Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer Montage

This has been a banner summer. So many good things have happened, and I had lots of time to enjoy my sweet family and my crazy dogs and my pretty garden.
Life is good.

On this Labor Day weekend, I thought it would be appropriate to remember.

And wherever you are, I hope you are resting and playing and not laboring.
Unless you're having a baby.
If you're giving birth, chances are you will be laboring.
Told you I was tired.
Delirious is more like it.

Best part of Summer 2014!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Savoring the Season?

It's tempting to plant the mums and get out the fall decorations.
But I'm going to resist that because it's still summer.
Yes, Mother Nature is giving us subtle hints that she's
redecorating again.
And schools all over the country are, or will soon be, back in session.
A Facebook friend posted this morning that Christmas is
four months away.
I don't care.

For now, I am going to savor every second 
of this summer season.

My strawberry cream hydrangeas are still gorgeous.
The days are still warm.
The evenings are pleasant.

Soon I'll put these summer arrangements away till next year.
But I'm not ready yet.

Lately, I've been mouthing off about making
every precious minute count.

This means not rushing things, seasons included.

Cozy fires will remain outdoors.

The summer wreath will stay on the door.

Oh, darn you, Pottery Barn! You make rushing the season

Not sure how long I'll be able to hold out!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Doing It All

If there's one thing I've learned in life it's you simply can't do it all, at least you can't if you'd prefer to remain sane.

I'm going into my third year as department chair/teacher at a magnet high school, a job I took because I love kids and I love books and writing. It has been a rewarding change, both financially and professionally. For several years I was part-time, an attempt to keep my hand in my profession while also raising young children. Yes, part-time can be very gratifying, but I also found it to be mostly full-time work for part-time pay.

When this position opened up several years ago, I decided to take the plunge and go full-time. This is a decision I have regretted on occasion if I'm being honest. Overall, however, I don't regret it. As a woman in my late forties (at the time), I feared people would stop asking me to do important jobs if I kept saying no. So, I said yes.

As a mother I feel this has been good for my daughters. They appreciate me more. They help out more. They are interested in my work. Hopefully, I am making them think about their own future professional lives. That said, I am glad, so very glad, I had the chance to stay home with them when they were babies, to nurture and love them (not that mothers who work from the get-go don't do this!). I relish the memories of those days. My only regret is I hope I enjoyed it enough.

This blog has been about house stuff and garden stuff because I love those things, too. And I am in awe of all you blogger ladies who have hit the big-time with your blogs. Seriously, you rock! I started my blog for fun and promised myself I would not stress about the writing. As many of you know, I published three books with Penguin several years ago. For the past two years, I've been hard at work on another novel, getting up at 4:00 AM during the week so that I can write before school, working on weekend mornings, etc. Back in July my agent finally said it was time to send said book out. It's currently under "consideration," as they say. Say a prayer for me that it finds its way to the right house and the right editor.

It's important to live your dreams, my philosophy anyway. I believe God wants us to be happy, to contribute to His beautiful world in whatever way we can: class mom, avid gardener, church volunteer, teacher, writer, friend, blogger. I also believe that God wants us to take a breath, make sure we're enjoying IT (whatever that IT may be) enough. For this reason I am in the process of allowing myself to quit certain things and simply say no to others.

Recently, I politely told my priest I could no longer be a vestry member. While it was only one meeting per month, they fell on Tuesday nights, didn't start until 7:30, and sometimes didn't end until 10 PM. I only had a few more months until my term was up, but boy did I wrestle with this decision, like maybe God would strike me dead if I bowed out early. As it turns out, God didn't send a bolt of lightning my way (thank You for that), and my church seems to be perking right along without my vestry service.

Over the summer I have blogged frequently and enjoyed it a great deal. There are some bloggers I have come to know and love. Blogging is yet another thing I'm reconsidering, though. Do people really need to see my new trash can for the bathroom? Or, do they care that I've recently put a partition around my air conditioning unit? Why am I writing about such things? What exactly does this "contribute" to our world? Conversely, why would I put something as personal as this post "out there" for all (realistically very few) to see? And, yet, when X blogger does a post about a trash can, I actually read the post and even like the trash can, think maybe I'll get a similar trash can. Why do I follow such things? Because I like the blogger and her home, and this hobby of mine seems harmless enough.

