A Writing Place

Last week Stacy Shubitz from Two Writing Teachers posted about her "Writing Work Space" and I thought what a fun idea, (and secret inspiration for cleaning mine up a bit- like inviting someone over, blogstyle)  I am a huge fan of my writer's notebook, where I like to collect ideas, brainstorm, doodle and just plain write, and I do that almost anywhere, but my favorite spot is really here. . .
This room used to be an open air porch, but we hated coming inside during the winter, so we added a heated floor and lots of windows so we could have the porch year round.  Even with three kids in the house, this room remains relatively quiet unless the kids join me in here, then all bets are off.

That said, I have really come to also appreciate my computer for all the ease of editing, revising, rewriting, reworking, and sharing with the world via blog.  I have another space for that, which is a "family space" that I share with my three kids.  Commonly referred to as the "playroom", this is a writing work place, drawing work place, lego work place, matchbox work place, dollhouse work place etc. . . My husband rarely ventures to this space or the computer as it is known to cause instant headaches and pains in the neck *smirk*
I did take the liberty of skipping the before picture, because it was too gruesome for public viewing.  (I wrote about it *here* though) Kid stuff completely overwhelmed the space, and that's all I will say about that.  I just reclaimed the space to a more balance "share", but the battle is ongoing and never truly won.
This room was formerly the dining room, so it is fairly open to the kitchen as you can see here. . . workspace on left, kitchen on right. . .  Sometimes I like that, sometimes I wish I could close a door and block out the world, so instead I do most of my computerizing after the kids go to bed.

Here is a view of the room mostly post cleanup, still a pile to sort on the table there.  I need a taller lamp by the settee, which is actually comfortable if you don't try to sit "properly" in it. 

 My computer desk was salvaged from the side of the road and painted an oceany blue color for my peace of mind.  Unfortunately I am still losing the surface area battle.  A pullout drawer double tasks as a place to prop my notebook.  The far side of the desk houses the printer on top, and Lego bins below, a true compromise.  But alas, it works for me.


Sunny Saturday

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It seemed to be taking me forever to get out the door.  No sooner would I make a step in that direction when one child or another would come back through it to ask for something, a glove, a drink, a hat. . . I began to put on face cream which made me think of sunscreen.  I realized they would need some too, so I began to snag them one by one to rub on the potion.  As I am stepping through the doorway my youngest comes up the steps smiling, "Hi Mommy.  Daddy says it's really nice out, you should come outside."  I contain my eyeroll by closing my eyes for a short moment, and tell her, "I am coming out right now honey, I have some things to do in the garden."

I headed to the tiny greenhouse just a short distance from the house.  The sun is shining and air is clear, just a bit of a breeze momentarily cut off as I duck in and grab a couple plant trays, hot in here.  Across the yard, I go to a low area which seems to collect just enough moisture so I rarely have to water the garden there.  The lettuce I began a few weeks ago is just beginning to look good, but still too small to be eaten even in "baby" form.  I direct my attention to plucking a few rogue weeds that escaped my last garden adventure.  I dig into the warm, damp soil with my fingers reaching for roots to pull and flick them into one of my signature piles along the edge of the garden.  Once clear, I smooth the surface with a rake and then dig several small holes.  First I plant the peppers, then the eggplants, it is hotter in the hoophouse and I hope that will help these heat lovers thrive. I think to myself, it would be nice to have another for the tomatos, but then I would have to water, a lot.  Not a good plan.  Before I know it I have planted about 20 tomato plants, and I am ready to begin work in another section of garden, pluck, rake, dig holes, plant.  Here go more tomatos, along with some cukes and zukes.

I stand and stretch my back and legs and walk back to the house for some seeds.  I am never satisfied with my organization of seed packets.  No matter how I do it, I always end up spending countless minutes searching for a packet I "just had my hands on".  I headed back outside with a handful of paper envelopes, nasturtium, carrots, lettuce, spinach, beans.  I gave up looking for the beet seeds, which I know are there, and decide that what I already have planted is enough for now.  Again I pluck, rake, and this time swish little rows with the handle of the rake to they will come out relatively straight.  I sprinkle in carrot seeds, and a couple different varieties of lettuce, alternating throughout the bed, and look up to see my kids riding down the driveway on their bikes, the boys bikes are tethered together by a rope about 10 feet long.  Do I say anything, nah!  They are boys.  I continue on to planting beans, whoops pluck, rake, swish, first.  Along the kids come again, now Lila's three wheeler is attatched like a little caboose behind the two boys and their bikes.

Suddenly though the sun was still shining, raindrops began to fall in such a way that felt surreal.  They were falling in enormous droplets and spread out so that it seemed I might be able to walk between the drops without being touched if I were quite careful.  But I couldn't dodge the argument that would soon begin between siblings.  Ropes were untied, grumblings echoed, clouds of blackflies appeared out of nowhere and garden time came to an imperfect, but well timed end as I had accomplished all I had set out to do, and the black flies hadn't even noticed.


Family Stuff

I recently saw an image of my livingroom pop onto a screen at a relative's house, and was amazed at the amount of floor space I used to have.  I could see the entire room without a car, sock, cup, or random scrap pile of paper.  The only things on the rug were children (not mine), and the wood floors reflected light! Our house isn't huge, but it surely felt bigger before we had children.

