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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

june cleans house

I wonder how exactly June Cleaver would have gone about cleaning house. Certainly not in yoga pants and an old T-shirt. Her in her billowing skirt and pearls and crisply pressed blouse. Maybe I should try that, make it an occasion, you know? I bet it helps.
we recently packed up the contents of the toy closet...and taped it shut.

In any case. Its a lot of work trying to keep on top of the clutter three kids and two adults produce in a very small space. A. Lot. Of. Work.

It feels like all I do all day is pick up. Of course I do do it all day, which is why it probably feels like that. Teething rings off the floor, dirty socks on the shoe rack, playmobile knights on the couch, discarded juice boxes under the couch. Bend, reach, swoop, toss, sweep, reach, bend, swoop, toss. ALL DAY. (I think June had LESS to pick up right, Beaver's baseball card collection, some bikes, maybe a ball?)

Which is fine. It is part of the gig, right?

I was doing this today full force, always the three day weekend produces MUCH more clutter, laundry, etc.

And so, we go at it. And I was thinking today that I have developed some rules for myself so as to stay on top of it, especially because of the small space issue. Not rules really, strategies is a better word. Strategies for trying to maintain a house that is presentable whilst chasing three small kids, in a small space. There, that sounds better.
can you find the baby? HA.

So, here are my thoughts. And this isnt to sound snotty about ow clean my house is. As I type my house is a wreck. But I did as much as I could today, so, you know? But these little things do make a difference I think. Even for your own sanity.

1) Keep it simple. Only have stuff out that you use. I have boxes of kitchen gadgetry in storage. No room for the miscelaneous in this kitchen. Same goes with the kids stuff. If they havent played with it in a week, it doesnt need to be out. Our toy room has a closet. If the train set has gone untouched for awhile, into the closet it goes. I am a ruthless ogre, I know.

2) When I am going downstairs, or coming upstairs, I try to bring something that needs to go in that direction. That sounds funny. You know what I mean. Conserve energy, but be efficient. This is important in managing a house with small kids. As you well know.

3) Keep it organized. A place for everything and everything in its place. (I am SURE June said something like that in some episode, right? While offering the Beav freshly squeezed OJ on a platter) This is perhaps my key rule/strategy/thing.

4) Finish what you start. When you are gonna clean the kitchen, clean the kitchen. Leaving pans soaking overnight (ahem, dada) is not finishing the job. This just makes you feel better when you spend the rest of the day holding your cranky baby and/or scrubbing up pee stains from the toddler. At least I got the kitchen cleaned up!

5) Cleaning off the stove and countertop and table are PART of cleaning the kitchen too. Having a clean stovetop makes a kitchen feel actually clean. This maybe is just my quirk? Sometimes when I dont have time to clean the whole kitchen I shove all the dishes in the sink and wipe down the stove and the counter top. It makes me feel like I can pretend the kitchen is clean.

6) With the monster jobs, [folding and putting away all the clothes, my nemesis (and seriously I suck at it)] doing it little by little over a day is sometime the only way to get it done.

7) Try out a rhythm to when you do certain chores. When the kids are sitting in the tub, I wipe down the sink, toilet, etc. with the Clorox bleach wipes I store right in the bathroom. It takes five minutes, and I am sitting there anyway, you know? In the morning when the sun is shining in the kitchen window I do dishes while sipping my second cup of coffee. (If its not sunny I am not as inspired, seriously, is that weird of me?) Finding the little moments like this is key to getting it done.

8) Pick up loose clutter at the end of the day. Waking up to a straightened house is just nicer. (Also prevents tripping over crap when you wake up to take a child to pee at 3am.)

9) Have the counter cleared off and coffee supplies ready to go at the end of the day too, it just makes staggering up at 7am that much easier, am I right?

10) Involve the kids, and from an early age. Make up a song. We sing "Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere! Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share" (although little miss insists the last word is "smare" which drives her brother crazy. Its SHARE! SHARE!) If they know, from the get go, that picking up after you play is just what you do, well, that is half the battle.

11) Prioritize projects. Dont try and bite off more than you can chew. This is a tough one for me. I get in these moods. LETS GET IT ALL DONE NOW! But then dinner needs cooked and the kids want to play outside and, it doesnt all get done, NOW. It can get done though, eventually. So I pick one thing I work on, like for the whole week. I am gonna get that play room toy closet cleaned out. This week I am gonna fold all the fabric in my craft area. (GULP. Havent done that one yet) You get what I mean.

