Monday, July 28, 2014

A little housework...

I don't dust as often as I should. And I have some black furniture, which doesn't make for the best combination. However, I eventually move some item which reveals the desperate state of dustlessness. 

Today, I rearranged a couch and table in my living room, and as I did so, noticed how badly my indoor house plant needed to be dusted. Yes, my plant. It is supposed to have slick green leaves, and instead it had grayish hairy ones. Blech. Usually when things get that bad I take a damp towel and wipe each blade. But I was holding the vacuum hose after dusting the blinds and I wondered if I would kill the plant in my experiment to speed up the dusting process. 

So, I vacuum dusted my plant. Yep. Only one leaf was sucked off the plant while I figured out how to minimize foliage damage. It's isn't perfect, like hand wiping each blade would be, but it's better and done. And now I am free to get back to my neurotic decluttering. :)

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Just another day at the park...

Earlier this week we woke up early and headed out to meet some friends at the park. We suggested meeting at Fredrich Wilderness Park, known for some great hiking trails as well as some unique birds. 

Our kids hadn't seen each other for around six weeks. I should have known better than to expect a quiet bird walk. The kids meandered off, but even when we couldn't see them, we could hear them! We finally made it to the windmill, but instead of rare birds, we found goofy kids...

Moving on, and losing sight of the kids again (but never out of ear shot), they found a spot with a small drop-off and decided to stage a dangerous scene...

Can't wait to see what future adventures will bring. :) 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

There's a first time for everything...

Including taking photographs of lightning. There was a fantastical, keep your kids up to watch, Texas thunderstorm with an incredible light show tonight. The girls are away at Grandma's house and I let the boys stay up to watch their current favorite movie, The Lego Movie.

Elliott and I were visiting and hashing out the day, and I kept thinking that I was hearing thunder. Elliott insisted it was the movie and the speakers being up too loud. I bought that idea for awhile until there was a quiet part of the movie and a loud patch of thunder.

I went out front, neighbors were out of their houses watching the scene. I have never, ever, in my whole life seen such a light show. I had Elliott call the boys outside (pausing the movie, of course). They were awed. Caleb said it was better than fireworks. I said they were God's fireworks. Micah said it was brighter than daylight. Noah marveled at how the thundering never stopped, and new lightning kept flashing across the sky.

Eventually, the boys went back to their movie, Elliott went to bed, and I sat on the driveway with my camera. Here's what I captured...

I never cease to be amazed at the beauty and magnificence of God's creation.

Monday, July 14, 2014

While they were sleeping...

And by that, I mean kids, dogs and hubby. I love organizing and cleaning in the silence of the night. :) 

So, the master bathroom made it to my "must do" list because it was disordered, dysfunctional and disgusting. I worked on it on and off with children awake (progress was slow). I worked on it while I visited with Elliott after kids were in bed (trash bag filling). 

Once E was asleep, I quietly organized lower cabinet, and then the upper cabinet. I cleaned the sink, mirror and counters. I still need to clean the shower, tub, toilet and floor. But this is an encouraging start. :) 


A few of my disasters...

As a reforming perfectionist mom, I wanted to share with you what happens to my house when I prioritize playing with my kids...

Now you know what I have on my to-do list for when the kids are sleeping. I may have to call a Movie Day or two to get these areas under control. But I am realizing that the memories I want my children to have of growing up in our home have nothing to do with cleaning products, and everything to do with laughter and joy and loving one another. Of course, if any of you know how to combine the two... Please share! :)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Reclaiming order from chaos...

We have three rooms in the house that we generally try to keep the kids out of, except with permission. So much of our home is child-friendly, even designed with creativity and play in mind, that I have equally created a few select places to be more mature and less play. The problem is, since we live in the kid-friendly spaces most of our days, the other three rooms occasionally (more than I would like to admit) become messy dumping grounds, spaces that end up unusable and require a good deal of effort to restore. Please tell me you have rooms like this and I am not alone! (Please?!?!?)

The one comforting thought is that I know that everything has a place... It's just not there at the moment... And I wrestle with making good decisions on how to use my time. Since I could naturally tidy and organize all day, neglecting the kids, I have been really trying to play more and clean less. But eventually, I hit a breaking point and I can't stop thinking about cleaning whatever space has become overwhelming. Recently the upstairs craft and music room became that space and its plight has been on my mental to-do list looking for an opening on the calendar to plunge in and restore order. 

Last night the twins asked E to take them to their gymnastics practice. This morning, Micah woke up with the gymnasts and asked to go with E to watch them. Leaving Hannah and Noah and I at home, I knew exactly what to do. Tackle this...

In the process of cleaning out this disaster area, I discovered some paintings the kids had done when we had friends visit in June. I added some simple hardware to the backs of each piece and hung them up in our gallery between the kids' bedrooms. 

After about two hours, I could see the floor again...

We had a wedding to attend in the afternoon and I was wondering if I would finish in time to get ready. Elliott came home with the kids from gym and started making lunch. I was too close to finishing to eat, so I kept plodding and resisting the urge to make piles to be dealt with who knows when. 

And then, I vacuumed. And then I stepped back and smiled. And the sun was shining through the window, smiling too.  :) 

And yes, I realize the only reason it is still clean now is that we left the house before anyone could enter it. But it made me smile anyway. And it makes me want to go create something. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Pride goes before...

