food and gratitude

We had such a great Thanksgiving here, and I’m sad to see the weekend end.  Scott tends to go on a cleaning and organizing rampage if he’s off for more than three days in a row, and it happened again this weekend.  It’s his way of fighting cabin-fever, I think.  Or maybe it’s just that the mess drives him crazy while I grow used to it.  Whatever the reason, it was much needed, and I feel like I am out of pregnancy icky feelings and moving on from fatigue to productiveness just as the holidays begin.  It’s great timing, and I am grateful to be past a slump and looking on to bright things.

We baked cookies with cousins.

more baking

Peyton

We played with a parachute on a warm Thanksgiving Day.

under the parachute

And we did a million other things I didn’t take photos of.  I ate so much good food that I’m pretty certain it’s not all baby in that belly.  We drove a couple hours south to visit family and also got in a quick visit with good friends and their snuggly newborn girl.  We played a lot, wrapped gifts, decked the halls, and generally enjoyed each other without much worry or rush which doesn’t happen nearly often enough.

The whole purpose of Thanksgiving is to be grateful for what you have and take time to really think of all those things, and as kids we roll our eyes when we have to list them: my parents, a roof over my head, my friends, food to eat.  All the things we are supposed to say.  But I think as I’ve grown older, and especially as I’ve been writing here, I’ve really started to see the ways that gratitude affects my everyday life.  Saying thanks makes me see more things to say thanks for, and it’s a good feeling.

This year, I am most thankful for this season of my life and all that comes with it.  Sure I’m persistently tired, all the nice ornaments are crowded on the top of my tree where little hands can’t reach them, my house is cluttered more than it’s tidy, and the time I get for myself is such a rationed commodity.

But I get to see a little person learn and grow and change everyday, and I love that.  I get to grow a whole new person in my own body, and I love that.  I get to see my husband become a father, and I love that.  Best of all, I get to see my own little family beginning and growing, and I get to dream and think about what all is next for us. It’s such a good time: to be at the beginning of so many things and looking ahead to all the possibilities.  Funny that as a twenty-something, we tend to think thirties are gross and old and what’s left then?  As it turns out, the best is left, and I am so excited to see what it feels like.

Christmas cards are ordered, stockings are hung, tress are up, and my house feels clean and cozy and festive.  The holidays are here, friends!
Jude and tree

It’s rainy out and cold this week, so we’re looking forward to soup nights and more lounging by the tree.  I’ll check in soon with a couple of recipes that graced our table this weekend.

emerging from the snow here…..

In case you missed all the fun, Atlanta was buried in snow for a full week or so, and most of us couldn’t drive anywhere.  My driveway is especially treacherous, so I was housebound from Sunday to Saturday here.  Oh, and also, my husband was in sunny California while Jude and I braved the cabin fever.

Everyone I know was a little worried about the possibility of my being alone with him for a full week without getting out.  I fielded hourly phone calls from friends and relatives.  I am not exaggerating; people were calling and emailing me all the time.  Are you okay with Jude by yourself?  Do you need any other food?  Do you need someone to come get you? (how, I don’t know…) Are you going crazy? While I appreciated everyone’s concern, the whole thing was a little weird to me.  My normal once-a-week trip to the grocery store had me well-stocked on food.  We had power (thankfully).  I wish I could say it was vastly different from a usual week for me, but it simply wasn’t.  I admit I started to get the itch around Thursday afternoon or so, but all in all – save for a few choice moments – it wasn’t really hard on my patience.  [Well, there was that one afternoon when time-out wasn’t yielding good results and I had him in bed at 6:30.  But I’m human, and if I’m being honest, the witching hour always seems to occur at about 6:00 pm, even on the sunniest days.]

I am so happy it’s the beginning of a new week, and of course I was happy to see Scott get home, but in a weird way, last week was also a nice change of pace, a needed reminder. It left me thinking a lot about how I conduct my days and how we tend to go-go-g0 all the time.  Every time I checked in to Facebook, people were complaining of cabin fever or the need (not want?) of a trip to Target.  And this started on day two.  TWO.  We can’t handle two days in our homes without driving around or buying or consuming something?  Come on, people.

Again, I don’t consider myself holier-than-you, and I got the cabin fever itch occasionally, but last week made me realize that – even alone with my 15 month old day and night – going a full week without leaving my home has its merits.  Not only that, but it would have been the norm for families just a few generations ago.

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We built forts and played in our jammies.

