I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again

unfinished laundryThe state of my laundry mirrors the state of my mind.

Now, you might say, Jenny, I thought your mind was a merry-go-round, and now you’re saying it’s laundry?? Make up your mind! (Incidentally, I don’t know why I feel the need to assume that there is some sort of internet persona asking me direct questions, but it just comes out that way.)

Stay with me, though. Right now, I have two loads of laundry from last week sitting in a laundry basket on the side of my bathtub. I have two weeks worth of dirty laundry from the kids that needs to be started. I have a load of guest towels and a set of guest sheets that need to be washed from guests that were here three weeks ago. I have my floor mop and some kitchen towels that need to be washed. And, now that it’s been a week since I washed our clothes (remember, clean, but unfolded on the side of the tub) enough has accumulated to warrant more washing. AND THAT’S JUST THE LAUNDRY!

Now, the state of my mind mirrors the state of my laundry in that I have unfinished work projects from last week and new ones that need to be started because I really owe everyone something on all projects. I have all three kids home all day except that we have swim practice in the mornings, meets on Saturdays and baseball practice on Thursdays with Friday night games. All the kids want play dates. Everyone wants food. Everyone wants to talk to me. I have been making it to the gym 3-5 times a week while the kids were still in school, but now, I’m just trying to make it to the freaking bathroom with this schedule! Oh, and did I mention I thought summer would be a perfect time to start a 90-day book study? My bathrooms are approaching bio-hazard conditions, my floors are getting cleaned in sections. I’ve loaded the calendar with all of our dates for the next two months in an effort to control the calendar and not the other way around, but somehow all of the blocks of color that fill the Google calendar just paint a picture of the reason I feel the way I do!

And, just like the laundry, it doesn’t stop and the only way to win is to sort, wash, dry, fold, and distribute. And the same general plan of attack goes for my mind, too; write it all down and make my list of work check boxes and home check boxes. I’m not ashamed to say that I made my list later in the day, and wrote down what I’d already completed and checked those boxes, too, because I am that desperate to know I’m not really on a for-reals merry-go-round!! I want all the baskets empty and all the boxes checked, is that so wrong?!

This edition has been brought to you by the makers of Pity Party Express and PoorMe.com. Live discussion forums available online. Operators are standing by.

But Jenny, why chickens?

Update: Due to my overwhelming desire to possess chickens, I failed to check with our landlord and underestimated our nasty neighbors. Sadly,  just as the chickens were moved outside to their cute little coop, they had to go and live with another sweet little family that didn’t have any chicken haters around them. The good news: through the power of social media, we are kept up-to-date on our little flock through Facebook and have watched their great adventures as they laid their first eggs, went to pre-school for show and tell and other sundry chicken adventures. One day, chickens again. 😦

I don’t know.

I really can’t remember when or why I started loving chickens. I have collected a few trinkety chicken things. Different little chicken creations perch above my kitchen cabinets, I hBarred Plymouth Rock, Americaunaave a couple of rooster pictures that my mom had in her house (I conned her into giving them to me), but other than that, it’s not like I have my house decorated in country blues and black and white checks with cows and chickens everywhere. Blech! I can’t even say that I’d ever been up close to a real chicken or even known people who have chickens! Seriously, where in the world did I come up with this fascination with chickens? I do have a story about how I had acquired a pair of chickens (albeit a pair of glazed papier mache chickens). Kendall was just three years old and she had the sweetest thoughts and the cutest way of saying things. We have known she was an animal lover since she could point with her little chubby finger and so when I brought this pair of chickens home, she suggested we name them. She named them Gobbledina and Chicken John (they were hens but, eh, details). Up they went with the chach-key above my cupboards and that was that. Well, Kendall would always refer to them and wonder if they were hungry or if they were married and things like that and we all grew rather fond of Gobbledina and Chicken John. When we packed to move, they were packed carefully but, when I was unpacking them somehow one got away from me and went skidding across the kitchen island onto the floor and…Gobbledina was no more. *moment of silence* I’m sure it was the stress of moving and the fatigue of unpacking because I’m usually a fairly reasonable person and not a huge REAL animal lover, let alone a fake animal lover. But I cried. Kendall by this time was five years old and she shared in my grief. Chicken John would have to go it alone.

Wow! That was pathetic!

Back to my real chickens. Like I said, Kendall (now 10 years old) is our animal lover and more specifically, horses. She loves everything surrounding horse culture. She looks for every opportunity to wear her hat and boots and most of her pictures are of horses or her future ranch. She always draws a picture of a guest house which she explains is for me to live with her in my own house on her property. And I kind of hope it works out that way! I grew up in Bakersfield and some of my favorite memories are playing at the Smith’s house with Bridget and her horse Jasper and the adventures we would have out at her house off Round Mountain Road. We were probably only ten years old. We would pack food and make up stories about where we were going and ride off for the day with such a spirit of adventure and independence. Now that we live in Colorado, there are plenty of opportunities to pay to ride horses, but Kendall’s going to probably have to wait for her ranch before she has her own adventures.

