Crash Zone and Cabinets

Today I started serious reorganization of my house.  I started with the first place that I see when I come in my house – the “butler’s pantry”.  It is a fancy name for a group of cabinets and a counter that sit off to the side of the kitchen.

Since we moved into the house I have wanted to use it as a “landing pad” – a place where I can organize what comes into my house and a place to gather things that I need as I leave.

crash landing - Bruchlandung

Image by Maggi_94 via Flickr

Instead of a nice, happy place, it has morphed into the crash pad.  EVERYTHING lands there and subsequently never moves and sometimes is never seen again! Well, today I figuratively gutted the entire area.  I pulled out everything from the top cabinets.  I found candy up there that we had hidden from the girls – years ago.  I found light bulbs that were older than the house – I have no idea how they ended up in there.  I found a candle holder for which I had been looking for almost 2 years.  There were sticker books and activity books and coloring books the girls have long since outgrown, but for some reason we never got down for them.  I am not sure why we never gave them out – so much lost fun and opportunity to create!  It just never happened!  Then I cleared out the 4 drawers.  I found books for cell phones that I don’t even remember owning.  I found cords for cell phones that have long since gone to cellular heaven.  There were place mats that were purchased in China when we adopted our oldest that were still in the plastic covering.  There was all of our house information that I thought was deep in DH’s office.  Well, I made good on that one – they now are deep in there and out of the drawers.  Now each of us has a drawer.  If I find something laying around that is out of place, it is going to go in the drawer.  If the drawer is not cleaned out by Sunday night – everything is going into the trash.   Then I moved to the bottom cabinets.  I am really, really embarrassed by that one.  Let me preface with the statement that I was PartyLite consultant in a previous life – long before children.  Please remember that I have boxes that I have never unpacked because they were filled with breakable items that were not appropriate to put out with young children in the house.

Let’s just say that I have enough candles to light the house if we have a power outage of say – 3 weeks!  It is insane the amount of candles that I have.  Now that the girls are older I can pull them out and start enjoying them.  Hopefully I will use up that stash before they graduate from High School.  And please, if I ever say I am getting ready to buy more candles – please, please, please remind me to look under my phone cabinet!  After I pulled all the candles out of there – including some glassware candle holders that I will never use and will now be blessing someone else with in the near future – I put all the games that the girls have in there.  They can now see all the games they own.  We may actually be able to institute family game night again!  That left me with another empty cabinet where I was able to put the candles and and store my coupon exchange boxes.  I then moved over to another upper cabinet and got it about 75% cleaned out.  I am hoping to finish that this evening, as well as finding homes for all the items that I wanted to keep, but did not belong on the crash zone    er, the landing zone.  I got this done in about 4 hours.  I am pooped!  I am also ready to eat some lunch.

My goal for the next few days is…

~to clear out the rest of the 25% of the one cabinet,

~ totally reorganize the adjacent upper cabinet,

~clean off the counter under those 2 cabinets (commonly called the phone counter), and then

~pull out and organize the items that are on 1/2 of the bottom cabinet since the other half is neatly organized with my candles and coupons.

I can’t wait to see what DH and the girls say about the new areas.   Oh – the best part – I filled up 1/3 of a bin with items to donate, a box of things to save for wedding gifts/Christmas gifts, and 2 huge garbage bags of trash.

I am not sure why it was easier today to get rid of stuff, to determine what is important and what is not.  But it was.  I was able to see a bigger picture of what I wanted to hold dear in my life and let go of things that are really not that important.    I could visualize how I wanted my house to function.  Maybe it is just time for me to let go of things from the past, which were symbolized by many items that I released today.  It was like closing the cover of a book, knowing that the story is going to be continued in the next book waiting on your bedside table.  The story is not over, it is just progressing, as it should.  So will my life, if I relax and just let the chapters present themselves and if I am willing to let my myself immerse myself in the story of the here and now and not hang on to the past or worry about the future.

Brain Dump

I am seriously dumping my brain into this blog post just because I don’t have anywhere else to get rid of the overload.

