Monthly Archives: January 2012

A lovely day

Standard

I’m feeling much better now- the infection in my eye is clearing up nicely and the sore throat that has plagued me is fading slowly into oblivion. I can eat again!

Today was a nice day of unschool.

We started with a sleep in, as usual. It’s usually 10 before we even start to stir! We all lingered and snuggled, nursed and talked quietly as we started to plan our day. We watched some cartoons, played games on the computer (from PBS kids website) and then got dressed and went for a walk to the market. We meandered down the sidewalk, looking at ice and kicking the snow berms, looking at the trees and grass in the empty lot and finding last season’s berries on the juniper bushes. We walked around the market, picking this or that- a half cup of little shrimps for a shrimp and cheese pasta salad, some special pieces of candy, some chocolate milk. We looked at kiwis and at pineapples, we examined the fish in the cases, and we walked up and down the aisles looking for new flavors to taste. On our way home, we played in more snow and ice, saw a dead goose in the empty lot, and came home to take a nap.

Now, it’s getting late, I’m getting tired, and he’s coloring a rainbow with Daddy, while the girls sleep off and on.

I need to get the camera fixed.

I need a tea break.

Standard

I have an eye infection. I think. I may just have an overstrained eye. Regardless, it’s sticky and sore and aches when I touch it, and it’s leaking tears and something slippery.

I’m tired, and I can’t wear my contacts, so I have my old old glasses on, which are the wrong prescription and have one funny earpiece, and are a little askew on my face.

I want a haircut, one that goes with my new glasses. I need the glasses first, of course. Then I want a tea break, complete with tiny tea sandwiches and a tiny tea hat to go with them, and my tea dress. I want to go where they know me and are delighted when I come in, and make my food special just for me. (They really do. I love Taste and See Ministries!)

I want to get some quiet, several hours of quiet time with my kids and my friends in a place where I can relax.

My ‘word’ for 2012: Reflect

Standard

(This post got eaten by WordPress. Tragic. Terribly tragic. It’s okay. I shall write it again! BETTER! Please enjoy my EVEN MORE AWESOME second draft! As usual, all underlined things are links. Click!)

So, there’s a growing trend to skip the resolutions and choose just one single word to represent your goals for 2012. The idea is to create an environment in which your ‘word’ can thrive, and you can work towards it in a variety of ways.

My word this year was inspired by an advertisement for a local store.

Amidst pictures of beautiful beads, lovely boxes, statues, and jewelry, there was a small quote, an accent piece, really. The font is tiny, the name almost unreadable. It says:

“There are two ways of spreading light- to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.”

It’s credited to Deb Dewit Marchant, as far as I can tell.

My whole life, I’ve been told that I absorbed what surrounds me. That I’m a mushroom. That I’m tofu. (These are both foods that absorb the flavors of whatever they’re steeped in, instead of having a bold flavor of their own.)

While I do believe that I have a mild flavor of my own, (much like tofu and mushrooms!), it’s true that I do take on the behaviors and traits of the people around me. I am, after all, a bit of a sheep- or maybe not a sheep, so much as a pack animal. I’m susceptible to propaganda, to mob mentality, to knee jerk reactions based on opinions that have little basis in facts because someone told me to believe and I did.

I’m not saying these things to brag. They’re not something I’m proud of.

They are not, however, going to be what shapes me this year. Instead, I’m going to actively choose my ‘flavor’.

I say this because I have been thinking of myself all wrong. Instead of thinking “I absorb whatever’s around me, I need to be more independent, I need to make myself be unique and be better, I’m not good enough the way I am, I’m flawed because of this horrible trait of mine” the above quote made me stop and think, “What if that -is- my purpose? What if my tendency to amplify and feed back what I’m surrounded by -is- my gift? What if instead of absorbing, I… reflect?”

To reflect. Webster defines it as “To throw back light or sound”. It’s also defined as “To think quietly and calmly; to express an opinion resulting from reflection; and to have bearing or influence.”