My long lost point here is about chickens and Kendall’s propensity for ag-related things, all of these reasons adding up to our recent influx of real, live, backyard chickens. We just decided to go for it! I have compost bin, we have a garden going, chickens and fresh eggs would be such a coup (get it?  coup…not coop, a chicken coup…no? I thought that one so funny when I posted it on Facebook, but no one got it, meh!) I’m not a died-in-the-wool tree-hugger (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I would like to go down as one who was a responsible steward of resources and did better because I knew better. We did some research, visited a friend’s chicken set-up, decided it was doable and bought our six, leetle, day-old chicks! And, we have been smitten ever since! My husband was guarded. My oldest daughter was haughty (“Mom’s really in over her head with this one!”). Kendall and I were in a continuous knuckle-bump, my boy was unimpressed. But now…we all love them and their antics.

In five to seven months we’ll potentially have six, fresh, organic eggs a day! And did I mention that they will lay brown, blue, pink and green eggs?? It’s a beautiful thing, man! We have pets that give us food! And what funny little pets they are! Each one has personality characteristics that are so obvious and I just never expected that from CHICKENS! When they were a couple of days old, they would cry when I left their room and run to greet me when I came back. Now that they’re three plus weeks old, we take them outside for play-time and they act like little chickens, scratching and looking for bugs, trying out their wings and chasing each other, fighting over bugs. But soon, they tire out and come and find me sitting in the grass and hide under my legs as if I was Mother Hen. Who couldn’t love a little bunch of baby chickens such as these?!

So, that is my introduction post to my chickeny life. Upcoming episodes include: “Married couple survive the building of the chicken coop!” and “Chickens move outside into their new coop!” and “Chickens produce their first eggs!”

Riveting. I promise. Chickens for everyone, is my motto. They’re sweeping the nation. A chicken in every pot backyard!

I’m really only good for a six week stint

planning, goals, timeAnd that’s being generous to myself. When I look at different resolutions I make, I really can only keep anything up for no more than six weeks. Exercise routines, chore charts/allowances for the kids, meal planning, work schedules…heck, this blog will probably lose my interest and attention by mid June. Nice knowin’ ya.

The fact that I know that I’m a six-weeker is at least one achievement, as I see it. I don’t want to be flaky, but I’ve come to realize that I just need to change it up fairly often. So, I try to start something with the goal of sticking with it for the next six weeks and then re-evaluating at the end. That way, I’m not quitting or failing at something, but I start it with the knowledge that I’m not locked into it forever– just six-weeks. The other realization is that six weeks is a fairly common time frame for a lot of activities in life. It lines up with school routines, summer durations, sports programs and you can get fit or fat in six weeks, too!

I have read a lot on time management and goal setting and one of my favorite resources with a lot of practical applications was the book 10-10-10. Now, she talks about your next ten minutes, your next ten months and your next ten years. My version would be 6-6-6, and that is generally frowned upon, so read her book and glean what you will. It’s a real fire-starter and Spring is a great time for kickin’ yourself in the butt…gettin’ back in the saddle…pickin’ yourself up by the bootstraps. I’ll stop now, I think I might have written that last sentence with a southern “yee-haw” accent.

Things on my six-week radar

  • six weeks to swim-suit season (fitness goals)
  • six weeks to summer vacation (summer plans?)
  • six weeks minus two for my chicks (I really do have chickens) to leave “the nest”
  • six weeks minus four to outdoor gardening
  • six weeks ago I was supposed to be making X amount of dollars doing something. (note to self: move this one to the top of the list)

So far I have purchased a new pair of gym-worthy workout pants and gone to one class at said gym, signed the kids up for swim team, berated my husband into building the chicken coop, I have kept my seedlings alive for three-ish weeks and prepared the new garden plot. Not bad, not great. I should probably beef up my goal list.

Actually, I should probably just focus on the next six minutes and get off of this computer!

Doing things FOR my kids is not the same as doing things WITH my kids.

This is a thought that haunts me. It haunts me with the Ghost of Kids Grown Up who ask me why didn’t I play Candyland with them (I can’t stand Candyland). It haunts me with the Ghost of Babies Grown Up who take so much time and so much effort and yet, did I savor every precious moment in the flurry of chores? Because, it’s gone, they are not babies anymore and will never be again. It haunts me with the Ghost of My Past and what I wished my mom had done with me or what maybe I don’t remember she did.

