Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Bottomless Laundry Basket

We all have that part of our houses we hate to admit to, that we're not proud of. Sometimes there is even more than one. I will share a place in my house that gets sometimes too much attention, but still doesn't get put to rights perfectly: The laundry basket.

For some reason, there are somewhat unique items that make their way into the hamper. They actually even get washed. They get dried. They get folded. They get put into the laundry basket. They are imparted with good intentions. They sit. And they sit. And they sit. And they remain in the basket until the next time laundry needs to be folded. So then, I take them out of the basket and put them on the bed, or the chair, or the dresser. And then, in a hurry, they get put back into the laundry basket since they didn't get put away before bed time. And the morning begins with a full basket of clean laundry that doesn't have a home.

Sometimes they are the same items of clothing that hide out in the bottom of the hamper for weeks, and even months. Sometimes it's because they don't quite fit, or because they only get worn occasionally, or even because they don't belong in any drawer that has been already designated for something else in the dresser. I'm not really sure of the reason behind the bottomless laundry basket. In reality, a person would think it would be beneficial to try to keep the laundry basket as empty at all times as possible, because heaven knows there's more than enough laundry without having it lurk in places that are known only to the housekeeper. One thing I do know for sure though, is that if there's a missing sock, or undergarment, chances are it could be hiding in the bottom of said hamper or laundry basket. So there you have it: one of my deep, dark secrets. Although, now that I've emptied the laundry basket so I could take a picture of it, maybe I'll keep it that way. You know: "Everything in its place and a place for everything". It's a great idea, even in theory….

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Domestic Bliss

There are some days when it feels like being the wife of a rancher is something I was born to do. Today is one of those days. The guys were in visiting over coffee before they did chores. The washing machine is sloshing, the dryer humming, the dishwasher cycling. Laundry is folded and ready to be put away. Lunch is on the stove, sending out an invitation just in time to eat. The kids are playing and giggling, and even Buddy is posing for the camera. An enjoyable winter day in the midst of country life!
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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lessons (re)Learned

One of the things that has amazed me after becoming a mother is the fact that some lessons we thought we learned as kids, we have to learn time and time again, even sometimes as adults.

An issue that my intense, oldest son Benjamin has been trying to figure out is the whole issue of authority and the fact that he can't always make other people do what he wants. After a particularly trying meal-time where he was not liking what we were eating for supper, he ran to the couch in a fit of frustration. After Scott told him he needed to come back and finish eating, he scowled and said, "Why do you always get to be the boss?" He also gets extremely frustrated when he can't make his sister Allison play the way he wants at the time he wants her to.

As an adult, I too have a struggle with that sometimes. Maybe I'm spoiled and have always pretty much had things go my way. Or maybe it's that I have a little higher opinion of my ideas or ways of doing things than I should, because it sure seems that my way is usually a pretty smart way of doing things. When other people don't see it my way it is extremely frustrating for me. Maybe that's why I liked being a teacher so much. I was the boss, and kids listened to me (or at least gave a pretty good attempt most days). I gave an assignment, they worked on it and turned it in (sometimes on time, sometimes 2 weeks late). I requested a meeting with the parents, they came in and we talked about their child (at least most of the time).

As I get older and have more experiences with life and people, I'm slowly learning that I don't get to be the boss all the time, much to my dislike! There are events that have happened that I wouldn't have chosen for myself. There are people that I would not pick to have interactions with. Even through my best efforts to train and discipline my children, they still act like self-centered little sinners some of the time. I'm learning that even though I have pretty good ideas about how things should work in my home and in my community, not everyone agrees with me all the time. And as much as I want to throw a temper tantrum and yell and scream and pound my fists and kick my feet, adults don't do that. We don't lose our temper and seek revenge on the people who dare to thwart us. Even though, deep down inside I really am throwing a fit.