It sounds like a good idea for the year, yes? I’m going to go about it in just that order. First, find a light to reflect, and then think on it. Dwell on it, read it, study it. Fill myself with that light. Then, I’m going to express that light to everyone around me, and in doing so hopefully influence them with that light.

I read some beautiful blogs- like this one, this one, this one, and this one. These women fill me with joy, love, light, beauty, and peace. I read them and I feel like I can be a loving person, a patient person, someone who pays attention and that lights up other people’s lives.

I also read a few authors who do that for me. I watch anime and movies that make me say “I want to be like her!”

So this year, instead of absorbing negativity from around me, I’m going to surround myself with people who inspire me to be who I want to be, and I’m going to reflect them.

After all, one candle can only do so much- but with enough mirrors, a single candle can fill a whole room with it’s light!

On judgemental people

Standard

(Everything underlined is a link. Click!)

So, I read a blog called Adventures of a Thrifty Mama and the other day she posted a delicious rice pudding recipe.

Somehow, this triggered a very angry rant from a person who seems to have a problem with the fact that Chris (a marvelous woman, by the way) is a stay at home mother who blogs about how she saves money while homeschooling and feeding her family.

This person spent a good amount of time writing not just one but two angry rants (see Facebook for further commentary) about how Chris needs to get a J-O-B and stop wasting time posting blogs about rice pudding.

For one, I happen to really benefit from the posts on AoaTM, since I am a stay at home mother with children and a large family who loves getting tips on everything from gardening to recipes to defining your core values.

This person, however, seems to believe that by staying home with her children (and for health reasons) and by using her money wisely and doing as much as she can for herself, Chris is being selfish and wasteful.

Since when has being a homemaker become the easy way out? I, for one, find it much harder to stay home and care for my family than when I was working full time. Here, we don’t have the luxury of my income, and I still have just as many (more, actually) mouths to feed. BUT! More than that, I don’t have any way of avoiding what needs done here. I can’t just say “Oh, I worked all day, you take care of it.” I can’t avoid problems that come up in the house, because they come up right under my nose. I’m not taken by surprise- “What? We’re out of eggs?” or shocked “What do you mean, the baby colored on the wall?” because

I.

Am.

Right.

Here.

I am present, all day, with my kids. I can’t say “I don’t know where he learned that!” or “How did she find those?”

I live fully in this life with my brilliant, disaster-causing, crying, laughing, whining, beautiful family. I am fully engaged every day with every little struggle, triumph and tribulation that every family member experiences, because I am -here-.

So go ahead, anonymous commenter. Hate on the stay at home mom. At least she’s one hundred percent aware of her family and her home, and at least she’s found the joy that your J-O-B or your family has not provided you.

For the rest of the mothers, fathers, guardians, homemakers, breadwinners, and all the rest of you who struggle with this glorious, beautiful battle of family and work, finances and food, beauty and tragedy and whining and laughter- congratulations. You’re doing the hardest J-O-B that there is, and I thank you every moment for it!

Inadequate: Good enough isn’t good enough

Standard

My mother has been staying with us for the last month, to help with the twins. It’s been a blessing that I would not have wanted to do without. She kept up the laundry and worked on the dishes, stayed up late so I could sleep when I was at my rope’s end, and worked me through the physical depression and lagging that comes after a great physical exertion to get me back on my feet.

Now, though, I feel painfully inadequate.

I had worked out a system of ‘good enough’, before the kids were born. With my mother here, it reminded me (and she reminded me!) that good enough is not good enough- that I should be striving towards improvement in my everyday, and that inspiration was a blessing.

What is not a blessing is that no matter how hard I work towards a goal, it is never good enough. And I don’t mean ‘this will do because I’m done working’, so much as the sense that all my work and efforts and baby steps towards a healthier me, a cleaner home, and well-loved children are ignored in favor of the laundry that isn’t done, the dishes still in the sink, or the days when my son doesn’t get bathtime before bed because I just cannot find the energy to do it.

