Thursday, April 3, 2014

Sunrises and Summits

I was one of those Moms who said, " I will NEVER Homeschool my kids."  Some people are brave enough to jump off  of a cliff and dive head first into the ocean, I am one who must be pushed.

     At the beginning of my daughter Rachel's second grade year, I could feel the struggle coming on, even in those first few weeks.  There was just something different about the level of difficulty that she was having and I new I needed to be proactive.  As the first few low grades were trickling in, I was already looking for help.  I tried everything that I could think of.  I spoke to her pediatrician about the possibility of ADD, I had her eyesight tested, and I gave the school a green light to test her for dyslexia and other learning disabilities.  The results were always the same; normal, normal, and normal.  What is holding her back?  From an early age I knew that she was bright.  I could see it in her eyes, the connections that she could make effortlessly.  She was articulate, clever, and wise beyond her years.  Why then, could she not read and write and display her intelligence at a "normal" level.
      I could feel my options narrowing as the days and months marched on toward the year end.  Despite the best efforts of the school (and they were many) we could not seem to find the missing piece of her puzzle.  I knew that I couldn't send her on to third grade in good conscience, I had felt the rigor of the third grade just the year before with her sister.  She was sure to fail.  The thought of holding her back did not sit right with me.  She was so bright and she deserved to move forward in confidence with children her own age.  Hiring a tutor could be helpful but after the long hours she spent at the school I couldn't bear to make her come home and hit the books.  There was one option tucked away in the far corners of my mind, the dangerous part that I had shoved deep, deep into the shadows of my conscious.   "Homeschool her."  It was there, but I chose not to hear it for quite some time. 
     Inspiration has been described  as a light switch flicking on or as a sunrise, slowly casting its light on the horizon.  As I look back, the inspiration to Homeschool was definitely the latter.  My instant reaction was to be defiant.  I had so looked forward to having three of my four kids in school all day long.  Finally, I could be the kind of super mom that I had always dreamed I could be.  I'd have everything organized, all of the laundry done, delicious meals on the table, and time to exercise and lose that extra weight I had been holding on to.  I had it all planned out.  It was high time that I had some priorities of my own. 
     As Rachel was floundering in the second grade my fourth grader had found herself in the throws of pre-pubescent tweeny town.  The kinds of things that I had anticipated from her at the age of thirteen were suddenly right there, staring me in the face.  Boy was there DRAMA.  Social drama took the reigns and academics started sliding.  She became moody and depressed and anxious.  There were tears and most of all, the child I had known was nowhere to be found.  This alone would not have prompted me to Homeschool but layered with everything else, there it was again, "Homeschool her." 
     I couldn't believe what I was feeling. There is just NO WAY that I can actually teach my own children.  I don't want to be responsible for their education.  I am in no way qualified.  I don't have a teaching degree.  I don't know the first thing about teaching.  I can't even get them to do their homework without tears.  But there it was, "Homechool her." 
     I finally began talking about my thought with a few trusted friends and through multiple conversations I was able to consider this a viable option.  Slowly the sun rose on this path and lit my way.  The decision was made to Homeschool my two oldest girls and to enroll my son in kindergarten.  Every veteran Homeschool Mom said that the first year would be the hardest.  We are now nearing the end of our first year of Homeschooling.  I can hardly believe that we have made it to the summit.  What a surprise it has been.  I have had a complete paradigm shift.  My eyes have been opened to a whole new way of living.  I have grown.  My children have grown.  It has been an amazing adventure, one that I will share over the course of time.  One thing can be said for sure, I do not regret it.  As a Mother, I listened, and all were blessed. 

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Monday, April 15, 2013

A New Plate

     As I sit here writing this post, I can hear the startling melodies of the recorder whistling from the backyard.  I can also hear the kids laughing and carrying on as they are running back and forth around the yard.  We just finished dinner and there is no urgency.  The kids are free to play while day turns into night on this beautiful 75 degree spring evening. 

