The Pocketbook that Sparked Joy

I recently started reading a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo as part of my quest to go through boxes that piled up after my move in the spring 2014. Those boxes, and more from my childhood bedroom, The Shrine, have been cluttering up my space. It is not so much the physical space of these boxes sitting in an unused room in my house that agitates me, but the mental/emotional space in my brain that feels hindered by them. I realized this when I wrote I May Be a Hoarder and I Know It. Not long after that, my cousin pointed me to Kondo’s book. As I started turning the pages, it became blatantly clear to me that my problem was much bigger than I had realized. So slowly, and in conjunction with reading this book about the KonMari Method, I have been rooting through old belongings trying to decide what to keep, also known as “what sparks joy,” and what to discard.

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On Halloween night 2

In our neck of the woods, trick-or-treat was Thursday evening.

That information is a precursor into the really annoying talking pumpkin we own that sings a song that goes like this…

I’m out of my skull on Halloween.

I’ll find a way to make you scream.

I’ll be everywhere on Halloween.

I’ll find you and I’ll scare you.

Ahahaha (evil laugh).

That’s right.

On Halloween night.

On Halloween night.

On Halloweeeeeeen.

Ahahahahahahaha (evil laugh).

I’ve written about it before, which begs the title On Halloween night 2. Not exactly like a horror movie, but more like a happy mommy remembrance, like the lyrics, all over again.

That pumpkin has claimed his place as the “it” toy that my kids and their friends are going to remember from Halloween. That creepy voice that they love and get scared of all at the same time. That voice that played nonstop tonight in the already noisy background of multiple families joined together in camaraderie.

Kids, costumes, chili, cornbread, homemade wine, candy, friendship and fun beckoned my door tonight. Buckets of candy chased nine kids into our home after an evening of trick-or-treating.

I found a half eaten lollypop under the couch and few Snickers bars in my daughter’s toy baby cradle as I cleaned up long after the guests had gone and my kids were in bed. On both accounts, I smiled.

My husband wore the same clown wig he’s been wearing for a few years, and I wore my, now traditional, cat mask. As a parent, it was one of those nights that I wonder who had more fun — us or the kids?

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Now the day is over. The annoying talking pumpkin, the spider candelabra, and the decorations are all put away until next year. The kitchen is clean; the house is quiet.

When my kids wake up, the magic will be gone. Their candy has been secretly screened (by me!), yet their buckets are in the same position they left them. They will feel enough ownership to remember the magic, yet a controlled (I hope) desire to make it last.

Tomorrow we will lounge in our pajamas and watch movies and know that another spooky night has graced our doorstep.

Happy Halloween, even if a few days early for most!

Seven on Sunday 5:6 – CONFESS

List of Seven on Sunday is a weekly column that I write intended to entertain avid readers with short attention spans who like avoiding the real world at all cost on weekends. This column, written in a newspaper parody form,  falls most closely into the genre of creative nonfiction. Derived from my own life, the content is loosely structured around sections in a traditional newspaper. 

1. News — 

Today is Tuesday. Not Sunday.

Given my track record on meeting my own deadline for this Sunday column, something is clearly not working. Seven on Sunday is going by the wayside for a while.

I am a hobby blogger who, alongside my real job as a stay at home mom, has experimented with all sorts of writing styles and content. When something does not work out, it is really no big deal. I make changes, take breaks, recalibrate, and dream up the next idea as I gain another layer of experience to, ultimately, help me advance in a writing career at a later date.

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Seven on Sunday 5.5 – INTERRUPTION

List of Seven on Sunday is a weekly column that I write intended to entertain avid readers with short attention spans who like avoiding the real world at all cost on weekends. This column, written in a newspaper parody form,  falls most closely into the genre of creative nonfiction. Derived from my own life, the content is loosely structured around sections in a traditional newspaper. 

1. News — 

Last weekend I got backed up again and didn’t post Seven on Sunday.

I attribute it to two reasons.

  1. I went to Corning, NY to run the Wineglass Half marathon. Traveling up there and back and running 13.1 miles left me with very little energy to write. Or stand vertical for more than a few minutes at a time the rest of the week.
  2. My life has been nothing but a series of constant interruptions by a certain two small children that live at my heels and need me ALL. THE. TIME. How dare I take time to write and center my thoughts with full concentration.

This week I am mindful of all the many things I am thankful for, even on days when I wish I could put a “Do not disturb” sign on my forehead.

2. Weather —

Signs of fall are all around me.

