New Cleaner, Close Call, Horror Story

We are looking for a new house cleaner. I hopefully have someone coming to interview today. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t want to go much longer without someone to clean. Obviously, I clean too. But I definitely need someone to come on a regular basis and do cleaning.

I have been sick. I have been vomiting bile for hours every day for several days. I finally went to an emergency room to make sure that everything was okay and that I didn’t have a recurrence of a medical problem I have had before. They took a CT scan and said that everything was good. They gave me some medicine for nausea, and I’ve been taking that for 2 days. It helps a lot more than it did when I was pregnant. They also told me that I have a cyst on an ovary that probably needs to be fixed. Sometime this week I will call a gynecologist. I just really don’t feel like it. I don’t want to go into one. So if it’s not too big I will probably just let it burst. It hurt like hell the last time that happened to me but at least I didn’t have to go in for one of those god-awful exams. It’s just important to make sure that the cyst is not above a certain size because if it is you can have a lot of internal bleeding when it ruptures. I am just beyond grateful it wasn’t the problem I was afraid it was.

It must be a stomach bug, but this is a very unusual and long-lasting stomach bug.

I have been doing some writing but not as much as I would like. On a bright note, I have begun writing horror (what a weird sentence). I’ve been talking about it for ages, but I put fingers to keyboard and I started a story. I have the beginning how I want it, although as usual I will have to revise 50 more times. I just not sure how I want it to end. I’m not sure where I want to take it. And I have a second story in the works.

Lovely Day, Free Night

Today has really been a beautiful Friday. Unfortunately Craig has to work a 12-hour day, so I saw him off by 10 in the morning and he won’t be home until it least 10 this evening. I feel bad for him having to work so many hours. But soon after he left Angelica and I went to Target and she got to pick out some new clothes. We grabbed some household items while we were there too.

After that we went to Red Lobster for a mommy daughter date. We talked about all sorts of things, but especially monsters and unicorns. Angelica really educated me. There are monsters that are microscopic, and there’s a unicorn on Pikes Peak.

When we were finished eating we went home and it was time to do some serious housework. Angelica decided to be a buddy helper the whole time. She helped me scoop lavender into a new container to make the kitchen smell nice. She helped put away the towels that I folded. She put the detergent in the laundry machine. She put her clothes away in her drawers. She picked stuff up. Angelica was a busy little bee. Angelica wiped down counters with Lysol wipes as well. She helped me take out the trash and the recycling. And this is just a partial list. My buddy helper has been a very good helper today.

We worked on two collages together. I bought a bunch of white poster board awhile back, and gradually I’ve been putting together a collage. Every day or two I add a couple of more materials, whether it is a sticker or a piece of cloth or something. I even have some curling ribbon on there. She helped to add to that one, and then I started a new one that’s going to be just stickers of different kinds. She gave me a hand adding the stickers where they were supposed to go. It was nice to have my little artist-in-residence help me with my projects. One day she won’t be in residence, and I will really miss her.

Part of the afternoon was spent hanging out on the porch swing in the backyard. Now we are unwinding some more and in a little while the babysitter will be here. My Friday night is free and I get to decide what to do with it.

Life Giving Home

This inspiring book by Sally Clarkson renewed the vigor with which I manage my home. I will never be a fantastic housekeeper, but I will try.

Growing up I read that the mother is the thermostat of the home. Her mood and attitude sets the tone for the rest of the household. This book more or less drives that point home. The best thing I can do as a homemaker is be gentle with the people in my home, and try to be cheery. Good homemaking is not just about having floors that are clean enough to eat off (although that’s a good thing to have), but rather it is about creating an environment that people want to dwell in.

This book also gave me a few random ideas for creating a unique, memorable environment for my family. Play music throughout the day. I asked Craig to buy me a speaker for downstairs. He got me a cool little one that changes colors. He also got me an mp3 player and sd card to go with the speaker so I could connect music.

