Friday, May 27, 2011

Of Husbands and Spiders

As I look out my kitchen window and see the clean laundry happily waving in the warm breeze, I can't help but feel gratitude and awe... and shame. It was not me that hung the laundry there, it was my already-over-worked husband. He has taken it upon himself to do the laundry, not just this once but several times, because he knows that I'm creeped out by the basement (where the washing machine is). Ok, that and he ran out of things to wear. (just kidding). I love it when he does laundry (not only for the obvious reasons... less work for me, clean clothes to wear, etc.) because he not only separates loads by lights, darks, icky rags... but he separates loads by color. I mean, like, navy blue... pink... green.... purple... He'll do a load of all pink things (which is a dominant color in the clothing of our family), a load of all red things... it looks so much prettier than a mish-mash of navy and black and gray and brown. Maybe I'll do a collage of pictures of the clothes line with all the different loads hanging on it sometime. ;)
He never fails to amaze me with his attitude about work. We've been married for 5 1/2 years, and I seriously don't think I've heard him complain one time about all the work he has to do. And believe you me, he is one of the hardest working people I know. Sometimes I go ahead and complain about it for him, just to sort of give a voice to the feelings I'm sure he's experiencing. I'm thoughtful like that.
 I am determined to conquer my dread of our basement. Well... determined may be too strong of a word. Umm... it would be nice to conquer my dread of our basement. There, that sounds like a little less of a commitment. I would have taken a picture of the actual basement, but I wasn't sure how to hold the camera in one hand, while doing my whole, waving the broom in large, sweeping circles through the air in front of me in case of spiderwebs thing with the other hand. The only problem with this picture is that it makes it look a little too bright and inviting down there. It's nobody's fault that it's spidery down there. It's an old house with an un-finished basement. It's gonna be spidery. Ok, in all honesty, I've probably seen a total of 3 spiders down there. But it SEEMS spidery. I have this dream of somehow fixing it up to be a cute, clean, fun little laundry area... I know that Kammy of would be able to do it! (check out her blog! This is one clever gal!) I've been reading her blog and getting all sorts of ideas and inspiration. The only problem is, all of my ideas would require me going to the basement and touching things and picking up things and moving them.... all activities that are totally asking for spider sightings. Maybe if I dare myself to do it, that will be just the motivation I need. Ok. I dare... no... I double-dare...myself to FACE the basement, take DOMINION over the basement (including the spiders that are living down there) and make it a place that I enjoy being. Step one... taking "before" pictures. Alright, guys.... be watching for my "before" pictures, and be ready to cheer me on!!! I need your support in this!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Sneaky Tip...

So, it's coming to the end of naptime, the kids could wake up any minute, but you haven't had your snack yet. You know, your special nap-time, quick-there-are-no-kids-around indulgence. Ok, if you don't know what I'm talking about, I admire you. I don't know quite how you make it through the day, but I admire you. Really.  Anyhow, for those of you who do know what I'm talking about, I came up with a brilliant little trick. Observe. From the outside, it looks like a normal, healthy, boring jar of peanut butter. (Ok, I had this weird feeling that I was being disrespectful when I called peanut butter "boring". Peanut butter is kind of like a part of our family.) 

BUT, on the inside.... (and we all know that it's what's inside that counts.) 
Peanut butter mixed with chocolate chips and cornflakes!!!!!!  Yeah, bud... that's what I'm talkin' about. So, you're munching away on your hearty-yet-delightful treat, and in walks a drowsy child. "Hello, child! I'm just sitting here eating this... see... (holding up jar). Nothing interesting, really." The kid doesn't even give it a second glance, because after all.. it's "just peanut butter".

Ok, the only problem is, if your kids are like mine, it could get complicated. My kids would see the jar of peanut butter and say, "Could I have a spoonful?" which could be bad... if I wasn't prepared. But that's why you make your little goody glob in the bottom of the OLD jar of peanut butter... and have a NEW jar of actual, plain old peanut butter waiting to feed to the children.

The REAL problem is when your husband walks in, picks up you jar of "peanut butter", looks inside, and starts eating it. Yeah, I haven't figured out how to fool him yet.... I'll write another post about that if I get any brilliant solutions.... (sometimes you do have to resort to hiding in the bathroom...)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

These Are The Times...

Princess Anja and Princess Zarah
Ok, you know that whole post I wrote, about savoring every moment... not rushing things... yadda yadda yadda? I just want to clarify that there are times when I DO rush things... at least, I try to. For example: When it's 11:14 at night and your 4-year-old has to have her...ahem... "potty time". Of course, she can't be upstairs alone, so your 3-year-old has to go with her to keep her company. This is one of those times that a little rushing is definitely justified... the only problem is: it's useless. I hear them laughing, singing, talking... THEY'RE definitely savoring every moment. They're not gonna be feeling so "savory" when I'm dragging their tired little selves out of bed in the morning. ;)

This is one of those times when I have a couple of options of how to deal with this. Part of me wants to get irritated and let them know it, hoping that will motivate Zarah to wrap things up a little quicker. Talk in an upset-enough tone that it cuts the giggling and singing. If they're not having fun, it will go faster.

