January and The Joy of Good Enough

Hi, my name is Jolie and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

I have OCD and ADD, which means everything has to be perfect, but not for very long.

I will sneak into your living room and line up the pillows on your couch.

I will rewrite a sentence until it begs for mercy.

And I will definitely have some great ideas on how to organize a pantry.

If there’s one thing I love, is being bossy highly opinionated full of great ideas.

January is my achilles heel. I look at the rest of the months and I’m ready to make my lists of great ideas.

Self improvement. Home improvement. Be a better mom. Be a better Christian. Be a better wife. The month explodes with resolutions, challenges, goal setting, and trend setting.

I’m usually too busy starting things to finish things.

“Yes!” I cry, “I can do it all! I will finally stop being so darn lazy and inadequate!”

All I have to do is apply more mascara, lose five pounds, get up an hour earlier, have sparkling grout in the shower, meditate daily, call my mother….

Perfection will always lean on the doorbell.

Pour a cup of tea and sit with me for a minute.

I have learned to let it go.

Honey, a lifetime of fighting the uphill battle between a clean house and five kids should have taught me that. You will never call me a quitter.

But it was leaving the house and the kids that proved to me “letting go” was an option.

Did you catch that one thing I just said? The lie? The bit that snuck in here and acted like it belongs?

It was the whisper scream: “I will finally stop being inadequate”.

THIS is what I “let go”.

Believe me when I tell you I can be (if I wanted to) lazy, but the guilt of inadequacy drives a lot of us right off the deep end.

I should have folded laundry in drawers, not under the table in heaps.

My family should be prepared and cheerful on Sunday mornings, not filled with “Hurry!” or “Find your shoe…why do you only own ONE shoe?” or “I don’t care what you just put in the toilet, we’re leaving NOW”.

My marriage should be romantic get-aways and nurturing conversations, not stale chips on the couch, binge-watching Psych.

But it all happened and surprise! Not only was I not suddenly inadequate, but I was handed the key:

You are good enough right here right now. Even with one shoe missing. Deeply loved. Just for sitting there.

Let that just sink in like a baking soda paste for a moment.

What happened – in my quest to have and do everything I thought I needed to be a good wife, mother, human – was the recognition that I already had it. All along.

My self of ten years ago would laugh herself silly over this revelation and continue scrubbing the grout without skipping a beat.

And so I release you to discover these things as well, if you dare. I let (because I have this choice) my kids choose, cook, serve, and clean up many meals now. They boil frozen hotdogs, serve them on bread with a side veggie of ketchup, and tell me all about their day. I sit there exhausted and deliriously happy to see their faces and hear their chatter and not once question why my socks stick to the floor.

I look around and I am just so grateful. Over and over and over.

I’m getting rather good at it, because practice makes perfect…er, good enough.

Time for Tea!

Princess and the Pea

“For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? Nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.”

So says Deuteronomy 3:11.

A lot of things were destroyed in these Deuteronomy wars, but apparently the giant iron bed was spared as a tourist attraction.

This is Moses the Meek kicking butt here, and I’m super excited because it reminds me that the giants in my life are not going to be a problem…but maybe their beds are.


There comes a time when you are ready to buy a bona fide bed. Usually it’s after all possibility of kids climbing into it with you has passed. When there are no diapers in the house. When the sheets are so thin you can’t tell the design on them anymore and you are tired of keeping the bed frame that holds up the mattress from putting holes into the wall that it was shoved up against.

Anyhow…

I was forty-some-odd years old and ready to graduate to a “big girl” bed, one with a pretty headboard and decorative pillow shams. Hubby watched nervously as I poured through websites and catalogs.

He wasn’t going to sleep in a big girl bed.

Sure enough, I fell in love with a beautiful canopied contraption from Pier One.

It went way beyond four-poster glory. It was sleek and sophisticated. It was handsome and versatile. It could be dressed up with flowing organza and twinkle lights or slicked down in houndstooth and down-filled leather bolsters.

Not that I had a preference.

It was freaking expensive.

Hubby broke into a cold sweat when he saw me click the beauty into the website cart.

He begged for one week to come up with an alternative.

“As long as it doesn’t come from Costco,” I replied, setting the cart aside.