Five of my favorite signs are:

  1. Finding acorns in little sweatshirt pockets.
  2. Picking leaves out of hair at the end of the day.
  3. Pumpkins of all colors and shapes and sizes.
  4. Mums lined up outside of every grocery store and farm stand.
  5. College football every weekend, especially if it involves a tailgate.

These and more make me smile and appreciate how much I love the changing of the seasons.

Lance attended his first Penn State game… and LOVED being inside the stadium and watching the game.

Thanks Uncle Mark & Amy!

Thanks Uncle Mark & Amy!

Vivian got to take a quick peek, but this was her take on the experience…

Ears covered, eyes closed.

Ears covered, eyes closed.

Her favorite part of the experience: Eating a lemonade icy outside of the stadium.

Her favorite part of the game: Eating a frozen lemonade by herself outside of the stadium.

3. Sports —

I completed the Wineglass Half! First half marathon since having kids.

I’ll save the gushing for another post that I’ll probably never get an uninterrupted chance to write, but I had a happy run, felt strong the whole time, and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

With no interruptions.

Moments like these are what I try to focus on in the midst of all the drafts and unfinished business scattered across my desk. Training for the race constantly felt like a hardship among all my other responsibilities, so when I crossed the finish line ahead of my anticipated pace, I felt great deal of accomplishment.

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Wine me!

Thanks for encouraging me to sign up, Amy!

Thanks for encouraging me to sign up, Amy!

The glass finishers medal – a suitable memento for this glass making town.

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4. Arts & Entertainment —

The giant glass pumpkins at the Corning Museum of Glass were absolutely stunning. I’d like this display in my front yard next year. Ha!

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5. Lifestyle —

Corning, NY is also a paradise for all types of dishes. CorningWare, Corelle, Pyrex, you name it!

The world's largest Pyrex measuring cup.

The world’s largest Pyrex measuring cup.

6. Opinions —

I have been thinking a lot about the use of technology in my home right now. Opinions about the right balance of “screen time” for kids is everywhere. We don’t use that term in our house (yet), but I am very much in the process of figuring out the boundaries for television time, iPad time, and computer time – the three types of technology my kids engage in.

How much is too much? At what age should children be allowed to use what devices? What is the appropriate amount of time per day? Should we have “no technology” days? Should I let them determine their own limits and take a more laid back approach to all of this?

Although I have more questions and in-progress opinions on this topic, one opinion has been constant for me: My phone is off-limits to both of my kids.

More on this topic as time goes on and I have some sort of guidelines in place that work for my family based on the ages of my kids (going on 5 and 3). I’d love to hear thoughts from other parents.

7. Comics —

Before I crawled into bed the other night, exhausted after another long day of taking care of people and a pug, I noticed a piece of Scotch Tape on the side of my foot.

Oh right. That was for the small post-race blister on my foot that I let Vivian use tape on because she wanted to ‘bandage’ my boo boo. I was trying to make dinner, and even though she had already wasted almost the whole roll ‘bandaging’ her babies and I didn’t really want anything covering my blister, I appeased her insistence.

The things I do to get shit done.

At the time it was irritating because I had to keep stopping to hold my foot up for her to examine as I was chopping vegetables, but it sure did make me smile when I found it at the end of the night. I guess she wants to take care of me just as much as I want to take care of her.

So about half marathons and parenting?

Worth every hardship and interruption.

 

 

 

When Her Brother is at School

One morning per week, it’s just Vivian and I together because Lance goes to pre-school three mornings per week and she only goes two mornings. Wednesday’s are the morning we share when her brother is at school and she is not. For the last few weeks we have been settling into this newfound mother-daughter time together as she explores new paths without her brother.

As my second child, Vivian hasn’t had the one-on-one time with me the way Lance did during his first two years of life before she was born. That is starting to change, beginning with this one precious morning a week when it is just my girl and me. Next year when Lance is in school full-time it is really going to change, but for now we are easing into the transition.

On our first morning alone together, I drug her to the grocery store and on all of my personal errands at a rapid-fire pace because I had so many things I wanted to get done. In and out of the car, in and out of the car. She did not have fun. I lost my patience. Lesson learned. From here on out no more missed opportunities for time together due to unwelcome rushing.

Since that day, my only agenda on Wednesday mornings is her.

Last week we ventured to the library to play and attend story time together. I suddenly found myself sitting on the floor with her on my lap in a room with other kids her age. I gifted her my full attention, knowing it was exactly what we both needed. No agenda. No big brother to keep my eyes on.

I felt close to her in a new way, and she responded lovingly with relaxed snuggles into my chest. It took me back to when I used to take Lance to story time before she was born. As the librarian read, I admired my little girl as she listened intently, not competing with her brother for the stage.

