Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Realizing Who I Really Am

This "temporary" housecleaning thing looks like it may be morphing into a full-blown business! I’ve gotten lots of appointments, some repeat clients, and several potential long-term regular gigs! Friends have been encouraging me to start my own business for a while, but I just wasn't ready. I am now. :) 

My experience with corporate/office jobs has been horrible. I'm not meant to have a boss. I was constantly living in fear of disappointing others, and feeling resentful for having to "do what I'm told" instead of using my own brain. My last boss was downright emotionally abusive. I won't tolerate that! That's just not how I roll!

I spent a decade honing my homemaking skills and now the demand on those skills is much, much lower than it used to be. My kids are older now, most are in school, they’re only with me half-time, and they are happy and helpful when they are around. My house is tiny and the clutter level is at an all-time low, so cleaning/upkeep is a joke compared to the past. And if this doesn’t make the point nothing will: I used to do 10-12 loads of laundry per week. Now I do 2-3. Yes, it's that different. 

So these days I'm loose in a world where you typically have to have a "real job" with a regular paycheck in order to survive. Well? No. I have been thinking a lot about my life lately since quitting my god-awful office job, and I've decided that I have to take matters into my own hands. I don't have a degree to have a "legit" career in helping others, but I know a lot about a lot, and they ARE things that can earn me money. I enjoy doing what I'm good at, and "blessing" others with my talents brings me joy. So i'm gonna do it! I have been working toward this for years, really. I have notebooks full of ideas. I have taken some preliminary steps but never took them to the next level. And I have TONS of supplies.

I enjoy cleaning. It brings me satisfaction on several levels. When I was working deep-cleaning vacated apartments this summer, my mom asked me if I liked my job (because being a “maid” is so below my intelligence level). I told her I loved it; I was getting paid to exercise, listen to music and sing, and meditate (with the rhythmic nature of cleaning)…and then I had beautiful results to show for it! I am very good at cleaning, and I even learned some new tricks working as a professional! I am also good at organizing (love my label maker, haha!), purging (like walking people through the psychological process and offering objective insight), mending, dishes, laundry…years and years of experience (and high standards), insight I have gained, and lessons I have learned the hard way over the past several years have brought me to the next level in these areas. I want to bless people’s homes and families!

I love to make things, and I'm good at it. A long time ago I opened an Etsy store to sell my green/natural handmade toys and baby/household items, but I never once posted anything for sale. I also made a facebook page to launch myself in the local small business scene. But my life was too busy, exhausting, and chaotic. It was just a dream that never came into fruition. I want to make magic with my hands and be able to bring joy to others. And this kind of work can be done when my kids are around and I can squeeze it in or make it family crafting time (which they LOVE).

I love to write. I have so many articles and even whole entire books in my head, just waiting to be put onto paper. I've been journaling and writing stories since I was able to do so, and I have a box full of every single journal/diary I've ever had. I have 5 blogs and participated in a collaborative one several years ago. We are all Moms of Many and it became overwhelming for us and petered out, but we got a decent amount of publicity while it lasted. Brigit’s birth story alone has had thousands of views just on my personal blogs. 

I’ve wanted to be a published author since I was a little girl, but that always got pushed to the back burner for two reasons: I’ve considered it to be a “starving artist” type of career that was not a stable choice, and (most importantly) I have a serious fear of letting people read some of the things I want to write about. Fear of criticism, judgment, and even attacks by those people I may write about (I totally see being sued by my ex or his parents for libel…even though it’s all true). Anyway, now I am finally willing to explore this as a supplementary career choice. I am reading up on how to get started as a freelance writer so that I can gain encouragement and inspiration. I told Man Friend last night: my goal is to have a book published by the time I’m 40. that gives me a little over 6 years. :P

So. Now that I have been a single mom and the sole breadwinner for a while and tried several things, I am finally coming to terms with who I’m really meant to be. I am not meant to be tamed. I can work for myself and do things that I enjoy, and pay my bills with hopefully some leftover and enough to save for the future. Such a variety of work and it never gets boring! I can make my own hours and work around my custody schedule with my kids so that I can still be present for them like I was when I was a SAHM.

So I guess I’m about to launch two businesses. One for cleaning and one for handmade items. The freelance writing will be a background project until I figure out where I’m going with it.

The future is bright!

