Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Closed For Maintenance

Sometimes I wonder how I can be so upbeat one day and cranky/emotional the next day. 

Then I look at my calendar. 

Oh yeah. Now I remember.

Someone make that T-shirt for me. 

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Cheery Kitchen

This is not the most impressive sight for many people, I'm sure. But looking at my kitchen today, just as it is, I felt so full of cheer! I love my kitchen. It is a happy place.

I love the flowers on my table. The photo doesn't do the tulips justice; they're a lovely, vibrant red, and I think I breathe more deeply every time I pause to look at them. 

I love seeing the lovely cupcakes on the table; they're from Shauna, who ran them downstairs to us on her way out. That makes me happy. 

I love the fruit on the counters. Pineapple, bananas, peaches I canned with my mom. Fresh and yummy! 

I even love my dishsoap. It's such a bright blue. And I even love my rug at the sink; it's a little squishy, and it's soft and easy to clean.

I love my owl cookie jar. It's cute. And it houses my chocolate stash.

I love my knives, my blendtec, my bamboo cutting counters are more cluttered than I prefer, but I am so happy to have those things! 

Even the glass dishes drying on the sink edge make me smile. They're so clean they sparkle. 

And the paper pinwheels on the windowsill that Ender and I made together on Valentine's Day-- I love those, too. 

The kitchen is one of my favorite places to be, and I think that's because it's somewhere that I find it very easy to see my blessings and serve others. We are blessed with an abundance of food, tools and beautiful things. And the kitchen is where so many happy things take place.

New Year Goals Revisited

I like to do this once in a while during the year. Otherwise, I think the whole New Year New Me idea is pointless.

For the year's goals, I wrote: 

I know making art restores my emotional health incredibly well.
I know exercising gives me really important time to myself. 
I know I feel really good about myself when I cook and bake for the family. 
I know I stress less when I'm organized with my budget and home. 
I know I am happier when I take care of myself. 
I know waking up early makes everything easier. 
I know I love my church calling more when I prepare for each Sunday.

And guess how things are going? I'm definitely not perfect. I'm not ALWAYS keeping up with EVERYTHING. But when I start to get moody or lazy or something, I am more likely to remember that I have ideas to keep myself out of the tangly web of it all. 

I have been drawing VERY regularly! I love my new Bamboo Splash pen, and I've worn it down considerably. I have so much fun drawing, even if I'm making really stupid pictures that I end up deleting. Stupid pictures like this: 

I have been exercising. I have missed a few days here and there when the kids had runny noses or I stayed up atrociously late. But going to the gym is a habit. It's a regular part of our lives. When we fell off the radar during Christmas break (which extended through january, in gym-terms), we missed the gym and really wanted to go back. We weren't avoiding it so much as waiting out the sickies and trying to get our act together.

During my period, which happens all too often in my opinion, I am a horrible housekeeper. I don't make meals, I don't do laundry, I sometimes don't keep up with dishes, and my showers are irregular (ew). BUT! Outside that miserable window of time, I have been making meals and enjoying my time in the kitchen. It does indeed give me great pleasure. 

We have been watching our budget steadily for some time now, and it feels so good. Even when there's not much left to spend (like this month, bleh). At least I know just how much there is to work with, and even though most of it will be gone after I buy diapers and toilet paper today, we will be just fine. Especially if I finally file those tax returns...

Laundry...yeah...well, for about three weeks, my house looked like a dump. Because of the laundry, mostly. But I caught up (and I'll have to do some more very soon, since that's how laundry goes), and I have been trying harder not just to take care of the home but not imagine it's some huge chore. I just do it.

I have been taking care of myself. I pamper my skin, I pamper my hair. I shave my legs a little more often. :) And I try to eat more nutritious foods. I still enjoy cookies and the occasional ice cream or dessert, but I have at least been "better" about how much I enjoy (so...still a lot, but not nearly as much as before). 

