Happy at Home

My time at home on maternity leave has whizzed by so far. Today Benjamin is 10 weeks old, so I’m halfway through my leave time. It is interesting how different I am at home than I am at work (at least, how different I feel). I’ve been puzzled by this for the five years since I first noticed it. It occurred to me the other day when I was taking a walk outside how good I feel when I’m not indoors. Everything about me inside brightens up, my brain is more awake, and I think and see things more, and…I’m just…happier! Maybe that is what is effecting me at work? Until I got my job at the hospital, I had spent every day of my life with a significant portion of my time spent outside. In every school I’ve been to, I had to go outside to walk from class to class – elementery school, high school, and college. We lived about 12 miles outside of town on 10 acres in the country, so there was always stuff we had or wanted to do outside.

Once I started working at the hospital seven years, I spent every day all day indoors. Being inside all day long, especially when I can’t even see through a window, makes me feel like I’m very slowly dying – kind of like a flower wilting due to insufficient water and sunshine intake. Whenever I feel down, I always feel significantly better almost immediately upon walking out the door, no matter the weather. It just feels right.

I must admit that the thought of going back to work really does not thrill me. It’s not the work, or the people – I do enjoy it, for what it is – but the whole corporate life, being inside all day, looking at numbers and figures, just does not appeal to me. It is not my passion. It makes me feel like I am missing life instead of living it. It is interesting to me how much women have shunned, some quite emphatically, the stay-at-home lifestyle. Our mothers worked so hard to make it into the "man’s" corportate world, to be considered as equals in all ways including the workplace, to be seen as more than "just" a housewife and mother. This subject comes back relatively often in my conversations with my great friend Holly. We love being mothers, wives, and homemakers. I love to spend time with my family, care for my son, be helpmate to my husband, clean the house, cook delicious meals (or try), create beautiful things for the home or as gifts for loved ones, and everything that goes along with all this. I even enjoy laundering and folding my son’s little outfits. We eat healthy homecooked meals, spend more time with our family and friends, get more exercise and fresh air, and are more involved in each other’s lives. I love this. It makes me feel alive. Now, why haven’t I felt this way for the last 7 years in my job? Do I have a bad attitude about my job? Do I need to make better use of my time, be more organized, work harder, or make better choices day-to-day? Or was this job really only meant to be temporary?

All people are made deliciously different. Which is wonderful. It is the spice of life. Some people want to work full-time in a job and setting like mine. But right now, I just can’t imagine wanting to do that. And I guess that makes me feel guilty sometimes, like "not everyone gets the priviledge of staying at home to work as a wife and mom, somebody has to work at these places so they can run properly and provide the services the community needs, so I should just work and be grateful about it." But then I think that perhaps some people do not find what I do all day very appealing either. Let’s see, today I have done several loads of laundry, washed our dishes, fed and changed my son multiple times, cooked dinner, picked up the house, wrote thank you notes, fed the cat, said hello to a neighbor, taken Ben for a walk outside, and a number of other related tasks. I was on my feet for probably 11 out of the 12 hours of the day. My own meals, personal hygene, and other needs went on hold, as my son’s came first. Many folks might find this to be a completely dull life. But I absolutely love it. It makes me happy. It makes me feel at home, that I’m doing what I was made to do. Home, God, family, and creating are my passion. So why do I feel so guilty about it? Its like if I’m happy, then I must be not be doing what I should be doing, because toiling to earn a living shouldn’t be fun – treating myself, playing, is fun. Not being productive. Work and fun are mutually exclusive, right?

My heart knows this is emphatically untrue, but my head is having a hard time with it. I seem to be one of those people that is only happy when they are miserable, because I tend to make things so darn difficult. Silly me! I see this is something I’ll have to think and write on more over time.

Enter the strawberry. Don’t ask me why in the world a jar shaped like a strawberry the size of a soccer ball appeals to me, but when I saw it, I knew it belonged in my kitchen. I don’t collect strawberries, and didn’t particulally need a cookie jar. But the thing just makes me happy. Every time I see it in my kitchen, it makes me smile. Happily, the price was within my budget, so I purchaed it. And now it is in my kitchen and makes me smile every day. That’s all. And I’ll just leave it at that!

Except of course for the usual photo of Ben.

Sigh. I am happy.

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Rainy Day

Ahhhh…it is raining. We here at the Tindall home love the rain – especially after all this hot, humid, muggy weather. I never used to love rain until I met Chris, who REALLY loves it. There’s just something about it. All my senses seem to be heighted during and after a rainfall – all the smells seem more fragrant, all the colors seem brighter, that sort of thing. Its like the rain washes all the dust off everything and leaves it glistening. And since no one likes to be out in the rain, it is always so still, with the just the pleasant white noise of the drops saying "pitter patter, pitter patter" (except a lot faster than that). We like to get in our car and take a drive with Loreena McKennitt playing, and talk about our dreams and the things we love.

I’m sitting here at the computer with Ben on my lap and the cat at my feet. One thing I’m discovering about being a wife and a mom is how much demand is placed on my attention. In the last year I’ve gone from one person (husband), to three people (husband, baby, psycho-cat) needing me to pay attention to them. Someone always needs or wants something. Now I am not complaining at all, as I love the fact that I have three different personalities that love me and want to be around me and need things from me – some people don’t have anyone. I just find it interesting how different my life is – how I think, what I do, my priorities, even how I talk have all changed, and are all geared around the juggling of priorities: baby, husband, cat, self. I’m starting to believe that to be a wife and mom you need a degree in office coordination, time management, housekeeping, counseling, event planning, cooking, and multitasking to name a few. Not to mention a boat load of patience! Every day is an adventure. It is challenging at times, but I am taking such joy in my son. It is so important to have an attitude of joy, or you miss out on so much in life. I may be juggling 50 things at once, Ben may be sitting in my lap filling his pants, but when he look up at me and gives me his big toothless grin and a gurgly giggle, everything is perfect.

