Tuesday, 24 June 2014

On Cutting Corners, Falling off Tables, and Preaching at My Children

Lately I've been thinking about my tendency to cut corners--no matter what job I begin it seems that I forgo the quality of the job in order to see it done quickly. Rather than preparing well, I just want to get to the good part. So if I am cutting material for a quilt I might not do the best job because I am in a rush to see what it will look like finished. Or rather than tearing out a mistake I might let it slide, thinking: "it'll do".

I find that I do the same in the yard, even though I really really enjoy the work. I need to take time in building my flower beds and planning my yard so that I have a good foundation to work with. I would like to apply this attention to detail to all areas of my life, particularly the not-so-fun tasks that I begin with good intentions but end up slapping together. So I have decided to turn over a new leaf and do my best job of any job that I take on. As I would tell my kids, if it is worth doing then it is worth doing right.

This brings me to the staining of our basement stairs and railings. We had our carpenter build the railings out of 2" x 4" boards and the stairs are plywood. Rather than cover them with carpet or lino, we decided to stain them dark and then finish them with a clear gloss varathane. I have been working on this during naps and after the kids' bedtime for days. Yesterday I had really hit my groove, and when my four-year-old commented that I was doing a good job I took the opportunity to speechify on the merits of hard work and persevering even when you don't like the job you are doing (especially when you loathe cutting in paint or stain around the edges!). I was quite proud of myself--with my tiny paintbrush and my great attention to detail.

It was about this time that I opted to step off my step ladder and onto Husband's poker table in order to reach the highest point of the stair railing from outside the stairs. It is was a pedestal table, so I was sure to step onto the centre of the table, directly over the pedestal. The table wobbled...oh no! As you can imagine, the table crumbled under my weight and my container of dark stain flew through the air, stain splattering the freshly painted walls, the floor, well, everywhere.

I did that.
So after mommy ran around getting buckets of water and cleaning up the huge mess, we sat and had a little chat about how if mommy would have stopped and moved the table, then moved the ladder, I would not have broken daddy's table and made such a mess. This would be a perfect example of doing a job properly. I do so love a teachable moment.

Monday, 23 June 2014

A Quick Look at the Garden

It stopped raining today. At least, it stopped raining long enough for us to take a muddy tour around the yard. I didn't know Saskatchewan has a monsoon season, but it is beginning to feel like it. By my records we have had three inches plus one tenth of rain in June. While we were outside the sun was bright and cheery and I could almost hear the weeds growing. It got good and hot and felt like about 400% humidity, so naturally it kicked up a thundershower and we got another half inch in a major downpour this afternoon.

Before we came in for lunch, I snapped a few pictures of what is growing:

Sunflowers have grown an inch or two in the last two days. I haven't mulched yet this year, so I have lots of weeding to do before I finally haul it in. I'm looking for a large quantity for a low price ;)

Red onions, radishes and carrots, beets and peas are doing well. I managed to have it weeded before all this rain. I weeded around the edges of my yellow onions before the boys needed to go in for lunch. I really can't wait to get some mowing done and get on top of the weed situation out there!

One (almost) weed-free zone, at least at the moment. I say "almost" because the four year old picked some pretty weeds to place beside the creeping jenny. I don't have the heart to remove them just yet! 

Finally a look at the sittin' porch. I absolutely love this covered deck. We got the rug yesterday and 4 year old arranged the furniture. This is where we have our snacks and take a rest when we are working in the yard. I look forward to many, many hours spent enjoying this spot in my yard. Have you got a favorite spot to relax in your yard?

Friday, 20 June 2014

Company's Coming

We are having house guests in July. The first group: my friend's three sons (GULP!). The second: Husband's parents are coming from Newfoundland!

There is much to do.

In order to give three rambunctious boys some space and privacy, I want our basement as ready as possible before they get here. That space will also give the in-laws some privacy, so we might as well do as much as we can (for as cheap as possible) ASAP. Of course Husband is away working so I need to get busy while the weather is wet and I can't be outside. Here is a list to keep me motivated:

  • doors for basement (bedroom, storage area, furnace room and bathroom)
  • trim for around windows and doors, paint and install
  • baseboards for entire basement, paint and install
  • purchase a bed for basement bedroom (actually, a new bed for us. We will put the old one downstairs)
  • return the too-small curtain rod and exchange for a new one
  • hang curtains in basement bedroom, outfit the bed with sheets etc
  • finish installing waterlines on fixtures in basement bathroom
  • get floor mat and new towels for bathroom, possibly a shelf
  • possibly set up a tv in rumpus area
  • sand and stain stairs to basement and all stair railings
  • hang some of our tin signs, art work and pictures down there

 A terrible picture of the sink we put in downstairs. I really like it though, especially since I got it for $100 on kijiji (still new in the box). We painted the bathroom a dark charcoal because I had leftovers from painting some old furniture.

I hung (hanged?) this wallpaper in the basement bathroom yesterday. It is a bold choice for me. I'm glad it is in the basement. 

