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I’m exhausted.  The girls are exhausted and sleeping.  Today, has been a whirlwind.  This week for me has been very much immersed in paying attention to our in breaths and out breaths and when they are needed.  Rhythm.  An activity that is active or one that is quiet and reflective.  Balance.  We’ve had more steady rhythm since we began focusing on homeschool and doing an active Circle Time.  This week I’ve been working on adding in regular meal and snack times for the girls and a bedtime of 8pm with a consistent routine.

The last two days have really shown me what an inconsistent rhythm can do to a child.  I think before I was blind to the chaos it caused and thought that’s just how it goes for us.  Last night we were fortunate enough to visit with my Aunt Sharon for a few hours after Deladis’s dance class.  She had come to Kentucky for just a few days and had brought us some homeschool crafting goodies.  We didn’t get back home until 9pm and the girls weren’t in bed until 10pm.  It was the first night since Sunday that bedtime was not 8pm.

Then, today we had a beautiful morning Circle Time.  The girls have been enjoying the new autumn theme.  We are readying for our first family festival and the local fall festivals.  Deladis sung one of our songs loud and clear with me today.  Her voice rang out and I think I really heard her unhindered singing voice for the first time.  I smiled.  I had a light heart.

The next veering from our rhythm was when Ivy had to skip her nap and I my regular yoga time.  We had a homeschool group meeting, as we have found one that is near enough to us. (Yay!!)  It was our first time going, and the girls played so hard.  Yet, little inklings of unrest crept into their countenance.  I knew it was about to turn for the worst when Deladis dropped her scoop of ice cream and when she went to ask for another and wasn’t heard, she stuck her face out and screamed an angry “HEY!” at the mother that was dishing out the scoops.  From there, every little bump or fall, she screamed like she had been stung by a bee.

We got home, and I realized I hadn’t eaten since breakfast.  It was about 4pm.  We decided to go out to eat since I had to go to the store anyway.  Ivy cried the whole supper and John had to take her outside.  It was so loud that the restaurant manager gave Ivy his bobble head ink pen to try to calm her.  As soon as we were home, the girls made it known they needed a bedtime.  Them in bed, I sat down to write this realizing how much being in the midst of that and trying to hold it together has wore me out, and understanding what our past has been.

So, I’ve learned that rhythm is a great thing.  It is worth it to have a balance in our daily routine.  It’s healthy.  In more ways than not, things have went smoothly this week.  I now know that I need to find ways to help the girls when our rhythm will be interrupted and to make sure those times are kept to a minimum.

I have also learned that in order to have a rhythm, it pays to be somewhat organized.  I have gone back and forth about whether or not we need a written schedule.  Now, I’m thinking again that we do, or at least a daily plan.  Making regular mealtimes has brought back meal planning into the picture as well.  It seems like a lot of work, but it’s suppose to make the home a more peaceful place.  So, I’m assuming eventually it will be second nature and I’ll realize how much easier it makes my job as a mother and how much less “discipline” the girls need.  Parenting is really a trial in personal growth.  I’ve never had to grow up so much in  my life, while still trying to think like a kid. 🙂

Wish I could go back
And change these years
I’m going through changes
I’m going through changes

-Ozzy Osbourne “Changes”

Yes, folks.  I have been known to like some Ozzy once in a while.  I’m a rebel at heart. 😉  This is a love song, and I’m not writing about losing the best woman I ever had in this post.  I’m writing about going through changes.  Anytime we lose something we have to make changes to get our lives back in an order we can work with.  I lost a sense of balance between my mothering and my personal goals.  I was frustrated, and not succeeding at either.  The changes I made last week weren’t perfect, but they got me started.

This week has started off much looser than last week.  I have our menu planned through Thursday rather than the whole week.  I don’t have a new rhythm/schedule made out because I have decided that a rhythm is not a schedule of set times to do certain things.  I know, this sounds like I’m going back to a slack concept where I’ll get nothing done due to getting side tracked or procrastination.  No, I have certain attainable goals set for each day.  I took our former Waldorf Parent/Child teacher’s comment to heart.

