I want to be a Radical Homemaker right now!

I am currently reading the book Radical Homemakers. I am loving this book… really, really loving it. Generally, well, my interpretation, it is re-examining the way we live and saying we need to return back to the family and working as a family to care for ourselves for greater satisfaction in our lives. It covers what steps I have made towards a different way of living already and what I feel I want to change to get to how I want to live. But today I felt overwhelmed by my inability to change things right now. I tend to live this way in my spending, my work, my leisure even. If I cannot get something done at the very moment I want it done, I tend to want it done as soon as possible. But what if it is not possible? What if it takes months or years? Then I tend to get very down on myself or the goal and have often given up or settled for less. With such lofty goals and what I see as a modern-day of attitude of right now, I am struggling with how to plan for a future and continue to make the steps towards it.

You see as I read this book, I was working out at the Y and just this morning made a purchase on Etsy for something I could have made because I wanted it right then. And I justify why I am at the Y and why I get things I could make and why I do not make all my own food and why we have three cars in the driveway and so forth. But in these back steps, I need to start recognizing forward momentum towards the goal and start making plans for taking bigger steps to get where I actually want to be, even if they are years down the road.

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no goodbyes yet

So it has been awhile. Many a days I click to this blog and quickly click away. I decide I do not want to remember how long it has been or chaos ensues (and even as I speak, it is) so I move on.

After the flurry of the holiday season and traveling, I assumed I would have more time. But I forgot that oh so long to-do list of all the things I pushed back because of the holidays. Oops. So I took a few weeks to figure out pictures and videos, updating and moving my Etsy shop, knitting little boys their much-needed balaclavas, starting a new Parent and Child group and many more other things (ones I must have blocked out!).

Oliver would not slow down in his excitement!

Now, as I have a few weeks planned out to finish up my bigger projects, I have found someone to join my boys in our Montessori Homecare, something I assumed would be forgotten for the next couple of months since I had very little interest. Three weeks of advertising on Craigslist and on my car just were not cutting it! But, now I find that my mind is a flurry of ideas, and a bit of panic. What do I want to have out on the shelves? How will I balance lessons for the big boys and supervising my little monkey Oliver? What lessons are most crucial since I lack some materials? What things will I go overboard with and what things will I overlook?

Even as I type Oliver is practicing his new skill: chair climbing. He scales his brothers open raised chair and slowly, with such balance, stands, smiles at me, and hesitates a moment more before holding on again. He is still triumphant though he is on his 20th or so time today. I think I will be busy, quite busy the next few months.

But I cannot say goodbye to my blog. I think it will just hang on, for the days I need to vent and celebrate something. And I hope I can squeeze the time in. (And all this makes me wonder how some parents who happen to be homeschooling, working from home, and organizing groups outside of the home can also blog, sell on Etsy, and maybe, even start a second blog staying sane all the while.)

And so I will end as I just watched (in slow motion) my little one whack his chin and then fall flat on his face from the chair.

unexpected benefits

So I know exercise is good for me, I should have stuck with it over the years, and blah, blah, blah. It turns out I should have listened way back when. In just over two months, I have seen some unexpected results.

Back in October when I blogged about my exercise woes, I was just expecting to drop a few pounds for motivation over the next few months. During these past two months though, I could tell I had more muscle tone, more energy, and exercise had helped curb my desire to munch on sweets all the time. But the weight loss, my one big goal, had me discouraged. So far I have not lost a single pound and I still have a belly problem.

But recently I got encouraging news from the times I donated blood. The place that I donate, Indiana Blood Center, allows you to track your total cholesterol from your recent donations. Since high cholesterol runs in my family and my last test some 8 to 10 years ago yielded less than great results, I was eager to see the results. I just happened to have donated on September 11th and November 23rd, with exercise becoming a 3 times per week routine by the end of September. I went from 223 to 158! Well, that is thrilling enough for me to feel motivated and just cross my fingers that someday soon a few pounds will just give up and go away.

a new, but not so improved me

The way I see myself and the way I actually am has shifted over the years. I believe myself to be punctual, ordered – in home and body, and be somewhat calm. And I might sometimes slip up and say that I am some or all of these things. But since the mobility of Oliver, who I am has become plain to me. I am constantly late, I cannot keep thoughts in my head for more than a second, I feel chaos in everything I do, and I repeatedly lose my temper. Now I find myself making excuses to Elliott’s preschool about dirty diapers, clock not set right, and so forth to cover my inconsistencies. I find I forgot a thought while walking into another room. I yell over the smallest of issues. What had me thinking about this was a 45 minute visit to the pediatrician this morning:

After waiting a few minutes in the waiting room, Oliver needed to be undressed for the scale. While Elliott danced around with his magna doodle, I heaped our coats, Oliver’s clothing, and my bag on the chair. When it was time to migrate to the exam room, I was juggling Oliver, the heap of clothing and herding Elliott while he repeatedly blocked the nurse (who thankfully took our coats while she carried a laptop). After Oliver unpacked my bag, fell a few times and Elliott knocked him over to protect his magna doodle, we saw the doctor, got the lead test and shots we came for and repacked everything we brought. And there was some crying. After assigning Elliott the job of carrying his toy and my papers, and loading my arms with a toddler and our gear, we headed for check out. This is where it really got chaotic.

