"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Monday, April 27, 2015

Absence Makes The Fingers Chilly

 One of the things that's super great about A going away on these business trips to California is that we talk together after the kids are in bed in a much more engaged way. We had a great conversation recently about the value of play and experimentation for children. So delicious to get into these really meaningful topics, the kind of thing where your mind does push-ups and gets you really working....as a couple. There's a special kind of real love in that, which really speaks to me.

 We were talking about how much we want our kids to be dabblers, people who learn a little bit about a lot of things and can fit in here and there and everywhere. We want their deep interests to be portable, things that are flexible, things that they can do in lots of locations and with lots of people. We welcome activities, sports, classes and lessons but we want to leave room for fooling around, new ideas, imagination, free time and togetherness. We also have noticed that we need to reign in our own activities to these kind of standards if we expect to be able to enforce the plans for our kids. So much of parenting is like that....parenting yourself so that you can teach your kid things. Sometimes mortifying but meaty truth and solidly good.

 Its still really verging on chilly outside. I can't relax in a t-shirt yet, its still layers and sock wearing weather. The good news about that is that I have a day or two to get to mowing the lawn before it looks scary. The bad news is that the daffodils are out and the plum tree is blooming its head off in the backyard but I still don't really feel like going out. Its just freezy! We're doing a lot of read-alouds (right now One Day And One Amazing Morning On Orange Street) using the dryer even though we could be line drying and ending every day with warm baths in the tub, there is a lot of tea and coffee and we've been slow roasting meats for dinner. Please say that the warm weather comes sometime soon?

 We are all still working out, although I have been fighting my own lack of inspiration in that regard. I'm doing pretty well still with hitting my 10,000 step a day goal but actually getting a muscle building workout in is a little trickier. I have GOT to learn to workout first thing in the morning, I think that is the key. I must not and cannot leave it until later in the day, (God forbid it be the last thing to do once the house is quiet and I am exhausted!) and just hope I work it in. I will chicken out every time. Trying to puzzle over what might be motivating and how to jump-start that process.

Feel so proud of working harder on these things. Love watching the boys copycat me and start playing things together about working out and muscle strength and daring each other to push-up contests. This feels like a truly tangible good thing that we are doing together.

 I painted the kitchen all a clean white, smoothing over the bright, bright green backsplash behind my sink which so shocked many a visitor to my house. Everything is a snowy gloss now and I am trying to decide if it will stay that way or if I will paint the backsplash a soft yellow or something. Choices, choices. Next project will be pulling all the nails in my bedroom walls and spackling over the holes. I also am hoping to go get enough bricks this week to finish the ending I am doing on the front walk. Seems like a simple enough project to bang out if I got motivated....especially if it ever gets warm.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cherry Blossom Haze

Just today, the cherry blossoms started opening. This next week will be stunning, the weekend may be a glowing daze. We are having magnificent weather with gentle breezes and buckets of sunshine alternating with torrential winds, chill and rain, rain, rain. The lawn is ready for a first cut and all the raised beds have been planted except for the potatoes and the children's garden. Our plum trees started opening their blossoms this morning. Must keep an avid watch on the fungus and pests and be liberal with my organic sprays and compost tea. I am also planning to order a giant dump of mulch to keep everything handily tucked in and moist for when the hot weather arrives. Its also time to divide any perennials I want to trim down and QUICK, finish the brick trim on the front walk! EEP!

 The boys are getting so panicked about being outdoors at all times that they are trying desperately to throw off the yoke of household chores. I am trying to remember to be insistent but it is SO hard! I am terrible at staying consistent and modeling the things I want them to learn. Most of parenting has been parenting myself, I swear. I must finish my chores before I get all distracted while feeding the chickens and wander over to check out the seedlings and trim the pear tree and admire the crocus and see if the grape vine is budding. Adhere! I must learn the things I am trying to teach. No time like the present. 

