Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Responsible Living

Back in the summer I was attempting to get the boys to do a quick clean up of their toys with me.  I was trying to make it fun, light hearted and encouraging.  I said, “Let’s go Hayden!  Help Mommy pick up the trains!” 
He just looked at me and said, “No.  Mommy cleans up toys.”  He didn’t say it in some spoiled tone, or meanly.  Just in a very matter of fact way.  Still, I rankled.
“No, Mommy doesn’t-!”  But then I stopped.  Yes, Mommy actually did.  She cleaned up toys, took care of clothes, made beds, cooked dinner, did dishes.  The list is rather endless when I think about it.  So, being the nerdy, need-to-research-everything type of Mama that I am, I started reading books on today’s children and entitlement. 
Oh, it may seem silly that not cleaning up toys made me take the leap to entitled kids, but really isn’t that the attitude behind it?  I don’t want to raise my boys to think that someone else will do the cleaning and cooking for them.  I want them to know how to do it, to be proud of themselves and feel confident in the fact that they can take care of themselves (eventually).
I read a couple of books on the subject, some better than others.  But I liked several ideas in the book, “Cleaning House: A Mom’s Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement” by Kay Wills Wyma.  The book itself is decent.  It seemed to me that she took excerpts from her blog about the 12 months and then tried to form her book around those, which made it less cohesive to me, but again, I took away some good things from the book.
One of those things is picking one thing per month to focus on.  Since starting the idea in July, we’ve focused on making beds, cleaning up toys, taking care of clothing (PJ’s in the morning and day wear at bedtime) and taking care of one’s dishes after each meal.  As they get older I plan to build on their responsibilities and have them learn to do laundry and even cook.  Although they cook a lot with me already, its mainly playing.
The main thing we do differently from the author above is we don’t pay our children for their responsibilities.  Kay Will Wilma and her husband pay their children $30 each at the beginning of the month (and with five kids that’s no small feat.) And if their responsibilities/chores aren’t taken care of then she docks them one dollar per day.  Her children were older when she started the Entitlement Project and I understand why starting with an allowance of sorts was appealing.
But I’m a firm believer that for our home, there are things that we do because we’re part of a family.  We pick up after ourselves, take care of plates, and so much more because we’re a unit and that’s how we work together.  At least that’s how it is in my mind.  Until recently I was, obviously, not living up to that ideal.  I do understand paying for bigger jobs, and I hope that will encourage the boys to take on larger roles as they get older, but for now the small everyday jobs are enough.
So far its been a great experience and the boys, specifically Hayden, have met the new activities with excitement.  The only challenge we’ve had was the bed making.  For some reason he fought me tooth and nail about it for the longest time.  I certainly didn’t expect perfection, I just want him to try and I always help him.  So why wouldn’t he make the bed?!  It was awful and I was ready to resort to a reward chart of some kind.  But my in-laws were in town for a week and made it a HUGE deal every time he made his bed.  Its seemed the extra recognition (aside from Mama) was all he needed.  Now occasionally he whines a bit, but almost always we get the bed made.
I have so much to add but this is turning into a long post.  We’ll be keeping it up next year and focusing on one item per month. I also focus on something personal for me.  Usually health related, such as getting to bed earlier or cooking more at home or something along those lines. 
We decided to combine November and December and focus our time on giving.  Both Arnie and I feel it’s important to be aware of needs around us and help where we can, even if it means making a personal sacrifice in order to do so. 
It has been wonderful to see Hayden respond to people and tomorrow I’ll share with you how we’ve tried to focus on giving to family, community and world. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Christmas Photography 2012

Taking pictures is a bit of an obsession for me.  It’s all my Grandpa’s fault.  I swear.  I don’t remember a holiday, vacation or visit where he wasn’t taking pictures.  The still camera was in one hand, the video camera in his left.  

I don’t do a whole lot in the way of home videos.  But photography?  Yeah.  I do some of that.  Ahem. Understatement.  I wouldn’t call myself a photographer.  (Although I’m dreaming a bit in that direction.)  But I do love to take pictures.  Thanks to my hubby’s awesome gift of a DSLR last year and a basic photography class, I shoot in manual and have been experimenting with all kinds of pictures.

Last year I did some indoor shots using natural lighting and basic manual mode.  You can see them here.  Though looking back I’m not sure I want to link up to those.  Haha.  Anyway, this year I wanted something outside and this is what I came up with.  I hung a few ornaments in the tree, borrowed the awesome red chair from a friend and used the wreath that I put over my mantel for the set.  And viola!  I give you Christmas Photo Shoot 2012. 

Arnie helped me out and held the reflector which resulted in some good catch lights.  I think they’re good enough for a Christmas card and I might have a few prints done for the grandparents.  It was a lot of fun even though the boys cooperated for not quite 30 minutes.

My kids will certainly have tons of memories of the crazy things Mommy did to get the shot. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Life's Been Busy

Life has been busy. Whose hasn’t?  But with the kids and gardening and writing and vacations and everything that filled our days throughout the summer, I thought that maybe blogging was just a temporary fixation for me.  I let Love, Laughter and Laundry sit on the sidelines.  I found myself thinking about it again when September came and life grew a bit more predictable, but we’ve been playing home pre-school with my oldest, so I decided to focus on that and let the blog lay low a little while longer.  Finally the fall hit and our family traditions began in earnest and I couldn’t resist.

