Drawing a Blank

Today the square on my calendar is blank.  This never happens during the week.  It excites me and makes me nervous all at once.  I’m sitting here imagining all of the things I should do, could do, would do with the time that is before me.  I’m a big procrastinator when it comes to the “unimportant” things.  I would rather hang out with the girls doing a craft project or reading aloud than do the 10 loads of laundry that await me upstairs.  Eventually I will accomplish it, but will it be today?  I have a garden that needs weeding, which we could all do while listening to the Muppet soundtrack.  My closet is bulging with clothes that no longer fit that should be taken to re-sale or Goodwill.  I would like to plant a few flowers and lay down new pine straw. I should clean the carpets and vacuum curtains, and and and…… I’ll give it some more thought over another cup of coffee and Pinterest scoping.  Only then I’ll get more ideas of what I could be doing.  I’m doomed.

So What’s Next?

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that question over the last week, including from the object of this post, I’d be able to buy a new pair of Toms.  How does a mom answer that question when her daughter, who is soon to be a home schooled graduate, has no definite “school” plans for the year to come like every other 17 (or 18) year old on the planet?

I’ll tell you.  It’s OK that she doesn’t know precisely what she is going to do in the fall.  It’s OK that she is on a wait list at the only college she applied to.  It’s OK that she lives at home- while working of course- for another year (or five) until she figures out “What’s Next.”  Society tells us that attending a 4 year college is the only answer to life after high school.  I say different.  It has always, and will always, be my opinion that our young people can be just as happy, productive, and fulfilled by doing other things if and when they decide that the college life is right for them.

According to the College Board, five- and six-year students are not uncommon. Roughly 40 percent of those who start a four-year degree program still have not earned one after year six. Eighty percent of college-bound students have yet to choose a major.  On average, college students change their majors three times over the course of their college career.  So, it stands to reason that even if one chooses to attend college, many STILL don’t know what they are going to do when they get out.  Seems like a waste to me on so many levels.

I didn’t attend college until I was in my 20s; instead, after high school, I took off to visit NY with a sister, then went back to live and work.  Although I didn’t complete a degree due to an unforeseen circumstance, it was the right time for me to go.  While I enjoy the privilege of being the teacher for my kids, I also teach other high school students and have a small business at home.  The degree I was seeking at the time would not have complimented our current lifestyle in any way.  My hubby went back to college in his late 20s/early 30s and got his degree in industrial engineering and currently works for a global company.  Until then (and during) we worked our tails off in order to not have college debt.  That was OK.

Neither of my parents or grandparents went to college.  My grandfather and father were successful iron workers with constant jobs.  My grandmother was a teacher at one point, a leader in her community and the most awesome home maker that ever lived.  They both farmed in their retirement years and made a happy life together.  My mother stayed home with us until we were school age, then went to work later. That was OK.

College is a means to an end if you are lead to have a career which calls for such.  You can’t be a doctor without college, and not everyone should be a doctor or lawyer.  Sometimes just a few classes are necessary to get to the end result, but a 4, 6, 8 year plan immediately after high school is not for everyone.  My hubby and I encourage our children to seek out higher learning and finding a purpose, but it doesn’t have to come with a giant price tag and years of struggle to do so.  I will be just as happy that she is not “occupying” something in 4 -6 years after getting a useless degree.  So please don’t judge.  It’s all OK!!

Why So Tired?

Call it tired, exhausted, spent, running on empty, whatever.  I’ve read far too many posts on FB from adults and teens alike proclaiming how tired and busy they are.  When I ask someone how they are, the answer is almost always “Tired.”  I long for the days when “Fine” used to be the pat answer.  It’s much easier to respond to that one. 

