Compliments from my 2-Year-Old

Becoming a mother does something to your self-esteem. I don't know how many times I've thought (or heard) some variation of the following:

"You should have seen me before I had kids. I used to be __(fill in the blank)__!"

Skinny.

Groomed.

Fashionable.

Punctual.

Calm.

Focused.

Sane.

I have heard my mother-in-law, who has nine children, fill in the blank with "intelligent." 

I most frequently fill it in with "organized." 

Of course, all mommies know that the children who enter our lives and change us forever are worth infinitely more than all the attributes and freedoms we had to relinquish with their coming. Who cares about stretch marks, bags under the eyes, perpetual fatigue, and appearing like a hopeless scatterbrain? When we're surrounded by the people we love most in the worldthe ones for whom we have poured out our lives and for whom we gladly continue to do sothese sacrifices seem small. The choice was good and right, and given the chance, we'd do it again in a heartbeat. Continue reading

Happy Valentine’s Day

Hi. Remember me? I used to write on this blog. I still plan to again, but tonight won't be the night that I begin to write in earnest. Tonight I just wanted to check in to say that I've been busy, overwhelmed, strung-out, exhausted, and, well, you get the idea. And I have a picture to prove it.

Today is Valentine's Day. And this evening I took this picture in our living room. In case you can't tell, that's a disassembled fake Christmas tree on the floor and boxes of Christmas decorations on the table in the background.

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Yes, I finally took down our tree and decorations today, on Valentine's Day. So in case you were feeling guilty for being disorganized or scatterbrained or un-punctual or anything like that, you can just look at this picture for an instant ego boost, because at least you got your tree down before mid February!

Consider it my little Valentine's Day gift to you.

You're welcome.

Sharon

P.S. And if you still have your tree up, at least you can know that you're not the only person to keep one around until winter is practically over!


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Wanting Results

Tonight I posted this status update on Facebook:

"Few things these days make me feel as productive as sewing. Maybe that's because it's one of my only activities with a concrete result that lasts for more than 20 minutes or so?"

The first comment was from a friend whose kids have grown up and left home. She said, "I hear you!!" 

I have to admit that I was taken aback, because I was hoping that by the time I reach her stage of life, the frustration and discouragement of having most of my work quickly undone by small children on a perpetual seek-and-destroy mission would be far behind me. Continue reading

7 Housekeeping Shortcuts

If you're a regular around here, you already know that I'm not the best housekeeper. However, I have a few philosophies of housekeeping that I've developed in recent years that have been tremendous time (and sanity) savers. I'd like to share them with you, because I'm pretty certain that I'm not the only mother of small children who finds that keeping up with the messes that kids make while also trying to keep up with the kids is impossible.

And discouraging.

Someone once said that cleaning your house while your children are around is like trying to brush your teeth while eating an Oreo cookie. So here's to enjoying your Oreo cookies–or something like that. Continue reading

Still {Happily} Married

I recently remembered an unpleasant experience I had when I was a young wife. My husband and I were attending a conference. As was usual for us, we were acting very much like newlyweds. Another wife, ten to fifteen years older than I was, asked, "How long have you been married?" When she found out that we'd only been married for seven months, she assumed a superior air and said, "Well, you may feel that way now, but just wait until you've been married for seven years." Her tone and facial expression made it clear that she didn't expect the joy and tenderness to last. Continue reading

Housekeeping Tip #1

20120726-171611.jpgThis post is about housekeeping. Now, I've admitted several times that I'm not the best housekeeper. (Here and here, specifically, if you're interested.) So, if you're one of those moms whose floors are never sticky, whose bathroom fixtures are always gleaming, whose windows and mirrors never look dingy, and whose laundry never sits in an unfolded pile on the couch for a day and a half before finally finding its way into the appropriate drawers and closets, then this post is not for you. You might want to stop reading right now and just go read this post. Or this one. (By the way, you have my deepest admiration. I really don't know how you manage it!)

For the rest of you, I wanted to share something that has helped me maintain my home (and my sanity) in the hectic months since the birth of our third child.  Continue reading

Come On In!

Boys creating chaosI just had an epiphany. Why is it that it bothers me when guests drop by unexpectedly, and I haven't had a chance to clean the apartment beforehand? I've never questioned the embarrassment that fills me as I hastily move piles of unfolded laundry to make room on the couch, while clearing toys off the floor by kicking them toward the wall, before I run to the bathroom to make sure that no one has peed on the floor or left traces of poop in the toilet bowl since the last time I was in there. I've never questioned that embarrassment, until today. After all, what in the world have I got to be embarrassed about? I have three preschool boys at home, for crying out loud! Of course my home is a perpetual mess! Who am I trying to fool?

And that's when I had my epiphany. Continue reading

Making Memories

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I remember one evening when my sister and I were young. We were staying with our grandparents for the summer, and Grandpa was to put us to bed while Grandma was out at a church function. But after we got ready for bed and had climbed the stairs to the loft where we slept, instead of tucking us in, praying with us, and rubbing our backs as he usually did, Grandpa said, "Let's make a memory." I asked what that meant, and he explained that it meant doing something with people you love so that you could look back and remember it later. Continue reading

Combatting Guilt . . . and Dirty Windows

It's a beautiful spring day here in Western Ukraine. Nevermind that the temperature is hovering right around freezing–the sky is blue, and the sun is bright. It seems appropriate, as here in the Eastern Orthodox world, we'll be celebrating Easter this coming Sunday, April 15. But as much as I love the celebration of Christ's victory over death, this week always has the capacity to fill me with guilt. That's because this Thursday is Chystyy Chetver, or "Clean Thursday," in English. You see, at some point in the history of the Orthodox Church, someone decided that it was a sin to have a dirty home on the day of Christ's crucifixion, and the tradition of Clean Thursday was born. This week Ukrainian women will labor feverishly to ensure that their homes are spotless by Good Friday, with the majority of this spring cleaning taking place on Thursday. If you took a walk in our neighborhood this Thursday, I guarantee that you'd see many people busy washing their windows. In fact, as I sit here typing, I can see one industrious neighbor already hard at work on hers, and it's only Tuesday. 

To help you understand my guilt, I have to let you in on a secret. I don't do windows. I don't mean that I dislike window washing or that I'm too lazy to do it or even that I'm too busy to make it a priority, although perhaps all those statements have an element of truth. No, what I mean is that at some point after having children, I made a calculated decision to stop washing windows. I still clean up the little fingerprints and wet nose art that appear on the inside of our windows, but I only wash the outsides of windows that open into our apartment or give onto a balcony, and in our current living situation, those surfaces comprise only about 50% of the total area of windowpanes. As for the other 50%? Well, I guess I just count on summer thunderstorms to keep them clean enough that they won't become a complete eyesore.

Why do I do this?

Continue reading