A Clean Home Is A Happy Home

I find it ironic that I’ve chosen to blog each day in November as we are getting our house on the market and moving. We had the offer on our new home accepted on November 1st – and that’s when I started blogging again. For the past two weeks we’ve been packing up, cleaning and staging our current house to get it for sale this week.

 

10 years of living is overwhelming.

 

But we’ve made it through and our house will be for sale within about 36 hours.

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As I’ve thrown and donated and cleared and packed away – I’ve lectured the girls(and maybe Jed) about how I can’t do this all by myself – this cleaning thing. And sure, they currently have chores – but I need a little more deep cleaning and picking up going on. And I also need less stuff coming into the house. Fewer stuffed animals. Less ponytail holders. Dollar store crap is not allowed. Papers recycled at school. Or if they fell compelled to bring the crap in – then they need to find an organized spot to put it. Preferably in their rooms.

 

I don’t want to hire a cleaning lady when I know as a family we can keep a house clean. But it’s hard to clean when our stuff is everywhere.

 

I think we just need to force some habits – like putting your backpack where it goes, hanging your clothes right when they are clean, wiping out the sink after you brush, and please stop putting your coats on the dining room chairs.

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I don’t want to apologize for the state of our home when guests stop by. Sure, I want it lived in – but I’m just so sick of the clutter.

 

I’ve felt healthier in the past two weeks than I have in a long time. I feel lighter and freer and happier.

 

Clutter for me is heavy and wrong and weighs on me.

 

I hope this is only the beginning of our family working together towards a cleaner future. And I hope my kids realize that the yelling is less when there’s less crap laying around to bitch about.

 

How do you manage the clutter?

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Messy Corners

I admit I feel a bit of jealousy when I see some pictures. Pictures of people in homes who have children. And these children are reading or sitting quietly. And the space in huge. And clean and clutter free. No toys, glasses from a quick snack, books or personal paraphernalia that children carry with them and leave everywhere. And I know that some people(and me) clean up a bit before taking those lifestyle photos. No one wants to see our dirty laundry, our fingerprints, our mess of toys, or stacks of books, our inability to keep up with all of the things that our kids drag out each day.

 

And I wonder if I had a home with more space if there would be a room like that. A room free of clutter, museum-like where I could great guests and they could think our home is perfectly clean because of this clutter free room.

 

Or maybe I would have more space to make that happen and my kids would just bring all of their dolls and books into that room because that is where I was sitting. Just to be near. And would I clear it all away just to take a picture of them.

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We don’t have a playroom or a den or a family room or a basement for the kids to play in. Their bedrooms are too small to hold many toys, but they work well for reading books and small dance parties. We live in a city house with one living space that also includes our dining room table for all five of us to share – and to also share with guests – and it’s quite full of things. Every toy they own, most every book they own, art supplies, magnets on our fireplace screen, movies, games, dolls, our piles of paperwork for work, school and bills, and a corner that is full of winter coats, mittens and hats. Our dining room table – in the center of our living area – is our only place to eat as well as our desks – for work, writing and homework.
This is where we live. This is where I see all of my children. This is where the big kids do homework while I serve dinner and Astrid plays with dolls. This is where we watch TV while Jed reads a book and Astrid colors. This is where we talk, play, live and compete in Just Dance 2014.

 

This is where all the things reside.

 

And sometimes I admit it drives me crazy. Would we be happier to have other places to be. A finished basement to send the kids? An office to work in? Bigger bedrooms to store the toys? A separate dining room that doesn’t become the central dumping ground in the house?  Or would I be lonely with so many empty spaces and people not close? And would my photographs of my kids feel cold and too clean and empty without books stacked in the corners or the room? Why isn’t the dollhouse next to the couch anymore?

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Our living spaces now are full of things shoved in corners – the books, toys and extra blankets. These corners mirror my heart and hold this clutter as the memories we are making as a family now together as we share this one space.

 

And I’m tired of trying to put all of the clutter away to make my pictures less about what I think people care about and see and more about what my kids are doing right now. Right here. As I come to appreciate the clutter in the corners.

 

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My friends Alison and Greta are hosting a photography project called Through The Lens Thursday. The prompt this week is corner.

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Lazy

It’s nearly noon and I am showered and dressed but haven’t put on make-up or made an effort to brush my hair. My feet are bare and cold and the breakfast dishes sit in the sink.

 

I’m not sure what the kids ate for breakfast. I think I saw Eloise pour some cereal, I see the milk still sitting on the counter, and vaguely remember hearing the toaster pop…twice.

