Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Cleaning Week Three Goals UPDATE

Keats has begun a new game: pretending to be asleep. He sets up a pillow and blanket, snuggles down and snores. It's hilarious and sweet, but I can't help wishing it were real...
It took me a couple of days to really launch into this week's goals. Wednesday morning came along and I decided I'd had enough of the mess in the living room (toys scattered everywhere, torn up wrapping paper from wonderful presents, dirt and dog hair waiting to be swept away, and cheddar bunny crumbs perhaps waiting to turn into cheddar bunny trees). So, while Keats was distracted by breakfast and a new video and Frida was practicing her crawling (!) I quickly "sorted" the toys back into their boxes and onto the shelves, swept up, and tossed a few things into the recycling. 

That's when things got weird. I heard something rolling on the roof then heard a big SPLAT! Then came the usual egg announcement from one of the chickens... on the roof. I looked outside onto the deck. Yep, a broken egg. Really? Had a chicken really laid an egg up there? A second later, Cider, our most adventurous hen ame flying down on the roof. I just started laughing. Keats started laughing, too. Frida smiled. Olive jumped up and down, begging to be let outside. I opened the door and she ran out, gobbling up the egg. Easy clean-up. Thanks, Olive! The occurrence hasn't happened again, thankfully. Perhaps Cider was inspired by the ridiculous peacocks and their brood? Birch and Keats found their nest on top of the hay bales the other day...  
Clean and change all bed linens
Write in journal or blog everyday
Box up any clothes Frida has outgrown
Write a love note to Birch
Clear off computer desk and repurpose
Put together new bookcase and reorganize books 
Bake a special treat
Send off package to England
Follow daily Spring Cleaning goals

As you can see, I didn't exactly do much of what I had planned this week. Basically, no cleaning. At all. I could blame it on doctor's appointments and shots, on family mayhem, on Frida NOT sleeping... but the truth is I just don't care that I didn't accomplish all that I wanted to this week. What I did was enough. I have no reason to complain this week. Things went crazy but we all made it through. 

One of my dear sisters gave birth to her third child. All seemed fine until a blood test revealed he had an infection. My sister stayed in the hospital with him several more days and nights than expected. I am so grateful for her strength. She handles so much in her life. So much stress and yet handles it and beautifully! While I wasn't doing much with my week, my sister was giving birth and taking great care of her newest little one. And good news! The little guy was released from the hospital on Sunday... phew!

The family came together to help her husband with their two older children. This week has shown me, once again, how amazing my family truly is--full of inspiration, strength, devotion, and a never-ending impulse to help one another. I grew up thinking this was the normal family dynamic but have since learned that we are unique. I am so grateful to have come from a large family full of love and understanding. We've gone through some things in our journey as a family and so far we've all made it through. We are each so much stronger because of each other. I am so grateful to you, Foxes!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Good Morning!

A shower. Imagine turning the music up loud. Really loud--so loud that it drowns out your singing even over the deafening water cascading over your dancing body. Imagine bopping your head and swinging your hips in perfect time while massaging the shampoo into your hair. Imagine no one else around. Imagine that it's just you, alone in the shower, smiling and singing your heart out. Imagine you haven't showered in days and this is the first time since the last. Imagine Bowie, The Cars, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Imagine it was cloudy when you went into the shower and the more you sing, the sunnier it becomes. Imagine the room filling with steam. Imaging laughing as you sing the wrong words. Imagine not caring a bit. Imagine the lather on your face, your arms, your belly. Imagine clean, fresh water washing it all away. Imagine your morning espresso kicking in. The world becomes clearer. Imagine all your thoughts making sense. Imagine all the perfect comebacks. Imagine washing away all the sleep, all the exhaustion, all the tired. Imagine scrubbing it all away. Imagine being renewed. Refreshed. Imagine a shower.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Just a little something I came across...

Found the source, but can't decipher the title OR artist responsible... sorry World.

Here's to a little more laughter in our lives!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Spring Cleaning: Week Three---Goals (April 23 - 30)

Last week's goals were almost entirely devoted to Keats' birthday party, so I'm glad to be getting back on track with things that just need to get done around the house.

