Sunday, September 13, 2015

Boats I've Missed

(This is another one of those rambly blog posts that I wrote for myself, to sort out my own thoughts...) 

When I was young, I had a lot of opportunities to choose from.  My teachers in high school often told me I would do great at a career in whatever subject it was they taught: my science teacher thought I should be a scientist, my English teacher thought I should be a writer, etc.  I had some serious issues with self-esteem, but self-confidence in my mental abilities wasn't a problem.   I had confidence that I could be whatever I wanted to be, career-wise.   
I wasn't really sure what that was.  I was interested in many things, but most of all I wanted to raise a family, if that opportunity ever presented itself.  It did present itself, much sooner than I expected, in fact.  I fully expected to be single until I was in my late 20's.  I wasn't even quite 20 when I met the Badger.
I left the world of education and career gladly, and happily embraced my life as wife and then mother. 
I found, in the first few years of motherhood, that there was still some room in my life for some creative endeavors.  I might not be headed to grad school, but my education wasn't over!  There was so much to learn about all kinds of things related to home and family and I dove into that learning happily.  I learned to prune and tend rose bushes and peach trees, how to match points when sewing quilts, how to can apple pie filling and make pickles.   I learned about natural health practices,  including herbs and essential oils.   I learned about parenting techniques.  
From time to time I dreamed and/or dabbled in taking one of these interests to a level beyond my home and starting some kind of a business.  Something that I could do on the side while still mostly being Mom. 
At one point I was affiliated with a company that did in-home soap making parties.  It was a lot of fun and my business was just starting to grow into something with real potential when the company went out of business. 
I have taught piano lessons, enough to realize that being a good player does not make one a good teacher automatically,  and that if I wanted to be serious about teaching piano I would need to spend some time getting trained on how to teach. 
I have had an interest in photography since high school, and there was a time when I dreamed of becoming a professional photographer.  I did a few photo shoots here and there, trying to build up a bit of a portfolio.
I once published an article in a magazine and I knew I could do more of that if I would take the time to seriously work on my writing.
At one point I hoped to make my blog so famous I would get paid for it.  (I have absolutely no desire for that anymore.) 
Since I have already been into the world of homesteading and growing/making it yourself,  the idea of selling what I grow or make (even just at a farmer's market or craft fair) has crossed my mind over the years.
I have also thought very seriously about becoming a doula. 
Yet, when it came down to it, my family was what mattered most.  Any of those things I dabbled in petered out as more and more of my time was taken up in caring for my children.  Especially as homeschool became more and more time-consuming.   And that was what I chose. 
I have left the world of career and business and buying and selling and earning completely behind.   I am at a point in my life where educating and caring for my children is so all-consuming that I couldn't earn any money even if I wanted to: I simply do not have time for a home business of any kind and there is no way I could find a job that would pay me enough to even cover daycare costs. 
And that is totally fine with me.  I am so grateful to be able to be home with my children and teach them.  I truly believe this is absolutely the most important thing I could be doing with any and all abilities and talents I may have.  I am not judging anyone else for their choices, I am just trying to wholeheartedly walk the path that God first put into my heart and then set before me. 
Each and every talent and ability I may have is all going completely to my family at this time.  I am giving all of myself to this cause I believe in.  In doing so, I have made myself completely obscure to the world.  Outside a small handful of readers of this humble blog, I am unknown in the world at large.  I do not earn any money or create much of value to those outside my family.  And that is fine with me at this stage of my life.
Sometimes I have a glimpse of what I have given up, what I could have done instead.  I guess I started thinking about this recently when I went to a farmer's market and talked for awhile with a woman who made the most amazing soy candles scented with essential oils.   They smelled divine.  And they were so expensive!   I didn't buy any; I thought to myself, "I could buy a kit and make a whole bunch of these for the cost of a couple of hers.  After all, I used to do this kind of stuff all the time, and I have a cupboard full of essential oils at home."  This woman's candles are selling well in high-end circles; it's a full-time business for her and not just something to dabble in on the side.  And that kind of made me realize that these things I have dabbled in over the years could have gone big if I had devoted myself to those causes. 