 This morning I gave myself a haircut. I would include a photo but I doubt it would be very dramatically visible to anyone. I cut about four or five inches off the ends but it was so stringy and brittle and damaged that there wasn't much volume left. I have to say that I love me some YouTube tutorials. That's where I taught myself how to cut my side angle bangs. That's where I learned how to cut my sister Lockbox's curly hair and that's where I went this morning when I had the itch to fix the scraggly, dried and breaking mess that was my hair. I parted and trimmed and brushed and angled and trimmed again until I had trimmed it all into gradual piecey layers, framing my face on both sides, all serious damage trimmed away and the parts that are left mostly falling in a regular and even fashion. I feel so much better. Cutting my own hair makes me feel like a dog that had all the winter mats trimmed of its paws or a sheep that's been sheared right before the June heat hits in waves. Its so relieving and freshening! Someday maybe I'll go to a salon and have them do it all for me but its hard to trust a random pair of shears when I know what I want and my own experiments are free.

 The bikes are back out and I am realizing that even though Dee is 7, I haven't really focused on working on getting him riding on a two-wheeler without training wheels very confidently. Goals for the Spring! Also, we seriously need to weed down our collection of wheeled vehicles. We do not need the gigantic fleet that we posses. Yay for the approaching neighborhood swap day!
 I am drinking a fair amount of protein shakes these days. I have decided that my new workouts and maybe just my normal activity warrants a more reliable protein supply and I have been whizzing them up when I am too busy to have a real sit-down lunch or when breakfast seemed like it had more produce than muscle feed in it. One of favorites has been a "pumpkin pie" version made with coconut milk, canned pumpkin pulp and cinnamon + vanilla protein powder. Yum! Its a treat that I don't really mind the boys indulging in with me and sometimes its serving as an ice cream substitute after dinner if I whiz in frozen fruit (Yay, new Costco membership this year!!!) and then scoop it into a bunch of tiny bowls.
 Pom is trying to potty train although I have been impossibly lazy about it. Here he is about to turn three and I am not there yet. I am embarrassed to admit that the "last baby" thing has infected me and threatens to allow me to spoil him. Argh! How can that be me? I know about that crazy stuff and I hate the idea of being like that. Its also just hard to be dedicated to the toilet cause when there is baseball practice and swimming lessons and co-op and gardening not to mention the laundry and the mopping. So much to keep on top of and his wearing diapers still seems somehow excusable. The good news is that he seems motivated himself on some level. He's doing pretty well at keeping clean at this point, telling me to take him to the bathroom when the need arises without any prompting. Staying dry is a whole 'nother story but hey....we can't ask the sun, moon and stars all at once!
I have been working on very little painting lately although I have a couple of ideas percolating and A is taking one of his necessary but unpopular trips to the West Coast again this coming week. I also hope to watch a few movies, maybe finish painting my bedroom and push a little bit of extra yoga into my life. Optimist much?

Hey, listen....its Spring!


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Living On Feminine Overdrive

Being on my period turns me into a weeping, sentimental maniac. I love that I feel deeply, I get the powerfully feminine vibrance of it all but after a while it feels like a drug trip that won't end. I have the hardest time seeing reality through the fog of induced extreme feeling and by the end of lots of days I just want to hide in a box. And maybe never wake up. Hormones suck.

I am normally a person with very little malaise, jaded entitlement and dull boredom. The world is a sparkling place and I love that I see each shell and bead and notice all the little things, appreciating it all. This time of the month though, I'm on such a ridiculous hormonal ride that its like being my usual perceptive self x 1,000,000,000.

 I was teary watching Ru start his first riding lesson. The sun was golden in the dust of the riding ring as he climbed the mounting block in his little velvet riding helmet and....there I was crying with joy over the beauty of it all. I did it discreetly. I think. I mean, I wasn't sobbing....just a few sniffs and a hurried wiping with the sleeves of my chambray shirt. The other boys didn't even notice, they were too busy swinging on the fence rails and trying to throw horse poop at each other. Dear little things. WHY are they so insane?!?! Here I am killing myself for them, being a wonderful mother and they continue to do things like attack each other and fight, no matter how kind I am to them. Why me???? Is all my life for nothing???? I have spent my life on this. This is it. Four ill-behaved boys and a house that is a giant mess....that's my whole life. My Lord. What have I done? I could have gone to mime school or married that rich Korean guy I met in Guatemala. Guatemala...there is a Guatemala. I mean, doesn't that just tear you to pieces??? What a beautiful world we live in. The world is incredible. I can't even handle it.