     Last year at this time of night, life at the Carter household would look much different.  I would be feeling frustrated and overwhelmed while I attempted the feat of forcing my children to sit down to do their homework, while the dinner dishes piled high in the sink.  I'm sure I would be anxiously waiting for my husband to get home so that he could help me bathe the others and get them to bed.  I remember feeling the weight of the world as I tried to help my struggling reader make sense of all of the assignments that she had misunderstood at school.  I would ask her how her teacher had explained the assignment and wonder how I could teach her to help her understand.  Through both of our exhaustion I would try to maintain composure as I wanted to lose my patience and give up.  I felt like I was failing her.

     My oldest was in the throws of the fourth grade.  She came home almost every day angry and upset, crying about the injustice of the day.  I knew that girls were emotional but I wasn't prepared for the social warfare that was already going on at the ripe old age of 10.  I chalked it up as part of growing up.  "Kids will be kids," I'd tell myself.  Her grades were suffering but I wasn't overly concerned.  As much as I tried it seemed that we could never finish all of her homework by the time we got home from dance and activity days or soccer.  Again,  I felt like I was failing her. 

     Facing the idea that one of my children would be held back I was forced to consider . . . dare I say it?  HOMESCHOOLING.  While talking to one of my dearest friends I expressed my fears that I would never be able to teach my children.  I described the catastrophe that ensued every night when we sat down to do homework.  I insisted that the dynamic would never work.  She encouraged that it would be different.  She said, "You are not putting more on your plate, you are getting a new plate entirely."

     Something clicked.  She could be right.  Instead of doing homework at the end of the day after everyone was worn out, we could start while everyone was fresh and alert.  Instead of having stressful evenings filled with activity, dinner, baths, homework, bedtime, etc. We would enjoy quiet evening such as tonight as I sit here typing to the sounds of my children playing while we wait for the banana bread that is baking in the oven. 

     We have our challenges, but things are different.


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Friday, January 25, 2013

Blue Day

I am having a blue day.  I don't even know if I will be able to get down on paper what it is that I am really feeling.  James asked me yesterday if I felt that the girls were getting "adequate structure, instruction, discipline, etc in our home environment."  He even made the point to ask whether they were getting as much of those things as they would be getting at school. 

Tough question.

This question not only stirred my emotions but also stirred up a whirlwind of thoughts in my mind.  The truth is, no.  They are not getting the same kind of structure, instruction, discipline, or even consistency as they would be getting at school.  I think the bigger question is, is that a bad thing? 

     What is the measure of success?  Does structure and discipline equate learning?  Last year Rachel attended school daily, she followed the rules, she received instruction, and she was met with consistency in her routine.  Did she learn?

     I saw a quote yesterday that said, "Some people go on living their entire lives on the default setting not realizing that they can costumize."  I thought about this statement.  I think people are afraid to "customize."  I know that I am.  When I first started homeschooling I tried to stay as close to the public school pathway as I possibly could.  It only took me a month or so to figure out that it wasn't working.  I realized that I couldn't "public school" them at home.  The entire framework is different.  It is extremely difficult to try to replicate what they were getting at school.  I am afraid to fail them.  It is hard to trust my instincts.  It is difficult to feel qualified for this job. 

     There are a few things that I know for sure.  I know when they are really listening and when they are just going through the motions.  I know when they are doing their best work and when they are cutting corners.  I am not sure that their teachers could always tell the difference.  Not to criticize them, it would be impossible for them to know every child in their classroom that way.  If they had been thriving in school, I would have never considered bringing them home.  Now that I have, everything is unclear to me. 

    Am I doing enough?   How do people gain confidence in this choice?


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Tuesday, January 1, 2013


I have been searching for one word that I can can use as my theme for the year.  I have seen others do this and I like the idea.  I like the idea of focusing on one recurring theme throughout the year.  When I read this quote I knew what my theme must be . . .

“I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that - I don’t mind people being happy - but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying “write down 3 things that made you happy today before you go to sleep”, and “cheer up” and “happiness is our birthright” and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position - it’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say “Quick! Move on! Cheer up!” I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word “happiness” and to replace it with the word “wholeness”. Ask yourself “is this contributing to my wholeness?” and if you’re having a bad day, it is.”
-Hugh Mackay


To me, achieving wholeness means to accept things and embrace them as they are, and then with faith and prayer look toward the future with hope.  Wholeness takes the body, mind, and spirit.  I am looking forward to pondering this concept in the year 2013!

