Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Mama's got a new pair of shoes

I wore really uncomfortable shoes for our graduation day trip to San Francisco the weekend before last. Shocking, I know. I knew they would hurt my feet, I knew they would be a bad choice, I knew I was going to be doing some walking, and I wore them anyway. Because the weather confused me and I didn't have any other appropriate outfits or shoes. 

Anyway, we ended up walking even more than I'd expected. We were running late for the graduation ceremony and tried to shave off some time by parking at the mall next to the university. Instead, we walked about twice as much as we needed to, trying to find our way onto the campus AND still had to find another place to park before the ceremony, once we saw that the mall was towing graduation-goers' cars. 

After the ceremony, we had to hoof it down a pretty substantial hill in my sister's neighborhood. I was stepping gingerly all the way down, thinking how badly I did not want to walk back up in those hateful shoes. I asked my sister if she had anything - anything - I could borrow, just to give my feet a break. She offered up a few pairs, but none that went with my dress and tights well enough to wear out in public. Her well-worn TOMS were just laying there, and I was drawn to them by an unseen force I did not understand. I slipped them on and it was like my feet were being hugged by clouds and kissed by angels. I'm hardly exaggerating.

I wore them for the rest of the day, and then all weekend until I had to put my own shoes on to drive back home. The next morning, I was excited to put on the TOMS again until I realized that I don't own any. I spent all last week disappointed in my footwear. 

There's a chance that I'll be spending Saturday walking around my favorite place in the world. I was getting all excited, until I started considering which of my shoes are up for the task. The sad answer is none, especially when they need to go with warmer weather clothes. So yesterday, I decided enough is enough. I need my own pair (or five) of TOMS. I tried ordering from their website, but they would not arrive in time to wear on Saturday. I called the closest retailer, but they were out of my size. I called the two retailers in the mall one town over and found ONE pair left in the size and color I want. And that is how I came to think it would be a good idea to pack up the husband and child and hit the mall on a holiday weekend. It was all worth it though when I held the perfect pair of Ash Gray TOMS in my hand yesterday and slipped them on my feet this morning. 

I was only vaguely aware of TOMS before I tried my sister's pair on. They seem to be a staple of the fashion inspirations boards I see floating around Pinterest, though. I'm not quite hipster enough to particularly love the way they look, but they go with everything in the sense that they are what they are. I love that they are so comfortable, especially since I'm standing all day, but I really love that they are sustainable and eco-friendly. Even more importantly, for every pair they sell, they give a pair of shoes to a child in need. That's awesome. 

You can read more about the company, the 'One for One' movement, and the story behind the shoes on the TOMS website. Now do a favor for yourself, your feet, and a child in need, and buy yourself a pair. I'm saving up for one in every color and style.

*This is not a sponsored post or advertisement, I am evangelizing totally on my own accord.

Birth Story, part 3

Read part three of Alice's birth from my sister's point of view, at Toes Over The Edge. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Second 1st Birthday Party!

We had another little party for Alice this weekend and despite having to excuse herself for a nap half-way through, she had a great time and so did we! Our friends totally spoiled the birthday girl, she has been so excited to have such fun new things to play with.

I've been busy over the last few months stitching up some flag bunting banners and a matching birthday outfit. I was so excited to finally see it all together. I'll write about some of the details (cupcakes! hay bales! presents!) in the next few days, but wanted to share some photos now!
The party table before the food came out of the oven.
A pink ruffle birthday cake (of course!) and buttered popcorn cupcakes with salt caramel buttercream.
Birthday cake for the big kids and a baby cake for the birthday girl!

Dad gives his first driving lesson.
A birthday dress, headband, and ruffle buns. Priceless.

Fun with static electricity!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Friday, May 27, 2011

A beautiful birth story

As a birthday gift for Alice, and a little bit for me, my sister recounted Alice's birth from her perspective as both an aunt and a delivery room observer. At our little family birthday party last weekend, she read the story aloud to us. It is a beautiful collection of words and feelings, and brings tears to my eyes to hear her thoughts and to remember that day. She is sharing it on her blog today and in the days to come. 

waiting. photo by Shannon David.

Her hair grows lighter

Alice's hair was so dark when she was born, like mine was when I was born. As her hair started to grow in, Jon remarked that it was growing in lighter. For some reason, I didn't believe him. I thought it just looked lighter because there was more of it, it wasn't so short and close together. Soon, other people started to notice and comment, in photos even, and finally I agreed. Yes, her hair was definitely growing lighter.