Friday, July 11, 2014

trauma vs. romance

i am in the weirdest place right now. stuck between the emotions regarding my estranged husband's suicide attempt and the emotions of a wonderful budding romance that has survived it. anger and sadness combined with heart-melting elation? so confusing. and i am being ridiculed from all angles for being "happy" right now. for being concerned about how this drama could affect this new flirtationship that is so precious to me. for not getting rid of the chair drew shot himself in. shame on me for remaining on my onward/upward track? i have never been so happy in my life as i have been since the minute drew walked out the door, new man friend or not. suicide attempt or not. does that make me a terrible, heartless person?
i am angry at drew for being so selfish and pulling such a dick move as to try to kill himself in a place where his children would most likely have been the ones to find him. for traumatizing me. i will never, ever forget the surreal sight of the hole in his chest. the ragged, torn shirt, the blood on my hand. the horrified scream-wail i let out. the hateful look on his face as he looked at me and said "i loved you." watching his eyes close as he lost consciousness. the moment i accepted that he was going to die in my arms. the moans he let out as his lung filled with blood. the spent bullet on the floor. the circle of blood on the chair. the sight of him in a coma. the first words he uttered as he came out of sedation ("i want. the glock.").
i am angry at him for traumatizing kieran (who still refuses to talk about it and just says "sometimes you just need to be sad for a while"). for destroying our children's innocence. for being the reason my 3 year old said yesterday "my daddy's in the hospital. he's getting better. he shoots hisself." for not getting the help that dozens of people were encouraging him to get. for being the reason that those same dozens of people are now blaming me for all of this because i broke his heart and abandoned him -- no one cares to hear that i tried to help him for years, and that as he spiraled downward and was not receptive to my relentless attempts to help him, he dragged the whole family down with him and i finally HAD to end the marriage for everyone else's sake. that was not a decision that came lightly.
i have been torn apart by a bunch of people i don't even know, and that was fine until one person i really really love finally turned against me. that made me cry. a lot. and now i just fucking HATE drew for it. i refuse to do anything else for him anymore, the thought of being in the same building makes me sick. he refuses to apologize for traumatizing me (and kieran) and still maintains that him dying would be the best thing for all of us, because "they'll be fine and you'll be free." selfish son of a bitch. i won't even take the kids to see him -- his parents have to do that because i just might punch him in his fucking face.
my sister is crying that i am not being compassionate enough to my loved ones, that i am not sad enough and that is wrong. wtf? i was there. i had my hysteria in the actual moment. i dealt with this man's bullshit for over a decade. his narcissistic pity parties became wolf-cries long ago. i stayed with him long after the marriage died (7 fucking years ago; the night he strangled me) because i KNEW that his fucked up self would not deal well with me leaving. his suicide attempt was not unexpected. i tried to stop him. divine intervention woke me up that night, and i spent 30 minutes trying to talk his drunk ass of the ledge before i realized that it was futile and called 911. then i saved his life by holding pressure on the wound, which slowed the internal bleeding enough for him to make it to surgery (and he still ended up with 3 transfusions). yet so many people still believe that i don't love him or care about him at all. these people don't understand love, and they definitely don't understand mental illness.
people are so fucking concerned about my children. they are fine. they don't even really understand what happened. i took them to crisis counseling. people are ridiculing me for disappearing for 2 days right after it happened and "pawning" my kids off on others. they were with loving friends who fed them, entertained them, loved them. I WAS IN NO CONDITION TO CARE FOR ANYONE ELSE. why can't people understand this? yes, it was my new man friend who took care of me. why is that so inappropriate? it's not like it was a romantic vacation. it was an amazing act of compassion on his part. he made me eat, cuddled me, even stayed in town for one more night when he was supposed to go out of town for a work emergency. i fielded over 100 phone calls in 48 hours, not to mention the dozens of texts and PMs. sitting vigil at drew's bedside while he was critical and then as they attempted to bring him out of sedation. dealing with next-of-kin duties. it was fucking exhausting. had i been in charge of my children, they would not have gotten any attention from me anyway. i made sure they were safe and taken care of by loving friends that i trust and they like when i was unable to function enough to care for them. is that not me being a good mom?
i've lost 12 lbs in a month, which puts me 2 lbs *below* my goal weight. i haven't weighed this little in 11 years (4 babies ago!). i'm really not complaining -- in fact, it makes me think i could actually get back down to my 19 year old pre-baby weight (only 6 more lbs), and i have no desire to stop this pattern because i am liking the results. my new man thinks i'm sexy as hell and for some reason that makes me want to lose more weight (??).
i don't have a history of eating disorders or anything. i just have no appetite. at first it was from the excitement of dating this amazing new guy, then stress from dealing with a severely mentally ill ex and processing the trauma i experienced the night he shot himself. i eat only when i'm shaky from low blood sugar. yesterday all i ate was a handful of crackers with about 1/2 C of chicken salad, and then later, half an avocado. i'm quite certain that i have become vitamin deficient, but cannot bear the thought of taking a multivitamin on a perpetually empty stomach, because that will make me feel sick. i guess i'm just waiting for this to pass...
whew. just had to get that shit off my chest.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

