I really like this little joke. When I was single and working I had time off, breaks, lunches, vacations, sick days. Now I work an average 15 to 18 hour day, seven days a week. I was sick and down one day this year, last year I skipped being sick altogether. Since moving to this fixer upper I have had my back go out and had to get adjustments for a few days in a row. One day I thought I was having a heart attack…turned out it was esophageal reflux. I saw that on the Golden Girls the other night and almost spit up my evening snack. Me and Rose, having fake heart attacks.
It’s not that it’s so taxing. The work that is. It’s the needs of everyone and the constant demands and pulls. It’s the sink of dishes that seems to fill the minute you have dried the last clean dish like some magic tub. It’s everyone waiting on you to feed them like little baby birds, plan fun events to keep them entertained and depend on you for everything under the sun. Then we purchased this fixer upper and all hell broke loose.
The house is pretty much done but I have now taken off on a wild homesteading mission. We have also taken on someone else’s grannie. What can I say, the owners of this grannie weren’t really taking good care of her so we stole her and she has really added to the farm. Because of her, I have chickens and a winter garden. I also have some help and support, both emotional and with the house. I feel my energy coming back in full bloom but I have also felt a bit…bitchy lately.
I was happy as a lark and then my aunt visited and my husband committed the first crime of not being so helpful or respectful. I won’t get into all that but my son was also showing his colors of not listening and respecting mama. I dread having guest because that is when the family will do that one…or ten things that are embarrassing and make me look like I don’t have my tribe under control.
And I don’t. I have been a pawn in their daily desires for entertainment and cavorting through life. They have no real responsibilities or duties. They acted like little princes that are bored with the day sometimes. Then there is grannie who is bored herself. Bored?! I don’t recall bored or what that emotion would feel like. I have a lot to get done in a day that keeps getting shorter and then on my down time I write, write, write. I have to make some money for my next goals. The first was the washer and I met that goal. Now I have a few listed so I have to produce.
So, I’m busy, tired, getting a bit pissy. Everyone else is bored or annoying, whining or not listening. Hummmmm….
Mama decided to crack that whip and start making routines and chores. What makes people feel a part of a community? Jobs. What keeps idle hands busy? Chores. What makes us all feel grounded and safe? Routines. What happens when Christmas is almost every day? Get’s boring. How do we bring appreciation back to simple pleasures? Cut back.
Every day someone would have a need or they were bored or they needed a store item. Every day I was loading up the truck with children and grannie and toting them about to entertain, amuse, and fulfill wishes and dreams.
Then I woke up one day not too happy. I was upset by some behavior and then it escalated from there. A little blue, a little angry, a need to cry a little. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was the real wound. I didn’t know what was to be considered “unreal dreaming” or if there was some deep unmet need. So, I stayed silent and to myself for a day or so and I got it. I was meeting everyone’s needs and being the activity director but my basic needs were met with arguments and resistance. Should I quit this job? Oh, that’s right, I signed up for life.
Well, it was obvious no one was going to really get how I felt until they walked in my shoes and that’s not realistic for a 5 and 3-year-old. A husband maybe. A grannie maybe. How to make life easier for me, be a good leader and have a happy tribe?
Still working out the kinks but so far I have gone to the schedule for effective ruling of my kingdom. I have also taken to treating myself now and then. Delegating, chores…those have been implemented too. And school, we started school…homeschool.
Here is what I have thus far for my full house of demanding royals; all activities are now scheduled once a week on specific days, not just when “we feel like it”. We shop once a week, not daily. Monday is grocery shopping day with a list that is kept on the frig and added to as we think of items we will need. If we forget something that’s just too bad. We have to wait for next Monday.
Thursday was chosen for library day. We can go for an hour and have fun, pick out stacks of books for the week, play in the play area, get movies. We can drop off movies the next day but no going in. Hardcore, I know.
The park is a block away and really nice so that can be any morning really. An hour is great for this park and it takes a minute to walk to and come back. This can be on the days.
