MODERN DAY MARTHA

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  • Archive for August, 2009

    What language do you speak?

    Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

    Have you read The Five Love Languages? I haven’t either, but my cousins all have and have told me about it, and I taught a little workshop about it once, so I can pretend I know what I’m talking about, right? :)

    The idea behind the Love Languages is that there are different ways that people express  love to others. It could be by spending time with the person, doing things for them, giving them a gift.  We each have our language, and it may not be the same as the other people in our lives – if you express love by giving them gifts but their language is spending time, you could give them the most thought out  gift in the world and they’d be discontent because they really just want to go on a walk with you. Learning the love languages that you and those around you speak can be helpful, because if you know them, then you can make the extra effort to go on that walk, while the other person can recognize the real meaning behind your gift.

    All that to lead into something I’ve been thinking about the last couple of days.  Nurturing is  a huge and encompassing subject that encompasses many skills and areas of work and development. I struggle sometimes, because it seems like there’s just so much I’m expected (or perhaps, just expect myself) to be good at.

    To nurture is to teach, to foster development, to promote growth, to feed, and to nourish.

    -Susan W. Tanner

    That’s just huge.

    So I started thinking of ways to break it down.  Looking around me I see people skilled in different “languages” of nurturing.  My friend Valerie (who will be writing with us soon- YEEHA!) is exceptionally fluent in the language of cooking as nurture.  Food is how she nourishes those around her, physically and spiritually.  I’m really excited to read her posts, because food is NOT a language in which I am even remotely proficient.  If I can pull something together for meals I’m lucky.  But I recognize the power food has in feeding the soul, and I want to learn.

    One of the ways my sister Liz nurtures is  by creating a beautiful home for her family. Inspirational words grace almost every single wall, teaching her children guidelines and great ideals they will carry throughout their lives.  As I was growing up, my mom’s nurturing language involved an incredible number of art projects.  My friend Carol’s nurture language is one of encouragement – she actively and lovingly encourages everyone she is around. Other friends nurture their families and friends through sewn items,  traditions,  play, careful listening.

    Personally, I’m firmly comfortable in the language of nature.  If we’re outside, I can teach, refresh, help my kids grow. Nurture through correspondence to  friends? I’m so on it.  I’m getting better at the syntax of magical moments. I still have my times of feeling completely lost in translation, but I’m improving.  I’m working on the conjugations of cleaning, and I struggle with the poetry of play.

    In which languages of nurturing are you fluent? Where do you dabble? Which languages are completely foreign?

    Inspiration corner (nook? cranny?)

    Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

    I saw a photo today that caught my soul on fire, swept me away with the idea of possibility.

    I’d steal it and post it here, but that’s not so right.

    So go here and look at the 4th picture.

    Could you die? I covet (truly covet, in that commandment breaking way)that tray -including the gorgeous little bowls of food. Our picnics usually consist of eating out of lovely zip-loc bags.

    Note to self:

    Dear Awesome Mamajama,

    Please add the following to the to-do list.

    1. Find cheap sheets with cute pattern

    2. Make simple, gigantic picnic blanket out of said sheets

    3. Get out tray that you already have, that isn’t as cute as the one in the picture but is still pretty cute in it’s own right, and is made cuter by the fact that you already own it. Ditto with bowls. (Go with the plastic bowls.)

    4. Find food.

    5. Have picnic. Maybe two.

    Let’s get on this quickly please, I think it deserves top priority.

    Best always,

    Me

    What’s inspiring you today?

    She Bakes Good Bread

    Monday, August 24th, 2009

    Yes she does.

    And it’s super easy.

    Step 1:  Google “bread recipe”

    Step 2:  Select this Amish White Bread option

    Step 3:  Follow the simple instructions and let it rise while you watch Chuck and do your dishes (or whatever…)

    Step 4:  Improvise!  Don’t have two loaf pans?  Me neither :)   Never fear, a brownie pan will do the trick…

    Step 5:  Admire your handiwork:

    amish white bread

    Step 6:  Spread liberally with butter and jam (or the topping of your choice) and enjoy while catching up on your podcasts!