Only after I gave Alice her first haircut did I realize that I'd cut off the dark hair she was born with. Maybe because the difference is fairly subtle, or because she has so much hair, or because it was wet when I cut it? I just didn't notice or think about it at the time. Finally, I realized that dark hair was just darkening the tips of the hair that falls in her eyes and curls around her ears. It made me cry. 

I gave her bangs another small trim not too long ago, and I think it's finally time to trim the sweet curls at the back of her neck too. There's still a little dark hair left just at the ends, but soon it will all be gone. When the light is just right, when she turns just so and holds still for a moment, I can see the dark streaks and tips. Last night, I took a photo. Can you see those darker strands, just there at her temple and above her ear?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

First 1st Birthday

Alice started her birthday with a drive up the state of California. We headed to the Bay Area for the weekend to celebrate with Jon's family as his brother received his Master's degree. Alice was great on the road, happy as a clam in her new big girl car seat from her Senge grandparents. She only asked to stop once for lunch so we made a pit-stop at In-N-Out. She got sweet potatoes and chicken though, she'll have to wait a while for her first Double Double...

We had a long day on Saturday, but Alice was a trooper. We squeaked into the graduation ceremony just a few minutes after it started, but got to see all the good stuff. At least, Jon and I did - Alice took an Ergo nap. Afterwards, we stopped by Haight Street to see my sister's apartment and give Alice a little diaper change/lunch/play time. My sister had wanted to take a stroll around the neighborhood, but it was windy and freezing and we'd gotten a nice look as we trolled the surrounding streets for parking. We ended up parking almost at the top of the park near her house, so we got to admire the views on our way up and down whilst buffeted by the arctic bay breeze.

After our little respite in the Haight, we headed back across the Bay Bridge to Berkeley for a celebratory family dinner. I was trying to pretend that there wasn't a possibly impending apocalypse, but I'm not lying when I tell you that I was relieved when the proclaimed hour came and went before I drove back onto that bridge. We all arrived to the restaurant before the guest of honor though and were a little taken aback when he texted that he was running late because there had been a small earthquake and the BART trains were delayed. I grew up in the Bay Area and I've experienced my fare share of quakes (1989, anyone?), but I'm still pretty glad I didn't feel any apocalyptic tremors that day. 

Seriously though, if you're in/around/near Berkeley, hit up Jupiter Beer for some great brews (Bison Honey Basil!), and amazing pizza named after your garden variety Roman gods and goddesses. And if you're like me, you'll make your over-tired little angel hang on for just a few more minutes so you can eat a three-scoop bowl of coffee, hazelnut and creme caramel gelato from Almare across the street.

Since Jon's family was all up in the Bay Area for the weekend, we decided to have a little birthday get-together at my parents' house. Our family and a few friends spoiled Alice with some really fun toys. She's been getting to learn and practice her gift-unwrapping skills for a few weeks now and she's getting pretty good. And though she does enjoy a good piece of paper, a bag or a cardboard box, she definitely enjoys the toys inside too!

I love her extra-excited, wrinkly nose smiles.
Plotting how to get her hand stuck in the triangle hole, and admiring her personalized quilt.
She's been loving her all her new sorting/nesting/stacking/rolling toys, and we're glad she has some new and engaging things to keep her busy! 

I was especially touched by the beautiful quilt from my mother (her very first quilting effort!), cross-stitched and personalized by hand just for Alice (inspired by this color palette); and the beautiful words my sister wrote. I asked Jon's mom, my mom, and my sister to be with us in the delivery room when Alice was born and my sister wrote about the experience as a gift to Alice (and myself). She is a talented writer with a gift for evocative prose and eliciting emotion. She even agreed to a dramatic reading of her perspective of the events. I treasure both the story and the experience of hearing her speak it aloud. I'm so glad that Alice got two such special gifts that will mean something to her long after she turns two, and then three, and then twenty-two and twenty-three and beyond.

So that's how she spent her FIRST 1st birthday. We're having another little party this weekend, mainly so I can give her the fancy birthday party experience I want her to have, complete with a hand-made birthday dress and her very own cake. She might not care now and she certainly won't remember but she'll love to see the photos and videos when she's all grown up. And so will I.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday, Alice!!

