Thursday, July 31, 2008

The problem that has no name....

On a different forum I was posting on today, I brought up that I'm having serious stay-at-home-mom blues right now. I have this deep, stirring need to feel like I'm working daily and routinely on meaningful things. I want to show God's love to people in need, I want to be mentally and physically challenged in what feels like meaningful short: I don't want to be bored.

I'm in a lucky but unfortunate spot for my personality.

My husband makes enough money that I don't have to go get a second job and I can stay home with my kids. That is a huge blessing right there and I know it. I could be having to pinch and save and be careful every day when I buy grocery items in order to afford to be a stay-at-home mom, but I don't. I realize that life could be MUCH harder for me than my life is.

I also know that staying home with your kids, teaching them important things, helping them work through their problems and teaching them how to be good people are ALL important and meaningful things.

The problem lies with the execution. Training my children in the way they should go is my number one priority, but often that entails me arguing with a three year old about why he can't swing a baseball bat by his sister's head, or breaking up yet another fight about who gets to climb into the car first, or talking to my daughter about why she can't wear wool tights in the summer under her skirt. I'm homeschooling and there are cool times as well, where I get to teach my daughter about Mesopotamia or read both of my kids a Bible story or teach them a game they've never thought of before (like how to play "crocodile", which entails jumping from pillow to pillow trying to escape from the crocodiles on the floor).

But there are days when I feel like my college education is starting to ooze out one of my ears, never to return again. And I could even get over THAT if I could at least feel like I was busy all the time with stuff I felt was important, but the truth is that staying at home sometimes means that you are DONE with your work for the day (or at least with the work you HAVE to do for the day), but still stuck at home because the littlest member of the family is napping. Sometimes I feel like I could solve the world's problems if I could just bring the struggling people of the world (wait...I'm definitely one of the struggles) into my living room during nap time! I feel like I have time outside of my responsibilities in which I could do more, but haven't really figured out what that should be or how to fanagle it around raising little people.

Being a sahm in the city makes it even harder because you drive around seeing people hustling here and there and wishing you felt like you had somewhere to hustle to....somewhere besides the grocery store.

It also means that you see the needs of the world right in your face all the time: the panhandler begging me for change every time I walk into the store, the child whose teenage mom is yelling obscenities at him at the park, the poor education all the neighborhood kids are getting at the local schools, and you WANT TO HELP! But you can't help all the time. Because you also have to make meatloaf and help your daughter train her pet parakeet. And you have to figure out how to burn ALL of the daily energy out of a three-year old boy which is friggin' hard! The above picture is what we came up with today...(big sister is in the carrier...3 y/o brother is the one on the bike!).

And I know that this is important, but it doesn't mean I don't ask myself all the time if I could do more....

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

To add to my farm envy post...

I forgot to add that one of the things that I do to get a "fix" of farm-life is to go visit farms: real farms, apple farms, petting zoo farms, etc.

I'm sure that the apple orchard and petting farm we hit on the way to Milwaukee was not representative of farm life exactly, but my son got to ride the kettle cars through the orchard, (well, I had to kick the back of it 100 times while yelling "YOU have to peddle it!" to get him around the whole thing) my daughter got to hug a sheep, we got to BRUSH the sheep even, (I'm practically a farmer now) and we saw the hugest turkey I've ever seen. Anyway, the pictures are pretty cute and I got a good farm-fix from the whole experience.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Now I remember why I hated pregnancy!

An old college friend who is living in Manhattan with her fancy shmancy husband just e-mailed me to tell me about her first pregnancy. She's about 9 weeks along. I laughed hysterically while reading this and then had to share it because it's worth a read and a good laugh. It is also a good reminder and great birth control for anyone who has glamorized their past pregnancies and is thinking that maybe it wasn't so bad afterall and that maybe it is time to have another one. She goes on and on, but this was my favorite part. So go take your birth control pill, (or take your basal temperature if you're a Natural Family Planner like me!) and then read on:

"I haven’t really told too many people because it all seems so uneventful at this point – we don’t know the gender and its only the size of a grape. Plus I am worried that I might have to see someone and holy shamoli am I a fat cow. I know you aren’t supposed to be gaining weight yet but I have never been so hungry in my life and well, my thighs and stomach are downright disgusting. Plus they itch. Isn’t it too early to be getting itching from stretch marks? I used to think I was kind of cute and sporty but today I realized that those years are just gone. I had on some exercise pants today – because those are the only thing that fit – and I thought some guy might have been checking me out until I looked down and saw that my pants were so tight that I had a serious front wedgy and he was checking that out. And if [our old friend from college] thought I had big boobs then, watch out now, they are the jiggliest largest balls of fat ever and they itch uncontrollably and I can’t stop eating French fries and I have zits. Was yours this bad?"

I loved "front wedgy" and "jiggliest largest balls of fat" the most. ;) Haha...

