Tag Archives: children

“The Soul-Crushing Futility of Tidying Up” or “Making Peace with our Beautiful Mess”

Last month I was sitting with KitKat, having a glass of wine and catching up, when I glanced down at her coffee table. The New York Times bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo was sitting on top of another book (ironically titled, “A Beautiful Mess”).

I had read reviews of the book and its controversial “KonMari” method for determining what to keep and what to discard—so I asked KitKat what she thought of it. She said, “I haven’t had a chance to read it, and I won’t get to it for a while since I’m leaving on vacation. Why don’t you read it and report back to me?” I accepted the assignment and am sharing my findings with all of our readers for your collective organizational edification. KitKat, what do you think of these tips?

Highlights of the Book:

Go big or go home – Unlike many books on organizing that advocate tackling decluttering bit by bit (for example, one closet or drawer at a time), the author insists that the key to success is to do your whole house at once. “Tidying is a special event, not a daily chore,” she states. (If this sounds daunting, keep in mind that Marie Kondo is a professional declutterer based in Japan. This is important context because the average Japanese home is much smaller than the average American home so the average Japanese person has fewer possessions.) Even though this sounds ambitious, her rationale makes sense. By doing your entire home at once, you’ll experience the benefits of organized living and won’t want to revert back to your cluttering ways. Whereas if you just tackle clutter one drawer at a time, you’ll never experience the “life-changing magic” of an organized home.

KitKat: I understand how this would make sense. Take for example, cleaning. I never get to enjoy the true experience of a clean home since I only have time for a room or two each cleaning. By the time I get through a full round, the rooms I started with are messy again. The few times I splurged on hiring house cleaners, it was a magnificent feeling walking into a completely clean house. (I may have actually heard background music and saw glowing lights as I entered my home those magical days.)

“Getting rid of clutter would eliminate 40% of the housework in the average home.”  

-National Soap & Detergent Association

Does it spark joy? – This is the aforementioned controversial method of determining what to keep and the part of the book that most reviews focus on. Although a bit limiting, it’s an interesting way to look at one’s possessions. (Disclosure: I don’t think a toilet plunger will ever spark joy for me, but I intend to keep one around anyway.) A better way I’ve heard this stated is, “Don’t keep anything that isn’t beautiful, useful or preferably both.” This is my new litmus test and in my newer, smaller home, I’m working on “upgrading” my possessions rather than adding to them.

KitKat: It sounds like a logical test but I am not sure it would be that straightforward for me. Depending on my mood the day I do it (if doing it all at once, as advised), I will either have nothing left in my house or I will get rid of nothing. I function on extremes.

Sort by category, not location – Kondo’s method recommends that you start by discarding all items of a similar type and that what’s left should be kept together, not necessarily where the items are used. This seems practical in a small Japanese apartment, but maybe less so in a three-story home.

KitKat: So if I was sorting vases, they would all end up on one floor in one room? My hair accessories would have to live with my daughter? All kids’ entertainment lumped together? I don’t think this one would work in my house. For both visual pleasure and family peace, we do better with separation.

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Lucky needs more clutter like Stormy needs another pair of boots

Don’t force your clutter on other people – My girls could tell you all about this one. Lucky, Blossom and I are approximately the same size for tops and every time they come see me, I’m offering them my clothing discards. For some reason, it’s easier for me to part with something that I like (but never wear) if I’m giving it to one of my daughters. But the truth is, they’re in a very transient stage of their lives and the less “stuff” they have to move with them, the better.

KitKat: Agree! My grandma keeps sending me old artwork and cards and my mother-in-law brings a new bag of stuff she found cleaning out her place with her each time she visits. As everyone else is decluttering, I am drowning in stuff. 

Thanking items for their usefulness – One of Kondo’s more interesting points is that it’s hard to get rid of something if you don’t understand its purpose in your life, but its purpose may not be what you think. For example, you bought a beautiful sweater on sale but every time you go to wear it, you end up taking it off again. It’s beautiful, but for whatever reason, the color doesn’t suit you. This is the kind of thing people have trouble getting rid of. Kondo suggests you hold the item, recognize that it’s purpose may not have been to keep you warm, but rather to teach you that you shouldn’t buy chartreuse clothing, even if it is 100% cashmere and 75% off. Thank the item for the lesson it has taught you and let it go.

