Simple Bounty

Finding Beauty, Grace and Sanity in a Busy World

Living In Bits and Pieces January 23, 2010

Filed under: Family Life,Home — katieosborne @ 5:11 pm

The notion of the life of a stay at home mom being one of bits and pieces has been on my mind in recent months. Sometimes at the end of the day, I feel frustrated by the fact that little appears to have been done. Sometimes, I feel frustrated that I am so needed. Frustrated that I am rarely able to accomplish a task uninterrupted.  Five minutes here. Ten minutes there. Maybe a half hour if I get lucky. And in between: trying to meet the needs of my children. And sometimes trying not to feel resentful toward them for taking me away from all that needs to be done around here. Yes, I know, my most important job is raising these two children who need me more than I would sometimes like them to. Everything else is of secondary importance. Yet, in the moment, sometimes all I feel is the frustration, and I let it get the better of me, and I let it skew my vision for what I want my family to be and what is truly important.

For those of you who don’t know, I have a huge issue with guilt. Yes, it’s practically a way of life for me. I can make myself feel guilty for just about anything. And while I can spend a lot of time blaming this or that for my guilt-complex, the fact of the matter is, the ‘why’ doesn’t really matter. I just need to learn to live guilt free.

So, I feel guilty if the house is a mess, or I feel guilty because I become impatient with my kids for keeping me from cleaning. I feel guilty for crafting when there are other things that should be done. I feel guilty because I cannot do it all. And I say to Ben – I have said it to him for years – “I just need to get organized.” But life continues on at it’s quick pace, and another week of undirected living is done with. So much time wasted.

As this idea of bits and pieces has been nudging at me here and there, I realize that though I usually consider myself a rather adaptable person, I have not adapted my life to the challenge of full time homemaker and mother. I throw my hands up and cry that I just can’t do it well, when the truth is, I could do it a whole lot better if I was willing to bend to the reality of my life and embrace the bits and pieces instead of bemoaning them.

I have decided I am done fighting them. I have decided that I can do this better. I am no longer going to look at the whole of my house and say, “I have so much to do, and I need to do it all now.” From now on, my work is done in bits and pieces, and little by little, it will get done.

I’m just about as organizationally challenged as I am guilt ridden. So, this last week was spent trying to develop a routine that will work for us. I have to say “thank you” to Lisa, as her new schedule really pushed me to get out of the mulling-it-over-phase and begin actively embracing order. So, I have a general schedule jotted down, and we’re adapting it day by day as we figure out what works and what doesn’t.

It is really quite freeing because Jonas and I know that both of our needs will be met, and we don’t have to feel selfish with our time. There is time for me to play with him without thinking about my to do list, and I know that there is time for chores – even if sometimes they come in fifteen minute chunks of time. He knows that he will be given my full attention at various times throughout the day, and he knows that there are times that I (or both of us) will be doing work. It sounds simple – and I suppose it is – but it is making a huge difference in how we perceive and embrace the day.

I am too much of an all or nothing person. If I can’t work until it’s done, sometimes I don’t want to start, but I am going to work on changing that. I am not going to allow that to paralyze me. I am ready to stop feeling guilty and start doing what I can, whatever that means for that day.

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We’re Home April 14, 2009

Filed under: Home — katieosborne @ 12:34 am

We moved last Saturday and have slept in our very own home for nine nights. Despite the fact that I feel I will never get us unpacked (and we still have cleaning to do at the duplex), it feels really good. Yesterday, we even had family here for Easter dinner. That gave my Grandma the opportunity to see the house. She can’t take too much excitement these days, so she usually doesn’t venture too far from home.

The main floor is pretty well organized, and I am anxious to get curtains made for the living room. I got the material cut a couple days ago, but just haven’t pulled the sewing machine out yet. The basement is a sea of towering boxes – better to be avoided if I want to maintain my peace of mind. Upstairs still needs a lot of work. Boxes crowd the loft because I don’t want to fill the bookshelves until I get the walls painted. The living room, stairwell and loft were painted a hideous white with a touch of green in it. Bleck.

