August 26, 2010

Piles of Things

I vowed to be productive today (or that day...I'm writing in hindsight).

Vacation is coming up. The garden is spilling forth produce in quantities of mammoth size. The hamper is full of dirty laundry. The house is neither tidy nor clean.

My goals are big, the kids are naughty (hmmmm, rambunctious sounds better), and the hours fly by.

We make it out to the garden and pick and pick and pick. Yellow Roma tomatoes, bright red Early Girl tomatoes, and lots of green peppers. Our big red basket fills up and I can barely tote it back to the house.

I've only barely learned to can. Still my fingers are itching to blanch, peel, chop, mix, simmer, pack and seal.

But those goals will have to wait for another day. There are other things to tend to at the moment.

Like baking. On my list of things to pack for our vacation with Adam's brothers, sister-in-law, and our little nephew is monster cookies, zucchini bread, toffee bars, and homemade chex mix. (No. I am not an over-achiever. Nor am I a perfectionist. That would be silly.)

I start with the cookies during naptime, but alas. I have thrown out all my eggs. The brand, plant number and dates all the matched the recall criteria.

This is a huge recipe that calls for 6 eggs. I can't fake my way through this one like I did once with a mixture of corn starch and water (I kid you not. It was an egg substitution recipe I found online. And it did work. I just didn't wanna try it here.)

Alright. Plan B. Call the sister-in-law down the road. Have her sit at the house while the kiddos nap. I will run to town and buy more eggs.

I get back. The kids are awake and crawling on the walls. Adam's home and is ready for supper before he heads back into town for his evening customer. Big deep breath......

Stir. Chop. Reheat. Pour. Mix. Blend. Preheat. Roll. Flatten.


Supper's on the table. First batch of cookies in the oven. Let's do this!

Everyone is full. Their needs are met. The husband is busy being a good tool man. The kids are busy doing...well I don't what they're doing...but they are not fighting or screaming.

Back to the cookies. Thank God for a double oven.

More rolling, flattening, cooling, stacking...and

*Poof* again!

Nine dozen of the yummiest gluten free monster cookies (not that I care if they are gluten free. It's just a great recipe. But I thought it worth mentioning.)

Ahh. Sweet success. I've done my job.

As I clean up the crumbs, some of which find their way to the kitchen floor, my toddlers come running and giggling into the kitchen.

"Are you having fun?" I ask, pleased that Ava has no new fresh bite marks from Jack and that Jack's ego hasn't seemed to be ripped to shreds by Ava's shrewdness.

"YES!" comes the excited reply.

"I made pile!" Jack proudly states. "A big pile!" And with a whirl of laughing and gibberish, they are on to the next room.

Satisfied with their happiness and with my productivity, I pick up the few toys that have strayed from the toy room.

"I'll just quickly clean up their toys" I tell myself as I round the corner into the toy room.

Pictures just do not do this justice. Jack and Ava makes messes every day. But this....this is every tub, every bin, every drawer dumped into a pile, not for the sake of playing but for the sake of making a big pile.

I'm not mad. I just laugh, turn off the light, and go corral the kids for bedtime. This pile will have to wait for another day.

August 24, 2010

There Once was a Barn

It was just over a year ago that we moved to our new home....from only a mile or so away. This place hadn't been lived in for over a year and there was lots and lots of work to do.

In the yard not to far from the house stood this old beauty. I could see her from the kitchen window and she obstructed my view of the rest of the yard.

She had seen better days as was obvious by the caving-out outer wall of the lean on the west side of the barn. And over our first winter at the new place, things must have shifted even more, because glass would fly out of the windows at random intervals once spring arrived.

We felt for safety's sake we needed to tear her down.

And even though we were very excited about the prospect of gaining some back yard space by the kids' fence and cleaning up the yard by the house, we felt a bit guilty for calling in the excavator.

Our neighbor across the road was born here at our "new" house, had grown up here, and raised his kids here. He told us how he had milked cows by hand in this barn and how his dad had attended barn dances in the hay loft as a young man.

Truly great stories. Made us wonder why he ever moved across the road and sold this place. And it made us feel guilt...guilt...guilt.

The structure honestly didn't seem secure anymore and re-furbishing her was just simply way out of our budget. We even had a guy stop by who strips down old structures like this by hand to re-use and sell the materials. He didn't mention anything worth saving.

We also weren't sure how to salvage the cupola at the very top.

We didn't call off the excavator despite feeling a bit sad about the whole prospect, and finally on Memorial Day weekend, the huge machine pulled into the yard to begin the job.

The powerful machine began knocking down the lower portion of all the outer walls. As more and more came down, Adam and I kept saying, "She's gonna go any second now."

But she didn't. She was built back in the days when things were built well, when good materials weren't so dastardly over-priced. She was built for hard work.

Tears welled up in my eyes and I knew my husband felt the same way.

More walls come down. She doesn't budge. We kept reminding ourselves: the outer walls were bulging out and boards were snapping, windows were randomly shattering, it wasn't a safe structure.

Then why won't she just go? Why is she hanging on?

Finally, with a small poof of dust, she finally caves to her knees.

Is it relief I feel? Or just more guilt?

Now to salvage the cupola.

At last, it's tethered and hoisted down to the ground, where it probably hasn't been for a century...or more...we're not sure. 

The cupola has another story of it's own, but I'm not ready to objectively share that one yet.

By this time, I've retreated to the house. It's scorching hot out. And the rest I observe while standing on the kitchen floor.

The hungry jaws of the big yellow critter finish off the iconic structure.

I feel as if I've just practiced some sort of euthanasia.

