Category Archives: home-making

The Silly Factor

We’re a family that likes to play games: Uno, Blokus, Sorry, Trouble, Charades… We try to make time at least once a week to play together. Another family tradition we have on these nights are the musical stylings of none other than… myself.

I’ve paid my dues, time after time.

So, I’m not exactly musical, at all. In fact, I’m rather tone deaf, but I more than compensate for this with sheer enthusiasm.

I’ve served my sentence, but committed no crime.

No, Mom, not again! Why must she keep doing this?”

And bad mistakes, I’ve made a few.

Cue the groaning and eye rolling. The occasional pillow is thrown my way, but don’t fear, I am spry. I don’t want to die with this music in me!

I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face, but I’ve come through!

This is where it gets loud!

Na-na-na-naaaaah-na

Naaaaaah-na

Naaaaaah-na

I AM THE CHAMPION MY FRIENDS

AND I’LL KEEP ON FIGHTING TO THE END!

I AM THE CHAMPION!

I AM THE CHAMPION!

NO TIME FOR LOSERS, CAUSE I AM THE CHAMPION…. OF THE WORLD!

In addition to illustrating what an incredibly gracious winner I am, this little conert is an example of one of our family’s greatest strengths. We are silly.

When the girls were little Glen use to tickle them while singing “May the bird of paradise fly up your nose, may an elephant caresse you with his toes…” I’m pretty sure HIS Dad used to sing it to him. My Dad preferred to make up his own words and was more likely to bellow bizarre phrases than sing. The words “Total Alabama!” were a frequent exclamation. I have no idea what it means, but it still makes me smile.

I don’t know what it is about kids that awaken the inner goofball. Both my husband and my father are fairly quiet and reserved people in most situations, but they can behave like complete nutbars with their children. It’s fun to laugh at and with each other, but it’s so much more than that.

Our absurd rituals and goofy traditions build intimacy. We create a weird and crazy world that is uniquely ours. Yes, we discipline, we fight, we build routines to make life run smoother… we love each other in hundreds of practical ways. But there’s something precious about the fun times when we truly LIKE each other too.

So here’s me, singing on and on and on and on.

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Embracing the Raggedy Edges

We have a family motto that my Mom-in-law finds deeply disturbing: “It’s not great, but it’s good enough.”

It started one year as we tried to put the star on the Christmas tree. The slightly less than straight, but definitely much beloved tree our girls had picked out. Pretty soon we were saying it all the time – hanging a banner, decorating a cake, writing an email…

I didn’t set out to make mediocrity my goal. It’s hardly the stuff inspirational speeches and parenting books are written about. I do want my children to be wholehearted and hard working; to “work as if for the Lord and not for men”.

Yet I can’t bring myself to mold them into ideal Stepford children. Not only does it require enormous amounts of energy, but it sucks the joy out of life. As a recovering perfectionist I can tell you that the mindset is both exhausting and paralyzing. It’s hard to get anything done, when every little thing has to be done with excellence.

Instead I will train them to pick their battles; to save their time and energy for those things that are most important. I want them to know that they can do anything, but they can’t do everything. Hopefully I will teach them this while learning it myself.

It is hard to accept that I have limits and to live within those boundaries. So when the ghost of Martha Stewart (I know she’s not dead, but she does seem to haunt all women from time to time) peers over my shoulder with a disapproving look, I just say that motto out loud. It’s not great, but it’s good enough.

So here’s us, where life is messy and somewhat crooked… and good enough.


The Flaw

I’ve kept quiet for many years about this. Okay, not exactly, but mostly I suffer in silence. Since I started this blog I have taken the opportunity to sing my husband’s praises through it. And he really is the best guy around – a wonderful father and human being. But sometimes he really bugs me.

It’s not a marriage thing; anyone you spend a lot of time with will find it. That thing, that seemingly insignificant, small thing that irritates you like nothing else. Other people may barely even notice, but this thing will drive you batty. Perhaps I am more neurotic than most, but I have quite a few pet peeves.

Thankfully, Glen does in fact understand the correct way to load toilet paper: from the TOP people! He understands the need to put the toilet seat DOWN (which makes my first thing in the morning dash to the bathroom much more pleasant). I am forever grateful to my mother-in-law for raising a son who puts his dirty dishes in the kitchen, dirty socks in the hamper and dirty self into the shower.

However… he does have one dark flaw, and it is something I “have a thing about”. Each week I collect, sort, wash, dry AND fold the laundry. I’m somewhat anal about it. Growing up, wash day was Monday, and I cannot feel quite right with the world if we have dirty clothes kicking around on Tuesday, or heaven forbid – Wednesday. The rest of my life may be descending into madness – dishes to the ceiling, crunchy floors and grimy bathrooms, but we WILL have clean clothes on Tuesday.

After busting my butt to produce this minor housekeeping miracle, I expect the neatly folded piles of clean laundry, which have been conveniently delivered to each person’s room, to be PUT AWAY. Each of my children puts their own clothes away. It was one of the first chores they learned. Even the baby was doing her part (as soon as she was able to stand on her own – I’m not a monster). It could be because their mom is the laundry Nazi, but I like to think it’s because this incredibly simple task is the least they can do to assist me with my Very Important Work (aka: laundry).

We talked about it when we were first married and he agreed. Not a big deal… totally something he could do… he was happy to help, and yet it hardly ever happened. All week I would eye that basket of clothes on the floor while he rummaged through it for what he needed. Determined not to nag, I decided to just ignore it and see how long it took before he actually put his shirts IN the drawer. Five laundry baskets precariously stacked with a smattering of clean clothes in the bottom of each one and STILL he would rather hunt through the stacks than empty the things.