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Ive Been Quiet

These last few months I have been learning.  I have found that it is in these "learning" times that I get quiet.  I have not had much to say.  I feel like I have been in the sea,  coming and going with the tide.  I am washed out to sea, tossed around in the waves for a time and then washed up onto the shore.  Once I get back to the shore it takes me a moment to understand what has happened. "How long have I been washing in the waves and have I made it to safety?  I cannot retell the story because I am not quite sure what the story is.  At times  I am not sure which direction to swim.  Do I swim with the current or against it?  Which direction should I go?  At times there is darkness and at others I see a lighthouse on a distant hill.  I feel scared, weak, unsure, helpless, unaware, and disbelieving.  I am still not sure of the details.  I still have not yet understood the journey.  All I know is that I'm learning, of what I am not clear.  I have hope in my future self.  She will come out victorious.  She will not give in to weakness.  She will learn.       

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Life times Four

     When I was a newly married, nineteen year old, looking at the prospect of having a family I am sure I had imagined what my life as a Mother would be.  I am sure that I considered that there would be hard days but I think the overarching theme was the shear excitement of possibility.  Thoughts like, "What would my daughter or son look like?" "What kinds of talents would they possess?" "Would he/she favor me or my husband?" I imagined soccer games and playing dress-up, braiding hair, and singing lullaby's.  It was all very dreamy.  I longed for it more than I had longed for anything in my life. 
     As I have fallen into the roll of a Mother ever so gracefully (hah!), I have thought a lot about the realities of parenthood that just cannot be conveyed.  I have thought many times, "Why didn't someone tell me ______" fill in the blank.  Parenthood is HARD. It is beautiful and raw and trying and unlike anything else in the world.  I have never been pushed so far passed my own capacity to do, to think, to feel, to understand.  Furthermore, I have seen those that I love handle the unimaginable; losing children, watching children suffer, bearing children with disabilities, and simply managing everyday illness and struggle.   I have seen friends battle with infertility, mental illness, depression, anxiety, and unforeseen trials. 
     What I have seen is life, raw and unfiltered, felt in the depths of one's soul, unedited, and unrelenting.  It has brought me to tears and knocked me to my knees.  But, what I have found is strength of spirit.  The human spirit is unmatched and its very height of strength is found in parenting.
I have never felt so much love, so much fear, or so much hope.  The unwritten potential being harnessed in these four little bodies I am to cultivate and protect is ever on my mind.  It is far more than peanut butter and jelly, sandboxes, and dance practice.

      I can identify with the following quote: 

     “I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails. I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp. I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbor's children. I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someones garden. I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder. I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived.”   -Marjorie Pay Hinckley

"Really living." It is in the good the bad and the truly painful. We cannot shelter ourselves from heartache and pain and "really live." There is beauty in it all.
Each and every person on this earth will experience defeat, suffering, struggle, loss, and the like, but a parent feels them times four! (Or however many children they have).
Making the decision to have a child is momentous.
It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” -Elizabeth Stone
     Therein lies the essence of for what I was not prepared.  But alas, there is opposition is all things and on the other side of pain is immense pleasure, on the other side of sadness is everlasting joy, on the other side of disappointment is immeasurable satisfaction, and on the other side of loss is incomprehensible gain. 
   Of the many things I may have said to that 19 year old girl, I'd say, do it. Do it again and again and again and don't look back. 



Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Shifting Paradigms

 A paradigm is like any window, it allows you to see whatever its frames will permit. Thus, just like a window, a paradigm is a limited and partial view of what's "outside." The bigger the frame, the more one can see. The more windows in a room, the more one can see of that "outside." Thus, paradigms, by analogy, are mental windows to reality. They "frame" our understanding of reality and limit that reality to what they show us. Different paradigms will "show" us a different reality.     - unknown

     I am currently caught up in the merciless throws of a shifting paradigm.  It takes courage to put up new windows within my carefully constructed house in my little corner of the universe.  Here is to hoping that I will find more light, more beauty, and truth without these walls.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Chosen Mothers

A friend of mine shared this with me a long time ago and I really liked it.  I wanted to share it here. 