Once we get a door and trim I will try for nicer pictures. But I'm down to taking pictures with my phone and emailing them to myself, blah blah blah. My old laptop won't take a memory card anymore and we had a 2 year fall down on the "good" laptop which was also 8 years old and had a virus. If I ever disappear from this blog completely you will know that we finally succumbed to obsolescence.

There is also a growing list of what I want to finish outside before the in-laws visit from across the country. That is for another post, however, since it has been wet and cold lately and I need to motivate myself to finish these indoor jobs ASAP. With that in mind, I better get crackin'!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

One Perfect Day

Since becoming a mom I have begun to treasure my quiet alone time. I get a fair bit of it because my boys are the best little sleepers and I put them to bed early. Husband is away a lot, so I get to watch Call The Midwife or Downton Abbey and Coronation Street at my leisure.

But sometimes I want more.

Sometimes I want to drink my coffee while it is hot, without fetching things for others or wiping sticky hands or answering the phone. Sometimes I want to do only my favorite things, and I don't want to be interrupted, and I don't want to stop for a snack or a rest.

Well, guess what? That ain't gonna happen.

I have two sons. They are aged two and four. They fight almost non-stop. Their fighting entails screaming, hair-pulling, and the occasional bite. Sometimes I think I'll go crazy. I was raised with four brothers and, although I did grow up knowing how to fight, it was not something we did much of. I am baffled as to why two little boys will not share and why I can't turn my back for one minute without a fight breaking out. After a few weeks of Husband being gone, and if we have not had much outside contact with the world, I am certainly ready for a break when he gets home. But I am realizing that what I need is not to escape from my life for a few hours (not that I'd turn down a trip to the greenhouse alone!) but what I need is more time out with my family together. Instead of just trying to get all the yard work done on Husband's days off, we need to take time for some family activities that bring us closer together. I have reset my expectations and feel more content as a result. Example:

Husband just had four days off. We had planned to take the kids to a street festival in the nearest city. There would be free games, possibly balloons, clowns, you know, kids stuff.

My day began at 1 a.m. with a little boy up to poop. He was up again at 4 a.m. and needed to snuggle mom because he was scared. After a bit of a snuggle I convinced him to return to his own bed because he wiggles so much he keeps me awake. Miracle of miracles I got back to sleep, to be awakened at 5:30 a.m. by a littler, louder boy who never sleeps in, who likes to bounce around, and who always must be fed as soon as he is awake.


Husband was nice enough to take the bouncy one downstairs and I managed to get a bit more sleep. At about 8 a.m. when I came down, I was greeted by the two happiest little boys with hugs and kisses because for once they were up without me. We had our breakfast and packed up a few things to take with us to the festival. We arrived to play some games and ran out of the bouncy castle tokens just in time for lunch.

We ate a delicious lunch of cod, fries, Newfoundland dressing and gravy at a roadside stand. It was a lovely (if pricey) treat and fun for the kids to eat outside. When we got home, 2 year old had a well-deserved nap while Husband and 4 year old began construction on a dog house. I spent the afternoon weeding around the abandoned pond project and I realized, at some point, that we had just pulled off the perfect day together.

I need to stop thinking that the perfect day means I am alone with no one needing me. I used to be alone, before I acquired all these crazy people that live with me. When I was alone I got lonely. I began to wonder if anyone would ever need me. Like, need me when they are scared or when they have to poop at an odd time of day. What I have now is what I always dreamed of. I need to remember that when I am chasing a sticky-fingered boy across the dining room, or when a bath has erupted into a water fight. Whether or not it always goes as planned (usually not), it is perfect. Gotta remember that.

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Whatever the Weather

It is cold, rainy, very windy, and I've had to turn on the furnace to warm the house (haven't insured the wood stove yet). For lack of much else to do while 4 year old still sleeps, 2 year old and I snuggled on the couch this morning and watched Little Bear. After being snowed in for the night at their friend's cabin, Little Bear and his family were escorted home by a moose who had plowed a trail for them with his horns. Together they sang:

Whether the weather be cold, or whether the weather be hot,
We'll weather the weather, whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not!

Sometimes a mommy can learn a lot from a kid show.

The punishing wind has destroyed the moon flowers that I grew from seed. They were growing up a plant stand that I had hung a hummingbird feeder on. It promised to be lovely. And now it's a wreck.

I'm scared to go look at the tomatoes and pepper plants. From the kitchen window I can see the lilies I got from my mom--hunched over against the wind like little old men. Disheartening.

But there's always a lesson in things. Gardening takes patience and perseverance; in a world where we can control so much we still can't harness the weather. I wouldn't change that, even if I might like to tame the wind a bit. Instead of grumping about another cold, wet day (9 degrees C on June 10. Really??!!) we will content ourselves with some snuggling, some baking, some cleaning and probably some eating. In that order. After all, if it wasn't for rainy days, I might never wash the kitchen floor. 

Whatever the weather, we will weather the weather. Together.