I loved being at story time with only Vivian last week, and I’ll take her again on our special morning together, but we’ll also venture to other places. We will find fun out of nothing around town as we talk silly and laugh and bond. I’ll give her my unending patience and discover how easy it is with just one kid in tow because I couldn’t see it that way the first time around.

With all of these things in mind, it has been fun helping her unlock some of her own interests apart from her brother during these few hours when we are alone.

Yesterday we found ourselves trying on Halloween masks. It was spontaneous and we picked up whatever caught our eyes. We didn’t buy a thing, yet we walked away feeling full as we talked about trick-or-treating and just how magical it will be.

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Later we walked through the shoe department at Macy’s to beat the rain. I let her try on the “tippy heels” that she told me she wanted. Yeah right, but her smile at my willingness to let her engage in her desire chased away the rainy day blues for both of us. Typically I would have told her, “No we don’t have time or you’re not allowed,” or I would have had to divide my attention to pacify Lance who would have had absolutely no interest in this idea of hers. The moment would be spoiled.

Instead…

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Then she received a freebie make-up bag from the Clinique lady while I bought make-up. Even Mommy walked away with a few free samples from the lady. My girl and I are starting to make a pretty good team.

When we got back into the car, she insisted on sitting in Lance’s car seat.

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She misses him when he is at school and that has been an adjustment for her. He’s her security in a lot of ways, which I love, but I am encouraging and allowing her to walk in her own shoes during these small windows of time. Based on the tippy heels, I’d say she’s making some lovely foots prints.

Stand tall my girl.

Seven on Sunday 5.4 – SORRY

List of Seven on Sunday is a weekly column that I write intended to entertain avid readers with short attention spans who like avoiding the real world at all cost on weekends. This column, written in a newspaper parody form,  falls most closely into the genre of creative nonfiction. Derived from my own life, the content is loosely structured around sections in a traditional newspaper. 

1. News — 

It is not Sunday. It is Monday.

Seven on Sunday didn’t make it to the publisher on time yesterday. (Which basically means I didn’t finish writing it and clicking the blue ‘Publish’ button on my blog until this morning).

Sorry ’bout that!

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Embracing the Imperfect

When we moved into our house a little over a year ago the toilet paper holder mounted on the drywall in one of the bathrooms was loose. Over time, it was clear we had to fix this imperfection.

Jan had to dismantle it completely and move it over a little onto an undamaged area of the wall and remount it properly. The toilet paper holder is sturdy once more.

There’s only one problem.

We have a gaping eyesore on our wall.

Ultimately, his plan was to repair the dry wall, sand it, and repaint it like a proper fix-it-man. But since I’d rather him spend time on the weekends doing important things with the family, like laying on the couch while the kids put on “shows” for us or adventuring around town somewhere, I decided to take matters into my own hands.

Cue the artists.

I mean the children and the wacko alternative-thinking mother.

Always looking for teachable moments, I called the two of them into the bathroom where we played school. As the teacher, I sat upon the porcelain throne and gave them a speech on embracing the imperfect.

In kid-speak I explained to them that nothing  and no one is perfect. That rather we are all flawed and that it is normal and okay.

Turning to the wall, I pointed out the imperfection. As their big-eyes locked on me, given I had just revealed a Sharpie and two Crayola markers, they listened intently as I told them we were going to help the wall feel special regardless of its imperfections.

I told them we shouldn’t hide our imperfections. Instead we should celebrate them, which is why I was giving us all permission to decorate the flaw in the wall as a visual reminder that not everything is perfect. In fact, the imperfect is beautiful and what makes us all unique.

Showing them I was serious, I went first by adding some verbiage. They know writing is my art and seemed pleased. Without being prompted Lance went next and added a green smiley face. I couldn’t have thought of anything more appropriate. Vivian followed suit and added some purple designs.

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Then I told the kids that under no circumstance are they ever to color on the wall again.

Ha! That mixed message outta teach ’em!

Nonetheless, as the metaphorical school bell rang, we had clear evidence that embracing the imperfect is the best fix-it repair job. The wall screamed, Kids live here and we aren’t perfect, but we like it that way!

I am not sure bringing the wall to life and coloring on it is effective yet, but I look forward to continuing the conversation about why we did it throughout the years. I am sure the wall will speak up when the time comes.

If nothing else, our artwork can provide guests with something interesting to look at as they take care of business on the throne. Maybe it can even spark a simple reminder within themselves to embrace the imperfect: the ultimate solution to so many problems.