I like to think of myself as a reasonable, peace-loving human being, but this could very well have pushed me over the edge. He really wasn’t trying to be a jerk or disrespect me in any way. He just doesn’t see it. In fact, he floated the idea of doing away with drawers entirely, just living out of the baskets.

Eventually I realized that this little, but extremely crucial issue could cause our relationship serious stress. Relationships can be destroyed by the silliest things. Friends, siblings, co-workers, room-mates… pretty much anyone who is up in your face long enough for you to want to punch them in theirs. Of course, in the end it’s not about how to fold the towels or who is a better driver, but it can start there. The spark that starts the fire doesn’t need to be a big one. I watched a bitter divorce unfold with the major battle being who should clean out the garage.

I know wives all over the world have been putting clothes away for centuries without complaint, but somehow I got it in my head that I shouldn’t have to. And I don’t, I really don’t. But I decided that this would be my act of sacrificial love. It may not seem that romantic, but it is a marriage builder in our home.

For more than a decade I have been putting shirts, pants, socks and boxers away while repeating the mantra “an act of love, an act of love, an act of love.” To be honest, I don’t think he’s even noticed. Every once in a while that irritation sneaks up on me again, but it’s good for me. Glen says it all the time – love isn’t just a feeling, it is an act of the will. And in our house, that means drawers full of clean laundry.

So here’s me, grateful that he loves me by overlooking the garbage I leave in his car, clipping my toenails in front of the t.v. and even peanut butter breath.


the CAKE

Every year, since time began, the women in my husband’s family have prepared a 4 layer, boiled icing, chocolate drizzled, MADE FROM SCRATCH German Chocolate Cake in celebration of each person’s birth. It is tradition.

In my family of origin that means something we sometimes do, if we feel like it. In in-law”ese” it means, a task or experience which is absolutely required and essential. If you don’t do it, you are out of the family. Or will wish you could be.

Shortly before I was married my Mom-in-law sat me down to have “the talk”. No, not sex; I wish it were that simple. This was about the legendary family cake and my new responsibilities as both a wife and, someday, mother.

You have to understand. I am not what you would call “kitchen friendly.” I think it’s a complex recipe if it calls for a can of soup AND shredded cheese. As for baking – someone like me is why God created Duncan Hines cake mixes (or why God created Duncan Hines in order that some day he would create cake mixes). Why, oh why, couldn’t the family tradition be DQ ice cream cake?

I can regale you with tales over the years of my many struggles with “the cake.” There have been tears, muttered profanity, botched attempts hastily thrown in the garbage, desperate calls to my mother (what does “fold in” mean?) and some years it just hasn’t worked out. But I keep trying. I even sift the flour for pete’s sake.

This year was no exception. A clue as to how it went… here is my husband’s facebook post:

The more my wife curses the cake she’s making for me, the more I appreciate her for making it. She’s very appreciated at this moment…

The cake layers were uneven and gaped. So I put a lot of icing on. The icing didn’t work quite right – perhaps cooled too long (since last year it wasn’t not long enough). It was super sticky, so I piled extra on. It slid down the cake, pooled on the edge of the plate and onto the counter. So, I put more on.

Every year without fail, this project causes me stress and frustration. So I’ve been asking myself – why do I do it?

Because, he makes me laugh…every day, at least once, but usually more.

Because, when we argue he talks in outline format (A…, point 1, 2…) and it’s strangely endearing.

Because, he is crazy about his girls and enjoys being their dad so much he wants another daughter.

Because, he is brilliant (don’t tell him I said this – but he’s way smarter than me).

Because, he is sexy and makes me feel that way too.

Because, he is the first person I want to tell when something good happens.

Because, his is the hug I need when things go bad.

Because, he really, really, really likes the cake.

Marriage is about loving that other person in the way they actually need and want – not the way that is convenient or makes sense to me. Now, I may still moan about this cake with my sister-in-law and I doubt it’ll ever be my favourite thing to do. In 364 days I will re-read this post and hopefully I will have a better attitude for that cake, because he really is worth it.

So here’s to Glen – a better man than I deserve. Happy Birthday G!


The “Honey Do” List

I like lists. Scratch that, I LOVE lists! When the world is spinning out of control and I’m feeling overwhelmed, a list makes everything better. Seriously, it’s better than Prozac.

I can’t think of a situation that can’t be improved with a list. I dare you – try to stump me!

Work piling up and you don’t know where to start? Make a list. Kids acting like orangutans? Make a list of goals and how to get there (even better when they are in on the discussion, something I like to facilitate with liberal amounts of ice cream). Worries keeping you up at all hours? Make a list of things to think about tomorrow.

If you are wondering what brought about this list making infomercial, it is this:

The "Honey Do" List

That’s my summer chore list… with not one single thing marked off. It’s a new low for me. Now I could give you plenty of valid excuses… ahem… REASONS why this is the case, but the truth is they don’t make me feel any less discouraged and depressed about it.

So, I’ve decided to resurrect an old habit. It’s something my sweetheart has enjoyed mocking me for over the years. I’m going to go back to that list and add things I’ve already done – then cross them off with great relish.

  • Spend time with my kids – CHECK!
  • Cuddle my new nephew and niece/god-daughter – CHECK!
  • Figure out how to Skype my sister – CHECK!
  • Go to Bard on the Beach – CHECK!
  • Buy a cowboy hat the Calgary Stampede – CHECK!
  • Sit on the beach with my feet in the sand and my nose in a book (and one eye on the kids) – CHECK!

It seems to me that there’s a whole lot about celebrating in the bible – whole chapters commanding festivals and holidays and dozens of poems with lists (YES, that’s right lists) of God’s blessings. Maybe I’ll add that to my list:

  • Worshiping God by enjoying the life I’ve been given!

So here’s me – celebrating the life I live, instead of obsessing about everything still left to do.


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