a deep breath year

the year's turned.  i've rested, and spun in circles, sipped, and dreaded.  i don't want any fewer answers than i already thought i had, but they seem to be slipping away, melting through the cracks like the ice disappearing between the boards of the porch.  it's a waiting place, this month. 


m leaves tomorrow to go back to work, and the interlude together has been rich and savory sweet.  not productive mind you, the measuring stick by which i've always labeled days as good or bad, but that's slowly starting to shift.  good books, pictionary with the boys, or simply getting along for the majority of the day.  these are good things, very good things, and the less i plan the more they seem to happen.  and the laughter when fynn's drawing "gas mask" for me to guess, and lets go with one of his famous farts?  it does a body good.


this year is one that holds new things, including growing plans for change, and i'm finding myself sharing some of m's visions that i've never been able to support fully before.  though i find them absurd.  this particular one is something i've always found insanely embarrassing, but it's only my pride getting in the way.  it IS funny.


i think it's going to be a deep breath year.  i'm settled in to life in the woods ... finding friends, outings, longer trips, knowing when i need to just get OUT and breathe the fresh air, and yet i know we'll be moving on before too terribly long.  so i take a deep breath, and know that the roots i have here are just as real as any i've left elsewhere, and they'll hurt just as much to pull up.  so let 'em grow, and grow deep and fast.  i can't live on the surface, and i can't live half-rooted.  it doesn't feel right.


i'm a worrier by nature.  worry handles things, right?  keeps it under wraps, under my control, and in my hands.  not.  i can plan, hope, work, and all that, but there are no guarantees.  back in the bklyn years (as they're rapidly becoming known, not sure how i feel about that but i can't seem to stop it either) we lived in an apartment we never could afford, in a neighborhood we couldn't afford, eating food that we sometimes couldn't really afford either.  freelancers, new baby added to the mix, and when you look at it on paper i have no idea how we survived.  but we did.  and left without debt.  God does work miracles in my book, and that's one of them. 


i used to get so very stressed though, the tighter the money got, and more and more shut down.  in everything.  irritable, uncommunicative, unresponsive.  wound up in my little cocoon of worry and anger and fear.  fear of what could happen, anger at my husband for not worrying as hard as i was (or at all quite frankly), and worry that my pride would take another hit.  M would eventually get a bit fed up, and suggest we pray together.  which i did NOT want to do, knowing it might crack my shell, but guilting myself into doing it anyhow.  so we would, and inevitably he'd start off with what we were thankful for, including never really lacking for anything and always having things work out in the end, without drama or damaged relationships, even with our landlord.  and i'd seethe next to him, feeling like he was pointing an unfair finger at my worries, which were what was keeping us afloat, dammit!


sometimes i'd hang onto my worry even tighter after that, and let it become a bigger wedge between us.  sometimes, i'd be able to let it go.  rest in it, knowing that it always does work out, somehow, and that the worry really is a curse. 


that there's always some bit of deliciousness in there somewhere, even in the not knowing.  that there's tremendous freedom in letting go. 


i don't expect i'll become a non-worrier, or a calm and never flustered mom (hah!).  but it seems that with age does come a bit of that weight-of-experience thing, and when i look back and see that we really never have gone hungry, or roofless ... yet ... i've come close enough to trust that even if we do at some point, it will work out.   


and if i do start freaking out because we hit a new low somewhere, remind me of this, will you?  i'm sure i'll need it.


deep breaths, and not just the sighing kind.  warm breaths, because i'm close to someone i love.  slow breaths, because i'm savoring.  short breaths, because i'm laughing. 


these are my hopes for the year. 

housemate reflections

we’ve been married 9 years and counting.  we’ve lived alone less than 2 of those years.  i’m not talking kids, but someone other than us+kids has been living with us almost the entire time.  it’s entertaining, it is.  yes, that’s euphimistic as well as true.  there have been some extremely trying situations, several involving bodily functions that i’m not even going to go into.  tmi already, i know.  some partners in living have been great, some so-so, and all challenging in some way. 

i miss my privacy.  intensely.  i don’t have space to myself (cranking the broken record).  i don’t like to share my kitchen, my apartment-sized fridge, my every bowl and coffee mug and pan.  i don’t like other people’s spit in my sink.  strange leftovers in the fridge.  disappearing ice-cream.  bathroom battles, and kids using buckets in desperation.  (and no, not *always* the kids).  sometimes you just don’t have a choice. 

i’ve gotten better at labeling things, so we don’t have too many food issues.  i don’t mind sharing food most of the time either, it makes it feel that much nicer.  but when you suddenly discover that the bottle of silver you were eke-ing out for another couple of weeks is down to half, and it wasn’t you … i get irritated.  i said they were welcome to share.  when money gets tight, i want to yank the welcome mat back into my territory.  when space gets tight, i want to sweep off counters and window ledges of their accumulated THINGS and make a fresh open space somewhere.  even if i do, it lasts for exactly .3 seconds before a mug or an action figure or keys and mail have cluttered it up again.  everything has it’s place, but that place is sometimes behind or under or squeezed in between or up above so many other things that putting it away right now is frankly more trouble than it’s worth.  you can’t live that way. 

so we live in clutter.  I live in clutter.  no one else seems to care or feel it.  I feel claustrophobic at home a lot of the time.  I was raised in a house with minimal stuff and decoration, and i love it that way.  Wood, books, some pottery, fabric, and windows.  Pretty and useful things.  Not much else. 

