Writing

Pre-Kid Kait

At the beginning of this month I, like millions of others, set about making some resolutions. As I wrote down things I wanted to do more in general (or less in general) a picture started taking shape.

  • Write more often. Privately. Publicly. Getting it down on paper or screen.
  • Play the guitar more often (and learn to play the ukelele better).
  • Do yoga everyday (so far I’ve only had a few days where I did absolutely nothing…most days I at least do a few things to wake up or with the kids).
  • Continue to get my body into better shape (hey, 20 pounds lighter than last year–this is one resolution I’m just continuing to keep!) so I can keep up with these munchkins. And climb mountains. And rock climb. And kayak. And snorkel. And maybe try surfing again when we get to a beach this year.
  • Have more adventures. More camping. More exploring. More time outside.

The things I was wanting to do more of weren’t new things, per say. They were things I did more of before the advent of those smallish people in my life.

I love personality quizzes. Florence Littauer, Gary Smalley, Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, colors, gems…I love ’em all! What I like is when there’s a question you’re having a hard time deciding between, is that many of them suggest to think about what you were like as a child. (Hopefully) before you had to make any hard life choices or have any do-what-you-have-to-do-to-survive experiences.

As a kid I was down for adventures. Somehow I managed to talk my parents into letting me go to Florida and Venezuela as a 12 year old (had my 13th birthday there) for 5 weeks!

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This is the morning I left for Florida/Venezuela…my dad was thrilled

When I was 6 or 7 I read in a kids magazine that leopards were being hunted for their fur, so naturally I made a sign and sat in my driveway protesting the killing of leopards to whoever drove by…our cul-de-sac. I always had some new idea, some place I wanted to go…I read Into Thin Air when I was eleven and fantasized about climbing Everest. I realize now my childhood dream to be a missionary was really more about getting to travel than anything more noble.

I wrote. A lot. Stories, poems, thoughts, lists…before the commonplace of the computer screen I wrote on lined paper and stapled it together to make books. Getting something typed up was a laborious effort and I treasured the printed results–with wite-out and ball point pen markups over the type.

In high school and college I really got the travel bug with repeat trips to Romania, all over the UK, Ireland, Italy, and lots of US trips thrown in there. Throw in a week-long backpacking trek in the Grand Canyon, kayaking in Mexico, and learning to rock climb and subsequently practice yoga and there was no turning back.

In the crush of people outside Buckingham Palace during the Changing of the Guard

And if you followed along in 2008, I wrote Your Morning Cup. Little happenings to keep connected to family and friends, but also a journal in some sorts…sort of like this 😉

So in the past few years, I’ve found my primary personality trait–the red, choleric, lion, ruby, ENTP-A, however you want to classify it–has stayed the same. But removed from the things I love doing, that I feel are what make me ME, my secondary traits shifted from sanguine (blue, fun, otter, sapphire) to melancholy (green, planner, beaver, emerald). I had three kids in five years–I was/am in survival mode. We moved across the country, bought a house, started new jobs, started other new jobs, lost a job, started another new job. I’ve been homeschooling for two years full-time (4 years part-time). I run a business with a whole new group of lifelong friends. We started a Life Group. To say we’re busy is an understatement!

But as the months tick by…you know, where I’m not nursing every few hours, only one is in diapers full-time, Matt’s job is secure, and my business is beginning to take on a life of it’s own…I’m finding I might have some breathing room for the things I love. Littles now will get their own ukuleles if I pull out my guitar (rather than insist on playing mine). I can leave my laptop on the counter and write in spurts between snacks and potty help and playtime. They enjoy doing yoga with me, and we unroll 3 yoga mats on a regular basis to wake our bodies up or quiet them down before bed. They all really enjoy the child watch at our YMCA so I get to exercise AND shower (how awesome is that?). And now that we’re on the precipice of leaving bottles and cribs behind and naps are a bit more flexible, it’s getting that much easier to load up Big Brutus (as the girls have dubbed him) and explore.

There’s hope! Not that these little years have been bad by any means! Don’t misread that! They’ve just been hard. It’s hard to feel like the shower you take at 2 in the morning counts as “me time.” It’s maddening to hear the words “itsy bitsy spidah?!” repeated 11, 837 times. There’s a lot of estrogen in this house, and to a tomboy like me it’s a lot to process (there’s no crying in baseball!). Trying to find time to connect with my soulmate while not doing the some of the things that originally connected us (being in the great outdoors…love you Oklahoma but we’ve been incredibly spoiled by California and Washington…) has been a challenge (thank God we’re both foodies!). These have been beautiful, sweet, stretching years. But now we’re able to come up for a little air and reevaluate things.

