hand while she got a spot frozen on her nose.  I am now one with the ladies in their eighties.

I’ve been a faithful sun screener.  Most of the time I try to just stay out of the sun.  After all, sunscreen and sun damage seem to be a classic case of d-d if you do and d-d if you don’t.  This summer I bought Neutrogena baby sunblock.  Hypo-allergenic this and free and clear that.  Thick, white sun block that takes hours to rub into a family of 6 but still leaves us looking like escapees from Clowns Anonymous.

A couple of years ago my mom gave me a bottle of the most delightful sunscreen.  It sprays on, light and clear.  It’s the work of a second to rub it in.  A little goes a long way.  It was quite expensive, so I guarded it carefully.  But not carefully enough, because somebody got into the cupboard and dumped it out.  I don’t remember who the somebody was in this instance.  And I was horrified at the waste and sad to say goodbye to such a delightful product.  But a little relieved as well.  Surely something so very nice was way toxic and I was poisoning my family, sacrificing them on the altar of easy application.  I was so convinced it was highly toxic that I couldn’t bring myself to look it up in the toxic database, I held tightly to my ignorance.  I currently have the same problem with my antiperspirant.

I finally looked it up this summer.  My free and clear Neutrogena Baby?  Toxicity level of 7.  My beloved I’m-sure-it’s-killing-us-and-I’m-using-it-anyways KinEsys sunscreen?  Toxicity level of 3.

Bazinga, baby.

My sister left me her bottle of KinEsys – she figured she won’t need it much in London.  Sunscreening my family is now a joy unparalleled.  Spray, rub, done + peace of mind = I’ve become an evangelist.

So let me do a little evangelizing.  If you’re of the sunscreening type, I’d like to highly recommend KinEsys.  (It’s worth the money.)  I also recommend keeping the bottle out of the hands of people who might pour it out.  Don’t want to be crying over spilt sunscreen.

 

our summer

colonial

 

at Monticello

A whirlwind of a summer here.  The fullest social calendar we have ever had, and amazingly nothing overlapped.  One thing finished as the next began.  I think we’ve hit a late-summer slow as far as that is concerned.

My Grandpa died in June.  I don’t think I’ll ever get used to him being gone, I miss him so much.

on our way

 

on our way to the airport

My step-dad took us to Virginia for a family reunion/memorial service.  The kids would like to move to Virginia.  Cousins were all they are cracked up to be.  And Grandmas and Grandpas and Uncles and Aunts.  But mostly cousins.  In the country, the kids were free-range, coming back to me only to be checked for ticks before falling into bed.

cousins

cousins

 

mid-June, mid-June, mid-June

We’ve turned the corner into summer.  School year things are all finished and neatly tied up, waiting for mid-summer prep.

:: in the garden

We’ve had our first tomato.  A cherry tomato divided into quarters makes for just the smallest bit of a taste, but oh the promise of things to come!  We’ve had our first pile of squashes, and it shows my naiveté and exuberance that I still don’t believe I planted too much squash.  We’ve had our first cucumbers, and I’m thinking I should put in more.

MORE! seems to be my rallying garden cry.  I have never in my life experienced garden abundance, and I want this year to be the YEAR OF ABUNDANCE.  I can only imagine what it’s like to not ration tomatoes.  To have cucumbers coming out my ears.  To not treat red bell peppers as precious, precious (expensive) items.

There are still a few spots left in the garden beds, hmmmm.  More, more, more!

:: we love negative

My mom is coming towards the end of her medical testing and everything is coming back negative, negative, negative.  We love negative.

:: summer = routine revamp, or up-vamp

Summertime means summer schedules, and we’ve started this summer out with a bang.  A bang called chores.

We’ve never had the kids do regular chores outside of taking care of themselves and their things.  Isn’t that enough? It seems like a never ending gargantuan (which I tried hard to spell like an inversion of orangutan) task.  And for a very long time, it has been enough of a task.

But times, they are a changing, and the effort of establishing and then keeping on top of chores for the next 16+ years is trumped by the possibility of raising children with a false and harmful and despicable sense of entitlement.  Taking care of yourself only takes you so far – now it’s time to be a part of a system bigger than yourself, my children!  Welcome to the wonderful world!

Establishing a chore routine (establishing any kind of new routine) takes an awful lot of parental energy, and now as our baby is nearing two, there is some parental energy left over for chores.

They seem to kinda like doing their chores (surprise, surprise).

