Restlessness in Motherhood: No Answers Here

I’m waiting for Cherry Pecan scones to finish in the oven.  It is a good thing to wait.  I have been waiting lately for something...but I do not know what it is.  Maybe I am having a midlife crisis?  I feel a constant stirring to do more, grow more.  

And Yet.

I won’t follow my own rules.  I flit from new thing to new thing.  I read about joyful life.  I read about happiness.  I thank God for the joy in my life: a picnic with friends in the front yard.  Four wildflower beds WEEDED!  Delicious whole food baking in the oven.  Healthy and safe family. Friends who bring so much light and joy.  


Always this restlessness.  Being a mama, I am so filled with joy at the subtle upturn of an early morning riser's pouting lip...and so crazed by the chants moments later of “I Hungry!”  and also “Drink!  Drink!  DRINK!” I beg them, “Please use the magic word.  PLEASE.  The word is PLEASE.” I often hurry my little girls to bed eager to be solo with my husband, or solo period....and then I miss them almost instantly.  I miss the warm skin, the amusing patter of their voices as they learn the world.

I worry about the size of my thighs, belly.  I remind myself as an intelligent adult I know how to change them.  And I do not.  I remind myself as a Christ follower there are things so much more important I could spend my obsessive time and energy and thought on.  

And yet...

So I move forward through my day.  Up early this morning what?  I decide to do yoga.  Maybe outside.  But the yard is still cluttered from our weekend work.  The living room has laundry baskets full of waiting laundry.  I cannot find a peaceful space.  I head to my beloved tiny front porch. It is too small for yoga in theory, it could be just right this morning.

I stand there, soaking in the early morning sounds of chirping, sunlight, the freshness of Spring.  I decide not to ruin the porch’s perfection with anything more strenuous than a cup of coffee.  I make a carafe, grab my bible and a journal into which I can pour my crumpled thoughts and sink into the red glider on the porch to just be.

Are You a Purple Mommy? What Kids Might Want in a Perfect Mama!

I’m over at Mumbling Mommy today sharing my angst over my marginal motherhood.  

And showing pictures of my completely disheveled house.  If you missed this post c’mon over to Mumbling Mommy and read all about what I learned about being a better mama.

While you are there, check out the other great posts...and know that Miss Katie has been interviewed by Huffington Post not once but TWICE!  I hope they do not realize I am NOT kewl enough to hang.  Or that I might be in THE bathrobe right now at 4:40pm wondering what to make for dinner.......uh.....guys?

Mamas, Think MORE of Yourselves!

I’m over at Mumbling Mommy blog today, sharing about my body image and my cleavage again.  

Husbands, never assume you have caught your wife.  Both spouses must keep working, wooing and surprising each other.  Just this week my darling hubby brought me flowers!  I was surprised and delighted and repaid him by leaving loads of unfolded (but clean!!) laundry strewn about any place he might like to sit down.  

And I left him with the kids Saturday morning while I volunteered for Mothers and More.

If you missed the original “Cleavage Gets a Drink” post...come visit me over at Mumbling Mommy!   

Check out the other awesome posts and maybe get to hear about Katie Parson’s Huffington Post interview!  Go MAMA!  She’s talking about us mamas and our body image...invigorating and inspiring.

3 Lies We Tell Our Children, Hoping They Are True

My daughters Libby and Portia are two and four years old and I lie to them on a daily basis.  I lie, and I smile, and I take care of them by guarding them from fear and the Boogeyman of Real Life.  That is my job, my duty to them as their Mama.

Here are the three lies I tell my sweet little girls on a regular basis.  I wonder if you will find your own words, your own lies in these three?

 1.  You Are Special.
My two darling young daughters are beautiful.  They are creative and passionate and amazing.  They are made in God’s image and are breathtaking examples of His love for me, for them, for all of us.  But they aren’t anything special to the rest of the world.  Someday they may make a lasting impact with their kindness and intellect by doing good in third world  countries or short term good with their beauty and savvy as fashion models.  But more likely than not, they will be average folks in a world that values only what our media system deems worthy enough to trend on Twitter that day.  Maybe I almost hope my daughters are never special.  I will tell this lie to them because in my heart, within our circle of family and friends, they ARE special.  I will tell them this lie because I want to give them a chance to define this word and themselves long before the world does it for them.