We colored and worked on puzzles.  Without even trying to mend our crazy bed head.

We played cars.

And blocks.

We also made snow cream, played in the snow, annoyed the dogs, played with playdough…… The list goes on and on.  It was so nice to just be for a week.  No errands.  No shopping trips.  Nothing to cloud my days and my thoughts. Another bright side?  I did more reading last week than I’ve done in ages.  My house is [was] spotless.  I made my way through some of our surplus food and did some baking.  I felt unhurried, cozy, and grateful that I had a playmate to keep me company.

Life goes on.  Snow melts, and people get back to the normal rush.  I learned a lesson though.  If we aren’t booked every week with a library hour or a play date or a million errands, my life is still full and valid.  I forget that sometimes, and I convince myself that being a good mom means being an extraordinarily busy mom.  And that simply isn’t true.

So happy Monday, readers.  Hopefully the chill of January has you snuggled in and slowing down occasionally.

And later this week?  My first finished knitting project and a recipe or two!

fresh start

Quiet house this morning.  Husband is gone to work.  Baby sleeping.  I’ve enjoyed a shower and coffee already.

I love new pages. Whether it’s an unwritten journal, a new book, a new day, or a new year.  Beginnings are good things.

2010 was such a good year for me. Looking back from about 2004 onward, it really seems like each year gets better and better.  I hope know that trend will continue, and I’m genuinely excited to see what 2011 brings.  So now the decorations are put away, the Christmas cakes and candies are [almost] gone from the kitchen, and it’s time to get back to real life after the holiday rush.  I love the holidays, but real life feels good too sometimes.

Regardless of my difficulty keeping them, I make resolutions every year.  I like that the fresh calendar inspires all of us to do better and be better in the coming months, and – this year especially – I have a lot to work on.

I love my job as a full-time mom, and I cherish 2010 as the year I was able to let go of professional responsibilities and focus on motherhood as my most important occupation.  That said, it’s a job like any other in that there is a learning curve and it can take time to discover what works for you and what your home and family needs.  I’ve spent the past 6 months flirting with a ot of different routines and ideas and not really committing to any of them for any length of time.  To add to the challenge, at this age, Jude changes every single day and what we are able to do together changes as  a result.  Much of my 2011 resolutions have to do with this.  I want to be an intentional and purposeful mother and create a home that is really a place of shelter – both figuratively and literally – from the world outside my family.  It’s so hard to look at the big picture and not get overwhelmed and bogged-down with the everyday things, but here’s what I have realized:  Those everyday tasks add up to the big picture I’m trying to create. The little things ARE the big thing.

As a feminist, I run from phrases like “make your home a haven” and anything that encourages me to be  good homemaker for the sake of my husband who should never see the hard parts of my day, only the vacuumed carpets and the freshly-set dinner table.  But in all seriousness and honesty, one of my New Year’s resolutions last year was to become more reliably organized and I feel as though my life now is more chaotic and unorganized than ever.  And now my home is not just somewhere I sleep and eat.  It’s somewhere I live.  Somewhere I raise my son.  In a sense, it is now somewhere I work.  So this year?  This year I resolve once again to get organized, but this time it’s more than that.  I hope to make monthly resolutions that become habits and make my home one I love to be in, one my family loves as well.  For now, I am trying out The Fly Lady, and her humorous little tips and reminders are making me laugh.  For the month of January, I’m resolving 2 household things:  scrub and shine my sink every night and complete one load of laundry a day (not including diapers) put up and wrinkle-free.  I’m hoping to create some habits around here and my spastic household cleaning schedule is no longer working for me.

I can't help but laugh at this photo. NOT MY LIFE right now. Not at all.

Life would be pretty boring if household chores were my only resolutions though, so I’ve got some other things I want to work on, too!  I LOVE creating things – all sorts of things.  I’ve made cards, both paper and digital scrapbooks, crocheted, cross-stitched, sewn, etc. etc.  Now I never seem to finish a project though and end up feeling like a mess with half a dozen undone things around here.  And I love the “me” time of crafting and love a finished project, so why are there so many undone things in my life?  I’m resolving to create one thing a month from start to finish.  Just one.  It might be something little (probably will be tiny more often than not), but creating something feel so good, and I miss it.

In addition to those two, there are a few other things floating around in my head – to read more (which is easier now with my new Kindle!!), continue on our “real food” journey with more whole nourishment and less processed junk, make connections and stay connected with mama friends, continue last year’s resolution that actually stuck and keep on with the budgeting, simplifying, and saving.  All in all, I’ve got lots to work on.