And while we’re working on routines, we are also working on training the children of the house to get all the way through their morning routines in a reasonable amount of time, and without prompting.  Yes, you may pray for us that we will be consistent, consistent, consistent.  That Mommy will get out of bed, out of bed, out of bed.

:: yoga teacher (that’s me)

I have now taught three yoga classes in a row, and I have some thoughts on the matter.

1) It’s delightful to be Teacher, Source of Knowledge, rather than Repressed Know-It-All (a childhood label still sticks to my insides).  (And while we’re on the subject, why does exuberance and delight in knowledge equal a know-it-all?)

2) I absolutely love touching people.  I have a deep, deep reverence for bodies.  It’s always a surprise, getting to know someone else’s body, the way they look is often very very different from the way they feel.  Flexible people can have tense, hard bodies.  People who are very tight can have delicious, soft, giving bodies.  More than a surprise, though, it is a knowledge.  We store everything in our bodies and much is revealed there.  A privilege and a gift, teaching yoga.  Sometimes I say to myself, giddily, like I’m whispering behind my hand, I get to touch people.   Cooooool.

Enjoyed this post on the subject.  Eight Things I Learned From 50 Naked People

 

updates

I thought that maybe a few updates were in order here.

:: First of all, my mom is here from Guam for about two months. Yay!  She came earlier than expected in order to undergo some medical testing in LA. Boo.  (Guam isn’t much for specialties).

An initial consult with the liver specialist and he says he doesn’t think she has cirrhosis of the liver – which is what the tests in Guam had indicated.  He’s referring her to a rheumatologist instead.  Now we are waiting for the insurance company and the doctor’s office to get the CT scan scheduled (just to make sure on the liver) and the appointment with a rheumatologist.  Waiting seems to be the name of this game.  We’ve been sitting on this since, what, March?

In the meantime, everyone is enjoying having Grandma around.  With a firm skype-relationship, Kiri thought her favorite TV character had come alive when Grandma arrived.  Big smiles and an obvious sense of wonderment like, “Wow, coooool”.

:: Thank you so much for the recipes in the comments of my last post.  Riffs on grain salads and other goodies.

I am on the second week now of 30 Day Vegan.  I signed up with a friend and two other friends signed up as well, so now we have a little club to compare recipes and cheer each other on.

It’s extra nice to have Mom here while doing 30 Day Vegan.  We’ve been cooking up a storm, and she’s been doing more than her fair share of dishes, sneaky Grandma.

:: We’ve been on the usual end-of-school round of piano recitals and children’s choir performances and charter school requirements.  Easing into summer.

:: My yoga teacher has to go in for major surgery – holding hope for her.  She’s asked me to teach while she is recovering.  This will be my first “job” in years.  I’ve taught one class here and there over the last few years.  I’m looking forward to getting into a routine and discovering my teaching voice.  Getting into the flow.  And maybe I’ll make more than $75 this year.

:: We can’t seem to manage to get our summer schedule ironed out.  It seems like every decision requires a juggling of about seven different people/factors.

:: Levi dropped my laptop last week and shattered the screen.  $340 later I have a bright shiny new screen, and I wonder what the person who repaired it thought of the bespackled and besmudged screen.  Maybe I should always keep my screen clean, just in case, like that old adage that you should always wear clean underwear in case you’re in an accident.

:: Which brings me to – we were in an accident last week.  Another one.  In the other old car.

Devo and I were taking Amelie out to Jamba Juice (taking advantage of Grandma’s presence), when someone ran a red light and hit the back side of our car.  We were all okay other than a day of being a bit stiff and sore, but the car has been officially totaled.

I think we’re going to keep the car and take the money  (blessedly, more than we had hoped).  We’ll repair the broken window, but not the dents – the car just isn’t worth putting that money into.  So now we will each be driving a battered car and continue saving for our dream car…a twelve passenger van.

I’m going to have to be extra cool to pull off driving smashed up cars with flair.  Any suggestions?

daffodil skirt

I’ve been an armchair sewist for about a year. Reading, scoping out blogs, finding a few favorite and easy things to make.  It all bumped up a serious notch when I got Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing: A Modern Guide to Couture-Style Sewing Using Basic Vintage Techniques.

It was my bedside reading for weeks.  Tailor’s tacks, fabric guides, pattern drafting, bound buttonholes.  Sometimes I’d have to not read it before bed, because I wouldn’t be able to sleep after reading such interesting and exciting things.

Really.

