Simplicity

This week my husband was working out of town following the weekend when we learned that the house we had under contract in the city needed $20K worth of structural repairs. Ouch. My idea about keeping things simple was a good one, but this week I was single parenting and making an offer on a new house on my own. No choice about that. Just had to. Mid week sometime, some things got out of hand, my kids lost it, then I lost it. I was up half the night being pretty unkind with myself because I wasn’t managing very well.

A gift that comes with age perhaps, but I do not listen to unkind words about myself for very long. I was able to realize the extreme circumstances and even feel a bit pleased that I am a very patient person and it took SO MUCH for me to lose my cool. I don’t know why clarity so often comes knocking at my door in the middle of the night when I’d really like to be sleeping, but clarity is welcome whenever it comes. It eventually dawned on me that the kids and I were all missing the simplicity we usually enjoy, the simplicity that allows me to be patient and present with them.

I thought about my next two days of single parenting and made a decision. I canceled every commitment I had made. I didn’t spend any time on the phone. I didn’t pack a single box. We snuggled, we read, we crocheted hats, we played charades, we went out for lunch together. My only goals for those two days were to be present and patient with my kids and to like myself at the end of the day. Those are not small goals, but they are simple, and I was successful.

Late at night, after my first successful day with the kids, I talked with my husband on the phone before bed. I was half asleep during our conversation since I’d been up half the night before. That brilliant husband of mine said something like: “Remember when we talked about having you at home with the kids and how you wanted to just be available for them? They love that. You can tell, things are just right in their world when you can do that.” He’s right again.

**On a similar note, Glennon Melton’s post this week was about how kids just want a happy mom. I loved it.

Perfecting the “polite pass”

We are making daily progress toward our move. Our strategy is to do a little packing everyday to do our best to avoid a crunch at the end. So far so good. We are trying to leave a lot of time to hang out with the people we love before we go. We want to be available to say “yes” when people ask to spend time with us.

This week, I said “yes” to three parties, grown up chats with several friends, and extra kids at my house every single day. I said “yes” to all those things and still accomplished packing and much phone calling with realtors, insurance agents, and banks. I was beginning to feel a little like what my friend, Andrea, described: my day was running me instead of me running my day.

So, I think my priorities are awesome and I wouldn’t change them for anything. Making time for loved ones, being “THE” house where the kids want to BE, being able to say “yes” when a friend needs a favor, keeping life simple and low stress…all super, super important.

What I am finding is that during extreme times, sometimes all my top priorities come into conflict with one another and some decisions have to be made about what realistically can and cannot happen, while keeping in mind that I need to take care of myself as well somewhere in all of this.

I watched Hotel Transylvania with my kids recently. In the movie, Jonathan is offered a bagel with scream cheese, to which he replies “Polite pass, I am scream cheese intolerant”. As a mostly food intolerant person, that gave me a giggle, but I also thought it wouldn’t hurt for me to perfect the art of the “polite pass”. This is a crazy busy time and I won’t be able to do ALL the things I would want to do and still pull off this move.

My hope is that people continue to ask to spend time with us, that kids continue to want to be at our house, that people continue to ask me for favors AND that I continue to strive for a simple, low stress life during this busy moving/holiday season. I know I won’t accomplish all of these things all the time. I hope that I can keep a clear head so that when those priorities are in conflict, I can make healthy decisions about what I can reasonably accomplish in a given week and practice the “polite pass” at appropriate times.

Reading goodies

I feel EXACTLY this way about gift giving.

More Anne Lamott. Just have to. I thought this was lovely.

We continue to read about life on the prairie here. I brought My First Little House books home from the library for my girl to read to me. She especially enjoyed the cookbook, of course.

I am now reading Three Cups of Tea, another inspiring book.

And no, we’re not reading as much as I usually like us to. But we are thankful to have our house under contract and have begun a serious search for our new home. I intend to celebrate every little step along the way and have some fun with this.