12) Start small. Pick up one corner, just one, where you can sit and have that third cup of coffee in peace. Ignore the rest. (For now anyway)

13) Dont sweat the unimportant stuff. Like cleaning out the fridge. Or scrubbing down the grout with a toothbrush. Or mopping the floors every day. There will be a time in life when that stuff gets done regularly. It isnt when you have small kids in the house (not often anyway)

14) Bribery. I will get fresh flowers. Which then inspires me to clean up the room they are in, and really well. Can't put pretty flowers on a dirty countertop! And of course bribe the kids. Lets pick up the whole house before dada comes up and then go have a popsicle outside while we wait for his bus! YAY! This is FUN! (sometimes this even actually works, HA)

Hmm. That is all I got right now. Its been a long LONG LOOOOOONG day.

Do you have any tips to share with me? Lets talk.
Monday, May 28, 2012

june remembers...

Once upon a time I had a crazy adventurous job. In this job I worked alongside men and women in uniform. I sat next to them at dinner. Listened to their stories of the day. I sat at a computer. They sat in an armored humvee on patrol. I missed my husband and cat. They missed their children. I heard them cry about two year old birthday parties. My heart was torn in two.

So, even though I have never served, I have seen it first hand. I cry when commercials come on, reminding us to love our vets, this generations Vietnam vets who go unnoticed by so many or when I see soldiers at the airport, coming or going, or when my church remembers them in the prayers of the people.

And I am grateful.

So, thank you. To my dad, my gradfathers, uncles, my little baby brother, who is not so little anymore.

Thank you. To you all. You are brave. We love you.
Thursday, May 24, 2012

you make it better

My baby is 8 months old today.


She is crabby lately. She wants to be held, or be no further than a short reach of her fat arm to my leg.

And really, it goes so quick, babyhood, so why would I WANT to be any further away?

So sure baby, you can bathe with me, cook with me, clean with me, sleep with me. I dont want to miss a minute.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

getting it out

Good grief I am so impatient lately.

You notice the lack of anti-recipe posts lately? Yea, I have totally been ordering pizza once a week. ORDERING it. Not even the foresight to buy frozen. I have no desire to cook. The weather has been this crazy windy hot stormy stuff of late and all I want to do is eat watermelon...and order pizza.

Luckily that is fine with the kids. Dada put pork roast and tomatoes in the crockpot himself this morning, poor guy. (DELICIOUS)

I need to get re-inspired. I totally pin all these great looking dishes on pinterest and then...nothing.

And then the kids, well they are totally absorbing this impatience of late. They run around like wild things, even the baby has taken to YELPING at me in impatience, if I even leave the room, take two steps away from her fat glorious presence.


Is anybody else doing this? Some kind of crazy spring fever? Its really...disconcerting. And then I try to blog and I just go "yada yada craft yada yada cute kid pictures yada yada yadayadayada"

So here I am. Getting it out.


I told my friend last night at a "mommy gets out of the house" evening. I just want to do something really fabulous. Write a book. Do some work. Volunteer. Travel. Camp for a week in the deep woods. Go on a road trip. Dye my hair (blue?) Something. An adventure.

Really what I want to do is move. To a ... New. Fabulous. Giant. Perfect. Spacious. Beautiful. Clean. Fresh. New. HOUSE.

And I found one I love. Fresh on the market. And it will likely sell before we can get the balls rolling.


Okay. Deep breath.

I am running away to my moms farm with the kids tomorrow while dada works along day... Hoping that will get me through the week.

Friday, May 18, 2012

flutter by butterflies

The monarchs have returned to our northern neck of the woods. Their return is VERY exciting. They come, lay their eggs, flutter around for awhile, and die.

So, butterfly projects, we shall do. (I am all about themes.)

I recently obtained a rainbow of wool at a local "fiber festival." (FUN!) We simply wrapped bits of this wool in pipe cleaners, bent the ends into feelers, snipped off the remaineder, tufted out the wool, and strung them up on a hoop. Voila. Adorable "flutterby" mobile (as little man adorably called them when he was a little guy, and yes, I was mad the day someone corrected him and he stopped saying it...)

Here is how we did it: (keep reading to find out about our butterfly egg rearing project!!)

i tried with more attractive yarn first...

little man voted for pipecleaners...

And the other day, on a family walk, we came across some milkweed and I had a fabulous idea. Lets find a leaf with a monarch egg, claim it as our own, and raise a butterfly! And, lo and behold, we found one!! They are teeny tiny white dots on the underside of a leaf. Milkweed is a little hard to spot as a young plant, without the tufts of downy seeds coming out of the top. If in doubt, break a leaf off, white milk will come out. But, BE CAREFUL. Apparently the milky stuff is really toxic and can cause temporary blindness if it gets in your eyes! Yikes.

