A modified version of this post appeared on 4mothers1blog earlier today.
I often wonder why it takes so long. Why can’t I make that telephone call, or pay that bill, or sweep up that mess? Like almost all other mothers I know (and no doubt the people around them), I wonder about this.
I’ve been busier than usual lately, throwing a lot of heart and soul into a fundraising effort (will tell you more about it soon!). But it means things are backed up here. No less than all of the speaking members in my family asked me if there are any clothes to wear? (They’ll be directed to a hill (unfolded clean laundry) and a mountain (dirty laundry) downstairs in the laundry area.) I also haven’t been cooking much, and because we don’t buy much prepared food, not cooking is a problem because it leads to not eating.
So this morning I thought I would make yogurt. Halfway through the process I decided to jot down notes, in a research mode, to record how it went.
- Look for pot to boil the milk.
- Reach for right pot and see blackened inch of food burnt on its base. Remember that the night before, I tried to make a bean soup for my son’s school lunch and for general eating, but was working on the fundraising campaign and forgot about it until the burnt smell reached me upstairs.
- Try to scrape burnt food out of the pot. Am unsuccessful. Attract my four-year old, who tries to help. Leave him working on pot to check computer upstairs about how to clean pot with vinegar and baking soda.
- Come back downstairs to find husband scolding son because bits of burnt residue was falling out of the pot and on floor. Advocate (a.k.a. argue with husband) on behalf of son.
- Put one cup of water plus one cup of vinegar in pot. Place on stove to boil as instructed by recipe.
- Return to idea of making yogurt. Look for another pot. Find all pots in use.
- Decide on next best pot candidate, which is full of the oatmeal I made for breakfast. Search for re-usable container to store oatmeal, but none in cupboard or sink.
- Open the dishwasher to look for container. See that dishwasher was not run the night before. Notice food debris on door and bottom of dishwasher. Remember that dishwasher repairman warned us such debris would burn out dishwasher engine again if we didn’t properly scrape. Regret silently that husband does not properly scrape dishes. Clear out food debris from dishwasher while baby toddles to cupboard under sink to get dishwashing detergent. Negotiate with him to put it back.
- Recall that I am trying to make yogurt. Look for pot, see that it is still full of oatmeal. Resume search for re-usable container. Look again in cupboard and sink where there are still no containers.
- Open fridge to find possible container candidate in fridge. Find one containing miso noodle soup and transfer it to bowl. Wash container.
- Hear screams from porch where child is playing UNO with his dad. Provide comfort and guidance.
- Re-enter house, where baby is urgently calling for bowl of miso soup. Lift him into high chair, and feed him all of the soup.
- Check burnt pot which has been simmering on the stove. Remove from stove. Scrape burnt food easily off of bottom, without even adding baking soda as directed by recipe. Delight in my domestic prowess, and show pot to son. Look at me!
- Remember that I am trying to make yogurt.
My notes end there. But when I recall the day, a few facts stand out, like after my husband left for work mid-morning, I was on my own for almost 12 hours with one to three children in tow, plus the baby inexplicably (and painfully) did not take a proper nap. I fell asleep putting the kids to bed, and when I woke up, I cleaned up the kitchen and living areas (passably, not well). The laundry is still in two heaps in the basement, the only difference that the mountain of dirty clothes would be bigger if had I the time or energy to pick up the dirty clothes on the floor. Combined with my notes from the morning, it does give insight into why it takes so long,
It doesn’t matter. It’s a good life. And I feel victorious to tell you that at 11:50pm, when all was quiet, I did make the yogurt. We’ll have it for breakfast.
This post also appears at 4mothers1blog.com.
Look, look! These are my tomato starts! Aren’t they magnificent?
They’d be a lot more magnificent if it were April 9 instead of May 9. I got my seeds nice and early this year, and was all excited to plant them nice and early too. But I was too early, so I needed to wait a couple of weeks.
A couple of weeks arrived, but by then the pace of life had shifted, so it wasn’t quite as easy to plant as I’d hoped. Also the grow lights downstairs weren’t where they were supposed to be, and I’d have to look for them.
I did have some pressing things to do, but neither of these things would have been obstacles if I’d made the planting a priority. I just didn’t. I think it was easier to do the things I’m a bit more confident about than planting. It’s not natural to me yet – I’ve only been planting, a little here and there, for a couple of years. I’m still a newbie. Sometimes I even feel a little suspicious of the seeds. They require some work to plant, and how do I really know they’re going to grow?
I thought about this a week or so ago when I realized how late I was in starting my seedlings. Lush, big ones are available everywhere now, and we may well have to buy them this year. I decided to plant my own anyway, lateness and all: kale, chard, basil, coriander, and cucumber. To practice planting, to get more comfortable, to get my hands, as they say, dirty.
But also to practice a little humility, and try to do something even when I’m not good at it. It’s something I want to learn to do more now that I have kids. If I’m going to nudge my boys to try something new, and which might feel a little uncomfortable (and I do sometimes so nudge), then I want to be able to do the same myself. (Within reason.)
I may not get any tomatoes until August. But I am discovering that seeds really do grow.
Ben has been talking about buying bean bag furniture, literally, for years. Luckily, it’s hard to find, and the issue was taking care of itself for awhile. But then we went on a mini-holiday to a eco bed and breakfast (wonderful) in Kitchener, and walking down the main strip brought us across a bean bag furniture store! Who could know?
We were soon inside sitting on stuffed mounds and choosing fabrics. Ben got me on board by saying it was a gift for his parents and the cottage. We ordered a custom-made jumbo (yes, really) bean bag chair. When it arrived, Ben could barely stuff it into the car to bring it home.
We chose just the right moment to show it to Ben’s parents: they had stopped by before heading out for a 7 week snowbird holiday to the States. In other words, they were in a very good mood. Ben’s mother burst out laughing when she saw it while his father waved his arms and legs about trying to get up from the crazy chair.
I recently checked the square footage of our house, and it is just over 1400 square feet. About 400 of those are now occupied by the bean bag, as we hold it until the cottage opens up for the season. It is truly impractical in this space.
And yet the silly thing has become a main attraction around here. The children and their friends leap on it, and from it to the couch. They climb and pile on it. And sometimes, they fall asleep on it in the middle of a day that is running too long.
The other night, I was alone and had some precious moments to read and relax. I found myself flopping on the bean bag, even though the couch was a foot away. I had opted for the bean bag. It was a startling moment of discovery: I am going to miss the darn thing when it’s gone.