KitKat: Thank you super-expensive, camo mini-skirt for teaching me that there is a time where age comes into play with what you wear. You have done your duty and now it’s time to find a millennial who can pull you off.

Sorting clothing – Kondo recommends putting every item of clothing you own on the floor to see what you have and decide what to keep. I don’t have enough floor space for this.

KitKat: I am with you, Stormy. I couldn’t test this one out. My clothes-to-floor ratio doesn’t work out, even if done in categories of clothing.

Treat your socks with respect – One of the more amusing chapters was on the topic of socks, which featured this gem: “Never, ever ball up your socks.” The author described her conversation with a client who had done just that, “Look at them carefully. This should be a time for them to rest. Do you really think they can get any rest like that?” She then explained that socks and stockings in your drawer are essentially on holiday from the difficult chore of protecting your feet and the time they spend in the drawer is their only chance to rest… As much as I like the idea of my socks having a secret life in my drawer that is unknown to me, I opened my sock drawer quickly at several random times throughout the day and was never able to catch any of them with an umbrella drink in their hand, so I’m questioning this one a bit.

folded-socks

Who knew KitKat was a sock sadist?

KitKat: I can’t do this one. One of my weird pleasures when sorting laundry is finding matching socks and then balling the pair up. It’s the only part of folding laundry I enjoy. When I end up with no single ones, it’s like I won the game. If a sock doesn’t have a match to become a ball, it has to sit on the dryer waiting for its mate. (Another bonus of this method is I don’t get called into my kids’ rooms during our rushed morning chaos because they can’t find matching socks.)

Unread books: Sometime equals never – If you have a book that’s been lying around for more than a month, thinking you’ll read it someday, you’re lying to yourself. Just get rid of it. (Note: This may apply to the book I’m reviewing, KitKat!)

KitKat: Very true. I love reading and am usually searching for new books to read. But if I haven’t picked it up in a month, then it hasn’t caught my interest enough. Usually the fiction books are devoured, while self-help books on getting your shit together, self-improvement, or organizing all lay around mocking me.

Decorate your closet with secret delights – This was just an interesting note that if you have something you love that doesn’t fit anywhere else in your house, you can decorate your closet with it. Love posters of kittens or your Best Thespian certificate from high school? Put them in your closet! I actually have some little star shaped mirrors that I put in my walk-in closet (to remind myself that I’m a superstar, naturally) and of course, this is a perfect place to keep a vision board.

KitKat: I have kept my vision boards there! It is a perfect spot. I also put up photos I rip out of magazines of cool ways to style my hair or pull together an outfit. I used to keep them in a file, but never looked at them. Yet I didn’t want to throw them away because they inspired me. Now I actually sometimes even try to pull off the looks I see when opening closet doors.  

Your possessions want to help you – Again with the anthropomorphism. Kondo must spend a lot of time alone, because she has a very rich imagination. She believes that “Everything you own wants to be of use to you. Even if you throw it away or burn it, it will only leave behind the energy of wanting to be of service. Freed from its physical form, it will move about your world as energy, letting other things know that you are a special person, and come back to you as the thing that will be of most use to who you are now, the thing that will bring you the most happiness.”

KitKat:  Hmmm. She may have have poured one too many glasses of wine at this point in her writing. Plus, I don’t want to imagine that the energy of the life-sized doll I “decluttered” when my daughter was at camp is haunting us. 

The big payoff – One of the more grandiose claims of the book is the transformational power of tidying. The author asserts that once you’re no longer distracted by the clutter in your house, you’ll be able to see other parts of your life more clearly and may end up changing self-defeating personal habits, your unfulfilling job, maybe even your deadbeat spouse! 😉

KitKat: The clutter does distract and overwhelm me. Then, add in holiday decorations or bags of items collected and waiting to go up to the cabin, and I have actually lost it from being inundated by all the stuff. If I had time, let’s say I could send my family away for a month or have a paid week off to focus just on decluttering, I think it would be transformational—at least for my temper.

Stormy’s Summary – Having downsized a year ago, I find that much of what the author says is true. It’s amazing to think about how many things my husband and I got rid of that we have not missed one bit. I hope those objects were able to “spark joy” (or at least be useful) to someone else and sending them off to their new homes enabled us to make room for some new things (not necessarily “stuff,” but concepts, hobbies, habits) in our new life.