Last week my husband was looking into travel lacrosse for our youngest daughter. She's a jock. Already she plays basketball and is on the gymnastics team. Her gymnastics team meets two nights per week, which was really the reason I had to drop the vestry. I said to him, "What are you doing? She's committed to gymnastics for a year. She can't do travel lacrosse, too. It's impossible." He replied, "Oh, I'm just looking."

I thought about this, about all the nights I would get stuck racing to east bumble to some lacrosse game because my oh-I'm-just-looking-into-it husband would have to work late. The next morning I said, "Just so you know, you will be solely responsible for travel lacrosse if you decide to sign her up. I won't go. I won't drive. And I won't be guilted into those things, either." I don't think he believes me. I'm not sure I believe me, but at some point I must admit I CAN'T DO IT ALL, which also translates to MY CHILDREN CAN'T DO IT ALL, EITHER.

What I've learned is that if I try to do it all, I won't enjoy any of it enough. My children won't enjoy it enough.  For now, I have a very full plate, and I want to savor each morsel. I wonder, though, why so many women guilt other women for not trying to do it all, for not being martyrs. We shouldn't do this to each other. In fact, when we meet a mother who is off to join girlfriends for a long weekend or getting her nails done or indulging in something we don't, at least not frequently, allow ourselves to do, we should stop and take note, pay attention, and then congratulate this woman who has decided to really enjoy her life. We should also learn by her example. Chance are she looks better, feels better, and is happier, which translates, most likely, to a more balanced, content home life. I'm not talking unabated self-absorption here. I'm talking normal, healthy self-care. The world we currently live in has gotten out of hand.

What this means for blogging, I can't exactly say. Will I have more posts about trash cans? Yep. I love that simple, everyday stuff, too. But in an attempt to have this blog mean something for whoever reads it, I will strive for honesty, not tell-all stuff, just posts like this one. And I will continue to whittle down my to-do list to the essentials, the really important stuff. I will also put my foot down when my husband and children are being unrealistic about what our family can do. To me, the most important thing a family can do is be together, and this does not include racing from one event/activity/commitment to the next because society makes us feel so guilty if we don't say YES to every cotton-picking thing!

Here's my NO list so far: no vestry, no middle school back-to-school night (she's in 7th, and I did it last year); no blogging unless I feel like it, no travel lacrosse. It's a start, right?

My yes list includes a book deal, fingers and toes crossed (and only if it comes from the right person), family time, dinner at the table, the occasional evening with friends, and at least one outing with a close girlfriend in the month of September. I am calling her right now so this doesn't get lost in the shuffle.

One of our American icons died recently, and after learning of his suicide, I scrawled this on our family chalkboard: "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may." One day we really will be worm food, and I fully intend to step off this crazy carnival ride called suburban American life and enjoy IT while I may.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Baby Baker

We have a baker in our house. Youngest daughter loves to mess things up in the kitchen.
This was her creation this week!

Other than buy the supplies, I did nothing.
The question "Can I bake something?" comes up often, and my reply is
"Yes, but you have to clean up the mess."

And she does.


Her goodies don't last long around here.

I hope this weekend brings you rest and fun and maybe even a cupcake.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Conceal Your Air Conditioning Unit

For quite some time, this has bugged me.

I love having AC on a hot summer day, but 
I don't like looking at ugly units.

Earlier this summer we had a garden party while oldest daughter 
was visiting from California. Everything in the yard was
in full bloom and lovely.

But I really wanted to cover up these units! For a little over $200 I ordered several panels
from an online store, and oldest daughter and I put them up.
We were a little like Lucy and Ethel in the chocolate factory.

But we managed to get the job done.

Much improved, I think!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Organizing for Fall

There were several projects I wanted to tackle over the summer, and
organization was at the top of my list.
The kitchen drawers were a mess, and 
my girls have a habit of leaving their book bags in the mudroom.
As I've said before, I don't like clutter.
Lived in, yes.
Clutter, no.

So, I got busy!

These drawers are finally clean and organized!
Rather than get new liners, I just washed the old ones.

I ordered a new Dash & Albert rug for high traffic areas to better preserve my floors.

And I moved the kitchen D&A rug here.

Storage baskets were from Home Goods, and I found these sturdy labels
Ballard Designs.

Book bags go here. So does all that other stuff!

For now it's clutter free.

We'll see how long it lasts.
Have a happy day!

Linking up with Savvy Southern Style!
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