From the introduction:

“While shortcuts and quick projects seemed to be the trend in the sewing world, I was spending hours overcasting seam allowances by hand.  I started to appreciate slow sewing and the beautiful garments it produced.”

I was always a part of the “shortcut and quick projects” crowd.  (I was trending!  How unusual.) I have a notoriously short attention span for long projects, I like variety and change.

(Scuba diving is one such evidence of my attention span.  By the time I’ve geared up and gotten in the water, I’m ready to be finished and go home.  Ditto with projects.  Give me results or give me…something else to do.)

This whole idea of slow sewing was a revelation to me.

Slow sewing produces beautiful garments (that don’t look “homemade” – hello unfinished seam allowances and poor fit).  Clothes that are designed, altered, and sewn to fit me.  (Anyone else despise clothes shopping as a futile effort in finding what doesn’t exist?)

I am also really drawn to the idea of slow sewing as a meditative act.  Being in the moment instead of rushing towards the end of the seam, the end of the project, on to the next thing.

And then I’ve been watching the Great British Sewing Bee.  It’s a reality show/competition to find Britain’s best home sewist.  I just loved it.  Especially Ann, the elderly lady who does yoga twice a week and has been sewing every day for something like 75 years.  She’s so classy.

The Great British Sewing Bee really fired me up.

I’ve been waiting to lose the baby weight, and then to lose the nursing fullness before sewing my own clothes.  Which I finally did – only to gain some back.  (Whaaa?  Am I experiencing the beginnings of middle age spread?  So many things about my body have changed recently and I don’t think I can chalk it all up to having four children.)

But what the hay, I think the extra random body mass won’t make too much of a difference in clothing.

I chose Colette’s Peony as my first project and ordered the pattern last week.  But in the meantime I decided to do a little project while I waited on the US postal service.

A while back I had bought some yellow fabric to make curtains for my kitchen window.  I’ve wanted corn-colored curtains ever since Pat and Rae had them at their bedroom window in Mistress Pat.  Unfortunately, the yellow just isn’t right for the kitchen (it needs something more mellow and with a small print, I think).  So channelled my inner Maria again and turned the curtains into a dirndl.

I followed Gertie’s instructions for a full, gathered skirt (which are also in the book, slightly modified).  I ended up lining it for modesty’s sake and putting in my very first zipper!  (Yes! First zippers are worthy of exclamation marks!)

Introducing, my daffodil skirt.  Poofy happiness.

daffodil skirt

 

photo by Levi

spring cleaning

In for a penny, in for a pound.  That’s the story of the garage of this, the first true garage clean-out (vs. garage clean-up) since we moved in 11 months ago.

All those pieces of furniture that I thought might come in useful have been patiently awaiting their verdict.  Quite a few pieces got the boot (particle board hand-me-downs…yuck.  and let’s not discuss why I’ve let them stay in our home for so long).  The nicer pieces got adopted by my artist friend Rebecca, who is going to turn them into pieces of happiness.

But I don’t want to give up my two wood bookcases, wedding gifts from my uncle, pretty and mellow, that have been part of our home for ten years.

So I had to find a place to put them.

And thus began the Great House Overhaul.  Yes, right in the middle of the Great Garage Clean-Out.  Haven’t touched the garage since I last mentioned it.  But boy, is the house getting a lot of attention!

The only place those bookcases could possibly go (and me remain happy) is in Kiri’s room.  But Kiri’s room was already occupied by four bookcases.

In a bold move, I moved the four bookcases from Kiri’s room to the breakfast nook-turned-office.  That desk had really been bugging me, the feng shui was off.  Emptying four full bookcases on a whim is always a bold move, but I LOVE IT.  That corner of the house finally feels right.

desk

The thing is, those four previously full bookcases are now mostly empty.  The shelves are now mostly decorative instead of mostly functional.

Which means a lot of pruning, purging, tossing, sorting, reimagining, rearranging, reorganizing.  White space and margin, my decorating requisites.

After a week of diligent work, I’ve got it all put away in new places (said places also being subject to my Mad Skillz) — except for one shelf’s worth of books.  Can’t find a place for them.

Crumbs.

While I waited for the elusive solution to appear, I set in on the toy collection.  Remind me to tell you about the toys.  It’s an odd story.

In the meantime, we’re looking ahead to the summer.  My mom is coming out (early – yay! – for medical appointments – serious boo) and then once school lets out for the summer, we’ll have a few weeks with Liana here as well.  To make room for them, we’re going to make the transition to having Levi and Kiri in the same room, which has always been our ultimate goal.  Right after sleep through the night.

