Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Dirt and Feathers

This is a random picture. I took it over a month ago, after Mia cried the same refrain the entire 15 minute drive home: "Mommy, I want to drive the car." So, when we finally got home--one very long quarter of an hour later--I plopped her in the front seat. She was so happy I had to snap a picture.

So, all the orders are in the mail. All domestic orders have been shipped and will arrive in time for Christmas. Thank you for such a busy and exciting holiday season, and for making my first run of manufactured product such a success! I would like to tell you that right now I am happy as a clam, singing Christmas carols and baking cookies with my kids... spending the evening creating from the heart in my tidy studio. Hardly. It should be a moment of triumph for me. Unfortunately, that's not how I feel at the moment. I seem to have simply gravitated from one hefty to-do list to another. So, now instead of packaging orders in a frenzy, I am Christmas shopping in kind. I was pulling out the drive way with a little too much haste, when Aidan reprimanded, "Mommy, take it easy!" Of course, this make me laugh. He closed his eyes, pursed his lips, and put his hands to his temples and said in his best big boy voice, "Mommy, I'm serious. Your driving is giving me a headache." I'm a safe driver--I promise!

The biggest burden at the moment is my house. I need your prayers. Or tips. Or both. While I have been working, the children have been wreaking havoc. Mia has figured out that she is capable of pushing chairs to the counter and suddenly everything is within her reach. Despite my best efforts to hide them, she seems to find all the holiday chocolate and cookies. I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "You go away, Mommy!" only to peek around the corner and find her either sticky with peppermint or smeared in chocolate. While I was in the shower this morning, Mia found my huge bag of colored feathers; now my house is littered with plumes of blues and reds, pinks and greens. Every time I walk through a room, the colored feathers take flight in a swirl of air. I know--it sounds funny. But right now it doesn't feel funny. It feels exhausting.

One day last year when I was feeling particularly blue, my aunt bought me an orange tree. I potted it in a huge, footed terracotta urn out on our back porch. Well, my darling boy {and I do mean that tongue-and-cheek} dumped out the entire pot. Now, my orange tree is wilting and what must be about 10 pounds of dirt is all over the outdoor rug and the white painted wood porch floor. I don't even know where to begin: the dirt or the feathers.

When Robert and I lived in Michigan, I was always using my creative energy on our house. We refinished all the wide plank pine floors. I laid a rustic, Tuscan mosaic in the kitchen. I was always reviving some forsaken vintage piece... reupholstering an old chair, rewiring a chandelier, or filling an old vase with fresh flowers. That house smelled of candles and herbs and baking. This one smells predominantly of hot dogs and macaroni and cheese.

So, I am in need of a little inspiration. Tell me, what are the things that you do to your home to make it special? If you have children, have you achieved balance between keeping your home tidy and yet still letting kids be kids? Thanks in advance for offering your bit of perspective. And my next post will be more cheery and holiday-ish. Promise.


Meredith said...

Awe sending you hugs, it is a lot of work to keep a house tidy. I only clean the playroom twice a week because I figure it's mean to be played in and why waste my time cleaning it to have them mess it up all over.

I keep toys upstairs in our house and when they come down I put them on the stairs to take back up and put them back in the playroom.

I clean one area or room a day, I do it in the morning while the kids are enjoying some tv before I get everyone ready to start the day.

Earlier today the kids and I made snow...or you could call it MESS but I decided to leave it at the table all day in case either of them wanted to play with it before I clean up.

I am sure you will find your balance, try to sit back and just let it be because time is best spent living and not cleaning.

Meredith said...

Oh did you get my email about my second order? I know your busy but I was worried about it since I did get confirmation on my first order which I received today and not my second which I ordered just a few hours after the first. Just let me know when you can, thank you!

Mande said...

I can empathize completely. So many more Calgon!!! moments lately than I would like to admit. Harrison like Aidan likes to get into everything. Miss Lane has learned to climb & now is able to get into most everything. I wish I had some advice to balance everything. The truth is I am struggling with balancing anything right now. I am trying to get in the holiday spirit. Lane has been sick and Harrison spiked a fever today and well, life just gets in the way of the planning. I am trying to slow down and appreciate any quiet moments I can steal away. I will pray for you that you too can find a little quite time to just breathe ......and one day we will look back at these moments of chaos and laugh about it all.
Love Miss Mia's picture. Hope you have a wonderful and relaxing holiday Jessica.

Mande said...

To make the home more special right now we are baking cookies and using fun cookie cutter shapes. I bought pre-made dough so it is easy and fun at the same time.
To motivate Harrison to clean his room we play music and sing while we clean. :)

Alejandra said...

I feel your pain and craziness! With 2 boys, 1 on the way and a home business of my own too, my house is not what I would like it to be.
I just try to do the basics everyday, do one main task a day and keep one day of the week (In my case Mondays from morning to 2pm) to organize and tidy up the rest. Is not easy and I'm not always successful, but that's the life of a mom that works from home with little ones.
Take some time to enjoy them and don't sweat the small stuff.
Good luck and Merry Christmas!