The second is that right now my brain IS a dump and I need to declutter it.  Man, I would really like to get rid of that theme in my life.

So here we go – I will attempt to make this somewhat organized so that I don’t totally scare off my 1 remaining reader, and so that when I revisit this post, I am able to make sense of it and see if I have progressed at all!

Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding And The Meaning of ...

Image by Earthworm via Flickr

Physical house clutter – well, I can’t say that it is any worse, but it is definitely  not any better!  I live in my dream house – there is nothing else in the house that I could honestly want.  There is way more space than a family of 4 needs.  It is structurally a very pretty house.  The house is filled with roomy closets and ample cabinets.   There is absolutely no reason why this house should be this cluttered!  If there were 7 people,  maybe.  But even if there were 7 people living in this house it is large enough that it should not be this cluttered and disorganized.  The only thing that I can complain about regarding this house is that the interior is not painted (waiting on $$$ to get that done).   The rest is completely a result of poor habits.  So I am back on the band wagon to get this house finally organized.  I was talking to someone the other day who put it into perspective for me.  We moved into the house 3 months after we adopted our 2nd daughter (adoption in January, move in March).  I had a hysterectomy in April.  That month was spent just getting things in place where my family could function while I was on major lifting restrictions from surgery.  From that time forward my family has lived from one “crisis” to another.  About the time that we would start to feel like we could move forward another would hit us.  They ranged from 3 occurrences of cancer in my father, my husband being laid off, a dear friend’s death, giving up some of my personal goals so my husband could be a small business owner, the economy crash hitting my husband’s business hard, knowing there was something wrong with my oldest but not being able to get anyone to listen to me and then finally finding an awesome occupational therapist to help us out.   Those were the major issues and don’t include all the little things that occur on a daily basis.   The result is that we never really moved into the house.  We never established systems that worked for the long term.  Those are the things that we now need to do.  Our lives are starting to calm down and hubby and I are once again working together instead of working on the parallel and never meeting! 

Emotionally I need to let go of a lot of things.  This is tied very closely with my spiritual life.    Throughout all of the things that I have listed above I could look back and see where God had worked in my life.  But I was unable to truly focus on and find Him during the events.   I am now consciously working on training my soul to search out God, to pray constantly,  and to praise Him even during the bad times.  I have a very long way to go, but I can see where I have grown.  I have taken the first step in signing up for a Bible Study at our church that takes place during Sunday Morning Religious Education for the girls.  DH is going to be going with me.  I look forward to sharing this experience with him and learning together.  My youngest will also make her First Holy Communion this upcoming spring.  It is a time to reflect on His gift of Himself to us.  While this will make for a very busy year with retreats and classes, it will make my journey towards peace much easier to follow since there will be a set path for me this year.  In the journey I need to find where God wants DH and I to be regarding family growth – are we to adopt another child?  What role am I to play in the lives of young people as my girls grow?  How do I let go of that desire to have “just one more child” in my home?  How do I let go of my anger and disappointment at not being able to be a stay at home mom?  How do I let go to dream of home-schooling my children?  How to I ensure that faith and morals are passed on to them in this fast paced, way too worldly world in which we live?

Physically I am a mess.  I am at my all time highest weight EVER! I have taken a giant leap in this arena and started taking Tae Kwon Do.  My oldest and DH have been taking it for a little over a year.  My youngest and I signed up last week.  I have been to 2 classes.  I was wringing wet by the time the class was over, but I really felt good.   As my body begins to become more accustomed to the increased activity, I will tackle my dietary habits and those of my family.  This will be a tough area for me.  So much of my physical challenges lay squarely in the lap of the whole reason I was unable to bear children.   It is a vicious cycle that is incredibly difficult to break and control.  But if I want to be around to see who my girls turn out to be, I need to become proactive.  So one step at a time.  I refuse to try and change to much at once regarding my physical self – but I WILL make the needed changes and be able to be a physical presence that does not embarrass my girls.  To hear that I am a hot mama from my DH would be nice, too!