Dearest Alice, 

I can't believe you are a year old today. It seems like only yesterday we were anxious for you to arrive, watching your due date approach and then pass, and then wondering every day after if it would be your birthday. We were holding our breath; our lives on hold, suspended in anticipation, jittery and bored with waiting.

And then, you were finally here. You were born at 11:59am and the first thing you heard was one of my favorite songs ever of all time. The first thing I heard was your fierce and angry cry. I'm sure you would have rather stayed where you were, but we were so happy to finally see you. I was so busy listening to your strong and healthy lungs that I forgot to tell everyone the name we chose for you.

You were perfect from the beginning. Even the doctor said so. He said you were a remarkably cute newborn. You didn't look like you were beaten up to be born. To us, you were perfect. And you've been perfect every day since (except for the times when you weren't, and then it was probably our fault).

I am honored that I get to be your mama, and feel so lucky that you're mine. You make me want to be the best person I can be so that I can help you be the best person you can be. You've made our lives and our love complete and have brought so much purpose and worth to everything we do, more than I could have ever understood before becoming a parent. I can't imagine our lives without you and can't wait to see what else you have in store for us.

We have big plans for your first birthday but before any of that, we'll take a moment at 11:59am to put on Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al," and remember how our lives changed forever one year ago today. 

Happy 1st Birthday to my little big girl baby girl!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

This time, last year.

This is what I was doing exactly one year ago. The time stamp on this photo is 6:35pm. We're waiting for a nurse to start an IV, and then start pitocin to induce labor. I didn't want an IV and I didn't want pitocin. I remember crying as she was inserting the IV into my hand. As much as I wanted to be in labor and have the baby already, at that moment, all I wanted was to be home with my kitties.

Alice got the memo though. The IV was started shortly after this photo and I went into labor before they could even hook up the pitocin... 

At 6:00pm, I was driving home from work. Last year, I was checking into the hospital to have a baby. Weird.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Alice's Nursery on Ohdeedoh!

I had a super surreal moment this morning as I was perusing my Google Reader. I was scrolling through and thought, 'oh, this looks familiar.' My first sort of instinct was that I was somehow reading my own blog, or an email or something, until I did a double-take and realized it was MY photo, of Alice's nursery, on one of my very favorite blogs devoted to home/design/kid stuff! Totally unsolicited, totally random, no warning whatsoever.

It appears that someone over at Ohdeedoh found the image on my sister's blog, where she was showing off her crafty crochet skills that yielded that fabulous blanket. I was thrilled to read such flattering things about that little corner of our life. It totally made my Monday, and I was a little bit giddy for a while... Hooray for the blogosphere!

Friday, May 13, 2011

The weekend

The weekend is upon us. Lately, I've been wishing that my weekend was actually a few days of real vacation. A few days spent on the sand and in the water, dozing in the sun with a steady flow of cold and boozy drinks, staying up past 8:30pm and sleeping late, nestled in cool, crisp sheets that smell like bleach from the wash and from my chlorine-soaked skin. I saw this photo on Pinterest yesterday and if I could have crawled through my computer screen into this room, I would have. I want to lay down here with salt-crunchy hair and a little sand still between my toes, warmed and tired from the sun. I will have a book, but I will not read it. 

Source: southernliving.com via Collecting Lovely on Pinterest

We spent last weekend pretending that we have a life, visiting with Jon's parents, celebrating Mother's Day, and getting a few things done. It was fun and productive, but I spent Monday wishing I had another weekend day. This weekend, we're planning to get a few more birthday party preparations out of the way and make our first foray into actual gardening by planting a few container trees for our patio. If we're lucky, we may even get to visit with a few good friends. We have a lot going on in the next few weeks and weekends, and though it's all fun and exciting stuff, I'm still fantasizing about a weekend filled with nothing but sleeping and sunning. I guess that can be my motivation to get to work on the yard and turn it into our very own fabulous oasis!

I hope you all have fun weekends planned, whether they are relaxing or productive. Happy week-ending!

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Mother's Prayer

Tina Fey and daughter, Alice, in an American Express ad. 2007.
I pray some version of this prayer daily, at least. And when I look into my own Alice's sweet face and imagine the day, sometime in the future, when she looks me in the eye and says, 'I hate you," Tina's words echo in my ears. For I will not have that shit. But it will happen, and it will serve me right for all the grief I gave my own mom. Ah, motherhood.