Once a month we travel to do major shopping. We can hit up Whole Foods, Costco, Trader Joes, and Sprouts. But these stores are 35 miles away so once a month and we only hit two, maybe three if we start early and everyone is doing well. We have a grannie with a limp and bad knees and a 3 year old that has passionate moods. It isn’t so easy as it would be if it was Just Bali and me.
My writing time is sectioned off for the mornings. I will be hanging a curtain at the kitchen entrance as it opens to my laundry room office. I get up early and get into a writing spell and it is easily broken when people go in the kitchen and start staring at me and wanting to do a morning chat. My time is sacred. Everyone got the memo. Curtain to be installed soon.
Joette (grannie) is now completely in charge of the kitchen, the running of it, menus, cooking, planning. She loves this, loves cooking, organizing, scheduling meals. She needs to be more a part of the running of the house and this is how you make a community. She will own that kitchen because she needs to be running something on this ship and this is where her passion lies. I remember a management training book that said to find your employees skills and interest and you would have a happy employee that did a great job. Check.
I run the rest of the ship.
Arjan is 5 so he can now be responsible for things. He is to feed the hens, dogs, and cat daily and make sure they have water. Sam is 3 so we are just working on the fit throwing out in public. He is one adorable boy but he has taken to throwing a good scene when out and about. We had to leave a Farmer’s Market today because of his fit over berries. There was screaming and begging but I have got to be strong and set some rules about manners. The next time we stopped at a farm and he behaved gloriously.
Bali works hard but he has become very spoiled with being taken care of in detail. I have shown him where the snacks and cereal are for a lite dish before dinner. He comes home normal at 4:ish but when he comes home early at around 2:00 and is upset there is no dinner ready? Who in what country has dinner…or even supper, for that matter, at 2:00? So, Joette and I have done some extra cooking so there is always salsa, tortillas, beans, hummus, bread, fruit, cereal, potato salads, quinoa, and so on for him to get into when he arrives at what ever time and the understanding is that dinner happens around 4:00 at the earliest, if you are hungry you feed yourself from the bountiful supply. We have also gone back to making pots of things that are always simmering on the back stove, such as soup, beans, rice, or crock pots full of good stuff. We bake lots of bread and I make triple batches of tortilla dough and keep in the frig for a quick batch that I can just roll out and cook.
The vegan thing is wonderful but not always easy. I have decided to take it down a notch to vegetarian with limited dairy. We do eggs, when the hens decide to bless us with a few, and dairy is literally used as a luxury item in cooking. We just can’t be hard core with anything when we have a full house with all sorts of needs. I will say that when we do the mostly vegan everyone does well. We all lose weight and my energy is way up. Joette is down a couple medicines and slimming down as well. The boys are thriving and their eyes sparkle.
I really noticed how clean our diet is when we had a weekend of neighbors for dinner, an aunt visit, two creme pies, and a night out at Chilies. Oh, and then Joette made chili colorado with pork. My bowels were in an uproar all weekend. We ran to Whole Foods yesterday. By the way, I didn’t notice prices that reduced at Whole Foods with the Amazon take over. I spent a good $330 for all my goods. Granted I stocked up on frozen meat alternatives and nuts but wow.
As for homeschooling, we set aside anywhere from half an hour to 2 hours for Arjan to do an educational program, mostly ABCMouse, have a snack and ice water. He can do all he wants up to that 2 hours. His brother takes a nap or he plays on leapfrog, colors, or I read to him during that time. I have a shelf and small drawer in the built in dining room cupboard for all the educational and craft goodies for both boys.
This all started Monday, it’s now Wednesday and going well. I feel good, rested, organized, and sane once more. The only hick-up was driving all the way to a doctors appointment for grannie and she had the wrong time and they wouldn’t see her. So, I now do the appointments and register my phone number for reminders. I am her care giver after all.
Ah, yes, we are getting this little house packed full of family organized and running well.
As for the homesteading part. The chickens are costing more than they are laying and I was informed by my Backyardchickens group that they are old ladies at 2 years old. I refuse to accept this and I read that Leghorns produce well up to three years and never stop laying, just slow down. I’m hoping the lack of eggs is for molting reasons. That or these are the most expensive eggs ever.