Immediately, he found “a practically new identical bed” on Craigslist.

Willing to save money on the bed meant I could splurge on linens. Right?

Suspicion came too late.

Instead of my graceful elfin fairytale, we were staring into the maw of a gutted tank.

Hubby thought it was, in sheer cubits, the manliest thing he’d ever seen. This was a bed to rest your war boots on.

Or corral elephants in.

Quite possibly it was the final barracks of Og.

The Ammonites must have kept it in storage until Spanish Crusaders carried it across Europe and into the new world, along with horses and cannons and smallpox.

I imagine it easily held the entire ship’s crew.

We dragged the iron bed home in pieces and reassembled it in the bedroom where it took four mighty men (okay, three strong guys and one weakish woman) to coerce it into position.

The mattress lies on crossbars of steel.

Our tile floor is softer.

You have to be one tough giant to sleep on this bed.

“That’s it, I’ve had it,” I said one morning to the Hubbs, “This bed is ridiculous. I’m tired of waking up with half of my body gone numb. It takes an hour before my shoulder stops hunching up into my ear.”

“But sweetie,” he replied, twisting his neck back into position, “you need a firm mattress for a bad back. I can feel all my vertebrae moving into position as I go to sleep.”

And once he’s asleep, the vertebrae keep moving in a desperate attempt to find a place of rest.

The man’s going to be a hunchback.

Cursing the Crusaders, I went shopping.

I began with an extra-thick mattress cover and a down-filled duvet.

I found a foam gel memory mattress topper.

I grabbed a microfiber king-size pillow top.

That mattress was covered like a layer cake and rose another cubit.

I frosted it with fresh clean sheets, four fat pillows, a colorful quilt, a soft fleecy throw, and wrapped it all up with creamy silk drapes tied at the corners.

All I need is an elevator, and we’re set.

And maybe side rails are a good idea for when you graduate to a “big girl” bed.

Maybe…

Gambling for Guests

A homemaker is a gambler.

She gambles every time she makes something new for the family dinner.

She gambles on whether Hubby will throw a fit over her new short hair cut.

She gambles on whether the car will run out of gas before she runs out of errands.

So it’s only natural that when she has incoming house guests, she invites Lady Luck to join her in the linen closet for a game of bluff.

Four of a Kind would be lovely but Two Pair are all I can realistically ask for.

The gamble is finding the right combination of sizes, colors, and pieces that will go onto the correct configuration of beds.

Simultaneously.

Our large family has no shortage of beds. The girls have twin beds with rolling trundles that pop out when needed and the boys have twin beds that can combine into a king size, and we have a queen size bed that just sort of moves around between rooms.

I really don’t know how that happened.

But she lives here too.

Depending on who our guests are, I may need to take my game up a notch, as the kids donate their rooms for the occasion.

The girls have bedding that is coordinated but comes with an array of unique pillows, stuffed animals, college blankets, clip-on headboard lamps, a couple of candy bar wrappers in the duvet and possibly some pocket change under the mattress.

One daughter always makes her bed. One daughter never makes her bed.

The boys share a room that is completely stripped of toys, trophies, or trinkets. Instead, their room with two beds and two nightstands has a central sacrificial burial mound where a week’s worth of laundry (clean and dirty) mingle with sports equipment, gym bags, school papers, shoes, cell phone chargers, backpacks, and empty gatorade bottles.

When I tell them to clean up they use a skip loader and put it all into the closet.

None of them will use a top sheet, so the fitted sheets get worn to rags and the tops are brand spanking new. The quilts are somewhere in the middle.

My linen closet takes a good beating but we manage to make it work.

I reach in and pull out a king top and a queen bottom. Okay, double or nothing. I grab another blue sheet and two twins and a pillow sham fall out.

I decided to toss all of my dice at once, gut the shelves, and look for the Royal Flush.

I lined up the kings and kept a set in yellow. I hunted down all of the queens. Only the brown set stayed. Because only the brown set had all the pieces. I discovered I had twin bedding for a dozen beds, but only if those beds needed a random top sheet or pillow case. So I stacked matched four piece sets for six twins, tossing out the kickers.

I had to find a blanket and quilt to each set. By now I was surrounded with linens.