Apparently one nurse thought our insurance would allow for a certain pricing on shots, but the checkout nurse disagreed. I was asked to wait a few moments. I heaped our stuff up, Elliott sat in a chair, and Oliver toddled away, quite quickly, down the hall and into waiting rooms. He was lured back, only wanting to run again. Then he had to give their decorative snowman a few whacks. Next, Elliott declared he was hungry. Trying to be discreet, I pulled out pretzels for the boys. Oliver ate one and fussed to get down, while Elliott dug into the bag for a fistful. Then Oliver sneezed, blasting snot and pretzel all over his face and my white sweater (yeah, stupid choice). While I was getting him cleaned up, Elliott dug around in my purse for toys. Oliver toddled off yet again. While I was fetching Oliver, Elliott managed to spread out four or five items on the chairs and floor, some more embarrassing than others. And during all of this, I occasionally had to answer a question or two at the desk.

Finally, we haggled a bit more and they gave me the reduced fees. We gathered our stuff, lured Oliver to the elevator and trudged out. In one short hour, I was wiped out. I felt as if I had no control and I could not think straight. When an adult asked me a question, my mind was swimming with all my children’s issues. After that, I decided I wanted coffee and a cookie so off we went. I felt I needed that to continue the day.

I used to see parents juggling stuff and feel a bit of pity but also a bit of arrogance. Surely, that would not be me. I would have it all together. Today I felt I was the one being pitied by the other parents who watched this all unfold. And I really see now that until my children move out, I will not be as punctual, ordered or calm as I once was. Is this just one part of the price of raising children? I guess the positive of a morning like this – it could have been worse, much worse. No dirty diapers, no throwing up, no hurt children, no tantrums. Oh the list goes on of things I am thankful we did not have happen this morning!

my treasures

So a request came in to see some of my sweet finds from my trip. Please remember, antique and junk shopping is all in the eye of the beholder!

                  

 

(boots for Elliott, shoes for Elliott to grow into, apron, Lake Michigan super-smooth rocks and wood, uber monkeys, alpaca yarn, napkins, necklaces to become beads for bead stringing, Oliver’s wool blanket, tag showing it was made in Piqua, Ohio!, oil cloth and kimono fabric, bells, my bracelet)

 

The only item I could not photograph is Santa’s red wooden rocking fire truck for Oliver. We immediately stashed that in the garage, covered with a giant sheet. Uh, Santa hid it, I mean.

I was tempted by many things on this trip… but our house is only so big and, really, we need nothing. Mike is lucky I resisted and did not arrive home with a few living room chairs, a retro dining set, and a few sweet lamps. My choices were often tempered by finances. I only broke down and purchased the apron and bracelet for myself since they were so cheap! See, the rest I could justify since it was for someone else! I love how that logic works. Everything felt like a splurge – a little nice and a little guilt.

oh, sanity

Oh, Sanity! Where have you been?

A weekend of peace and self-determined plans gave me an ounce if it back.

The weeks leading up to this trip had me thinking a great deal about a person’s need for breaks, regardless of gender or their job. I was rather bothered and, the more I thought about it, angry to realize some people (um, other husband’s) would be bothered by the idea of their spouse vacationing without them, even to the point of fighting or not allowing it. After a simple bit of logic with my spouse, he agreed that I should take a break. I pointed out that he had been a numerous trips lately for days at a time and I would appreciate the time to myself – to sleep without interruption, to eat a meal without getting up and down to serve anyone, to do a few activities of my choosing for as long as I like, to use the bathroom without having to worry about what a little toddler was exploring. And like that a promise was made for a whole week!

Sure there are lots of concerns. Can the family financially manage it? Can the other spouse take time to care for the children? And if those are issues, such as they were and are for us, the trip can be (and was) shorter. Or childcare can be found so it may not necessarily be the spouse watching over the children. But beyond these issues, I have tried to figure out why it would ‘not fly’ in other people’s homes, as one person said to this idea. Why? Because it money spent on one person and the other misses out? Because a spouse might cheat? Because a spouse thinks that the other one is not working that hard at their job? Would the feelings be the same if it was the husband wanting a mini-vacation or day away alone? Everyone working either a ‘real’ job or who is home with kids (or both!) works hard. And if someone wanted to cheat, they would find the time one way or another. Really, what real reasons can someone give for a flat-out refusal to a request for a break? Serious. Maybe I am overlooking something… Any reasons out there I am overlooking?