When I came home later, it was as if the walls were squeezing in on me.  I was greeted with dozens of shoes, sneakers, workboots, cleats and flip flops cluttering the floor, and a basket attempting to contain baseball equipment hanging out in the corner.   Sometimes the 'stuff' of my family of five overwhelms like a glacier slowly creeping in till I suddenly can't overlook the fact that something huge is looming.  Truth be known, of course, there is nothing particularly large or obviously responsible for taking up the space we once had in my house except maybe my children, who aren't that big.  They have an indescribable knack for covering any flat surface faster than a storm whips up on Big Sebago, by setting down one little thing after another.  The fact is, this was all cleaned up not very long ago, we cleared rugs for vacuming, and tables for projecting.  It can sometimes take just one rainy day, or one hour of mom writing or doing anything "in the other room" while my kids play together, that is the loose brick that ultimately breaks the dam, or opens the floodgates.

As I glance around, I see childrens' scissors sprawled open on my desk, abandoned just five short feet from the jar that ought to contain several pair but holds none.  A tubby duck lay on its back smiling up at me from next to the scissors, the top of a nearby toy shelf holds a recent art project of hot glued popcicle sticks and lego figures possibly trying to look sea worthy (or see worthy?) floating next to a Goldiblocks set, abandoned at the mouth of the River "I'm not done yet, I will put it away later." and merging with more hot glue projects of plastic cups with  stick ladders and straws glued onto them, dumping into the sea of "these are so special, they should adorn the remaining flat surface" On the floor are containers of cars, lego parts and miscellaneous sciency type projects that "not me" left, instead of moving them a foot, two feet, six inches. . . to the shelf where they might be considered put away.  This is just when glancing to my left, and frankly I don't have the energy to describe in detail the miscellaneous dolls, stuffies, books and so on that cascade to my right.

Honestly, if this were my classroom, we would have a meeting, do some interactive modeling and practice "taking care of our room and our things", and I would do this without resentment.  Somehow at home, I feel like "Geeze do we really need to go over this again, same kids, same house, sort of the same stuff. . .?"  I guess it is the nature of the beast, because my kids really do need to be reminded, often, just as sure as Charlie reminded me tonight when he mirrored my own thoughts on the subject, "It just sort of builds up slowly, I don't really notice it until one day I come home and, Whoa!"


Good to the last throw. . .

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My boys don't live baseball, but they love it nonetheless.  Some kids have been tossing balls since they could walk.  Our boys. . . sorta, kinda, once in a while would play catch, usually with Dad.  As they get older though they are becoming more and more interested, each spring they are more capable than the last and their interest increases.  This is a whole new experience for me since I never played sports as a kid myself, other than gym class, and though I loved phys ed, I just despised baseball out of principle.  The fact of the matter is, I really knew Nothing about the game.  It was easy to label it stupid though, because my only first hand experience was in public school PE classes, where the teachers assumed everyone knew the "rules", watched the game, and played the game, and then the class--mostly the boys, would spend the next 30-40 minutes arguing about the "rules".  To this day, if a dispute breaks out about the "rules", I go to my "happy place" in my mind. Now that my own kids have played for a few years, it amazes me that our teachers back then didn't just lay down the PE version of baseball rules.  So far we have been through t-ball rules, farm league rules, minors rules, and we are still learning majors rules, how hard would it have been to lay down the PE rules?

So, tonight when I went out to "play ball" with my boys, I laid down the Mom rule.  Rule Number 1 (the only rule):  We are playing catch, that's it.  I don't pitch, but the boys are both learning, which equals "the boys are both very unforgiving of each other and each other's mistakes despite being imperfect themselves".  Therefore, bats and Mom are out of the question.  So we headed out to play ball, first Charlie and I, while Joey finished his homework.
As we found our turf, I said to my son, "Charlie you might have to give me pointers, I don't want to throw like a girl."
Charlie replied, "Mom, that's going to be kind of hard since. . ."
Me, "I know I know, I am a girl"
And so we began, the sun just low enough in the trees to not be a nuisance, the sky still blue, the air still relatively warm.  Thwap.  Thwap.  Thwap.  Thwap.  Charlie is talking away and throwing them in, I had reminded him "no lobs" as we began, and we discussed the wrist snap vs. straight release. Whoa, I realized silently that my feet were firmly planted on the ground, I could snap balls out of the air without moving an inch.  By golly this kiddo can really throw this year, no squiggly laps all over the yard for Mom this time.

Soon, out of the house steps Joey, glove on hand and ready.  I reminded him of Rule Number 1 and then repeated it again, "We are playing catch, only catch."  In the past a game of catch with 2 boys and mom have ended in a grouchy huff for most if not all parties.  Joey formed our triangle and we threw the ball.  Thwap. Thwap. Thwap. Joey gets a stinker look on his face as he throws me a fast one, he claims is not fast at all. I catch it, smile and remind him "You are pitching to me, we are just playing catch." He smiled back and after a while, we switch up the rotation Charlie to Mom, Mom to Joey, Joey to Charlie, and back around again.

The whole time my ears are filled with advice, "Square up for a grounder Mom", or "catch it in the pocket so it doesn't hurt" or requests, "Throw me a pop fly"  Thwap.  Thwap.  Thwap.  After a while, the boys began the usual, try to irritate the other type throws, bullets from Joey to Charlie, sky balls through the tree branches from Charlie to Joey.  I instituted, "Throw it back to me"  I am determined, I will not let this end on
a sour note.  A few throws later, a miriacle happened as we all headed back to the house with smiles and good spirits, fresh air on our shirts and the smell of leather on our hands.