I wake up "early." Hahaha...yeah, like 7:30 or 8:00. That's not really qualified as early in my book, but I'm not sleeping in. It's hard. It's torturous some mornings. But I want to be up in the mornings, so I make it happen. It does still take a while for me to peel myself off the bed, but it does still make everything easier to be up and get the day started on time.

Last: I have been preparing more diligently for Sundays. It has taken a lot of stress away. I have learned to love my calling so much that I honestly wouldn't mind if I got the same calling again after we move. I have learned how to keep going with fresh ideas even after 3 years. 

Help yourself; this is an old twister-wheel board, and if you don't happen to have a spare, wrapping some paper around it won't damage the board. Just pop the spinner off. "Hot Potato" is a game where the kids pass an item around quickly while singing, but when the music randomly stops, the kid holding the item has to say the next word. "Word Swap" is a game where you divide the primary into two groups which take turns singing every other word. The other stuff on here is pretty self-explanatory. My primary kids LOVE "Opera," so we go all out for that one. :)
You may have noticed that there haven't been any "Monthly Creations" yet this year...well, there won't be any. Not as a regularly documented event. I realized last month that this is not a good year for that! We are moving out soon, putting our things in storage, and we'll be in Russia for part of the summer. Then I'll be focusing my efforts on moving into our new place. 
I create stuff regularly, and I might decide to backtrack and post 12 creations for the year. It just won't be a monthly thing this time. :) 
Even with everything pretty busy this summer, I feel like I can keep up with my goals for the year! So far, pretty good. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

So...I Lied

Do you all remember this? Specifically, do you remember what I said at the end? To quote myself:

Just so you know, this was my first and LAST marathon. I am not interested in doing it again. I feel no need. This not a new hobby. 

Um. Guess what.

I seriously miss running. I couldn't run outdoors this winter because the cold air always gives me a hacking cough that takes ages to ever go away (even if I just make a quick jog through a parking lot).
As the winter wore on after my September marathon, I found myself really missing the daily running. At the gym, the thing that made me really dig into the elliptical or treadmill was daydreaming about a marathon (or running in the Olympics...hahaha!).
It began slowly. First I just missed running outside. Then I missed my "little" 3-mile runs. That simple little window of time in the morning that I got away and ran...
Then I missed the schedule of training, following goals. Then I missed the achievement.
I started thinking quite seriously about how my sisters have entertained the idea of all 5 of us running a marathon together.
Oh yeah, and I miss how in shape I was.

It happened:

I miss my marathon.

And...I want to do it again.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

What Happened to Spring?

I have many reasons to be excited about announcing where we're moving. One of the reasons:

Yesterday morning, I put the kids in their winter coats since it was chilly. But I figured it would get warmer, and since I was headed to the gym, I didn't bother with anything more than my thin Champion-material workout jacket. I stuffed the kids into the double stroller and gave them each warm food to help the cold seem less miserable.

The wind was sharp and bitter as I shoved the stroller along. I wanted to run with it, but that would make the wind cut even worse, and the front stroller wheels go berserk if I try anything fancy. I really thought the weather would just get warmer like it did the last several days.

As it turned out, I noticed a few snowflakes falling when I left the gym to pick up the kids. And it was horribly cold. I hoped it was some odd fluke that would be over in minutes. It was all making me flashback to the time the kids and I were stuck in the rain, and even though we were prepared with a couple umbrellas, the wind drove the rain all over us and soaked my poor kids to the bone. I felt like an awful mother that day, especially when the kids got colds from it and were sick for nearly a week.

The snow did not go away; when Ender saw the blizzard forming outside, he said with horror and dismay "what happened to spring?!?!" We were stuck with tunneling home through a furious flurry of fat snowflakes and wind that made the kids cry. I even whined to myself, pouting and complaining all the way to our front door.

Finally home, I settled us with some hot cocoa. It seemed to take half the day to get warm again.

That's why I'm REALLY excited that we are moving to our top choice school.... 

Somewhere HOT. 