 

I saw the TV on briefly and heard Astrid yell “There’s Ernie!” Eloise walked by a few times. One time she was carrying the iPad. Esther, who was sitting next to Eloise on couch for a bit, asked me for help on a trivia question. So I’ll just assume they were playing a trivia game together. There’s a pile of wooden blocks on the living room floor. About two hours ago Astrid asked me for help building a maze for the kitties. I do remember saying “just a minute’ but I never stopped working and the maze seems to be complete now. Mission accomplished..without me. That’s perfectly fine.

 

Currently the girls have finished brushing their teeth and are all upstairs finding clothes to wear. Although I don’t hear a lot of ‘dressing sounds’ – whatever those are. I hear a bit of happy screaming, laughing and the sounds of possible bed jumping.

 

They’ll come down eventually. Maybe dressed?

 

And then we will start the hair brushing and shoe finding as we have a few errands that need to get done today…the bank, the post office, and music store for Eloise’s latest piano lesson book. She also mentioned wanting to get a book of Adele songs. Maybe we’ll stop by the library as everyone seems to already be out of books even though we just bought about 30 new books at the school book fair last week.

 

I won’t make lunch today. The kids can find something – sandwiches, a cut-up apple, a bag of popcorn. Typically lunch is at 11:30, but since I don’t think breakfast was until 10:30, well today let’s just say that there is no schedule.

 

Maybe after our errands we will find a million puddles to jump in as it’s in the 40s today and the snow piles are finally melting. But I won’t plan for puddle jumping – that will be something that maybe just happens if we ever get dressed, hair brushed and errands ran.

 

This is Spring Break at home.

 

It means that I can feel like I accomplished a lot – when all I’ve really done today is showered and gotten dressed and checked Facebook a few dozen times.

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Strive For The Happy

You know that old story about the man who goes to the doctor, moves his arms and says “It hurts when I do this” and the doctor responds with “Well stop doing that!” ..well that’s how I’ve been feeling lately about a lot of things.

 

And then a very wise friend said to me “Put your energy into something that makes you intrinsically happy, without relying upon others to do that for you.”

 

Which is a hard thing to do for a mom. It’s advice though that I would give my own kids.

 

“Don’t worry about what everybody else thinks” “Don’t worry about what everybody else wears.” “Don’t put up with the mean girls – either try to befriend them just being you or kindly walk away.”  “Be true to yourself, always.” “Don’t let yourself feel left-out, instead invite a new friend to play.” “Don’t talk behind people’s backs.” “Don’t lie.” “Be strong enough to ask for help.” “Be strong enough to admit when you were wrong.” “Be strong enough that you have enough to offer anyone help when they need it.” “Don’t take no for an answer the first time.” “Have a good cry sometimes and get up even stronger.” “Try new things.” “Don’t give up so easily.”  “Listen to your mother, she was a teen, a horrible horrible teen at one time.” “Be there for someone when they least expect it and be there for someone when they should expect it.” “Accept help.” “Reject rumors.” “Live your truth.” “Don’t keep doing things that just don’t feel good.”

“Strive for the happy that you first make for yourself…”

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I would like to think that my kids love me for my quick wit and well-placed sarcasm, and as they get older it warms my heart when they actually understand a joke and roll their eyes. But I know that while we enjoy laughing as a family, my humor doesn’t make them love me more. I’ve always used my blog to share funny stories about my kids and our life. The things they say and do, the silly things that I’ve done, the frustrations of motherhood, and the daily trials of family. Sometimes life can get so ridiculous and sometimes so incredibly sad that my favorite coping mechanism and crutch for sharing is through humor.

 

And some days I’m the first to admit defeat and cannot wait to pour the wine at 5pm. There are some very hard days.

 

But the hard ones will never outnumber the good ones. I hope the times I yell(yes I yell) will never outnumber the times that I praise or give a hug. I hope that the times I criticize(yes I’ve gone there) will never be more than the times that I teach and encourage. I hope that the times I throw my hands up in defeat are much less than the times that I say “We got this!” I pray the times that we cry are softened by our laughter and celebrations.

 

My kids know I love them and am here for them through my daily actions of just being a mother, but if I must talk about social media – well I hope when my kids go back and read my online legacy(and you know they can and will) I hope they won’t need to question how much I loved them every single day through my Facebook posts, my tweets, my photos, my words, my blog.