    Ta-da :)   Now you too bake good bread.

    Bite size magic

    Monday, August 24th, 2009

    Jessica’s post about bite size pieces has gotten me thinking. (Have you read it? Go read it!)  You see, I have a penchant for the large gesture. If something’s a good idea, then something bigger and more dramatic must be better, yes?

    As I’ve been thinking about nurturing and making magical moments in my home, I see some of the wonderful things that women around the internet are doing, and I’m incredibly inspired, and almost as incredibly overwhelmed. Start of the school year parties, poetry for each child, hand stamped fabric family projects; I can’t figure out when I’d have the time to even think of the ideas, let alone put in the effort to make them come to pass. OK, so that’s not strictly true. I can think of when I’d have the time to do all of that, but not how to do all of it AND clean my house.

    So where does that leave me?

    With a green straw.

    Let me explain.

    Z,  (my 3 year old), has a sippy cup with a straw that slides out of the top. It’s been lost for the last week or so, (I strongly suspect it’s in the church bag, but keep forgetting to look) and the other day she asked for it at lunchtime. I told her that I couldn’t find it, and offered her another cup, which she took, albeit a little sadly.

    In a flash of inspiration I remembered the box of straws that I knew existed somewhere in the house. They weren’t anywhere I expected them to be- I finally found them with the art supplies in Z’s closet (the organization of my house is the subject of another post entirely)- but find them I did, and I pulled one out quickly and went back out to where Z was eating, and told her to close her eyes.

    She opened them to this.

    100_3926

    Oh the rapture.  Her cup of milk was no longer just milk,

    it was a treat,

    an experience,

    a beverage.

    She used the straw all day.

    It didn’t take tons of planning or preparation, just a moment of squelching the part of me that just wanted to hand her the cup and be done with it, and a couple of minutes to search out a straw. And the payoff? Magic.

    And you know what?

    We discovered yesterday that the only thing better than a green straw is

    a blue straw.

    Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

    His eggs were always perfect, and although he must have made this dish several thousand times, he always took great pride and pleasure in this performance. Bugnard insisted that one pay attention, learn the correct technique, and that one enjoy one’s cooking- “Yes, Madame Scheeld, fun!” he’d say. “Joy!”

    It was a remarkable lesson. No dish, not even  the humble scrambled egg, was too much trouble for him. “You never forget a beautiful thing that you have made,” he always said. “Even after you eat it, it stays with you- always.

    From My Life in Paris by Julia Child

    To-Do or Not To-Do…

    Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

    Today I woke up motivated.  As I snuggled with my two year old under the warm covers I contemplated what my day would hold.  I said my morning prayers and thought about change, progress and many good things that I wanted to incorporate into this beautiful Saturday.

    Among the things I was thinking about, one in particular was that I needed to do a major cleaning job on my kitchen.  I had let it go for two days and in that short period of time it had come to resemble the wake of a Class 5 hurricane.  Pretty bad.  Worse than bad.

    After I finally decided to get up, I went upstairs to the kitchen and began the morning’s cleaning; unloading the dishwasher, filling it up and so forth.  I fed my boys.  Then I turned around three times and the kitchen was a total disaster again complete with oatmeal smeared on the floor, the table, the chairs and a few spots on the living room carpet.

    I had a minor conniption fit while basking in my self-pity and uselessness.  I ran downstairs and vented to my husband for a minute or two and then attempted to pull myself together.  I was struggling with the suffocating feeling of being overwhelmed by all the chores I had to do this day.  I was feeling let down because I had been so motivated just an hour or so before.  I was feeling like I would never get all the rooms clean and my mental to-do list would never get complete, especially when my kids were seemingly running behind like some kind of elves and undoing all the work I had just done.