Finances are finally starting to look up.  They will continue to be tight as we dig out of the hole incurred by the economy.  But we are slowly working away and will get there.  I need to take a more active role in conserving money and squeezing every drop of value from each penny.  I have started to coupon and watch sales.  It is a steep learning curve for me.  Over the last few years I was grateful just to have enough money to get food for the girls – we got necessities only.  Now that we can start spending a little more, I want to continue to be frugal and get as much value as possible.

My relationship with DH went through some rough patches over the last couple of years.  As the money canyon got more narrow, the emotional river ran faster and with many, many rapids.  We went on a World Wide Marriage Encounter this summer.  It was the perfect way for us to reconnect.  He put it perfectly – it was like we were both trying to reach each other, but we were on opposite sides of the Grand Canyon.  Over that weekend we finally met at the bottom of the Canyon.  There is a ranch down in the Canyon, along the Colorado River with a small, clear stream running through it.  It is called Phantom Ranch.  DH and I both felt that we finally reached the Ranch that weekend and were finally able to talk to each other without shouting across a gaping chasm.   We have a lot of re-tweeking to do on our communication, but we a finally on the same path, walking the same direction and holding hands while we travel.   I am so blessed to have him in my life as my partner.  After 21 years of marriage I still get butterflies when I see him.   He and my girls are what motivate me to become a better person, to live more fully, to laugh more, to move more, to be less weighted down with emotional/physical/house clutter.

So my journey starts with one step.  This first step is towards my bed to get adequate rest to be able to tackle my projects.  Catch you on the flip side of the clock!

Wacky Wednesday

I have several websites that I find fun to read as well as very informative.  One of those is Simple Mom.  I have found many of the articles may be aimed at one particular audience, yet I find them applicable to my life!  One article that I found very enlightening is…..now, before I tell you the name of this article, let me remind you that I am the mom of a 7 year old and a 9 year old.  I am a middle aged woman who is trying to gain control of my life.  Yet I find this article very appropriate for me and my family.  At the same time, I would recommend it for parents of new borns, parents of newly adopted children, or children who have taken on the care of elderly parents.  The article I am referencing is Seasons in Parenting: The Newborn Baby Months.

Tabitha addresses 5 topics.  Obviously her advice is aimed at new parents.  But as I read it, I saw some similarities to my own life.  I am not dealing with a new member in my family, but I am trying to rearrange routines and redefine our activities to reflect and deepen our values.  The words in bold type are quotes from Tabitha.

1. Try Not to Panic

As new parents, or anyone facing a change in their lives, we plan and we set certain expectations for ourselves and those around us.  She is suggesting that we let go of those expectations.  Things are going to unfold at their own pace and in their own way.  In my case, I need to not panic that yesterday my girls spent a huge amount of time in front of the TV during the day.  I could have spent the whole day railing at myself that I was letting my whole plan fall apart.  Instead I took her advice and did not panic – I sat down with my girls and learned about what they enjoyed watching, discussing the characters and the situations of the shows.  We giggled together, we snuggled under blankets, and we just enjoyed being together.

2. Forget Previous Expectations

Tabitha reminded me that the panic of she spoke of above is the result of having unrealistic expectations.  We have to let go of those expectations – it does not matter if we made them up in our own heads or if we are basing them on previous experience – expectations rarely reflect reality.  The only thing we need to do is love and try.  That is what my whole redo of how my family spends time is – my effort to show my love by giving my girls life experiences that reflect the values that Bear and I want them to be shown. 

 

3. Give Yourself Time

My goal is to have my family doing more physically, emotionally, and spiritually healthy activities.   My impetus for those changes is that I have been seeing things in my girls and in their activities that are not what I want for them.  As a result I want to make those changes immediately.  But immediately is is not realistic.  It is not going to result in lasting change.  Within those changes I also have to change myself.  I need to carve out time to determine and implement ways to create healthy changes for me.  I need to be the one to set a good example for the rest of my family.  So I need to give all of us time to change.  Habits are created over time.  So I have to guide instead of control and allow good habits to form.