I just assume everyone is tired now, but I have questions.  Were our parents and grandparents this exhausted all the time?  I for one watched mine run a farm for years on end with a little break each afternoon to keep out of the hot Arizona sun.  My grandmother was busy keeping her small house, tending her garden and cooking, baking and sewing. They were rarely idle.  If you asked either one how they were doing, I can assure you the answer was not “Tired.”   They were busy building and keeping a family, which to them was more exhilarating than burdensome.  I don’t recall talk of carpooling or shuttling kids to ball practice and endless weekend marathons of dance competitions. 

Stop and think how you spend your time.  We are a much mobile world now, with a plethora of activities our children are participating in.  Are you engaging your mind or is it endless driving, waiting and listening to mindless music that occupies you?  Go to the library, get a book on CD or better yet, sit and read for a time each day.  (Insert cup of tea, coffee, cocoa here.)  I find the more I engage my mind, the more energy I seem to have.  Don’t just read anything!  Find an uplifting blog on the web, and watch your intake of “the news.”  Most of it is not important. 

There are definitely times when we are busier than others, such as now at Christmas.  Do you have to attend everything you are invited to or do everything you’ve done in past years?  I think it’s OK to say no to things and that has gotten easier for me as I have gotten older.  Also, delegate things to your  kids and make them part of the festivities.  I rarely put an ornament on our tree anymore and they are just as good at stamping and addressing Christmas cards as I am. 

Lastly, if you have a sort of depression when the seasons change, or are ill, rest is a must.  This goes beyond the general “Tired” I refer to, but it’s an issue to be sure.  It’s OK to have Taco Bell for a night (or two). My kids can cook general meals and I ask them once a week to put dinner together.  People won’t starve if you haven’t cooked a 4 course meal 7 days a week.  I have a friend who had a Monster energy drink recently after recovering from an illness just so she could enjoy a night out with her hubby.  I think that’s brilliant.

Take care, take vitamins, take it easy when you can.  And take heart that everyone else seems to be Tired too.  

Hobby Lobby has exploded in my kitchen!

Out of the mind of a child.....created at the kitchen table lab.

We are a family of crafters.  Hands-on projects are our thing.  We have been known to dream about something cool and then attempt to make it. Sometimes it is successful, sometimes not so much.  “Monsties” came from the imagination of my then 11 year old.  Two years later she continues to make these lovable creatures at the kitchen table.  This is where the magic happens:  in the kitchen. Our kitchen table has been the haven for all things crafty for years.  There is no special room with every organizational tool which makes it look as if no one ever uses it.  We have craft cabinets and shelves in the garage to house our ever expanding interests.  There are supplies for scrapbooking, soap making, clay sculpting, painting, sewing, weaving, knitting, drawing, and pretty much whatever you can think of.  I dare my kids to say they are bored.  If our kitchen table does not have hot glue stuck to it, glitter in the cracks of the oak, or thread and fabric scraps strung about, we have either been out of town, have company coming and need the space, or are very ill.  At the table now is a sea of bobby pins, nail polish, hundreds of buttons, and fabric flowers.  Not to mention the fairy wings we made yesterday.  At times I wonder what the kitchen would look like if we weren’t painters, gluers, sewers, or idea people.  I’m just glad we have a dining room table to eat at.

Inspiration

I am inspired by a certain artist who has published cookbooks and other various books about the home.  The artist is Susan Branch, and I was introduced to her by Grandma Mona, who gave me my first “Vineyard Seasons” book.  I have kept it open to various pages on a cookbook stand for close to 20 years (dusting it regularly), and add the summer, autumn, or christmas books as those seasons roll around.  Not only are the recipes nice, easy and yummy, but there are quotes, crafts and decorating ideas throughout which add to the fun!

Right now I am pouring over the “Autumn” book from which I got a Pumpkin Latte recipe so I don’t have to spend $4 at Starbucks when I feel the urge.  Last night I caved and bought one when I was out running tedious errands, but that is not the norm for me.  I found out this week that there is no canned pumpkin in any grocery store near me, so I will be sure to hoard it this fall when it returns to the shelves.