 

It’s weird to think about that – this 2012 footprint we are leaving as our legacy and I wonder am I true online like I’m true at home? I’d hate to think that I’m publishing updates and posts for page-views, follows, likes and comments rather than to just speak my mind and heart about the beautiful gift of motherhood. Even on those very bad days. In fact I worry about those bad moments the most. And it’s not that I want to only show sunshine, rainbows, and unicorns – but I want to remain respectful to my children even through the tears on a 4:45am morning.

 

Because motherhood isn’t glamorous. It’s messy and poopy(yes I went there) and complicated and hard. It’s demanding and all-consuming and exhausting and long. It comes to us without an instruction manual and we’re caught basically unprepared with the future on our small shoulders. We are fragile and tired and scared and weary and unprepared really – yet this is our vocation. Our very important vocation that we do – sometimes because we really want to but always because we have to – and figure out and stumble along and cry sometimes as we learn. But we all do it. Because we’re moms.

 

I don’t want to sugarcoat anything for my kids. I want them to know about the hard days, the many less than perfect days, the days mom cried, the days that mom messed up, the days that motherhood broke me.

 

But I don’t ever want my kids to think that any of the hard stuff was because of them. None of it. Not their early rising, their food-pushing-away-ness, their talking back, their not-listening, their never wanting to get potty trained, their taking toys, their forgetting their homework, their coming home late, their lying about their whereabouts, their dating the bad guy,

 

No, the hard stuff is because if we really are honest – we really don’t know what we’re doing here. And it’s okay to admit that and accept that and trudge along knowing that tomorrow there might be more peace.

 

And most of the time it’s best to just laugh about it. But I won’t be disrespectful to my kids – in person or on social media. I’m not looking for page-views. I’m looking to be true for them. To be their example – during the funny times and not so funny times – just true and theirs as we learn this parenting thing together. Because they are also my teachers as I am theirs and we both have a lot to learn, yet so many things to laugh about together.

 

I ask them to be respectful of me. I hope they don’t complain about me(too much) to their friends  – that I am that ” mean mom” or ‘I’m so unfair” or “I never let them do anything” or “I don’t like their friends.”

 

And in return I know and respect a line – that even as babies, toddlers, little and big kids – they deserve even more of the same respect. And I won’t complain about the early mornings, and the messes, and the constant questions, and ANOTHER DAMN game of Candy Land. Because in the end, and also the beginning – I’m teaching them how to manage their communication, their respect, their footprint and their words and recognizing what is really funny.

 

I don’t want them to be bullies or complainers or martyrs or shamers, even in jest. I want them to be helpers and lifter-uppers and good friends and to live true and honest and humorous community lives.

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So I guess this all comes back to “striving for the happy” – that putting my kids down or treating them with any less respect than I believe we all deserve does not make me happy. And while sure their stories are mine to tell – and the great debate goes on about how much do I really deserve to say about them as their mother versus what they own – I want to write in a way that would make them proud..because they are such an important part of me and I am their main teacher.

 

Does this mean that I cannot write humor anymore? Well no, I can make fun of myself and silly circumstances that happen. Because life is funny – and if we cannot laugh I believe the world would be a very depressing place. But I won’t call making fun of my kids in a disrespectful way, humor. Ever. And maybe that’s why I’ve been so serious on this blog for a few weeks as I have internalized my struggle.

 

In the meantime I’m going to prioritize good things that make me happy while at the same time being the best mom that I can be because truthfully I want my kids to be proud of my footprint – as a mother and a woman.

 

This doesn’t mean we have to just focus on the happy and the good things. It just means that the hard times can really seem quite insignificant when I look at the bigger picture. That’s what I try to teach my kids each day. Life is hard but let’s use our time wisely to lift one another up and laugh with each other. What an opportunity that is. Instead of taking that moment on Facebook to complain about another long day of hard things, what if we took that moment to write to a friend to let them know how amazing they are. We all need a happier inbox.

 

And we will never strive for perfection. We will just strive for a little more happy. For everyone.

 

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If You Had to Choose Judy Blume’s Forever over Catechism…

Jed is insulating our attic. Our home is 100 years old with originals windows, no insulation and a cavernous attic with holes that were finally patched. We feel almost bad for the bats we’ve kicked out.  My job is to clean out the attic. When we moved into our home seven years ago I was eight months pregnant and unwilling to go through our belongings so we just moved it all in and I spent the two moving in days sending nearly everything to the attic that wasn’t a bowl or a fork or a couch or a bed.