We found a site that talks about raising caterpillars and followed their suggestions. (More resources here and here and a great page on rearing through the full life cycle here)

Basically, here are the steps. Keep the single leaf in a clear plastic container, with a hole punched in the middle. And wait. Only a few days though, because three days later we woke up to an empty shell (we could see it glistening at the bottom of the container) and a tiny tiny black speck on one leaf. We cut out the speck from the old leaf and tranferred on to a fresh leaf (per suggested by that site) from the same plant (keeping fresh in a vase of water). The next morning (today!) he had doubled in size, maybe tripled, and we could see little teeny holes where he had chewed out the leaf! (But, you have to be sure to give them a fresh leaf each day.)Seriously, lets face it, I am more into this than the kids. Really fascinating. Apparently they double in size each day! Replace the leaf each day for two weeks. Clean out the poop too. Then when your caterpillar starts slowing down its ready to form a chrysalis. Place a sheet of toilet paper at the top of the lid, replace the lid. This gives it something to hang out to. Then watch!

Also a note: Apparently we are encouraged to raise tiny little eggs because only 4 to 6 out of a THOUSAND eggs make it to maturity! More and more because of pesticides that cover the milkweed (make sure your milkweed doesnt have any pesticide exposure!) but also bacteria and birds and such.

Then little man spontaneously got out his school book to draw a picture of our findings, along with his speculation about what the butterfly will look like. (This is homeschooling! I tell myself, I CAN DO THIS!)

see our little tiny guy in there?

with arrows to show transformation cycle :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

he loves me, he loves me not

Sibling relations are a fascinating thing.

Such fierce loyalty.

Such fierce animosity.

Such anger.

Such tender love.

As my kiddos get older its amazing to watch it unfold.

Amazing/infuriating at times.

Lately there have been screaming fits at our house. Brother is playing with baby toy (side note: why do big kids LOVE baby toys and babies LOVE the big kid toys??) the same toy little miss was playing with two minutes ago. She comes up to him and demands, in no uncertain terms, that he quickly and readily relinquish said toy. (Can you tell I worked with lots of lawyers in a previous life?? HA) He refuses.

This is where the blood curdling screams ensue. Lots and lots of screaming. Little miss is amazing at screaming. Really. I bet our neighbors particularly love this new trend. Especially when it occurs at 8am. (I know I LOVE it.)
guess what we were screaming about two minutes later??

I drag one kid off the toy (they are laying on it, dog pile style at this point) and banish them to the "Time out stairs" the other gets sent to the couch.\

When I was little my mom used to put us in the bathroom together for five minutes. I can remember the little egg timer being set, the door being closed. Oh the fighting we sisters used to do! The scratching! The hair pulling! The karate chops to the neck! (That would be me, trying to imitate the Karate Kid, sorry Anne!)

Now, my latest end to their three minutes of silence, to hold hands, look into each others eyes and say one nice thing about each other (which usually leads to giggling) and then hug and say I am sorry. Then we arent allowed to talk about the grievance again.

By the time this whole process is over they have entirely forgotten (mostly) the fight and go off happily together.

And yet, and yet, when the whole family is talking in the chaos of dinner time or something and little miss is begging for attention "Mama, mama! I said MAMA!" Brother comes to her side, "Umm, excuse me mom, she wants to say something." And she comes to his defense when he is in trouble. "Don't get mad at my big buver! (one of those mispronunciations I cant bear to correct..) He is my buver and I LOVE him."

And then, late at night, when little miss has napped and cant get to sleep, she snuggles up to him, kisses his head ever so gently, and says, "I love you so much" quietly in his ear.

And together they snuggle into each other in our bed at night, until we carry big man off to his own bed.

Now adding baby into the mix a whole new level unfolds. She has now learned to clap and they are THRILLED with this new skill. "Do it again! Do it again! Look mom, she is DOING IT!" And baby comes crawling across the floor whining to be held and little miss comes to me, "Baby is crying for you mama! She wants you! Get her!" And when I pick her up little miss says, but I want her to play with me! And little man greets her in the morning with "Hello missy! Hello head! Hello misssy poochie head!" (Dont ask me...)

And in it all tts amazing how in tune with each other they are. They know each others moods. Needs. Likes. And even though some people think we are hermits, I credit our at-home-ness lifestyle with this, in a lot of ways. There are no "us against them" sibling/friend rivalries. I am sure that will come, in time, but for now they can play together, fight together, and become little people together.

And I am loving it.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

a mother's prayer

Give me strength to be a better mama today.

Help me to greet the new day with a smile and a hug for my children, even if the sun isn't actually up yet.

Help me to see the day through my children's eyes...
...that twirly beautiful dresses do in fact make the day better.
...that injustice does look like who got more fruit snacks.
...that a butterfly is worth chasing down the path, even if we are late to get home, and the baby is fussing, and dinner needs cooked.
...that sometimes the best thing to do is stand in the sunshine, arms outspread, listening to the wind in the trees.

Help me to be kinder. Help me to hold back that urge to yell when the moment gets the best of me. Help me to show acts of kindness despite how I am treated. Help me in this to demonstrate for them the people I want them to be.