Ultimately, I have to remember that I don't have all the best ideas, all the time (just most). And even if my idea is the best one, not everyone has to go along with me all the time. Things usually work out in the end no matter what. And at some point, I have to learn to let go of the constant desire to always get my way--just like Benjamin is learning right now at age four, and that Allison will have to learn as she gets bigger too. I know that learning to submit to authority is important, because if I can't do that with people on earth, how in the world am I going to that with God? I so want my children to understand God's sovereignty and authority and I'm the one who needs to be able to model that in my own life.

That's probably why God gives us so many chances to learn our lessons: so we can have that kind of mercy on our own kids and on those around us. I just pray God will help me to (re)learn sooner rather than later.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

There's No Place Like Home.

I went to my hometown over the weekend. My parents and grandmother still live there as does my brother and his new fiance; as do countless people that were more or less significant in my growing up years.
It's always interesting, though, going back "home". Malta is like a lot of eastern Montana towns, and has changed a lot in the 20 years since I graduated. Several businesses have closed, changed owners, or burned to the ground. I went to a high school girl's basketball game on Saturday night to watch a classmate's daughter play (she's also the granddaughter of my high school coach). Every time I go to a high school girl's game they look younger and younger. I must be getting older and older! I saw an aunt and uncle, a former boyfriend (8th grade whoo-weee), a former rival--she was friendlier than I've ever known her!!, and a college classmate who was the superintendent of the school Malta was playing. Many of the fans were the same fans that were there when I played. People are generally easy to recognize, if you remember to add gray hair, larger ears and noses, and a few more wrinkles to their earlier faces. Many of my former teachers were still there, still smiling, and still taking tickets and monitoring the doors. There were plenty of new faces, but dressed in Mustang Blue and White, they could have been there 20 years ago too. I had fun looking in the program to find out who was whose kid, and found quite a few of my classmates' kids who were freshman and sophomores. And here I am at 38 with a 2 and a 4 year old!

The thing that is most endearing to me about my visits home (besides seeing my family) is visiting the Malta Community Church. It's a church that's about 100 years old and is a fundamental, conservative (or is that redundant) place filled with people who are like family to me. My piano teacher who has led the choir and directed the music was there. She was my own personal tour guide through the breast cancer process, as she had just navigated her own battle two years before I went through mine. There was my good friend's mom, who was the high school secretary when I was in high school. We spent many an afternoon and Friday night out at there house making pizza for Key Club events and just hanging out. My 4th grade Sunday School teacher and her husband still attend, and I will never forget all she taught me about God's holiness and the reverence which we need to have for the Creator of All. My junior high Sunday School teacher still attends and I still remember my first look into Revelation and the beauty Heaven has just waiting for us. My high school youth group leaders still work with the youth, even though their own kids have graduated and are off in college. And then there are countless people who sang in the choir with me from grade 7 through my occasional visits when I was in college. It amazes me that though they've had 4 different pastors and a major conflict, they remain the most grounded, loving, grace-filled bunch of believers I have ever been around.

It's always a little hard to go home, since the ranch we grew up on has changed hands, and my parents now live in town. But regardless, on Sundays, it always feels just like home in my hometown church.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Phoebe and Fluff

If you hadn't noticed, The Farmer's Wife quit haranguing her readers about taking a kitten off of her hands. That's because she gifted them to Benjamin and Allison for Christmas. While I like giving her a bad time about it, it has been great because they have already added excitement to our house. (And after a week of being home M-F it has been a huge blessing!)

Fluffernutter was chosen specifically for Benjamin, and I suspect mostly because they are very similar in personality. Fluff never met a carpet fuzz she didn't want to play with and she just can't resist needling Phoebe whenever she has the chance. The first evening, Fluff climbed to the top of the recliner, vaulted from there to the high chair which was about 2 ft. away, and then proudly climbed over to the counter. A few showers from the spray bottle have changed her desire to be up on the counter. Fluff also likes to climb into the dishwasher and taste the left-overs from all of our meals. Glad to see someone appreciates my cooking around here!