Sanity savers are important for everyone. Yes, everyone! Mike and I have found ways to exchange time with each other so we each feel we get time to ourselves or with friends. I have Sunday knit nights with the ladies after the kids are in bed. He goes golfing occasionally on Saturday mornings with a friend. If I want to run an errand alone, he will play with the boys. And this time, since he had business yet relaxing trips alone, I got a weekend to myself.

I finally settled on a weekend at a country B&B, Tryon Farm Guest House. I shopped at every antique shop I could find, visited Lake Michigan, and changed my plans on a whim if I wanted.

 

driving north through Indiana

Most of my highlights are my feelings of concern being let go. While shopping at my first antique shop, I kept feeling the ‘pull’ of children. Typically I cannot linger to take in all a shelf has to offer or I have to pass all the breakable nooks. I had to shake that feeling off and realize I could take as little or as much time as I wanted, looking wherever I was interested. Later on the trip, when I decided to pull off to a trail head, I just did it. I did not have to be concerned that it was 5:00 and the children would be hungry. Typically, on a family trip, we would have had to either plan the trip out better to have food with us or miss stopping right then. Because I could go on a whim, I felt such a rush making my way up the dune and saw a great sunset.

 

antique shop in Chesterton, Indiana

The trip was also time for me to reflect on my family, myself, and everyone else in the world. Oh, I know that sounds big, but when one can follow their ideas uninterrupted, you can get beyond the day-to-day picture and mull over bigger issues. Time to reflect is good. And again I will say it – it is good for everyone.

 

near the Tryon Farm Guest House, Michigan City, Indiana

My highlights of the trip:

  • lounging in a feather bed in the morning
  • having an utterly beautiful gourmet breakfast prepared for me and not having to worry over the prep or dishes
  • finding some sweet treasures – bead stringing beads for Elliott, a wool blanket to keep Oliver warm, an apron and bracelet for me, a lovely ornament to add to our unique holiday collection, and more interesting cloth napkins for everyday use
  • finding utterly smooth rocks at the lake to admire or make into rock houses, people and animals for the boys (uh, yes, rocks for Christmas!)
  • running up Mount Baldy at dusk at Indiana Dunes to catch the sunset shimmering on Chicago’s buildings
  • grabbing a late night chicken marsala dinner at a little Italian joint and watching it made from my table (I saw the mushrooms chopped, I saw them coat my chicken!) and savoring each bite
  • seeing alpacas up close and taking home a small bit of them (in the form of handspun yarn!)
  • trying and loving a small town café’s invented Honey Nut Latte

 

 beads for Elliott

rocks at Lake Michigan

Mount Baldy with Chicago in the distance

Here is hoping everyone gets the break they need and deserve.

(Oh, and on a totally separate note… my smart phone saved me so many times when I got lost, when I needed a place to eat, when I wanted to find coffee or antiques. Normally I curse my dependence, but my phone proved its worth this trip.)

just forgetting

I love nights out. Not because I am taking a needed break from childcare or being housebound. I love forgetting. Whether it be dinner with my husband, knitting at a friends, or, like tonight, drinks and bowling with friends… I often fuss over all I need to do once I get home, long before I head out. But while I am out, I love the feeling – a vague glimpse, a quick remembering, a sense of what I said I would do once I get home and then, carefree, letting it go. Realizing it can be, and will be, done later, another day.

Having a few drinks can aid that feeling of course! (And any errors in this post can be attributed to them too!)

What a nice night out and many thanks to the friends who helped me forget what I was once so worried about accomplishing. And Happy Birthday, Jennifer!

give it some time

So I hate to exercise. It was quite apparent to me when just two days ago I was wondering why I was not seeing the exact results I expected. Today I looked to see when I wrote my resolutions post. Less than 2 weeks ago! I realize I had been exercising some before that post, but I really thought it had been a month, maybe two, of consistent exercise.

I guess I will cut myself some slack. I am happy with muscle tone developing, my improved mood after exercising, and the loss of a few pounds. And so far I have not changed my diet. In fact, when debating with myself to get donuts or cookies, I often opt to not alter my diet, just so I can see how far just exercising will get me.

My only complaint is my tummy flab. Any woman who has delivered a baby can probably understand this problem. I can feel the muscles under there, but that extra skin and fat! Oh, why won’t you go away. (Yeah, I am thinking back to the donuts to blame too, but forget about that…) Because I feel I have given it a good effort (2+ weeks!) and I am not seeing instant results, it is time to throw in the towel. Exercise doesn’t work! Eat another donut. Feel better. And then feel worse.

But not today! No! Today I thought of this and it helped me to fight back. I changed machines to work other muscles and added 5 more minutes to my workout. And it felt great. So I still came home from the gym with tummy flab, I will still grab a sweet treat later, but I will keep at the exercise a bit longer, give myself more time to see results. And then, when I get the taste of good results, it only gets better from there!