Monday, June 29, 2009

Random Proof that I Do Not Totally Stink, and some possible proof that I have not completely lost my blogging mojo

Since I vented about some of my shortcomings last night, tonite I will toot my own horn a bit.

Good things I did last week:

Took kids to VBS 3 nights

We got our pool set up and I did lifeguard duty every single day since then

I took my kids to the county fair even though my husband was unable to come with us (We tried to go together on his night off, but it was raining, so I took them the next day solo)

We had a family movie night, and I resisted the temptation to leave the room and go do something else

I played board games and cards with my kids

I stayed up late with my daughter two nights because she seemed like she wanted the company

I created a pretty area in the front of our house with two wicker chairs, a table, and some potted plants (much better than the junkfest that had previously been in that area)

I continued my no-sugar healthy-eating plan last week even though it was very hard to do so

I continued to do my 3 mile workout with my friend Kim

I pressed on to obtain much-desired birthday gifts and made a very happy birthday come together for my 11 year old

I discovered kittens under our deck (neighbor cat that thinks it lives in our yard) and shared the secret with my 13 year old daughter

Today has been better in my brain, and I have made a lot of domestic progress, which I needed. The kids swam. I did a boatload of weeding in the garden and yard that desperately needed to be done. Everything looks so much nicer now, and I am thinking of ways to beautify the place. We were blessed to get a nice new shed last week, which is significant because we have no garage, and previously only had a rickety old 3-sided lean-to barn-type structure way at the top of our hill which was never very good for the kind of storage we needed. For 9 years of living here we have not had proper storage space for tents, bikes, lawn mowers, large tools, garden tools, outdoor toys, our pool, etc. We have had A LOT of stuff stuffed into our house, and a lot of stuff in our yard looking very junky. It was fairly much impossible to improve, even when we downsized how much stuff we had, and tried to get the kids better at parking their bikes in certain areas of the yard. Now it all has a place to be put away, and the yard is so much more pleasant. We are also gaining some space in the house, which is great just for the visual relief of empty space, or at least less crowded space in some areas.

About 3 years ago we created a brick patio out of free bricks that we got. (We still have a bunch, too! What will we make next?!) Up until now this area has largely been relegated to a parking spot for every bike, toy, and deflated soccer ball in our back yard when mowing was needing to get done. Add in a few empty water bottles, soggy paper plates, abandoned socks and winter gloves, broken wooden swords or water guns, stray legos, etc. and a plethora of very strong and tall weeds determined to live in the cement jungle, and you are starting to get the idea of how this has been looking. U-G-L-Y!

Well, now that patio is clear of toys and junk. I spent some time weeding it today. (almost done!) My plan now is to create some sort of living space there to hold the spot and help it not regress into junkville ever again.

I find myself wondering about these people whose blogs I read who drive off to the library and on their way happen upon an estate sale where they find the most adorable wrought iron table and chairs set that will be just perfect for a niche in their back yard, for the bargain price of $7. I want to know where they live, because I never find such treasures at the yard sales and flea markets I come across.

Around these here parts you can find plenty of ugly bank mugs, mostly-used candles, Christmas tins (with rust inside), old tools (but not cool ones), and a whole lotta clothes. (that usually smell like smoke) Apparently we're a little lacking in cast off vintage coolness in central Kentucky.

On Saturday I took a little mental health break, driving somewhat aimlessly to the town south of mine. I decided to pop into the new Goodwill to see if I could find any treasures. Nope. And even the new Goodwill still has that donated clothes weird smell thing going on.

I will give props to the one yard sale that I saw and checked out. I walked away with a Michael Koors belt (50 cents!), and two cute new purses. (I have recently become a purse enthusiast)

Also, I would like to say that since stopping eating sugar back in March I have now lost 10 pounds. (on top of the 5 that I lost between November and March) And the Michael Koors belt fits me. And also I bought fitted tshirts yesterday at Target, and they do not look bad on me, and I did not have to buy them from the plus size department. Which I am pleased about.