tangential musings on my ever-unfolding new normal

I see the picnic blanket by the front door and it reminds me of a time when my life was simpler, happier, carefree.  Well, that sounds awfully utopian.  It’s not, really.  Just compared to now, it was definitely those things.  I see that blanket and I am reminded of lazy afternoons at the gardens, the weather in the 70’s and breezy – paradise -- while the kids romp in nature and the mamas lay around chatting and basking in the sunshine on said blanket.  The buffet of snacks is intermittently being raided by hungry children, taking a small break from their rumpus to refuel.  

Thinking of that buffet of snacks brings to mind a fact that I have been in denial of.  Since my children started school and are eating 10 meals a week there, they have lost their appetites for some of what used to be staple foods in our diet.  They still love raw veggies, all kinds of fruit, and boiled eggs.  But they have lost their appetite for most nuts and seeds.  That seems like a ridiculous thing for me to be stuck on, but yet I am.  I guess it’s because in my attempt to steer our family toward a healthier/whole foods diet, I value nuts and seeds as a convenient, portable snack that meets the craving for crunchy, and maybe salty, and provides protein and fat, which are great fuel in a small package.  So now, they want chips and crackers.  What the hell are they feeding them at school??  I mean, I already knew that the menus at school are sub-par to my own preferences for my children, but I force myself to turn a blind eye because financially, we need them to be eating 10 meals a week there.  That, and I just cannot be bothered to pack 3-4 lunches per weeknight.  It would just be one more thing on my never-ending to-do list.  I barely manage to prep the coffee maker the night before, which is something I need to do because for some reason, I cannot bear the thought of getting out of bed in the morning unless I can smell fresh coffee.  Weird? 

There is a name for my daily struggle.  Sleep Inertia.  Like, that’s a clinical term.  I ran across it while researching child mental health a while back and I had a bit of an epiphany.  Bipolar people often have extreme difficulty waking up in the morning.  If I am woken suddenly, my heart pounds and I shake.  Side effect of a medication?  Maybe.  I really have no idea why it takes me so long to get moving in the morning.  I swear I have to lay in bed for like an hour before I can muster the strength to get out of it.  And I don’t believe it is a depression thing, although some may say that I have been in a perpetual state of varying degrees of depression for most of my life.  (Except when I’m manic, of course.  Well, hypomanic, as my meds allow.  Slightly different monster, but most people don’t know the difference so I just say manic.  It’s shorter too.  Less syllables.)  So. The theory behind Sleep Inertia is, obviously, that my body does not come out of sleep state as easily as the average person.  It literally takes me hours to feel truly awake.  Drinking lots of coffee when I’m very sleep deprived does not do much more than make me jittery and weak, and sometimes even makes me feel even MORE incapacitated.  Weird again.

Okay.  Random tangent over.  Back to the picnic blanket.  Playdates.  Socializing.  Group meetups.  They are all in the past.  Last year turned my world upside down, and while some things have calmed down, my life is so very different than it used to be, and I know I will never get back to the way it was.  My baby isn’t a baby anymore, and I will never have another baby.  I’m okay with that part, and there is a tremendous feeling of freedom to know that we are out of babyland forever and can finally start living in a way we have been unable to do for the past 10 years.  So it’s bittersweet.  Most of my local friends are in the early stages of motherhood.  They have one, maybe two children, none of which are school age.  Or they ARE school age, and our paths have parted due to normal life circumstances.  And that’s okay.  It’s like graduating from high school and going our separate ways.  It’s not personal, it’s just life.