A Mother's Prayer for Its Daughter by Tina Fey, from Bossypants (2011).
First, Lord: No tattoos. May neither Chinese symbol for truth nor Winnie-the-Pooh holding the FSU logo stain her tender haunches.
May she be Beautiful but not Damaged, for it’s the Damage that draws the creepy soccer coach’s eye, not the Beauty.
When the Crystal Meth is offered, may she remember the parents who cut her grapes in half And stick with Beer.
Guide her, protect her when crossing the street, stepping onto boats, swimming in the ocean, swimming in pools, walking near pools, standing on the subway platform, crossing 86th Street, stepping off of boats, using mall restrooms, getting on and off escalators, driving on country roads while arguing, leaning on large windows, walking in parking lots, riding Ferris wheels, roller-coasters, log flumes, or anything called “Hell Drop,” “Tower of Torture,” or “The Death Spiral Rock ‘N Zero G Roll featuring Aerosmith,” and standing on any kind of balcony ever, anywhere, at any age.
Lead her away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where she can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it, Youdammit.
May she play the Drums to the fiery rhythm of her Own Heart with the sinewy strength of her Own Arms, so she need Not Lie With Drummers.
Grant her a Rough Patch from twelve to seventeen.Let her draw horses and be interested in Barbies for much too long, For childhood is short – a Tiger Flower blooming Magenta for one day – And adulthood is long and dry-humping in cars will wait.
O Lord, break the Internet forever, that she may be spared the misspelled invective of her peers And the online marketing campaign for Rape Hostel V: Girls Just Wanna Get Stabbed.
And when she one day turns on me and calls me a Bitch in front of Hollister, Give me the strength, Lord, to yank her directly into a cab in front of her friends, For I will not have that Shit. I will not have it.
And should she choose to be a Mother one day, be my eyes, Lord, that I may see her, lying on a blanket on the floor at 4:50 A.M., all-at-once exhausted, bored, and in love with the little creature whose poop is leaking up its back. “My mother did this for me once,”she will realize as she cleans feces off her baby’s neck. “My mother did this for me.” And the delayed gratitude will wash over her as it does each generation and she will make a Mental Note to call me. And she will forget. But I’ll know, because I peeped it with Your God eyes.
-Tina Fey
Posted all over the place, but I saw it first here.
I hope you all called your mothers yesterday to express your delayed gratitude that they cut your grapes in half and prayed their own versions of this prayer

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to the wonderful mothers in our lives! Thanks for everything you've done for us, and for all you're still doing to support us as we navigate our own journey through parenthood. We're so lucky to call you both "mom!"

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mother's Day, last year.

This will be my first real Mother's Day. Last year, I was a mother-not-yet-a-mother.  This year, with almost a year of parenting under my belt, I definitely feel like a mom. This time last year feels like a million years ago.

I was due to become a mother ON Mother's Day - May 9th, 2010. On Saturday, May 8th, I woke up early, as had become customary, too uncomfortable to sleep. Everyone tells you to "sleep while you can," before the baby is born, but no one tells you that all hopes of a good night's sleep end early in pregnancy. It's your body's way of preparing you for the sleeplessness of keeping a newborn infant alive. By the time your baby is crying for milk, your body is already accustomed to waking every 2 hours because you have to pee, or heave your giant body onto your other side to relieve your aching hip. I actually kind of appreciated that detail... 

Anyway, I probably laid in bed for a few minutes after I woke up, and waited to see if the baby was already awake. I'm sure I poked and massaged my belly to wake the baby up. I know I got up to pee for probably the millionth time. I remember jumping up and down and pushing my belly from side to side, which always got the baby to kick and move. I remember feeling nothing, no movements. I ran into the kitchen, gulped down a huge glass of ice cold water and inhaled a Hostess cupcake. Cold drinks and sugar are supposed to get babies up and at 'em. Nothing. Jon was awake by now, I don't think he realized what I was doing. I remember voicing an uncertain concern, panicked but worried I was worrying for no reason because I worry all the time. But how wrong do you want to be?

We hadn't finished packing for the hospital. We were hoping that Alice would be born in May, not April, and gave her the go ahead as soon as the calendar flipped. We'd been ready since May day, making deals with her since Cinco de Mayo (she could have had two Barbies waiting in her nursery, but she didn't deliver so neither did we). Anyway, we were mentally ready but not actually ready, ready. We threw some more stuff in our bag, fed the cats, and were out the door in under 10 minutes. Probably 20 minutes had passed since I'd first woken up. We made it to the hospital in about 10-15. I spent the entire drive on hyper alert, trying to feel her stir, trying to decide whether I felt anything or was just imagining. Jon dropped me off to go straight to Labor & Delivery while he parked the car.