And yet, it’s so hard for me to switch gears from being a task-master of my own to-do list (and theirs) to being Fun Mom that can stop and realize that my seven-year-old won’t always want to tell me about the cannons and jet packs on his latest Lego creation and that my ten-year-old will stop telling me (every detail) about the book she’s reading and that my thirteen-year-old won’t always beg me to come watch a funny YouTube video and laugh with her.

I have things to do! Important things! Things that they can’t do and things that won’t get done (right) unless I do them. My righteousness with this sentiment is so strong at the time but, I have to figure out how to listen to these Ghosts and become a better Scrooge.

I went out to lunch and a day of shopping with my 13-year-old and it was fun! I had it planned in my calendar, so I shifted all of my other responsibilities around to accommodate our day together. I still accomplished everything, including the extra work around the Easter holiday festivities. Lesson learned: schedule the dates with my kids as if they’re as important as my work projects and household chores. Woah, I just read that…aren’t they more important, more lasting?

I believe this is what smart people call a paradigm shift. I need to shift my thinking before it’s too late. I know I won’t ever be sorry or regret time spent WITH my kids. I just need to get past the immediate needs of daily life and see the immediate need of playing, *gulp* dumb and pointless games that have no strategy and seem like they will never end. I have a 30-some-year-old embroidery thing hanging in my laundry room that my Great Aunt Dathel made for my mom that says,

Cleaning and scrubbing can wait for tomorrow
For babies grow up as we’ve learned to our sorrow,
So, quiet down, cobwebs

Dust, go to sleep
I’m rocking my babies
And, babies don’t keep

What are your thoughts and ideas and stories of successes and short-comings (let’s not say “failures”, K? It sounds so final) in this area.

Also, ask me how it’s going in a few weeks. I also have a deficiency known as, live-up-to-expectations-itis.

Is Procrastination a Value?

Looka what I made!

I am excited about this on a couple of levels. A) it’s been something I’ve wanted to make happen for about ten years and, 2) my sister, Christine, had used this technique on another project in her house and I really wanted to use it somewhere and this turned out to be a good fit.

I cannot remember the book I read when my middle child, Kendall was born, but it was a book about being intentional with why you do what your do as a family. One of the topics she touched on was coming up with a list of your family’s values or what’s important to you as a family. I dabble in being intentional, so I jotted down a few ideas on a piece of paper and thought, “I should make a collage or something artsy with this.” Well guess what, adding Kendall to our family (Natalie was three years old) rocked my world more than I anticipated and finding a normal rhythm took a while. In true Jenny-fashion. I lost the momentum for that once life-changing revelation and let the list get lost and found about 20 times before I finally threw it at my creative-genius friend, Mary Jo and said, “Here! Make me something cool with this list.” She picked up on my vision and promised to breathe it into being. She lost my list in her creative-genius of a craft room.

And that is where I left my list of values project (hopefully, not my actual values). Until now! I re-created my list, added a few, was mocked by my husband and my sister about a few, adapted said list and used Christine’s paint and canvas technique with our family’s list and, VOILA! My something artsy/family’s values project complete and installed.

I am not especially creative or crafty. This was a project that had steps to follow and it was not at all complicated. Just a little messy and time-consuming, but fun! It’s a canvas, three different paint colors and words cut out of paper. I painted the whole canvas one color. It dried, I sanded it to rough it up, then I used a stencil of a fleur-de-lis pattern and loosely painted that randomly across the canvas with color number two. It dried, I sanded it to rough it up. Then, I placed the letters on with a light coating of spray adhesive onto the canvas and painted over that with color number 3. (I didn’t saturate my roller, I just got enough paint on there to cover the letters, but still let the other two paint layers show through). I let that dry and then peeled the letters off. I let all of it dry, sanded it once more and that was it!

And now, to apply the values. I’ll need another ten years or more for that.

Welcome to my merry-go-round

vintage merry go round posterDo you get the analogy? Or is it an allegory? Or is it just symbolism? Well, it’s a word picture at the very least. And this is how I explain myself to myself. I have a lot of things on my mind. And each thing is a horse on the carousel (mine only has pretty horses, not frogs or emus or benches). It seems as soon as one catches my eye and I think about it and admire it, another one comes into view and steals my attention. These all go ’round and ’round and get attention here and there, but they are always revolving and moving in and out of view.

I’ve kinda, sorta wanted to have my own blog for a while, but it’s always seemed to be a merry-go-round of its own. For instance, does a blog need to exist for a purpose? Do I have a message? A platform? Would anyone be interested in the dumb things I have to blather about? Do I have dumb things to blather about beyond a one sentence Facebook post? Is it for my entertainment or for the attention of others? What would it look like? How would I do it? What would I call it? You see? This is how I mess with myself and make things more complicated than they are.

So, just to be clear, I have only a vague idea about what to do here. I have lofty goals from time to time, but a bargain-basement plan to execute those goals, so like the header says: enjoy the ride, but don’t throw up.