4. Ask for Help

This was so important that she said it with emphasis…Ask. For. Help.  This is super important.  I have enlisted the help of several friends to keep me on track.  One person helps keep me on track with my physical goal.  Another friend keeps track of my overall plan and helps me keep it in perspective.  I have many friends praying for me.  Then there is the help of my husband – without his support I could never do any of this.  There are friends from church who help me find appropriate activities for my girls.  There are my on-line friends who make fantastic suggestions that I have not even thought of!

5. Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself

Take it easy.  You’re not alone and people do understand, so try to go easy on yourself. Just know that being a parent is worth everything you can give, and so much more.  As I said before, the items in bold are direct quotes from Tabitha’s article.  This is something that I really need to pay attention to and insert into my plan.  When I get ready to start a project, in this case the lifestyle change for myself and my family, I go at it with everything in me.  Unfortunately, when all does not go my way, or when I mess up, I throw my hands up and say that I am CAN’T do what I set out to do.  I need to continually remind myself that this is a process, not a race.  Processes require constant evaluation, constant revision. 

 

So here is my Wacky Wednesday post – taking an article about adjusting to a new born baby and making it about life in general.  Yep, I guess that is pretty wacky.  But if it works, I will proudly be wacky!

Trashing the TV

Turn it off

Image by nitrodog via Flickr

Yesterday I talked about some of the concepts/lifestyles that I would like to take from The Waltons and put into my own life.  One thing that I listed was getting rid of nightly TV routine.  I would like to have some traditions to replace the TV.  Here are some things that I have been thinking about introducing or doing more routinely.

~Reading a book out loud.

~Putting together a puzzle as a family

~Reading the Bible

~Playing Wii together as a family

~Praying the rosary

~Playing board games/cards

~Listening to books on CD

~Going for a walk

~Sitting on the porch and identifying sounds in the dark

Does anyone have any other suggestions?  Any suggestions for games that would interest the whole family, including adults?

Priorities

The Waltons

Image via Wikipedia

During this time I have been recuperating from surgery, I have taken some time to look at things in my life, as I alluded to in my post yesterday.   Much of my time was spent in front of the TV, as my surgery took my right arm and hand out of commission. 

I am a serious sucker for TV shows that were popular when I was growing up.  In particular, shows that portray life as I would like it to be.  One show that I never grow tired of watching is “The Waltons”.   There are so many things about that family that I would like to include in my own family. 

First, let’s start with the things that I would like to include but will probably never happen.  The chances of me living on a mountain, surrounded by family and friends is probably not going to happen.  I would be content with about 7-10 acres that contain a small woods, a stream, a large yard where I can plant a garden, and farmhouse similar to the one the Waltons lived in, but with a few more modern amenities – a couple more bathrooms,  and a gas range/oven.  Being a SAHM to a large family with a husband that worked from home is probably not in the cards either, but I can still dream. 

Now for the things that I can incorporate into my family.  Slowing down.  Being involved in every activity at school and church is not something that our family must do.  Family dinners.  There is absolutely no reason that my family cannot sit down to dinner at the table, say grace and share our day with each other at least 5 times a week.  Turning off the TV.  A lot of people will say that watching TV is the modern version of listening to the radio.  I sincerely disagree.  The TV is something that seems to suck my children into it.  There are many other activities that we can be doing – listening to music, listening to books on CD, reading books out-loud to each other, playing games with each other.  All of those activities encourage interaction with each other.  Choosing activities that support our Christian beliefs.  There are a lot of worthwhile activities that my children can get involved in through school.  But there is an edge to all of them – fund-raising, competition, and interacting with lots of children who don’t share our value of respect.  I am not saying that I want to totally shelter my children from these things, but I think elementary school is a bit too young for it to infiltrate every part of their lives.  Talking to my children.  I know this may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes, in the hustle and bustle of the day, bouncing from activity to activity, getting homework done, getting chores done, I realize that I have not really talked to my girls.  I am missing golden opportunities to get to know them, to help guide them to follow Christ, to become compassionate, respectful adults. 