I tried to choose a soundtrack that I thought was interesting and set a tone. I have Gregorian chants, nun choirs, and other Christian music. I also have some favorite instrumental film scores, including some dark ones. I want a house of thinking. of memory, of the surreal. I have a little Evanescence and some Apocalyptica. They make orchestral versions of rock songs.  I have some of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack on there, some a capella, and Adrian von Ziegler.

Maybe that is a little odd, but I think it sets a memorable tone for the house. 

New Furniture!

Craig has been off work from Thursday to Sunday this week. He was so sweet. He bought me a new sofa, a big sectional with an even longer chaise than what I had on the green sofa. The new one is gray and has a huge ottoman. I am so cozy on it.

The initial thought was that if I have to have the surgery that the doctor said I have to have, I will be sleeping downstairs with a cast on. The green sofa is too short for me to stretch out with a pillow and have my leg completely out straight with the cast. Realistically, if I don’t have that surgery I’ll have to have another one. Being in a two-story house, I have to pick a floor. I don’t want to be lonely all the time so I picked downstairs.

Ultimately, what confirmed our decision to get another sofa came from other factors. We could have gotten a futon for me to sleep on, although the futon we found was not very comfortable. But we realize that realistically we should have another sofa. When family comes to visit there isn’t enough room for all of us to sit down. Usually people end up sitting on dining room table chairs for most of the day. Those are nice chairs to have dinner on, but they’re much less comfortable if you’re spending an afternoon on them. Vicki and Joel, Craig’s parents, have come to visit us twice already this year and whenever they come they don’t have a good place to sit. We’re hoping that my parents will be out this year or next, and when they come they won’t have a place to sit either. We definitely feel bad when people come across the country to visit us and we don’t even have comfortable seating for them. On top of that, with the shape of the room, if you’re not sitting on the sofa there’s not really room for you to sit with the family so you have to sit behind everybody.

Besides that, we’ve been needing more seating. Now the green sofa is in the library. I have a comfortable and spacious place to sit and read, or to sit and read to Angelica. It’s still a nice sofa and there is no way that it needs to be trashed yet, so the library is a wonderful new home for it. The big, older chair that was in the library has been moved up the craft room. If I go up there to look at my poetry books I can sit down on that chair and have a perfect view of Pikes Peak while I read. So all in all it worked out.

Housewifing

This morning we ran over to Home Depot. Craig was helping me choose wood for my newest creative adventure – watercolor on wood. When we got home I did a test run. The way the colors spread through the grain is lovely, and the colors stay so vibrant.

After we ate lunch, it was time for school. We did a lesson in reading. It was her first lesson in reading for the curriculum, so there were no actual words in her little reader for the day. It was just sort of an introduction to books, although coming from this house she doesn’t really need that! We fell on a review day for math today, so we will be doing some review, but went on ahead and did the next lesson.

Craig has been working all afternoon and he won’t be home until bedtime. So I am flying solo for the pm hours. And I’ve been trying hard to get things done! After Angelica’s school day was over, I started cleaning the house. I reorganized the homeschool supplies, cleared off the dining room table (which had become a storage space for school supplies and little toys that had been brought downstairs by little hands), reorganized the kitchen to the best of my ability (and I did a lot of organizing…took about two hours), did dishes, took out trash, took out recycling, cleaned out the refrigerator, and began organizing Angelica’s clothes for the trip. In between, I painted with Angelica, took her to the park for over an hour, helped her mail something to her grandparents, made her dinner, and after all that was through I took a hot shower. Now I have some laundry to do, some sweeping, and some mopping. I’d also like to put away my second, though small, round of clean dishes. I am really going to push myself.

Exhaustion is setting in though. I hate this overused analogy, but I only get so many spoons per day. I normally breakup my housework and activity into smaller, shorter chunks. I am just now sitting down after my shower. It is almost seven and I’ve been going at it since before noon. I guess that isn’t a lot, but it feels like it. The shower felt good, but even that took a spoon.