Point is, I feel a little lonely.  On one hand, the introvert in me can finally breathe and nurture its need for me to get plenty of alone time.  I do not handle chaos well.  It really freaks me out and I yell and throw tantrums (sort of).  It’s not pretty, and it’s definitely not who I desire to be.  (At least I'm mindful of it?)  So now the kids are in school, Robby has been shipped off to a “boarding school” for troubled kids, and the 3 year old is now officially addicted to TV.  And I let her get that way.  Sometimes I feel like I’m an unfit mother. Not because my 3 y/o watches too much TV (I’m sure there are many kids out there who watch more, and with much worse content), but because I am enabling her addiction just so she’ll leave me alone.  I feel guilt about that, but part of me is selfishly attempting to take care of my own needs first, and what I need is to be left alone.  A lot.

On the other hand, for lack of fostering more than one or two close friendships in my new life (new as in in the past 5-6 years, since I hooked up with the AP crowd), I do feel alone.  Schedules make it difficult to meet up with people.  Everyone’s life circumstances are constantly changing.  A new job here, a divorce there, a far away move thrown in for good measure.  But now, because of my son’s facility placement, I get to regularly visit with some dear, dear friends that I have lost touch with over the past few years for various reasons.  I feel I can be ME around them.  That is what I define as a close friendship.  We may have our differences, but we speak of them gently or not at all.  That’s okay.  We mesh well in enough other ways that those other things don’t matter.  

I am starting to feel like I’m getting the old me back.  Someone who has been suppressed for years as I have tried to transform myself into someone I so desperately want to be.  If there is one thing that my various experiences over the past 3 years or so have taught me, it’s to stop giving a damn.  Do what works for you.  Compromise.  There is no such thing as perfection.  Let some things go.  Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.  I am healing. Long road.  Long journey.  Neverending. 

I have lost my train of thought.  I’ll close now since my back is hurting from this typing posture.  Wah.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

time-in and time-out: what's the difference, and is it really a punishment? my biased opinion


not trying to stir the pot or be a kill-joy or offend anyone or anything, but the author's oldest child is 5.  and she only has 2 of them.  and i imagine her 5 year old doesn't have rampant ADHD which seriously impedes impulse control.  time-in can be VERY useful in situations like that.  it reconnects parent/child and helps to ground the child's excess energy.  and on that note, it is fairly easy to redirect a 1-3 year old, to stop and fill their loving cup (which imo is the goal of time-in, as it includes loving physical contact and compassionate discussion). 
as for time-out, i hope for her sake that she never has a violent, defiant older child who needs to be physically isolated for the safety of the rest of the family while s/he calms down and is ready to connect with a parent and talk about what happened.  

i know my family is unique (as all families are) but it irritates me when self-righteous authors publish articles like this which can cause guilt in insecure parents who are doing what works for their family because it implies that they're dOiN iT RoNg, especially when they have extenuating circumstances involved.  her blanket labeling of these practices as "punishment" is shaming to such parents, without even addressing compassionate hybrid techniques.  because those DO exist.  i do everything she describes.  and i wonder, how exactly is she keeping them right there in front of her while they have this discussion?  is she putting her hands on them in any way?  hugging them?  holding them in her lap?  that is the very definition of time-in.  we don't even use timers for time in OR time out.  with time-out i allow them to self-regulate, and usually they are ready to talk long after the popular "one minute per year of age" time-frame is up.

i predict that, regardless of how her children's personalities develop, this author will eat her words in about 5 years, as sooo many other parents of young children do.  college education be damned, there is nothing like experiencing it first-hand, 24/7.  

that is all.

 #rambling  #soapbox  #touchysubject  #overanalyzing  #justignoreme #notenoughcoffee #kidsbeingassholesthismorning #feelingbitter #nevermind #carryon  :P

Monday, December 2, 2013


i totally yelled yesterday. like, borderline screaming rage...well, not screaming, not red-hot shaking, not really rage, just "i've fucking had it!"-type [loud] rant. i didn't name-call or to speak...okay maybe i did say something about ungrateful children...a couple of times. i was ranting about about holiday stress. i was trying to get the kids to help tidy the house after the holiday week trashing, they were whining about decorating for winter/xmas bc i said we could on dec. 1st. but the house was trashed and i said we can't decorate a trashed house. totally logical, right?