Farm envy

I was just reading Pioneer Woman's blog. I really like her. Well, everyone who reads her blog does. But not all people who read her blog probably really covet the part of her life that I do. I really want a farm. With cows and pigs and hay and a few goats too. Actually, most important is chickens. I don't know why, but it's probably because I tend to covet lifestyles that are exactly opposite of mine, even if I like mine at the time. So, since we right now live on Chicago's near west side in a duplex with so little grass that I could basically stay in the middle of our yard with a lawnmower, turn in a circle, and then shut the thing off...I have farm envy.
I have these little flower boxes that I tend with great care, but I'm pretty sure that is different than what goes on at a farm.

I want to wear an apron like "Ma" from Little House on the Prairie, and I want my kids to play in a yard so big that I have to ring for them with a big giant dinner bell for them to come inside. I want my son to wear overalls that get all dusty, and I want my bed to be covered in a big quilt that I made at the quilting bee. I want a giant fire place made out of stone and I want my husband to get all ripped and tan and wear a white t-shirt while he goes out yonder in the field with the cows. I want my daughter and son and I to go gather eggs from the chickens and I want them to play in the fields on big hay bails. I want to grind grain into flour and make my own bread.

So, maybe I don't really want to live on a farm. Maybe I want to be in a play about a person who lives on a farm. ;) Because I'm sure farm life is actually nothing like those things. But it will always remain that way in my fantasies.

For now, though, when we want to get outside and enjoy what God made, we're going to have to get in the car, drive east into the city, and drag a bunch of stuff out onto the beach at 31st street and Lakeshore Drive. At least that's what we did last week! I'll admit, it was one of the sweeter parts of our summer, and my husband is pretty darn good looking even without the dirty t-shirt, but it doesn't stop me from having farm envy.

Monday, July 28, 2008

So here is my basic life...

We live in downtown Chicago. Husband works in the city. I'm at home. We got married right after college, (even graduated early) and I got my first job starting about a week after my last day of school. It was accounting. I hated it. I hated it because I don't think I really ever understood it, and was constantly afraid someone would find out. And it was boring. Then I took real estate classes but I'm not good at selling stuff. Then I decided to be a teacher in the inner city so I signed up to be a part of this program that lets college graduates who aren't teachers get their certification while also teaching at the same time (science or math). The day I was to take the tests, I peed on the stick and found out I was pregnant. So I stayed at my current job so that I could get my maternity leave and then quit. Except then I quit early because I was so uncomfortable, so no maternity leave. Well, two kids later, I haven't gone back to that teaching program. Except that we kinda live in the inner city and I'm a homeschooling mom, so I guess you could say I teach in the inner city? ;)

I'm actually cheating at homeschooling. We don't have a yard, and our neighborhood is lacking in children, so we are actually sending our little ones to a Waldorf kindergarten (3-6 y/o's are all together) two mornings a week. They just basically play with wood toys (it's very granola), bake bread, paint, and most importantly: play outside. They do this rain or shine and even in freezing cold weather. The kids come home all rosey-cheeked and worn out so that has been a HUGE blessing. I hate going out in the cold, so I'm sorta out-sourcing that part.

We go to a church that is trying really hard to be ethnically diverse. A huge pillar of the church is reconciliation (of all kinds) but we are really working on racial reconciliation. It's pretty small, a tiny bit disorganized, and try picking a music style when you put a bunch of different ethnicities together! But it's a worthy effort, I think, and it's an important part of why we are living in the city.

My best friend (besides my're supposed to say that right? Haha) is definitely my big sister, whom I've been following around since 1979. She gets pregnant, I get pregnant, she homeschools, I homeschool. She does "Baby Wise" rather than attachment parenting, so do I. Hey! She has good ideas and does the research for me so who's complaining? Unfortunately, we live 6 hours apart, so we have to meet online and on the phone, which we're trying to cut back on for our children's sake. Hey...we're both busy doing Story of the World for our children's history lesson! Guess who picks the curriculum. Wink, wink.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Wow...a blog....

What is a blog? Well, for a minister's middle daughter who carries around a blend of martyrdom and raging against the machine, it's probably a recipe for disaster. I'll probably try to make myself look good, or I'll be extremely self-depricating in order to make people feel good about themselves (and inadvertently start to like me) or I'll pour out way too much information about myself and regret it the next day, or I might get on my soap box about something that I really only have limited information about, but feel like a supreme authority about for a minute. Did I already do one of the things? Yep, I think I did.

The following is what I'm hoping for: You know how if you are really into scrapbooking then you start living in a way (and taking pictures in a way) that would make your scrap book look better? Like, you start buying your kids cute swimsuits instead of letting them wear ratty old ones so that they will look good in your scrap book when you do the summer spread? Or you think "maybe we should take a little day trip to an apple orchard this fall...wouldn't that be cute in the scrap book with little apple stickers around it?" Well.....maybe since I'll be sharing things on this blog about me, I'll start living in a way that is worth blogging about! Probably not likely. I might have to make some stuff up. ;)