The pic up there is a combo, a compromise.  I saved the chicken bone from a stockpot, thinking it was beautiful.  It sat on the window ledge for ages.  Van Helsing is one of a gazillion action figures, about 1/16th of which belong to my boys.  The rest belong to the front room, and are happily shared, crowding about the window ledges and tables.  Clifford was found on the roof of our rental in PA when we first moved in, leftover from a previous tenant.  M perched the bone on Van Helsing’s back and put him on top of the toaster.  After one session of burnt rubber, he was moved to the window ledge, competing for attention with bionicles, wedding cake angels, transformers, and I’m not sure what else.  M added the two to Clifford, and once I moved them from the ledge to Fynn’s shelf, I enjoyed it.  A crazy combination, but it works for now.

I have my moments of frustration, many of them.  Muttered a “please don’t tell me BOTH pots have coffee in them!” this morning, before realizing that it was the front room that had used the 2nd pot.  Then I was glad I had, as I’d likely have censored myself had I known.  I need to either confront graciously, or ignore it completely.  No room for pissy sulking in a house this size, least of all from me.

But it really does even out sometimes.  Like at 5:00 today when the doorbell rang, and I found we were the lucky winners of a long-form census thing-a-ma-jig.  She offered to come back, but I wanted it over with, so when D-of-the-front saw Fynn’s antics starting to get to me (I was stacking Cozy Pillows To Order over him on the hallway bench) as he careened between me and the large census-taker-with-the-laptop-perched-on-her-knees-typing-madly, he came and asked him if he wanted to Play Pirates!  Of course he trotted off gladly, and when I finally came back in another 20 minutes later, both boys were having a ball at the table, with a bag of heretofore unseen action figures. 

It’s good for rubbing the edges off, keeping me on my toes, and not letting me be a perfectionist.  Lord knows I’ve try hard enough!  I still can hardly wait, though, to have a house where it’s just us.  At least for awhile.  There will be enough treehouses for the rest, I swear.  I’ll build those first and live in a tent before sharing tight quarters again voluntarily. 

So I don't clean bathrooms

I’ve always hated cleaning bathrooms.  It was one of my chores as a teenager, and while I found it better than scrubbing out the slimy pool liner in the spring, it was near the bottom of the list.  Scummy toilets, water deposits, and toothpaste smears … I found it all distasteful and I’d kind of hold my breath till it was all over. 

I haven’t changed much apparently.  I realized yesterday, when my husband told me the new tenants in our frontroom had cleaned the bathroom, that every all but one tenant we’ve had has done that at some point or another.  Some guests too.  To be specific, I do swipe the sink down fairly often, always scrub out skid marks in the toilet, and swipe around the seat when I notice it’s sticky.  Sometimes I take a wad of toilet paper and wipe behind the sink and toilet.  The floor gets washed when the boys have a splashy bath an I wipe it up.  But it’s never clean.  I’ve never cared enought to do a deep clean, unless I’m about to paint or we have new tenants moving in. 

The last weekend guests we had went and bought new ccrubbies and dishclothes and cleanser, power-scrubbed the long-ago-finishless bathtub back to an actual white, and polished up my kitchen.  I toyed with the idea of being offended for about .2 seconds, then attacked them both with hugs and kisses.  A clean tub!  A white tub!  Amazing.  Didn’t think it was possible.  S’s biceps are 3x the size of mine (not hard to do) and I attribute it all to that.  I do the bare minimum to not be walking in muck, and call it a day.  I’d rather find something new to cook, read a blog, or be outside than clean. 

As for the tenants, cleaning common areas has never been part of the deal.  I’ve always said “If you feel like it” which apparently 3/4 of them have :).  One attacked the bathroom a few days after Fynn was born, with bleach, gloves, cleansers, brushes, and rags … and it was white from top to bottom for the first time in 2 years.  Then the next guy, well, can’t go there, I had to so some really disgusting cleanup after him. Then R was a tidy fanatic, but not a scrub the spots kind of guy.  However the mold growing on the bathroom ceiling, which multiplied at 3x the usual rate since he took 2 showers a day and the room was never dry, got to him eventually and he scrubbed it with bleach and then was worried about the bits of paint that flaked onto his head in the process.  It’s still clean as we’ve finally put a rotating fan in there to dry the room out after showers (no way to put an exhaust fan in).