Let’s see…two twins equals a king….

“I’ll see your sheet and raise you a bed skirt.”

It was then that I decided to raise the stakes even higher. When your son hits 6’2” and his feet are hanging off the end of his bed, you have to get what they call a twin “long”.

That or buy him nice ski socks.

I had a hot tip on some sheet sets at a discount warehouse, so I went to investigate. I found a lovely 500 thread count Egyptian cotton set marked down by 70%. It’s pink and yellow, but it’s new and it all matches. Maybe it’s a long shot, but no one needs to know if he’s sleeping on flowery sheets, right?

No? Fine. Scratch that.

I shuffled the deck and found one with tiny green seashells. Score!

Turns out, twin “long”s aren’t the popular size, but for us they’re the ace in the hole.

Oh. You’re coming over for the weekend? Suite!

We put jokers on the couch.

 

Cats and Colors and Complete Confusion

Just let me sit down for a minute. I can explain. Sort of.

I’ve been trying to pick a paint color for the walls of my house and I can tell you it’s harder than deciding what to name a baby. I might just pour them all into a bucket and swish.

My walls are starting to look like a Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper:

The colors look great on the flippy cards, even the raspberry one (Wazzup), because I’m reading their little printed names in the corner. How can you not choose Folding Chair, Sanskrit, or Oracle?

I almost don’t care what it looks like on a vaulted ceiling if I can tell my stunned guests, “That? Oh, that one is Mosquito Pass. We thought it was fitting. Here’s your mesh hat.The baseboards are a lovely shade of Serpent.”

At some point, those poor painter humans decided to pour words into a bucket and swish because there are colors called, so help me, In Between and Sample Pot.

Completely uninspiring.

I had to walk away for a while because I had the opportunity to assist in a humanitarian effort involving my sister-in-law, pheromones, and cardboard boxes with little holes in them.

She wanted to bust a cat out of the humane society and needed a wingman. That’s me.

The ladies in my life are blessed with an intuition that evades me and watching her walk into the Kitty Corral and choose a lifetime companion was like watching a magic trick.

How did she do that?

The room was full of cats and they all needed furr-ever homes, so my instincts said, “Take any of them home, of course! You can’t mess this up, it’s a good deed.”

A sweet little gray cat immediately began purring up against my legs. She snuggled my hand when I reached down to pet her and began following my sister around the room, trying to catch her eye.

“Paint the walls any color, of course. You can’t mess this up, anything will be an upgrade from what I’m staring at.”

But my sister already had a cat in mind. Her feline of choice was asleep in a cardboard condo, and flat out refused come out to say hello.

“I’ll take him,” she told the lady.

“A million paint colors. They all look the same. Two thousand shades of white. I’ll take this one.”

She circled the cat room again and discovered that her cat of choice had a sister. The girl cat was hiding in a cat tree. When the employee hauled her out and placed her in my sister’s arms, the cat made it very clear that not only was holding an unacceptable form of interaction, but that my sister was the last person on earth that it wanted to go home with. Ever.

It leapt onto a windowsill and scrambled frantically back into the hidey-hole.

“I don’t understand. It says white on the label. Why does it look yellow on the trim? This one isn’t brown, it’s peach. Didn’t the cute little pinterest website glorify this gray? Why is it screaming ‘purple’ at me? Why?

In the meantime, sweet little gray cat was tap-dancing, juggling catnip, and generally rolling around begging my sister to choose it.

“Okay, this is obviously the right one, let’s paint the walls in Riviera Beach.”

My sister turned to the employee, “I’ll take the sister cat, too, she’s a sweetheart.”

She saw the appalled look on my face.

“I knew it the minute I held her,” she insisted, “I could just tell.”

“Hm. Well, it looked great in the hall. Not so much in the living room. Maybe we will grow to love it. Maybe if we put enough art and furniture around it, we’ll get used to it being in the house.”

Darned if I don’t keep bringing home the wrong cat. Er, color.

I held this many paint pots:

They all tried frantically to escape my walls.

Why? Why can’t I ‘just tell’?

Meanwhile, my sister is settling in with two beautiful cats who adore her now.

They are named “Boy” and “Lola”.

So help me.