Monday, September 21, 2009

Apples of Gold

Okay, so today I decided to bake. Well, I decided four days ago I was going to bake, so I went shopping for some groceries to include the ingredients needed to bake these muffins, and after my whirlwind of a weekend (including one full day of not feeling well) and catching up on the dishes, I have finally arrived. Part of my ingredient shopping was kitchen accessory shopping. I did not own a grater, and was sick of avoiding recipes that required, well, grated ingredients. I’m attending a mentoring class at my church, and alongside lessons about kindness and loving our hubbies, the older women are showing us how to cook.
The hosting mentor’s home is at least double the size of our home, and her kitchen is large enough to accommodate 10 of us younger women being mentored, plus most of the mentors and the kitchen helpers! It’s incredible. But she is so gracious; you don’t feel overwhelmed by your surroundings or that her home is showy, you just feel welcome and comfortable. Alongside this grand first impression, is the fact that all of the cabinet doors in her kitchen were off. I thought, “Wow, she even went to the trouble to take her cabinet doors off to show us some hints about organizing our kitchens!” But it turns out they are in the middle of remodeling, so it goes to show no matter how far we are in life, there’s always something torn apart and being rebuilt. Even she hasn’t “arrived” and isn’t perfectly together. What a relief. One other note about our host: she shared a tid bit about life as a young mother and mentioned that her husband used to work two jobs and/or long hours so she could stay at home.
Really? This woman I so respect and just thought she always was where she is now? It’s hard to think that the families I so respect started off small and with nothing, just as Matt and I are. That they didn’t always have the amazing jobs they have now, or the beautiful homes they’ve worked so hard to build or pay a mortgage on, or some of the families I know even own their homes paid in full. Now that’s what I’m talking about, that’s peace!
Ok ok, so back to the baking. What was I thinking concerning the baking? Oh, how it’s taken me nearly three hours today amidst the snack, lunch, diaper changes, fifteen minute play breaks, run to the grocery store for that last ingredient I had forgotten despite having made a list (drat!), more dishes from lunch and snack, and oh, maybe I should forget the whole thing and get ready for my date with my husband! A five minute make-up session and a spritz of hairspray would do wonders.
This is why a mother’s mind is always running in circles and never feeling quite accomplished. Or that anything has been accomplished. Either/or.
Well, the whole baking thing, and my general incompetency concerning not having the right kitchen tools, not able to organize myself for a grocery shopping trip, and then making a complete and utter mess of grating carrots (and which side do you use? why aren’t all the gratings going neatly into the container that fits into the grater? They are every where, I must be doing something wrong!) is just making me laugh at myself today. I love that I was invited to this mentoring class. My mom didn’t really have us in the kitchen a whole lot. My parents are divorced, so my dad did pretty well his self, and actually had us help in the kitchen quite a bit (more if we asked or was interested) but he did much more of the Hamburger Helper and frozen pizza type stuff.
So I never learned stuff like, grating carrots, or slicing apples, or how to shuck corn, or even that it was referred to as “shucking”. I thought you were peeling, and got a few laughs when I referred to it as “peeling” the corn. One day I was at the grocery, and decided to use their handy bins to “peel” my corn. I probably was using about the most idiotic method that you could envision, and this sweet old lady comes up and starts on her corn. I notice, out of the corner of my eye, that she is “peeling” about three ears of corn per my one. I decided to check out her method, and I about blushed when she gave me a pat on the hand and I explained that I grew up in the city and had never “peeled” corn before. “You’ve never shucked corn before?” Me: “Shucked?”
Or when I was over at a girlfriend’s house when she had graciously invited us over to dinner and I was in the kitchen with her daughter and helping snap the green beans. Snap green beans? Here I was watching her tween snapping beans so I could know how to do it myself. I had always taken a little paring knife (I know, probably the wrong knife) and cut off the ends, two or three beans at a time, which takes for. ev. er.
*sigh* She was gracious to me when I giggled about my methods and that I had never snapped green beans before in my life.
Feminine initiation … the women in my life … strangers at grocery stores, my amazing aunt-in-laws (I have a favorite from both in-law sides), my girlfriends, older women at my church, and of course this very purposed mentoring group, sharing of themselves and leading me by example into what was (is) for me, a very curious world of mothering, friendships, loving, and using my abilities and my mind to learn new things. There's a way for this wild and curious heart of mine. Maybe learning to care for my children, love my husband, and learn my way around this whole home making bit, is a great calling on my life.
Well, I suppose I should stop avoiding my kitchen and get to it, huh?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

When "staying at home" really means trying to get out of the house!