I headed straight to the admin nurse and told her I hadn't felt the baby move like I was used to, I couldn't wake her up like I normally could. I didn't know when I last felt her move, because I'd been asleep. I was panicked. The nurse looked at me, she looked at another nurse at the desk. They looked at each other and at another nurse behind me. They were all panicked. Why? Because, as the nurse explained, every one of their 13 rooms were full. They had no where to put me. Jon reached my side just as the nurse asked me to wait in the waiting room. I asked how long I would wait there, and she guessed 45 minutes. I was frozen, panicked.

Thankfully, Jon lost his composure. He asked how long it took a baby to die in utero. He said all we needed was to hear the baby's heartbeat to know she was still alive. He said we'd go downstairs to the ER. They told him that the ER didn't have the tools to monitor, which is utter bullshit (if you'll excuse my language) because I know ERs have ultrasound machines. I'm sure they meant that the ER couldn't do full fetal monitoring, but we could have used a handheld doppler for crying out loud. Finally, they agreed to set me up in the Labor & Delivery triage area. I can't remember who did what or when. I do know that one nurse was in the middle of getting a woman an epidural, and though I'm sorry to have prolonged that woman's relief, I didn't care if she had a few more minutes of discomfort if my baby was potentially in distress. 

They hooked me up to the fetal monitors and right away we could hear the baby's heartbeat, as strong and regular as ever. Thus relieved, the nurse went off to finish that epidural. After that, I didn't care what happened, how long we had to wait, or be there. We hung out in that room on our own and watched Southwest jets on their landing approach to Burbank airport. Nurses checked on us and kept telling us an OB would see us soon, but then everyone was called into an emergency C-section. Finally, an OB came to give me a thorough exam and measure the amniotic fluid. She had me lay on my back though, and the pressure of the baby reduced my blood flow and I almost lost that Hostess cupcake. She had to leave and take care of other patients while I collected myself, and we had to wait another hour or more until another OB could finish up and send us on our way.

Good times. All's well that ends well.
I think we ended up there for over 5 hours that morning, simply because the unit was so busy. I don't remember if we found anything to eat, we hadn't had breakfast and the cafeteria turned out to be closed on the weekends. When were finally given the all clear, I think we picked up some lunch and went home to shower and rest. We were exhausted from the worry but were so relieved that everything was OK. We felt like the whole experience was a little bit of a test run for the real deal.

That afternoon, we decided to kick up our efforts to stimulate labor and went in search of a local pizza place that boasted a labor-inducing salad dressing. The Caioti Cafe has a book where all the pregnant ladies make a note of their visit. I had a good time reading through all the comments, noting how many people mentioned that another mom's success drove them in, or were back hoping for their own repeat success. Lots of moms update their original entry to say whether it worked or not, and I was trying to mentally calculate the odds. It definitely seemed like many women went into labor within 3 days, but that seems pretty coincidental to me. It didn't stop me from ordering the large salad with THE dressing, and buying a bottle to take home with me as well. I ate a salad with that dressing for lunch and dinner for the next 10 days. You tell me if it works...

Eating THE salad and reading testimonials.
It proved to be a fun way to end a day that didn't start out so well, and we had a really nice little date. We enjoyed our meal (and the delicious gelato next door!) and were happy to find a good place to add to our "night out" repertoire. We haven't been back since (we haven't had many "nights out"), but when we do get back there, I'll make sure to make my update in their little book.

Though I didn't face the ultimate initiation ritual of motherhood until 11 days after Alice's Mother's Day due date, I still worried like a mother and cried like a mother desperate for her baby to be safe and healthy and happy. I still worry and I still cry, but at least now I can keep an eye on her. Call me naive, but the worrying has been the hardest part of motherhood for me. You'd think that wouldn't have been a surprise for someone who worries so much, but it has caught me off guard. I try not to let the worry and the "what-ifs" consume me, though. I just take every chance I get to kiss and squish her and nibble on those delicious cheeks. That's all I wanted last Mother's Day, and that hasn't changed a bit. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Happy Homemaking

image found here

Homemaking has been on my mind lately as we gear up to tackle our landscaping projects and contemplate short- and long-term plans for our house. Jon and I had a few recent conversations that illuminated some feelings of discontent on both our parts as well as differing points of view on the usefulness of our home. We've been slowly talking through our needs and desires and ideas and it's gotten me really thinking about what I want our home to be and what I can do to achieve that vision with the resources at our disposal.