Phoebe was designated for Allison, and they too are a perfect match, if Phoebe can survive the intense "loving" that Alli bestows upon her. The other morning I looked down the stairs, and at the bottom, there was Allison, sitting with Phoebe on her lap, just as quiet and still as could be. Phoebe has determined if she goes into some small, dark place, she will be safe from all of the affection for a while. Her first choice was a hole in the wall in the basement bathroom that Scott made to fix a problem with the pipes. We had fears of either her using the hiding place as a litter box, or becoming so attached she'd never come out. So Scott put some plywood over the hole. Her new favorite place is right under the middle of our king-sized bed. Then it takes long-armed Daddy to get her out: no one else can quite reach her.

I've always been an "animals belong outside" kind of a person, mostly because that's the way my family always was. We had one cat that everyone was very fond of that lived indoors for awhile while I was in high school, but that's about it. It's been kind of a big step for me to have animals living "with" me rather than "near"me. I do have a bit of a cat allergy, so it will be interesting to see how that goes... in general my allergies have improved as I've gotten older.
The best thing is that both kids are learning to be concerned about "someone" other than themselves. Ben actually volunteered to "scoop the poop" this morning and they both like to feed and water their kitties. Getting 2 and 4 year olds to think of someone besides him/herself is quite an accomplishment.

I'm sure the new and exciting part will wear off soon, but so far Phoebe and Fluff have added a good dimension to our country life!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Today's Take #2

I just have to put a little post on here about one of my MAJOR accomplishments today: I exercised. I actually exercised! The treadmill. My MP3 player. My tennis shoes. My hand weights. All of them got a work-out today. 20 minute warm-up then 20 minutes of upper body weights--3 sets of 12-15. Then a 10 minute cool down. My heel feels pretty good... and my lungs and heart were really excited!! Now to stick with it.... But I really enjoyed it and I even have proof...nevermind the dust on the treadmill.

Reality Check

Almost five years ago, after being a high school English teacher and basketball coach, I decided that living 40 miles from town and wanting to raise a family didn't mix with a long commute and a career. So, I said good-bye to my students, colleagues, and the only identity I'd had since college, and transitioned into being a stay-at-home wife and eventually a mom, when Benjamin Ross was born in April of 2004 and then Allison Lee was born in November of 2006.

The wife stuff was pretty easy when that was all I had to focus on. I could jump on the four-wheeler and zip out to the field to hang out with my husband in the tractor, or sprayer, or combine 'til all hours of the night if I wanted to. Help? Sure honey I can help! One of my favorite things to do was (and still is) to help with the cattle work: moving them, working them, branding them, feeding them. I could get the breakfast dishes done, plan lunch, fiddle around, go outside with Scott, serve lunch, hang out, plan dinner, do the dishes and then spend an evening with my husband, inside or outside if we wanted. The wife stuff was pretty easy to do when that was my only objective.

Now the stay-at-home-mom thing is another story. Laundry! Dishes! Messes! Toys! Potty! Lunch! Dishes! Snacks! Messes! Naps! Potty! Laundry! Messes! This is my life it seems. Did I mention messes? Sometimes I feel like I never get anything done, and that there's no time for anything I want to do. But then I find myself wasting time on things I want to do, rather than on the things I need to do. And then I get frustrated and get into a mood, and then I don't do a great job of either: mom or wife.

Last week, I had a little stint as a substitute freshman basketball coach. I drove to town on Monday, Tuesday and Friday for practice (as well as Wednesday for our church's all-night New Year's Eve party for the youth of the area). Then I had a game on Friday. We also had our older two kids (Haley and Adam) at our house for Christmas break. (Add two more laundries, dishes, and messes to the list). I had a great time! I enjoyed teaching the girls some of the fundamentals of basketball, getting to know a little bit about each of them, telling them what to do, when, and then they actually did it! I also had a great time coaching the game on Saturday. I was a little nervous at first; after all it had been nearly 6 years since I had coached a game. But I found it was like riding a bicycle... it all came back to me in a matter of seconds. ( I even found myself writing the name of my old team and my maiden name in the score book). The best part was that I saw the players working on some of the things we learned in practice, and figuring things out on the floor... We even WON!!! My first-ever season of being undefeated in eleven years of coaching.