As you can see, it is possible for me to become so busy with life that I give nary a cursory blog post, let alone anything interesting or the least bit well-written for ages upon ages, and then all of the sudden in one night I have a whole bunch of random bloggety goodness to spew out at you.

Sorry. I suppose this is one of the risks of being a regular reader (dare I say fan?!) of this blog.

I haven't thought of my life in blogging perspective for quite some time. It feels really nice tonite to be sharing all of this with you. Maybe I'll be back again before the spell breaks....

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Do I amaze you? Only because you know so little about what's going on....

Kat cracked me up tonite with her sweet comment:

Have I ever mentioned my amazement at your energy and creativity? :)

Kat, my friend, I thank you for that. But after the past day/week that I have been having, it seemed ironically, tragically, puzzlingly, insanely laughable. As in, laughing myself into an insane stupor.

Tonite we had a birthday party to celebrate our son's 11th birthday. Although it all went well and he is very, very happy with how his big day went, it was fraught with a bunch of stress and I-feel-like-a-terrible-mother angst.

This year has had me feeling off-the-rails for many reasons. We were hit with a super stressful bunch of crap in November that dragged on and on and only just resolved this month. Christmas shopping was a struggle. I never wrote a Christmas letter or sent out cards or gave anything nice to a single one of our very wonderful neighbors.

In March our "birthday season" rolled around. All of the birthdays at our house fall between March and August. We have one in mid-March, 2 back-to-back in early April, others in April (for extended family), a single birthday for May, June, July, and August. Each birthday seemed to catch me off guard. "Oh crap! Another birthday! What the heck?!" and then I would begin the dance of the overwhelmed mother with no energy or creativity. What to get? What's the budget? Am I too late to order it online? Do we have to have a party?"

Sadly, my feelings about several of these should-be-special days was just great relief at crossing another one off of my list. The pressure felt terrible, I was unprepared, and felt like crap because it's not like I don't have fair warning that everybody gets a birthday every 12 months.

To make matters worse, I totally blanked out on my mom's birthday AND Mother's Day AND my grandmother's birthday. Which is terrible and I still haven't recovered from it. I love my mom and grandmother both a ton. But it was like my brain was broken. I could see the dates away on the horizon and would think, "Hey, I need to think of a gift to send..." and then all of the sudden the day was upon me or past me and I would think, "Shoot! I missed it. And I still have no idea what to get." I guess I could have sent flowers still, and maybe I should have. But it seemed like a cop-out and a lie. Because really I was just too mentally exhausted to think of anything or do anything about it.

For this birthday I had fair warning. These kids start telling me what they want for their birthdays p-l-e-n-t-y far in advance, and I even had a nice itemized list of what Jake wanted for his special day. Finances have been tight, so I was holding off on the purchasing, which meant payday this past Friday. My husband and I decided to do our shopping in The Big City Saturday night, which would include not only a trip to the health food store, but also birthday shopping. As it turned out, I guess my brain power was on low again, because we skipped our chance to go to Toys R Us to look for the stuff, mainly because we also had to go to Walmart and I was confident that we would find the stuff there.

And that was a bad, bad gamble. Because they had neither of the two most-desired gifts that my son wanted. Which was not good.

I was already exhausted, sleep deprived, and stressed from a bunch of other things during the week, and now I had no gifts for my child. And his party was today.

My husband's solution to this was so simply do an IOU sort of thing, and get the stuff for him later. And that just wasn't what I wanted to do. My kid told me well in advance what he wished for, and it was due to our own lack of planning and whatever that we were in this situation. My kid deserved to have actual gifts, not 3x5 cards to dash his hopes of a special new Lego set or cool new game to play with. I was determined to drive back to The Big City on Sunday after church and track down his gifts, by hook or by crook. (and I did)

Well, I could go on and on, but basically, I had plenty of ammunition in my brain to remind me of ways that I feel like I have been failing my kids and not being the kind of mother I want to be. I am sick of being unprepared, being too tired, being behind and late and sorry.