I’m just trying to take things in stride, though I feel somewhat anxious since the baby is due in five weeks. I would love for the house to be unpacked and at least somewhat decorated before then, and I have sewing and knitting I want to do for the baby as well. I at least need to get some diapers sewn. We have a dozen newborn dipes left from Jonas, but I sold the other half dozen since I had bought those used and they were showing their age. I’d love to get a dozen made, but if I have time for six, I’ll be happy.

I have had this feeling the last couple weeks that this baby is going to come early. I don’t know how accurate a feeling like that can be, but as of now, I’m hoping that s/he will arrive right on time. Normally, a week or two early would be awesome, but I think I’m going to need all the time I have left to feel ready for everything.

Ben took a few pictures yesterday, but other than that, we don’t have any photos of the house yet. Here’s one of Jonas and my sister in the living room. More to come as we get settled.

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Epiphany December 31, 2008

Filed under: Family Life,Home — katieosborne @ 6:33 pm
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I am reading the book The Gentle Art of Domesticity by Jane Brocket. It’s a lovely, photograph filled book written in journal style. It’s pages and pages of one page thoughts on the creative life lived in the home.

In the introduction, the author stresses the difference between domesticity and domestication, something I’ve never consciously distinguished between. She describes domesticity as

the pleasures and joys of the gentle domestic arts of knitting, crochet, baking, stitching, quilting, gardening and homemaking. It is emphatically not about the repetitive, endless rounds of cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping and house maintenance that come with domestication. Domesticity rises above the bossiness of cleaning products and media exhortations to keep our houses pristine and hygienic, and focuses instead on creativity within the domestic space.

That’s not to say, of course, that cleaning and maintenance isn’t a necessary part of home life, but I think this distinction is important for me to keep in mind, as it lends some clarity to my role in our family as well as to my needs as a creative individual. I loathe housework, I really do. Yet, when I am neglecting my chores, I can’t truly enjoy pursuing the “gentle arts”, as Brocket calls them, because I’ve always got this guilt nudging at me. It seems there is always some dull task that should be done. I don’t believe in keeping a pristine and sterile home. Home should be an organic place, full of life and a bit of clutter. But, I think I need to figure out how to better incorporate all aspects of homemaking into daily life. Routine. It sounds easy enough. I mean, I know I can’t do it all and do it perfectly; that’s not what I’m striving for. I just don’t feel content at home right now, and I’m longing for more of a rhythm to life that will perpetuate more order and overall enjoyment. If I can accomplish this, even if imperfectly, before the new baby arrives, I think I will feel very good. It also wouldn’t hurt if we found a house before that time. Sometimes a clean slate is just what one needs to successfully carry out new goals.

But the above isn’t even what I’ve come to write about today. While reading this book, I had an epiphany about myself, a realization about my desires and values.

I have long been conscious of the way women who choose to stay home to take care of their families are often marginalized by our society. Homemakers and homemaking are undervalued. Worth and outside approval come from the superficial status of one’s career and other accomplishments out in the world. Despite the often negative attitudes toward women in the home, I have never doubted the value of a wife and mother at home. But even though I know I am doing the right thing, I sometimes encounter feelings of inadequacy, and I think it is due to my self conscious nature and feeling the need to prove myself.

It has been interesting over the last year as I’ve connected with old high school and college friends via Facebook. Some of my female friends are following their long held artistic dreams and are very successful, which urges me to play the what-if game, even though I truly know there is no place I’d rather be than right where I’m at. Perhaps part of the problem is I feel that I’ve squandered my gifts by not pursuing them as ardently as I could have. I have little doubt that if I would have devoted myself more thoroughly to my music studies in college and dug down to find the necessary drive for success, I could have done it. I guess the problem is, as much as I love to sing, I didn’t have the ambition, and I never figured out how to drown my pesky self consciousness, the worries over being judged on such a personal level. Music is vulnerability, and too much sensitivity to that is a hindrance. So, I guess I’ve always felt a bit of disappointment with myself in this regard.