And so I sat back and looked at my New Years Resolutions, and realized that–for a lot of it–I was aiming to get back to Pre-Kid Kait. Just modified. Pre-Kid Kait 2.0, or Post-Kid Kait who’s going to be more awesome than ever. Lately I’ve been re-taking a few personality tests and that sanguine, fun, otter trait is once again secondary. And I hope that whatever passions my kids exhibit now and in the near future–that I nurture those passions like my parents did with me. I still have the Life Magazine book titled “The Greatest Adventures of All Time” that my parents put in my stocking for Christmas in 2000, because to me it was validation that those instincts in me–to adventure, explore, seek out–were good. Were worth pursuing.

And so, in a roundabout way I guess this really is about my kids (isn’t everything?). That me reconnecting with the things that resonate with my core will help me encourage those passions I see budding in my kids. That they, like me, will be able to grow up secure in the knowledge that God placed certain desires in them, and I’m there to help them in any way I can. And because they will emulate what they see, I want them to see a woman who does what she loves–and (surprise!) she can do it as a mama if she wants. Those are New Years Resolutions worth pursuing.

My mom used to tell me, “If you want to be a ditch digger, I’ll buy you the best shovel.”

Here’s to using my shovel.

Adventures, Family culture

A Quiet Morning

My mom and grandma took all three girls to play today…and I’m sitting in a perfectly quiet house drinking a cup of coffee that is actually hot. Pinch me.

What do I start with?

Devotions which should normally take 15 minutes but usually stretch into 2 hours with all the interruptions and tears and “Mama–look-s” and three kids who suddenly act like they’re in the middle of the Sahara and if they don’t get a drink of water right NOW they’re liable to faint? Or do I tackle my desk–a standing desk I built and one of two places in the main living area Bennett can’t reach (yet) so everything gets dumped there? Or get some oily work done–sending samples to people I love, getting my January newsletter written (oops), or setting up a Boot Camp for people ready to make an income? Fold the 2 loads of laundry waiting? Shower?

The choices are overwhelming, so I read a chapter of The More of Less by Joshua Becker.

It’s a book on minimalism, but before you scoff at the idea of 3 kids having 3 toys and Matt and I pared down to a toothbrush and yoga mat, listen to his definition:

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.

I like that. I can do that. My definition of minimalism will differ from yours.

As I start this process of going through our home, I am figuring out what to get rid of now, what to get rid of once we sell our home (adios couch), what to put in storage, what to move to my parent’s house, and what to take on the road. That’s a lot of lists! And what feels like not a lot of time! The good news is, these are all self-imposed deadlines.

So I guess I’ll stop my rambling here and start where Becker suggests. Making a list of why I want to minimize our possessions, and what goals I want to accomplish. Drink a fresh cup of coffee. And tackle this desk. And probably shower. Good plan.

Do you practice a minimalist lifestyle? What resources have you found helpful?

Writing

Because of, not in spite of

As I sat on the toilet with Kenna in my lap trying to jam her fingers into every orifice in my face chanting “OKAY! OKAY!” and Tatum climbing on the heaps of clothes in Matt’s closet singing a made up song about climbing mountains in Colorado, and Roy literally laying on my feet, I realized other people might see the humor in this like I do.

And I realized I missed writing and sharing the funny, aggravating, and crazy mundane things that happen every day. I was reminded of a distinct memory, being pregnant with Tatum and laying in our upstairs neighbor’s bathtub while they were out of town (with permission), reading Alice Walker’s, In Search Of Our Mother’s Gardens. There is a chapter titled, “A writer because of, not in spite of, her children.”

I remember thinking I wanted that to be me. Walker goes on to describe the dedication in Buchi Emecheta’s book Second Class Citizen which reads:

To my dear children,
Florence, Sylvester, Jake, Christy and Alice,
without whose sweet background noises
this book would not have been written.

Alice Walker initially scoffs at this–who thinks of those background noises…of FIVE kids…as sweet? But as she gives an overview of the novel–which is largely biographical–she says the heroine “reasons that since her children will someday be adults, she will fulfill the ambition of her life not only for herself, but also for them….since this novel is written to the adults her children will become, it is okay with her if the distractions and joys they represent in her life, as children, become part of it.”

Re-reading those words is so inspirational to me. There will not be many days (right now) that I can sit down with a hot cup of coffee, a clean desk, soft music playing in the background and a head full of inspiration to spill out.

As I write this, I am wearing my 2-month-old daughter in a sling, just carried my screaming and overtired 2-year-old to her nap (yes while wearing the baby), and my 4-year-old is watching an annoying episode of Doc McStuffins and grudgingly eating a grilled cheese she begged daddy for for 20 minutes but doesn’t want anymore.

But I will write. I’ll get it down whether it be one-handed while nursing and filled with typos and stupid autocorrects, or wearing my baby and standing at my desk (thank goodness for a standing desk), or if it hits me at 4:45 in the morning after I’m done calming Tatum down from a night terror. I’ll get it down before it slips into the oblivion of wet wipes and essential oils and granola bars. I’ll make digital ink because one day these three girls will be the adults I want to write for.

I’ll write because of, not in spite of, my children.

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