2.  The Good Guys Always Win.
I just reassured my four year old daughter Portia that Toy Story 2 is OK for her to watch even though she gets scared.  I told her “The good guys win!  The good guys always win!”  This is a lie.  The good guys do not always win.  They just don’t.  Sometimes an evil,  sick person comes into a movie theater or an elementary school and just kills people.  No matter what happens after that, some “Good Guys” have lost.  Someday she will be hurt by a catty girlfriend who talks behind her back.  She may fail an exam she studied hard for and then her car might get broken into. Someone she loves might not love her back.  Bad things happen to good people...that is just part of life but my sweet young daughter doesn’t need to learn that lesson just now.  She is only four years old and learning new things already every day.  I will let her focus on the good things in life and let a scraped knee or "no third cookie" be her biggest sorrows.

3. Mommy/Daddy Will Always Come Back.
My husband John and I get date nights so often I hardly think about walking out the front door and away from my kids.  (Oh, lets be honest...any mama who gets to leave the house and their precious kidlets behind moves pretty fast!)  I often am in the car before I realize I didn’t kiss one or both of the girls goodbye.  I imagine my gastly death in a car last words to my kids of no consequence.  No last kiss or "I love you" for them to carry forward without me in their little lives.  Like when my mom died.  There was no expected end.  We were supposed to have six more months before she died so I knew she was dying but we all thought there was time. And so...I know parents die.  We all read the news and the horrors of reality.  Any parent’s greatest fear is the illness or death of their child.  One step below that is fear for their own death.  I cannot bear the thought of my daughters loosing anyone, anything they love, but I must accept it is always a possibility.  I choose to live well to the best of my ability and leaving nothing unsaid.  I succeed, I fail, but above all I just love them the best I can.  

And I lie to them, telling them I will always come back, the good guys always win and they are special because that is how we protect our children.  That is part of how we love them.

What lies do you tell your children?  What lies were you told?  Share below in comments.

Painting a Kitchen With Toddlers at Home: Six Tips to Get Through It Alive

For the love of all that is holy, DON”T!!!  Don’t paint any room in your house with little kids running about...there will be spills, yelling, and worse.  Just do all your house painting before having kids.  Get it out of your system before becoming a parent.  

What?  You currently HAVE little kids and really must paint something or you shall die? Oh My.  Well then, let me share a few tips to keep everyone alive during the process.

I love to cook, many of you have enjoyed my posts from “The Tiny Red Kitchen”.  It is a TINY kitchen...I can stand at the sink and reach both counters and that is IT.  I love it.  I love it so much.  Especially now after a brighter shiny coat of fresh paint!

Here is my kitchen BEFORE.  It was a nice enough dull green color with red painted switchplates. (AND fabu stainless steel appliances came with the house! )   

Kitchen BEFORE

I knew I wanted to keep the is one of my favorite colors, of course!  I especially like turquoise and scarlet red together but that felt like a bit much for me.  I looked at all kinds of colors and shades of turquoise, Robin’s Egg Blue, etc.  It was tricky because it had to go with the red, black and grey counters...and the stainless appliances.  I was trying to make a certain blue fit into my perfect world.  I had lots of help from friends and hardware store employees: Menard’s, Home Depot, Ace Hardware. Susan, Katherine, Whitney, Liz....and John never really weighed in.  Poor Thing.  He knew my kitchen was really all me and I was a special kind of crazy about the process.  (I could’ve painted it scarlet red and trimmed it in black feather boas and as long as the yumminess kept coming forth he probably would have said not a word!  I LOVE this man, people.)

Melanie from Von Tobels in Valparaiso
After looking at colors and living with painted chips and swatches in the kitchen for a long time, I found Melanie at Von Tobels.  Melanie, who not only helped me find the nearest shade to perfect but also helped me carry my purchases AND DAUGHTERS out to the car.  Now that is talent AND Service with real handholding!  She also really looked out for my budget.  I had a jajillion dollar roller brush in my hand and she moved me right to the bargain section I totally missed and helped me find all the odds and ends I needed to do the job.

Little Girls with Grandpa
TIP ONE:  Tape the paint chips up and/or paint a test color ON POSTER BOARD.  This way you can move it to various parts of the room before painting or committing to buying a gallon or more of paint.  The light in my kitchen was so different throughout a day I’m glad I did this first. I painted my wall though...not getting the ‘paint on posterboard’ tip until later.  You can see two too dark colors here in the picture of my Dad cutting fruit with Portia & Libby.