 

Most of it now has a layer of seven year old dust, bat poop and faded memories.

I put Eloise in charge of her sisters as I climbed the steep wooden stairs and pulled the light on and went through box, by box, by box.  Nearly 65 years of memories filled these boxes. My mother’s tea set from when she was a child. Her dolls. The ‘jade’ ring my grandfather probably ordered from The Parade Magazine.  Eloise’s preemie sized coming home outfit. Hard to believe it was huge on her. How could my almost five feet tall eight year old weigh less than five pounds.

 

My yearbooks, journals and albums, my box of notes that we passed in history that were still perfectly folded.  My homecoming dance pictures and concert tee shirts. Beer bottle caps that must have meant something at the time and my Madonna white lace headband.

 

I made a huge pile of trash – pieces of incomplete games and 7th grade honor night programs.  Topped it off with old stuffed animals and outdated picture frames. I donated my 22 business suits that were probably from Casual Corner in 1997 and I am doubtful I will ever wear cream pumps again.The crib is now gone and the glider rocker needs to go on craigslist this week.

 

All of this – the toys, the baby stuff, the old memories, heirlooms and pictures took a very short time to go through.

 

It was the books that kept my girls waiting for me. I found boxes and boxes of books. Books from AP English – Madame Bovary and Lord Jim..with my damn symbolism notes in the margin of each page and an occasional heart with “Tracy + Jon” that was then crossed off and replaced with “Tracy + Scott.”

 

I found my mother’s 1955 Girl Scout handbook, her Catechism book from around the same time next to my Catechism book that looked never opened. I thought about the First Communion classes I started and dropped. I wondered how many other second graders did the same.

 

No matter, I decided I would keep those books and I put them gently back in the box. I put the full collection of pre-1999 Danielle Steele in the donation pile.

 

Underneath My First Catechism Book I found the complete collection of Judy Blume. I dug out Superfudge, Freckle Juice, Tales of a Forth Grade Nothing, Starring Sally J. Friedman as Herself, Iggie’s House and Blubber for Eloise to read now. I stuffed away Then Again Maybe I Won’t, Deenie and Are You There God it’s Me Margaret for perhaps fifth grade…and I kept Tiger Eyes, Forever and Wifey for myself to read now.

 

I opened my early edition copy of Forever, the pages nearly falling out. I must have read this books 58 times in high school. Or was it junior high? Scandalous. Oh Ralph.

 

Maybe I will share these with Eloise when she is sixteen. By then she will think they are boring and ridiculous. Just like most of the memories I’ve closed back up in those boxes in the attic that she can go through someday.

 

Collecting more dust. But bat poop free.

 

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Can You Go Home Again…

I consider Duluth my home.  I’ve barely even lived in Duluth. I was born there but we moved away when I was still a baby and then I took a quick detour back to Duluth for my first year of college.

I cannot tell you the best restaurants or shortcuts or about the housing prices. I cannot tell you what schools are best, where to shop, or what garbage service to hire.

 

It’s only home to me because that is where we went ‘home’ when I was growing up.  My parents both were born and raised in Duluth and most of my extended family still lives there.

 

But the biggest part of going home was going to my grandparent’s house. The house they bought in 1953 and lived in until they both died. The small house they raised seven children in.  The house with the gold linoleum and the bar in the basement. The house with the glider rocker in the living room and towels that needed replacing. The house where the coffee was always on and there was candy in the dish on the end table.  The house filled with my grandma’s hugs and Wheel of Fortune airing in the background.  The house of late night Boggle games and Cribbage tournaments.  The house with the elephant rocks in the back and the perfect sledding hill.  The house that was a home.

I’ve been back to my Duluth only one since they’ve both been gone. Two and a half years..and only one trip.  It’s only two hours away and yet it seems like a long journey to take. One I’ve yet to completely prepare myself to do.

 

I was unprepared for our trip this past weekend. I sat on their bench overlooking the lake and rubbed my fingers along their names while I sang their song and cried. Because no matter how hard I wished it, they were not with me up on that hill that day.  I drove to the cemetery and cleaned the grass off their stones and touched them gently and I didn’t see them.  I sat down on the ground and watched my kids run through the markers yelling out names and dates..finding historical significance in our journey but not the people I was looking for.

So I drove by their home. The home where strangers now reside and I truthfully expected ugly landscaping and no decorations…but I found the house how my grandparents left it. Neat, simple and with little Fall decorations dotting the deck..very similar to how my grandma decorated.