And probably the last. Because while sometimes I really fight my head over being home and not getting my ego stroked because I am a cool teacher and coach, I found that I actually enjoy being at home with my kids while they are little, and I really enjoy being at the ranch on a day-to-day basis.

You see, Haley and Adam were just a little older than Ben and Alli are when Scott and I got married. When Haley and Adam come to visit during their various school breaks, I find myself in shock at how much they've grown and matured and changed in the course of their Dad's and my 6-going-on-7 years of marriage. I know that my kids are growing fast--Ben will be in kindergarten this fall--and I'm finding I don't want to miss it. Even those 3 days last week made me miss my time with my kids. And man did I feel disconnected with my husband. No amount of ego-stroking is worth that!

So I've decided that it's time to make peace with the laundry, and the dishes, and the messes, and the lack of "my" time doing what I want to do. Because really, I am doing what I want to do. I'm involved in the growing of our goals on the ranch--taking this wheat and cattle operation and turning it into Scott's and my operation; and in the growing of our children--guiding and disciplining them (hopefully) into people who love the Lord, who love people, and who love the country life.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A New Year, A New Blog

Well, here I am. I've toyed with blogging in a few different formats I finally decided to join the crowd and put my own personal blog together and update it more often. So if you happen by, welcome. I think this is a great way to write down some of the happenings in my life and in the lives of my family members, and goodness knows we have more than just a little bit going on around here. Plus, I've always advocated journaling (all good English teachers do, you know), but never really felt comfortable writing all my thoughts down with a pen and paper. It seems much easier on the computer. So this will be my attempt at journaling, via technology.

Now, I'm taking a page from my dear friend, the Farmer's Wife and listing a few of my goals for the new year. 2008 was a great year, and I'm looking forward to another one, when Benjamin will turn 5 and head to kindergarten, Allison will be potty trained (no more diapers, YES!) and turn 3. Adam is barely 11 and getting so responsible and talkative, and Haley will continue the Junior High years (ugh!) and turn 14.

As for me:
  1. Spiritual:
  • Wake up early enough to start my day with a quiet time and a cup of coffee.
  • Memorize 2 scriptures/month via the Living Proof Blog challenge.
  • Lead a summer Bible study in Miles City.
  • Grow in the knowledge and love of my Lord and Savior.

2. Physical

  • Exercise 4 x week: either walking, weight lifting, or Pilate's.
  • Drink more water, less Diet Coke.
  • Lose the last 15 or so pounds I've been working on.
  • Get physically strong enough to do pull-ups and push-ups.

3. Educational

  • Continue reading one quality piece of literature per month. (Thanks UBC!)
  • Take at least one continuing education course either via the internet or MTSBA, or teaching class.

4. Miscellaneous

  • Finish my chores before my fiddling around (computer time, tv time, messing around)
  • Spend quality time with Alli and Ben in some kind of fun learning activity 2 times/week.
  • Paint bedroom and bathroom.
  • Finish trim and touch-up paint in kitchen.
  • Clean out kids' closets.
  • Paint Alli's room and set up big girl bed.
  • Clean basement closets.
  • Paint and repair basement doors.
  • Touch up basement paint.
  • Get my garden planted before June 15th!
  • Stay caught up on weed-pulling in flower and veggie gardens.
  • Plant some new trees and bushes around the yard (remember to order from NRCS!).

Boy! I have an awful lot to do! But it helps me to write the list down and then refresh my brain with frequent visits to it. Right now I'm going to copy and paste this to a Word document so I can have it in black and white.

Looking forward to my blogging adventure. Hope to see you again soon.