Its sort of like that.


That's slightly overkill...right?

What do you guys do to cope with over the top emotions? I breathe, try to realize that they aren't real, sometimes I laugh. I go outside. I eat. (more often than I'd like to admit although I am eating only healthy foods) I work. I control things that I can manage, like obsessively folding the napkins and scrubbing a spot out of the upholstery. I read because escape makes me happy. I space out. I hug my kids. I turn on music and dance. (although honestly this often inflames things emotionally, truth be told) and sometimes I just cry. I text my husband. I count the days on my calendar until I will feel normal again. I garden until my fingers hurt. I call friends. I know that I'll be sane again soon. Until then, I'm just over here sucking blood and howling at the moon, waiting for the spell to break.

Ru did have his first horseback riding lessons, which is a big dream he's been carrying for a while. Pretty amazing to watch him fearlessly up there on the big mare they paired him with, leaning into the work, learning to direct and hold his own.

The weather has been made to order....sun and gentle breezes, warm air and open window humidity level. Just exactly right. Grass is frothing at the edges of the highways now and the hens have started trying to take dust baths in their yard again. Yesterday we had the guinea pigs out in the lawn while we planted pansies in the urns at the front door and spread new mulch at their feet.

I am eating clean and exercising, sometimes with A and sometimes by myself, but consistently no matter who comes along for the ride. I have learned that I love tricep dips and hate wall sits and that I can do real push-ups. My current record is 13 in a row! I also found out that one of the water bottles that I own already has ounce marks on the side, as if it was just waiting for me to start watching my fluid intake and actually use it to try to get hydrated. Lemon water is my new best friend.

I think I'm almost to the point where I can actually say I've taught two children to read. One more library card awaits for our family. Teaching small people to do things that have nothing at all to do with normal human function is miraculous. I feel like I have taught someone to climb walls or revive babies from comas. So beautiful to see the words on the page slide from jumbled symbols to smooth, linked codes that untangle steadily and watch the little voice managing it all perk up with expression and cadence. Life is beautiful. Okay...time to go to bed. I'm tearing up again.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Fit Family

 Spring is a time of kicking butt! I'm learning again, in a new way, how to find my inner fit chick, strong woman, inspirational overcomer and hometown approachable athlete. I am working out! Daily! Craziness, right? Once in a while my workout ends up being raking or shoveling compost or chasing my kids around on the playground and occasionally over the past couple of weeks I have missed my workout but I just get back on the train. I'm working on letting go of the guilt and being more and more of my own cheerleader when I mess-up, feel weak, procrastinate or don't hit my goals. Most of my issues are in my own mind.

 I haven't been blogging so much this week because I have been working so fixedly on switching my mindset on fitness. I'm determined to develop strength, to learn to love moving, to be proud of my muscles and work ethic and to create a lifestyle of activity instead of intimidation and sloth. I'm over making fun of the girls who run and over being a household of couch potato experts. My boys are normal kids and like to run around so there's hope. I added "Workout" to the daily routine for every single family member. Today was the first day that the boys did their chores, their morning routine, their school work  AND each did a workout. The tide is turning.
 The weather is warming and its starting to be lovely to be outside sometimes, and almost never wretched outdoors. I am feeling proud of what I am eating, tracking my water (a first for me!), following a couple of workout apps (I'll share which ones soon!), wearing my FitBit and targeting 10,000 steps a day and working diligently on rising and going to sleep at a decent time. The world is looking up, and I am starting to get biceps! Yay!

 The boys are mostly excited and sometimes slightly intimidated by the new things their crazy mommy is doing. I'm feeling the same way. Sometimes I feel kick butt and sometimes I feel ridiculous and out of shape, but I always feel righteously like what I am bringing into the home right now is something I am very proud of. I want to normalize activity, strength and physical caretaking of ourselves, eating well is good but we need to use these machines we are caring for!

Happy Spring from our newly active household to yours! I can't wait until I can do 12 push-ups in a row, I'm gonna be the change!