So, things in my house need to change.  No they are going to change.  Step by step I am going to reclaim my family.  I am going to take a step back in time and enjoy the simple things.  It is not going to be easy.  It is not going to be without some withdrawal pains.  But I think my family will be the richer for it.

Wacky Wednesday – Goals, Gifts and Memories

Goals

Yesterday I posted about a new goal that I am starting.  I even bragged that I had started a new habit.  Do you know how I know I have a new habit?  Do you even want to know?  Sure you do.

I use an online program called HabitForge.  It is a free program that allows you to set up your desired habit.  The program will then send you an e-mail each day asking if you followed-thru the day before.  It then has a little diagram showing how well you are doing.   I am one that loves to mark things off (to-do lists are my specialty, though I do have issues actually working them).  Being reminded each day keep me on track.  At the end of 21 days you have the option of continuing getting reminders for the next 3 weeks or ending it.

Gifts

No, this part is not about Christmas, or even about gifts for just me.  This is about the gift we can give our children – the gift of our time.   Kat over at Inspired to Action wrote about how to be a rock star to your children with 30 minutes and pink tablecloth.

Then she asked for readers to tell her things we do to become rock stars to our own children.  I submitted a few ideas.  Not only did she use them in her next article, Be A Rockstar…Today, but she even mentioned my name!  I feel like a celebrity!  She has 128 different ways to be a rockstar with your kids.  Check it out!  It really does not take much – but it means so very much to your child, and to your own heart.

Memories

The rest of this post is devoted to my youngest daughter and her First Mom.  Today our family celebrates that God blessed the world with the gift of our youngest daughter.  It is a bittersweet day for me and probably for her as she grows up.   I pray for everyone who ever was and is currently in her life. (Written last year on her birthday)

Misty weather in the low to mid 50s.

No indoor heat.

Labor pains.

The final push.

A girl – a healthy, perfect baby girl – lots of dark hair, little button nose, chubby cheeks, long fingers and toes.

A decision to be made within the next 48 hours. Not enough time to know who this little person was who had been growning inside her for 9 months.

Did she want to know this little person or was it easier to not know?

Does she cry for her little girl as her little girl cries for her years later?

Does she wonder about the woman who is raising her child as I wonder about her?

Does she wonder how her daughter tilts her head when thinking, or how she skips when she on her way to do something, or her ability to figure out math problems and sound out words?

Does she wonder what her giggle sounds like when her neck is nuzzled?

Does she share a love for all things pink and lavender with her daughter?

Today, as we celebrate with milk shakes after church, our table will filled not only with those of us laughing, but also by the shadow people – the people who gave her the precious gift of life, the people who live in the background only because we don’t know who they are and how to draw them out of the shadows and into the light of the love of our family, but more importantly, into the light of her eyes. They will probably forever live in the shadows because of circumstances beyond their control and our control – the victims of the politcal machine that controls the fate of so many in EBs birth country.

So today I send out prayers for the family who has no idea who this child has become, for the family that had to make a decision that I cannot even hope to comprehend from my warm and comfortable house in a country that does not have the same social, political, and filial pressures as theirs. I pray for peace in their hearts and in the heart of our little girl, for while she lives in my house, calls me Mama, loves me as unconditionally as I love her, she is not just mine, but theirs as well. I will say prayers of thanksgiving that they chose to bring this little girl into the world when her life could easily have been snuffed out.

Our little girl has so much to offer this world of ours. She is incredibly smart. She has a wickedly funny sense of humor. She is sassy. She is loving and giving. She is physically beautiful – saucy eyes, soft hair, long, strong limbs. She has a gentle heart, though it is often hidden by her childish desire to ALWAYS get her way. She loves to avoid manual labor, but will work for hours on an art project. She knows how to push her sister’s buttons and drive her crazy, but will staunchly defend her if someone is picking on her. There is so much of all 4 of her parents in her it is impossible to separate the characteristics that each of us have given her. Together we are creating and molding such a sensitive, wonderful young girl.