I thought of this mothering manifesto I used to have on my wall back in the olden days before I had 6 kids to homeschool, businesses to run, and a million more business ideas running through my brain. I thought about how so often I feel that I am not doing what I want to be doing and should be doing. And I feel like it is time to get back to the basics around here. No, it won't mean that I'm quitting my businesses. That's important in it's own way and has a worthy place in my life too. But I know that I am off the rails on several fronts that can be repaired and renewed.

Some people would excuse me and say that I have plenty of reasons to not be doing so great. 6 kids! Multiple businesses! Husband works a lot! Whatever! Yes, well those things are true, but I also know that I find plenty of time to waste and avoid doing things that need to be done. Though I will never be a perfect mother or home manager, I can certainly do better than this.

It is nice that sometimes people say very complimentary things to me about what it is that they see of my life. But I am never fooled by other people's opinions of me. There is always a whole lot more going on than the bit that gets revealed. And that's true for all of us. Isn't it?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Buy Handmade Campaign Coming Soon!

You all know that I love etsy and other handmade products. My entire baby boutique is almost exclusively made of mompreneur handmade items!

Well, this year I plan to do a Buy Handmade for the Holidays campaign here as well as on the Baby Boutique Blog. I'm going to feature lots and lots of handmade products and the talented, creative people that bring them to us. My hope is to inspire you and introduce you to some wonderful new businesses to give your business to this year!

If you want to spread the word, please do. I have an intake form set up here for business owners that are interested in having their products considered for the campaign.

This is gonna be fun!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Help This Family

I just learned about Carol and her family today. A year ago, after giving birth to her second child, Carol had multiple health complications that resulted in both of her legs and one arm being amputated, in addition to losing her sight. Unimaginably difficult.

As you can probably guess, their medical bills and the continuing costs related to Carol's rehabilitation are huge. There is a fabulous silent auction set up right now that ends soon. There are tons of gorgeous items there that you can big on. Most bids start at $15-20. PLEASE go check it out, and spread the word. This is an easy way to be a blessing to others.

I've been rocking at Ichthus!

I've looked forward to taking my kids to Ichthus for years, and I finally got to do it! I went with our youth group (and my 2 teens) Thursday and Friday as a chaperone for the girls. I always love a good opportunity to boogie and re-live my teenagerhood, so this was right up my alley. Some of the highlights:

My daughter and I enjoyed an indie group called The Great Transparency. Lots of fun, full of personality, and good music.

Thursday night we saw Hawk Nelson and Family Force 5. Both were lots of fun.

Hawk Nelson: Fun Young Canuks!

Here's some FF5 fun for you: UGLY PEOPLE, PUT YOUR HANDS DOWN (mine were up! up! up!)

We saw a very interesting group, The Psalters, do a drum circle. This group is like a combination of Rastafarian-gypsy-hobo-somethingorother. They play a lot of different types of ethnic styles of praise music. Very cool, different, interesting, and I enjoyed them. You can listen to some of their tunes here.

Kutless gave a great performance. Really enjoyed it! I also saw Delirious and Skillet, both of which I didn't love that much, so went on to some other stuff.

Had a blast with a friend doing our rapper hand stuff to GRITS (and after that you just have to talk to each other like, "Where you be at?" and stuff like that....). Plenty of group dancing too. (to the left! to the left! the right! to the right!.....move it back now......)

My husband and I saw Israel Houghton and the New Breed last night and that was really fun worship music. While we were waiting for them to set up the stage we got to do the Cha Cha Slide with the crowd too. :) I love to Cha Cha....

I enjoyed Alabaster Box, whom I had never heard of before. I really enjoyed it that they had great music with a clear, encouraging spiritual message. Lots of energy, too!

On our way out of the grounds my husband and I saw (and heard) the throbbing music from the techno stage, and it drew us right in. We had a lot of fun dancing, and --oh! how I love teenagers! They have so much ENERGY (still jumping and dancing after midnight after 3 whole days of the same), and I love seeing the trust they give (and keep) when they crowd surf and just cut loose with dancing. I see so many wonderful, good, encouraging things in the teens I get to be around. They make me believe that good things are in store for the world. :)