Meredith said...

Save the orange tree.

Seriously, it'll help. Reviving a green thing helps (my Christmas cactus had a mini-crisis after our move into this old house and it was the final straw and caused my one and only freak out while preggers, buying house/selling condo, renovating, moving and going through a huge change and HR appeal at work and saving it seemed to restore my inner calm :D).

Can you use those heaavy duty elastic bands to secure your chairs by the legs to the legs of the table - Bronwyn likes moving kitchen furniture too but is too short to get on the chairs yet THANK GOODNESS! - the elastics foil her rearranging plans for now and save the dog from being terrorized.

Aidan's advice is very wise! (and hilarious I <3 the headache line lol!) but do take it easy. The feathers will disappear, the best (highest!) hiding spot for the sweets will be found, and you've got TWO whole days for Christmas shopping still.

We keep our place relatively organized but by no means is it a pristine example worthy of Martha Stewart ;) The crayons are always readily available. Having my pantry in perfect order is what seems to make *me* feel better. We have the original built-in glass door cabinets and I arrange my dishes, teas, glasses etc to be at their most pleasing arrangement and it always takes just the right amount of time I can spare.

And always having music on :) at any time of year and anything I can sing and rock out too!

Happy Christmas Jessica!

Anonymous said...

take some time each day to pretend you are the babysitter- cut your computer off, hide the to-do list and PLAY(like piggy back ride on the floor play)- make that a priority second to having time with the Lord- it will make a big difference- and the kids will have had a BLAST with their super fun mom, then listen better when you need to focus.
have you ever read A Mother's Heart by jean flemming? awsome being a mom book- light reading and encouraging!
I hope you have a sweet and merry Christmas with your family!

Dear Lillie said...


I always come and read your blog whenever I need a lift! I have my own business too, that began on Etsy and now has it's own website. It started off as a way for me to remain creative and still keep working a bit while I stayed home with my one year old and has turned into a 24 hour a day job! Pretty much seven days a week I stay up until the wee hours of the morning working on orders. Today was particularly exhausting day and I always take a moment on awful days like this to come and visit your blog. The beauty of your photos and your work always blows me away! I just wanted you to know what an incredible INSPIRATION you are to me both artistically and as a mom trying to stay sane! Not only is your work stunning but your photography is just breathtaking! How you do everything that you do is beyond me - especially with two little ones! I hope that you have a blessed Christmas with your family and are able to take a little bit of time off and actually get to relax for just a bit! I have absolutely no words of advice =) I just wanted to let you know what an inspiration you are to me!

On another note, you wrote me a really sweet convo a week or two ago. Thanks so much. (I had left feedback on the ADORABLE shoes I finally was able to snag on Etsy). I also finally got a pair of the Gretel boots when you reposted the link this past weekend. I cannot wait to get them and for my little Lillabel to wear them. And I am dying to get a pair of the Raelynn's (sp?) whenever they become available again!

Jewllori by Lori said...

Huge kudos to getting your orders done before Christmas! Holy crow, what a task that must have been!

I guess the best advice I can give is, I haven't got it all figured out. And while some days it seems like I might be on top of it all, kids are fed, cleaned, house is clean, baking is done, supper is cooking etc, other days I am on the low end of it all. I say take the good days and chalk em up as success and take the bad days and count em as memories for the future! Not all days will be perfect, and kids all go through stages, so do your best when you can!

I have really taken a keen interest in learning to multitask, and you know..sometimes I surprise myself in how much I can get done in a day, and how happy my kids are and how clean my house is! I don't know how one LEARNS to multitask, I think it's mostly trial and error(that's what I did anyway).

Hopefully that helped! Hugs and Blessings for this season :D

Amy said...

I have no advice for you. My house looks like yours sounds. Sometimes I cry in frustration because, seriously, it should look better. Sorry girl, hang in there and I agree with the orange tree comment. Forget those feathers and move straight to that baby.

Wish I had more to say on the clean subject...sorry.

I CAN tell you that Evy has Mia's leggings, and aren't they awesome?!? What a cutie she is!

Ok wait, a clean comment just came to me. I moved all Jake's toys into his room and I must say it added to my peace of mind some despite the fact that the house is still bombed. I have 2 baskets in the living room, and when toys overflow those, I dump them into his room or- GASP- throw them out. Ha!


Amy said...

OMW...I completely forgot to comment on the boots!!

Boots=AMAZING! Stunning! She wore them tonight to see Santa...because one must wear fuzzy boots to see Santa, of course.

One more thing. Remember...First God, then family, then home, etc. HE never expects us to be perfect, We do. HE expects us to do the best that we can and then HE fills in the cracks. You, girl, are doing the BEST...HE will meet you there and do the rest. I have to remind myself of this DAILY!! Ugh, this is sooo hard for me. :(

So there is my little devotional for the night, hehe...


Simone Howell said...