And I felt peace. That this home was being taken care of and perhaps that would make their rest more peaceful and my heart less heavy so that I could feel at home again in the city that I love.

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Do you have a place that you call home? Why do you consider it home?

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(I have better pictures coming from my good camera. These were all taken with my iPhone and I’m linking up with A Belle A Bean and A Chicago Dog with my iPhone pics this week)

 

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A Man Goes to the Market..

I have a lot on my plate.  Once in awhile my husband sweetly asks “may I go grocery shopping for you?”  You know, to lighten my load.

So I shoot daggers out of my eyes sweetly reply “really, no thank you, I can manage the shopping.”

I decline, not to be a martyr, but for the love of god, do you know how much work it is to send him to the grocery store?

My shopping list

My phone rings at least 25 times, a minimum of 10 texts come in, the list I have to write takes me 12 hours to write to make sure all details are covered and products are not confused, and he takes about 10 hours to do the shopping and by then..dinner is over!

Same shopping list written for him…but still not enough as the phone continually rings


But I am ever so grateful for his offer.

Really.

Jenny Matlock

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Little Women..

Dread immediately fell upon me once the invitations were in the mailbox.  I scheduled a FOUR hour party for my daughter’s 8th birthday.
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FOUR long hours, with other people’s kids.  What was I thinking?  How would we pass the time?  I spent the 2 weeks between the invitations and the party trying to plan through every minute of the party to make sure the time was filled, kids were busy, fun was had, and chaos did not ensue.
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Just a few hours before party, I was still a wreck thinking about this huge mistake.  Even when the parents were dropping off, they questioned it “four hours, really – you don’t want me back for four hours?”

“Yes” I replied with perhaps a crazed look on my face “I will see you in four hours.”
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The pleased parents turned and I believe, skipped to their cars, kicking their feet in the air, pumping the air, high-fiving some spouses, thinking that I must be crazy to keep their kids that long…but they were not going to complain about it.

I turned, closed my eyes, said a little prayer for peace and re-entered my home.

Greeting me were 8 girls – smiling, excited and giggling softly.
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They made their own pizzas – taking great care to place the items just right.  They used good manners – “please pass the pepperoni” and “Bettie – I love how your pizza looks!”
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While the pizza’s were cooking – they quietly and expertly made bottle-cap jewelry.  I had to pry them away to eat.  They ate quickly so they could get back to their creations.  They sat around and helped each other with design and finishing their products.
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Eloise gave them the goodie bags – I made a ruffled tote bag for each – filled with only a pair of pajamas, a weaving loom, lip gloss and nail polish.  The girls raved about the bag and discussed each other’s plans for it’s use.  And then they all insisted on changing into their new pajamas.  I couldn’t even begin to count how many times I heard “Oh Tracy, this bag is amazing – you made it? I will keep it forever!”
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Then 8 girls sat in a circle in the family room – each with their own looms and began to weave potholders.  They did this without interruption for 1 1/2 hours.  They were obsessed.  They made potholders for their moms and grandmas – they made purses.  Eloise gave the tutorial on weaving and the girls didn’t move as they picked the best color combinations.
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“Girls” I said – “I have the make-your-own-sundae bar set-up – let’s have ice cream now!”
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“But we just really want to finish these” they replied.  They turned back to their work and quietly made their presents.

But I pulled them away for a quick ice cream – looked at the clock and realized 3 hours had passed.  They wanted a movie – so I put on Ramona.  Some watched intensely, some watched while weaving.  Some just wove.
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But nobody made a sound.

For four hours – there was not a scream, a yell, a raised voice.  There was only giggling, smiling, encouraging and most of all friendship.
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I invited one of my best friends to help me at the party, as her daughter is conveniently Eloise BFF – and the 2 of us sat at the table and talked and laughed and caught up on gossip and fashion.  We would look at these 8 girls – who didn’t really even need us to be there.  They asked for nothing the whole party – not one of them.
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I looked at these little women and saw their future.  These 8 girls looked just like we do now – just a bunch of friends getting together to chat and laugh – to encourage and to love.

At 8:30, their parents started arriving and they were met with – “but I have to finish my project” and “the movie isn’t over” and “but can we stay just a bit longer?”  And I was happy to let them stay as long as they wanted to.
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At only 8, the importance of girlfriends is evident, the importance of a circle of women coming together for a good time, the importance of having that friend to lean on and laugh with. How, when you hug your good friend good-bye at the end of a good conversation, you want to keep holding her tight for just one more minute because you are lifted up by her.