There’s an Anne Frank passage from her diary where she says, “”How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day.”  God knows the events of her day were so much heavier than the events of mine, but as always, her positivity and ability to simplify things are so inspiring.

I want to be a better me.

What are your resolutions this year?

Busy Summer

It’s been a busy morning around here.  Actually, I lied.  It totally hasn’t.  The pace has been slow and leisurely, and we enjoyed some playtime on the porch this morning.  After last week’s soaking in all the gratitude for this new SAHM gig, I feel like I need to get busy and establish a routine for myself.  But, oh!  These are the days.  Sometimes I want to do nothing but play with this happy boy.

Memorial Day is sort of the unofficial beginning to summer around here, and Labor Day is the unofficial end to sweaty pool days and beginning to autumn.  As a teacher, I would begin each summer with absolute laziness and then panic some time around the Fourth of July when I realized that I had a to-do list a mile long and I had accomplished none of it.  While I don’t have the start of the academic year looming ahead this time, I do feel the need to get some A LOT of things done in the next 3 months.  Inspired by my friend Amanda’s list, I decided to write down my goals here so that I have to achieve them or else be shamed by my laziness.  So here they are.  Some big, some small.  I’ve tried to categorize them, but in that process I’ve realized that some of them are quite random.

    In the KitchenCook better food when Scott is out of town.  (I got this awesome book to help me.) – Overcome prior disappointment with dough that refuses to rise and successfully bake my own bread. – Master ten new dishes. – Make decent-tasting tofu dish. 

  • Craftiness – Get my Grandmother to reteach me how to sew. (I have a sewing machine and sewed often before graduate school and teaching, but I haven’t done anything on it at all since the fall of 2004 when I enrolled in Agnes Scott.) – Sew 3 fleece diaper covers for Jude’s cloth diapers. – Complete 25 pages in Jude’s digital scrapbook. I used to love paper crafts (scrapping included), but this AMAZING book made me want to do digital.  I’ve paid $30 for software and now need to get started. – Take more pictures.  Take better pictures. (I began a 365 project on Flickr that has me taking photos everyday and learning slowly but surely to use our camera to soak up those pretty little moments.) – Finish the jewelry organizer I started last weekend.  The window screening I’m using is being difficult, so I think I need to take another route and amend my original plans on that one.
  • Personal / Health – Drink more water. – Drink Kefir everyday. (This stuff does wonders for me; I just need to remember to drink it.) – Make time for reading again. – Start yoga again after not practicing for 7 months. – Partake in some form of physical activity for at least 20 minutes everyday, Monday-Friday.  (This makes me sound like an absolute lazy lard lump, but of course I am up and moving all the time – laundry, playing in the floor with Jude, wearing and carrying him all over town. etc.  What I haven’t done in about 7 months is deliberate physical exercise for the purpose of burning calories or toning myself.  This has to change.  My ass says so.)
  • Home / Organizational – Establish a housecleaning routine that gets the job done and works for me. – Organize our home office. (Y’all this is THE project around here.  The one that hangs over me and slaps me in the face every time I walk in there.  Scary, scary place right now.) – Clean out Jude’s drawers and closet, pack away outgrown clothes, get out new sizes. – Come up with at least 5 bags of junk to leave this house and take to Goodwill. – Pack up infant gear we have outgrown the need for. – Sell cloth diapers that didn’t work for us.  (Yes, people do this.  I have high-quality hemp BabyKicks brand prefolds and cute gDiapers that don’t work for me.  I need to make the money from them and get this out of this cluttered house.)
  • Miscellaneous Learn to can vegetables.  (My Grandmother is dying to teach me, and it’s a trade I’d like to know if I can get over my fear of the pressure cooker.) – Update this blog twice a week. – Visit the Alpharetta Farmer’s Market at least twice this summer. – Go on at least 5 real dates with my husband. (Real means make-up, sitter, dinner out, maybe even earrings.) – Pay off the Nissan so that we don’t have a car payment and can breathe a little easier with only one income. – Find 2 tutoring clients so that I have some spending money. – Keep my grocery bill at $75 a week and stay on our no-processed rule.  (This is HARD, y’all.  Why is unhealthy food so much cheaper?)

Whew.  It looks like so much when I write it all down.  Public acocuntability works for me though.  What’s on your list this summer?