KitKat: We took your extension ladder and it was very useful. We used it to change the light bulb in our cabin garage that was out for over a year, so we could see the ping pong table we added. And the light sparked a lot of joy (and competition).

Dear Other Two Moms:

The other night my daughter asked, “Were you happy I was your baby? Was I cute?” Granted, she probably suspected that this question would stall bedtime at least another fifteen minutes as I cuddled her and told her the story, again, about how it felt the first time I saw her. The vivid memory of sitting at the Eastern Orphanage in Korea anxiously waiting to meet my daughter. Finally, the counselor pointing to a woman walking in with the most beautiful baby girl on her back … “That is her.”

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They both are still surprised when a stranger can guess one of them is adopted. 🙂

I have told my daughter (by adoption) and my son (by birth) that there isn’t one of their stories about how I came to be their mother that is more special than the other. They are completely different stories, but both include joy; some pain points; worrisome moments; and the delivery of the most incredible gift, unimaginable love, and biggest responsibility of my life. (The toughest part comes in the work and exhaustion of raising them!)

With two children who came to me in very different ways, it is important to me that I celebrate and share with them their individual stories and how it makes them unique. One part of my daughter’s story that I have shared with her is how she has three different moms who each love her very much. This “mom circle” includes her birth mom, her foster mom and me (her mom). In fact, she was told this story from before she was old enough to even understand the words that I was saying. This story also led to her infamous self-introduction: At the age of four, we were at the first day of swimming lessons. A girl walked up to her and said, “Hi, I have a new purple suit.” My daughter responded, “Hi. I have three moms.”

So with the timing of National Adoption Month and soon to be her seventh birthday, I want to attempt to write a note to her other two moms whom I share with the great honor of this title. Since, I have no way to actually get a letter to them, I decided to blog it. Perhaps they will feel the energy of it. Or someday when we go back to Korea as a family, or if Chloe ever seeks them out, it can be shared. Or maybe, it is purely for me to know that I have recognized them and documented something in their honor. So, with that said, here I go.

love

Dear Other Two Moms:

First and foremost, I want both of you to know that you are and always will be important to both her and me. You are not forgotten.

Birth Mom, I didn’t know you at all except through a few forms from the orphanage that you filled out which shared some basic information about your life and the adoption decision you made. I haven’t read these to our daughter yet, but I will as she gets older.

Foster Mom, I did meet you. Our last day in Korea when you passed her to us for the final time and watching you say goodbye is etched in my mind. Our daughter loves to look at the photo album you sent with us that chronicles her nine months in your family. One of her favorite photos is of her 100-day celebration.

Secondly, if either of you ever do actually read this, please know it could never be enough or say enough to acknowledge and thank you for the sacrifices you both made that brought her to my life. So perhaps consider it more of a note in time with an update and a few facts about how she is doing.

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Rapunzel makes for a perfect braid model.

If our daughter was writing this, I am sure the first thing she would mention is “I can braid!” At the moment, it is what she sees as the most exciting, self-appointed goal she has reached. It has beat out the excitement of learning to read which happened around the same time. Her dolls, herself and me are always adorned with different braided hairdos. She would also be sure to mention that she is going to have a piñata at her birthday, is one of the fastest runners in her class and is also really good at the monkey bars.

Actually, she would go on and on and on. She talks a lot. There have been multiple times where she finally takes a breath and then notices, and comments, that I am not fully listening anymore. I have told her honestly that sometimes I can’t listen as long as she talks. She can wear me out.

Our daughter is beautiful. (I mentioned this in a past blog that I do work hard to make sure she is recognized for all her wonderful attributes beyond just this.) She is also smart, funny, and extremely flexible … freakishly flexible. She likes to sing and actually can hold a tune. (She wouldn’t get that from my genes). She has lots of friends and is a bit of a tomboy. Though she prefers sparkles and dresses when she races her brother and his friends.

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She also has attitude.

She does like to tattle. Her flair for the drama can cause the tiniest touch from her brother to create the loudest wail from her. (Though granted, half of the times the wails are well founded and caused from more than a touch). They have bonded as siblings in the truest form. It is a love/hate relationship. But no one better mess with her but him!