    So while I was trying to get my motivation back, I spent some time looking over Fly Lady’s site.  I watched her Shine Your Sink video and read the first few baby steps.  That was the inspiration I needed.  I decided to follow her advice and tackle my jobs in smaller increments and I decided to make a list of all the things I wanted to get done this day.

    My list looked like this:

    • Put up new bedside lamp
    • Change light bulb in laundry room
    • Shine kitchen sink
    • Put away dishes
    • Re-fill dishwasher
    • Wash kitchen floor
    • Clean off my dresser
    • Fold laundry
    • Wash/Dust TVs
    • Make a box for the cat to sleep in on the deck

    Not the most elaborate list but detailed enough so that I wouldn’t loose track of what I was supposed to be working on.  I find that I get side tracked pretty easily.  There is always something else that needs to be cleaned, put away, scrubbed, folded, shopped, chopped, watered, baked, etc.  I’m a mom.  That’s life.  I turn around and there is another project staring me down.  If I look at the whole house and all of the daily projects and chores that need to be done, I get overwhelmed and then shut down.  Then I spend the entire day on Facebook refreshing my browser hoping that one of my friends has updated their status or searching Craigslist for cute antique couches that I can’t afford to buy and I’m not really sure that I want anyway.

    DSC_0007

    My bite sized pieces were the thing the kept me going today.  I was able to come back to my to-do list after cleaning up my son’s broken piggy bank and know what I should do next.  Like a buffet, I can pick and choose from my list the items I feel like doing at that particular moment.  I was able to maintain momentum and even found joy in performing the mundain tasks such as changing the light bulb in the laundry room.  I had so much fun doing that task that I was inspired to change all the light bulbs in my bathroom to the energy efficient bulbs.  Maybe I’ll save a couple of cents and can buy a new notebook when this one gets full of my To-Do lists…

    Tomorrow is a new day with a new list.  I will carry over a few of the items such as Fold Laundry.  All those clean clothes that I washed in between checking off items on my list are still piled up on the floor in the family room.  I’ll be honest, they might be there for a few days.  But that job will also be on each day’s new To-Do list and eventually I’ll happily cross that nice bite-sized chore off.

    You say you want a revolution?

    Saturday, August 22nd, 2009

    I posted this on my blog earlier this week, and it started an avalanche of inspiration for myself and friends. (Seriously, I thought I was the only one who couldn’t get it together. Does everyone think that?)  So we’re starting a homemaking revolution – turning our houses into homes, making mundane days magical.  Learning the real definition of nurture, and the skills of taking care of a household. And hopefully playing and laughing a lot along the way.

    So without further ado:

    THE POST THAT STARTED IT ALL

    Don’t you just love new beginnings? New Years, a birthday, a new school year, even the start of a new month – all arbitrary  but seemingly fitting times to introduce change.  I’ve been feeling the itch to shake things up for a little while now. Our days have been kind of unfocused, unproductive, frustrating.  I knew change was needed, but didn’t quite know what kind.

    At the same time, I’ve been putting off figuring out what we’re doing for our little co-op preschool this year.  Yesterday I decided to buckle down and try to get a grip on it. As I did, a vision started to emerge, books started filling up my Amazon cart, websites linked. (Can websites link? Whatever.)

    Anyway.  I’ve caught a glimpse of the life I want us to have, and I’m using the beginning of this school year to mark the start of the change. It’s not concrete in my mind yet, I still have reading to do to solidify concepts and practice from  inspiration, but I’m excited about it.

    If you’re interested in what our life will look like this fall, here’s a little virtual inspiration wall:

    Embracing Creativity

    Playing with Fabric

    Painting

    Celebrations

    Lots of photos

    Learning

    Adventures

    Nature

    I’m excited to see it take shape- and excited for the joy these changes will hopefully bring. I’ll let you know what happens as we go.