Clean and change all bed linens
Write in journal or blog everyday
Box up any clothes Frida has outgrown
Write a love note to Birch
Clear off computer desk and repurpose
Put together new bookcase and reorganize books 
Bake a special treat
Send off package to England
Follow daily Spring Cleaning goals 

I'm excited to finally be achieving some kind of routine, especially when it comes to the kids. To me, that's the hardest part of having a newborn--you NEVER know when something will or won't happen. Everything is up in the air. We're switching Frida over to her very own crib soon and I must admit I cannot wait to get a tad more sleep each night. It'll be a rough transition, I'm assuming (Keats certainly had a rough time of it), but it's the best choice for us now that she's nearly six months old. Isn't THAT crazy? I can hardly believe it! More on her loveliness later...

Monday, April 23, 2012

My Panic

I have panic disorder. I have to be really careful about my stress level. It's difficult to get other people to understand the disorder and that it's real--what it means to not truly be in control of your brain, of your emotions, of your heart rate. A few people have witnessed me in the middle of an attack, several have seen the after effects, probably without realizing it. An attack's after effects can last for days, sometimes even weeks. A succession of attacks renders me pretty much useless as a human being. Since becoming a mother, that last statement is pretty scary. I am intensely lucky that I have Birch. He knows me and has learned over the years to watch me closely in situations he has learned to be stressful for me. He knows how to relax me and knows when he needs to step in, telling me to walk away, telling me when I need to re-prioritize. 

A panic attack makes my stress feel like a heart attack. It makes me breathe so quickly and forcefully that I feel as if I am about to die. It took me over a year to convince my own brain that I wasn't actually dying when this happened. That it was something outside myself. That it wasn't real and that if I just kept breathing I would be fine. 

Back before I knew what these attacks were I was a mess. Understandably, at the time I felt crazy. Loony-bin crazy. After an attack I would spend days wondering what had just happened to me. Was I losing my mind? When "Girl, Interrupted" came out, I was terrified. As a teenager I looked for comfort in the WRONG places. My high school boyfriend didn't know what to make of my attacks anymore than I did, so we both feared them without knowing what they were. We both thought I would actually die during one of them. I never told my parents how bad things were for me. I never told my siblings. 

Finally, in college, I went to a therapist. She figured it all out pretty quick. I'm pretty sure all I said was, "So I have these anxiety attacks where I feel like I'm really going to die..." 
She stopped me, asked how long this had been going on. 
"Umm... for a really long time. At least since sixth grade." 
She stared at me. "How old are you?" 
"Twenty-two." I explained more about what each experience was like, that I was prone to having these attacks several times a week, and in especially bad times, several times a day. 
"You have Panic Disorder."

Since marrying, I've become more open about the fact that I have the disorder. I'm better at recognizing the symptoms before things get too crazy. I'm a pro at warning Birch when my heart rate starts to accelerate for no apparent reason. I don't take medication for it. Not yet. For now I seem to get through it okay with breathing exercises I learned back in high school. I've promised both my doctor and the kids' pediatrician that if things get to be too much I will start medicating. 

After nearly four years of marriage, Birch and I are starting to figure out how to truly cope with the disorder. It affects the whole family, so it's Priority One in this house. When "outsiders" see us coping with it, I feel they often misinterpret it as me being the classic ball and chain, etc. But, marriage is hard. Relationships are hard. You learn little tricks about each other that others won't understand. When a comment is made, Birch and I tend to look at each other knowingly and laugh good-naturedly (we hope) at the observation. Sometimes it's just not worth tackling at that exact moment. Since having Frida, both Birch and I have been struggling to keep up with the demand. Learning to juggle two children, a dog, chickens, work, cleaning house, bills, taxes, etc., has been a serious struggle. Especially considering the serious lack of sleep. We just had Keats' second birthday party. It was a wonderful day and everything went quite well, but the lead-up was excruciating. At least for me. That is why my disorder has been so on my mind lately. Birch congratulated me several times on Saturday, remarking on how well I was doing, keeping myself from stressing out. The first hour or two of the party was crazy town, but other than that it went well. It felt really good to feel the stress build then just melt away as I decided to not let it stress me out. This was new for me--this control.