The Chosen Mothers

Most women become a mother by accident, some by choice

and a few by habit. Did you ever wonder how mother’s of children with life threatening illnesses are chosen?

Somehow, I visualize God hovering over earth

selecting His instruments for propagation with great care and

deliberation. As He observes, He instructs His angels

to make notes in a giant ledger…….

“Foppiano, Christine, son, patron saint Christopher”

Forrest, Marjorie, daughter, patron saint Cecilia”.”

Finally, He passes a name to an angel and says, “Give

her a child with cancer.” The angel is curious. “Why this

one, God? She’s so happy.”

“Exactly,” smiles God, “Could I give a child with cancer

a mother who does not know laughter? That would be cruel.”

“But, does she have patience?” asks the angel,

“I don’t want her to have too much patience or she will

drown in a sea of self-pity and despair. Once the shock and

resentment wears off, she will handle it.”

“I watched her today,” said God. “She has that feeling

of self-independence that is so rare and necessary in a mother.

You see, the child I’m going to give her has it’s own world.

She has to make it live in her world and that’s not going to be easy.”

“But Lord, I don’t think she believes in you,” said the angel.

“No matter, I can fix that. This one is perfect. She has just

enough selfishness.”

The angel gasps, “Selfishness? Is that a virtue?”

God nods. “If she can’t separate herself from the child

occasionally, she’ll never survive. Yes, here is the woman I will bless with a child less than perfect. She doesn’t realize it yet,

but she is to be envied. She will never take anything her child does for granted. She will never consider a single step

ordinary. I will permit her to see clearly the things I see….ignorance, cruelty, prejudice….and allow her to rise above them.”

“And what about her patron saint” asks the angel, his pen poised in mid-air.

God smiles and says…”A mirror will suffice.”

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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Utter Chaos

 "Utter Chaos," she said as I apologized for the state of the morning. We loaded up the couch into the back of her friend's pick up truck and she was on her way. I breathed a sigh of relief as I ran back into the house and out of the cold.
I had spent the morning making small talk with a young single girl who had come to pick up my sister's couch that has taken up residence in my tiny garage for the last couple of months. Small talk was no small thing on this particular Saturday morning as I cleaned up the dishes from the night before; hand washing pans and cookie sheets and scraping ketchup off of plates and counter tops that the babysitter had left for me to clean. I shifted from one task to another while trying to maintain a cheerful conversation with the sweet stranger in my home. I tried to make it seem effortless while I managed the cleanup and the constant parade of demands from my children. There was crying, fighting, medicine, chocolate milk, cereal, candy, diaper changes, puppy poop, puppy prison break from the backyard, falling off of chairs and exercise balls . . . and the parade continued. All the while, she was receiving phone calls and texts from her friend, the owner of the pick up truck who had found herself with a flat tire a few short miles from the house.

Lemony Snicket's, "A Series of Unfortunate Events" comes to mind. The morning had played out like a scene from an old movie, streaming in slow motion. By the time the mended flat tire rolled its way into the driveway it had been about an hour and a half. "Utter Chaos" pretty much summed it up. It pricked a little as it rolled so casually off of her tongue. The comment was innocent enough but it somehow wrapped up my whole life so helplessly in two harmless little words.

After the truck drove out of sight with a 15 year old, slip covered, couch hanging off the tailgate, I took inventory of the rest of my day. Brittany had my van and I had four little inmates to entertain. I must admit that my two year old scared me more than the piles of laundry I had stashed in my master closet.

I had come home the night before feeling deflated. I had an unfortunate encounter with an overachieving Mother of four who graduated law school, taught at the University of Texas, home schools her children, maintains a clean home, runs marathons, and is skinny and beautiful to boot!!! The final straw landed on the proverbial hay stack when I discovered that she is MY. SAME. AGE. How do some people accomplish so much more in the same amount of time?
Fortunately for me, I came home to find my little sister, eight years my junior, with the wisdom of a woman four times her age. Among other things she said something so simple and yet so profound., she said, " Mom didn't graduate law school and she was and is the best Mom in the world!" This statement made me think about my Mother and all that she is and realize that it really doesn't matter that she didn't do those kinds of things. She is everything and more that we needed her to be. If I can become half of the woman that she is then I will feel accomplished indeed. Then Brittany read me this quote,

