Friday, June 18, 2010

Peas in a Pod

Our neighbors just left for Egypt for the summer. WAH! I'll miss them. Frannie and Omar play just about every single day and they never get sick of each other. I have to tell him to go home all of the time, and then 15 minutes later he'll be back in the garage. Omar is a good kid, but boy does he have a knack for breaking things. He reminds me of one of those puppies that chews on your favorite shoe. When you find the shoe with tooth marks and slobber all over and scold the dog, he just looks at you with this face like "Huh? Me? What did I do?" He's broken flower pots, my mini blinds, he made the roof of the playhouse collapse, he cracked the plastic pool, he's made Adam trip by chasing him with a hula hoop and then hooking him by the ankles. He runs too fast, jumps from high places, and in general doesn't think much about the cause/effect of what he's doing. He's six.

But he and Frannie and Adam play well together and rarely fight.

On one day Frannie took a bunch of pictures. These made me smile.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Keeping House

I really love learning about the art of keeping a home. I feel that for many women my age, homekeeping was pushed so far down on the list of worthwhile priorities to be taught either at home or school while growing up, that we are trying to figure it all out at a time when it should be second-nature. There were no Home Ec. classes in my jr. high or high school and for all of the math, science, literature, and history I was taught, the only lessons I learned about home and family in school were in reference to a sort of female enslavement.  I sometimes wonder, did my great-grandfather really not appreciate the efforts of my great-grandmother? Was she really seen as second class to him as the textbooks would make it seem? Or did they just have a respected division of labor? There's a lot to be done to make a household work, and for some reason the actual work-load of the home side of things has been minimized to the point that I guess people think homes can clean themselves, meals can cook themselves and children can raise themselves.

Before being in this role, I never appreciated the work involved. Perhaps I saw it as part-time work, something that could all be accomplished with just a little effort on the side. But this business of nurturing  people and the home they dwell in is a whole thing.

Fortunately, I came into wifehood and motherhood with a knowledge of how to cook, and a knack for lovin' up babies. Those things have never been hard for me. It's this keeping the home in order part that has been a struggle. It's There's a lot of cleaning. And things keep getting dirty. And there's always stuff coming into the house to sort through and stuff that needs to be pulled out. And them kids I live with keep making huge messes and interrupting me every five seconds. Hmmm...funny how that happens.

But I finally feel like I'm really breaking free! (From the house-trap mindset that is, not the kids!)

I have been getting better over the years bit by bit as I read books and blogs and apply what I've learned. However, for a long time I have been stuck at the place of doing an ok job of keeping things in order but it has always felt like a huge effort. Just thinking about the dishes that have to be done, or the kitchen that has to be wiped down was a major mental drain. I would always wonder "Why does it always feel so hard?" I know that it isn't actually difficult to wash dishes or do laundry or pick up toys. In fact when you are in the middle of it, often the mind can take a little vacation and it isn't so bad. Somehow the mental activity of just getting there took about 75% of my energy. I wanted to be one of those people that just gets it done and doesn't anguish over it. Jason's that way.

So in my quest for knowledge I ordered another home organization book from the library, Sandra Felton's Organizing for Life. Her book isn't about how to clean, it's about the mental side of things. Organizing for Life explores the cognitive patterns (and sometimes physiological issues too) that contribute to someone being a "Messy" vs. a "Cleanie". For me, the most helpful chapter was chapter 16 where she talks about the way the average successful homekeeper relates to her home. She says the number one difference between those who keep their homes clean regularly with little problem versus those who are always struggling with the house is that average successful homekeepers just want their home to look nice.

What? That's it!?

She says the average "Messie" focuses on wanting the house to "work better" and be more organized so that life will be more efficient. For example, kids will be hustled off to school with less effort, items will be found more easily, documents will be stored more appropriately. She says that the human desire for beauty is much greater than the desire for efficiency. Also, the person who wants a nice home will subsequently have a home that works better and is more efficient.

This may sound stupid, but this information hit me over the head.

I read that chapter about four times.

Want a nice home...they want the house to look nice...they want it to be pretty...welcoming...for themselves.

They just want a nice house.

I ...want a nice house.

I have never admitted that to myself or even really considered it. In fact I have always viewed myself in opposition to those who want their homes to look nice. Isn't it a vain character quality to want something for beauty's sake? Isn't it much more noble to desire efficiency? And yet, it isn't enough. A vision of efficiency has never been enough to make me want to wash any dish. I'll do it out of duty's sake because I love my husband and I love my kids and I know it is important to them (especially to him) to have a home that they can enjoy. For years, that has been the motivation I've been operating under. But desiring efficiency and desiring to please family members isn't enough to shake the emotional response that everything is such a c.h.o.r.e.

I deserve a nice home. A nice home isn't just for other people, it's for me. I deserve a nice home to live in. I feel like I need to keep repeating it over and over and let it sink in. When I keep that vision in my mind, it does make a difference. It changes the energy with which I approach the house. Rather than being a trap, it's like the mess is in-between me and MY nice house! I want my nice house back! So the mess must go! It also means letting go of my little self-identity as a "Messie". I can feel sometimes when that old mind-set is operating and when I have to switch to the new one and get my vision back. 

So if you come to my home, don't get all Inspector-Gadget on me and whip out your magnifying glass to check my skillz; There will probably still be some toys on the floor and dishes in the sink and blah blah blah. However, when the time comes to stick my hands in some soapy water or put Thomas and his Friends away for the day I think my inner-world won't be moaning and groaning through the whole thing.
I'll be creating my nice house.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Adam Jason turns THREE!

[Note: I started putting this blog together on June 6th!] 