I think that working to create a routine in my daily life has really helped me prioritize and figure out what goals are practical and in what order they should be tackled. Figuring out how to do this has been vital to my mental health and I'm quite grateful to this project for helping me reorganize my house and my brain!

I'll probably write about Panic Disorder again in the future, so stay tuned. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I'll try to compile some sources I feel are helpful to understanding the disorder, etc.

These days "stress-free" seems like a lot to ask, so I'll wish you a "managed stress" day instead. ;)

All love and hope you and yours are doing fabulously.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Positively Charged [6]

  • Keats and Frida are becoming better friends as Keats realizes Frida responds to him
  • Keats is better with Olive and they play really nicely outside
  • The farm dog, Nick, is way better with Keats now and they play fetch on our walks
  • Keats is better at picking up chickens than either Birch or me
  • I realized I wasn't killing my hanging orchid, the stems had broken slightly on the drive home
  • I've fallen behind on spring cleaning duties, but the prep for Keats' party is coming along
  • I'm starting to get over my guilt of not inviting everyone I know to birthday parties (do you have this problem, too?)
  • Birch has found some work for the summer, so finances are less stretched... such a relief
  • We've agreed on a time and strategy to buy that "new" car
  • My beautiful watch came in the mail this week! Woot!
  • One of my besties is tying the knot this fall. Road trip with the family! So exciting!
  • Leaves are coming back to the trees and it is gorgeous!
  • With the help of my sister-in-law's espresso machine, mornings are a little more exciting. We were getting a little tired of our french press (which makes lovely coffee but the routine of it was getting a little old)
  • Snatched up a dehydrator from Birch's grandparents. So excited to make our own dried fruits, etc.
  • Keats is really good at saying "Thank you" now. It makes it all so much easier...
  • All the little farm animal babies are doing well and are SUPER cute. Oh my goodness, the puppies! The piglets!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Cleaning: Week One Goals UPDATE

Make an IKEA shopping list
Clean and change all bed linens
Make a 2012 budget plan with Birch
Write in journal at least three times
Start planning the garden
Box up any clothes Frida has outgrown
Decide on Keats' birthday presents
Clean off dining table
Write a love note to Birch
Read 4-5 books to Keats before naptime and bed
Clear off computer desk and repurpose
Organize Birch's clothes
Follow daily Spring Cleaning goals 

I'm somewhat shocked that all this was actually achieved. It was the week of Birch's spring break and we were barely in the house at all. Here's to creating practical goals for myself! I must be getting better at it.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Positively Charged [5]

  • It's been raining and the plants are refreshed and sprouting like mad!
  • I found a bunch of art I've been wanting to frame but couldn't find.
  • This year's renewal of D.I.Y. magazine came with a free year... woot!
  • We had a lovely afternoon and dinner with one of my sisters and her family.
  • Another sister is SO close to her due date. Hang in there! These last couple of weeks are so rough, I know... we love you!
  • Found those little kid cowboy boots.
  • The house is in chaos but it's that "crazy before organized" kind of chaos and that is exciting
  • Birch gave me the go-ahead to renew my Amazon Mom membership. SO worth it.
  • I've actually managed to not stress over Keats' party on Saturday!
  • Lovely grub at the farmer's market! I love spring!
  • I'm actually staying on target with this spring cleaning stuff... woot! Woot!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Pescadero at sunset.

Some nights there is a tunnel you can only feel. The chill moves through you bitterly, but that and nothing worse could drive you back to softly-lit, comfy corners.

Along with that chill there is a glow. Orange ombre through the tall line of branches to the West. The sky morphs with each passing minute into a new and wonderful creature. The color seeps deeper into the East as a fresh splash of watercolor paints does against its porous lover. Colors once crisp with the afternoon gray are now melted and voluptuous.

My blonde imp laughs near the flutter and squawk of Poppy laying a light brown egg in her nesting box. The other chickens scratch up worms and spiders and break grass spades from their roots. My chest rises and falls with a gentle echo burying its face into my warmth. Hens cluck, roosters crow, and Olive the dog runs, teeth grinning against that chill.