At first I just updated the blog title and pretended that I couldn’t make time for it again.  But after writing in my journal for several weeks in a row and thinking, I want to post this.  I decided to start things back up.
So here I am with the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season about to begin, we’ll be even busier than usual but I’m posting again anyways.  I can’t help but smile at my craziness.
Over the next few weeks I plan to post Christmas pictures I took of the boys, crafting projects I’m working on for the holidays and all the little fun things we’re doing to celebrate the season, along with our December homeschooling goodness.
I hope you find inspiration for you and your family over the holiday season, and think of Love, Laughter and Laundry as a daily reminder to cherish the everyday moments.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow- Food Garden

Everything is green and the days are getting longer.  And although that creates a bit of havoc on bedtime, it is so nice to feel the warm sun on our faces as we play outside or to open the windows and let the breezes and fresh air into a house that now seems closed up for too long.

We built our garden bed on Saturday and planted on Sunday.  Our backyard consists of clay and rocks, so a raised garden bed is definitely the better choice.  We put it all together using 4x4x6’s and 6 inch wood screws.  Then Arnie proceeded to move 5 yards of dirt into the garden, while I raked it through and evened it out.  The boys played in the dirt- digging in it, moving it, crawling all over it.  We had a wonderfully exhausting day outside.  Sunday we planted.  We managed to get quite a bit in a 12x12 space.  We planted 3 kinds of tomatoes, squash, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, green beans, beets, jalapeƱos and green peppers along with basil and oregano.  The beets, green beans and cantaloupe we are starting from seed, while the rest are organic transplants from a local nursery.

Hayden is thrilled with it.  His face lights up when he talks about our vegetables, as if the plants are his friends.  And since we’ve been reading Peter Rabbit, he of course talks about how Asia might have to keep the bunnies away so they don’t steal our vegetables.  Yesterday he asked if our seeds had come up yet.  I wish I’d planted something that sprouted a bit sooner so he would be rewarded earlier, but everything is 10-21 days, so he will have to wait.  We had a much smaller garden in Memphis, but he was too young to really take part in it.  This year it will be wonderful to watch him make the connection between the earth and our food.  I, like Hayden, do hope our visiting bunny friends from last year don’t take too much a liking to our garden.

Spring has sprung and while I’m very behind in my house cleaning, it has been wonderful to just let go and spend time outside with the boys.  This Saturday will be a different story, as I’m planning to try out some freezer cooking.  I plan to cook or put together 14 meals for the freezer.  It’s a bit intimidating, but the benefits if it works will be completely worth it.

The rest of the week will be filled with coloring eggs, making an Easter tree and focusing on why we celebrate the holiday.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Happy Spring!

So again, I’ve been a bad blogger and haven’t written in quite a while.  In fact, I didn’t blog on my baby’s first birthday and all other manner of occasions.  I tried a work from home job for about six weeks that took up all my computer time, in fact it took up every moment of free time that I had.  But also, we’ve been spending lots and lots of time outside.

Yesterday was the first day of Spring!  While its been wonderfully warm here for several weeks, its now official, the vernal equinox was yesterday.  We have been enjoying so much time outside, playing every afternoon until its time to come in and cook dinner and then reluctantly dragging ourselves in.

I’ve tried several times to take a book and bask in the sun reading, but Mason is much too active to let me read more than a few lines at a time.  We played in leaves yet to be raked up from fall and its even been warm enough that the boys have played in the water table.  Occasionally I wonder how hot the summer is going to be if the spring is already this warm, but then I decide to worry about it later and just enjoy the sunshine and occasional rainstorm.  We’ve seen lots of wasps though.  Does anyone know a natural way to get rid of wasps?  They’re buzzing all around the house and yard and I’m a bit nervous about the boys getting stung.

I have hopes of getting the raised garden beds up this weekend, so planting can start soon.  I’m excited to have a garden this year; I missed not digging my fingers into the soil last year.  I’ll have to figure out a way to keep the bunnies out though... and Mason. 

I hope wherever you are that Spring is shinning down on you.

Happy Spring!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Beloved Times & Realizations

Tonight as Hayden is falling asleep I sit at the foot of his bed, with my arms on the mattress and my head resting there.  He cuddles his stuffed monkey, covered with his cozy and his little socked feet stick out from under the covers.  The socks are black and white striped and they remind me of the way Hayden imitates the referees while Arnie’s watching football.  I hear Mason’s soft snoring from his spot across the room, right in time with the sound machine that’s supposed to help them settle deeper into dream land.  Suddenly the simple contentment and peacefulness of that moment crashes into me like a wave.

I realize that for the past few months I’ve just been so caught up in the everyday busyness that we haven’t had any of those moments.  Well, the moments have been there, but I’ve missed them.  The time passed and I let it slip right by without grabbing hold and cherishing.  A part of me aches at the realization.   Isn’t that part of my goals and dreams for my family… that we hold on to the simplest but still so important things in our lives?  It is, and yet we haven’t.

This insight has come at a perfect time.  I’m about to start a work from home position that I plan to do while the boys are sleeping, but that means more time cleaning, preparing meals, etc while they’re awake.  So it will mean new things for us, finding a way to take the time and still notice the joys of life that have slipped by for the past few months, but at the same time watch my schedule get busier.  I see that I need to prepare for it, to be ready to contend with the hectic and demanding so we can preserve the calm and beloved.

Beloved times like tonight, staring as striped socks and listening to baby’s breathing in the sweet night.

Friday, January 13, 2012

This Moment {Fun with Family}

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Inspired by Soulemama