Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Keeping Up

Lately it feels as if I've been constantly chasing after my own footsteps.
Day by day, struggling in just about every aspect of role as wife and mother, to keep it all together.
Constantly falling just short of ever feeling on top of any of it.

Funny only because it was not that long ago that we had a house full of toddlers, in diapers, on strict nap routines which meant we didn't venture out of the house on a whim unless it came to downright dire circumstances. It was just too hard, psychically, to be out and about for simple pleasures. Or to run trite errands. For a good year I was carting around two babies and chasing after another. It was a rough, long year. By all means, getting out of the house to grab, say, something like milk was a whole event in itself.

Now. It's trying in a whole new way. As is the nature of motherhood, I know. These days its more of a frantic hustle. Weekly. Non stop to and fro. To the grocery store, to the school, to the other end of town to the preschool, to the skate parks, the friend's house, to the library, the dr. appointments. And back and forth and back and forth. The errands, the events, the obligations. All the stuff you don't take into account when your babies are babies. Fresh dedications that come with older children that involve So, Much, Driving. To drop off, to pick up, back to drop off, to help out, back to pick up. And so on. And so forth. Facing the plight of early morning traffic. Clinging to coffee. Buckling the baby. Praying for patience.

On Mondays, for instance, from 8:30 until 3:00 it's a consistent back and forth across town. I dread it. And keep thinking there has got to be a better solution, when deep in my heart I know this is just the way it is at this stage in life. The curse of the carpool, unmistakably, a big chunk of what goes into raising kids. And if then if feeling on the verge of constant failure was not enough, I am also struggling with the overwhelming sense of guilt attached to all that - outside of the kids and their consistent school duties - I also can't seem to stay on top of either. Mainly: laundry and emails, and all the basic social media obligations binding us now'a days. Because as much enjoyment and entertainment as these social connections bring us, let's be honest - at some point, there are certain aspects of it that start to feel like time sucking cyber vortexes which are incredibly distracting and even demanding when you allow it to be.

And then there's the guilt, I know all too often I fall asleep cursing the fact of so many unanswered text messages sitting in my inbox, lost books, unrequited instagram questions and / or complements. Paper work waiting on my time and signature, family facebook sentiments that stand unacknowledged, phone calls needing my attention, medical bills waiting to be sorted, site words to instill, and so on. It's like everywhere I turn there is a something, somewhere, waiting for my full and focused attention. And I just can't seem to get it all in one place at the same time for the life of me.

Naturally, in the midst of such anxiety I can't help but wonder if I must be doing it all wrong. That everyone else out there manages to pull it all together. Seamlessly. That the secret to sufficient time management has somehow escaped just me. And then I start to berate my sense of organization and lack of motivation all over again. Which is when I want to lay in bed, and cry.



And then there are some days, I just let it all go.

I sit in a sea of laundry and kiss the baby. I walk away from a sink full of filthy dishes to drink my coffee where it is clean. I turn off the computer, close the emails and take a bath instead, I watch bad tv and vow to face the weight of those remaining tasks when I can. When energy is renewed. I reveal in the chaos and pat their heads with genuine pride upon seeing that last page of homework complete even when it comes two hours past the time I might have preferred it. I bathe them in spite of the line of chores that call out to me from the other corners of the house. I give up, altogether, on certain things when I need to, and promise to work harder in the face of each new waking day on others.




And I tell myself that maybe, it's never going to come together the way I want it. That maybe, it's just LIFE these days.

On the bright side, the skins of these new stresses have forced me to reconsider many of the life long habits I've come to lean on. And with that have come some drastic changes. Simple, silly things like preparing when I can, the night before, making sure lunches are packed, and shoes by the door. Little things that help ease the load in plenty of small ways. Preparation, in any regard, has never been my strong point so I'm learning more and more to force it. Hanging a calendar has helped tremendously. Having a constant visual for the month in front of me is the only way I get through at this point. Again, something super simple and common to a lot of folks but not something I ever paid much mind to until I felt like every single day was coming at me with a surprise sucker punch around mid morning. Most of the time, begrudgingly, even before I've had my coffee.