Truly, I love my job. I love being a housewife, and I love being a mom. And I get tremendous satisfaction from a good day of work.  I just run out of energy and stability….quickly a lot of the time. But I’m so glad I’ve done what I’ve done. The kitchen took the longest time. It was in need of a massive organize. We just have a lot of stuff. And I have more to do that I am really going to try to get done before bed.

Tomorrow is my sixth wedding anniversary. We celebrated last week by going to a little french restaurant, and hanging out just the two of us. Tomorrow I’ll be with Craig for our anniversary (and the holiday) in the morning, but he will be working all afternoon and evening. It will be just me and Angelica. I’m not sure what we are going to do – probably have a quiet day.

Okay, well that was my day so far. Now it is time to review Angelica’s speech therapy lesson with her, sweep up, mop, run laundry, and put away dishes!

My New Studio

Today I went a little wild and I tried a small art store at the south end of town. I’ve been watching videos on abstract painting on the Coursera app, and I have really been getting interested in it. I have always loved abstract painting, but through watching these videos I have learned a lot about how to do it. I’m sure I will never be a great artist but I think I could have fun and make some interesting images if I keep trying at it for a while. So I bought textured mediums, paint, brushes, mixing pan, gesso, pallet knives, and some panels and artist trading cards to paint on. I have set up the studio in the laundry room instead of at my craft room desk. First of all my craft room desk is in a carpeted room so if I get paint on the floor, like I did at the yellow house, it probably won’t come up and we will end up owing base housing a lot of money. I really don’t want to have to pay that. But the laundry room has enough space on that big counter for me to spread supplies out and work on creating. And right next to it is a deep sink. That means I have easy access to immediately wash my paint brushes clean. And I can do so in a sink that I don’t have to worry about staining or getting any gunk on. It’s a laundry room deep sink. It is designed for dirt and paint and anything else you can think of. So it’s a perfect environment for me. I’ll be sharing the space with Parsnip, who lives in the laundry room, but so far he seems interested in what I’m doing and he nuzzles my feet.

I’m really going to try to stick with this for a while. I’m not going to give up if my first few images really suck, which they probably will. I’m just going to enjoy the process and see what I can create. And it will be fun to photograph what I create and edit it on my phone and see what I can make out of that. I think this will be a lot of fun.

Homemaking Part 1

I am reading a wonderful inspirational book about homemaking titled The Life Giving Home. It really gives some great suggestions for making a house a home and making sure that the home environment you have created for your husband and children is one of warmth and relaxation and unconditional love and acceptance. There is so much from this book that I want to write about. Mostly good stuff. But I’m going to start out with a post about some aspects of the book I cannot relate to.

The book emphasizes making your home warm and hospitable for everyone who comes to stay or comes to visit. Almost no one comes to stay with us and we almost never have visitors. I am an introvert, but beyond that my husband is downright antisocial. When I want to have visitors over and do something social and welcome people in, he does not want to. So if I’m creating a good home environment for my family it will realistically be one that does not have the doors open to people who are outsiders. Pleasing my husband must come first and he does not want our home to be the center of any entertaining, at least not any entertaining that he has to be a part of.

I would like to have friends over now and then and I can when my husband is not home. But when he is home or if it is a couples activity it simply doesn’t work. But my husband accepts me with all my quirks, and I need to accept him as well. The most important thing is that I create a home that is beneficial for my husband and my daughter. My husband benefits most from having a place to retreat from the world and social interaction, and so I want to create a home filled with things that he loves to do and things that he likes to look at in order to create an environment of peace for him.

Someday, if I have the pleasure of becoming part of a creative community, I would like to be able to welcome other creatives in the my home and discuss books and art. I would like to provide finger foods and nice little drinks, and make my rather extensive library available to anyone who is interested. But I don’t know if I will ever be part of such community. It is so hard to meet people. And if I ever am, for the most part it would probably be best if I attended gatherings at other peoples’ houses unless my husband gave me the okay to hold some get-togethers at our house. Making my husband feel at ease in his house, making it a place that he enjoys coming home to and relaxing in, is priority number one. Essentially, making it a home for him is vital. So that is one type of advice in this book that I personally would have to say has to be ignored for some of us. Whatever you are doing to try to make a home you have to base it upon the needs of your individual family, and my husband needs a retreat from the world. He likes to come home to his loving family, and generally speaking, to no one else.

