There’s a small “park” next to the Publix we shop at. It has a nice covered picnic area, some outdoor exercise equipment, a big open field, and one small play structure with one tallish curly slide. We go there a lot. It’s an easy park to play at because there’s shade, space, and non-lethal play equipment. It is the first slide NikkiZ did by herself – and as of this weekend? The first slide AndyZ did alone.
Giving a child freedom on a play structure is a very hard thing to do. They always have openings that lead to poles to slide down, or ladders that are not suitable for small children. However, no child wants their parent going down the slide with them once they feel brave enough to do it alone. After one or two nail-biting moments (for me) AndyZ got the hang of doing the entire journey, from steps to slide, by himself. I stood near the one dangerous opening – either on top or at the bottom – just in case he decided to try to escape that way. But for the most part? I just watched and took pictures of my big boy. With his new big boy haircut. And his big boy shoes. And – OH MY GOD, WHERE IS MY BABY?
He is not brave enough to walk on the top level, but he’ll crawl!
Sure you’re gonna be okay, Mom? You don’t look so good.
Do I have the all clear down there?
Moe Side! Moe Side!
Repeat this cycle of photos 19 million times and you have our park outing Friday afternoon. Loads of fun even if it was a bit repetitive. NikkiZ thinks the play structure is a bit boring but she loves the outdoor exercise equipment. At one point she said, “Mom. This is way more fun than home.”
I know, kid. I know.
If you click the photo you can see the notes I added in flickr. Or see every title here
One of the things I’ll miss about living in a smaller home, is the fact that it forces you to sift through your belongings on a regular basis. Before Christmas and birthdays I take loads of toys to Goodwill in order to make room for the inevitable new items. AndyZ and NikkiZ share a room. If I left every toy in there that anyone had ever purchased for them, there would be no room for beds, cribs, or dressers. It’s already a tight squeeze as it is, and it’s a large room. Clothes also have to be weeded out when new items are purchased. I very rarely put a new item in my drawers or on the rack until an old item has been thrown in the donation bin. We are at capacity in this home. At least at a capacity I’m comfortable with – because I still am a fan of empty spaces. Our attic is full. There are no cars in our garage because it is used for things like kayaks and canoes and bikes and lawnmowers. This limited space means that if something isn’t used or cherished, it is sent off to be used or cherished by someone else. THIS IS A GOOD THING. We should all do this because the things that are sitting untouched in your kitchen, in your child’s toybox, or in your husband’s dresser – those things could be used and loved by someone less fortunate than you.
So – these are the only bookshelves in our home designated for MrZ and I. (Each child has their own bookshelf in their room.) As MrZ and I both really like owning our favorite books, we often buy more books to add to these shelves. There’s several books from a matching set from my grandparent’s home and I also kept a substantial stack of my Dad’s books. (The rest were donated). These factors had our bookshelves overflowing up until last week. I finally went through every book on every shelf and kept those which are truly our favorites. Either because we love the words, or because we’re sentimentally attached to the books themselves. I took pictures of the shelves as I feel like they say so much about us. We’re obviously Geographers by study as we can’t part with many of our old college textbooks. Someone is a huge fan of the Young Adult Fiction section. There’s many spiritual, health, and political books – separated by more poetry than the law should allow. We even have an old-school Plane Trigonometry text book. (Can you guess who that belonged to?) I just love these shelves. I love that there’s random kitschy items on there as well as puzzle boxes. It’s just a great snapshot of who we are as a family, and I love it.
We hope to be moving into a bigger home soon. One that will probably allow us more room for books. While part of me giggles with excitement over this possibility, another part will be sad to see the condensed reflections of our personalities that only a small home can create. I’d like to think I’ll still be diligent about weeding out stuff other people can make better use of, but will I really be if I’m not forced to by limited space? Probably not. Lord knows I’ve lived in much smaller places in the past yet I had no problem filling this house to capacity in five years.
In my defense, we’ve also added two humans to the mix in those five years. That’s gotta give me some sort of an excuse, right?
So. Our shelves. Aren’t they nice? Now…I’ve shown you mine. Will you show me yours?
In an effort to start the chain reaction of awesome, I thought I’d start a project. I printed up a bunch of sheets with statements on them that I really want to be true. My goal is to fill those pages with things that will make them true. Maybe rules to live by, maybe steps to get there, but things that can bring that particular statement into reality.
I thought I’d start with “I am the best MOM I can be” because it’s one I think about daily. I filled in the page with actions and creeds that I feel would help make me a better Mom. These are the things I wish I did more often, better, or just did them at all. Things like, “Go to the library.” Which I used to do a lot with one small kid, but haven’t gone once since having two. Reminders like, “Don’t overuse ‘hurry up'” which I am SO GUILTY OF. I bet I holler, “Hurry Up!” at least nineteen million times a day. (You wish that was an exaggeration. It’s not.) Just an assortment of things that pop into my head when I think of the Mom I want to be. And yes – no one is perfect. I know that. There is no way I can be the perfect Mom. But – I can constantly strive to be the best Mom I can be. I kept this page in mind all day yesterday and I really feel like it helped. I just want to look at this daily as a reminder of what my goals are…an attempt to keep my maternal mind focused. I often get so wrapped up in laundry, dishes, bills and meals – that I forget how blessed I am to even be a Mom. Why let these days slip by without giving my kids the best of me? They deserve nothing less.
Is this cheesy? YES. But that doesn’t matter in the end. If it helps me give more to my kids than I’m giving them now? It’s completely worth the ink marks on my bedspread. And the money I spent on new pens. (WHAT? I had to have new pens for such a noble project! Jeez.)