Susan has her own line of fabric, scrapbook supplies, rubber stamps, calendars, and all kinds of greatness that makes me happy just to have around me.  She puts the details into everything she does.  She is the artist Martha wishes she was, in so many ways.  (Don’t get me wrong, I like Martha too.  She can be a bit complicated though.)

“Ah!  There is nothing like staying home for real comfort.” ~ Jane Austen

Because home’s cool!

See what I mean and you’ll be hooked too!   http://www.susanbranch.com/  Click on the shopping icon to see her talent.

School Days, School Days, Dear Old Golden Rule Days

Remember the Golden Rule?  Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?  Or something like that.  Now that the children are getting back into more social activities that the end of summer brings, more than ever I must go over this rule. 

Of course the Golden Rule applies at home as well.  How many times have I reminded a child to speak nicely to the others?  Would she like to be talked to with that tone of voice or the accompanying rolling of the eyes?  (I have found that girls are extremely good at eye rolling- when I catch them.)  My children are not perfect – gasp, I know you are surprised- nor do I expect them to be. 

So as I am lecturing the child who committed the latest offense, I often have to stop and look no further than in the mirror to see the example that they have.  Do I follow the Golden Rule?  Do I control my tongue as well as I should or could?  Do I speak without condemnation or exasperation in my voice?  Many times I do not.  These kids are looking to me: their mom, teacher, and sometimes not-so-shining example to base their behaviour on.  The old saying goes, “The apple does not fall far from the tree.”   Humbling.

I’ve been known to completely stop school lessons for several days to work on heart issues.  A non-compliant child will be constantly by my side until I can see a change of heart.  Which in turn softens my heart and helps me see that we all need that at times.  I am happy that the one by my side is continuing to do a work in me.  He is not finished yet.  He takes me by his side and gently reminds me to follow the Golden Rule.  For which I sometimes find myself apologizing when I do not.  The hard lessons do not stop when school is out.

 

Distracted

Once upon a time, people happily stayed home.  They cooked and ate meals together, they watched TV or movies together, they played board games together or just sat around and talked.  They took walks, did projects around the house, and had time to reflect, read a good book, learn a new skill, or just be.  This was in the not-so-distant past.

There is so much going on out there nowadays to draw our attention away from what is important.  Catalogs in the mail telling us what we are missing out on owning.  The newest outlets, the latest and greatest mall, the super-duper movie theater, the gym- all of it beckoning to us, our time, and our pocketbooks.  I am no exception to the distractions.  While these things can be fun and even useful, we shouldn’t allow them to be the end all/be all of our existence. 

Last week I was gone every day taking kids to various day camps.  I had every intention of coming back home a couple of those days to get something accomplished while they were gone.  Each day, something would seem to be more important to do while I was “in town.”  Looking back on the week, I deemed myself the best waster of time that ever lived.  With the exception of a glorious brunch with good friends one of those mornings, I felt so unproductive with the free time I had.  

Many things remained undone at home, where I should have been focusing.  The distractions are so immense in our modern culture, that it is amazing that anyone would WANT to spend time at home.  I can guarantee that my mother and grandmother were not at the gym for hours each week, shopping for hours or brunching with friends, or getting weekly pedicures.  It actually makes me smile just thinking about my grandma sitting in a chair to have someone “do her toes.”  They were taking care of their families and homes, while pursuing other interests of their own choosing that didn’t regularly take them away from that.

When my blinders are down for a period of time, I get caught in the trap of  believing that the grass is greener on the other side.  I should be doing what other moms seem to be enjoying.  Maybe I should be running my kids around to every activity that crosses our path so I can have some “me” time. (We see how well that worked out last week.)   When THAT becomes the way of life, things begin to unravel.  My home becomes a shambles.   People get grumpy. 

We are truly blessed.  I am thankful that I have a kid’s closet to help clean out today.  I am thankful that I have a kitchen where I can cook a meal and teach my girls how to bake cookies.  I am thankful I have a family to be with, even when we are in separate rooms in the house.  Time to put the blinders back up and remember that home’s cool.