well they didn't seem to get the connection, and nobody was doing anything, including my husband. i am stressed out trying to make gifts bc we are broke and i am crafty and have lots of supplies. i clearly expressed my anxiety about holing up in my studio to work while the house is a mess, bc the mess will get worse if i'm not around to help reign it in (i.e. supervise!). the house is extra trashed bc hubs and i have been sleeping in (since there was no school last week) and the kids are unsupervised for a couple of hours each morning which means mischief galore...despite our attempt to curb it by leaving the room with the tv unlocked and tuned into pbs. guess my kids are tired of tv! (good thing i suppose). ANYWAY, the mess is not really that bad if you think about 7 ppl pitching in. an hour would do it. but no one wants to freakin help. okay, i'm rambling...

so, as usual, my tantrum was triggered by no one respecting my need for peace and order (if we want to get all NVC about it) and my clear and respectful (if repeated) requests for help. it was getting toward the end of the day and i was panicking that no one would do their jobs for the day, then it would be time to go to grandma's for dinner and that would eat up the rest of the evening until bedtime! so i lost it. i ranted about holiday stress, ungrateful children, no one helping me, etc. i don't even remember. i wasn't even talking to anyone in particular, just ranting while violently unloading the dryer and transferring the wet clean stuff in (lol). so everyone is begrudgingly doing some pickup/put away as i continue to rant. (they did make a decent dent so it was okay later.) so then i announced i wasn't going to the ILs' for dinner bc i needed a break. so i got a couple of hours to myself to recharge. and i will admit i took some anxiety medication to help me calm down and recenter myself. it helped a lot. i was calm and loving/playful when they got home.

so i don't even know how i could have done things differently. this was a case of me feeling disrespected and worthless...walked all over...because my repeated requests were repeatedly ignored. EVERYBODY KNOWS that mama needs peace and order, and that starts with a clean house. i mean, that's one of the reasons i put them in school! i could not stand living in chaos anymore! i am able to PLAY when i am not bogged down with mental clutter caused by environmental clutter. why wouldn't they want that? you would think they would notice that and want to help. i have certainly verbalized it enough times; pointed out the connection between mama's moods and the level of order in the home. everyone plays better, not just me! the house stays company-ready (or close to it) during the school week, and even on weekends i'm okay with the extra mess bc i know come monday i will be able to get things right again. and they do help. our rhythm just got all fucked up last week. i'm proud that i made it almost all the way through the 9 days without losing it, but now i'm disappointed that i failed at the very end! argh.

today, things are finally quiet, but there are 5 loads of laundry to fold and the sink is overflowing with dishes. i asked hubs to do them yesterday (twice) and then again this morning (twice). he has now left for his jobs and still they sit in the sink. so now, once again, i have to do them myself. 3 days worth of dishes. FFS.
my husband repeatedly says he'll do something and then doesn't follow through. so in the interest of NOT being a martyr, i do it myself because (bear with me here) i'm doing it for ME--no one else seems to give a shit if the house is a shambles. and many times i have asked him to do something and then started to do it myself within minutes, i guess as sort of a point that it needs to get done NOW, not just whenever he feels like it, if he even remembers.

the NVC formula works wonders sometimes. saying "would you be willing..." puts the option to do good for someone else into their hands, and people like to help others bc it gives them satisfaction. i just feel like i'm the only one putting forth an effort to be compassionate and empathetic around here. my husband's version of getting ppl to help involves turning into a drill instructor. he feeds off my moods so when i get upset about stuff he steps in a deals with it...meanly. it does not make things better.
 the thing with the kids is that we have made chores/jobs/tasks a mandatory part of daily life, and they have come to accept that (if begrudgingly sometimes).  so when they are just wanting to play (and add to the mess) all day, i get frustrated. i really think the screw-up in our rhythm is what made things so bad. i had to trade the screentime rules for extra sleep (the need for which was brought on by more couple time at night...staying up way too late), and normally they have to do their daily jobs before getting screen time, which is strictly limited under normal circumstances. having unlimited screentime caused them to self-regulate and it lost it's novelty (a good thing). so then it turned to "we can't go anywhere until the jobs are done". but then they got involved in playing (another good thing) and the desire to go somewhere disappeared. result: no more ammo for me. and who am i to disrupt one thing i desire very much from my children--that they are happily playing all day long, no screens, no field trips?

