Archives for August 15, 2011

How we do what we do

Jonny is truly a hands on dad.
Keats made his second basket last week, a small “corn husk” basket.
I made three of these over the course of a few days, birthday gifts for a friend’s little girls.
Larkspur gives Beatrix all sorts of “lessons.”  On this day last week, she was trying to teach Beatrix to knit (in the darkest spot in the house of course, so my pictures are terrible.)
This really was the sweetest moment.  Larkspur is far more patient than I am.  I hope she can hang on to that patience as she grows older.
We don’t have any baby “equipment” with the exception of a little infant papasan that Silas has already almost  outgrown, not that he ever really sits in it.  When he is awake, he is always being carried, usually by me, in a sling.
These are the booties that I finished knitting for him last week.  I had hoped he would be able to wear them this fall.  I don’t think they will fit for that much longer though.
The start of Gabe’s first basket.
He almost finished his basket last week, but gave up near the end.  I will help him finish it this week.
Our local Music Together program held a summer special, so I was able to take Larkspur and Beatrix both for the price of one child.  I truly love Music Together classes, but sadly they are just not affordable for us so we won’t be returning this fall.
I took these photos last week on the last day of class.  Beatrix went from being quiet as a mouse, to fully singing and participating by the end of the session.
The weather cooled off a bit this week, and everyone was outdoors a good bit more than we have been in the past few scorching hot weeks.
I get questions regularly regarding how I accomplish all that I do, with requests for our daily routines and maybe some secrets for squeezing crafting time in on top of everything else that comes with raising a family.
I guess I have been putting off answering these questions, because I honestly don’t know how to.
Every family is so unique, and even within each one of our families, dynamics change sometimes day to day.  What works in my family, won’t necessarily work in yours, actually it probably won’t.  I think it can be really harmful to compare yourself and what you are able to accomplish in your own life with what you see or read on a blog.  While it may seem that I am doing so much, I am not truly accomplishing more than any other mom.  We just accomplish different things, based on where we are at, and what our current priorities have to be.
Without being with someone day in and day out, it is impossible to get a good picture of what their life is really like.  A series of pretty photos of a completed sewing project on a blog make it look so effortless, when in fact, for me, that sewing project was completed in stolen bits of time here and there over a course of weeks, or on a Sunday afternoon that I begged Jonny to take all the kids somewhere (anywhere!) so I could have a break (not even an option now with a nursing baby in the house–but just another example of how dynamics change.)
And if the mom whose blog is featuring that series of photos does indeed happen to be me, you can bet that I desperately need to record that success in the midst of what often feels like one big mess around here.
I apologize if I have given the wrong impression, but I will never be that super organized mom who writes tips on how to do it all, and do it all well.
But to humor those who have asked, I will try and write a sort of haphazard summary of how things work around here….
Much of our lifestyle I owe to my husband, if not all of it.  He is very laid back, and definitely places creativity and adventure at a higher level of priority than say…having a tidy home and yard.  As crazy as this may sound, I actually have learned to let go of having a perfectly clean and organized home in order to be a better wife.
As far as keeping house:
With the exception of my youngest three children (and really Larkspur is going to have to step it up here soon–I am having a hard time with her) every member of this family contributes to housework.  Our house gets very messy, but we never let it get terrible.  We try to stay on top of laundry and the boys do their own along with all the bath and dish towels (but there still always seems to be a pile of clean clothes at the foot of our bed.) I clean bathrooms at least once a week, but certainly not every day.  I can’t live with clutter and constantly battle it, because I happen to live with more than one person who doesn’t mind clutter one bit.
I am beginning to accept though, as my children love to create along with Jonny and I, that we have mostly messy house days in our future.  There’s just no way around it.  I try to do deep cleaning on a sort of rotating basis because I can’t handle being just plain dirty, and just accept things such as the big messy pile of reeds for basket making that is in our living room right now.
We don’t really have set routines outside of eating three meals a day together and nighttime bathing/reading bedtime routines (although bedtimes are approximate and change with the seasons) and a few little things here and there.  I know we have a family rhythm, because our days are pretty consistent, but we often throw everything out the window to get out of here and go do something outdoors.  That is something I also owe to my husband (who does have a full time job, but works from home and has a flexible schedule as long as he puts in his forty hours every week.) Anytime I try to set a routine that goes beyond our bare bones rhythm, I end up stressed out and it only lasts a few days before I realize that I need to stop imposing something on my family that really doesn’t work for us.  I just went though this cycle recently as we started our homeschool year about a month ago, and I thought that this was the year we would become scheduled routine people.  I think I have tried and failed enough times now that I am going to let it go.  Honestly, I do believe my idea that we needed a schedule came from making comparisons–gotta stay away from that tendency.
Regarding knitting specifically:  I keep several projects on the needles at one time, making sure always to have at least one simple somewhat mindless project that I can pick up while I am nursing, or being read to by one of the boys, etc.  I also have a bedtime routine with Beatrix that involves her nursing (yes still!) while I knit.  Once she is asleep, if all is calm in the rest of the house, and I don’t feel needed, I will steal as much as a half hour of quiet to knit.  So, currently that is my regular knitting time.  The rest happens a few stitches here and there.
And then finally, I was asked how I have time to focus on creativity so much with my children.  That one is kind of easy, and the short answer is that it’s just our priority.  If one of my children wants to pursue something, I enable them to do so. I make following their interests priority over whatever I may have had planned to teach that day. I am not ready yet to talk about the ways our homeschooling is changing, with the exception of saying that most everything I had planned has been thrown out the window and we are headed into an experiment of sorts that doesn’t involve excel spreadsheets….
It is probably important that I also mention that we don’t own a television, nor any video games.  There are seasons during which we have allowed our children to watch programs on the computer, but those are few and far between.  I feel strongly about this for my family, but try not to let myself feel bad when say…I am having a difficult pregnancy and really need the break that letting my children watch a few shows provides.
I think I will stop here.  Any questions?  Specific questions are so much easier to answer than general ones.  I will do my best to answer within the comment section.