Those girls could’ve been in my home for 10 hours and it wouldn’t have been enough time for them.
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Next year, I am thinking about having a 2 day party.

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Changes around here…

I have a handy husband.  He can do just about anything around house.  In his own time.

We have been planning the front steps redo for 5 years.

They were old, cement, awkward for opening the door, dangerous for kids, and well – just plain ugly.

But like most projects – this sits on the list. The very long list that comes with a house that is over 100 years old.

So imagine my surprise when I came home last Wednesday from the grocery store to find Jed had demolished our steps. hmmmm…did he know I was having 50 women over the next day and now I had to make a path for them to our backdoor?  Everyone is now a backdoor friend.  How inviting.

Timing is everything.

But I could not complain – as new steps were coming.  New cedar steps – wide, a landing, a thing of beauty..and safe too.

Change is good.
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But now I am very concerned as my husband has been wearing a skirt for the whole project. And I have no idea what he may be wearing underneath and do not care to ask.  And when you are 6’4″, people may notice.  He claims to be 25% Scottish, so is granted the A-OK for official kilt wearing.  I need to check into that.
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But I try to ignore his new fashion choice as I am getting some new gorgeous front steps you know.

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I know that I will never be enough…

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When Esther went to bed last Wednesday night at the late hour of 7:35, her last words before snuggling in for the night were “Mom, can I please stay up until 10 o’clock as Fall is starting right at that time and I want to watch it happen.”

At 4:30 on that Thursday morning, I was woken up by a light tapping on my shoulder and a whispering in my ear..”mom, mom, mom wake-up.”
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Esther, what do you need? I responded.

“Mom, it is the first full day of Fall – we have to get up NOW so we don’t miss any of it!  We need to celebrate, and I am sure there is a party all ready for us downstairs!”

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Crap.

She does this to me a lot.  And as I laid there at 4:30 in the morning I felt my immense failure as her mother, that I didn’t have the downstairs completely decorated for fall, with leaf cookies on the table, pumpkin muffins hot out of the oven, whole wheat pancakes with fresh maple syrup ready to serve.

I didn’t have orange balloons tied to chairs, or leaves ready to press.  I didn’t have apples ready to peel for baking or stamping.
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I didn’t even buy her a card that said “Happy Fall, I love you.”

And I tried to think of anything I could do to NOT go downstairs for her too see exactly what she saw when she went to bed the night before…

…nothing.  No change between Summer and Fall. No grand celebration, no baking, no confetti.

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For Esther, every occasion is a reason to celebrate – a birthday, a lost tooth, a found book, a season of change, a friend coming to visit.

She sits at the table and says “let’s make something today!”  She wants to craft and glue and bead and draw and paint and create and bake and cook and clean and kiss.  Her ideas spill out of her brain and her mouth at warp speed.
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She wants to make the world a better place and everything just a little prettier.

We take walks and she points out the flowers, the leaves, the grass, the squirrels and admires their beauty and wants to discuss their details.

She puts a multitude of clothing upon herself.  Me thinking that if I wore that, I would look homeless – but she looks beautiful. And I wonder how she did that?
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I spent last week at The Creative Connection knowing that I was not one of those women…I didn’t grow up with a family that created, that was artistic, crafty or even that talented in the kitchen.  It is not my heritage, and try as I might – it is not something I can truly become.

But I gave birth to one of those women – and I fear that I cannot give her the outlets she needs, the inspiration, the time, the materials.  I know that I will never be quite enough for her.

I will never anticipate her instant need for a celebration, have the ingredients on hand she needs to bake that very minute, or the craft supplies for that project that needs to be made NOW.

I only have a hug, a kiss, some laughter and mainly apologies.

And I worry that I will never be quite enough for her.
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How will I nurture this child to her full potential?

I am lost.

Linking up with Tuesdays Unwrapped and Sweet Shot Tuesdays.

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Simple, Happy and Random Things…

I made this on Thursday.
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It may not be perfect. But I made it. I can paint.  Not sure about Kristi…
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We went to The Creative Connection Event and were awed and inspired by the incredible, talented and beautiful women in the world. I feel the need to create something big soon.

We had lunch with Ree, The Pioneer Woman. I love her because she doesn’t own a glue gun or a sewing machine. I wish she drank red wine vs. white wine…but I can’t ask for everything I guess.
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And felt so inspired I came home and made her bread for dinner the next night.  Awesome, easy and made me smile.