I am working with her on not lying to get out of trouble. “You saw me wrong” or “You heard me wrong” is her usual defense. She does not like anyone to be angry with her. Though it doesn’t stop her from doing things that may make us angry. When she is in trouble, it is usually turned around on us and we are told how we hurt her feelings by being mad.

korea friend

She goes to Korean camp with her friend who we first met in Korea.

She dresses herself in crazy, unmatched outfits and gets really sad if you suggest she or her outfit is anything but super cute. She loves Littlest Pet Shop but is “not that into” Hello Kitty anymore. She is proud of being Korean and loves to make and eat Be Bim Bop and Japchae. And, there is nothing quite like being caught up in one of her laughing attacks.

There are many moments in my life with her during which I think of you both. I want to know more about the stories behind the photos we look at together. I often reread the adoption forms hoping to catch something that I missed last time. When I am filling out her medical forms, I want to ask you about her family history or if she had the same reaction to colds when she was a baby. Sometimes, I just want to ask you both to tell me, in your own words, how you made such brave and selfless choices. One of you to give her a life you couldn’t provide and one of you to make sure she was cared for and loved till we would arrive. Both of you having to say goodbye to her. Once in awhile laying in her bed, I close my eyes and wish I could show you how she is doing and hopefully you would feel proud or content in the choices you made and the path you provided her. If nothing else, make you giggle hearing some of her perspectives and comments.

I am not a perfect mom but I love her. I want you to know that you both helped to create an incredible girl. I also want you to know there is no way to be eloquent enough to express all that I would like, nor anyway me to be able to cover the full spectrum of all that is her.

Thank you both for making the decisions you did which provided me the opportunity to be one of the three moms blessed to play a part in her life. I hope she gains strength by having received all of our love different ways and carries it with her always. Please know, I don’t take it for granted that I am the one who received the most with her as a constant in my life, thanks to both of you.

As I tell her every night, I love you to the moon and back.

Forever,

The Third Mom

Summer Checklist

Well if you had any clue from my lack of recent blogs, summer so far hasn’t been as relaxing as I imagined. My fantasies of taking advantage of the long, sunny days … or at least nights after work … were quickly ended by what it really means to have kids running “free range.” School activities, hockey, and homework were swapped for random camp times, baseball, and kid swaps in my work parking lot for play dates. Add in random sitter issues (saved one week by Stormy’s daughter, Blossom), and summer has turned out to be more chaotic than the school year.

Granted, I could have signed my kids up for a full-time day camp catering to working parents. But, my working mom guilt often gets the best of me. Why shouldn’t they enjoy these summer months of freedom? I sure miss having a summer break!

So what my kids would describe as a fun summer filled with sleepovers and

photo 2

sleeping in, has been mass chaos for me. No routine and every week requires a new battle strategy of who to get where and when. My tipping point was last week. A situation where I knew (standing in the bushes in my heels), that I needed some summer enjoyment too.

How did I end up in the bushes? It was my week as a camp driver. We only signed up for “specialty camps,” which means camps kids like but which have no convenience or scheduling around a working parent’s needs. (I will need to do another blog on why everyone else gets what they want, yet I seem to starve myself from all my needs. Even the eyelashes are gone!) Anyway, this week of specialty camp I worked from home in the morning and then took a group of kids to tennis before heading into the office at noon. (I have no idea how parents manage it without a flexible work schedule). One morning I had a conference call for an important pitch. I told the kids that I would be giving hand signals when it was time to be sprayed with sunscreen, grab their racquets and bags, and head to the car. I was proud of myself for organizing it all, including having lunches packed and backpacks lined up in front of the door before the call. The first ten minutes went great. The kids were quiet … which should have been my first warning of upcoming disaster. As I was talking, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see my daughter mouthing “sorry” and pointing at the window. Somehow she had knocked out the boards bracing our window air conditioner unit. I was looking at a gap in the window and the air conditioner rocking on the ledge. Throwing the phone on mute, I ran outside. The rest of my call was done on speaker and muted unless I was forced to speak. I stood in the bushes holding up the air conditioner with my phone resting on the window ledge and my other hand trying to jimmy rig the boards to hold the unit in place till we could do a permanent fix after work.