Let me breathe in their sweaty hair, feel their strong limbs, see their bright eyes in the sunshine, and remember how blessed I am.

Help me to be more gracious with myself. No one in fact cares if the floor is swept daily. The world will not collapse if each meal doesnt contain all of the food groups. That it is more important to lay in the grass and look at ants than accomplish that adorable craft from pinterest.

Help me to be more gracious with other mommies. This is hard work and the majority of us are doing our darnedest to do it well, for the sake of these little beings we love.

Give me energy to play, without that third cup of coffee.

Give me laughter, to throw back my head and giggle at knock knock jokes told over and over and over and over.

Give me love to share. Willing hands to help. And a grateful heart for this life's mission.

In it all, despite it all, through it all, because of it all, I am so much, so much, so thankful.

me and little man, mothers day 2008

me and little miss, mothers day 2009

me and ev, mothers day 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

a felt rolling ball for baby

I am having one of those days. You know the kind, where you are CLINGING, sooooooo tightly, to your sanity. YES you can be "half Batman, half Ironman, and half Green Lantern." FINE. (WHY do you need me to approve of these creations boy?)

Little miss has had a strange mild fever for a few days, not enough to slow her down but JUST enough to make her crabby. FUN.

Baby is perhaps finely teething? Fighting off the same thing? In any case she refuses to nap unless she is in my arms and in fact prefers to be in my arms, no matter.

So, you know where I am at right now. RIGHT??

(Do I make more coffee at 2pm? Perhaps just take the children out in the jogger for a run? Leaning to the latter...)

And you know those days where you are just like "fortheloveofallthatisholycanyoustoptalking?"

Yes. I am having that day.

But, yesterday, yesterday is perhaps why i am now in this mood. It was craft day. Rather than crafting WITH children I decided to craft FOR children, in the form of a rolling ball for baby. And until it was finished I was like "CAN YOU JUST LEAVE ME ALONE TO CRAFT? WHAT, YOU WANT TO EAT LUNCH, FINE!" big SIGH. HA HA.

She is very into rolling. And she doesnt have a ball of her own yet, that is really big enough for a proper roll that is (of course she has these balls, that i made her for Christmas, but they are small). The problem with not having one for herself, you all with more than one child know this, the owner of the ball can then come up and demand (in whiney feverish way) that that is HER ball and she wants it very much. All chaos ensues. Much better to make the baby her own ball than fight at that all day. You know?

(Dang, perhaps I shouldnt be posting till AFTER my endorphin boosting run, eh?)

In any case. I found directions in this sweet little book I have and spent every spare moment ALL DAY making it.

Here is how it went down:


my living room. i crafted instead of facing this

and this...

cut out 12 pieces, in a pentagon shape
the kids got restless (and the house was a mess) so i moved my crafting
gear outside, this is often how i craft, standing with te baby
asleep in the ergo, giant mug of coffee and blackberry nearby...

i decided to add a few flower patches to make it pretty. the
five petal flowered fit the shape perfectly. i am big on symmetry

my sleeping buddy

back inside (kids in front of video! eek!)
then i start sewing, just randomly putting pieces together
as you can see i did the seams simply, on the outside. pretty basic
sewing, anyone could do this.

it was a bit complicated trying to figure out how the pieces went together
at the end...

nearly done

add stuffing, a few jingle bells, and more stuffing, then close up

my own ball?? gee thanks ma!

thanks for the ball. like i said. can i get down now?

look at the height on that throw!

today i felt guilty the kids didnt actually craft on craft day (not that they care,
mind you, this is all internal) so we made a flower wreath out of
an old egg carton. HA.

Monday, May 7, 2012

we survived

The TV free (less) week, that is. We survived. In case you were wondering. As I havent posted in a few days. Maybe you thought I was curled in a corner, fetal position, my eyes rolled back into my head, swatting at crazed zombie children, demanding TV in a monotone voice.


That image made me laugh.


In any case.

Yes, we made it.

We watched three movies with the kids over the weekend to make up for it. But one was Fantasia which is all classical music so that totally doesnt count in my brain. Now I am not for all "NO TV EVER IT IS EVIL." But, its good to do without for awhile, cut back, as it were. You know?

And here we are sunshiney Monday mornng, kids drawing roads on the basement floor with chalk, listening to Pandora "Raffi" station, getting ready to go for a stroller jog. And somehow, for some reason, I feel super positive about this week.

So much up in there air - especially the house question, will it work out? country or city? - this is all killing me and dada this week. Like I can hang on, not knowing for a few more weeks, after that I will officially go bonkers.

We want to avoid that. For reals.

Ok. Sunshine is calling. Also more coffee.

lilacs are pretty. and they taste yummy.

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