Aug 26, 2015

Come Lord Jesus...

OK kids, it's a little crazy over here these days. There has been a lot this summer to blame on the Big Move, but I think we've reached over that fence and into new territory. We're mostly-reasonably settled, at least as far as the kids are concerned, and yet the crazy continues.

The most obvious explanation for all this craziness is that we are less than a week from school starting, and all of us in the Skerrib family have wrung the snot out of this summer. We are ready for a return to structure, and challenge, and maybe a teensy little break from one another every single weekday.

Then again there's the mom-guilt option, where my own inner chaos, stemming from still not having anything on the walls yet (but constantly running after the kids in hopes of heading off any major messes, damage, or fire, hence further delaying any progress on putting things on said walls), rubs off on the kids and they mirror it back to me.

And of course there's the "we're all failing" option, where I am raising ill-mannered savages, plain and simple, and somewhere around age 20 they'll suddenly and without explanation mellow out into the normal and wonderful people I know are deep down in there. Or, you know, they'll become sociopaths. Either way.

These are the things I ponder as I go up and down stairs, chipping away at Mount Laundry one load per day, until someone poos and I have to add a load of bathroom rug, thereby disrupting the system (Children, please get your poo INto the potty).

I mean, most likely the first explanation is the truest, and we're all doing better than it feels 87% of the time. Tomorrow will dawn and most likely I will arise and jog, and contemplate life, and return home full of endorphins and happy thoughts. OR maybe freak out just a little bit; either way.

Still, I believe today that I have crossed a line. Call it a boundary, hedge, point of no return, margin of safety, arbitrary control point, or what have you. I call it "Come, Lord Jesus."

"Come Lord Jesus" is what happens when I try to get us into a system that will revolutionize our home, and it starts out well in the short term but eventually certain individuals incite mutiny, and the system is revolutionized alright, but in the exact opposite way from what I'd hoped. It is what happens when we are mere yards from the finish line, and our watertight form devolves into all-out flailing and tongue-wagging, and we have expended all that was in us, and we just cannot care anymore. This is when I take a breath, throw up my hands, and say "Come, Lord Jesus."

Two summers ago, we had a "Come Lord Jesus" moment very similar to this. It was the week before school started, and as I sunk into the couch and contemplated the mutiny raging about me I decided that turning into Loud Monster Mom, while very rarely occasionally effective, would do nothing. We needed a change of scenery, and that change of scenery was just around the corner with the start of school, and so we just needed to hang on until we got there. So I took a deep breath, in and out, and tabled the cleaning and nagging and routines until the following week. The house was a disaster, but it eventually got cleaned up, and no one was permanently scarred in the process (Incidentally, Jesus did not return. While a slight disappointment, I like to think it left the door open for continued prayers of this nature each summer).

Last year the kids ended up with a short summer due to scheduling differences between Virginia and Alabama, so there was no "Come Lord Jesus." In fact, it was closer to a "Holy crap," and mad dash for school supplies in time for the start of the school year. The kids maintained that it wasn't fair, and in some ways I agreed, but that particular pain saved us several days of "Come Lord Jesus," which I think was a better deal overall. And the house was still a bit of a disaster, but it eventually got cleaned up.

This year, however, the situations were reversed and they ended up with a loooooooonger than normal summer.  They cheered, "Yay!" but even they are rethinking that cheer at this point. There are no more field trips to take, activities to try, or places to explore that will make it better. Don't get me wrong; there is plenty to do. It's just that I can no longer be reasonably sure that no one will lose an eyeball in the process. We need our village, and we need it now. Come, Lord Jesus.

And so today some of us have done our chores and some of us haven't, but I am acting as if we all have, and will lovingly and firmly dole out whispered consequences later. I think at this point it's worth it for my own sanity, and their own safety.

In conclusion, it just goes to show that you always have choices. From experience I can tell you that losing your cool makes the tiny sociopaths think they've won. Make space for your sanity, and make room for the Lord Jesus, and soon a new season will arrive, and eventually the house will be in something that resembles order.

Don't let the sociopaths win, people. Come Lord Jesus.

Amen and amen...

Aug 6, 2015

Because Adding a Creative Project During a Move-In Is the Best Ever...

**First, some background info. My friend Elizabeth is in the middle of an ongoing project this year called Unfinished, where she is setting a goal to finish at least one project per month. This can be any size or type of project, and she has also been including interviews with people she knows, covering how they go about projects, keep them in view, if and when they ever cut ties on a project, and so on. It's been really inspiring to me, even with a Big Move thrown in like a wrench. Which is really no excuse, because Elizabeth's family just had their third Big Move in TWO years (that's a move every summer for three summers running now. Yikes!), and yet she is still keeping the dream alive of finishing things. You should go see her site for a minute before you come back here. She documents all sorts of family and creative pursuits, and you will love her photos. They're the really good kind.

My "Unfinished" goal for this year was to finish some things, although I stopped short of setting any sort of quota (e.g. one per month, etc), and I'm mostly glad about that.  I mean, I'd probably have finished more if I'd aimed a little higher, but then again maybe I'd just have a bigger pile of to-do's making me sad. Ain't nobody got time for making themselves sadder.  