The other part of me knows that if I deal with it in that way, I'll only regret it. It won't really make things go that much faster (there are those things in nature that you just can't rush), and it will hurt my girls' feelings in the process. In an hour, when they're (finally... hopefully) sleeping soundly, all snuggled into bed, do I want to look at them and feel a twinge of sorrow over how I spoke to them? Wouldn't it be better to control myself now, choosing to treat them kindly even though I might be fighting irritation inside?

I'm not saying, pretend that you have all night and bring her tea and cookies while she does her thing... by all means, let her know that she needs to get a move on. Even paddle her precious little bum if she needs convinced that you're serious. But do it remembering that in an hour, you're going to have to look at her sleeping sweetly in her bed, which tends to give you a whole new perspective on things.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Throwing Food...

Tonight Zarah (our oldest, almost 5) and I were making pizza for dinner, so of course I had to show the girls how "professionals" do it (actually, the term I used was "real people"... then I realized that we ARE real people.) and toss the dough in the air. They all got a kick out of that, so I kept on tossing it around making them all giggle. A few minutes later as I was putting the toppings on, all of a sudden Evi (our youngest, for now... hopefully more to come :) ) started randomly tossing broccoli and laughing. "Evi!" I exclaimed in surprise, "you don't throw food"... I was shaking my head and thinking to myself, "She does the most bizarre things..." when it struck me. Duh. I was throwing food just moments before. In her mind, her tossing broccoli around made just as much sense as me tossing pizza dough around (don't worry, the dough never touched the ground. ;) ) Sometimes I feel sorry for kids... adults can be so confusing.
Does she look like she could EVER be naughty?? ;)

I don't look at my kids through rose-colored glasses or anything (ok... maybe just ever-so-slightly, pinkish-tinted...) but I find that so many times when I could have jumped on them for being "naughty", after a moment's investigation, taking the time to ask a few questions, probe into their little minds a bit, I find that they weren't being naughty at all. I'm not afraid to call sin sin, and I definitely don't want my girls getting away with naughtiness and turning into unlikable brats, but I also want to remember that they've been alive for just a few short years. We adults sort of expect them to have everything figured out like we do (I wish I really did!), but that takes time! And experience! And training... and that's where we come in. I suppose I could have slapped Evi's hand and snapped at her, "We do NOT throw food!" and gone on my merry way, thinking I was being a good mom because I disciplined my kid, and because I don't let my kids get away with anything. Meanwhile, some little heartstrings that attached Evi's heart to mine would have gone "snap" and Evi would have been left confused and hurt and a little guarded around her Mama, and absolutely none-the-wiser concerning proper or improper food-throwing. It makes me feel sick just imagining that.

I'm not saying that you just let your kids do whatever they want and never tell them "no" or discipline them. I just think we need to do a LOT more teaching and explaining. Obviously, Evi needed to learn that there's a difference between throwing pizza dough and throwing broccoli. But that's my point. She needed to LEARN that... so I taught her. And we had a good laugh and we BOTH went merrily on our way, our hearts knit a little closer together.

P.S. If you've been looking at your children through glasses that say "BRAT" across the lens, you just might try swapping them out for some ever-so-slightly pinkish-tinted ones. You might be surprised to find out that you're kid's not so much a brat, as just a little child that needs taught what's acceptable and what's not.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Who Am I? (And for that matter, who is Shammah?)

I'm Clara; I'm married to Philip (Ever seen or read Jane Austen's Emma? Ok, think Mr. Knightly meets the Marlboro man...except he doesn't smoke, or advertise cigarettes. But he's an amazing combination of sweetness, tenderness, and tough manliness. A cowboy that can break wild stallions, then come in the house and do laundry and play beautiful songs on the piano - while still wearing his spurs. More on him later.)

We have 3 little girls, ages 2, 3 and 4, who are so hilarious and witty and entertaining that I could take up a whole blog just writing about the funny things they do. (Which is probably exactly what I'll end up doing here.)

Now, to explain about Shammah. (Sorry, I couldn't get a picture of him). If you read in the Bible in 2 Samuel 23:11 and 12, you'll read the story of a man named Shammah. The Philistines were attacking God's people, and they came to a field of lentils. Apparently no one, except for Shammah, considered the field of lentils something to risk their lives over. The verse says "the people fled from the Philistines." But Shammah "stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory."! Standing his ground and slaying Philistines, to protect some lentils.  I remember when I was a little girl, my Dad had the word "SHAMMAH" hanging on his office wall in big letters. I asked him why he had it there, and he put his arm around me and told me the story of Shammah, and said: "I have it there to remind me that the little things are important." And right there was one of those little things: A father taking the time to share a special moment and teach his little girl something, instead of just shooing her away so he could get something done. Every day is made up of little moments. It's so easy to rush through them in an effort to get to "the things that matter". We hurry the kids through breakfast so  we can "get on with the day"; we count down the minutes til naptime so we can "get something done" while they sleep. We tell them "just let me get this done quickly" when they want to help us with something. Meanwhile, all those little moments that should be savored and enjoyed are just "gotten through quickly" because we have "important" things to do. I want to slow down. I want to enjoy my children while I have them. I want them to enjoy me. I want them to look back on their days and remember not just time passing, but days full of moments. I want to remember the importance of the little things.

P.S. This post is not meant to belittle lentils. They certainly do have their place of importance, especially paired with rice in a delicious Lentil Rice Casserole!