Archives for category: Challenges

Last week I sat in our local co-op grocery with three of the sweetest of friends. We listened to teens and tweens make their first attempt at a formal meeting. We listened to younger friends rambunctiously laugh their way through nearly every wobbly tall stool in the place. And I became overwhelmed.

Several physical challenges were wrapped around our family. All at once. Nothing life-altering. Nothing permanent. Yet I was overwhelmed.

Why?

I am sitting with a woman who has lost two loves. Lost them. They were taken from her. In an instant they were gone. I cannot comprehend.

I am sitting with a woman who will be central to the future of her parents. Precious parents. Parents who love to kiss one another and me. Parents who love their daughter with words and actions I cannot comprehend.

I am sitting with a woman whose steadfastness has bound her family with one another and in determination through the most devastating of challenges. She is the glue. I cannot comprehend the many months, years of wondering.

And my woes are temporary. I cannot honestly say I feel any guilt about my worry. I am concerned about my worry taking me. I am simply overwhelmed. But I was with friends. Sweet, honest, solid friends.

That evening, as I was pounded by the jacuzzi jets that ease the pains in my legs, I made a decision. I decided I am taking these physical challenges of my family’s. I am taking them. I am making them into the most sincere pause of Advent, Solstice, Winter’s Nature that I can. Not by doing, but by being.

And the treadmill I so badly want to be back up on … the walks on our trails covered in hickory nuts and dotted with mud pits? I am taking them, too. After all, I have been medically declared the most non-compliant patient in the county. Why disappoint?

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I haven’t just been picking belly button lint. In fact, I am confident there is more to dig out.

We just concluded the 3 busiest weeks of the summer. Now it’s pretty much just hang out and relax.

Yes. I way, way, way over scheduled my kids. I definitely learned what we want and don’t want to do next Summer. But you know what? I don’t regret it. Yes, that does give me a tally mark in the “Bad Mother” category. But I don’t regret it. I don’t regret it because of what we learned in that tiny space of time. What we learned about ourselves, our motivations, our limits, our organization. And now we have the rest of our beautiful Southern Summer to reflect on those things.

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Back near the start of the new year I posted about some things I wanted to learn in the near future. Not resolutions – those are a waste. For me. But just things I want to learn and/or do. Well, it’s the eleventh of February and time to cross things off and/or adjust/add/move things.

The list as it was posted in January and updated today:

  • learn intarsia knitting
  • learn Tunisian crochet
  • learn how to make a consistent loaf of bread

 

I haven’t even made an attempt at intarsia nor Tunisian. But bread? Read here how great I am loving our daily bread.

Here is my revised list for the near future:

  • learn to make sourdough bread from scratch
  • knit shawls for the girls for Easter Sunday
  • get the nerve to visit churches so the girls have somewhere to wear knitted shawls for Easter Sunday
  • learn intarsia knitting
  • learn to go “shopping” once a week in hopes of catching deals for clothes/household items/etc.

And lastly, a bit of housekeeping from last week…

When I posted about all I’d done in the three hours between 6am and 9am, it was not a “look at me and how productive I am” moment. In fact, it was the opposite. That is nearly standard my 6a-9a day Monday through Friday. What it was was absolutely the opposite – those are my “every day activities” and not one thing relevant to moving forward occurred. I am not bummed about that. It is what it is. I don’t stop easily. I’ve written about that over and over and over. It’s why I am stuck on the sofa right now feeling like dirt with all the mono symptoms and the stoopid sinus thing – I went too hard this week – I. Don’t.Stop.  So, please stop saying how “look at me, look at me” I am. I am actually not. This is my life. I hope you have one of your own on which to focus. Hugskissesloveyameanit. Most days.

Yesterday I shared about how a comment I made was removed from a blog I faithfully and joyfully follow. It all had to do with chasing a lifestyle. I am chasing the lifestyle my Husband and I want. That blog post happened to be about how the writer was creating Christmas gifts for her children, while they were there in the house with her. Well, while I was certainly bummed that my comment, my plea for wisdom, insight, inspiration, direction, was deleted by her blog administrators, she no less motivated me to do the same.