Remember, rhythm is a breathing….times of play interspersed with times of work, inside/outside, rest/active…you get the picture. Whatever helps you breathe.

-Miss Angie

I am going to flow with the rhythm my girls set.  That is the only way I will accomplish anything for them or myself with any level of sanity or a sense of peace.  I don’t want to be fighting our needs from day to day, as they are ever changing, to stick to some schedule of how I think things should go.

For example, today is Monday.  On my old “schedule” I had this down for living room/laundry as my goal for housekeeping.  Instead of setting a certain time to do that, I did it as soon as I could after breakfast, when the girls were happily playing on their own.  It will probably fall around the time  as I had it in the old “schedule”, but it didn’t today.  We ended up with company in the form of musician Brett Ratliff who stayed to eat some yummy wild turkey my brother killed for us on Saturday.  I hate straightening up around company.  I think it is a bit rude, so I saved the bulk of my work until he left.  It worked out fine.

As far as keeping up with a time of day, I have distinct markers.  Mealtimes and preparing our meals will be a major factor in when and the order in which we complete the tasks of the day. Our mealtimes are pretty regular, though we vary whether our biggest meal is lunch or supper.  I am keeping a set bedtime for the girls.  Right now. we are experimenting as I believe both of my girls might not be getting enough sleep.  Tonight, they were in bed by 8pm.  The routine I had for bedtime will remain the same and baths will be every other day.  I will continue to get up earlier than everyone else on most days to insure I get writing and/or exercise time.  That is one thing that worked out really well.

Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny, and I plan to be out in the garden.  We are going to look at chickens and maybe acquire a few.  Then, I’m off to the first meeting of a new writer’s group.  Action packed, but I think I can do all of that, get some writing done, exercise and do some more housekeeping all within a rhythm based on the needs of the day.  Changes aren’t all bad.  Really, I think most change is good.  I don’t want to look back to the formative years of my girls lives and see them as wasted in life’s chaos.  I want them to be memorable, nuturing times.  I’ll keep you posted as to whether this change is accomplishing the peace in our lives that I hope it will.

As wonderful days tend to do, they end.  I’m left looking at the areas where our rhythm failed us after our near perfect day on Monday.  I’m left looking at the windows of time lost to Ivy being cranky.  The joy falling from Deladis’s face as Ivy climbs my back and tries to take the book from my hands during our story time.  Wondering endlessly whether or not I have the girls going to bed too late or not.  I’m contemplating how one simple thing like an unplanned, but necessary trip to the chiropractor can throw things off for days.  Work left undone.  Like a bridge in a song, where the music floats off into a tangent… but the notes always come back around into the previous arrangement.

I am not frustrated, only bemused.  I didn’t expect magic.  In all things there are flaws, and the flaws in our rhythm can be made better.  I’m going to press onward with what I have down a few more days.  As I see more of what is working and what isn’t, I can make changes.  I know I am not feeling as pressured even when our rhythm goes asunder.  I’m finding myself a more patient mother because even I need to know that there are other hours in the day and right now is the only right now we have.  Deladis seems more content.  She sleeps now beside me, us having to forgo the bedtime routine because Wednesday night church had us out too late.  I left church early without feeling guilty because Ivy needed to go and the good Lord understands babies, and mamas, and life – even when they interrupt prayer time.  To nurture and provide a comforting foundation for my children is my job right now, and I am determined to do well at it, as I am determined to be well-rounded and fulfilled in my personal life.

There is too much food in the refrigerator because I overcooked using our little menu… somehow.  It’s weird.  So, I only have to cook breakfast tomorrow.  Lunch and dinner are covered with our lovely leftovers.  I served Deladis two runny eggs this morning and she ate every last bite as did John and I.  Yes, I made six eggs.  I didn’t want to make us make do with just eating one.  Again, things to figure out and work to be done.  There are far worse things than an evening where it isn’t necessary to cook, though it has become one of the joys of my life.