it was just the one day. the week in general was pretty relaxed. i think i was just starting to panic bc things got so out of the ordinary. i like routine, i like order, and i like my alone time. those needs are met while they are at school. i'll be okay for the next 3 weeks but then winter break starts and it will be TWO weeks of everyone home, PLUS the holidays. omfg. i guess i will have to be more prepared for that than i was for this. live and learn.
the tentative plan: try to keep the routine, i guess. the tricky part is the sleeping in thing. we are not morning people, and getting up at 6am on school days is the pits. sleeping in till 8am is a treat, but the kids still get up at 6! i have a feeling we will be adjusting the bedtime over winter break. let the kids stay up a little later (than 8pm) and maybe they'll sleep in a little later than 6am. we like night time festivities anyway, fires, movies, etc. so we will have to spend the last 3 nights getting back into the 8p-6a groove before school starts again (to avoid monster-children), but perhaps it's worth that price. 


i think i'm becoming agoraphobic. or i always have been but have just had to deal with it for the sake of everyone else. i like being at home. i don't get cabin fever. lately i mostly only leave for errands or babysitting jobs. i haven't been going to church, and i don't miss it. i like having friends over, but i generally don't want to go anywhere. it's like this one vehicle thing (going on 5 months now) + 4 out of 5 kids in school (almost 4 months) is allowing the agoraphobic in me to blossom, so to speak. i've always had social anxiety (with strangers -- hate small talk) and claustrophobia, fear of heights...all symptoms. i'm not *afraid* to leave my house, i just don't want to, and will avoid it whenever possible. i am thankful that i have the one-car thing as an excuse. or maybe i *am* afraid. i don't know. i have always "joked" that if i wasn't married with children, i would be a hermit in the mountains somewhere, like the grandfather in Heidi. this is weird. maybe this is just some strange manifestation of depression. or maybe i am still recovering from 5 years of homeschooling with 4+ spirited children with me 24/7. or maybe i'm feeling apathetic about my marriage/life bc i'm thinking too deeply about the past. maybe all of it. maybe i have just given up on some things bc the current (very multifaceted) situation has ripped so many things out of my hands, so in order to survive i have had to just surrender and not care anymore.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Feeling Scroogey Already - Holiday Stress

i have come to dread the holidays.  there are quite a few reasons, and i'm sure they are not unique.  in order to get then off my chest without whining to my friends during this month of gratitude, i shall make one of my beloved lists, right here in my very own corner of the interwebs.

~ the money issue ~

we are broke.  we have been broke for the past 4 years due to hubs being in college and our only income being grants and loans.  and of course, being paid a chunk of money at the beginning of the semester pretty much guaranteed that we were broke by the end of it. but our level of brokeness has increased as each year has gone by.  back in the day, i had a budget of $500 for xmas.  that seems extravagant to some and lame to others.  the budget declined over the years and well, last year it plummeted to $100.  i made it work, and i was actually quite pleased with the results.  we restricted the number of gifts to 3 per kid, and i scoured the thrift stores for weeks and weeks.  I ended up finding each child presents that they were thrilled to get, and they didn't care a stitch that they were secondhand.  I did buy a few knew things, but not a lot.  socks. toothbrushes. new crayons. dollar store trinkets for the stockings.

~ the time/energy/opportunity issue ~

so every year that we are broke, i have to find creative ways to provide gifts for our family members.  i have tons of craft supplies and could easily, between my husband and myself, be able to produce lovely gifts for everyone on our lists for little to nothing out of pocket for us.  but time and opportunity are a rare commodity around here.  so the handmade stuff usually ends up going to the extended family.  Last year they got hand-dipped beeswax tapers, handmade wool dryer balls, handmade (melt & pour) soaps, etc.  in the past i have done sugar free & fat free hot chocolate mix (bc all of the grandparents and aunts/uncles are more "diet" conscious than we are -- we prefer whole-ish/"real" foods and not over-processed chemical shitstorms), felted wool coasters, crocheted whimsical/unique bookmarks, knitted/crocheted scarves, inexpensive photobooks (from CVS) of the "best of 20XX", etc.  simple, quick stuff from supplies already onhand; things that are unique and infused with love.  but those particular things are not the best gifts for children (with the exception of the photobooks -- they have been a bit hit with the littles!).