We sat with the The DIY Dish girls. The were gorgeous and humble and I want to be their neighbors and bake cookies together.  Would that be too forward to ask?

I bought amazing jewelry from Allora Handmade.

I had dinner with a gorgeous writer from Texas. Jennie writes for Segullah. I stalk cute Mormons in case you were wondering.  Everyone needs a hobby.

I cut my own bangs.  I haven’t had bangs since 1978.  What do you think?  Nice, oui?

I bought this book for $2 and I think it is worth about $250 – but I want to keep it for my girls to read. It is precious and Eloise Wilkin’s Illustration are incredible.  Worth every cent and more.
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My cute baby wore this hat.  An old, pink fleece hat from Zutano. I bought it for Eloise when she was 9 months old. Eloise wore it, Esther wore it and now Astrid wears it.  I never do hand-me-downs.  I purge everything.
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I am glad I saved the hat.

With my Gap 30% coupon I bought this shirt ..

and this shirt for myself and wore them this weekend.

They are AMAZING. Perfect.  The right material, the right fit, the right length, the right color.  Dreamy soft.  I am NOT a mall shopper, and frankly I am overwhelmed with how much I love these shirts. Perfect and simple for Fall.

Kristi made a new bracelet for me.  How can I keep loving them more each time? There is still time to enter to win a bracelet for yourself. Go here.

Simple things.

What random things made you happy this weekend?

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Dear Esther…

..on the eve of kindergarten.
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I never thought it would be this way.  You have always been my outgoing daughter. The life of the party.  The first to giggle.  The first to say hello.

But the past few weeks have been filled with tears and pleads.  “Mommy, I don’t want to go to kindergarten. Mommy, I just want to stay home forever with you.  And please don’t make me go to college. I just want to live with you forever.”
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As you were my baby for 4.5 years, I just want to pick you up, stuff you inside myself and protect you forever.

But I can’t.  I won’t.  And I personally do not think I have the ability to home-school.

And I cannot believe that thought even crossed my mind.  I shuttered a bit and had another glass of wine.(Just a note here that I LOVE me my homeschooling friends and if they want to home-school my child, I am all for it…just let me know what time to drop her off.)
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But that is how much I love you and really don’t want you to go to kindergarten either.

Eloise was ready…as shy and sensitive as she is..she thrives being away from us, playing with others, making her own way.  She likes to leave the house, go do things, socialize, see other people.

You are my homebody. You are my daughter.  I could not leave home for weeks at a time and be so perfectly content. I would find project upon project to start, to complete, to admire. I could go without the phone, facebook, twitter and email and be perfectly happy.
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Within the space of 15 minutes you are breezing through the house – asking me to bake cookies, helping me fold laundry, dusting the tables, trying to complete a corn-husk doll, and asking for a stamp because it is past September 1st and your letter to Santa must go out TODAY.  You have plans, you have a to do list, you have projects, you have cooking ideas, your world centers around being at home, keeping a home, and enjoying your home.

As dinnertime approaches you enter the kitchen, tie on your apron and ask what needs to be done.  You slice, you dice, you stir, you measure.  You set the table, you clear the table, you offer to help with dishes.  You notice when Donut’s bowl is empty, you feed him.  You bring snacks to the baby, you make sure she has a full water cup, you pick crumbs off the ground.  When it is time for bed, your dirty clothes are put immediately into the hamper, your towel up to dry after your shower.

You ask what others need and you serve company.  You put your toys away. You are my only snuggler.
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You keep your home nice.  Why would you want to leave it?  Why would you want to leave me?

While your kind sister asked for take-out Chinese food for her special night before school meal, you have asked for a homemade apple pie with homemade whipped cream, squash lasagna with homemade sauce, a tossed salad and sparkling lemonade.  As I am dealing with a crying baby with a fever today, I beg you to accept take-out sushi as alternative…and promise you that next weekend I will oblige you with your homemade culinary treat requests.
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You fret that school will be hard.  Eloise talks about all of the work, the worksheets, the homework – all of the things Eloise LOVES and you HATE.  You cry and say “Mommy, I don’t want to do schoolwork. I just want to be at home.”