Anyway, I've found myself a little more intentional when deciding to take on a project (or not), which is a good thing. I think to myself, "Come on Skerrib, can you realistically see this through? Or will it remain on your to-do list and make you sad?" And I think consequently, I've checked more items than usual off my list, precisely because I'm dealing with them more deliberately. What's more, as we get settled in I'm gradually making room for new projects, like the one I'm about to share. 

It's a major motivational help to follow a friend who is working on similar goals, so I recommend to try and find some positive peer pressure if you want to pursue progress in this area.

Background info: done. Onward...**

By this point in their sports careers, the boys are starting to accumulate their share of medals. Some are better deserved than others, but debates on merit aside, I LOVE that more often than not they are getting medals instead of trophies. Medals are more durable, take up much less space than trophies, and are slightly easier to view simply as a memento of their time on the team. And I can get behind simple mementos.

The thing about medals, though, is that sometimes the boys lose their heads a little and start swinging them around as weapons, or leave them lying around the house, or some such thing I would never think to use a medal for, so I decided it was time to contain the medals somehow (or get rid of them, but you can easily guess how that discussion would have gone. Even I don't want to get rid of my medals).

So we nosed around Amazon a little, and they picked these. I thought they were good choices: inspirational without being overly cheesy, and fairly classic in design: 
His Highness's choice here

The Littler One's choice here (medals not included--he was disappointed about that)
Each came with materials for mounting them to the wall, which got me thinking. We move a lot, so we'll be putting them up and taking them down a lot. And while yes, walls are generally pretty easy to fix most of the time, it makes my eye twitch just a little every time I pound in a nail or screw or bolt, especially if there are anchors involved.

The answer, of course, is Command products, which I've mentioned in passing, but perhaps not expressed the scope of the difference they've made in my life. I use them whenever I can now, instead of nails. They take a little work and patience up front, but they make hanging things soooooooo much easier, and really do minimize the wall damage. Plus you can very easily hang stuff on tile backsplashes and other places which would be otherwise a pain in the tuchus. 

The bummer of Command products is that they look terrible on see-through metal medal hangers, so I hit upon a solution of mounting the wall hangers to some wood plaques, and then Commanding the wood plaques to the walls (As a sidenote, The Littler One could have gotten away without a wood plaque, but once he saw something happening, he wanted in on it. This is how he rolls). 

After some searching and mild indecision, I decided on unfinished innkeeper signs. And after some negotiating and reasoning, The Littler One and I decided we would finish the signs with red, white, & blue acrylic paint and Mod Podge. I forgot to take pics of each step, but our procedure was as follows:
  1. Mom sands the signs ("too boring," said the kids).
  2. Mom primes the signs while the kids are out of the house because she's afraid of the mess.
  3. Discuss design, then tape and paint accordingly. By this time Mom has a handle on herself and the kids happily paint.
  4. Tape-and-paint-and-tape-and-paint until desired designs are achieved.
  5. Let The Littler One do the stars his way because, why not.
  6. Mod Podge until things seem sturdy and shiny-but-not-too-shiny.
How did I make it 37.9 years without this miracle substance??

     7.   Mount hangers on finished plaques.
     8.   Command plaques to the walls.

His Highness's finished product
His Highness's hanger mount was pretty straightforward. It came with spacers which hold it slightly away from the surface, so adding medals is easy-peasy. The plaques are soft pine, so just a screwdriver did the trick; no drill (that would've been fun though).

The Littler One's was slightly more challenging. First, I lost the screws that came with the package. I didn't want to make a Home Depot trip so I got out our little box of extra hardware and picked out a  workable solution.

The way his hanger works is you put the medals on and then fasten the bar to hold everything steady. But again, I didn't want to make it too permanent, so I decided to put a very thin screw just below the bar to support it.

Then, because I'm super clever, I sanded one edge of the screw head so that it's just that much easier to move the bar and add/subtract medals as needed. This step probably wasn't totally necessary, but I did it anyway because I like coming up with clever bits.

The right edge is veeerrrrry slightly flatter

It's not anchored; just resting securely.

The Littler One's finished product
While I was at it, I thought about a couple of really cool bottle-opener we've had lying around for years. I'd actually thought about the plaque idea for it before, but like so many "I could..." ideas, hadn't gotten around to it. It so happened Michael's had these little square plaques next to the innkeeper signs, so badda boom, badda bing, adorable bottle opener in the kitchen. 

The Cat Daddy bought bottled barley pop to test it out, but forgot my fancy root beer. 
It turns out, though, that the motion of opening the bottle is pretty much the same motion as that of undoing Command Products, so in the end I put up with the eye twitch and fastened the opener directly. True, I could have drilled holes in the plaque and fastened it that way, but since I'm still in Transition Fatigue, I went with quick and done to be safe.

More functional. :)  Less red. :(

Done! Now to find the scattered medals and hang them.
The thing you have to be really cognizant of with Command strips is the object weight. They make a big deal of saying they don't guarantee structural integrity, and since we have textured walls in this house we have to make sure we stick enough strips on whatever it is we are hanging, especially with heavier things, so that they will stay securely in place. Otherwise we risk ending up with, say, souvenir spoon cases which might or might not fall off the wall and break the display door glass and spill souvenir spoons everywhere. Or so I've heard.

In conclusion, my favorite thing about this project is that we made something that looks nice, but for a really practical purpose. I greatly enjoy all the things having a "home," and this breaks up the bright white walls a little. And hopefully, it'll cut back on medal-related injuries a little at the Skerrib house...