Saturday, May 01, 2010

In Which I Answer Your Questions

How do you order your time?
I get up on the early side, have my tea, quiet reading and writing, and most mornings head out for the gym or the trail while the big girls are stirring. When I get back they are dressed and starting school. I clean up and dress, and that's about when Daisy rises. She sleeps twelve hours, so by putting her to bed around 9:30 (and enjoying a family evening together) we get a very relaxed morning with time for workouts. Then I do school with Daisy--that takes about half an hour. I use the rest of the morning for cleaning, baking, and getting starting on dinner.

Everyone stops for lunch and we clean up the kitchen. Bella is often finished with school by noon, and spends the afternoon reading, practicing voice, going for a run, baking, or whatever she likes. Clara usually works until at least 4:00, with breaks for piano and cello practice and outside play. I try to sew for an hour or so in the afternoons if I can, and I also do my minimal weeding and extra house projects, just life stuff.

I cook around 5:00, with the girls' help--I love this time together--we eat together, and just hang out in the evening.

I am very careful with my trips to town: I go for music lessons, gymnastics, and one weekly grocery trip. If I need to do an errand, I always piggyback it onto one of these (and in fact, I do the groceries during cello). It's on these trips that I run into the thrift store, at least once a week.

Listen up! This schedule works for me because I have older children who do schoolwork independently! Everyone is at a different place in their life. Just be smart and think about how to fit it together as best you can with what you have.

Do you still make breakfast every morning?
Nope, not since we started running. And Daisy sleeps too late. Most mornings we eat something baked before, though the Composer has reverted to his cereal ways, and maybe twice a week the girls or I make pancakes. Bella makes popovers, too.

How do you get so much sewing done?
I'm fast now that I've been practicing for six years. Don't be afraid to use a successful pattern over and over--that's so much faster and it's so satisfying to know there won't be fitting issues. Don't be afraid to do just a tiny bit in a session. Maybe one seam. Or thread your machine. Then come back when you can.

How do you find time for yourself?
1. Perfectionism is not your friend. The house doesn't have to be perfect for you to sit down and relax. You hear?
2. Able-bodied children should be working and helping you! There's no rule that everyone plays but mother.
3. If you have a rough schedule of when things get cleaned, you'll know that even if the toy room is a pit today, the house is "caught up" because it gets its due tomorrow. So take it easy and do something fun.

Advice for young moms?
Honey, it's different for you. Don't expect to be able to do everything during these days. These days are the most challenging parenting you'll do. Keep up with the laundry, feed your family fresh vegetables, sweep the floor when you have to, get some fresh air, and try, try, try to do a little something creative every day. You'll feel so much better.

Tell us Bella's adoption story.
The Composer and I knew we wanted to adopt from the time we married. We felt the time was right to begin the process when Clara was a baby. We used a private domestic agency, and our wait time was about five months. It was very exciting to see God's hand in that process. We brought her home when she was four weeks old. I was able to exclusively breastfeed her for seven months, having nursed Clara just hours (literally!) before getting Bella.

Being a transracial family is not an issue for us, seriously, and we live in the small-town South. Here's my one story. I had Bella in a front pack, the first week she was home, at the grocery store. Two good old boys, dressed in camo from head to toe, headed down the aisle towards me. They had a visual lock on my baby and they were clearly going to say something. I braced myself. They stopped and moved in. "What a cutie!" they said, before moving on. The end.

How did you get your children excited about Christmas trips?
I don't know. They just seemed to intuitively know that toys aren't worth much. They don't watch advertising. They love to do things, learn things, go places, and eat in nice restaurants. That seemed to do it. We do give them little things at Christmas, as well as the trip. Games and books are very nice to have on Christmas day, and something useful for the trip is always appropriate also--a suitcase, a field guide, a special outfit.

Why "The Composer"?
The Composer writes music for film, advertising, etc. He also does many other things involving film. He's very particular about his privacy, so that's all I can share!

Why did the marathon post disappear?
The Composer felt it was too much (identifying) information. But let me reiterate: I did run a marathon!!

What does Daisy do for school?
We do two to four pages of Miquon math, then she reads to me from the book of her choice, and writes a few sentences, either copying my writing, or generating her own interesting spellings. This is how I've worked with all my children. We'll continue on like this until about age 8, when we'll add some more formal schoolwork.

Do you trace your vintage patterns?
Not unless I'm making changes. If you want to trace and need to buy something to do it on, I like Swedish interfacing. It should show up on google. It's nice and sturdy, but also transparent, and it won't rip.

How do you finish a seam with bias binding?
By stitching bias binding over the inside raw edges, either both together, or each side separately. Like finishing the edge of an apron.

What blogs inspire you?
Hands down, Homeliving Helper is my favorite blog. Even if you don't agree with Lydia's conservative politics, and have a different aesthetic in decorating, her rock-solid thinking about living at home is invaluable and so helpful.

Will you put a PDF of the Helga smock in your Etsy shop?
I'd like to, but I make no promises.

Blogging: the good and the bad?
Best ever? Hearing from you all, your beautiful thanks this week. Second best? The creative discipline of approaching every day with open eyes for something to post. I also love the visual and practical record for my own use.

Worst? This experience has been entirely good. I'm quite sure I've been divinely protected from ugliness here. I think maybe eight unfriendly comments in five years (do I hear a world record?), and no repeat offenders.

Do you still work as an attorney?
No, not now. I scaled back, then quit. I have been so grateful for the decreased pressure. Especially as the boys have transitioned to other places, I found they needed a lot of access through the day that I couldn't have given if I weren't at home. It's been a tremendous, completely positive blessing.

And you know, you can leave small children with friends for a few hours on a weekday morning, but when your children have plans, things to achieve, and places to go, it's not fair to uproot all that. And I'm not leaving them alone!

And finally, will you update?
My dear friends, I look forward with great pleasure to giving you an annual update around this time, complete with pictures! If they still have blogs in the future that is 2011, and if anyone still cares!

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