~ is it worth it? ~

for children, i mean.  to make things.  my kids are slobs.  because of a combination of against-the-grain parenting philosophies, my desire to avoid conflict/take the path of least resistance, and my own laziness when my older children were younger, i have failed to establish good habits in my children.  habits regarding taking care of their items and their home environment.  if i am not on top of everything everyday by myself, the whole house goes to shit REALLY quickly.  so i try to supply my children with sturdy, high-quality, repairable toys so that they will withstand rough use and last a long time.  they still manage to break these toys.  an overabundance of clinical-level hyperactivity amongst my children does not help things (it also drives me batshit and i have to take sedatives to make it through some days without completely flipping out). so when it comes to handmaking playthings for them, i am apprehensive.  i have made many baby toys which have held up well bc they are simple crocheted/knitted or carved wood toys.  but then the simple dress-up clothes have not held up so so well.  drawstring to the cape goes missing and suddenly it's a useless piece of cloth.  the ladies full-skirted half-slip that was upcycled into a little girls dress-up ball gown got the petticoat ripped off of it, so now it is a short, "flapper" dress.  still loved, but disappointing to me.  the bendy dolls and gnomes that i have experimented with in the past have been taken and ruined, whether by having been left in the yard at the mercy of the elements, or kicked unter a bed to gather dust bunnies and provide the inevitable florida bugs a tasty feast.  so while i want more than anything for my children to have these beautiful, handcrafted, open-ended toys, made with love by their mama, i cannot bear the heartbreak of seeing those things destroyed.

~ the influx of shit ~

"shit" being stuff.  new stuff.  all five kids' birthdays from november to february, and xmas thrown in there.  with overly generous grandparents in the picture, i'd say we end up with AT LEAST 50 new playthings (or plat SETS) in the house during those 3 months.  that doesn't include the gifts that hubs and i receive.  it's great that the kids get fresh playthings, really.  i do not resent the generosity that provides my children with things we could never afford.  i am a minimalst at heart, and we have 7 people living in a house built for 4.  take that an add to it the garage that acts as a storage unit for everything from things we still haven't unpacked since we moved in 9 years ago (I KNOW) to things friends who lived with us for a while left, things we inherited when various elderly family members passed away, and of course, things that are no longer useful to us (outgrown clothes, toys, etc).  we just have too much stuff.  we have PLENTY of storage space.  it is just not used efficiently, and there is a ton of stuff in there that just doesn't need to be.  but i do not want to just chuck it all and be done with it, since deep in the rubble there are sentimental things from my childhood (or my children's infancy) that i truly want to keep for scrapbooks and/or memory boxes.  so to chuck everything at once would be to risk losing something precious.  (i promise, i'm not a hoarder.  really.  i'm talking memory boxes the size of a file box here.)

over the years, my children have destroyed many sentimental items of mine.  i have hardened my heart to it and told myself over and over that "they're just THINGS." but that doesn't make it any less sad.  i finally packed up the irreplaceable stuff and put it in a box on a high shelf in a locked room, to be taken back down when the kids are MUCH older.  so i get that things are just things.  i do not have a hard time deciding to get rid of things, and i have become more and more ruthless about it in the recent past.  i lamented to my husband that we get rid of things that we shouldn't HAVE to get rid of, because if we are going to be able to teach the children how to take care of things, said things (all things, not just toys, but household items, too) need to be stripped to a minimum.  so that is the idea while i cull our possessions these days.  this time of year gives us a chance to start over.  but the culling is tedious and can be very overwhelming.

~ and finally, nuclear-family-of-origin issues ~

my nuclear family of origin (mom, dad, sis) are not close.  i won't hijack this by explaining why, bc that would take days.  however, suffice it to say that the holidays rub salt into the wound that i have tried to keep swept under the rug of my consciousness.  it hurts.  i do not have a close, loving relationship that i so desperately crave with my family.  so when holidays come around and we can't get together due to schedule conflicts, i feel undervalued.  this is especially true when my sister is able to make the trip to visit our parents and i am not.  so i go to my in-laws' house and celebrate with my husband's family, all the while feeling lonely and unloved because my own family did not try harder to include me in their celebration.  and then when we DO get together, it is surface-level visiting with a slightly formal air to it.  then the (always brief) visit is over and i am left feeling abandoned again.  i have friends who are very close with their parents and siblings.  i have learned to be apathetic about it, but underneath that i am envious and wistful.  and the worst part is, i feel like it's too late to fix it.  i have closed the door of my heart to them after enduring far too many rejections.

so all of that, you see, is why i like the holiday season to pass as quickly as possible so we can get on with starting a fresh new year (and perhaps consuming an entire bottle of champagne myself on NYE, haha), and i can focus on enjoying the lovely florida winter weather.  this too shall pass.

~ namaste ~
(at least i keep telling myself that)