Well my little guy turned three years old yesterday. This is a big birthday for him because it is the first time he was FULLY AWARE of the event. Everyone did an excellent job of getting him pumped up about it. Seeing other kids blow out birthday candles a few weeks prior also did the trick.

"Is it my bootday?"
"Not yet Adam. Next week. And you are going to have a special Tommy party!" (Tommy = Thomas the Tank Engine)

Adam is very cute when he gets excited. He kind of pulls his neck in, folds his hands together in his lap and smiles big with bright eyes. It's adorable to me! He's a fairly reserved little boy so he doesn't often react with a huge WHOOP! He does this more measured reaction but I know it means he's VERY excited. And it makes the times that he does do a big WHOOP even more entertaining.

Here's Jason's take on the early morning hours of Adam's birthday.

The day started out early.  Francesca was up by 5:30 am, "Daddy its late, we need to go to Grandpa's house to make Adam's cake."  Bobbie has a special talent for making awesome cakes and at Adam's request a Thomas the Train cake was on order for the day.  With Francesca as co-baker, the plan was to make the cake at Grandpa's house.  

Thirty minutes later, I was out of bed and both Adam and Franny met me down stairs.  I fed them, dressed Franny and off to Grandpa's house we went.  Adam at the last minute decided he wanted to go for the ride, so in his pajamas, I loaded him into the van.

We got to Grandpa's early and well before Grandma Bobbie.  Hmmmm, she said beween 7 and 8, its 7:15 am. "Ding Dong," went the door bell, once then twice.  Does Grandpa know we're coming?  A few minutes later, we heard feet shuffle and Archie barking behind the closed door.  Grandpa's head poked out of the door and I now now, he WASN'T expecting us.  

We stayed awhile, talked as Archie raced around the living room, full of excited energy running to and from Francesca and Adam.  Bobbie never showed while I was there and after two phone calls from Jamie I had a growing "To Do List".  

A quick trip to Stator Bros and back home, time to start party planning!  Jumper was delivered on time, bbq out, charcol, cooler filled with ice and drinks, back yard swept, the day was setting up on time.  Stress level, close to zero.

Okay Jamie you can finish!

Here is the cake Frannie helped my mom make. Complete with track and toy train!

He Did he just say stress level close to zero? I'm pretty sure he just said that. Anyways, my pre-party stress is never a zero but I will say that with now having a little bit of party experience, I am no longer in all out anxiety mode like I used to be.

Anyways, back to Adam. 

It made me very happy to put together this particular party for him. Adam has his ups and downs. He's a wonderfully cuddly little boy who says "Please" and "Thank You" and a friendly "Hi!!" to strangers. He gets so excited about trains and begs to watch his train movies every day. Watching him watch a train youtube is hilarious for me as he always "chuffs" with the train and points at the screen and gives big laughs and sound effects as the train goes down the track. While we enjoy so many sweet moments together, he is two (now three) afterall and the phrase "terrible twos" really means something to me. Some days are haaaaaard. In fact most everyday is a mixture of absolutely aggravating patience-testing behaviors and cuddly sweetness and silliness. It's weird how it all can change hour by hour. 

The party was a chance to celebrate all the super parts of my little guy. And I'm so glad we did!

We decided to invite family and a few friends to the house for a BBQ. We also got a jumper because of all the kids on the street who we knew would come over. It was a beautiful day. There were a million kids around as expected and Adam got a lot of nice train gifts! He really enjoys opening presents.

These are just some things I'd like to remember about him as a three year old:

The way he loves to cuddle. When I carry or sit with him, he lays his head on my shoulder, tucks his arms in and wiggles his booty to get comfortable. 

He asks for candy constantly. When I say "no candy" he promptly says "Can I have gwum?" Half the time I let him have gum just so he'll stop asking. 

Juice. The boy loves juice. 

"Work that body" running and dancing. 

Lately his little sense of humor includes pretending to pee on everything. 

"I yuv you" (Mom, Gwama, Auntie, Gwampa, Fwannie, Natowie, Omaw, Weem) He will often tell those he loves that he loves them!

The train sound effects.

His low laugh.

The way he shouts "Gotta go pee pee!" "Gotta go POO POO!" and then "I'M DOOOONE!" in a screetching howl. 

"Give me my pie-see!" (give me my privacy)

"Can I have a pop-ped-o?" (marshmallow)

"My. name's. Anum!"

"You bootiful, Mommy" 

Obviously I really want to remember his way of speaking! It's really cute and I know he won't do this too much longer. The L's are pronounced like Y's. The R's are just lost in the word. Everyone finds it quite funny the way he pronounces the name of a certain favorite green train whose name rhymes with Mercy. 

I always want to remember the way he and Frannie play and laugh their heads off together. Or as Frannie would say "crack your head off". 

Slowly Natalie is becoming more of a playmate too, but she is mostly still a nuisance to him. I suspect this will change more once Frannie starts school. 

Finally this year he is riding a tricycle. He would never even sit on one before. And now he rides all around everyday. I know Jason is really glad about that!
Someday he'll graduate to papa's bikes. 

Adam can load up a DVD or VHS tape all by himself. 

Last year he was very clingy and he's grown out of that now. He actually has several little friends. His besties are James, Naomi, and Omar. 

He's a cautious kid. He never goes down the slide at a park. He only likes to swing on the swing a little bit and that is just a recent development. He just recently did the tricycle thing. He won't go in the swimming pool without me in there holding him. Otherwise he just sits with his feet resting on the first step. He still loves to run and kick a ball though! I guess he's a feet on the ground kind of kid. 

I love my special 3 year old "Big Boy!" who is full of love and stubbornness and is powered by juice and a passion for trains.