Friday, September 21, 2012

Home Improvement

First, a Zen parable:

There was a man walking on a lonely road. He came to a torrential stream and saw that the bridge had been washed away. He decided to spend several days cutting down trees and vines with his little knife to build a raft. He built it carefully and well, and the raft carried him safely across the water.  When he got to the other side, he said to himself, "This is a good raft. If I ever come across another stream, I can use it again."  And so, he carried the raft for the rest of his life.

I asked myself this question: what would make me feel the best right now? Have the least anxiety? Feel ready to welcome a new babe? And the answer is: a very clean and organized house, sparse even, without many THINGS.  When the house is neat and clean and organized, I feel energized.  But the problem is: it never stays that way for very long. So I've really been kicking it into high gear around here trying to get it that way.  And there's really only one way to do it: get rid of stuff. We don't have a huge house, but that cannot and should not be an excuse.  I remember living in France 10-12 years ago and working as an English teacher. A lot of parents hired me to give private tutoring lessons at their homes. I saw a lot of Parisian apartments that way. Most of these families were pretty well off.  And their apartments were teensey.  They made 800 square feet or less work for a family of 5 or 6, and made it seem spacious and luxurious. So I know it can be done. Maybe I need to think like a Parisian, only it's been so long that I don't remember how.... I'll have to figure it out along the way. All I know is I'd much rather have a clean, organized, uncluttered home than a house full of fantastic rafts taking up all my space and energy and patience. SO FAR, THIS is what I've done:

50+ books (I'm not going to write how many over 50 there were b/c it's so embarrassing that I'm such a book hoarder... But no longer!)
5 large full-to-the-brim bags of clothes- mine, Maxwell's, and Mimi's. 
10 plastic Tupperware containers and some other kitchen-y items that haven't been used in many years.
2 large bags full of not-touched-for-over-a-year toys.
LOTS of odds and ends, too many to mention.

Gone for good:
4 ugly throw pillows that constantly got in the way.
An extra crib mattress someone gave us.
A crib (too broken down for donation).
Two wooden chairs I absolutely hate.
Many, many old coloring books, magazines, bunches of half-dried-out markers and dull crayons.
Our old, used-to-the-final-moment infant car seat & base (the stroller broke long ago but got heavy use for 4 years).
An old printer from college that is super out-dated.
A broken sewing machine (sniff...)
All puzzles with missing pieces and all games we never play (sorry Operation and Mouse Trap, but my house is just not big enough for all of us).
A massive sweep of our food storage that revealed quite a bit of expired canned & boxed goods. Our recycle bin was heaping that week.
Old toys that the kids never touch that can't really be called "gently used" anymore.
LOTS of outside toys that have been cluttering up the joint and never get any play.
CD's I will never again listen to and are too scratched up to donate, also I don't have the original cases.
90% of my college papers, tests, and notebooks.
LOTS of odds and ends, too many to mention.

Things are really starting to shape up around here :) .  Some good books that got me going were Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer, The Simple Living Guide by Janet Luhrs, Clutter Clearing Choices by Barbara Tako, and Throw Out 50 Things by Gale Blanke.  I've also found some good blogs and websites devoted to simple living, downsizing, and clutter clearing.  Life is better and easier with less stuff!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Worth the wait.

Every year since we've been married, Chris has wanted to go see the WWII bombers at Oxford airport, and every year we either can't go or we miss it. This year we finally went.  Maxwell was so excited. Mimi had a good time too.

I got in line for this one, but as soon as I got to the top of the ladder, I came right down. It was very claustrophobic in there!  But the rest of the fam didn't hesitate :)

Maxwell was getting pretty excited, it was very cute :)

Going over to the other plane...

The line was shorter for this plane so they wanted to go through again, but this time they wouldn't let Pa come with them!  Then they went through the other plane again with Pa because the line was long.  A sidenote: for the past two days, Mimi has been calling Pa "Shnozzle", as in, "Come here, Shnozzle. Hi there, Shnozzle."  She was doing it all weekend and the whole time we were there.  I asked Maxwell where on earth she got that from, and he said that it was the name of the proboscis monkey on Wild Kratts (a show about animals that they love)!  Mimi! So now every time Mimi calls him Shnozzle, Pa calls her Shnozzle Jr., and of course she flips out!  But hopefully it will make her lay off of poor Pa soon, who is a really good sport, and who in no way deserves such a handle!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Proud Mommy Moment

After a rocky start to our new school, I was so happy to open up their backpacks this week and see so much beautiful, thoughtful work!  So far we have been very blessed with wonderful teachers, and it looks like this year is the going to be the same.  I was anxious about them going to the bigger school, and it was a little crazy the first week with late buses, etc. BUT they both come home happy and giving me great reports :)  SO relieved.  I think we'll be okay after all...
Here are some backpack delights and highlights of the week!

Maxwell brought home this beautiful picture of a lion.  The kids listen to a story and draw what they pictured in their minds, and then write a description (I love that kind of stuff! Maxwell's teacher seems really, really good).  Max wrote, "I drew when the lion got trapped" and drew this detailed picture! I went crazy for this and Max was pretty proud :)

In Mimi's folder I found this note from her teacher. WOW Mimi!  Great job!  Her teacher seems just right for her, and she's settled right in.  Mimi says she really likes school! It's great to see her excited about it after all my worries. PHEW!!!!  So glad I can give this good report!!! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Summer's not over just yet!

Cookout at Pepere's

Reading in the trampoline after school :)

"I love to see the temple..."

Trying to find a picture as beautiful as the actual temple is impossible. But I do like this one :)

We had a ward temple trip to Boston on Monday (Labor Day), and we were able to take the kids. The bishopric and the youth members took care of them in the church building and outside, gave them lunch, and walked them up to the temple. They got to go inside the front room of the temple and ask the temple president questions. I asked Mimi what some of the questions were, and she said, "How many inches are there in the temple?". Good question!

This was the first time Chris and I had been back to the temple together since our own sealing seven years ago!  We have both gone back separately, but never together. That's kind of how it is when you have little kids and the temple is so far away. But this trip was a great opportunity to go back together.  I was a little nervous about leaving the kids, but I really didn't worry at all once I was inside the temple. And when we went to pick them up, they were running around the grounds and playing frisbee with the other kids and didn't want to leave! They had a great time! Yay for temple blessings!

On our way home, Chris and I both said we thought it was the best temple trip yet :)  The things that are required of us so that we can go to the temple are very worth doing!!!  This was a great experience for our family.  The building of the Hartford temple is scheduled to start in the fall, and to be completed in two years.  THAT will be great!