Friday, October 31, 2014

Like the crack of the whip, I snap attack

I am on a major reorganization and de-cluttering binge.  MAJOR.  I have had enough. 

Let me count the ways:
  • Sorted through sock and undies drawers, the pajama drawer: match, storage, thrift
  • Cleaned the wooden shelf formerly in storage in our quonset (gutted from Blaine's parents' kitchen after their remodel), brought to the basement, organized ALL boy shoes, sandals, mud boots, snow boots by like-kind and size.
  • Vacuumed, sanded, painted the exterior, then cleaned the innards of a gargantuan bookshelf, again, formerly in storage in our quonset (and a library shelf from the old-old library in Small Town, MN, the nostalgia).  This sucker is is probably 8-9 feet tall and 4-5 feet wide, solid wood.  Un-un-un-un.  It comes inside to electrify our book organization this weekend.  I can't imagine ever needing another bookshelf (if we keep our collection within reason).
  • Started sorting through the DUMPSTER we call our play table.  Goal: to get rid of 75-80% of our toy collection.  It will be a many day process: my plan is to sift, sort, toss, organize, then haul the excess to the thrift.  I already have two gigantic boxes filled to the brim.  Vengeance is mine.
  • ATTACK the mess in the upstairs storage room (ebay, mending pile, seasonal clothing): buy a new shelving unit, sort, organize, put away.
  • Clear the MESS atop my dresser (in disarray from the last disaster, i.e. "Don't climb the dresser drawers", otherwise known as, "Jamieeee!  Ohhhhhh nooooooo!" in slo-mo, already at least a year ago).  The days of pretty display are done: this is survival.  Sort, put away for future intrigue.  Leave out a few necklaces and earrings.
  • Start getting ruthless with my clothing glut.  If it doesn't fit right, get right of it.  If I don't really like it, get rid of it.  Sort by season and store in the off-season (I already started this last year).

Much of my inspiration was fueled by the deep-clean on our kitchen last June done by my mom and myself.  It was so refreshing and I have been reveling in it these many months.  Thanks, Muver.

Listening to a podcast from The Art of Simple last month kicked things into high gear.  I am on a crusade.  It's time to get radical.

Monday, October 20, 2014

She sings; she reads; she loses her temper

The mother is a world of great mystery.  She loves; she does all kinds of interesting things throughout the house; she sings; she reads; she loses her temper; she may be as peaceful as a summer evening or a whirlwind of fury.  But she is always the mother, and her love for her children, even when it is shot through all the flaws of her character, will be a human love.  It may be far from perfect.  [But it will be something real.]
~Anthony Esolen
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child

This description struck me when I read it.  It is within the context of his "recommendation" to put all children in full-time daycare, to replace the mother-child relationship with a worker-client relationship, written in extremity and entirely tongue-in-cheek, of course.

The picture he paints resonated on a deep level with me.  I love the romance and reality all rolled into one.  A mother, as peaceful as a summer evening or a whirlwind of fury.  Yes.  I've been there.

This book was an amusing and thought-provoking read.  He presents sound observations on life and culture that are worth contemplation; within the realm of growing children, definitely, but more expansively, on the needs and desires of the human soul.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

It unfolded as if it were planned

I've been thinking back to previous food preservation seasons and have realized something: I didn't feel as stretched this year.

It has a lot to do with the lack of big tomatoes and tomatillos - I did just one batch of salsa this year instead of the usual 4-5.  And another biggie: cabbage.  An unfortunate blow-out.  Again, just one batch of sauerkraut instead of the usual 4-5.

But I think it also has a lot to do with these guys.

Our oldest: Diego and Truen, ages 9 and almost-7
(Exploring the dry creek bed southwest of our place)

Looking back over the past year, I can see that we have been building up to the concept of Morning Chores and Evening Chores.  I didn't even really realize I was doing it.  It started with the cat litters last winter.  In the spring I added emptying the dishwasher every morning.  In the summer they started folding and putting away their own clothes each week.  This fall they started emptying and refilling the goose and duck water troughs every night.

It has been amazing.  Not only is it a relief to us in the fact that it takes a bit of the load off of our shoulders, but the boys are stepping up to the plate and accepting responsibility.  I am so pleased about it.

In our experience thus far, there have been a few keys to success:
  • Consistency.  They do their chores every morning before breakfast.
  • Teamwork.  I have them do everything together so it doesn't overwhelm them.
  • Dessert!  We made chocolate mousse to celebrate their takeover of the bird water from Blaine.
They are also very keen on the idea of a $50 a year allowance as a reward for their efforts (I can't remember what that breaks down to per week).

So when I look around, things aren't quite as overwhelming as they have been in the past.  Instead of feeling like absolutely everything sitting squarely on my shoulders during the day, there has been a bit of a reprieve.  It is such a relief. 

And by writing this out, I came to realize that the boys have taken over two chores apiece from Blaine and me.  Cat litters and bird water from Blaine and dishwasher and folding clothes from me.  Awesome.  Next on the agenda: cleaning the bathroom sink & mirror and vacuuming.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

2014 Apple-picking

There aren't many apples in the middle, but climbing is fun.

 Jamie wanted up so badly . . .

And another little feller did too.

 "Bountiful Harvest"
I've been so amazed by apples this fall.
What a gift!

Orchard scenery: this year we have 5 geese, 5 ducks, and 8 chickens. 

 The geese are grazers and keep the grass nicely clipped.
They seem to like Blaine, but haaaate the boys and hiss at them.
There are three Embden and two White Chinese.

 We have to herd the geese and ducks in every night --
Eliah is showing exactly how it is done, arms outstretched,
though we usually have brooms or toy bats in hand to widen our span.
I always bring E-yi-ya in the backpack when I do it, so he knows. Cute.

 Ducks are so funny!
Swedish Blue and Swedish Blacks
We have been getting beautiful grey eggs from them.

 And while we were at it, we picked the rest of the pumpkins and squash --
This van is used like a truck to haul things like wood or straw.

 The fellas with their Da

 With Mama


 "What big eyes you have, grandmother"

And even bigger!