Lastly, I've dedicated what energy I do have remaining at the end of each day, to clearing out pieces of the house so that we have more space than STUFF. One factor I've pinned as the reason behind some of this growing anxiety. Weight that comes with clutter is so not worth it. And so far it's been a slow and sporadic endeavor, but I have faith in the finished result. I have to. Otherwise I start the self berating cycle all over again and nothing changes and the weight only grows.


So, there you have it. My state of mind currently. Realizing that a home with four kids is more messy, and harder, and more chaotic than I ever anticipated. But the same goes for the perks of a large family too. So I stand determined to make the most of it in the face of such looming self defeat. After all, the good times always outweigh the bad. We all know that. It's learning to embrace the ride and the tides as we go. Priorities shift, life changes as they grow. New obstacles to endure with every new phase. But the payoff being plenty of new ripe adventures to be had along the way.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

I am lazy these days. I found the first recipe for parmesan potatoes and went for it last week when the craving struck. Then I copied all the instructions, word for word, and pasted it here. Because I figure it was worth sharing in any shape and form, and, because, they were really that good.

So here you have it.



Ingredients
  • 4 cups cubed Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place the cubed potatoes into a baking dish. (The cubes of potatoes should be about 3/4 of an inch on all sides) You can spray the baking dish with a baking spray too to eliminate anything possibly sticking
  3. Pile on the olive oil, garlic salt, salt, paprika, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Using your fingers, or a spoon if you feel inclined, get in to the potatoes and carefully mix everything around until the seasonings coat each potato.
  4. Transfer the baking dish into the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss the potatoes with a pair of tongs. Put the baking dish back into the oven and bake for 10 minutes more. Remove the baking sheet and give them another toss and place them back in the oven and roast until they are golden and crispy.
  5. Season with an little dusting of sea salt and extra parmesan cheese and serve.



Via "What's Gabby Cooking"

Month Four

New sounds, sweet laughter, two new teeth peeking through and nothing but smiles for all and any strangers that happen across your path.

You are instantly excited by whatever face makes an effort to speak directly to you. Young pretty girls who gush about your good looks, big burly old men who take pride in your notable strength, grandmas at the mall, reminded of their own (sometimes distant) grandchildren "about the same age." All met with the same, genuine delight that seems to define your overall nature so far. 

You are a happy baby. Through and through. 
Your brothers still call you "Baby Blue" because of your eyes. Because they are proud of a nickname Arlo pinned on you the week when you were brand new. Boys you watch intensely as they rush recklessly around the corners of this house. Building, breaking, making all kinds of things in front of you. You laugh at their silly boisterous intrusions and cry when they fight, which is often. Adjusting to the temperatures of this house seems to be your strong point. Though you are more than grateful for those long, peaceful morning naps in your nursery after all the early morning chaos has folded and has exhausted you to the fullest. 

You being the fourth baby means that I don't anticipate what's next. I don't even read the updated emails that come to mark each new month. Predicting each new move and milestone on the horizon. Something I gave up three babies ago, seeing how drastically each and every one of them came into such advances so differently. At their own pace. Their own way, on their own time. So I don't know, exactly, what it is that four months should entail, only what we've seen so far. 

And so far, everything I've seen makes me so proud to have you as part of our family.  




Photos by The lovely Ashely Jennett, a new string of photos I will be happily sharing more of here soon. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Monday, September 22, 2014

Six

Last weekend we celebrated a most ethusiastc six year old at our favorite beach, same spot we set up last year to properly ring in "five."

This is the kind of kiddie bash I love the most if simply because it doesn't include all the stress that comes with preparing our own house for a big celebration. The pre clean up and post party disaster linked to every party we've hosted at home in the past, always prove a bit more than I bargained for. But the beach, it's just so easy. With the kids allowed to roam, a few simple decorations hung around the hut, a few random beach toys, and a snack table filled with fruit and sandwiches, it's a good, fun and relaxing way to entertain, as well as a great excuse for friends and family to share a beautiful September afternoon on the sand together.