Because of the conflicts and challenges we face in today’s world, I wish to suggest a single choice—a choice of peace and protection and a choice that is appropriate for all. That choice is faith. Be aware that faith is not a free gift given without thought, desire, or effort. It does not come as the dew falls from heaven. The Savior said, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28) and “Knock, and it shall be [given] you” (Matthew 7:7). These are action verbs—come, knock. They are choices. So I say, choose faith. Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism. "Elder Richard C. Edgley

Pessimism and I have been doing a little dance lately and unfortunately, I have been letting him lead. He is a good teacher, he talks you right through one step to the next, leading you across the floor until you are dancing effortlessly all over the sullen ballroom.

I have felt the suffocating effects of longing for things that are unattainable for me at this season of my life. I am confused by the dichotomy of desires within my heart to learn and grow and change as an individual and to serve my family selflessly.

I am constantly berated with the messages of today so I found it somewhat refreshing when I recently stumbled upon a passage from a book filled with the messages of yesterday.

It read, "What about giving the heart? Isn't giving your heart equally as important as giving your mind? Those women who are experts in giving love, kindness and patience to their families are giving as much, yes, more, than their I.Q. Isn't the product of the heart equal to the product of the mind? Doesn't it do as much or more for the betterment of society. The ladies who donate their I.Q. to society may render a service, no doubt, not if in so doing they rob the home of its mind and heart, what then can compensate for this loss? And those ladies who feel that they have a gigantic brain must realize that unless they match it with a gigantic heart, they are only half a woman, and it would be far more important for them to stay home and educate the heart than to leave the home and go into the world to share their intellect there. Their contributions of the heart will do more for the well being of society than their contributions of the mind." (from the highly controversial Book "Fascinating Womanhood" written in 1963 by: Helen B. Andelin)
So I guess this is what I am doing. I'm giving and educating my heart here at home. Somewhere in this "Utter Chaos" I am giving my heart and I am teaching my heart about love and patience and tenderness and kindness. Some days I would rather lead with my mind or let pessimism lead with his expertise in undermining goodness and happiness. The heart seems the better choice and in time, its grandparent Charity may lead and the ballroom will no longer be sullen but filled with brightness and promise of a whimsical night filled with music and dancing and laughter and hope.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dear 2012

Do you think you could give me a few more days to get my act together??  Thanks!

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Mother - Illusionist

     I just finished posting these photos from Adam's Birthday party onto my family blog.  He had a family party on Sunday afternoon and a friend party Monday morning.  Everything was perfect and all events came together to create an unforgettable fifth Birthday Celebration . . . or so they thought!
  Last week was a doosie.  I started out the weekend prior with my little sister and her husband moving in with us.  This was a last minute happenstance and required the removal of all the contents of Audrey's bedroom and closet.  The inards were spewed out into the middle of the adjoining hallway and gameroom.  There were things in that closet that I have been ignoring since last spring!  There they were, staring at me, mercilessly requiring my attention.  I practiced a lot of selected neglect for the days that followed.

   I had planned to hire a babysitter Saturday so that I could run around and prepare everything for Adam's birthday.  Since James was going to be out of town until that evening I decided to trade in my sitter for the nighttime so that we could go out on a date.  We made it a double date so that we could invite our new roomies.  This left me with no party plans at 7:00 p.m. Saturday night. 

     We enjoyed a nice dinner and then decided to squeeze Walmart in between dinner and a movie.  Walmart cannot be squeezed into anything!  Two and a half hours later, we had missed our movie and we were still at Walmart - ALL FOUR OF US!  I had sent the boys to find out that aparently everyone with half the brain to use a helium machine had gone home for the night and they would not fill my balloons.  This was really my only source of decor and the only real surprise I had up my sleeve.  I was going to sneak the balloons into his room so that he would wake up to see them that morning.  This was unacceptable.  Watch out boys, let me show you how to get things done!  A half hour later and we were walking out with a dozen balloons floating proudly with helium.
     We arrived home at almost midnight and  I felt terrible having ruined our date.  The next morning, I awoke to Adam's little face peering over the mattress wearing the very expression of disappointment.  "Mom, you have to have ALL of the decorations."  Now, before you judge Adam for being a spoiled brat, he has seen streamers and paper flowers, twinkling lights, and Birthday banners for his sisters.  Balloons in the bedroom was not a proper replacement.  Note to self:  boys do care about Birthday decorations.  After reassuring him that we would have a Birthday party after church he replied, "We can't go to church on Birthdays!!"