Sure I don’t live in an old farmhouse with lots of separate rooms. Our home is pretty much wide open spaces on all three levels. And sure I don’t have a studio all my own. But I do have knitting needles, yarn, fabric, a sewing machine all my own. And I want to make things for my family. So I have no excuse.

Now, I am lucky in that I am also creating for the Gifts from the Heart Christmas Bazaar (orders, anyone?) and the kids have seen me sewing and knitting and crocheting for weeks in preparation, so I have good coverage! And here’s what little I have accomplished thus far.

This scarf is simply the weave stitch that I made with a bit of an additional pattern for some added texture. It’s for the newly-turned seven year old boy. While this scarf is knitted in some leftover organic cotton, I aim to make him some mittens in a coordinating brown aran weight wool.

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This drawstring pouch is also for that same boy and will be filled with pirate’s trinkets including a necklace telescope and compass, both made of brass, that I found during our trip to the mountains this Summer. While my pouch is a bit different, the tutorial on which it is based is found here.

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And lastly, and still a work in progress, is this potato chip scarf for the 8-1/2 year old red head. She wants one so badly and has seen me knit a few for other people. I am using this pattern. And I am using hand-dyed aran weight merino from The Twisted Knitter in Mebane. The owner dyes many yarns and does so beautifully. And… I am SO excited that a few of our homeschool friends will be taking a dyeing class with her in the early Spring. This one, I think I recall, she named “Sunset.”

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And that’s what this is about more than anything. I spend so much time making things for other people. It’s time I started making things for MY people. My creatures. And if my studio isn’t private but rather has a panoramic view over-looking our pond, pasture, and woods (and the kids playing Just Dance 3), well, I’ll take it over being huddled in a room with walls anyday. Some of the best secrets are those right in front of my face.

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

SO a crazy little thing happened on the way to a regular blog I visit…

I am not going to divulge what blog or even when this happened, other than to express it was very disappointing. In brief, I am amazed at all this one mom accomplishes as a wife, mother, surely daughter and friend, and business woman. Her life as portrayed on her blog is beautiful. Absolutely gorgeous. Dreamy.

She posted about making her children’s Christmas presents. I, in a very kind and gentle (which is not my forte, but I was in awe of this woman, so it was easy at that time) asked in her comments section could she please share how she creates for her children in their presence without their notice. I wanted some ideas because I, too, am with my many children all day every day without the benefit of public assistance to babysit them while I create for them. OK. I did leave out the “without the benefit of public assistance to babysit them” part. REALLY I DID. Like I said I was kind and gentle. I truly wanted to glean from this wonderwoman.

In fact, I’d gladly cut and paste what I asked her as I dutifully and anxiously checked back about every half-hour excited to receive her wisdom. I checked back on my comment for about three hours. And then it was gone. Yes. I cannot cut and paste my comment to you because my comment, my request which was just short of a plea, was gone. It had been erased.

Now, it’d be easy for me to get my panties in a wad about this. I’ve certainly wadded up my panties over less and indeed my panties are worn and tired and need replacing, but no less, they are not wadded up over this. But it did cause me a very.hard.pause.

This woman makes money off of people like me chasing her lifestyle. Note I did not say “things.” I am no “keeping up with the Joneses” gal. In fact, I want to corral the Joneses up and smack them a hard dose of their own over-spending-to-satisfy-their-empty-hearts-and-the-greedy-souls-they’ve-created-in-their-children smack. And believe me, if I could do that in good conscience, I would. But no, I believe to each his own and each one of us is only responsible for our own world. I will be accountable to Him one day. For myself.

I am only responsible for my own world. The world I create for myself. The lifestyle I choose to chase. That was what came from this very.hard.pause.

Interestingly, in the long weekend I had with my Husband, we did actually discuss chasing the lifestyle we want. No, we didn’t talk about the blog comment that was removed. He’ll read that here first. But we were talking about what we wanted our Christmas to be. We had just made Thanksgiving what we wanted it to be for us. For our own little seven people and too many animals family. And we intend to make the Advent season just as much ours. We are OK with saying to family, “We can be here at this time.” And leave it at that. It has nothing to do with not wanting to be with others. To the contrary. It has everything to do with being together in the lifestyle we want. The calm, the togetherness, the absorbing each moment of each time.