(I feel some trepidation about the potential loss of sleep in this transition.  But in my clearer, braver moments, I remember that they usually wake one another up when they cry at night anyhow, so it should just be like usual.  Only cozier.)

So we’re looking to set up Kiri’s room as a functional long-term guest room for two.

Which means…the beloved bookcases from the garage don’t fit.

Bwahahahaha.

What’s a girl to do.

I think I’m hitting an Organizing Slump.  Time to think of something else.  (Don’t you dare mention the garage.)  Like watching Frasier and soothing my frayed end-of-day nerves.  Hey, I finally got to the part where Daphne and Niles get together!  I hope I won’t be lame and lose interest now that the whole unrequited love bit is gone.

Anybody else gone a little crazy with their spring cleaning?

out and about

I’m always on the lookout for interesting people.  A few months back, I introduced the girls to the joys and laughs of people watching in an airport.  (Parenting perk – having the fun of teaching them how, and then a whole new set of people watching partners.) Figuring out who belongs with who, and how they’re related.  Looking closely at faces and extrapolating possible stories.  Where are they going, why are they going?  We never got to see who was going to pick up the extremely large and tall man with tattoos, dreadlocks, a big beard, and saggy pants.  We figured he was probably a gentle soul.

A couple of people around the neighborhood have caught my eye recently.

:: twins

There is a set of twins who I often see out getting their daily walk.  They must be in their 70s, dyed coppery hair (matching), sporty old lady outfits (coordinated), matching strides, walking close together side by side.

I love to see them, it brings a smile to my face every time.  I holler out, “There are the twins!” every time we drive by.  It bewildered the kids at first, but now they look for the twins as well as for our favorite resident snowy egret.

I like to wonder about these ladies, what it’s like to be twins for so long.  Do they have husbands snoozing in armchairs at home?  Are they both widowed and enjoying retirement, just the two of them all cozy in their gated community condo?  Or maybe they never married and this is just today’s version of an entire lifetime of daily walks.

:: water bottles, requisite

Another set of exercising siblings has caught my eye.  Two brothers and a sister (judging from similar features), all young adults, their early 20s, maybe.  All quite heavy.  Dressed in their t-shirts and cotton shorts, I see them out walking.  Always with their water bottles, usually with earbuds.  They don’t quite walk together, one walks a little ahead or one lags behind.  They have obviously made a pact to exercise together and they’re sticking to it.

I always feel so inspired seeing them, faithfully out for their walk with their ever-present water bottles..  Sometimes I wish I could stop for a minute and pass back to them some of the encouragement they give me.

:: wanted – headband and leg warmers

The house around the corner is getting a redo.  A new paint job (pepto bismol meets mud, delightful).  A new roof.

I just love seeing the contractor who’s been doing all the work.  Big poofy black hair.  Usually tamed (or shaped, rather) by an Olivia Newton John headband.  Dark skin, way too dark.  Usually no shirt, just a pair of shorts and the big boots.  Can’t get over the headband.  Just needs some leg warmers to make my life complete.  I’ll be very sorry when he finishes up work.

olivia-newton-john-2

photo – knit your own!

pain and fear

I’ve noticed that my rate of posting here has slowed recently.  I think it’s because I have so many things to say.  I’ve been thinking many deep thoughts, and they’ve stymied the interest in writing about anything other than what must be said.

I have so many things to say that when I’m in the company of people to whom I could discuss all of these things that are speaking so loudly in my brain, I can’t seem to say anything at all.  So I sit and smile with my lips closed.

Most of these recent thoughts seem to be under the umbrella of finding a life of wholeness and freedom.  The topics seem centered around pain and fear, doubt and faith.  For today, pain and fear.  Maybe doubt and faith another day.

……………………………………..

I’ve had a number of conversations recently with people undergoing intense personal pain.  And they have no idea what to do with it.  Push it away, mostly, through inactivity or overactivity.  Does no one teach us how to deal with pain?

I began my lessons in dealing with pain at my mother’s proverbial knee.  My mom legitimized my pain and was brave enough to face it with me.  (She still is.)  I continued my education through books and listening and thinking and counseling and lots of practice.  Lots of practice.

Some thoughts on pain.