The farm is calming, settling down for the night.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Daily Routines

I've been failing miserably at taking control of The Mess. Each day I do a little cleaning that is later replaced by more of The Mess. One area gets better while another spins out of control. One chore is dealt with while another is ignored for days on end. It's overwhelming. That need to clean the entire house is just plain exhausting, so I'm taking the advice of every organizational aid I've read recently and not tackling it all at once. I'm following a Spring Cleaning schedule set out by Crystal of Money Saving Mom. It helps to have an unbiased voice dealing out instructions. It's embarrassing, but the number one thing that makes me not want to clean is having someone I'm living with ask me to clean. It's so ridiculous and a definite flaw, but it's true. I'm hoping that by completing these goals I'll accomplish enough with my time that I will no longer feel bogged down by Mess or guilty for watching X-Files instead of cleaning the toilet or organizing the toys back into their bins. I've crumpled in the face of exhaustion long enough. Time to take a stand against myself. Conquer and clean so that some day cleaning will be a short activity mainly comprised of a quick swiping of the sponge and a whirlwind of a few things back to their appropriate space. One can dream...

To that end I've made up weekly goals, daily routines, and manageable daily to-do lists. I've incorporated Crystal's suggested daily assignments into my life and so far I'm doing all right, although I'm behind due to being out of house too much due to Birch's Spring Break vacation and, you know, having fun? Whoops... or WAHOO!!!

If you're interested in joining 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home, I'd love the company and encouragement. Let's do this!

Putting together my daily routine made me ridiculously tired... I'll have to make a dumbed-down version for myself someday, but for now, with super-duper mommy brain on full non-alert, I'm sticking with a play-by-play:

Daily Routine
6:00 a.m.       Wake up, brush teeth and wash face, make coffee, check email.
6:50 a.m.       Keats and Frida wake up, diaper changes, make breakfast.
7:15 a.m.       Indoor toy time, get dressed, check email/blog.
8:30 a.m.       Frida feeding and nap.
8:50 a.m.       Play in the yard, morning egg collection.
10:00 a.m.     Frida wakes up, diaper changes.
10:30 a.m.      Farm walk.
11:30 a.m.      Play in the yard, chicken scratch and noontime egg collection.
12:30 p.m.      Make lunch, Keats video, Frida feeding.
1:15 p.m.       Frida nap, read books and coloring with Keats.
2:30 p.m.       Keats nap.
2:35 p.m.       Brush teeth, 15-minute clean-up, make bed.
3:00 p.m.       Frida wakes up, diaper change.
3:10 p.m.       Dishes, sweep.
3:35 p.m.       Afternoon coffee/whatever, read.
3:45 p.m.       Frida feeding and nap.
4:00 p.m.       MSM Spring Clean activity.
4:30 p.m.       Keats and Frida wake up. Birch home.
4:45 p.m.       Farm walk.
5:30 p.m.       Play in the yard, afternoon egg collection.
6:00 p.m.       Indoor toy time, Birch makes dinner, Frida to sleep.
6:30 p.m.       Family dinner.
7:00 p.m.       Toys and diaper change.
7:30 p.m.       Pajamas and bedtime books.
7:50 p.m.       Keats to sleep.
8:00 p.m.       Wash face.
8:05 p.m.       Check email/toys & books away.
8:15 p.m.       Free time.
9:45 p.m.       Brush teeth and bedtime!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring Cleaning: Week One---Goals

After a year of living in my new home, I have it just about figured. (Although I'm less sure as to how that bread just fell over... spooky.) With a definite, doable plan in tow I am on the... slow-track to complete organization and a clean house no longer filled with clothes piles, paper piles, and boxes I'm too scared to even open. To help me along this treacherous path to sanity, I've joined Money Saving Mom's "4 Weeks to a More Organized Home." Thankfully, my lovely Miriam is joining me, keeping me honest, and will most likely be showing me up on several occasions. Since I am, at the moment, without my photos of the week so far I'll share my weekly goals for this past week: 