I’m researching more into our way of eating, and trying my best to fit our dietary needs into our budget.  I believe I can do it.  As old habits are hard to break, food ruts are too.  I’m stuck wanting nuts and cheese at lunch eventhough those are two of the most expensive things on my store list.  I’m eating my leftovers, which are yummy too and looking forward to a week or so from now when leftovers become my new lunch habit.

Today, I don’t have all the answers, but I have a start and the will to try.  Another thing I have is time to get it right, and well, if time is up for me tomorrow then I did my best and someone else can pick up where I left off.  That’s what counts.  We may be a little off balance, but we can always recover if we are willing to try.

Here we are on Monday.  I have successfully completed the first full day of the rhythm I’ve developed to keep us all on track and happy.  Well, kind of successfully.  Both of the girls are asleep a whole hour before bedtime.

raremoments

They conked out during our quiet time.  I had been doing the bedtime routine since Saturday with bedtime at 9pm.  I don’t know, maybe it’s coincidence that they fell asleep today.  Maybe, I’ll need to make bedtime earlier.  I’m looking forward to the peace and “me” time I will have getting up an hour and a half earlier than the girls, so I’m trying to insure they sleep until 8am.

Here is a general outline of how our days will go.  Some days mealtimes are a little different because of John’s schedule, but the activities are the same.

  • 6:30am – Me Wake Up
  • 6:30-8am – Writing or Exercise Time
  • 8am – Wake Up Girls
  • 8-9:15am – Prepare and Eat Breakfast
  • 9:15-10:15 – Writing/Computer/Exercise Time
  • 10:15-12pm – Housecleaning (I’ve assigned a room a day and straightening up for Sat..  Laundry w/ the living room on Mon..)
  • 12pm – Ivy Nap
  • 12:30pm – 2pm – Writing and/or Deladis Time
  • 2pm-2:30pm – Lunch
  • 2:30-4:30 – Family Time (can include various activities even housework, gardenwork, outdoor play, etc… Just involves the girls and I am wholly present for them.)
  • 4:30 – 5:30 – Dinner Prep
  • 5:30-6pm – Eat Dinner
  • 6pm-6:30 – Kitchen Cleanup and Breakfast Pre-Prep
  • 6:30-7:30 – Quiet Time
  • 7:30-8pm – Bath
  • 8pm-8:30 – Storytime
  • 8:30-9pm – Bedtime Girls
  • 9pm-11pm – Writing Time or John Time 🙂

I’m happy with how today went.  I didn’t feel myself getting anxious and I was much more patient with the girls.  Having a menu to work with is saving time.  I am happy to report that I have 53 pages written on my first novel after today’s writing sessions.  I will have written this blog, given the living room a thorough cleaning, washed and put away three loads of laundry, cooked 2 meals from scratch, made popsicles with Deladis, made her a snack tray to graze on throughout the day, washed dishes, answered emails, danced with Ivy, and so on and so forth.  I’m amazed at what has went on today with no raising my voice, no feeling desparate, and the girls’ free expression of their age.  I hope it’s not an illusion and it will continue to work well most days.  I know some will be harder than others, but I hope they will all be better.

I’m functioning today on four eight ounce cups of coffee instead of my usual two.  The last two days of writing, reading, and meeting my writing Superhero, Gurney Norman, has been rewarding.  It has left me exhausted.  That and the girls both being poor sleepers.  Ivy sitting up in bed at 4am saying “goggie” over and over while kicking Deladis.  Deladis is having an allergic reaction to her vigorous play with our Dalmatian, Lars and was itching all night long.  Yes, it was a lovely night.