That night, I realized I have been so busy juggling a full-time job and kids running loose that I basically missed the first half of summer. Our “no routine” had us crazier than our over-scheduled winter. It was time to make up for the lost summer. Which meant another list! Yes, my kids groaned as I asked them to make lists of what they wanted to do before summer ended. I was determined to do at least one thing on each list this weekend. KitKat determination took hold. No matter what it took or what hurdles needed to be jumped, I would do some summer activities. I do realize that I work best in chaos and a crunch, even when the task is finding time to relax.

photo 1Number one on my son’s list was to catch fish. So we drove up to the cabin Saturday morning and spent the day fishing. The fish even complied with our list, and we had a great day. One item done and I actually relaxed. Hard not to, with a pole in one hand and wine in the other, plus a son who would bait my hook and take off any catches.

I had decided to drive back that night with my daughter, so we could check an item off her list on Sunday. We left father and son at the cabin for a full fishing weekend.

I skipped past number one on her list, Chuck E. Cheese, and chose one further down—which was shopping at the farmers’ market. We had a slumber party in my room Saturday night and in the morning I surprised her with money for the excursion. She made sure to spend every penny. She loves nothing better than to pull out cash and pay for a frivolous item. After a summer of giving up things or putting them on the back burner (well, trying), I had just as much fun buying whatever suited me at the moment.

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All in all, it was a jam-packed SUMMER weekend. I ended it sitting outside and watching my daughter and neighbor kids on the Slip & Slide as I looked up things to do in Duluth for a moms and sons trip planned at the end of August (another check off the list). I still had cleaning to do and hadn’t finished my list of dinners for the week but was determined to take a moment to do nothing but enjoy the weather (another item on my list), which I plan to make time for at least once a week.

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under the trees on a summer day, listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the blue sky, is by no means waste of time.” – Sir John Lubbock

After fully enjoying my summer weekend, I think I am ready to battle another summer workweek. Including managing the text I just received that my sitter has two days she can’t cover.

 

Stormy interviews KitKat…

It’s KitKat’s turn to write a blog post, but she’s been felled by a bad cold lately and I suspect her Muse has abandoned her in pursuit of a chaise lounge on some distant beach. Therefore, to jumpstart the writing process–and inspire happier thoughts–I’m going to interview KitKat for this week’s post…

KitKat, what is the biggest splurge you’ve bought for yourself?

Shoes! Shoes … boots, sandals, etc. … have always been my thing. I can’t pick a pair where it was a bigger splurge than others. But anytime I treat myself to something extra special or just can’t resist the temptation, it seems to be in a shoe store. They make me happy.

I have talked myself into a shoe splurge for many reasons: I can rationalize needing them for a special event. Or, though they are expensive, it is a pair I can get lots of use of. I don’t have the exact same color or style. Or, I have a similar color or style and love them, so I need another. I am on a trip and may never see a pair like them again. I deserve a reward for finishing a tough project. I need a pick-me-up when things aren’t going well.

It sounds a little pathetic to admit, but shoes make me feel good. I can spend hours in a nice shoe store. I enjoy the entire experience of browsing, admiring shapes and special touches, and trying them on (even when I don’t make a purchase). Plus, I have never regretted a pair I bought.  There are only a few rare things in life that prove to be such a constant source of joy and passion.

My dream job would be to own a beautiful shoe boutique. It would be shoes that are for a splurge, not a necessity purchase. A place to come and spoil yourself, because we all need and deserve it sometimes.

I feel like shopping – it has been a horrible winter and I need a pick me up!

What’s the nicest compliment you’ve ever received…and why did it mean so much to you?

That is a tough one. Though I like compliments, I am horrible at getting them. I never feel like I deserve them. But on the flip side, they mean so much to me since I don’t give them to myself.

One I remember distinctly was when I visited my dad and stepmother in Colorado. My son was young, probably two or three. He has always been a handful, and I never felt like a natural at parenting. (I still often feel like I am pretending to be an adult capable of raising children.) During that trip, we visited one of their friends. As we were leaving, they told me that I was a really good mom. I don’t know why it struck me intensely, but I remember it bringing me to tears for the next few days thinking about those kind words from a virtual  stranger. Parenting is such an overwhelming job with so many unknowns. It just felt good to hear I was doing okay at it.

See?, There is an example of my compliment taking – turning “good” into “okay.”

What one thing do you hope to teach your son about how to treat women?