  Onto my next trick, waffles for breakfast.  This went over just fine but kept me in the kitchen much longer than anticipated and any hopes of baking a cake before church were washed down the drain with the leftover syrup.

   We didn't get home from church until after 4:30.  I had planned to make Lasagna for Adam because it is one of his favorite meals.  In retrospect, I should have planned to make frozen pizza!  The kids would have been just as happy.  The Lasagna did not come out of the oven until 7:00 p.m.  Exhausted and still wrapping gifts, I was kicking myself for not making things easier on myself.  We ended up having a great dinner and a fun family party. After the kids were in bed, I was up cleaning and clearing into the late hours of the night.  Instead of frosting my cupcakes for Adam's friend party the next morning, I went to bed. 

     The next morning, I woke up after I had planned.  No one cooperated.  I did not arrive early to the party.  I did not frost my cupcakes.  I will spare most of the details but must add that my morning involved unsticking the tabs of my daughters diaper while she was standing and having poo "roll" onto my rug!  All of this while she was screaming and crying about not wanting a particular pair of shoes!  Adam had stayed up late for his Birthday and was grumpy as could be.  He didn't even want to have another party.  Note to self: Do not let your child stay up late the night before his party. 

   I arrived at my friends house with my unfrosted cupcakes.  Luckily for me, she greeted me with wet hair and was blowing up the contents of one of the games that we were meant to play.  She had the items for her gift bags spread out on the counter.  We took one look at each other and just laughed!  "It is a good thing that we had the kids dropped off," I said.  "That way, we do not have any of the other Mom's here to criticise us!"  The truth is, the kids didn't care.  They played for the first thirty minutes while we got our act together.  The party was a success and everyone was happy. 

All is well that ends well . . . right?!

While I would really prefer to have everything come off without a hitch, I think it is important to reveal the truth.  These kinds of things take real effort.  Something always gets in the way.  Things don't ever go as planned.  The important thing is that it happened at all.  That is all the kids will remember. 


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Managing Toys

After several years of trial and error, I have finally found a system for toys that works for me.  It is unrealistic for our family to clean up and sort all of the toys every day.  We have to be able to do a quick pick up and be out the door or off to bed.  We keep all of our toys upstairs but inevitably there are a few (or a lot) that get brought downstairs every day.  For this reason, I purchased these mesh hampers.  You can find them at Ross for as little as 5 dollars.  I keep one in my closet under my stairs and another one upstairs in Adam's closet.  I could put one in each one of my kid's closet but I think they would get REALLY full before we would get around to emptying them out. 

     At the end of the day, as I straighten up my downstairs, I pull out the mesh hamper and put all of the toys that have been left downstairs inside.  I do the same thing upstairs.  I try to have the kids put their toys away in the right places at the end of the day but for those crazy nights the toys get thrown into the hamper. 

     Ideally, each Saturday we would spend time as a family sorting out the toys and putting them in the right places.  This can be tricky because the toys are all mixed together and they belong in three different rooms.  You could waste a lot of time walking back and forth between rooms.  

       I take the hamper and dump it out in each room.  Anything that doesn't belong in that room gets thrown back into the hamper and then what is left on the floor is sorted and put away.   I then carry the hamper into the next room and we repeat the process. 

     I have tried many different storage or organizational systems for storing toys and these are my favorite.  For the two little ones, the bins are open and it is easy for the kids to see what goes where.  Audrey and Rachel have outgrown this system and now have baskets on the shelf full of their barbies and littlest petshops etc.  I also use the stack able sterilite or rubbermaid bins for things like legos and blocks.  They even have big ones for dress ups or stuffed animals.  They are stackable but are sold separately so that you can buy as many as you need.  The middle part slides out easily so that the kids can remove the bin while they play and then return it easily to it's place. 