The other thing that strikes me is all the fancy traditions that the writers of the book, a mother and daughter team, talk about as being important. Of course they suggest developing your own traditions but the amount of work and creativity and thought that goes into some of these things that they do is astounding. Some of them are easy things that I already do, like saying to read your children books. I already read my daughter books. But some of them are elaborate Valentine’s Day projects and elaborate meals and tons of decorating for the holidays. I like to decorate for the holidays a little bit. I do enjoy the holidays. But I have poor organizational skills and I don’t like to overload my house with supplies for any given holiday because then I have to cope with the anxiety of taking it all down and finding a place for it. As for fancy meals, we are people who order pizzas. I’m a horrible cook and my husband, who actually likes cooking, still prefers take out or eating out most of the time. I want my daughter to have fine memories of our meals together so I need to find a way to make them sweet and intimate without necessarily being Gourmet. I am thinking that we should make a habit of praying before meals when we eat out in public. I know about that verse that says not to pray in public like the Hypocrites but to keep your prayers private, but I don’t think that it applies to this as long as we’re praying quietly at our own table. And she and I cuddle a lot when we go out to lunch or dinner so we spend some good time together. When we eat at home I think it would be good to start eating at our lovely little dining room table more often. I want Angelica to have beautiful memories of family meals around that table.

I need to get more creative with the stuff that we do together, Angelica and I. But I am just not what you would call a Pinteresting person. Hand me a pile of popsicle sticks, construction paper, doilies, and watercolor paints and I’m just going to look at you with a confused expression in my eyes. So much of what these women suggest doing is very creative. And I consider myself a creative person. I am a poet. I write poetry all the time. And periodically I practice art. Soon I will be taking up abstract painting. But what I guess it comes down to is not that I’m not creative, but that I do not think like a child. I am not childlike at all. It’s just not in my nature. So I don’t look at kids craft supplies and think we could make this fun activity that would last all month long. I am horrible at coming up with stuff like that and to be honest I don’t really enjoy it. When Angelica gets old enough to tell me that she has developed particular interests of her own, I’m going to try to share in those interests with her so that we can bond. But as long as it’s all on me to come up with things I don’t think it’s going to happen. Plus I’m not sure how good the memories will be if we’re doing something that I actively dislike. I want to build fond memories for my daughter, but I also want to remember having a good time with her and if I have to spend hours preparing something I barely know how to prepare and making it awful at that, I feel like the memories will be marred. I feel like on some level she will know that I did not enjoy it and that I did not want to do it. Kids are perceptive that way. I’m hoping to involve her in things that I like to do, like painting and scrapbooking. I am thinking of starting a stamp collection and maybe she would want to do that. And of course like I said if there was something particular that she wants to I would be glad to do it with her. So if she decides that she wants to take up dance or tennis or softball, I will participate as much or as little as she wants. I will be at every recital and game. But I just don’t have it in me to come up with kids’ projects.

I do want to make sure though that Angelica is enjoying her childhood. I want to make sure this home is a place of joy for her as well. She has a lovely room with lots of toys and parents who adore her. Are there any memories I could make with her with my skill sets that might actually be special to her and that she would get something out of? That’s what I have to figure out and give some thought to as I go through this book. I will never be that crafty cutesy mom. I admire women who are that way but it just isn’t me. I have to design a home life where my family will grow and thrive, but I need to find a way to do it within the scope of who I am. I don’t know how to be anyone else. And it needs to be a restful haven for everyone in the family, including me.

KonMari

Today I went through my closet and threw out 3 full, heavy bags of clothes I don’t want anymore. Some were just plain old, some stained, some too big or too small, and some that I no longer like. I used the KonMari method. If I took it off the hanger and it didn’t spark joy I put it in the bag.