I have been so wrapped up in my family that I mostly don't think about it much, but suddenly I had a more clear vision of what I have given up by the choices I made.  And to me it's no contest: each and any of these precious souls are worth far, far more than a lucrative business or career.  It has been a honor to give up my life for them; to channel my talents and abilities into raising them. 
But from where I am sitting right now, I am aware that at some point these days of round-the-clock, all-encompassing child rearing will be over.  Right now I am enjoying what is probably my last few months of mothering infants.  And then it will be just one last after another as the twins grow.  Someday every single minute of every day will no longer be taken up with one absolutely critical task after another.  That's an exciting thought, and a slightly scary one.  I have been all-consumed by my duties for so long that the idea of choice is slightly frightening.  
When I get to the point where I have free time again, what will I choose to do with it?  Which of my talents will I want to hone, and for what purpose? 
I don't yet know the answer to that question,  but I like to ponder it from time to time. 
The thing is, several of those boats that I missed all these years ago have gone on pretty far without me.  Things I used to be good at, things I might have been in on the cutting edge of, have moved on way beyond. 
Take photography, for instance.  In high school I took photography classes and I learned all about aperture and F-stops and light.  I think I had a talent for it, and I knew far more about how to take a good picture than the average bear.  I certainly thought of myself as a photography junkie.  But then came digital cameras,  Photoshop, Lightroom, and a whole new world.  A couple of times in recent years I have thought "I should get back into photography."  So I start doing a little research online into something I thought I understood, only to find myself in a completely foreign land where people talk about strange, unknown concepts such as "raw format" and "layers."  I don't even know how to shop for a good camera anymore.  I would have to start all over again, which would be fun if I had hours and hours to spend learning and experimenting.  And maybe someday I will, but for now I have shelved it because it's stressful rather than fun when you don't have a whole lot of spare time. 
But when the spare time does start to appear, what shall I do with it? 
I wonder sometimes if I will go back and get a Master's degree or even just a teaching certificate.   I enjoy teaching.  I would want to teach at a private school or at a college level; I have no interest in teaching in the public schools.  When I was at BYU, the geography department had a couple of part-time teachers for the 100-level classes who just had Master's degrees and I would love to do something like that on the side.
But in general, unless I need to have a career for some reason, I don't see myself being super excited to get back into the work force (other than possibly teaching.)  I will not feel unfulfilled if I don't have a job.
A small home business is a possibility, especially if it's something I can do with some of my older children.  Maybe I will get up to speed on photography.   Or maybe we will develop some sort of hand-crafted item that is marketable. 
But perhaps I won't do anything to earn income.  I know I will be passionate about my other interests though,  because of this incessant drive I have inside me to create, to improve what's in front of me and make it more beautiful.  
One thing that all these years if self-sacrifice have taught me is what is really important to me, and what isn't.   Of course, my family and the Gospel are all that really matter.  But if you go out a level from that, creating, beautifying, improving, educating, serving, and loving are what matter to me.  Having "stuff" for the sake of stuff is not important to me.  Having a "good time" is not what I am about.   Travel is less important to me than it used to be, though traveling with my family for the purpose of broadening our understanding and enjoying the creativity of both God and man still something I value. 
I am sure that what I end up doing in the future will evolve based on where we're living and what opportunities present themselves.  But here are some possibilities.  
Music... I would love to play the piano and organ more, and to sing in a community choir again.   I have often wondered if I squeezed my brain really really hard if I might be able to compose music.   There are also other instruments that I would like to learn, such as the violin and the harp.
Writing... as a youth I dreamed of writing a novel because that's what every young writer wants to do.  I kind of still do, and I kind of don't.  The writing world is one that has gone on far ahead without me,  and writing the kind of fiction that is mostly being published these days, even in the LDS world, goes against the grain of my soul.  But there are many things to write besides novels.  What about a homeschool magazine?
Sewing... I love to create with fabric and I think I would enjoy making period costumes,  perhaps for theatrical productions my children are involved in at some point?   I also love to quilt and if nothing else I am going to be like my mother and be constantly making quilts for children and grandchildren. 