I am sitting here writing out a daily/weekly/monthly schedule to get my “stay-at-home crew” – that would be me and my girls – in a routine that involves insane things like, oh I don’t know, GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE!! Sophia is almost 10 months. Her nap routine is very predictable, yet she’s flexible about missing her morning nap. When she nurses, she gets it done in less than five minutes. She eats everything Ruth and I eat. Easy. Ruth is 2 ½, and she is getting into those lovely two year old behaviors like screaming, throwing fits, being defiant, only using the potty when she feels like it, and just general contrariness. It’s normal … and probably exasperated by the fact that I could happily stay at home and clean and organize to my heart’s content. Except that doesn’t even happen because I am too busy trying to keep her in line. Oh yeah, and the poor 10 month old does get cared for every now and then. It’s just so busy! The meals and snacks, the diapers, the playtime, the teaching everyone to pick up their toys, the patience to let Ruth, or rather sometimes, encourage her to do things for herself … it all takes ten times as long as you would think.
So it leaves me flabbergasted ... we go to church (her absolute favorite place to be) and she is an angel. Grocery? She sings the whole trip. Park? She could play there for hours. I'm the one that gets bored! Simple equation ... leave the house = happy two year old.
I just got off the phone with a girlfriend to plan an every-other-week playgroup. Yes, getting out of the house and hanging out with your girlfriends takes planning. Me not being the cell phone toting, in-constant-contact-with-my-friends kinda gal, it just takes planning. Matt and I are homebodies. We love being at home together, taking walks in our city together, doing stuff TOGETHER. Him working two jobs and being gone all the time has me feeling very disoriented lately. And probably just the kick in the butt I need to get out of the house more. Because his two jobs gig is going to last through mid-December, at least, it’s time to get my own life for awhile. I mean, I felt so utterly lost in my rut that I actually googled “Activities for Stay at Home Moms.” Sheesh.
I’m thinking beyond playdates and on into having girlfriends over for dinner. Every now and then, I’ll be talking with a friend and we realize that both of us are going to be lonely for dinner time. A couple of nights I’ve had a girlfriend and her kids over for dinner and let me tell you … I LOVE cooking when my girls are happily playing with their little friends. It’s amazing how happy it feels!
It’s a bit comical when we have friends over because we have a little cafĂ©-style table with four little bistro chairs, and we usually circle up with high chairs and boosters and folding chairs … it’s a very cozy setting. And we have this nice, large dining room! Oh well. If I waited to entertain until my house was perfectly set up for entertaining … we never would.
Back to the routine. I’m organizing my time for everything I’d like to accomplish. Devotion - after some tinkering with my schedule, I couldn’t get it to work unless I got up at 6:30am. Ugh. But I can’t wait to see how this discipline carries over into making me a better person; I sure could use that! Exercise – my girls love stroller rides, I have no excuse except I don’t make time for it enough. Laundry. Cleaning. the AHA! children’s museum, Toddler storytime at the library, playgroup, MOPS, playtime with the girls - where I’m actually engaged for a whole fifteen minutes instead of just making sure nobody kills each other and everybody is SHARING. Don’t worry, my poor girls have never had an over-involved and indulging mom; they know how to entertain themselves. It’s just amazing if I give Ruth some crafty things and get her started how she can sit at the table forever cutting away or gluing away … and getting carried away (glue on the floor, full body art with the markers, you know)
I want to start my own business, and I’ve had so much trouble making the time for it! So, now that I have this handy dandy schedule, not only will I not work too much, but I’ll make an appropriate amount of time set aside so I can find some success. And Facebook. Yes, I’ve got Facebook on the schedule. Because I’ve so poorly planned my life these past couple months, I get lonely for real people that don’t go around crying and peeing in their pants all the time. There they are, instantly, on Facebook. I want to be too busy to get one Facebook so often! It’s addicting.
It’s amazing when you take stock of your life, you realize all the void and empty activities that can easily take up such gobs of time.
Here’s to a happy fall and more blogging. It’s in the schedule!