But suddenly I realize the problem is not that I lack ambition and that I’ve failed to become what I should be, it’s simply that I have not channeled my ambition correctly because I am not pursuing a career. I have not recognized the necessity of ambition as a homemaker. I have not allowed myself to fully embrace what I truly love and have instead held onto past ideas about myself that conflict with who I really am and what I really want.

In college I studied music and literature, not because I had a plan for my life that would incorporate these disciplines into a livelihood, but because they are things I love. I always viewed that as a lack of direction, lack of ambition, complacency, but now I realize that it was an early signal as to what I am really about. I am a creative person, and I guess I always felt that I had to force those interests into something I could do to make money, to make myself useful, instead of appreciating and enjoying them simply for what they are.

I am now coming to understand that I will be most at peace with myself if I once and for all discard the lingering guilt over not having pursued a career simply because I’m smart enough and talented enough to do so, and realize that my call has always been to be a wife, mom, homemaker, and creative person. This is how God designed me, and it is silly to think that I need to prove myself out in the world, as though intelligence and talent is not to be just as important and valued in the home.

Music, reading, writing, sewing, cooking, baking, gardening, etc., they’re all ends in themselves. I derive the deepest satisfaction simply through the process of creating, and when that gets wound up with approval seeking or guilt or the need for perfection, creation loses its meaning and its appeal.

Musing over this book is revealing to me the great value in creation for its own sake and the importance of a home bursting with creativity and personal style. Being a homemaker does not have to be mundane, though some of the tasks are. It can be infused with great energy and artistry. I think I’ve always felt slightly guilty about creating, as though I am merely indulging myself when I should be doing more important things. But the process of creation is important and creating is a an undeniable part of who I am. I am coming to see that practicing creativity in the home is just as important as those repetitive tasks of cleaning, laundry, making meals, etc, and they can go hand in hand. I will be most satisfied and my home will be at its best if I embrace both the dull but necessary chores and the very real need to create. Neglecting the chores leads to chaos, guilt, frustration, and general discontent. Neglecting my creativity leads to many of the same things and leaves me feeling stifled and longing for more.

It’s not that I lack ambition. I have just never fully recognized where my ambition lies. I’ve always felt slightly self-indulgent when I envision my ideal home environment, as though aesthetics are ultimately unimportant. Dreaming up quilts and curtains and pillows and seat cushions and wall colors always felt somehow, well, like I’ve said, self-indulgent. But why should I feel guilt over it? I suppose it is partly money. I feel like creating an aesthetically pleasing environment is an unnecessary extravagance. We have been saving so long for a house, so of course we’re not going to spend a bunch of money on furniture or even smaller purchases for the home. Fortunately, my sewing skills do allow me to create beautiful things for a much lower cost, and I am fortunate to have a big stash of fabric to draw from. The other aspect, I suppose, is time. And again, in walks guilt. I always feel like I should be doing something other than creating. Something that contributes more.

So, I guess my job now is to embrace, and not suppress, my creativity in the home, to believe that what I do artistically has value and is an important aspect of family life, rather than an embarrassing little secret that must be kept out of sight. I need to learn to nurture these needs and desires and to internalize the truth that being a homemaker presents the opportunity to follow and explore my creative urges without fear of judgment, without need for perfection or approval.

A song can be sung for the sheer pleasure, a quilt made for its warmth and expression of love. Perfection is not necessary. The act doesn’t need to be anything more than it is. It doesn’t need recognition. It just needs to enhance ones life. It needs to make one feel more whole, more one’s self.

 

A Special Bowl June 4, 2008

Filed under: Family Life,Food,Home — katieosborne @ 10:53 pm
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My Grandma gave me this beautiful pasta bowl that I used to admire years ago. It is the most beautiful serving piece; I love it so much, and I feel honored that she would pass it on to me.

