Joy, week 44

I’m typing early tonight, before I’m too tired to think.  I look out our windows at a sky that ‘s striped with blue, pink, lavender and gray.  It’s kind of nice to have the time change now.  I don’t mind having more hours in the evening to snuggle, read books or just be together.  And I won’t mind driving the children to school in daylight, either.

The weather here has been golden.  Warm temperatures, yellow leaves everywhere, golden sunlight in the afternoons, blue skies full of geese, harvest moon.  As I watched Hurricane Sandy wreak havoc along the East coast, I kept having this feeling that something must be ready to hit here.  I’d look out my windows expecting gray and cold, and every time the sun surprised me.  My heart aches for those who have lost so much, and their suffering has added a new dimension of gratitude to my own life.  Every time I got in a car I’d remember how fortunate I am that the roads are fine, that my electricity is on, that we have a house to sleep in.  The list goes on and on.

I excavated most of the basement this week.  It was such a mess!  Included in that project was the task of sorting through baby clothes for eight children, keeping a few special items and hauling away multiple huge black bags of clothing.  As soon as I finished, the children moved right back in and all weekend we’ve had noise wafting from the basement.  Sounds of air hockey, ping pong, soccer balls bouncing off walls, children yelling with excitement and sometimes yelling in anger.   I have a lot more I’d like to get done down there, especially if I’m going to cross it off my project list for 2012, but it’s at a good spot.  I think from now on I’ll have to invoke the “suffer for 15 minutes” rule that I learned from Gretchen Rubin.  It seems to work if I am only consistent.

It was a week of projects.  In addition to the basement I cleared out our gardens, harvested the last of the lavender, pruned back some bushes, cleaned the back porch, planted some bulbs, repaired a broken table, finished dehydrating our apples, packed away Halloween.  It feels good to take care of things.  Regular maintenance isn’t one of my strengths but I’m working at it.   Remember when I cleared a long shelf in my pantry?  Well, it still works!  I’m so happy to have figured out the secret to an orderly pantry and now it takes me only 5 minutes to tidy that room.  It makes me want to empty shelves in lots of places just to see if it helps my children stay organized.  Actually, many of the organization projects I tackled in September seem to be working better than in the past.

It almost doesn’t seem fair that the two previous paragraphs could be typed (and read) so quickly, because they’re really all I have to show for the week.   I was tempted a few times to feel bad about the other day-to-day tasks that didn’t get done because I was moving through my list of larger projects, but I realized that this is just the way my life is.  There is time to do a little of this and a little of that with a prayer in my heart that in the end it will all balance out and enough will be done.  Instead I feel grateful for what progress I made.

We enjoyed a fun Halloween.  I spent much of the day at the school, the afternoon driving my oldest three to meet up with friends, then costumes back on and trick-or-treating with the younger five.  We had a great time and enjoyed the warm weather.  We also read the book “The Worst Best Halloween Ever” by Barbara Robinson.

We endured more drama surrounding soccer teams.   I took the brunt of it so my girls wouldn’t have to hear it or deal with it and I think it will work out in the end.  I always feel frustrated when things like this come from nowhere and park in the “urgent” area of my life but I’ve also learned that sports and drama can’t be entirely separated from one another, so we focus on the good and move on.

I haven’t touched my sewing machine in almost three weeks, and I find that when I’ve been away for so long I have a hard time jumping back in.  I walked to my sewing table multiple times thinking that I should work for just ten minutes, but I always ended up wandering out again to do something else.  I got up super early this weekend to make myself sew something – anything – for just 15 minutes so I will quit avoiding it.  I finished a quilt block and think it did the trick.

I find myself looking happily toward the holidays while simultaneously feeling like I’d better pull things together NOW if they’re going to look and feel like I want them to.  I have so many ideas, a long list of to-do items, gifts I’d like to make.  If I’m not careful I’ll get swept away in it all, but if I don’t work at it, I’ll get swept away in the force of our daily life and do none of it.  This morning when everyone slept in with the time change, I moved my alarm the other direction.  I’ve set a goal to give up an hour of sleep every morning to work on projects before I get everyone up for school.  If I use it well, it should be enough to accomplish a lot.  I’m sleepy right now, but that hour of quiet will be precious.

Right now my husband sits on the couch across from me with his computer on his lap.  He’s going through old pictures of his childhood and all the children have crowded around him.  They sit on either side and several are standing behind the couch, leaning over it to get a look.  Little voices ask, “Is that YOU?” as they try to grasp the idea of their Dad once being the same age as their brother.  I look at all their faces, eyes focused intently on the images, all of them curiously quiet as they hang on all the details he offers.  Each of them making their own silent observations to carry away with them, special rocks in the pockets of their hearts.  Each of them drawing parallels between their lives and his, noticing differences, hearing things that surprise them a little.  It always makes me happy to see them gathered around him.  Somehow it makes me feel confident in the future as I watch that pull draw them all, regardless of age, into the circle of family.  It also reminds me that while the future requires careful planning, the investment I make in today must be done consciously and wisely, with my whole heart.  So I’ll sign off now to go clean up the accident my three year old just had on the kitchen floor before I join the mass of bodies on the couch, making memories as we look at memories.  A little voice in my head shouts “TAKE MORE PICTURES OF THESE EVERYDAY MOMENTS!”  Just like I remember doing at my house when my Dad would get out the old 8 mm projector, just like my children will do in the not-so-distant future.  Knowing we are part of this cycle grounds me, reminds me that what happens here in our home is of utmost importance.  Being part of this anchors me to my ancestors as we reach our arms toward the future.


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