So when the flicker of the candles’ light illuminate EB’s face as she makes her wish over her cake, I know I will catch a fleeting glimpse of those people standing in the shadows. Maybe one day the light will reach far enough that they can step out of the shadows and we can fully share and enjoy this miracle that is our daughter.

 

 

Not sighing

I was heartened to see how many people feel they need “do-over” days with their children.  To me it signals several things.

One – I am not alone when it comes to being impatient, tired, cranky, etc.

Two – I am not alone when it comes to beating myself up over being all those things.

Three – That I can and do get a fresh start every day.

At the age my children are, they don’t hold grudges for very long, and they are extremely forgiving.   Seeing them forgive me reminds me to forgive myself.  And because their forgiveness is unconditional, it reminds me how much more forgiving is my Heavenly Father.

To see the love and joy on the faces of my girls when I come home;

or when one of us does something wrong and is forgiven and still loved;

or when I ask them how their day was and they curl up on my lap to tell me all about it as we warm each other and relax into a cuddle -

those are powerful reminders.

How much more joyous is God when I ask His forgiveness?

How unconditional is His love?

How glad is He when I turn to Him in prayer and tell Him about my day with all its frustrations, joys, tears, sorrow, surprises, and gifts?

Jessica over at MomLifeToday wrote about how we sometimes get frustrated with our children and their constant demands and interruptions.  She also compared how God reacts to us against how we react to our children.  I found it a very humbling article.  Yet it filled me with a profound sense of peace.  I am not alone in this walk of motherhood.  God is right there with me.  He understands the role, and He understands who I am, yet He still loves me unconditionally and will help me be the best parent I can be.  Check it out, it is a short, yet terrific article!

The Mapmaker

 

Laid. A view looking to the northeast along th...

Image via Wikipedia

 

My heart and soul are ready to embark on this journey.

My mind – well, not so much.

To be honest, I am overwhelmed.  There is just so much to do, so much to wade through, that I just don’t know where to start.

So last night I met with the head Mapmaker.  I spent quite awhile discussing my concerns, and my fears.  As I laid all this on His drafting board, I found myself beginning to relax.  I started to look around and see the beauty around  me – my children, my husband, a job, the ability to make this month’s mortgage payment, the sunlight that streamed through my windows all day.  I was even able to see the beauty in the meltdown my oldest daughter had after school.  I was able to see where her journey intersected mine and how we worked together to deal with the emotions she was experiencing.   Standing there in the loft of our house, gazing out at the quiet night, I was able to breathe deeply and let go of some of the fear of the unknown.  I could feel my strength growing so that I could pick up my suitcase and head out on my journey.   Before long I was grinning, because I had just found my first gift on the first day of the trip.  It was the gift of Thankfulness.

Walk with me!

Welcome Fellow Seekers -

I am on a journey.

It is a journey of discovery.

I want to discover  how to recognize God’s gifts that are found during moments in my day.  I want to slow down so that I see them, savor them, and be thankful for them.  I want to store those gifts in my heart so that I can pull them out when I need them – to ponder, to admire, to recognize God’s hand.

But right now – I can’t.

Right now my house is over-flowing with clutter.  I can’t enjoy the loveliness of my house and the special items I cherish because it is hidden by unimportant junk.

Right now my children are out of control (not really, but it feels like it). I can’t set up the routine that I know they crave because I can’t figure out what to do first.

Right now my body is neglected – I don’t eat right,  I am overweight, I have joint pain – because I have not developed the self-control and personal strength to stop putting myself last.

Right now my schedule is overflowing with things that I am not even sure are important. Those things sure seemed important when I said yes.  Yet I can’t find the time to spend a few minutes of alone time with God.

So I am setting out on a journey.

It is a personal journey, but I hope I have some company.

Journeys are much more fun when they are shared.

I am not sure exactly what path this journey is going to take, but I do know the destination  - a serene home, which is built around the priorities of my relationship with God, respect for myself, and the nurturing of my family.

Over the next few days I am going to explore the route I am going to take.  Please  let me know what path you are on and what route you want to follow.