It’s when I mention that I’m eating regular meals and I’m hungry and eating actively, large meals.

This requires a touch of background, but to summarize, I don’t eat well. I don’t mean that my diet is nutritionally lacking, although it sometimes is. I mean I don’t like to eat, it takes a lot of thought, and so I usually choose not to. It isn’t unheard of for me to just not eat for a day or two because I got too busy to find the time. I drink plenty of water, but I am breastfeeding twins full-time plus pumping extra for bottles, plus recovering from a strenuous birth.

So, the other day I ate a whole waffle with strawberries, two slices of bacon, two pieces of toast, two eggs, and two cups of coffee, plus three big glasses of water. Then I had a snack of Sunchips a few hours later. I mentioned to my mother that I had eaten a real meal, and instead of praise or even amusement, she got a dark frown and pointed out to me that I need to be careful how much I eat or I’ll get fat again.

I go out of my way to eat as nutritionally sound as I can, but (as my love pointed out) it’s better to eat something that’s less healthy than to not eat at all. Bone broths and stocks, whole grains (literally, still whole! Barley is delicious, by the way!), eggs, meats, and veggies feature prominently in my choice of meals these days. It doesn’t keep me out of the white rice pot, or stop me from having a cookie, but I work hard at my diet in order to give my girls the most nutritious meals I can. Herbs for immunity and minerals and vitamins figure here, as well as the doctor prescribed (quite metallic) iron supplements.

But what does she see?

The Snickers bar I ate at practice last night, when I was hungry but had no snack.

I do two loads of dishes a day (more, now that we have a dishwasher- thank you, Fantastic Landlord!) and a load of laundry, plus pretreating, and sorting out the baby clothes to clean. I make a point to sterilize the baby bottles, organized the cupboard and inventoried it, cooked two meals, did some shopping, ran to the doctors for the girls, played puzzles with my son, picked up toys, and went to pick up my son from his playdate-

I get a lecture on how I keep pushing off the dishes on someone else. (Admittedly, this is true, but not because I’m lazy.)

I would love to have a spotless house, the way I remember my childhood home.

I am not willing to break myself to get it just yet. My mother kept up after myself, my father, and herself. I keep up after five adults and three children, plus the three dogs and the two cats, and I’m learning how to do all this. I’m not well-versed in the finer arts of housekeeping. I’m sort of winging it here, because I’m choosing such a radically different life-path than anyone I know.

Coming from a family of rednecks, Republicans, Christians (and non-Christian, non-religious folk who are still pretty straight-laced) with a penchant for doing what’s always been done and not ever embarassing your family… and here I am, the nearly hippie not-Christian tree hugging wanna-be Gypsy with a passion for nerdy history, theoretical physics, comparative anything, and who’s hobbies include computer games and playing medieval pretend every weekend and ‘green’ housekeeping with a passion for peace, love, and cheesecake. (The cheesecake thing is a family trait. I do share some ideals with them!)

I may as well be an otter born into a swallow’s nest!

I am learning how to be me. I am learning and making big huge mistakes while I do it, and if that means the dishes aren’t getting done, then it’s a sacrifice that I’ll make. They’ll get done eventually. I mean, I have to eat off something. My life is an experiment, and experiments are never guaranteed.

I have a thought that I should go away for a week, a month, a summer. Go where there are no other people at all, so that I can find out without fear of outside condemnation precisely who I am. Do I like to sing out loud while I gather herbs? Do I want to dance under the moon or swim naked in the river? What would I do, if nobody was watching me?

I don’t know.

I know I can’t afford to take off that much time. Not with nursing babes and my son/best friend only three. (Yes, my son is my best friend. Who could ask for more than someone who loves you unconditionally and isn’t at all afraid to call me on my mistakes- “Mama, you’re being rude.” or praise me effusively for even the simplest things that make him happy?) But I wonder who I would be, if nobody was watching me?

Who would you be?