So, far Saturday is a quiet day and I am using it to compile my thoughts on a rhythm for our days.  I’ve asked mamas from two online forums I belong too, and I have used the comments I’ve gotten here to make a list of things to keep in mind.  I have gotten two days of rhythm down on paper so far.  It is already making me feel more at ease.  Hopeful.  I have also used this uneventful morning to make a store list and plan a loose menu for the week.  I’ll be making the 45 minute trip to Hazard with the girls on my own today as John will be playing a Kentucky Derby party at an establishment in Lexington, Kentucky.  We’ll see how that goes.  It’s an interesting experience to have to drive all over God’s green earth to find the groceries you need.

The following list are things I’m thinking about while developing a rhythm for our household.

  • Times should be kept loose.  Use the clock only as a guide for what happens next.  Some things may take longer than planned, or not as long as planned.  Bedtimes are the only thing in the rhythm that might benefit us to follow to the letter.
  • The needs of my children come first.  With their needs met they will generally be happy and I will find that the time I do get to spend with my husband or alone will be more productive and enjoyable.
  • Try to predict repeating behaviors in the girls.  For example, Ivy likes to nap about 3 hours after waking in the morning.  She likes to eat directly after nap.  Deladis likes 3 small meals and 3 large snacks in a day.  Make sure she has easy access to appropriate foods.  Late afternoons are a trying time.  Reserve that for time with the girls.
  • Prioritize my exercise routine.  It might benefit me to have a scheduled time to wake up on days I want to get extra writing time in, or on days I want to do Ultimate Taebo.  I can work on cutting a yoga routine down to smaller chunks of time and focus more on individual poses and their relationships to each other than an hour long routine.
  • Do not stress if I don’t get in all the writing time I planned for.  Some days I will get more than planned, some less.  It will balance out.  The important thing is to work at it daily.
  • Cut down on blog posts and think more about the quality of writing there.  I’m thinking I will post 4 times a week.  This will give me more time for fiction writing and working on my novels.
  • Computer time needs to be cut back.  Utilize the time wisely and do not get sidetracked from the goal.
  • Wash dishes after every two meals.  This can be done with Ivy on my back if she is out of sorts at the time.  Deladis often likes to help with dishes.  This will also put me washing dishes once a day instead of twice.
  • Choose a major chore to do every weekday in order to keep an orderly house.  Ex.  Monday – cleaning living room/laundry
  • I’ve decided a formal preschool time with Deladis is not necessary.  (She won’t like this, but I’m replacing it with more time with her, so I think she will be okay with it after we fall into the rhythm.)  Instead, I plan to include her in my activities of housework, gardenwork, cooking, etc…  I also plan to include a evening “bedtime” story, and crafts/outside time during set aside family time.  More library time.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff… Yes, trite phrase I know, but it’s true.  Don’t just plow through the day, but look at each day individually and keep everyone’s needs in mind.

You’re probably thinking at this point, what did their days look like before?  Partially organized chaos is your answer.  No more, no more.  From this list, I’m creating a loose schedule of our days.  I plan to follow the same schedule every week until I see another need arise, or the needs of my girls change allowing for more or less time doing certain activities.  I will post our schedule as soon as I finish it.  Tomorrow’s post will be about meal planning on our new budget.

Today has been a breaking point for me in my mothering.  I am not a good mother right now.  I don’t have control over our days.  I’m left feeling empty and lost.  I raise my voice at Deladis too much, and I find myself angry.  There, I’ve laid it out honest.  Both girls are at a stage where they seem to need me every waking moment of the day.  Deladis has made whining and crying a habit (part of that is my fault too for giving in to make it stop).  She doesn’t have the skills to think things through, yet wants to do things on her own.  Ivy – well she’s the dare devil that I’ve written about before and still such a baby.  When we are home they don’t seem satisfied, or maybe they seem to need me too much.