Trinkets and Treasures

Day number 2 in my first official week as full-time wife and mom and everything that goes along with that. We had a lovely day, full of feeding, playing, and cleaning. I don’t mean that to sound as sarcastic as it does in print – really, it was a very nice day. See, while caring for Ben, I am also attempting to tackle the unpacking from a month long road trip, plus finding homes for the fifty trillion wonderful gifts we received from a couple baby showers. Ben received all really nice thoughtful gifts, but then you get it all home and realize once you’ve cut off the tags, washed all the clothes, broken down the boxes, and saved all the ribbons, you have to then put all the stuff away, which of course means rearranging everything else to make homes for all the new stuff. A lot of work, but kind of fun too. I still think I’ve made a bigger mess than I’ve cleaned up, but I suppose it is always worse before it is better.

So what do I do when I have piles and piles of stuff accumulated on every possible surface? I hang a shelf. Then arrange pretty things on it. I find the whole house environment, as well as my day spent tackling it, is rather worthwhile when at the end of it you have something lovely to look at. My mother-in-law picked up this shelf at a garage sale for $5, then my mom refinished it. It is hanging in the kitchen right at eye level when you walk in the back door, and has a few of my treasures on it.

The top shelf has some of the Portmerion dishes I picked up from the factory where they make it in England, a place called Stoke-on-Trent (I’m sure I butchered the spelling). They have a shop full of "seconds," where if one little tendril of one little leaf isn’t perfectly straight, they mark it down considerably. They had some marked down even more with flaws that were more noticable – those they send to America, as they say we don’t know any better. And usually we don’t. Anyway, the second shelf has a few of my peach lustre Fire King cups and saucers. Don’t ask me where I picked up a liking for this set, but it struck my fancy about a year ago. I had a mind to pick up some black dishes then have a festive set to work with in the fall. The bottom shelf has three pink depression tumblers I got on sale at an antique store during our recent (well, only) trip to Fort Collins, CO. I don’t even collect Depression glass, but they were SO pretty on their shelf, they looked like they belonged on a cover of a magazine – like on a white wicker table and chair set out in the garden with a pitcher of pink lemonade with fresh mint inside. The cup and saucer is the Autumn pattern of Royal Daulton’s Brambly Hedge – the illustrations look just like Beatrix Potter, but I don’t think they’re related at all. I absolutely love it. This cup I found for $10 at the Goodwill, of all places. Then the covered glass dish thingy was a gift from my mom – I threw her a tea party last year for her birthday, where she and a bunch of her friends drove up and when antiquing for the day while I prepared their meal. She came home with this for me, which I typically keep full of some kind of candy.

So that’s the story behind my shelf. I’m not sure that anyone really cares what each item on my shelf is or where it comes from, but it felt good to tell it anyway. I only arranged all that stuff on here because I thought it looked good, but as I got to writing about it, I realized each piece has a personal story and memory. I tend to not like decorations for the simple sake of decorations, I like them to mean something to me in some way. I didn’t think I was being that meaningful when I put the shelf together, but now that I think about it, there’s a lot of memories on there. Maybe that will inspire me in some way tomorrow when I start tackling the dishes with a sink whose hot water nozzle won’t turn off (if you can even get it on in the first place). Again. Sigh.

A Day with Ben

So today was my first day home alone with Ben, just the two of us all morning and afternoon. A successful day, I think – I managed to get dressed and washed before he woke up. Unfortunately, I only got so far as thinking about my breakfast when he was ready for his, but oh well. An hour of feeding, dressing, changing, playing, changing, and feeding later, he was down for a nap. The photo is of His Cuteness sometime between a feeding and changing. I tried to get a shot of his smile, but each time I gave up and snapped a photo, he’d smile, only to stop when I tried to take another shot. Take my word for it, he smiles and is adorable.

It was an interesting day. See, I’m not quite sure how much around the house one can get done during the day when caring for an infant, especially one pretty much too young to entertain itself. It’s amazing all the different ways you can multitask, like pumping breastmilk while mixing up a cake, that sort of thing. All Ben has done today is eat! I don’t know if it’s the heat or he’s hitting a growth spurt, but it has been "food – food NOW" all day long.

However, I still managed to get a bunch of this pig sty cleaned up. I have a half finished project started in every room of the house, but hey, at least they’re started! I also was able to cook a whole meal for dinner – I made a chicken pita sandwich from this month’s issue of Cooking Light, which was very good but you might find a little dry if you are used to mayo on your sandwiches (Chris doesn’t bother to eat a sandwich without a inch or two of miracle whip, but he loved this sandwich, so I guess it isn’t missing anything). Made the roasted corn relish off the cover of the June magazine too, although I didn’t have a grill at the time so I just pan fried the corn, roasted the Anaheim chile on the broiler, then added the tomato, lime juice, cilantro, etc. Very yummy, but Chris thought was a little too spicy for him. We topped it off with fresh peaches and raspberry, and a good ‘ol Betty Crocker yellow cake with chocolate frosting. I think I could have made leather sandwiches and cardboard cake and it would have tasted good to us, as we’re so desperate for home cooking after being on the road for 4 weeks.

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