She had a proper burial. The big yellow critter dug an even bigger hole and a big yellow dozer pushed her in there.

She's there now, just to the east of where she once proudly stood, and a beautiful green lawn is now growing over her. An area of the yard once marked with hours of toil and the sounds of hungry animals is now a place for family games and recreation.

The silo is still there. Some think we're silly for keeping it up when we tore down the rest. But I like it there.

August 23, 2010

Potty Training Mis-Adventures

I've been rather confident with most phases of mother-hood thus far. God gave me these children for a reason so why should I continually question myself. And I've always felt that any confusion over how to deal with "phases" and "transitions" in childhood stemmed from society and it's endless onslaught against the family and good solid parenting and not from my lack of ability or intellect, and mostly not from my lack of an all-knowing Source. When to start solid foods, when to switch to a sippy cup, if my child should sleep with me in bed, if I should let my child cry in his crib, how to discipline......even though I get frustrated, I'm the mom here and I have the final say.

But there is one major childhood phase that I've encountered over the past few months that has me flabbergasted and stripped of confidence...potty training.

I know better than to compare my children with other children, but even so, I can't help but noticing that we're falling a bit behind on this one. And what really gets me is that I know it's MY fault. I've heard all that stuff about wait 'til the kid is ready and blah, blah, blah. But ultimately, I'm the one lacking consistency, motivation, and inspiration here.

So to make light of my potty training predicament, here are a few good stories from our attempts:

I got Jack and Ava a potty chair and very adorable underwear for their 2nd birthday. One morning when we were going to wear underwear and talk about the potty and set timers and such, this is what I found Ava doing with her underwear -
And other than free up one of her pigtails caught inside the panty, I did not help her with this.

A few weeks or months or decades later, Ava was wearing her underwear (on her butt under her pants), and we had been setting a timer all morning and sitting on the potty consistently.....with NO results. None, nada, zip....

We had just cleaned up from an accident and had finished lunch. I was on the phone with my mom and the potty timer goes off. In order to finish  up the conversation, I let a few minutes pass instead of rushing to get Ava on the potty. I hang up the phone and hear Jack say, "Ooooo pee!"

Huh?!?! Didn't I just clean up an accident?

We had a couple flies in the house at the time and I hear them all buzzing over a centralized location in the living room. I walk into the room and find Jack and Ava admiring a rather large BM.....laying on the coffee table.

Yes, the coffee table. My glass coffee table. The one that my husband and I eat off of on our at-home-date-nates.

If I had a picture of this I would post it here...

But it just seemed wrong to photograph this, so you'll have to use your imagination.

Why the kitchen floor?

The name of my new blog is likely not self-evident. What does the kitchen floor have to do with my recordings of life?

In all honesty, it was the most creative name I could come up with. (I always feel bad ending a sentence with a preposition. How 'bout: "...the most creative name with which I could come up.")

But this name has also been on my heart since I first felt the urge to blog nearly 2 years ago.

For me, it symbolizes that relative simplicity of my thoughts and the happenings of my life. And on a much more practical note, it represents where I spend most of my time, do most of my thinking, and observe most of my life - from the kitchen.

Even if I didn't love to cook, the time spent standing bare foot on my kitchen floor is largely inproportional to time spent in other rooms, say with my feet up on the couch reading a great book. I devote so much time to this particular room of the house, picking up the never ending flow of crumbs and dirt that make their way to this floor, stepping over the toys that are apparently much more fun to play with on this floor than on the play room floor, and standing here preparing and preserving a never ending flow of food.

So many times when I cannot pick up both of my babies and give them the love they are craving at the moment, I will sink to the kitchen floor and hold them in my arms as they climb on me and attempt to get the best spot in my lap before the other.

And on one isolated occassion, I completely laid down on the kitchen floor unable to move or get up or carry on one more task, and I was forced to ask myself if I maybe had a touch of depression.

And from the windows of my kitchen, I observe so much of the simple life that transpires here on our small 5 acres.

Which as you can see is mostly the antics of my toddlers in their fence.

And a lot of it makes me smile and laugh, some of it makes me cry, and all of it is stored up in my heart.

August 18, 2010

So here I am...

Well, here I am, determined to try this blogging....again. Not sure where I'm gonna find the time, but I feel compelled to give this a shot. Inspired and encouraged by friends I am here.

My rational for attempting to squeeze one more thing into my already full-to-the-seams day? The almost panic-like urge I feel to record the every day happenings of my life, not that my life is so important, but that life itself, in it's crazy, messy, chaotic (did I say messy?) way, is important. Very important.

(I also think that I need to brush up on correct comma usage.)

Not that this life is permanent; rather it's almost painfully short and is so fleeting when compared to eternity. But I'm coming to see that it's the little things in life, the seemingly insignificant and mondane tasks, that are the truly significant moments in life. Even more important is how I handle those moments. Folding mountains of little socks, washing endless stacks of dishes, making yet ANOTHER meal (when I'm almost certain that I just cleaned up from the previous meal) all while juggling tempermental toddlers and attempting to stay sane for the sake of my husband, become feats of virtue when done to bless my family and bring glory to God.

I'm nearly certain that when I stand before God at the end of this life, He's not going to ask me what my degree was, what position I had at work, or even if I kept my house pristine. Rather, I believe He's going to ask me if I was faithful with what I was given: my dear husband, my beautiful babies, and our little plot of land. And...if I enjoyed the journey.

So, I wanna remember and laugh at and learn from the messy little daily adventures that come our way. Someday I want to scroll back through these years and see how God was working in and through me when I thought I was just doing laundry, cleaning, and cooking.

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish humble tasks as if they were great and noble."   Helen Keller