     Figuring out how to manage the toys in my home has really helped me to keep my house clean and avoid stress!  I remember a friend of mine once saying to me while my kids were really little, "It is important to have clearly defined 'adult space' and 'kid space'."  I whole heartedly agree with this.  
What works for you? 

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where is Super Nanny when I need her?

You know those women that walk around the grocery store like robots, dutifully pushing the grocery cart with their eyes straight forward while their bratty children scream and fight with one another?   Well, that's me, nice to meet you!

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Albatross Around My Neck

Creepy isn't he . . .

"Laundry is the Albatross around my neck!" I said yesterday to James.  He looked at me as if I were crazy!  "Where in the world does that saying come from?"  he asked.  We often wonder that about common phrases that we use regularly.  I looked this one up and this is what I discovered.

From Wikepedia: 

The word 'albatross' is sometimes used metaphorically to mean a psychological burden that feels like a curse. It is an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (1798).

In the poem, an albatross starts to follow a ship — being followed by an albatross was generally considered an omen of good luck. However, the titular mariner shoots the albatross with a crossbow, which is regarded as an act that will curse the ship (which indeed suffers terrible mishaps). To punish him, his companions induce him to wear the dead albatross around his neck indefinitely (until they all die from the curse, as it happens). Thus the albatross can be both an omen of good or bad luck, as well as a metaphor for a burden to be carried (as penance).

The symbolism used in the Coleridge poem is its highlight. For example:

Ah ! well a-day ! what evil looks

Had I from old and young !

Instead of the cross, the Albatross

About my neck was hung.

     It may seem silly but it is true.  Laundry very well feels like my burden to be carried.  I find it interesting that in this poem, the man shoots the albatross in the first place and brings this burden upon himself.  I can relate as I do the same when I neglect the laundry day after day until it all but swallows me whole.  I don't know why but it drags me down and keeps me from doing a lot of the other things that I need to do. 

     This week, I have conquered the laundry.  I got it all washed, folded, and PUT AWAY last Thursday out of sheer will to get it out of my life!  I have been doing two small loads every day since and have been keeping it at bay.  This enabled me to pick up on a whim and go to the ranch on Friday and Saturday.  It has cleared away the cobwebs and I am able to see some of the other things that I need to get done more clearly.

 Here is to staying on top of it! 

May the curse pass from me this day forward!!

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Monday, September 12, 2011

A Feather in Her Hair

Audrey wants a feather in her hair.

"Everything that's cool is inappropriate," she said through her tears.  There I was, in the middle of my bathroom floor, frozen.  "Everyone else has one . . . all of my friends."  "What is the big deal?"  "I don't understand why you won't let me?"  "I feel like what I feel doesn't even matter to you."  "What about what I want?"  I was beginning to feel dizzy.  I couldn't just let this one slide, or bribe her with a treat, or distract her with something she might like just as much.  This one was real and she wasn't backing down.  She wasn't being disrespectful, but she was unrelenting.  The questions just kept streaming in and I didn't know the answers.  "There are lots of cute tops and they are too bare, or cute shorts but they are too short." "I just feel like you want me to look like you want me to look."  And there it was.  Right from her lips to the bottom of my sunken heart.  Deep breath, and here we go. 
     The truth is, baby girl, you and I are not always going to see eye to eye.  I am going to tell you things that you don't want to hear.  You are going to get frustrated and even angry.  You are going to think that I am trying to ruin your life.  I am not always going to know what to say, and I am not going to cave in just because you cry, even though it kills me to see you hurting, even if it is a silly little thing.  I know for you it's not silly.  I am going to try to teach you what I believe is right, and then you are going to grow up and make your own choices.  I will have done my part.  I cannot always promise that I will be right, but I can promise that I will do my best.  And hopefully one day, your character will be the feather in your hair.  I love you. 

  For the record, I did not say that the feather was inappropriate.  I merely felt that it is a trend and I don't like the way it looks. 

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"The Homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only - and that is to support this ultimate career."
C.S. Lewis

"The ultimate result of all ambition is to be happy at home." Samuel Johnson

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