We both acknowledged how we don’t, nor really have, cared about “stuff.” At all. In fact, I don’t even care about money given on our behalf to charity. Means nothing to me. I’d rather have a piece of the person who wants to give. Be that piece some time or something shared that is important to the giving person. And I’d much rather give and receive a little through the year and ignore the plume of plastic and debt (from others, not us) that comes with each December. I’d rather December’s Advent be a time when our family, with our family and friends, enjoys time together. When we gather around a time of birth and re-birth like the Magi and sheep and shepherds gathered around Jesus’ birth which is our re-birth.

So, it’s Tuesday. And I am tackling chasing the lifestyle my Husband and I want. Instead of hustling to swash toilets and spit shine floors, the children and I will work together to make sure our home is comfortable for our handwork guests. We’ll make plenty of time to enjoy traveling to an art class a couple of counties away. We’ll take the time to be together. To work together. To love together. I’d much rather have this lifestyle.

And that blog comment? Oh, well. I am still going to her blog. She is an inspiration. And she’s no more a wonderwoman than I am. She just has a nicer camera and a better web professional.

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Last night was Monday Night Football. We usually have some special treats and occassionally a friend or two over. Last night we enjoyed the treats and a friend! I was pretty zoned out trying to figure out how to pinterest pics from websites so I missed most of the tackling. I still haven’t figured out how to “pin” pictures from websites, but I do know who I want to tackle. A moron on the Daily Kos. But I’ll save that for a separate post to try to keep this one on target for its intended purpose…

Today I will tackle the clothing switch. Yes. The clothing switch. For us all. All seven of us. I’ve already processed stuff from the closets, saving the warm weather things that can be worn another season or handed down to a younger sibling. I’ve tossed the things that just have too many stains. And I’ve “given” away the things that no longer fit or are just not what I want for the season once it warms again. Of course, yesterday it was 83F so I don’t think it’s really cold now. But it will be. Tomorrow. 64F!

All I have to do is go through the gender/age marked bins I so smartly keep labeled and stacked and decide what can and will be bron continuing to save/toss/give away. And I can sit in my big, comfy black pleather desk chair while I do it.

The giveaways far outnumber the saves which far outnumber the trash. There are even a few eBay items to get listed.

Anyways, this is what I am tackling today. It’s not a big deal and a big deal at the same time. It’s work. And I am beyond behind the curve ball with exhaustion. Way behind. My verypinteresting.com friend will fuss about this when she reads this. She’ll just have to suck it up. (LOVE YOU!) And you know what… I’ll get it done. Yes. I. Will.

Just like I conquered the lesson desk last week. Just like Mary-expletive-Poppins. Because that is what we do.

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Well, I met last week’s challenge. Check out my incredible performance here.

This morning, I failed to take a photo of my project before I was into it. But it was my lesson desk. This is the desk from which I am now typing, th edesk from which I help children learn to read, solve equations, and generally impart knowledge that in theory will be helpful one day. Boy was it stacked high! And piles around it, too. If you learn at home with your children, perhaps you collect lessons and ideas at a rate nearly impossible with which to keep up. At least I do. Well, this is how far I have made it this morning…

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Not terribly bad. But I want to finish it up now and tidy the library and loft as well. Maybe even vacuum. And *gasp* dare I say, “mop”? Perhaps. We’ll see… It’s nearing time to make lunch now and I still need to get dinner made as well. Rainy days are challenges in and of themselves, aren’t they?

I. Did. It. In 46 minutes. I put the laundry room right back into order in 46 minutes. And that includes folding and putting away the laundry that was still clean!

Take a moment and look back at yesterday’s post and see the chaos.

Now looky here…

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I know. I didn’t post a pic of the pantry side yesterday. It stays straight because I am generally the only one that uses it. But there you go…all spiffy again!