There is something very special about using an item in your own home that used to belong to a loved one. Every time I fill this bowl and pass it around the table, I will think of her, even after she’s been gone for fifty years.

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An Environment To Create In May 5, 2008

Filed under: Home,Sewing and Crafts — katieosborne @ 11:32 am

This won’t thrill you like it does me, but you must understand what a disastrous mess this room has been for the longest time. I spent yesterday afternoon cleaning the sewing/Jonas room. Basically, it’s a room that houses my sewing machine, ironing board, shelves of fabric, and Jonas’ clothes.

Prior to yesterday, there were unfinished projects piled on the floor, pieces of snipped thread in the carpet, stacks of fabric laying around because there wasn’t enough shelf space, and a closet exploding with clothes that Jonas had long outgrown.

Now it is orderly and wonderful. Of course I had to take my sewing machine in for repairs a few days ago, so I can’t fully enjoy the fruits of my labor, but I am enjoying just standing in the room from time to time. It’s not as though the room is anything special, but it’s amazing what an uncluttered environment can do for a person.

 

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Far too many pictures for something so uninteresting, I know, but I feel so good about this. Fabrics are nice and tidy. I now have a basket for uncompleted projects next to the dresser, and a basket for scraps in the closet. The baby carriers, which used to be inconveniently located in the living room, piled in what is now the scrap basket, are folded in the hanging shelf in the closet.

I just need to hang a few things on the walls, so they don’t look so sparse. I’m also hoping to find a thrifted child size table and chairs for beneath the window, so Jonas has his own little place to be creative.

 

Weak In The Knees February 20, 2008

Filed under: Home,Sewing and Crafts — katieosborne @ 1:54 pm
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Yes, Joel Dewberry makes me swoon.

(But not to worry, Ben. It’s purely a fabric thing).

P2190002 He quickly became my favorite designer after discovering him last August. Almond Sparrows from the Aviary line and Forest Ironwork from Chestnut Hill are the two most cherished pieces of fabric in my collection, and I love many of his others too, as you can see from my little stash.

And now, he’s done it again with his new home dec collection, Ginseng, that is coming out this spring. I am salivating, especially over the Spice Collection. Stunning. Gorgeous. Inspiring.

I am already dreaming up a living room around this palate. Granted, we are still living in this old duplex, with no immediate plans to move, but we do hope to buy within the next year, hopefully a little sooner. Hopefully. And we’re going to have a living room, right? So, I figure, I can’t go too wrong, on buying some yardage at a discount now, through my fabric coop. We’ve talked about buying warm brown furniture, when we replace our current beat up, stained up sofa. It will work perfect.

And Ben, this is nothing to raise an eyebrow at because I’ll actually be saving us money since I always pay for my fabric out of the money I make sewing. Think of the curtains, pillows, etc you won’t have to spend money on!

So, back to my dream of a Ginseng living room: Taupe walls. Nice, warm, inviting. Comfy, child friendly, brown sofa, as was mentioned above. And then, here we go:

Orchid Print in Ivory for curtains. Nice and airy.

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And then, I’m thinking, we buy a sofa, right? But instead of dropping a bunch of money on matching chairs, (good furniture is SO expensive), we look for one or two interesting and well constructed arm chairs at antique and resale shops and reupholster them. I’m sure that’s a project I can handle.

I’m leaning toward Bloom in Chocolate colorway or perhaps Wildflowers in Flax for the chair(s). Maybe one of each? I think that might g et too busy. I do love them both, though. Wildflowers would make lovely bedding. Uh oh.

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Throw pillows in Modern Bud, Rust. And some floor pillows in Spade Damask, Rust.

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Fabulous.

Now what about Anna Maria Horner’s new home dec line? Dining room?

Okay, I am getting a little ahead of myself, but a girl can dream, can’t she?