I'm not just thinking about cosmetic issues, like improving or decorating our living spaces. There are plenty of improvements we could make (new kitchen cabinets, anyone??) and we could certainly do plenty of “styling,” but I'm more concerned with making our home as functional as possible. The fewer square feet you have to work with and the more you subdivide it by people (and pets), the more purposefully you have to approach your living situation. I want to decorate our house to make it pretty, but also to make it work for all of us and also to make the work we do to maintain our home as easy as possible.

And maintaining a home, even a perfect home, is a beast unto itself. Jon has lamented a few times that home ownership is more work than he was anticipating. I’m sure it seems even more daunting now that he works from home AND takes care of a wee one all day. Both factors mean that you’re making more messes at home and more work for yourself, but then it becomes even more important to have a space you enjoy working in and being in all day, and is easy for you to keep in an enjoyable state.

So these are the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head for the last few weeks, and I’ve realized that I need to be more thoughtful and purposeful in my homemaking. Now that I've identified that goal, I've started looking for inspiration to help me improve my interior design and my attitude. Maybe it’s just because I’m thinking about it, but I’ve suddenly started finding great resources all over the place, and each new source leads to other new sources.

The Apartment Therapy family of sites are already fixtures of my Google Reader, with their celebration of small spaces; practical, functional AND attractive design; green living; and mélange of real-life, designer and DIY resources and inspiration. Through those blogs and other modern mama-type blogs, I’ve recently come across a few more wonderful sites that are really motivating and empowering me to get my act together at home.

Meagan Francis is The Happiest Mom and I both relate to and aspire to her practical and purposeful homemaking attitude. I’ve only just started following her blog but I’m already inspired and invigorated. On Wednesday, Meagan had an interview with Heather Solos of Home-Ec 101 and a contest to giveaway Heather’s new book of the same name. I loved what Heather had to say about homemaking, especially in regards to parents of young children:

By all means enjoy your children, most especially when they are small, but know that caring for your kids is more holistic than simply playing with them. Maintaining a baseline of cleanliness sets a frame of reference they’ll have the rest of their lives.”

Heather’s interview inspired me to readjust the way I’ve been thinking about housework. She reminded me that a structured, habitual pattern of housework may take some time to establish, like any good habit, but will be easier and more rewarding than feeling constantly overwhelmed by chaos and disorder and irregular marathon cleaning sessions. 

I don't want to waste my life keeping my house clean, but I do want to start establishing some better homemaking habits. I think I can do a better job staying on top of things instead of feeling like I'm always playing catch up. I know I can carve out a few extra minutes in my mornings and evenings to perform small household tasks regularly before they become enormous, overwhelming chores. I am a creature of habit who thrives on structure and routine and the same can be said for children. Our whole family would benefit from my discipline and that's motivation enough for me, right there!

I especially want to create a comfortable environment for our kids. I want our home to be clean and comfortable, stable and predictable, an inviting and enriching space for them. I want to teach them to respect and value our belongings, to be self-reliant and responsible, productive members of our family. I want them to be stimulated, to learn and create and enjoy their childhood and the time we spend together as a family. I want to give them the skills and the structure they need to be successful students in school and life. I think that teaching children about housekeeping from an early age is an important foundation for all kinds of things. I like Heather Solos' point of view here:

"I refer to the “domestic arts” as life skills. With few exceptions we all have to cook our own food, wash our own clothes, and scrub our own toilets. It’s not sexy, but we may as well do these things competently and with confidence. These tools set up a pattern of success that carries over into other aspects of our lives, regardless of their gender."

And as if Heather just knew I could use a hand figuring out how to go about my personal housekeeping revolution, she offered yet more fabulous inspiration yesterday (and a great giveaway!). Tsh Oxenreider's site, Simple Mom, and new book, Organized Simplicity, are more great resources to guide and motivate. Whether or not I win a free copy, I'm definitely going to check out that book for ideas on how to declutter my life and live more intentionally.

In the meantime, I'm collecting all my ideas and inspiration here: