Saturday, July 9, 2011

the pit and the pendulum

Down -- steadily down it crept. I took a frenzied pleasure in contrasting its downward with its lateral velocity.

To the right -- to the left -- far and wide -- with the shriek of a damned spirit; to my heart with the stealthy pace of the tiger!

I alternately laughed and howled as the one or the other idea grew predominant.

~Edgar Allen Poe

I am so silly! I felt all lame about my last post because all week there were zero comments, and I figured well, it had just been so long since I wrote that obviously no one was reading my blog anymore. Then today I logged in to add something to my sidebar, and saw all your comments waiting for moderation! Thank you so much! (I've turned off the moderation now. :)

I have thought and thought about the things you said, and am so grateful for the wisdom you shared. I feel better about how I'm doing. I think you're right--I do still have the most important things in the right place in my life.

You know, last year my only real goal was to enjoy my life, especially my children and my last baby during her year of babyhood. I wrote about that, as you may recall. :) I achieved that goal brilliantly--it was truly one of the best years of my life.

Unfortunately, while it is very rewarding as a mother to simply enjoy your children, it is not very good for your house. My house was *not* tidy! I started to get embarrassed at having to apologize when people came over for the same messes that were there the LAST time they had come over. I began to mull over the fact that I am raising future homeowners and parents and wonder how they will remember my homemaking skills. And, as I tripped for the umpteenth time over the pile of framed pictures waiting to be put back on the walls of the boys' room--a pile that has sat in our hallway for a year and three months now!--I made a solemn vow that my children, and especially my daughter, would certainly NOT remember their mother as such a slovenly housekeeper, even if it meant less enjoyment of my time with them!

It is a challenge to raise 3 boys and 1 girl in a 3-bedroom house of less than 1400 sq ft. Sometimes I start to bemoan my fate, then of course, I try to repent for being ungrateful. I am so inspired by my mom's parents, my Grandma and Grandpa McCleve, who raised their ten children in a 2-bedroom house with ONE bathroom. And not only lived to tell about it, but have an amazing, faithful set of posterity to show for it! I am so spoiled with my 2.5 bathrooms, etc. So yes, I know I can do it, if they could do it with less.

Our whole philosophy with the house when we bought it was to live in it for a few years (we took an adjustable-rate mortgage), then move to a bigger one. We figured that probably DC would have a new/better job by then and we would have to sell anyway. Seven years and a major recession later, we are definitely rethinking. The good news is that the adjusting rate has actually reduced our mortgage payments! (Score!) But now what do we do? The market is great for refinancing with a fixed rate, but we really feel like we are splitting at the seams. Refinance or buy bigger?

So I guess the reason I explain all that is because it shows why I am trying to glorify our house. :) We figured that if we stayed, it sure needed to be decluttered and reorganized so that we don't have to sleep on our stuff (it sounds ridiculous, but I can't help but think that's the way we're headed!). And if we sold we'd need to declutter and reorganize and decorate. I figure, if we're going to spend money on decorating to sell a house, by golly I want to enjoy it, too, not just the people buying it!

Hence the very ambitious house goal.

I have a friend whose house is always amazingly clean and beautiful and well-kept. She seems very balanced, and finds time for husband, children, calling, hobbies, staying in shape, etc. I guess I just thought I could reach for that myself. But it's not me, apparently! I think people like that require less sleep than I do. Of course there are always hidden struggles, too, for people who seem to have it all together. (I know if I ever *did* get it all together, my struggle would then be to remain humble! ha!)

So how to avoid the pit of failed goals when the pendulum starts swinging back? How do I balance enjoying the precious time with my family with taking care of their needs and having a "house of order"? I will let you know when I figure that out!

Meanwhile, instead of trying to finish that list of house projects by the end of the year, I am feeling like it would be better to keep it as a next-step list. I'll try allotting some time every day to it (at least during the summer) and just do the tortoise thing.

And regarding the waist measurement goal, I think you're right. It's too much to do 8". Maybe just to see some progress in the right direction (decreasing instead of ballooning!). Anyone have an abs routine they're in love with?

Thanks for listening. Some real catch-up posts are up next on the menu. . . .


Chocolate on my Cranium said...[Reply to comment]

Oh the ever eternal fight of balance! I hear ya with the spending time with children vs doing housework, keeping things tidy bit. Let me know when you have it figured out, okay? :)

Becky said...[Reply to comment]

Aargh! I just wrote out a nice, long comment and it got erased! I'll try and remember it and leave it later. Love you!

Mary D said...[Reply to comment]

I know you have heard this a thousand times but trust me when I say : The time with the kids and DH is THE most important thing right now. The kids grow up so quickly, it seems like only yesterday I was enjoying the time I had with them and now they have all graduated high school. I am blessed that I now get to spend time with my grandchildren. I also know about the house and what you are going through. Something that worked for me was taking two hours a week and doing a family project. Then we were rewarded with play time. For instance: the photos in the hall need hung and you have very capable helping hands to make it a family project then it is a trip to the park to celebrate. It makes it more fun when done together. MOM does NOT have to do everything alone!!!!!!

snbjork said...[Reply to comment]

So, my comment was turning into a mini novel so I'm going to email it to you instead. Love you!

Amy Kay said...[Reply to comment]

Michelle, I know I made a comment on one of your last posts. I just wanted you to know, don't sweat the small stuff. I am sure your children don't think anything about the clutter, etc....they are kids, we are our own worst critic. Also, I have a great workout, if you are intersted.I just started it a few weeks ago. It is really hard working, but I have lost weight with it, when I changed my eating habits. A friend of mine has been doing it for 2.5 months, gained some weight but lost 1.5" in his waist. He gained muscle. Here is the link if you are interested. If this one is too much I have another I do on my off days I can email it to you. I lost 15 lbs with this one, just with changing my eating a bit, and no soda, very little sweets, and this bit of exercise.
It says to do each circuit of exercises 4x, but I can only do them 2x, so I have to work up to that.Letme know what you think. Hugs love to you.

Andrea said...[Reply to comment]

Michelle: You are awesome. Balance is always such a struggle. I have found that I enjoy mixing my projects with family. We do them together when the project allows. We tidy the house together to our favorite music, or paint something together. I almost always have a child sitting on the counter while I am hot-gluing something or mixing something in the mixer; beyond tripping over whatever project may be waiting it is watching you and helping you that teaches them. They won't remember what they triped over. They will remember how you taught them to do something.
Thank you for all of the wonderful things you teach me.

Thelma said...[Reply to comment]

I know you have seen my house and I always seem to be apologizing for my mess as well. But mine is on that bar right in the entry door. It is so handy for so many things. So we load it up and things just seem to glue themselves down.

But there is an answer. It is too intimidating often to think of cleaning up all the mess at once. So I just move one or two things. It helps a little bit. Sometimes it seems that only one thing moved will not help, but it is one less thing that is still there. Maybe once an hour, do one little one to 5 minute item. That is how it all accummulates, so it can be changed the same way. Maybe set a timer and play the game with your kids during the day.

Now back to me. If I could practice what I preach. It is difficult for one person to take care of several others and keep things orderly. I did only have Hubby and me. Now it is really getting bad with two more and two dogs... How do I get cooperation from kids for clean up and not be a "Nag"???

Michelle said...[Reply to comment]

@Mary DThanks, Mary! I love the idea of a family project weekly. Thanks for the reminder that I shouldn't take it all on myself.

Michelle said...[Reply to comment]

@Amy KayThat link is awesome, Amy. Thank you so much! Maybe I'll try it even with DC (we're trying to start exercising together in the early mornings. . . .)

Michelle said...[Reply to comment]

@AndreaSo *that* is your secret!!! You are a genius, Andrea. :) Now that I think about it, I have often seen you in person and on your blog doing projects with your kids. I guess it just never clicked until I read this comment from you! Somehow the way you worded it makes it seem reachable. This really expanded my horizons suddenly, and I am excited to try it. My boys are old enough to really be helpful in a lot of ways, and I think this idea you shared may be key to my progress with the house. Thank you so much.

Michelle said...[Reply to comment]

@ThelmaThank you, Thelma. That is a good idea because you're right--a habit of cluttering things up needs to be changed in order for it to stay cleaned up once you get it that way. Otherwise no matter how much I "get done" on the house, it will keep returning to chaos. I like the idea of doing 1-5 minutes once an hour, and making it a game with the kiddos.
And yeah, adding in 4 more bodies and their stuff like that--that would be hard. Maybe what MaryD said--have a weekly family project?

Vauna said...[Reply to comment]

I would like to lose 8" off my waist too but I'll settle for an inch or two at a time. I do body weight exercises. They're easy to do and don't require any equipment. I spend 10 mins 2-3 times a day doing them. Let me know if you'd like more info on them.

Cindy said...[Reply to comment]

Oh my! I could have written a lot of this myself! I struggle with finding balance on a daily basis. If it helps, I think you are completely wonderful and you inspire me to be a better wife and mom.
Love you :-)

Devin and Melinda said...[Reply to comment]

I really enjoyed your post! It is a constant battle to try to keep everything in balance!

I'm sorry I didn't let you know that we were going to Memphis. It was a last minute trip since we were waiting to hear whether Devin's family was going to be visiting during his break or not (Devin's Aunt from TX was on her death bed so their plans were tentative). We really wanted some diapers from Costco so decided on Memphis and I was aftraid that it would be too short notice for you! Devin's last two breaks are the last full week in August and the last week of December. We may be able to make it on a weekend after this semester...hopefully he will have a better schedule for Fridays!

The Hof family said...[Reply to comment]

Hi Michelle! I saw that you had a blog as well! I wrote you a message on facebook and afterwards I had an idea. Maybe the next time you guys visit your family in Tucson you can make a stop in El Paso and spent a night or two. I'm sure we would have a great time! We have a blog as well. Send me your email address and I will add you to the readers. You are really an inspiration Michelle and I am looking forward to chat with you again when we come visit the next time. I know if we would live closer to each other we would have a blast together. Melissa was talking about you and kept telling me what a great teacher she had and that she loved her new teacher. I didn't want to break her heart and tell her that it was just for that one Sunday! Thank you so much! I will talk to you soon! Melanie.

The Hof family said...[Reply to comment]

Hi Michelle,
it's me again. I just saw that you had the question how to stay close. Being in the military and being apart makes it sometimes hard staying close as well. And with moving a lot you don't always have somebody to watch the kids. What Alex and me did before was have Winona watch the kids upstairs in their bedroom. We feed them a early dinner. I prepared a nice candle light dinner for just Alex and me. It was so nice not being interrupted by the kids and just enjoying each other. We also like to go on a walk around the block or after the kids are in bed just sit down and talk. I had friends going on a hike together. I think on John Bytheway's new CD about marriage are some ideas as well. If something else comes to my mind, I'll let you know.

The Hof family said...[Reply to comment]

I'm not sure if you got my comments or not. If not let me know and I'll write you again! Thanks again for your wonderful sweet spirit! Melissa loves you and is really sad that she won't be in your class this Sunday!