TIP TWO:  Ask your friends for help. They can always say no!  My friends Katherine and Susan have a real eye for color and I do not.  I know what I like, but I do not know what I need.  I didn’t want to waste my time and energy painting and then hate the color.  As a mama with two little kids, every effort was HUGE and I wanted to be sure I got it right the first time.  Katherine clued me in to Martha Stewart colors because they often had a grey tint to them.  She and Susan both agreed I needed a grey tone to whatever blue I picked to make it work well with the counters.  BRILLIANT.  I didn’t know why some things looked too green, too dull or just right.  These two clever girls schooled me in the fine art of paint colors.

Repair work, test swatches on the wall
Then there was cracks and peeling plaster.  That was alllll Susan.  She taught me how to use the tools I already had to do what needed to be done. I had flashbacks to my teenage years doing spackle and sanding with my Dad and Stepmother Peg.  A glass of wine helped me get through that. UGH.  

TIP THREE: Let your patches be imperfect! The tips  on patch work from Susan & Katherine ...smooth the spackle like frosting a cake, and Katherine says to build the patch higher so it is easier to sand down smoothly...and try a damp scrubbie sponge to smooth it after it dries instead of sandpaper if that seems to work for you. Katherine strikes me as a when she showed me the walls of my house were textured, and even a very smooth patch would show...she gave me lovely permission to let go of perfection.  AWESOME.  Thank you!

Plastering: UGH.
I had friends over hanging out in supervisory capacity...but they also kept an eye on the kids for me too.  Fabulous Whitney took Libby the second day while PK was in school so I could work unencumbered.   She made us lunch too!  FABULOUS!  

TIP FOUR:  Get up early or stay up late.  Painting with kids around, there is no getting around that as a huge challenge.  Straddling a scaffold ladder, tiptoeing across my kitchen counters and climbing across the cupboards doesn’t make me too available to get a sippy cup, wipe a fanny or intervene in sibling brawls over My Little Pony possessions.  AND I am not very nice when focused on a big stressful task either.  This doesn’t make for the best parenting if you are a night owl, paint the tricky stuff after the tots go to bed, or like me, get up early and do all the tricky gymnastics before the little kids get up and start asking for things.  Like breakfast. (I continue to be amazed the girls ask for that every day.  Geez.  How much is enough, people?)
Edging, cutting, whatchamacalit

TIP FIVE: Let the Kids HELP.  I saved the wall behind the refrigerator for the girls to ‘help’.  I taped off the floor, did the trim work, and let them at it with little kid coloring book paint brushes. I told them I gave treats to girls who were neat and careful.  More interested in a treat, Libby opted out of ever dipping a brush.  Portia only dripped one drop of paint.  I used their getting to help ‘later’ as a carrot during the day, and they weren’t as messy as I feared either.  I only wish I had taken a picture of the wall PK painted before I ‘finished’ it.

TIP SIX:  Put your edging/trim paint in a ziplock bag or container. I did this and then but the bag in a bowl for structure.  This was an accident.  I needed to be able to close up and stop a lot during the day, so the ziplock bag kept the paint wet and fresh.  I put the bag in the bowl that I used to edge the sceiling in white and it was still dirty, so out of sheet lazyness this worked out.  Putting your touch up paint in a tupperware bowl or widemouthed jar would be neater...and both ways mean you do not have to paint from the roller brush tray which would dry out during the day.  When I needed to stop, which was often, I would wrap the roller brush in a plastic bag and covered up the paint tray too.  Look up good brush care too, online.  Katherine gave me great tips on it but you should get that whole story too.

Kitchen AFTER
I did it all in two days, with help from friends and two little girls who behaved mostly because they know better.  When Mama gets cranky they get outta the way.  Lucky, yes?   (Me, I mean!)  I also made a point to give them attention and fun things to do.  Like watch TV....TWO SHOWS.  WHOOO HOOO!  Here is the finished kitchen!  I need to touch up some places but I am taking a day or two to recover and enjoy my work.  
Kitchen After

We ate breakfast in the bright new kitchen this might be a tiny kitchen, but we have LOTS of good times in it.  I think it is my favorite kitchen in any place I have ever lived.  There is a lotta love and beauty in it.  I am so blessed.

PK and Libby Hamming it Up
Have you painted with little kids around?  I would love to hear your painting with little kids experiences, dramas, and tips.  What should I call my “Tiny Red Kitchen” posts now?Please tell me in the comments!