Physical fitness... we all would do well to exercise, and while this is something I have struggled with in my life, I am looking forward to making physical activity a part of my life in a way that is enjoyable for me.  I liking walking, hiking, snowshoeing, and cycling.  I'd like to get better at running and I'd like to try some other stuff like yoga.

But even though sometimes I look forward with great anticipation to the time when I can pursue my own interests, I know when I get there I will miss this time when my arms are full of cuddly babies.  And I will never regret a minute of it.  I picked the right boat.  

Twin Pictures

I am making a conscious effort to savor the twins' babyhood.  When it's gone, it's gone.  Already, so much is in the past with these now-giggling, -crawling, -climbing, -destroying, -smiling little people.  So I am appreciating each squish of a sticky, chubby fist, each drooly smile, each time we nap snuggled up together.  And I am trying to take more pictures.  So I took a bunch this morning.  From about 40 I pared it down to 12 and I've decided you get all of them.  You're welcome. 

Leaf, on the left, was not particularly smiley, and Twig was only in a moderately good mood, but I love the range of facial expressions.  And I still don't think they're identical. 

A Sewing Project

Bean's football team was having a silent auction fundraiser and asked each family to contribute an item.  I wracked my brain long and hard... what could I possibly produce at this stage of my life that anyone would want to pay money for?  Finally I remembered these cute skirts I have made many of over the years.  Wherever we go I always get lots of compliments on them.  

And that meant I could play with my sewing machine for a couple of hours!  

I tried to buy the trendiest fabric I could find within my budget.  The colors and patterns I picked are so not me.  I would never buy them for myself, but for a fundraiser I needed something with mass appeal.   When I brought the fabric home and showed it to Roo and Rabbit they thought it was oh, so beautiful.   They spend a lot of time hanging out with the neighbor girls,  who come from a very trendy household that my girls much admire.   So I am going to assume I did ok.  

And the skirt turned out great, as usual.  

The girls were sad to see it go, so I told them we could make something with the leftover scraps.  They have started to learn to use my sewing machine (the Rabbit using my sewing machine is exciting,  let me tell you...) We figured out that we had just enough scraps for them each to make a quilt that is just the right size for an 18" doll.  So we have had some fun working on putting these together.  It's going slowly.... we probably won't finish for awhile.  But it's fun to work on sewing with my girls!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Some Recent Photos

It was Frog's turn for Family Home Evening treat, so I had him make brownies from a mix.  He enjoyed the licking-the-spatula part the most, but he also did a great job stirring.  Frog is very talented.  

Here's my twinses!  Twig is on the left and Leaf is on the right.  Ummm.... I think?  They look more alike in photos.  But I am pretty sure that's Twig on the left. 

Eating yummy rubber ducks!   Yes, here I can tell which one is which because I can see which one is bigger.  Definitely Leaf on the right. 

Okay, this was so cute.  Someone handed a very-dozy Twig to Peanut and when I came in the room a couple minutes later there was Peanut cuddling sleeping Twig.  One doesn't typically see a sleeping baby in the arms of a wiggly 4-year-old.  So a picture or two was in order. 

September is Here!

Oh, I can't even begin to tell you how much I love the -ber months!

On September 1st, I went grocery shopping at Aldi (love Aldi to smithereens!)  I bought a case of canned pumpkin and a gallon of apple cider, among other things.  As we drove around town, we were listening to Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which I haven't listened to in awhile.  I knew I loved it, but I had forgotten how much.  I love the part where they're all sitting around the fire on a winter evening with popcorn and apple cider.  So, I decided that's how we would start our September.  With a popcorn/cider/read-aloud family evening. 

These are not easy to pull off at my house... with so many little ones the idea of relaxing in the evening with a book and a bowl of popcorn is rather far-fetched.  But somehow we made this one work.  And I got this great picture of Frog excited by the popcorn popper.   Magic things, popcorn poppers.

Our read-aloud right now is I, Juan de Pareja.  It's about the black slave of the famous painter Diego Velazquez, set in Spain in the 1600's.  It goes along nicely with Chapter One of Volume 3 of Story of the World.  I have high hopes to read many of the corresponding literature suggestions with our history curriculum this year.  Likely we will only achieve a fraction of my grand plans, but if we aim high and only get partway we will end up further along than if we didn't try. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Gloppity Glop

Someone around here (probably me) recently began calling the babies' food concoctions "gloppity glop." 

Frog has really latched onto this.  Now whenever he sees me stirring up cereal/baby food/coconut oil/formula for the twins, he calls out to them to let them know their food is ready.  "Leaf!  Twig!   Gloppity glop!  Leaf! Twig!   Gloppity glop!" 

They come running (okay, turbo-crawling.)  Wouldn't you come running for gloppity glop?

Leaf is really growing.   She is getting so big and deliciously chunky. 

Twig is eating the gloppity glop with just as much gusto now,  but she is not chunking up the way Leaf is.   I have talked with quite a few people who have had very small, skinny babies who turned out just fine.  I am glad Twig seems in every way to be very healthy.  The size difference between the twins just keeps getting more and more striking though.