Right now, I am working hard to teach my son about his own self image and liking himself—things I expected to be going through when my daughter hit her teens. I didn’t know boys struggled with many of the same things. And, it’s so much harder for them to express it. It just isn’t as acceptable or talked about.

In respect to how to treat girls, I would love to instill that perfect mix of doing all the gentlemanly polite things but respecting them as equals. I know many people don’t think the two mix. I do. I love being treated like a girl, but knowing my thoughts and ideas are respected and wanted. I can have a door held open for me as I walk into a meeting, yet still argue my point and be heard right along with the “boys” at the same meeting. I would like him to understand that delicate balance.

Looking not quite so far ahead and knowing what teenage girls go though and sometimes do to be liked, I would like to ensure he is sensitive about how girls feel and not take advantage of that. To be responsible and kind. Yikes! It’s a little freaky thinking that he is anywhere near an age where this will become a possible issue.

What one thing do you hope to teach your daughter?

At age six there is plenty of self love and admiration!

At age six there is plenty of self love and admiration!

To love herself. (That is really it for both my kids.) To feel secure and proud in who she is. To take care of herself first. Try new things , take risks and not to limit herself. To feel pretty, but know there is so much more than that to be proud of. To know she doesn’t have to be perfect. It is impossible. To know that she is still loved with any and all imperfections. Forgive herself when needed. Is all of that too much to hope for?

And to surround herself with good friends and to be one. Girlfriends can help you get through anything.

What are you looking forward to in the next month?

After breaking records in cold, snowstorms and school closings, I am looking forward to a Spring Break escape to Arizona. (Followed by a girls trip to Las Vegas the following month.) It makes me smile and I can hold on to some sanity when I think of seeing and feeling the sun again. Knowing that I’ll soon be sitting in my Arizona chair (or throne as I like to call it) is all that is holding me back from going to a tanning bed just to feel some warmth on my skin, no matter what the danger.

 If you could go back in time and give your 20-year-old self some advice, what would it be?
First, I would tell her to start enjoying that 20-year old body! Give her a few insights as to what happens when you double that age. It’s hard to think about all the years I spent picking apart my looks and shape, which were both actually pretty damn good in hindsight.

I’d also tell her to keep living life. She was a risk taker. She did some stupid things, but she was full of experiences. I wouldn’t want to stop her from even some of her worst mistakes because she provided me with a lot of unique memories and some important lessons. I will be able to shock my grandchildren some day with stories from my 20-year-old self.

I might even ask her to add a few more crazy experiences to her list.

If your 20-year-old self could visit you now, what would she be impressed by?

My 20-year old self would be glad to know I am still making time for friends,  fun - and slots.

My 20-year old self would be glad to know I am still making time for friends, fun – and slots.

That I am holding down a job and actually pretty successful at it. I don’t think she thought of herself as someone who would climb the corporate ladder. Especially becoming someone who would lead others. Being smart was not how she defined herself. I think she’d be impressed and proud of that trait developing, while still recognizing her quirky self. She’d like realizing others recognize and like the whole package too.

Looking for some luck

Unlike Stormy, resolutions are not something I ever have prepared as the New Year rolls in. Usually, it isn’t until the vision board party is planned that it even crosses my mind. And still then, actually thinking through my resolutions doesn’t usually start until I am driving to the party … heart racing as I search for an idea meaningful enough for the year.

Don’t get me wrong. There is more than enough for me to work on, hope for and aspire to. It is just that resolution picking, narrowing it all down to a few key items, is hard. Watch me freeze every New Year’s Eve night when I am asked. The vision board collage gives me the room to wander through a web of topics, specific goals, broad themes, and—sometimes—contradictory thoughts. It works more like my mind.

The beginning of this year has forced a few resolutions to already start unfolding in my mind, prior to the party (which is still in the stage of figuring out a date that works in a group of busy calendars).

One came from an article I read. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, just do one simple thing to check it off your list. It breaks the “too much to do anyway freeze” and gives you a sense of accomplishment. Now the lists littering my house and office also have the simple tasks added. It seems to work. Even being able to cross off things such as “schedule the doctor appointment” or “add a post to the company Linked In page,” reminds me how good it feels to cross something off and gives me the momentum to get started on the bigger items.