  • When you block out pain, you block out joy.
  • When you name something and speak it aloud, it robs it of its power, brings it into light.
  • Release your pain from the constriction of fear, meet it with kindness.
  • Pain + kindness > pain + fear
  • Overcoming fear takes courage.  Courage, remember, isn’t the absence of fear.
  • Be proactive.  Deal with pain when it appears.
  • You can push it aside, but it will be back later.
  • Notice what makes you cry.
  • Notice what stories you tell make you choke up.  Dig there.
  • Sit with it.  Feel it.  Don’t brush it off.
  • Honor your pain by your presence.
  • If it gets to be too much, too intense, you can take a break.  And come back later.
  • If it’s still too intense, you can see a counselor and look at those things together, in a safe place.
  • It gets worse before it gets better.  Like Pandora’s box, if you let one thing out, it all comes out.  This is a good thing.
  • Examine the pain.  Follow it back to its roots. Dig like an archaeologist.  What am I feeling?  Why do I feel this way?  How does this connect to other things?  Follow threads until they exhaust themselves.
  • Don’t try to force or convince yourself to feel one way or another.  This is honest time and you can’t be honest when you’re trying to be something you are not.  You might be (insert word here : forgiving, loving, able to let go) later, but you are not now.  Honor now.
  • Journal.  Ask yourself a hard question and then answer it.  Give yourself permission to ramble, to switch thoughts mid-sentence, to follow threads, to jump in in the middle.  Tear up the paper when you’re done, burn it ceremoniously, delete the file.  Or keep it as a memento reminding you of the courageous path you’ve taken, or healing sought and received.
  • Don’t be surprised when things that you thought were healed and tidied up need to be addressed again.
  • Be ready to receive cleansing, relief, healing, joy, wholeness.
  • Know yourself.
  • When you open yourself to pain, you open yourself to joy.

 

Sundays, an update, and frasier

:: homemade pizza night, every other Sunday

One of our numerous new year’s resolutions was to invite people over more often.  We have been practicing hospitality faithfully since the start of this year.  Every other Sunday seems to be about right for us, manageable.

Technically, Sunday is our Home day – the day to take care of those honey-do tasks, work on home projects, work in the garden, veg a little.  On weeks when we are having guests for supper, we clean the house.  A decent cleaning every two weeks is just about right, in my book.  On the in-between weeks, we do larger house projects (next up: the garage, ew) and then my sister Liana babysits in the evening while we go out (or sit in the car).

We have so enjoyed having our friends over.  With having five pregnancies and four babies over the last nine years, there have only been a few months here and there where we’ve felt ‘with it’ enough to entertain.  Now we’re really getting into the groove.  Our biggest problem is that there are so very many people we want to have over.  Too many friends, a good problem to have.

:: voice lesson update

After a three month hiatus from lessons (not my choice, teacher’s schedule), I had my first lesson this last Sunday.  Right in time for another hiatus due to Spring Break.  (Well, at least I’m not being tempted to drain the family money pot with lessons right and left.)

My teacher’s name is Aram – he’s Bulgarian.  I love him.  One of the many many things I love about him is that he lavishes praise and affirmation.  Even his suggestions and solutions are bookended in positive things.  “Beautiful, just beautiful.  Now this time, I want  you to…”  “You could never make a sound that is anything less than beautiful, it can only have varying degrees of beauty.”

I bask.

And I laugh at myself, because I am so aware of how those compliments and affirmations buoy me up, build me up.  Maybe I laugh because we get the message that we are supposed to be impervious to compliments and impervious to criticism, and I realize that I am flying in the face of that.  But in the words of Jewel, I’m sensitive and I’d like to stay that way.  I’m like a little flower, soaking in the sunshine.

There is a theme in these lessons that wasn’t present in my early twenties.  Warmth of the 30s coming in to your tone.  Now you sound like a woman in her 30s, not a junior in college.  Your true voice.  

Your true voice.  I’ve been mulling over vocation and the concept of becoming our truest and fullest selves, and all the hindrances we work with.  It seems as though my vocal development is just another manifestation of this journey.

:: guilty pleasure

I’ve been watching reruns of Frasier in the evenings.  I must admit how comforting those 90s styles are to me.  Baggy pants, short shirts, short skirts.  Nostalgia.  I’ve been surprised at how much I am enjoying it.  I find myself laughing out loud, all by myself.

I still have not been able to bring myself to watch the last episode of Downton Abbey.  I know something terrible happens.  Sheesh, I know what the terrible thing is that happens!  But for Pete’s sake, it’s TV, can’t I just never watch it and start again next season and spare myself the anguish?