There’s a few things left in the closet, most of which I will probably get rid of. I am on the fence about a few things. Lately I’ve been wearing the same 7 or 8 dresses all the time, and it finally dawned on me that those are the dresses that I like and look good on me. If I liked the 20-30 dresses in the closet I’d be wearing them. But I haven’t worn them in weeks.

I have a new system for my dresses (which is all I wear except for the occasional skirt). I don’t hang them up anymore. I put them in the chest of drawers. This is for two reasons. The first is that I hated putting away my clothes. I have always loathed hanging them up. I can’t explain why. It isn’t hard to do. I just hated it. Well, we recently got a new bedroom suite. We got a bed with built in drawers and compartments, and then a chest of drawers that Craig and I share. One day I decided that since I hadn’t used my share of the drawers, I should put some dresses in there just to alleviate the pressure in the closet. Then I discovered that I loved putting my dresses in the chest of drawers! It didn’t stress me out or feel like a chore at all. I am happy to fold them up and put them away. Now, since I’ve started doing this, I put my clothes away as soon as they are out of the dryer.

The second reason is that I want to limit the sheer number of clothes that I have. My side of the closet was brimming with dresses of all lengths, colors, and styles. It was too much. Even if I had liked all of them, that would be too much clothing for one reasonable person.  By keeping my dresses in a finite number of drawers, I am limiting how many I have. I never want more than 12 dresses at a time. Right now I’ve got about 7 or 8. When those new dresses I ordered fit me I can add four more.  After that, I need to start getting rid of dresses as I buy new ones. Initially I probably won’t even notice because as I go down in size I’ll simply be getting rid of things that don’t fit. But when my weight finally settles at a stable point, I will keep it to about 8 dresses – 12 at most. If it won’t fit in my share of the drawers, it doesn’t stay (or get bought, if I’m not willing to part with anything I already have).

This will also decrease the amount of laundry I have to do, which makes me happy. Back when I used to try to make use of all those dresses I had way too much to wash and put away.

What else can I throw out? What else can I simplify? Soon I plan to replace my old towels and get some more. But that doesn’t really count as cleaning stuff out since I’ll be replacing them. I did a huge purge of craft supplies before we moved. That felt good. If I don’t start scrapbooking again soon, I may consider parting with a lot of my scrapbooking stuff. I don’t know why I don’t want to scrapbook lately, but I haven’t in months. I am so focused on digital stuff and on writing and reading that I just haven’t wanted to.  Tomorrow I think I will go into the craft room/office and just look through my supplies. If that inspires me to start working on some stuff, then great. I won’t start til Monday since my inlaws will be here tonight through Sunday morning and I’ll undoubtedly be busy with them. But I’ll at least go in and see if I feel inspired. If not, I’ll consider what to do from there. Past a certain point if I keep going through my stuff and don’t want to use it, it is time to clear the space and part with it.

I got rid of some makeup yesterday. So that was a good start. I organized the remainder in my brand new vanity that Craig put together for me. I threw old prescription meds in the trash.  That was healthy – and a mark of organization. I don’t need the meds so they don’t spark joy.  (Whereas every time I see my Lamictal I get a little shot of bliss.) What’s next?

Inspiration For Housework

Sometimes it is easy to forget that everything we do we are supposed to do to the glory of God. We are supposed to be joyful in our work. Lately I don’t think I have been joyful enough. The Bible says that all labor is profitable. I should take more joy in my work.

God doesn’t just task us to move mountains. He tasks us with moving mountains of laundry also. When I sweep the floor I should sweep it to the glory of God. When I clear the counters I should do it happily.

Sometimes we do things so much that they become completely mundane to us, whether it is office work or housework, but housework especially seems to fall victim to this. I know it does for me (although I don’t have office work). If you are a stay at home wife or a stay at home mother, you should take special pride in housework as one of your primary responsibilities. Sometimes, though, it is so hard to feel inspired. I mean, some days I wake up in the morning eager to get started. I am not skilled in homemaking, but the basic things I can figure out and am happy to do some days. Other days, I don’t want to touch housework. It’s my job, and I don’t want to do it. It’s not my only job, or even my primary job. My first job is to raise my daughter. It is, however, a very important job.