Micah and I had a full week of mornings together a couple of weeks ago. The older five kids had day-long camps and Micah's camp was only a half-day. It was really fun to spend some one-on-one time with our littlest guy.

Monday morning I had a long list of errands, and he was a trooper being dragged in and out of the different stores on my list. His only request was that he be able to climb in and out of the car window instead of opening the door. I decided to say "yes", much to the delighted giggles of my little guy. At one point, as I was enjoying the childhood joy on his face while he plunged headlong into his seat through the window, I sent Elliott a text that said, "I would be such a good mom to one kid!" He laughed. Well, technically he responded, "LOL!"

Our week of mornings was going delightfully well. Thursday morning, I had a friend stop by for a visit and lunch. Micah played happily, enjoying the quiet (or maybe that was me). I asked him to get his bag ready for camp and he cheerfully agreed. I probably should have noticed his devious grins...

I dropped off Micah at his camp, all smiles and ready for fun, then a couple of errands and on to picking up the older kids. Since no busy week is complete without a medical emergency, I dropped most of the kids at home and rushed to a doctor appointment for a kid with a minor wound. While waiting for the doctor, I got a panicked call from the kids at home informing me that Micah had lopped the sleeves off his rash guard for swimming. Really?!?!? Micah continues to prove that he really is the "nobody else ever did that kid".

Doctor visit finished, Elliott and I had a date, so we didn't see the kids Thursday evening and E's mom picked up Micah from camp and the kids enjoyed an evening with Gammy. Because I was not the one to pick Micah up that afternoon, I didn't find out what else Micah had done during my blissful, I am such a good mom of one kid, Thursday morning.

Friday we had to go to the store to replace the cut up rash guard, Micah had some money saved up which paid for the replacement shirt. Then, I took him to camp and went to apologize to his coach for the bedraggled looking shirt he had worn the day before. The coach looked at me quizzically and then said something you never really want to hear, "So, I guess you didn't hear about what happened yesterday..."

To say my mind was spinning with possibilities would be an understatement. I sheepishly admitted I had no clue, wasn't the rash guard incident bad enough? No, apparently it was not, because Micah's coach went on to tell me how when they had sent the kids to the restroom to change for water time, Micah came strutting out of the bathroom and straight across the gym not wearing the cut up rash guard, but instead, one of his twin sisters' swimsuits! Proud as a peacock about it too. And when offered the opportunity to change, he declined saying he was fine. I almost died. Finally, enough of the little girls at camp were giggling over the incident that he was embarrassed enough to go change into his swimsuit and his deconstructed rash guard. 

Immediately, I texted Elliott. I also shared the incident with a close friend. I told her how I had jokingly sent Elliott the text on Monday about "being a good mom of just one kid". She replied, "pride goes before the fall." Yep. Totally. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

A cozy read...

In the last three days, the harried summer schedule we have been following has slowed down. Instead of rush, rush, rushing from one commitment to the next or preparing for a big trip, we have spent our afternoons cuddled on the couch, drawing at the table, or playing with blocks and cars while I read aloud to the children.

Monday we read Love That Dog by Sharon Creech. Yes, I cried. It was a delightful read, and completely written in poetry. But totally easy to follow and funny, as it is written like a poetry journal between the main character, Jack, and his teacher, Miss Stretchberry. Jack is probably in the 4th or 5th grade. I have already lent it out and am looking forward to reading it again.

Tuesday we read Hate That Cat also by Sharon Creech. Yes, it is a sequel. Even more endearing and precious than the first. Jack is a year older, and he is happy to have Miss Stretchberry again. Yes, I teared up. Again. A sweet, touching book.

Today we began The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg. I didn't want to put it down, but I promised the kids they could go swimming at 3:30pm. Even with swimming promised, there were gasps of distress when I laid aside the book. Something tells me I know what we will spend the afternoon doing tomorrow. 

How are you spending your lovely summer afternoons?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

What's in a name...

Lately, Micah has taken to calling Elliott "Dada" instead of "Daddy". At first it was cute and I thought he was playing some game like "I am a baby..." but the name has persisted for the last few weeks. And honestly, it is funny to me that our family "baby" is the first and only one to call Elliott by such an endearing title.

As cute as it is when Micah rattles off, "Dada, Dada, Dada, Dada...," sometimes it gets to be a little much... but then something like this happens...

Micah: "Dada, Dada, look at me, Dada, Dada..."
Elliott: "Simon Says 'Don't call me Dada...'"
Micah: (without skipping a beat) "Elliott, watch this."

... and in a Bill Cosby kind of way I say, "just let him call you Dada." They grow up so fast.

A mommy comedian...

You never know who you are going to meet sitting on the bleachers at the gym. And yet, a few weeks ago, I struck up a friendship with a mom whose son is on Caleb's Boys' Team. We have been talking and laughing, and it was obvious pretty quickly that this mom was a Christian.

And then, as we were visiting tonight she said, "You know I am comedian, right?" I laughed and agreed she was pretty funny. But finally, it turns out, she started a Christian Women's comedy group a few years ago. Their main goal is to help women see that "Imperfect is Perfect" and God is more than able to meet us in our messes. So, in case you need a laugh, meet my friend Jessica over at