Hi Jessica-
I could have written that post myself! Balance is so hard and this time of the year it is ten times harder than usual. I had a mini meltdown last week and spent the next day in a REAL funk (which is VERY unusual for me) doing some soul searching. I'm not sure I have any answers, just more clarity on the fact that I want it all and it takes a lot of work to get it. Owning your own business and having happy, healthy kids is a 34-7 job. So we're looking for another 10 hours in the day!!

I started walking around the house in that self imposed funk saying "it's not the end of the world that the laundry is piled 4 feet high" "It's not the end of the world that it's 5:30 and there are no plans for anything healthy or possibly even warm for dinner" Some things just fall to the bottom of the list. You'll get there, to the end of that list, and yes, then there will be another one but that comes with being who you are. I ended up making an appointment to get a facial next week and just knowing that I will have a little time to relax is making things all the more bearable. I have also set aside a full week of no business. I am torn as to whether it is a good idea or not, but I honestly think the sanity gained will help me to be more focused and productive when I do return. I'm going to sew for myself and my house (oh I SO remember those days of refinishing furniture and hunting for antiques) and then get a facial....and then I'll get back to that even bigger to do list. It's what I do. I have a lot to do, and it is chaos for me at times, but overall I am happy, my kids are happy and healthy and my husband is learning that dinner may not be cooked when he gets home;) He's happy anyway.

Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy and Colorful New Year.


Anonymous said...

we will still be cleaning when the grand kids come. i figure what won't matter in 5 years doesn't matter now. make mom happy and everyone will be happy. if the house is important hire a house keeper that does laundry, even once a week.
right now enjoy the kids and have a Merry Christmas.

Anonymous said...

I like Mia's picture "let's ride"

Theresa said...


Someone once asked me when I was struggling with something: "Imagine you're 95 and on your death bed...will this matter to you?" I remind myself of that when I am feeling especially overwhelmed and need to get some clarity.

I hope you have a warm and blessed holiday, and if you don't get to make cookies, I hope you make lots of wonderful memories. Cheers!

Mande said...

Oh my WOW!!! The fuzzy boots are here and we LOVE them. Thank you so much Jessica.

It is so refreshing to read this blog post and the comments. Love these mommies!

Wishing you & yours the Merriest Christmas ever and a healthy & happy 2010!

Jenni said...

I feel like this often and now trying to open a photography business?! What was I thinking?! I wasn't - just know, you are not alone!

I am lucky that my mom is able to come into town every couple of weeks (like every 4-6 at least) and there is nothing that she loves to do more than CLEAN! Call her crazy, I know, but it is what she does, so I know that at least my house will be clean in those times! Laundry too! In the meantime, I TRY (key word: TRY) to have everything cleaned/picked up in the mornings before I do anything else - that way I don't feel guilty getting on the computer to work on photos or to read blogs or to take a nap (doesn't happen anymore, but one can dream right?)!

No magical words from me, just grateful for my momma!

I agree with all of the MJ ladies that post - YOU ARE AN INSPIRATION ~ it is good to read that you are human too, think I was beginning to think you were superwoman (not completely sure you aren't)!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

A Reed said...

I love your blog and keep checking to see if perhaps you've made a shoe in a size 8 for my two year old!

I love reading the comments for tips as I too need tips for keeping my home organized. Instead of feathers and dirt, my house is littered with the buds from my camelia trees that my six year old thought would be fun to pick prematurely. Or, sprinkled with salt and pepper from my two year old who keeps getting into the spice drawer.

However, tonight I'm thinking about how Santa left magic dust (glitter) all over the house to show the path he took through the house. The screams of delight from my girls this morning as they retraced his steps made this self-inflicted mess SO worth it. Sometimes I guess we just have to surrender and enjoy.

Best wishes for a happy and healthy 2010.

Jenni said...

Raelyn's arrived and they are beyond cute! Thinking they will fit Lola next season! Thank you so much! We love them!

Juli said...

Love the denim shirt Mia is wearing! Where ever did you get it?

Jessica Haley said...

Thanks so much to everyone for your sweet notes! I did read all of them and found them so very encouraging. Every once and awhile I find myself absent from my own blog--generally because I am either feeling busy or crabby or both! It was helpful to know that I am not alone in the struggle of managing a house with small kiddos. I think, Simone, you especially nailed it on the head: I want it all! I want to have a great house, be a great cook, be a great, loving, and available mom--and have a business. Err--not possible! As they say, something's gotta give.

So, if you want to know, I paid someone to clean the house. Actually, it was more like begged her to come over before the holidays. I have to say, it was more than worth it. Right now the kids and I have been sitting by the fire. It's a nice and cozy feeling--when the house is clean!

As for some more specific notes:

Jenni, I can't believe that are too big! I will have more Raelynn's available soon, if you want to exchange them for a 7.

Juli, the jacket was a gift, so I don't know. It's a size 0-3 months, but Mia insists on wearing it anyway--the cropped look is cute on her :)


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