And I answer, “Oh Esther, you won’t have worksheets – you go to a Montessori school – you get to garden, and bake, and count beads, and do word puzzles. You get to make snacks, and learn how to sew on a button.  You get to experience life – experience learning just like you do at home…just with your friends instead.”
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I hate to say that I will probably shed more tears than you will tomorrow, my dear sweet girl.  My kitchen companion, my fellow homebody.  But I know you will love school.  You will thrive.
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And I won’t say it out loud to you, as I promise to NEVER put guilt upon my children..but I will miss you more than you could ever know, and it is just breaking my heart to set you free and let you fly tomorrow as you enter school.

I will be lonely here at home just waiting for your quick return.
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Love, Mom

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Capturing Beauty….

My hands were attached to the keyboard, my bum was glued to the chair, and my body barely left the office all day.  Loads of work to do.  It is fun, but not beautiful.

I needed something fresh, something beautiful to take me away for a moment. To give me peace.

I didn’t need to look far.  There is simple beauty everywhere in my home.

And I bet in your home too.

Fresh flowers from the Farmer’s Market.
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A cat sleeping the day away(worm free)
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My new rug from Target – being properly used for toys.
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Colorful school supplies ready for next week.
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Kisses for the kitty.
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My new made to match Matilda Jane bracelet from Kristi’s Etsy shop(more details coming…)
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..and a ruffle butt.  Beautiful.
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What is beautiful in your home today?  Go capture it and share.

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Home…

After spending most of my adult life moving from place to place – state to state – country to country.  Traveling near and far – to states and continents.  Living out of a suitcase and ignoring my home, my yard.

Peace is what I have now found in my 7 years “home”.  Peace, serenity, acceptance and the benefit of hard work.

As a mom of young children, our home is where we spend our time and our work, where we make our memories while we make peanut butter sandwiches.

This year, I have worked hard to make our house a home.
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And it feels happy to me.

xoxo,t

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Be Nice…and a Thank you at the end…

I thank you all for your kind, open and insightful words and comments on my mean girls post this week.

For now, I just want to make sure that my girls come to me, talk to me, I keep the lines of communication open between us, and I make sure that I am setting a good example.

So, I have been coveting these pillows for quite some time.   But alas, cannot justify $90 on a pillow(although someday I will…or receive a gift perhaps…) at this time.  (You know, since I don’t even have a dryer.)  So I spent $5 on materials and made a cover for one of my existing throw pillows.

When you enter our home – this is the first thing you now see.
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..and I mean it. Or else.

And I also made this one with the same $5 – you know, it reminds me of my blog signature…and spreads the love.
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I have also started practicing what I preach.  For example, today 2 lovely women knocked on my door to share the love of their beliefs.  Instead of my usual behavior of seeing them coming with their Watchtower pamphlets, and me quickly hitting the floor, hiding behind the couch and telling the kids to be quiet – you know, pretending to not be home…I actually answered the door, made a comment on the weather, told them politely that I was not interested and offered them both a bottle of water for their journey today.

..and to further my love – I would like to know what you are doing to be extra nice today?  Are you delivering May Day baskets to your neighbors?  Giving your UPS man a kiss?  Making your husband his favorite meal?  Folding your friends laundry? Whatever it may be – leave a comment here and let me know.

Leave a comment on this post by Sunday night(May 2nd) 9pm Central and I will randomly choose one comment to win one of my special homemade “Be Nice or Leave”(or XOXO if you wish) pillow covers. Totally free, from the kindness of my sewing machine. ( No purchase necessary and void where prohibited by law. ;)

xoxo, t

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The Bright Side of Laundry…


My dryer broke 9 days ago.

Which hasn’t been horrible as our weather has been unseasonably nice and since we live in the city, there are no pesky ordinances against hanging my underwear outside.

So for over a week, we have hung our socks and underwear, sheets and jeans outside for the wind to dry and our neighbors to admire.

We seem to air our dirty laundry enough, so it was a nice change of pace to just air our clean skivvies.

Then it rained this weekend, causing my living room to become a laundromat.

What started as a chore though, has become something more…something more “my glass is half full” -esque. It has brought back memories…
-of my grandma hanging everything out on the line, even jeans when it was 30 below zero. I remember handing her clothespins to make quick work of the chore.
-Clothes hanging in our home in the Winter to keep the air humid.
-Playing fort and hide-and-seek between the sheets on the line – running through the clothing tunnels on a bright sunny day.
-Folding clothing brought in that was warm for the sun and fresh from the air.

Perhaps I am a bit sad that my own girls won’t have these memories of simpler times and hard work.

Perhaps I will ask Jed to string up a permanent line for us out back and we can bring this household chore back in fashion?

I just better go check with my neighbors first.
xoxo,t

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