Me – I’m at a stage where I feel like I need distance.  I need time to be me.  I want to exercise (I’m interested in more solitary forms of exercise lately like kickboxing and yoga.).  I so desperately need time to write.  I want to be productive as a person alongside of my mothering.  I feel like now is the time for me to use my skills in writing for the benefit of my family and for my personal need for creating things.  I figure I need three hours of mostly uninterrupted time to accomplish those two things.  I can deal with minor interruptions during writing times.

Then, there are my other responsibilities.  We just got word that our food budget has dropped to $269 monthly for four people.  This is going to mean even more time in the kitchen for me, as even more things (like Deladis’s rice milk) will be cheaper made from scratch.  This means more dishwashing, which I do by hand.  It also means that the success of our garden is more important than ever.  So, getting it fully planted and maintained will fall mostly to me.  There is the normal housework – sweeping, laundry, dusting, and cleaning the bathroom.  Also, gathering our week’s worth of cooking/drinking water.

Organizing our cabin is a must.  Deladis’s room is nearly impassable, and she can’t clean up alone yet.  I’ve taken three boxes of toys to Goodwill and it is still too full.  I need to get clothes together to go to consignment.  We need to put our Christmas decorations in storage at my mother-in-law’s.

These are all my responsibilities.  John is too busy to help much with any of these things.  He would if he could, but an artist’s work never ends it seems.  Especially when he is a one man show running his own business.  Notice I haven’t even mentioned the responsibilities of taking care of the girls.  Diapering, bathing, nurturing, feeding, and discipline (of which I am horrible with).

Deladis is acting out more and more.  I have been planning to homeschool her until I received word that the state is reforming the standardized testing, doing away with writing portfolios.  Now, I’m seriously considering sending her to school.  Maybe she needs some time apart from me.  Time to be with children – her peers.  Maybe I need that time too.  Am I horrible for thinking it?  So, I looked into preschool, but we don’t qualify for public preschool here, and other than that the only other choice is a childcare center which I don’t want and we can’t afford.  The only other real preschool opportunity we would have is one where I would have to drive her 30 minutes there and another 30 minutes back.  It would be outside of our community.  It looks like I will be with her primarily until she goes to kindergarten, if and when she does.  That is fine.  I want to be her teacher.  I want to be her guide.  That has always been the plan.  I have to find a way to make it work for the both of us.

I’ve decided our only solution is to develop a rhythm.  I’m horrible with being spontaneous.  I awake each morning with a list of things I want to accomplish and I just go about it as quickly as I can.  No rhythm at all.  No predictability for my girls.  When we lived in Louisville, we attended a Waldorf Parent/Child Program where developing a domestic rhythm was emphasized.  The Waldorf inspiration is something of the city that I miss, and the community of mothers it created.  Our neck of the woods would benefit so much from that kind of influence.  I would still benefit from it.

The goal of the rest of the week is to plan a rhythm that is open-ended.  I want to keep all of our needs in mind.  I want our goals to be met.  Mine, my husband’s, and my girls’.  I don’t even know if it can be done, but I have to try.  It is my hope to redeem myself and my relationship with my girls.  I want to feel that my days are meaningful and not one running into the next with building frustrations.  I want to enjoy mothering.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be posting about my developing rhythm and whether it is working for me or not.  I’m also going to be posting about working with our food budget and what that will entail as I know we are not the only ones dealing with the economic downturn.  I’m going to add a recipes page that you will find linked at the top of the main blog page where I will add recipes and other food ideas.  If all works well, I hope to post more about the progression of my writing as a career.  Today, I will be attending Evening with Poets and tomorrow workshopping with the state’s poet laureate Gurney Norman!

I have also decided to post my new blogs at night as one of my final activities of the day.  You can look for the new ones then… or the next morning. 🙂  Click by on May 2nd to find out who won the pink wool soaker by AngelLuvz.

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About Me

An Appalachian woman born and raised, mothering two little girls in a place that is non-existent to AT&T or UPS. Happily working toward a sustainable lifestyle and writing on the demand of a loud muse.

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