So if you come to visit and are grossed out by my bathroom, the supplies are in the closet … have at it!  I won’t be the least offended. 

Haircuts @ home

Had the novelty of home haircuts today, but not by me.  Hence the novely.  Had no idea what to expect, hired the guy thro a local parents network, and as he cuts kids for free along with a parent, it seemed a good deal. 

Fynn’s before shots …. I was so loath to cut it but figured it’s the end of rats nests, and the constant hair flipping and eating messes.

I went first, and the only record of it is Fynns …

Which tells an awful lot, yes?  He wet it with a spraybottle, convinced me to do bangs again, and went to it.  Slowly.  Really slowly, and I’m not sure why?  He seemed to know what he was doing, and had confidence, just a lot of checking/rechecking etc.  Hope that’s not the case every time.  It took almost two hours!!  Hmm.  Cheerful, lots of banter, lots of keeping Fynn from running off with scissors and turning on hair dryers, etc.  I was just glad to get up.  You’ll have to wait for an after pic on me, sorry.

Fynn was next. 

He took to it well, with lots of shrieking every time the spray bottle came out. It was pleased squealing, not angry, thankfully. 

He just couldn’t really sit still.  After waiting 2 hours for me, he’d run out of interest and patience.  Had I realized, M could have taken the boys outside, but we didn’t know how it would go.  We put a video on the laptop and propped it on the washing machine, which helped somewhat.  Next time …

He got a cute cut, but it could have been better, which the stylist agreed with but Fynn had no patience left to do more. 

The best cut of the day was Douglas, who wasn’t even sure he wanted one.  He said something offhand about a mohawk, and The stylist said sure, you have the perfect hair for a faux-hawk, and promptly, efficiently, and beautifully gave him one.  Perhaps the 3rd time’s a charm?  Either way, I’m pleased.

It suits him to a T … and he loves it.  Yay for a non-mom haircut :).

Ready for summer, at last.  We’ve had a great week, btw, with lots of work and lots of fun getting done.  One major client site went live on Friday, yay for that.  M took the boys one day, which was heaven … actually billed 6 hours that day.  An impossibility on school days.

Summer is good, plans for the road trip/family time shaping up, and now to find a way to have a few days with just the 4 of us, searching out where to live next.  Hard to have those plans be last in line, trying to get them fixed.

Now off to entertain be entertained by my company :).

painting in the rain

In one of my few inspired parenting moments, we moved the paints to the porch, set up a old easel, and put the boys to it.

they had a ball.  some squabbling over paint, but not too much. 

then is started to rain.  not having painted enough, we rigged an umbrella, and the rain stayed gentle.

hilarity ensued and paint flew


a good day.


A couple of summers back, a delicious internet friend became a real-life-met-in-person friend, and spent some time here in my house.  She took lots of pics that made me see my home differently, not so “needs cleaning” and more “how charming”.  Like this one.

I’ve still been dragging my feet, wondering which end is up, feeling swamped with project after project, and then 2 days ago the sun hit the windows at that magic morning hour when the wood glows, and I grabbed the camera and started shooting. 

The orange chair I bought 2nd hand in PA, at the Salvation Army, and the neighbor caught me, 8 months preggo, trying to lug it out of the back of the car and up the steps.  She insisted on helping me get it to the porch.  It’s about 10 shades lighter now, with bandanas pinned over the worst of the spilling stuffing thanks to Dominic’s scratching.


The ceramic baby boots and shamrocks, a gift from big Doug’s mom.  The boots were a gift to her when he was a baby, hence the sentimental hanging onto them.  They are so not my type of thing it’s funny.  I love them though.

I spend hours in front of this window ledge every day.  Red teapot from the tea co. that was in my mom’s extended family years ago, the funky menacing chicken bone, and that little ceramic dish, a gift from the same friend who inspired this.  Made in Japan, by a master potter from clay from his own land.

My many-shelved kitchen.  I don’t even see them anymore.  I have to climb on the counter, or fridge, to get to most of them, tiptoeing along the front edge of the stove at times.  Glad I’m reasonably nimble.  Brand-spanking-new oven on the right.

Fynn’s kitchen, tucked into the old bricked-up fireplace nook.  It’s barely over two feet tall, and he produces many chocolate dishes there.  Picked it up at a stoop sale intending to make it a spice cabinet, but my counter was too small.  It makes a perfect kitchen.

The entryway, overflowing with shoes, light, jackets, keys, and the sign for FG Park that I delightedly snagged while on a run last fall.  Waiting to find the right place to put it, not on the tiny window ledge there where it fell off on Fynn’s head a few weeks ago.  Head of steel I think.

Those are my favorite corners, the rest of the set is here.  I do love where I live, despite the dramas.