I’ve got many more pages and they range from, “I am healthy.” to “I am an author.” I’ll share each of them with you as I finish them and maybe you can share some of your goals with me so I can steal them to add to my list. Sound fair?
My daughter can be moody sometimes. I’m not sure if it’s a girl thing or if it’s just her because LilZ never quite showed the propensity to the extreme level of FOUL that NikkiZ can show. Her moods can get so sour that no one wants to even look at her for fear of getting attacked with her venom. Sleep has a lot to do with that. A LOT. If she is tired? She gets so very grumpy that we just want to lock her up in her room until she sleeps it off. If she’s been up late for whatever reason, I warn her teacher the second we get to preschool. I say, “We didn’t get a lot of sleep last night.” That’s all she needs to know because NikkiZ without enough sleep? Is the stuff all of our nightmares are made of.
We’ve had talks with her about the Grumpies and how to deal with them. I think it’s valuable to learn these tools because let’s face it: We all get the Grumpies. We’ve explained to her that if she’s too grumpy to play with her friends, she needs to tell them she just wants to play alone. Or maybe lay her head down on the table and rest. Or sometimes have a beer. Wait – that’s me. Nevermind. Anyway, we try to give her tools to use on those days she’s just not in the mood for anyone’s anything. I mean, when NikkiZ has the Grumpies? We could all approach her with gifts, ice cream, and Disney Movies and she would still probably end up punching someone. She’s not easily swayed.
The other day we were going somewhere and I sensed a bad case of The Grumpies. I decided to try something new. LilZ and I took her and spun her around and swung her between us and just did general shaking/jiggling motions with her on the grounds that we were Shaking Her Grumpies out. We would do it until she’d smile and then ask her if they were all gone. Then we’d do it some more until she’d laugh. It actually worked out pretty well and while she wasn’t necessarily Queen Personality the rest of the evening – she did at least shift her mood in that direction. I just wanted to share this technique in case any of you have and petulant toddlers you have to deal with on a regular basis. We’re thinking about making a song to go with the motions, we’ll get back to you if we do. Until then just do a chant of “Shake…Shake…The Grumpies Out” with the periodic sneak attack tickle (preferable under the chin) in the middle of all the shaking and jiggling.
I would like to warn you that there is an age limit to this routine. I tried to do it to MrZ the other night after a long day spawned a foul mood. He was not humored.
Seriously. Don’t mess with me.
When we bought our house 5 years ago, we knew it was a temporary purchase. We hoped we could get some equity out of it and use some of our savings to buy a bigger house for what we hoped would be a bigger family. At the time I was pregnant with NikkiZ and we hoped to have one more. We find ourselves now finishing up projects to get our house ready to sell, and we’re now thinking about what we want out of the next home. Some of the projects on the current house are ones we meant to do from the day we bought it – like paint our bedroom. It still has some pretty tacky wallpaper border and the trim is this awesome mauve color. And by “awesome” I mean “hideous”. We’re probably at least a few months out from being able to put it on the market, but that hasn’t stopped us all from talking about the MUST HAVES in the next house.
Since we’re definitely wanting something bigger, and our budget isn’t that high, we’re betting we’re going to have to go for older than our current home. So far, our MUST HAVES are as follows:
- A bathroom that company can use that is NOT used daily by anyone to shower/bathe. Our current “public” bathroom is the one LilZ uses to shower and get ready. This means it has to sustain a healthy cleaning before company comes over because it’s used constantly. I would like to NOT have to worry about this. A half-bath option would be great.
- 4 bedrooms PLUS an extra room. Since our kids currently share a bedroom (which has MONSTROUS benefits I’ll be sad to lose) we’d like to give them each their own room and then an extra. It wouldn’t have to necessarily be a “bedroom” – but some sort of room we could make an office with a fold-out couch for company. We have a lot of out-of-town company come in and we never have a place for them to sleep. We also need an office area since we both do so much work from home.
- An eat-in kitchen PLUS dining room. We currently have ONE eating area which is also our Messy Kids Projects area. I’d like to be able to have a table in the kitchen where the kids could do messy things, but a nicer table in a separate room for family dinners. We’ve never even considered buying a real dining room table because the kids will just destroy it with their crafts.
- A dog-friendly yard. There are a lot of houses in this area built into a mountain with little/no backyard. We need an area that we can fence in for the dogs as we’re just not disciplined enough to walk them as much as they need.
Other things we’d LOVE but are not MUST HAVES
- I would LOVE to have a garden tub. LOVE LOVE LOVE. I soak in the tub several nights a week so if there was anyone who could use one? It would be me. But – that is something we could someday upgrade if the house didn’t currently have one.
- LilZ would REALLY like his own bathroom that he could keep as messy as he’d like without worrying about me nagging or the kids destroying his things.
- Porch/Deck. I love to sit outside and read or just drink coffee and watch nature. My in-laws have the most amazing deck you’ve ever seen and I would love something like that. Something conducive for grilling out or visiting with guests. This is also something we MIGHT could add-on if possible, so it’s not really a MUST HAVE. It sure would be nice, though.
We are really hoping this house to be the one we live in as long as we live here. I’ve hated the past five years having to make interior design choices knowing we’ll be selling it “soon” – it kept us from doing some of the crazy things I really wanted to do. So we really want to be happy with the choice we make. What about you? Is your house your “forever” home? What were your requirements when you bought it? Are you dreaming of your “forever” home? What are your MUST HAVES?
I would like a Garden Tub too, please!
My room is going to be PINK and PURPLE and SPARKLY!