Along with that specific goal or plan, a broader theme is also circling in my mind: Find my luck again. So far this year has rolled in with a lot of hits. The car saga has continued—no clean slate for me. Lack of sleep due to my son’s painful tooth infection that we can’t get under control—which always seems to magnify on the weekend when the dentist office is closed! A broken dryer, which has meant multiple photoLaundromat trips as we wait two weeks for the new one. Followed by the washer breaking down the same day the new dryer is delivered. The list goes on. I definitely need to find a lucky charm. Or make my own luck. Which is easier said than done.

But taking note of Stormy’s resolutions, I can make my own happy. Such as enjoying the cuddling of a ten-year-old boy, who if not in pain would not allow so much mom mush. Appreciating the magic a six-year-old girl brings to the Laundromat by seeing it as a wonderful adventure.

Plus you never know where some of these smaller struggles will lead.

So until I can see the big picture of some of these struggles, I will try to find, or make, some smaller moments.  So Happy New Year’s, readers—I wish us all a great year, strength in our struggles, and special moments … many shared with great friends and good wine.

P.S. I actually might have just gotten some luck. Having actual printed photos for my children was another item I planned to start this year. (I still love looking through my parents and grandparents’ photos.) Shark Tank was playing in the background as I wrote this, and I just downloaded the  GrooveBook app that was featured. Could this actually be a simple way to take care of that big item? Ill let you know how it goes!

My, what big eyes you have

My first attempt at writing of a blog was when I adopted my daughter from Korea. I saw it as a way for me to share with everyone who had been so supportive through our journey and as a journal for Chloe when she got older. I adoptionhad heartfelt plans to keep it up, but once back home and in “normal routine,” life and parenting took over.  It was the same as my son’s memory book that ended at age two, but now I had two kids and even less time. I was able to get one additional post done the past five years. Another example of my grand parenting aspirations replaced with just trying to be a “good enough” mom. Every once in awhile I still put it on my to-do list because I know there will come a time that Chloe has questions.  And with many pieces of her history missing, I want to at least provide her all the details about the past that I am part of.

Before adopting I read everything I could get my hands on about issues she might have and ideas to help her. I listened intently during all of the adoptionattitude classes. I whispered reassurances and promises in her ear on the long flight home. But, to be completely honest, once we settled in to our family I haven’t thought much about Chloe’s adoption. It is not because I don’t care. It is simply that Chloe is my daughter. There isn’t a difference to me between my two children.  I don’t think of it. I love her and she can make my heart soar with her beautiful smile and hugs and also can drive me nuts two minutes later. The only difference I see is that – unlike my son – her tantrums include a really high pitched screech.

You may wonder how I cannot be faced with it every day – she is Korean and I am not. It is hard to explain but I look at Chloe more than myself. Like my son, I see myself reflected in her. She just looks like my daughter and like our family. When I get asked questions about where she is from or glances, it takes me a minute to register how they know. And, until now her only question has been “why does bubba (her name for her brother) look different then rest of us?” His “yellow” hair sets him apart from the rest of our dark hair.

chloeThe one thing I do notice about Chloe’s looks is that she is stunningly pretty (at least to her mom). I make a point to discuss all her other assets and the things she is good at so not everything is focused on her looks.

Well, the other night she surprised us. In a very sad voice she announced, “My eyes are littler than everyone else’s.”  As stunned as I was, all the things I had read about and my own “mom sense” had me ready to help her though this and discuss anything she wanted. The problem is she is five.  So as I began talking, I was interrupted with another important question, “When can I have real pixie dust so I can fly?” This was a harder question for me and a much bigger issue for her. This is the third morning I have been woken with “can I have real pixie dust for my birthday?”

In a few weeks, Chloe has her first week of Korean camp which I hope will be the start of a lot of information and prompt open discussions. Now if anyone can just help me with where to get pixie dust. Adoption I am ready to tackle with all honesty and full disclosure, but her imagination I want to keep intact as long as possible.

Worst End of School Year Mom Ever

Following in Stormy’s footsteps, I would like to share my most recent, favorite blog post: Worst End of School Year Mom Ever.

Besides for providing a good laugh, it also reminded me I wasn’t alone. If you remember things came tumbling down for me back in March.

And as my kids start their summer vacation, I am packing my bag for a girls get away in New York. Four days and ten pairs of shoes packed!