Leon, naturally was delighted by the attention that comes with a such a party. I know all kids love their birthday but Leon, he seems to love his a little more which is why we have so much fun preparing all the details for his special day. He appreciates all of them. In fact after all the gifts, and the cake and piñata, he asked me to read to him his birthday cards. He made sure he knew which gift came from who and was genuinely pleased by each of them. A metal detector, a lava lamp, a magnifying glass, a trash picker upper, a disco ball and forty dollars, all gems topping this year's (very specific) birthday "wish list," now stacked in various corners of his room, reminding him daily of all the fun he shared on his special day, with the people that love him most.




Happy Six, my sweet sweet boy!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Party Prep

It's no secret that Leon's birthday is my favorite. Or at least the date that it falls on, anyway. Until the arrival of baby Hayes his birthday was the only one in the family attached to a warm season and therefore the cause for hosting such large celebrations. That, and he seems to love his birthday more than almost anyone I've ever known.

This time we are planning on the same set up that worked so well for us last year. Beachside at our favorite spot, with friends, family, lots of food, and one enormous Lion piñata we scored today in a run down local swapmeet for 10 bucks. We actually debated for quite some time seeing that there was a specific request for a Spongebob style Piñata, but luckily Leon seems more than satisfied with our surprise (rouge) pick. In fact he laughed so hard when he got home he had tears in his eyes.
Leo the Lion. So glad he approves.



As for everything else around these corners, it's been quite chaotic to say the least. Adjusting to a new school schedule, one that has us driving circles back and forth around town on certain days, on top of trying to establish even a sliver of routine for the baby to count on, on top of working to get our shop updated with new photos and product, has been incredibly trying for us all. Our days are broken up, filled to the brim, and our weeks passing faster than seems fair. I am plain exhausted. Doing my best to keep up but feeling utterly, and completely bedhind most of the time.

But then I wonder if maybe this sense of sporadic defeat comes with the start of the school year, or a new baby, or four kids, or life in general. What I do know, is that we are always up for any excuse for a party. No matter the effort and exhaustion involved. And celebrating our sweet boy's sixth year is just about the best excuse I can think of.

Hope to share a few photos of his special day, here next week.



In the meantime, hope you all have a wonderful weekend as well,
J

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Desert Friends

Last week I headed to the desert for a short visit with our friends Eric and Whitney, who recently settled down on a decent chunk of property deep in the dusty back lots of 29 palms. A renovation we've watched joyfully from the sidelines, marveling at their steady and consistent progress made apparent with each new visit we've made since the season they first landed there. What I've come to love most about this particular renovation is how every square inch of this place has been constructed with such careful consideration, design that takes so much from what is free and available to them from recycled materials left on the property, making use of their own surroundings, working it to their custom needs and design preferences. Placing equal balance on both practical and artful necessities. A home that in the end, will come to fully reflect everything they love and stand for as artists and lovers of nature. And that, in itself, is something I can surely stand by.

In separate but equally exciting news, Whitney - who's been featured here more than a couple times for various reasons - is on the verge of having her illustrations published in a children's book written by her uncle. It's a collaboration a long time in the making so it's release warrants a cause for major celebration. During my visit I got to flip through some of the initial raw sketches for the book, read the story and photographed a few aspects of it to share (along with clearer details) on The Ma Books just as soon as it is made available for purchase. A link I can't wait to share with you all seeing how much I enjoyed the book myself.

All in all, it was a great afternoon. A perfect excuse to get away for couple hours & catch up with old friends, toast new ventures, introduce our newest boy and devour a couple slices of Whitney's infamous home made gluten free pizzas. A recipe I must remember to track down next time I'm there.

As for life around here, we are, as usual, painfully busy. Tired, but well. I'm hoping to find some time to carve out for some more blog posts here that I have piling up, but it's a promise I know better than to make at this point. We have a full plate. To say the least. And the baby is growing like a weed which means when I do run into spare time, brief as it remains in spite of having the boys at school for a few days throughout the week, I usually just want to sit and play with him. Watching him grow. So that piles of laundry stay put and blogs go sorely unattended for now.



In the meantime, hope all is well on all your ends.
And please keep an eye out for a follow up post once the book is ready on The Ma Books. If you're not following already, you probably should.
Lots and Lots of great woman to read and fall in love there.

Xo
J