Make an IKEA shopping list
Clean and change all bed linens
Make a 2012 budget plan with Birch
Write in journal at least three times
Start planning the garden
Box up any clothes Frida has outgrown
Decide on Keats' birthday presents
Clean off dining table
Write a love note to Birch
Read 4-5 books to Keats before naptime and bed
Clear off computer desk and repurpose
Organize Birch's clothes
Follow daily Spring Cleaning goals

Thankfully, the week is not over. I've finished a few things as you can see, but there is always more that can be done. This weeks' goals were a bit ambitious, I'll admit, so I won't be too upset if some of them drag over to next week. And some will be recurring goals until they are just naturally a part of our routine. Building a daily routine is another one of the steps recommended for a more organized and joyful life. Now that Frida is a bit older she seems more open to daily rituals and "schedules," so without knowing it I'd already started building a routine. More on that journey tomorrow!

If you're taking part in the spring cleaning party, let me know in the comments! I'd love to see/hear what you're doing to promote sane living in your home. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Positively Charged [4]

  • My home is filled with orchids, tulips, and ranunculus.
  • Frida suffers from infectious laughter.
  • There's Cherry Garcia in the freezer.
  • Jerry Garcia isn't in my freezer.
  • We're getting nearly two dozen eggs a day.
  • I have a black light stamp on my hand from Monterey Bay Aquarium (if it hasn't washed off yet).
  • Keats' second birthday is on Thursday!
  • I discovered Postum's lovely and organic cousin, Naturalis Inka, and I drink it every day.
  • Our boots are covered in mud.
  • That package is one card away from being shipped off to England.
  • Birch is home! Bye!

The Originals

I've fallen ridiculously behind in my posts, I know. We just expanded our flock of chickens and I realized I hadn't even given The Originals their adult, named debut here! My goodness!

Lucy is my favorite. She is very friendly and
follows Keats and I around practically everywhere.
She's made it into the house a number of times, always
to be kicked out a second later. She is the easiest to handle
and loves to be stroked even when she's just on the ground.
Rose is Lucy's more elegant and dramatic sister. She
follows Lucy around but is much more shy with people. She is
very smart and knows which side her bread is buttered on.
I usually find her following Keats (with his pockets full of scratch)
or between my feet as I move things around in the yard.
Cider is Birch's favorite. She is extremely adventurous and is most often
off by herself in some strange, not-for-chickens type place, like the roof
or a window box. We don't worry for her though.
She takes care of herself quite well.
Poppy is almost always in a state of agitation. When she's not in the nesting box
for hours on end she's hopping around the yard unable to decide
whether to avoid the roosters or follow them around constantly.
She's a troubled soul, but we love her. I'm
pegging her to go broody first.
Dew is flighty and mysterious. When startled
she walks backwards. She'll accept just about anyone's company
except that of her sister, Sylvia. She is always the first
to partake in the worms and bugs uncovered
by relocated containers and straw bales.
Sylvia is straight up crazy. Dark and moody and nearing the
bottom of the pecking order, she flutters about
the yard with Poppy, the both of them squawking and
over-reacting to just about everything.
She also walks backwards when startled.
Quince is even-tempered but not exactly friendly. She's more likely to
just stay out of your way. She's opportunistic and clever. She took the
longest to convince that the nesting boxes, instead of the bushes, was the best
spot to lay her eggs. I'm not totally sold that she doesn't still lay a few
outside the coop, but I'm not about to go search for them.
Ronin is Keats' favorite. Keats learned his name first, followed by Lucy.
He is surprisingly friendly for a rooster. He's a lovely leader and protector.
He has made his way up in the world, taking over top rooster
from his counterpart, Shogun, despite having fully matured later.
Shogun has made my "list" a couple of times by
attacking me when I pick up his ladies. He pulled my
finger and twisted it out of joint once. He seems to
think the only thing the hens need protection from is me; not
the hawks or Olive Dog, just me. I am dangerous. I admit that
I get scared when trying to take his picture.
Jane is shy and a bit of a dunce. Whenever the flock startles and flies across
the yard, she never follows. She mosies about eating with her head down
then flies in a panic toward the nearest chicken a few minutes later. If
one of our flock gets "taken," it'll be her. She's a great layer and is on good
terms with everyone in the flock.