And now on with today’s real post… A great way to fold and store sheets. I cannot take credit for this. I don’t recall where I learned this, either. But here it is.

We have beds of all sizes at our home. And sheets of all sizes to match. And I fold them and store them all the same.

First, I fold all but one pillow case.

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Second, I fold the very self-explanatory flat sheet.

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Don’t the pillow cases and flat sheet look purty and tidy together?

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Third, the lovely fitted sheet… Follow closely. Fold it in half, any direction, and tuck the fitted corners into the other fitted corners they meet. Then fold it in half again bringing the other fitted corner set to the other fitted corner set. You now have one fitted corner and three straight corners that look like this:

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Fold the fitted corner side over to the middle, then fold it over again.

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Then just fold it into thirds and stack it with the flat sheet and pillow cases.

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Lastly, tuck those beautifully folded sheets into the unfolded pillow case.

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Now for storage… I store bed linens in the room where the beds are located. This makes sense to me. We do not have a “linen” closet. And I know certain people who sleep in certain beds prefer certain sheets. So, that’s where they go. So for my king size sheets, they are stored in my closet.

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So that is it. My neat sheets. I am certain there are prettier and neater and more orderly or centralized ways to do it, but I am pleased with ours. Even if the sheets were wrinkly from being on the bottom of the chaos in the laundry room.

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

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This is what I am tackling today. I know. How brave of me to post this chaos in my laundry room! On top of the dryer are clothes to be tossed/donated/saved. In front of the dryer are clean clothes to be folded and put away (mostly mine and linens). The counter needs clearing. The cabinets need straightening. And I’ll get it done.

But now is time for handwork. Knitting, crocheting, stitching, whittling whatever… working productively and respectfully with our hands. This is one of or favorite days.

Tackling comes later…

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OK. I’ll confess. I like Orgjunkie.com ‘s Menu Plan Monday. I like it because I am forced to think ahead. I like it because it makes shopping ridiculously easy even with all the kids in tow.  (Who will hold the coupons? The shopper cards? My reusable bags? I need minions!) And most of all, I like having ONE LESS THING ABOUT WHICH TO THINK. Yes, I’ve done some rearranging. Last week, we had pizza on Thursday and roast on Saturday. Who cares? I had all the stuff because I shopped according to the plan! So… this week, I’m-a gonna-go-a-go-a-wild-a and toss in a few desserts. We don’t eat dessert every night. But it’s nice to have some… I probably shouldn’t be doing this extra this week since I have a bunch of study coaching/SAT Prep sessions, but… I’m a wild woman… *le sigh* And next week, I just might start adding recipes.

MONDAY

breakfast – scrambled egg, cheese, bacon burritos

lunch – pasta salad

dinner – smoky beef and corn soup

(Monday Night Football – wings, tortilla chips, dip, carrot cake)

 

TUESDAY

breakfast – oatmeal with fruit

lunch – mac-n-cheese, salad

dinner – taco salads

 

WEDNESDAY

breakfast – cinnascones

lunch – chicken salad and veggies (PICNIC!)

dinner – chicken noodle soup (slow cooker), biscuits

dessert – graham cracker cookies

 

THURSDAY

breakfast – peanut butter toast, fruit smoothies

lunch – sandwiches, fruit

dinner – bean and cheese burritos (made with beans cooked on Sunday!), rice, salad

 

FRIDAY

breakfast – biscuits, bacon, eggs

lunch – chef salads with homemade croutons (I’m teaching the kids how to make the croutons!)

dinner – steak, potatoes, more salad (from the garden? very possibly!)

dessert – lemon curd and lime curd, with preserves we canned

 

SATURDAY

breakfast – breakfast cookies (I promise I’ll post this recipe by Wednesday!)

lunch – tailgating (GO PHEONIX!), TBD (but you know it’ll be gooood)

dinner – beans (slow cooker), cornbread

 

SUNDAY

breakfast – waffles, eggs, sausage

lunch – leftovers/sandwiches

dinner – crockpot roast, okra, corn pudding, salad

dessert – coconut cake