How can I get more inspired? Today I’m actually pretty inspired already. I organized my new vanity, started organizing the bathroom, started laundry, and I have more projects planned. But other days my well runs dry. I feel depleted and housework seems dreadful.

This is not a post that will give you the perfect answer to your housework inspiration woes. But I do have a few ideas that I plan to start using myself.

  1. Blogs. There are a lot of homemaking and housework blogs with tips, and more importantly, inspiration. Sometimes that inspiration comes from seeing pictures of beautifully organized and put together homes. But more often, for me at least, since I don’t aspire to perfection, I think I would benefit just from following the blogs and reading the articles. Just reading about how important homemaking is, or possible to do lists, or to hear a diary of someone’s day homemaking can be inspiring. So I need to find some good blogs and follow them.
  2. Facebook. Now hear me out. Most of the time facebook is a time suck that distracts you from your housework. But I’ve recently discovered that there are homemaking and stay at home mom groups to help inspire you and keep you on task. There is a group called SAHM Motivational Group, for instance. I’ve joined and slowly been gathering inspiration from there. I am going to look for others as well. Facebook is like any other tool. It can be a drain or a positive in your life. Make it a positive.
  3. Books. I am only beginning to explore this as well, but there are books out there about homemaking and books to encourage homemakers. I hear Martha Stewart has a great one with checklists of what needs to be done and how often. I probably wouldn’t go all out with everything on those checklists. I’m not really striving to have a Martha Stewart type of house. But it could give me a good starting point to work with and maybe make me consider things I’d never thought of trying before. There are books out there, and it might be inspiring and instructive to read them. Some women have an inborn knack for homemaking. I do not. So I stand to learn something.
  4. Have a friend hold you accountable. I’m not sure if any of my friends would be willing to do that, but if someone is that would be great. It would make housework a little less lonely. That is the problem sometimes with housework I think. It is lonely. People who work in offices have camaraderie.

I am going to try these thing in earnest and see if they help me get more done, and equally importantly, if they help me do my housework with joy to the glory of God.

Church Pews, Birthing Chair, Secret Compartments

Today we went furniture shopping and we did something a little bit wild. We bought two church pews. They are white and wooden and one is longer than the other. We are going to use them in the formal living room to be our seating there. I love the idea. It will be beautiful to have a little slice of the church in my very own home. Now I just have to find beautiful pillows for them. We found them at an eclectic furniture store called Platte furniture. There was a lot of really nice stuff in there, some old some new. There’s a grandmother clock that Craig is really interested in and the employees are going to see if they can get it to chime correctly again and if they can we will probably buy it. Craig really likes clocks. Angelica fell in love with a birthing chair. It’s this old, little wooden chair with handles on it and babies have been born on it. Personally the fact that people have given birth on it put me off a little bit (a lot of bare butt and vagina have probably been on that chair, along with all the products of birth) but Angelica loved it and Craig liked it too so that’s going to be a little extra piece for our formal living room.

Then we went to another store and we found a bedroom suite that we loved. It doesn’t come with a dresser and the reason is that there’s a bunch of drawers built into the sides of it and built-in underneath the bed. It also has a mirror and built-in lighting so that one partner can stay up reading while the other one sleeps. It has secret compartments. Seriously. You have to feel around and find them. It has outlets for charging phones built-in, and it has a tray on each side that you can slide out to have a place to put your drink at night. Admittedly the finish is not my favorite. Nice but not my favorite. But the functionality was unparalleled by anything else that we saw. I prefer other finishes but I absolutely love bed sets that have a lot of compartments and shelving and places for books and drawers and that sort of thing. Throw in a light for reading and I’m all set! So we bought it. The bed is being delivered on Thursday and the church pews and birthing chair are being delivered on Saturday.