You KNOW it's not snowing there. Bring on the sweaty summers and palm-tree-Christmases! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Map of Trees

It's 3am, and my eyes are kind of crossing.
I've been drawing! I even wore sunglasses now and then to give my eyes a rest from the BLARING computer screen.
Michael has this incredible album underway called Map of Trees, and one of the finishing touches he needed was some artwork. Tonight, I helped him by drawing 108 trees that work as a pictorial musical score with special instructions in paying attention to details for inspiration with performance.
I had to take breaks many times to let myself fall asleep a bit before I kept going. Trees are hard! Trees are exhausting! And I'm already kind of scared of how sleepy I'll be tomorrow. Naps for everyone, please?
But I'm happy to have done this for Michael-- I want him to be successful, so of course I'm happy to support him! And I'm pretty proud of how it all turned out. Because even though trees are hard and exhausting, trees are awesome.
Behold, my six-and-a-half-hour labor of love:

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Kitchen: the Mess Hall

We have had many adventures with Scarlett and her high chair.
It's kind of pointless by now...she can unbuckle her straps. She can wriggle out of ties and elastics and all the other traps we've devised. Either we're really crummy at fastening her to the chair or she's super brilliant.

I think she's super brilliant.

Like any other baby, Scarlett loves to drop her food on the floor. Very purposefully. It's almost like she imagines she's a Food Whisperer, studying the food, deciding it really wants to be on the floor. The floor is its home. She plucks the food up, dangles it just a second over the precipice of her tray, and with a solemn face drops it. A mercy killing? Then she peeks at it on the floor. Maybe to survey the damage. Did it survive the fall? How does bread splat compared to the way grape tomatoes splat? How big can I get that juice spill to spread?

I often wonder how she has the energy to be crazy every day when most of her food meets its end on the floor instead of in her belly. And sometimes it is just a little bit sad to see a praiseworthy piece of dinner that is more like art for all the work I slaved into it get swiped off her tray without ever making a detour to her mouth.

But it's okay. She has fun. She's cute about it. Like "Now Mom, these activities are for educational purposes. This survey will only take a few minutes." And apparently she gets the food she needs somehow.

With all the adventures she puts her food through though, she makes a huge mess for me at every meal. If I don't keep up with her and sweep/vacuum/mop every time, the area under her chair resembles a little city ants would call Paradise.

Honestly, I want Scarlett's high chair experiences to be positive. They're mealtimes, after all. And food shouldn't be mixed up with other issues, if it can be helped. So with all the stuff she and I put each other through while trying to secure her to the chair for safety's sake, it's probably a good thing she's having so much fun sending her food lemmings off the cliff of doom.

That's what I'll tell myself every time I have to hunker down and clean up yet another food mass-catastrophe.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Blast From the Past: Making Mom Laugh

My mom read to me a lot when I was a kid. In fact, she read to me when I was older, too-- if I asked her to. She was sensitive to my need to feel mature, so she never pushed. But I could tell when I asked her to read to me that she was so flattered. She loved reading to us. I think that's really a big part of why I loved it.

When I was about 7 or so, my mom read "Mr. Popper's Penguins" to Maddie and me. It is one of the first chapter books I remember her reading to us. We laughed at the silliness of it, and I enjoyed the story largely because penguins were one of my most favorite animals ever in the world. :)

One evening, when my mom seemed to be in an especially laughy mood, I sensed that I might get away with a little "naughtiness." So I confided to her that nearly every time I read the title of the book, I misread it as:


And my mom laughed and laughed. She would stop laughing for a moment, but then as soon as she was about to read again, she'd laugh and say to herself "Mr. Pooper" and we'd have to wait while she gathered her wits. I loved it. I felt so happy that I had made her laugh. I personally thought it was hilarious, so I was really flattered to discover that she thought so too.

I remember enjoying the book. But all the delightful parts of how Mrs. Popper wore gloves to play the piano and Mr. Popper turned his basement into a fridge-land pale in comparison to my memory of making my mom laugh.